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What we know (and don’t know) about the drone war

Drones, or “unmanned aerial vehicles” as the military prefers to call them, have been used to strike al Qaeda targets in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia as a centerpiece of the Obama administration’s national security protocol. But as ProPublica fellow Cora Currier has detailed in her reporting, much of the drone war remains shrouded in secrecy.

She joins ProPublica editor-in-chief Steve Engelberg in the Storage Closet Studio this week to discuss how drone targets are selected, what exactly a “signature” is (and how it can get you killed), and how officials often frame the conflict in Yemen and Pakistan as the “least bad war” in terms of civilian casualties but public blowback might soon change that calculation.

You can read more of ProPublica’s reporting on drones on our series page. You can also listen to this podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen now

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Master Sgt. Stanley Thompson/U.S. Air Force

A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle from the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing can be seen at dusk during a post-flight inspection at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif., Jan. 7, 2012.