Mencini, Damian. “From Pulling the Trigger to Pushing the Button”, Boston College, 2014. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:103680.
Drone strikes are sensational events. The United States Government uses remotely piloted aircraft (or drones) equipped with precisions weapons systems to unilaterally hunt and kill its enemies across the globe. The American public, and many around the world, are startled by the pervasiveness of American lethal force. In many ways, drone strikes are unprecedented. The technology, the frequency of use, and the geographic scope are all by-products of the twenty-first century. However, the United States government has a deep history of debating whether to kill individual enemies, and has a history of authorizing operations to do so. Beneath the rhetoric, the arguments, and the opinions that dominate drone policy today there is something missing: the history. This thesis argues that there are historical precedents for targeted killings and signature strikes in American history that predate the September 11 terrorist attacks and examining these past operations can inform modern policy.