Veterans Celebration Addresses Drone Use


(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)
(Photo by Kiffer Creveling)

Beyond the cannons and the bagpipes, about 50 people quietly spent their Veterans Day on campus talking about drones.
The panel, titled “Drones as Intelligence Gathering Devices,” discussed the ethics and legality of using drones for government espionage. The Union Ballroom was filled with veterans.
Two U law professors, Amos Guiora and Wayne McCormack, provided perspectives on drones in relation to international sovereignty laws and domestic privacy laws, and Ryan Runk with the Utah National Guard gave a description of drone capabilities.
Roger Perkins, director of the U’s Veteran Support Center, said the center chose the panelists because they wanted people with different backgrounds who were familiar with the topic. He said this year’s topic came from the interest and discussion around the use of drones that has been growing in the past few years.
“The point of it was to not get into so much of the popular mythology around drones,” Perkins said, “but to talk about how they’re actually used and what they can and can’t do.”
In the panel discussion, Guiora said while drones are used by many countries, U.S. citizens have to understand that by doing so “we’re violating international law and the sovereignty of other nations,” despite needing them to gain intel on an enemy.
“The reality of warfare is the absolute necessity and requirement of the gathering of intelligence information,” he said. “Without intelligence information, you’re fighting in the dark.”
Guiora also cautioned against the excessive use of this technology in the name of national security.
“Technology is used to violate your privacy on a daily basis,” he said. “It’s our obligation to question everything the government does in the context of our privacy.”
Runk said drones are only effective to a certain extent because they are limited visually by altitude and adverse weather conditions. Some are more powerful than others, but many have to weigh the risk of being seen and shot down while trying to capture a good photo for espionage purposes.
Kim Watts, a veteran who attended the panel, said though he retired before the army began using drones for intelligence, he found the panel extremely interesting because “of the increase of drone use throughout the world, not just in the military.”
Perkins said the budget for the Veterans Day celebration was around $10,000 for the whole day and was paid for with funding from the U.
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