America’s Secret Drone Wars: What is the Cost?

Talk Wednesday 15 April 2015, 7:00 PM

Days after the September 11 attacks, a CIA Predator in Afghanistan executed the world’s first lethal drone strike. The technology used had been nurtured and developed by the agency for almost a decade, with the aim to monitor targets and take lethal action instantly.

Since then, remotely-piloted aircraft have played a critical role in America’s global counterterrorism operations and have been deployed in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. They are also used in a secret war, a war that the American government insists is legal, in which drones scour the skies of Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia in search of militant and terrorist targets.

The CIA claims that its armed drones are ‘the most precise weapon ever invented,’ but what is the true cost? In a new book, Sudden Justice, investigative journalist Chris Woods explores the secretive history of the United States’ use of armed drones. He will be joining us to explore that history and the key role they play on today’s battlefields and in covert targeted killings.

Chris Woods is a widely-published investigative journalist who specialises in conflict and national security issues. A former senior BBC Panorama producer, he has authored some of the key investigations into covert US drone strikes and their true effects. He was recently awarded the Martha Gellhorn Journalism Prize for his work.

Chaired by Mark Urban, diplomatic and defence editor for BBC Two’s Newsnight. He is the author of several books including Big Boys’ Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA, The Tank War and Task Force Black: The explosive true story of the SAS and the secret war in Iraq.