Fact Sheets & Flyers

What is a drone?

A drone, or “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV), is an unmanned aircraft that can be piloted remotely. Drones vary in size and weight and can be used for surveillance and attacks.

Where is the U.S. sending drones?

The U.S. uses drones primarily in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, but has also used drones in military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

What damage can a drone do? Signature strikes & double taps

Depending on the model of the drone, a drone such as a Reaper can carry thousands of pounds of payloads which result in high collateral damage. Predator drones have a less of a collateral impact, but the Hellfire missiles are lethal for the target.

Signature strikes occur when targets are killed based on suspicion. If someone appears to be engaging in “suspicious behavior,” such as associating with a “suspected militant,” carrying a weapon. Any behavior the U.S. deems “suspicious” can justify a signature strike.

A “double tap” occurs when a second drone strike follows the initial strike which results in the murder of those who may have rushed to the scene to understand what has happened, search for survivors, or assist the injured.

Who is the U.S. targeting?

The U.S. targets militants and suspected militants, especially al-Qaeda and its affiliates. However, the U.S.’ targets reflect a major problem of racial profiling, resulting in the murder of many innocent or low-level affiliates who are primarily young Muslim men.

Who approves the kill list?

The CIA director passes the list to the President who must approve every drone strike.

How accurate are drone strikes?

The accuracy rate for hitting the intended target is approximately 1.5-2%. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has estimated that 98% of victims of drone strikes are “collateral damage,” or in more human terms, civilians, children, or suspected militants who are either minor, low-level affiliates or whose involvement with militants has never been proven.

How many casualties have there been?

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that nearly 4,000 total casualties have resulted from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. As many as 954 have been civilians, and as many as 225 have been children. The high number of casualties includes anyone who the U.S. deems suspicious, which could mean they were driving suspected militants, attending a funeral of a suspected militant, or carrying a weapon.

Have there been American citizens killed by drone strikes?

Four American citizens have been killed by drone strikes. Anwar al-Awlaki, who was affiliated with al-Qaeda, and Samir Khan, were killed by a strike in 2011. A second strike killed al-Awlaki’s innocent 17-year-old son. In 2002, Ahmed Hijazi was killed. All of these victims were American citizens living in Yemen.

Are drone strikes a violation of international law?

The United Nations has stated that the U.S. use of drone strikes in Pakistan violates international law and is a threat to human rights not only because of the mass casualties drones strikes cause but also because the Pakistani government does not consent with the drone strikes. The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson, released a statement expressing that the Government of Pakistan “considers US drone strikes to be counter-productive, contrary to international law, and a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Authorization for the Use of Military Force, passed by U.S. Congress in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks, legally empowers the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force” to pursue those responsible for acts of terrorism.

Preemptive self-defense violates international law, which states that nations may defend themselves against an immediate attack, but signature strikes and double taps do not attack those who pose an immediate threat. Rather, signature strikes target individuals who fit a profile, and double taps eliminate rescuers and other innocent people who rush to the scene of the first attack.

International human rights law does not allow the use of Hellfire missiles because their heavy fire power exceeds the limits of fire power allowed for law enforcement purposes, according to the American Society of International Law.

Do drones make us safer?

The justification for drone strikes is that they target “terrorists” and protect Americans and the citizens on the ground, when in reality these attacks result in high casualties, tarnish the United States’ reputation, and fuel retaliation. Drone strikes violate national sovereignty, and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly condemned the use of drone strikes in Pakistan. In general drones foster anti-American sentiment abroad and threaten our national security as well as the safety of those living in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.

Who are the Unmanned Systems Caucus?

The Unmanned Systems Caucus supports the rapid development, acquisition, and use of drones. The representatives that comprise the caucus are listed below:

Co-Chairs:

Buck McKeon (CA-25)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)

Members:

Rob Bishop (UT-1)
Anne Marie Buerkle (NY-25)
Robert Brady (PA-1)
Mo Brooks (AL-5)
Madeleine Bordallo (Guam)
Larry Bucshon (IN-6)
Ken Calvert (CA-44)
André Carson (IN-7)
Tom Cole (OK-4)
Mike Conaway (TX-11)
Gerald Connolly (VA-11)
Joe Courtney (CT-2)
Kevin Cramer (ND-At-Large)
Ander Crenshaw (FL-4)
Blake Farenthold (TX-27)
Randy J. Forbes (VA-4)
Trent Franks (AZ-2)
Paul Gosar (AZ-1)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Colleen Hanabusa (HI-1)
Richard Hanna (NY-24)
Andy Harris (NY-24)
Vicky Hartzler (MO-4)
Joe Heck (NV-3)
Duncan Hunter (CA-52)
Darrell Issa (CA-49)
Lynn Jenkins (KS-2)
William Keating (MA-10)
Doug Lamborn (CO-5)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2)
Frank Lucas (OK-03)
Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)
Michael T. McCaul (TX-10)
Candice Miller (MI-10)
Pete Olson (TX-22)
Steven Palazzo (MS-04)
Steve Pearce (NM-02)
Mike Pompeo (KS-4)
Scott Rigell (VA-4)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46)
Thomas Rooney (FL-16)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-47)
Mike Simpson (ID-2)
David Schweikert (AZ-6)
Michael R. Turner (OH-3)
Joe Wilson (SC-2)
Robert J. Wittman (VA-1)
Don Young (AK-At-Large)

Does the U.S. use