A large bipartisan group in Congress is promoting the building and use of drones, according to an investigative report published November 25 in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle.
The report was made public the same day that the New York Times reported that drone strikes ordered by President Obama have killed more than 2,500 people over the past four years, and that the Obama administration was moving ahead to codify and formalize the procedure for targeting individuals and groups for deadly violence by CIA and Pentagon drone operators.
The report by the Center for Responsive Politics and Hearst newspapers examined the flow of campaign contributions from corporations engaged in building and arming drones to Democratic and Republican congressmen and senators.
The biggest donors include General Atomics, which makes the Predator, the number-one remote killer for the CIA and Pentagon; BAE Systems, which makes the Mantis and Taranis drones; Boeing Co., maker of the hydrogen-fueled Phantom Eye; Honeywell International, which makes the RQ-16 T-Hawk; Lockheed Martin, which makes the RQ-170 Sentinel; and Raytheon Co., maker of the Cobra.
More than $8 million in campaign contributions from drone manufacturers and operators has flowed into the coffers of the 60 members of the House Unmanned Systems Caucus. The majority of the House members are from California, Texas, Virginia and New York, including the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Howard "Buck" McKeown, a California Republican, and Silvestre Reyes, a Texas Democrat who lost a primary election and leaves Congress at the end of the year.