“Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates.”
The problem is that a sentence like this — arguably a dead sentence, with a few quasi-facts entombed in an inert moral sensibility — parades as serious news. I mean, it’s lifted straight from the New York Times: from a story about drones, the CIA hit list and our cool new PlayStation way of killing bad dudes (and everyone else in the vicinity). Someone with an active conscience could come upon a sentence like that, in the middle of a painfully ill-focused story on the endless war, and think she must be going insane.
As an archeological find, it’s worth examining in closer detail, but first let me put it in context. The use of pilotless aircraft in Pakistan and Afghanistan to assassinate Taliban or al-Qaida leaders and other Islamic, America-hating insurgents — with missiles, no less — seems to have hit a snag of legal controversy lately because of the news that one of the people on the list of targets, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico. He’s an American citizen.
This is where my moral consternation begins, and immediately radiates in several directions: