60 Minutes Bombs on Drone Story

Peace Action Claims Military Bias in 60 Minutes Predator Story

I usually enjoy 60 Minutes and expect some decently produced segments. Who doesn't love Andy Rooney? "America's New Air Force"
is the worst story by 60 Minutes that I have every seen. It's more
military propaganda and a commercial for the contractors of the
Predator drone, than investigative journalism. How did 60 Minutes get
so hoodwinked?

How do you do 13-minute story interviewing the Pentagon, without
interviewing one critic? What about talking with NGOs on the ground in
Afghanistan that can talk about the effects of civilian casualties
caused by drone strikes?

Instead, there is zero facts on civilian deaths and suffering.
There are dozens of facts, and figures about the technical and cost
specifications, but not one figure about how many lives cost or saved
from these missions. Lara Logan doesn't seem to realize that she is no
longer an "embedded journalist." While I'm sure it is exciting to get
special access to secret technology, that does not make an
investigative journalist. Anyone can report statistics fed to him or
her by the military or military contractors. Isn't it the job of 60
Minutes to rise above and think about the larger meta issues?

The military uses the secrecy frame to entice reporters to get the
inside scoop. Real reporting is questioning why are air strikes and
Predator strikes classified in the first place. Why do only a limited
handful of members of congress and staff get briefed? Where are the
non-classified reports on the efficacy of air and drone strikes? Why
hasn't the Government Accountability Office looked into these missions?

A counterinsurgency expert and former advisor to Gen. David Petraeus, Dr. David Kilcullen, claimed

If we want to strengthen our friends and weaken our
enemies in Pakistan, bombing Pakistani villages with unmanned drones is
totally counterproductive.

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a retired United States Army Colonel
and former chief of staff to United States Secretary of State Colin
Powell went further by saying the U.S. should halt all Air and Predator
drone strikes. Of course, Afghanistan President Karzai, aid
organizations and other military strategists have said this, but 60
Minutes isn't doing the reporting.

I'm no journalist, but I can think of some interesting and important questions:

Why do you believe these tactics are worth the civilian deaths,
trauma and loss of the hearts and minds of Afghans? Are we really
getting rid of more terrorists than we are creating? What are the
metrics that show the success of these missions and that they are
making Americans safer? What are the precautions the U.S. is taking to
preserve innocent life as required by international law? What about
the rule of law and arresting and taking suspected terrorists to trial?

60 Minutes needs to provide balance with another 13-minute story
partly 'embedded' with NGOs on the ground in Afghanistan, partly
talking to some critical experts and partly finding out why congress is
not playing it's role of a check and balance to the Pentagon.

Please take a moment to call, write and post a comment to 60 Minutes and ask for better journalism.

Jeff Fager
Executive Producer

60 Minutes - CBS News Network
(212) 975-2006

Lara Logan
Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for the Washington D.C. bureau on the CBS News Network

(202) 457-4321


You can watch and comment about the 60 Minutes segment here:

You can sign a petition for better Afghanistan policy here.

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