This image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone.

CNS PHOTO | LT. COL. LESLIE PRATT,
U.S. AIR FORCE HANDOUT VIA REUTERS

This image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force shows a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle, also known as a drone.

February 25, 2013

For a program that the White House has never officially acknowledged, the use of missile-laden drones to strike suspected Muslim militants hardly remains a secret.

Even so, while pledging to protect Americans around the globe in his State of the Union address Feb 12, President Barack Obama never used the “D” word – or what the military calls unmanned aerial vehicles.

Beyond the White House, however, the topic of drones is getting plenty of attention.

From pointed questions from members of Congress to grassroots resistance movements around the country, drone warfare in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia has come under increasing scrutiny.

The widening debate has focused on moral and ethical concerns surrounding “kill lists,” the legality of drone attacks under international law when war has not been declared, and the expansion of executive power.

“It’s a conversation the country needs to have,” said Morris Davis, assistant professor of lawyering skills at Howard University’s School of Law.

“The only thing we’ve really found out about the drone program . . . has been through leaks. It hasn’t been through the government informing us about what’s being done in our name,” Morris told Catholic News Service after a presentation Feb. 12 at the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C.