Morning Joe | January 31, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe " at 39 past the hour. the sun just coming up over washington. a pretty day. joining us now, "time" magazine managing editor rick stengel who's here with the latest issue of "time." wow!
>> "the rise of the drones."
>> "the rise of the drones." i feel like i should sing that. it's about this ancient but now transformational technology that's changing the way we wage far.
>> flying anonymously.
>> now they're becoming domestic objects. everything from the little helicopter that my son flies at home with a camera on it to places that, you know, police departments are using it, border patrols are using it. i bet farmers are using it, insurance companies are going to start using it.
>> so are we going to start seeing drones flying over chicago and other major american cities ?
>> yes. in fact, one of the little-known things is the obama administration during his first term had petitioned the faa to have unmanned aerial vehicles which is technically what drones are called to make more space in the civilian airways for them. it's a gigantic growth industry that has many civilian applications.
>> what are the civil applications especially when it comes -- obviously, we remember back in the '80s, '90s especially across l.a., helicopters, police helicopters constantly flying over that city. is that what we can expect?
>> yes. police use them now. you know, there have been examples of criminals who have been caught because a drone is following them. the border patrol uses them all along the mexican border .
>> you say police. how widespread?
>> it's not very widespread. the number of actual approvals for big civilian drones is actually quite small. i mean, they are expensive, but of course, they're less expensive than using a manned vehicle. it's going to start growing. and of course, as you can shrink them, and they have this camera now that from 20,000 feet you can see something, you know, as small as six inches.
>> oh, my gosh.
>> they're going to be very, very -- used in a very wide way. and of course, there are privacy issues, right? drones have been used by the police to see, for example, whether you're growing marijuana in your backyard. but then you could have a little drone outside your window to see if you're smoking it in your bedroom, too.
>> good lord.
>> the supreme court has allowed, in fact, a plane to observe whether you're growing maybe in your backyard. there will be 14th amendment issue.
>> moral issues.
>> that will be interesting.
>> you've written often about some of the moral issues.
>> there's going to be one other joe's head.
>> there's one right now.
>> in a military context, there's been some controversy, moral issues and questions.
>> i am a firm believer and supporter of using drones more so than humans in putting u.s. military personnel at risk. and again, we've been on this show and had this conversation. it would seem to me if you look at the success rate, and dan, you can speak to this probably as well as anyone on the panel, the success rate far outweighs any other concerns, i would imagine, surpasses -- when you look at costs, more importantly, human costs, financial costs, and granted, using it domestically, there will be a number of questions. and i respect that.
>> and president obama is the drone president, basically. he's using it -- the technology way more than george bush did. but there are legal issues. there are international law issues. why wouldn't a foreign power use drones over here to someone that, you know, that their court says is a terrorist who's operating in the united states ? what prevents, you know, an enemy from using drones?
>> sovereign nations , governments around the world have very established first-world intelligence-gathering capacity. they use it against us. they use it against our allies. and if this is the new world, they'll be using these.
>> it won't just be wiretapping embassies. they'll be using those.
>> or hacking computers.
>> and they'll be looking for dan senor , too.
>> let's talk about the down side of drones. it also allows us to go as a country into nations, sovereign nations , where we haven't declared war .
>> drop bombs on people that we consider to be the bad guys. but also kill a lot of civilians.
>> and that's what's happened in pakistan .
>> and it's happened in pakistan . and the long-term impact -- i've said here -- the long-term impact of indiscriminately dropping, you know, bombs on civilians to kill terrorists.
>> has long-term implications for us. we're going to be paying for as a country for decades to come.
>> there's a short-term benefit, but the long-term consequences that people not liking americans are feeling that america isn't back to predator nation.
>> it's beyond that. you kill my 4-year-old daughter, i don't just not like you.
>> i spend the rest of my life trying to destroy you. and that's happening. again, it's not just happening in countries where we have declared war . we're now going into country after country after country. and i guess, rick, what i don't understand is where are the civil liberties lawyers, the constitutional lawyers that were so concerned during the bush administration , for good reason, about how far we push the boundaries in the war on terror ? where are those people now that we are killing innocent civilians across the world?
>> well, we're still using the post-9/11 authorization bills to allow and justify the use of drones abroad. drones in afghanistan are done by the military, but drones elsewhere like in pakistan , that's a covert action. that's overseen by the cia.
>> you voted for these things.
>> it's also a very clinical way --
>> i didn't vote for this.
>> it's a very clinical way for the president -- no, no, but the reality is for the president to sit in his oval office and approve something like this has nothing comparable to what it's like to make a decision about deploying men and women into battlefield. it feels safe, distant and clean and the reality is it's incredibly complicated for the reasons you're saying.
>> and the blowback for years to come is going to be great.
>> none of these decisions are easy.
>> for people who think that this is clean and sanitary --
>> they're not.
>> they need to talk to people that are actually on the ground.
>> in pakistan and afghanistan and some african nations where we're starting to drop drones. again, killing civilians in countries where we haven't even declared war .
>> even president obama has said it gives you the illusion of a kind of purity that you don't have blood on your hands . of course, you do.
>> him looking at the faces before he pulls the trigger on the concept. okay, the new cover is "the rise of the drones." rick stengel, thank you.
>> a morning pick-me-up.
>> you've got to read it because it's fascinating, even big real estate agents are using drones to fly over their properties and get -- no, i'm dead serious --
>> get pictures.
>> -- to get pictures and video of the properties they're trying to sell. i mean, the commercial used for this in the united states is pretty remarkable.
>> go to our blog. the show blog where we explore how the cia's drone program might change if john brennan is confirmed as the agency's next director. that's at
mojo@msnbc. rick, thank you. more " morning joe " in just a moment.