1. Action Alert
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Rally to #EndDroneWarfare Highlights Problems with CIA Program

By Emmet Hollingshead, Heather Brandon-Smith , May 3, 2019


On May 3, faith groups gathered in Edward R. Murrow Park in Washington, D.C. to demand an end to CIA drone strikes and a commitment from General Atomics, the company which builds the Predator and Reaper drones, not to develop lethal autonomous weapons systems.

CIA drone strikes are immoral, overly secretive, and ineffective as an instrument of counter-terrorism policy.

Drones have quickly become one of the primary U.S. counterterrorism weapons. Drones may remove U.S. troops from physical danger, but they are fraught with other moral risks. They lower the threshold for using lethal force, helping to keep the U.S. in a state of endless war.

Drone warfare is ineffective as a long-term policy. Where drones are used anti-American sentiment and retaliatory attacks increase. When communities associate the United States and the U.S. military with the destruction of their homes or the loss of their loved ones, they are more likely to be sympathetic to terrorist propaganda and recruitment.

Using drones to conduct airstrikes does not even remove U.S. soldiers entirely from harm’s way. Psychological trauma suffered by drone pilots has led to increased rates of occupational stress and suicidal thoughts.

The CIA’s drone program is particularly problematic, as it is largely secret. This prevents the U.S. public from knowing where and how their government is conducting lethal operations, and the true costs of war. Indeed, earlier this year the Trump administration revoked one of the few reporting requirements covering CIA strikes.

FCNL supports ending all drone warfare. We should start by ending the CIA program and transferring all drone strike authority to the Department of Defense, which has a record of greater transparency and accountability.

We must continue to curb excessive use of force in U.S. foreign policy and demand greater transparency. The CIA drone program furthers neither of those goals. Congress must act to end it.

Act now: Urge your representative to end CIA drone strikes.

Statement Diane Randall: CIA Drone program is immoral, unethical, and prolongs endless wars. 

FCNL joined faith groups at rally to demand an end to CIA drone strikes and a commitment from General Atomics, the company which builds the Predator and Reaper drones, not to develop lethal autonomous weapons systems.

Background Understanding Drones 

Drones have rapidly become one of the U.S. military's primary weapons as U.S. counterterrorism policy has gravitated toward methods that are more secretive, more lethal, and more removed from the battlefield. Here's what you need to know.

Emmet Hollingshead

  • Program Assistant, Militarism and Human Rights

Emmet served as FCNL’s Program Assistant for Militarism and Human Rights for 2018-2019. He lobbied for more peaceful, ethical, and holistic U.S. foreign policy. Our international stance should not be based on military might, but on compassionate and inclusive leadership focused on mutual interests. To that end, Emmet worked with members of Congress and their staff, fellow peace activists, and grassroots supporters to develop better ways for the U.S. to engage with the world.

Heather Brandon-Smith

  • Legislative Director, Militarism and Human Rights

Heather Brandon-Smith is FCNL’s Legislative Director for Militarism and Human Rights. Heather leads FCNL’s work to repeal the 2001 authorization for war, promote respect for human rights and international law, and reduce U.S. armed interventions around the world.