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Title: The eagle comes home to roost : the historical origins of the CIA's lethal drone programme
Author: Fuller, Christopher
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 7558
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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Since 2004, the CIA has been engaged in a covert campaign using remotely-operated drones to conduct targeted killings of suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. The rapid escalation of this programme under the Obama administration has attracted the close attention of the media and of academic experts working in the foreign policy, defence and legal fields. However, while such attention has enhanced our understanding of the scale, effectiveness and legality of drone warfare, there has been little attempt to explain the origins of the programme and place it within wider US counterterrorism practice. This dissertation meets that need, making an original contribution to the study of American counterterrorism by tracing the historical origins of the programme back to a small but influential group of policy makers within the Reagan administration. The thesis reveals how a shared hardline vision of how best to deal with terrorists set in motion legal and technological developments which eventually culminated in the CIA’s drone programme three decades later. By identifying the parallels between the drone campaign and the demands of the hardliners within Reagan’s government, the thesis challenges the commonly held notion that the CIA’s entry into drone warfare marks an unprecedented escalation of US counterterrorism practices resulting from a post-9/11 mind-set. Instead it presents evidence that current US counterterrorism practice is the result of a gradual evolution over the past three decades. Rather than placing the focus upon the drones themselves, this historical review reveals that the CIA’s unmanned aircraft are simply the current tool which enables the United States to pursue the counterterrorism goal it has held for decades – the ability to unilaterally neutralize anti-American terrorists in safe havens around the world. The thesis reveals that the drone campaign should not be regarded as a product of post-9/11 policy, nor the result of the seductive nature of remote control warfare. Instead, the use of drones should be seen as the embodiment of America’s long-term counterterrorism goal.
Supervisor: Oliver, Kendrick Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: E151 United States (General) ; JK Political institutions (United States)