"The Air Force now has more than 1,300 drone pilots, about 300 less than it needs, stationed at 13 or more bases across the United States. They fly the unmanned aircraft mostly in Afghanistan," writes the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller in an absolutely fascinating profile of the real people who operate drone planes.
Bumiller traveled to Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse after a year of "badgering", she says, to spend time with these pilots and find out how they view their jobs and how connected they feel in an American suburb to the remote areas of Afghanistan.
“I feel no emotional attachment to the enemy,” says Col. D. Scott Brenton in the piece. "I have a duty, and I execute the duty." Bumiller was allowed to interview one pilot on record.
Bumiller joined Morning Joe on Friday to discuss her research.
"They want to get it out that there’s real people behind these planes. It’s not just machines doing the killing, there’s a real human component…," she said of the program.
Bumiller isn't the only Morning Joe guest who writes about the subject of drones, although her piece is focused on the lives of drone pilots.
In a Thursday, August 2nd column, the Washington Post's Eugene Robinson writes about his unease over drones:
There has been far too little discussion of the moral calculus involved in using flying robots as tools of assassination. At the very least, the whole thing should leave us uneasy. Collateral damage — the killing of innocents — can be minimized but not eliminated. And even if only “bad” people are killed, this isn’t war as we’ve traditionally understood it. Drone attacks are more like state-sponsored homicide.