The New York Times & More Weapons of Mass Destruction

Dear Reader of The New York Times,

If you’re been worrying, even slightly, about how people at the receiving end of the U.S. drone war — wait, excuse me, the “remotely piloted vehicle” war — it seems yesterday The Times must have made you feel better.

As we are told in Elizabeth Bumiller’s front page article, A Day Job Waiting for a Kill Shot a World Away, we really should be concerned more about its effect on the pilots of the drones such as a colonel who acknowledges the “peculiar new disconnect of fighting a telewar with a joystick and a throttle from his padded seat in American suburbia.”

More chaplains and shrinks are being ordered up to bases where the pilots operate.  A recent study revealed increased stress on the pilots.  An Air Force doctor explains that watching targets for weeks at a time in domestic situations can mean it feels strange to shoot up a home.  “At some point, some of the stuff might remind you of stuff you did yourself. You might gain a level of familiarity that makes it a little difficult to pull the trigger.”

Bumiller’s point, or shall we just say, the point of The New York Times, is directed right at you, and your humanitarian objections to targeted killing and murder from a distance: “Stop worrying about the people at the other end of the war.”

And don’t worry about the U.S. military pilots either.  Despite a job doing 12 hours shifts 18″ from a screen where they watch families going about daily life one moment, and obliterated the next, they’re OK.  Bumiller quotes the colonel:

“I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” he said. “I have a duty, and I execute the duty.”

Peter Hart, on FAIR’s blog today reminds us that Elisabeth Bumiller is:

“perhaps best known for a testy C-SPAN appearance where she explained that New York Times reporters ‘can’t just say the president is lying.’”

It was only two weeks ago that The New York Times published  The Moral Case for Drones by Scott Shane, who has done some accurate and critical reporting of the U.S. global “war on terror.”  But that was then, in the Bush years.  Now he quoted only one academic political scientist who raised objections to killing targets instead of capturing them.  His drone cheerleader sources were a former C.I.A. official, and a military professor.

And the voices of the people targeted are so not there, almost ever, in the main newspaper of record in the richest country ever, with the biggest military in history.

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  1. #1 by Linda on July 31, 2012 - 11:45 am

    I don’t see this changing, but am certain there will be a heavy price to pay for these murderous acts. The fact that the people carrying out these missions feel disconnected from their acts is tragic for all concerned, because they have lost their humanity in the process. In fact, the quotation from Bumiller, “I have a duty, and I execute the duty” (Freudian slip, by chance?), is just a variation on “I was only following orders.” There was a time when we Americans called this morally despicable in reference to the German concentration camps of WWII.

  2. #2 by connie l nash on July 31, 2012 - 4:27 pm

    This is restrained as far as is possible on such a topic. We are well-passed due for this kind of outrage. What happened to Scott Shane between the Bush years and now? Yet more importantly,
    what is happening to Americans to cause such a thick, thick shell over our hearts? Isn’t it time for the US to imagine: just what if it was OUR parents and grandparents and children killed? Have we raised any real questions and discussions anywhere visible about the kind of injury and death which occurs due to an attack of a drone??
    Doctors are shaking their heads in disbelief and hopelessness when confronted with a drone victim. And what about the injury to the mind, soul, spirit? Who is asking these questions?

    Just WHO is the enemy to whom?

    You may also want to see three posts on dones USA for July:


  3. #3 by connie l nash on July 31, 2012 - 4:32 pm

    PS on Comment Above from Connie:

    OR just go to

    Find July at top…then…
    Scroll archive for the three items mentioned:
    1) Say No to Drones – One Simple Action
    2) Between the Lines: New Weapon of Choice
    3) Call on GE/US to Suspend Strikes (or go to Repreive.Uk for the same.)

  4. #4 by Paul on August 8, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    Such advanced warfare. Sounds like science fiction and we all know what happens when the machines do our killing for us. Peace . . .

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