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Weekly Protest Against Drones Targets General Atomics

Members of San Diego Veterans for Peace want more oversight over the use of drones, made by Poway-based General Atomics Aeronautical.

A group from San Diego Veterans for Peace has been gathering at the corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way on Thursdays, protesting the escalating use of drones by U.S. forces overseas and their potential use in the United States.

The Predator unmanned aerial aircraft is made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, an affiliate based in Poway at the east end of the business park. About two dozen protesters were on the sidewalk Thursday afternoon across the street from where some General Atomics employees leave work.

Encouraging drivers to honk as they sped past, protesters held signs calling for an end to war and the use of drones, with one declaring that 10,000 drones are surveilling America.

“We’re here in front of General Atomics because they’re the big boys in the business,” said Dave Patterson, one of the protesters. “We’re actually demonstrating and trying to get some oversight on the use of these drones locally and internationally.”

U.S. forces use the drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan against suspected terrorists, but the use of unmanned aircraft in the United States by government and law enforcement agencies is a growing concern, according to the Associated Press. A recent poll by the Associated Press and the National Constitution Center concluded that more than a third of Americans worry about privacy concerns if law enforcement agencies begin using drones.

While 44 percent of those polled supported allowing police departments in the United States to use drones, 33 percent responded that they are “extremely” or “very” concerned about a loss of privacy, according to the Associated Press.

The Obama administration defends the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan, citing their accuracy and safety for U.S. troops. Patterson of San Diego Veterans for Peace questions the legality of drones targeting people with lethal force.

“Since when was it OK for the president to assassinate anybody he wants? That’s what I want to know,” Patterson said.

Dave Patterson September 28, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Despite the governments claims about the effectiveness of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somaila, statistics show that less than 2% of those killed are known high-level terrorists. That leaves 98% of the other casualties as civilians, women and children. Google "drones found ineffective"
Roland Rivers September 28, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Well I'm sure the "less than 2% of those killed are 'known' high-level terrorists" is one part...but part of the 98% are also 'low-level- terrorists...not just civilians, women and children. And honestly no one can argue or defend that they could not have casualties with regards to civilians, women and children. Yes it's sad. I understand the whole 'PEACE' thing and how that would be 'Nice' and all...but really? Lets say the U.S. does 'all of a sudden' turn to this "PEACE" nation...what makes anyone think that other countries will follow?? There will always be 'troubled' people in this world...not my opinion...just Fact. Pre-Drones...and 'Pre-the technology we have today'...it was all about not killing our troops and all that. OK...So 'THEY' heard you...trying to find a way to do things that will not/could not include our troops (I mean...it takes time) so ONE SOLUTION is drones...not saying that is the answer...but it's in the right step of the direction we want right? (Given the chance to send in a Drone or your Son?? WWYD?) And as far as privacy goes...really? we haven't had privacy in the last 60 years! And I will say...'Technology' in NOT going away...its only going to evolve quicker. I feel that if we are really concerned about things...we should try and all get together and embrace the technology that's not going away...and find a 'counter-use' for it some how...regulate it...limit it's use....... ....just some morning thoughts I'm having this morning.
Dave Patterson September 28, 2012 at 06:48 PM
It's the same argument they used to have before they realized that wiretapping telephones was destroying people's lives. What's to hide anyway? When they realized that wiretapping was a violation of privacy, judicial oversight was put into place. We're still in the caves apparently regarding our understanding of this technology and how it can be used to harm us. From what I've read we are looking at more than $8billion in drone sales in the next 10 years for the domestic market, and that equates to more than 10,000 drones flying over our heads. How can we justify that and what controls are in place to prevent abuse? None at the moment. Until recently the military resisted launching weapons from other than a human driven platforms, because it adhered to international law. We are breaking the law with drone strikes in places were we haven't declared war, deployed by civilians, and terrorizing the people on the ground. It is not OK to kill someone if you suspect them to be engaged in terrorist activities, but that's what we are doing. If you don't want to send your son to war, it wouldn't be worth it, would it? Having our sons on the front is a good way to temper our trigger fingers. But with drones this isn't happening.
Barry Ladendorf September 28, 2012 at 09:01 PM
Every time we kill innocent civilian men, women and children we create more and more enemies for the US. It is tempting to accept the idea that drones will sanatize warfare. As drones become commonplace, and that is the direction we are heading, how comfortable will we feel knowing terrorist groups will be able to strike us out of the blue with drones in the same way we are doing today in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Ernest Hemingway seems to be right on point when he said, "You can wipe out your enemies. But if you do it unjustly you become eligible to being wiped out yourself." Mr. Rivers talks about the "peace" thing. Like most people he apparently believes that war is inevitable. As Veterans For Peace, we believe war is not the answer nor is it inevitable. JFK said that we must abolish war or it will abolish us. To make peace happen, you have to believe that it is possible. We believe.
Unmanned Pilot February 07, 2013 at 09:42 PM
Unfortunately, protesters like this don't have the real statistics. The fact is these aircraft are not "drones." They have a rated combat pilot flying and who is in charge of the aircraft. This pilot can and is held accountable for his actions. These remotely piloted aircraft are not some automated, self-preserving piece of equipment who just kills innocent people. Erroneous claims of high numbers of civilians being killed stirs emotional distress that is unwarranted.

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