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The Unmanned Air Force

American drones are everywhere –down and on display in Tehran, for sale to our allies, even doing law enforcement in the USA. We look at drone proliferation.

This photo released on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed earlier this week, as the chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, right, listens to an unidentified colonel, in an undisclosed location, Iran. (AP)

This photo released on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims to show US RQ-170 Sentinel drone which Tehran says its forces downed earlier this week, as the chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, right, listens to an unidentified colonel, in an undisclosed location, Iran. (AP)

It’s no secret that the United States has put lethal high-tech drones to work from the skies of half a dozen countries around the world. That military drones have rapidly become central to everyday American military policy and operations. Steer them from Nevada. Look down almost anywhere. Pull the trigger.

But the drone picture is expanding. A top secret American stealth drone, down in Iran. On display. Maybe reversed engineered. American drones being sold hard to allies.Tiny drones. Drones going to work at home, in domestic U.S. law enforcement.

This hour On Point: drones everywhere.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Adam Entous, National security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

P.W. Singer,  senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He’s the author of Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.

David Axe, is a military correspondent living in Columbia, South Carolina. Since 2005 he has reported from the U.K., Iraq, Lebanon, Japan, East Timor, Afghanistan, Somalia, Chad, Nicaragua, Kenya, Gabon and other countries.

Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. She is the co-author of the ACLU report “Protecting Privacy From Aerial Surveillance: Recommendations for Government Use of Drone Aircraft.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Christian Science Monitor “The Pentagon already includes unmanned drone attacks in its arsenal. Next up: housefly-sized surveillance craft, shape-changing ‘chemical robots,’ and tracking agents sprayed from the sky. What does it mean to have soldiers so far removed from the battlefield?”

New York Times “The C.I.A. drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born propagandist for Al Qaeda’s rising franchise in Yemen, was one more demonstration of what American officials describe as a cheap, safe and precise tool to eliminate enemies. It was also a sign that the decade-old American campaign against terrorism has reached a turning point.”

The Washington Post “Iran will hunt down more American spy drones if the U.S. continues to violate its air space, a senior Iranian military official warned Friday, the latest in triumphant rhetoric from Tehran over the capture of the unmanned aircraft two weeks ago.”

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