MacAndrew writes: The ACLU has sued the United States Government to enforce a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for "the release of records relating to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles—commonly known as “drones”—for the purpose of targeting and killing individuals since September 11, 2001." (Complaint: http://www.aclu.org/national-security/aclu-v-doj-et-al-complaint.) The information sought includes the legal basis for use of the drones, how the program is managed, and the number of civilian deaths in areas of operation such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The ACLU further claims that "Recent reports, including public statements from the director of national intelligence, indicate that U.S. citizens have been placed on the list of targets who can be hunted and killed with drones."
Aside from one's view of the wisdom, effectiveness, and morality of these military operations, the inclusion of U.S. citizens suggests that summary remote-control executions are becoming routine. Especially given the difficulty in locating and targeting individuals from aircraft, risks of human and machine error are obvious, and these likely increase as the robots become increasingly autonomous (please no Skynet jokes). This must give pause to anyone who's ever spent time coding or debugging or even driving certain willful late model automobiles, and the US government evidently doesn't want to discuss it.