Batten School discusses drones

Faculty member Fred Hitz, Prof. Jerry Warburg debate United States' modern warfare tactics, ethics


Batten School faculty member Fred Hitz spoke Thursday evening about the recent political controversy surrounding the United States’ drone use. The former intelligence officer presented an insider’s views on the legitimacy of America’s drone usage and the government monitoring of social media.

Hitz said drone use is symbolic of “relentless non-humanity.” Drone technology, which allows military action without putting military personnel in direct danger, has a serious risk of harming innocent bystanders in addition to terrorist targets, he said.

To combat this danger, the United States needs to focus on specifying targets, he said, or else it runs the risk of drone strikes becoming terrorist acts themselves.

Batten School Prof. Jerry Warburg, who debated Hitz for part of the event, countered that drone warfare was not as divergent a war tactic as Hitz made it seem.

“How is launching a cruise missile or drone different from more traditional warfare, which also kills innocent people,” Warburg asked.

Drones, Hitz said, may weaken the United States’ international reputation — where Americans risk being seen as “the big bully” on the international stage. Hitz said there needs to be a “recognition that we are not trying to play God here.”

Hitz also briefly discussed the NSA’s data collection and the potential Fourth Amendment issues associated with that practice. “Welcome to the world of fewer secrets,” he said.

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