Human Rights, Drones and Government Surveillance

On our last two broadcasts, I’ve asked you to respond to questions relevant to America’s
human rights record both here and abroad. The first was about President Obama’s use
of drones to kill suspected terrorists. I asked, does our national security justify
their use even at the cost of innocent lives? One response in particular seems to express the
majority of opinion. FEMALE #1:
“We are putting innocent people at risk all over the world. If that isn’t terrorism, what
is? Mr. Obama, can you even imagine what it feels like to live in a country over which
a foreign drone can fly and decide to kill you at will? Wouldn’t that very threat make
you an enemy of the country that did so?” BILL MOYERS:
But there were opposing viewpoints, like this one. MALE #1:
“If they — Pakistan — don’t want innocent civilians killed by drones, then they need
to declare war on the terrorists on their soil and drive them out. To do nothing is
to give them a safe place to train and carry on their worldwide operations. As in any war,
civilians are going to get killed, but the responsibility lies with Pakistan. We have
the right to defend ourselves until the threat is ended.” BILL MOYERS:
And this: MALE #2:
“War is hell and the results of war are always hellish…. To find a moral option is to ask
for the impossible. To that end, drones are preferable to the slaughter of our troops
once the assumption is made that all war is immoral on its face.” BILL MOYERS:
After my interview with Heidi Boghosian, author of “Spying on Democracy,” I asked you if
constant surveillance, the invasion of our privacy, is ever justified. Most of you responded
like this woman. FEMALE #2:
“If we aspire to be a democracy, with personal freedoms guaranteed to citizens in the Constitution,
then there is no justification for this egregious invasion… BILL MOYERS:
This viewer added. MALE #3:
“I remember seeing Dick Cheney say on TV that since 9/11 the game had changed, and he seemed
to imply that we, too, now had to become a police state. It looks as if we are well on
our way.” BILL MOYERS:
But others disagreed.  FEMALE 3#:
“Yes, it is justified in today’s world. Without it we would still be looking for the Boston
bombers, bin Laden and a whole slew of other infamous ones… I say, yes, keep up the surveillance.”
BILL MOYERS: And this.
FEMALE #4: “I’m really not that interesting but if they
need info on me I say go for it!”

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