Human Rights groups are bringing up objections to the escalations of these attacks. Congressional Democrats, led by Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, are asking for clarification of "targeted attacks". The CIA? They won't confirm of deny anything, as usual.
Most of the NATO powers have been silent--at least publicly--on the attacks.
Meanwhile the increase in drone strikes have clearly killed some real terrorist leaders, including Anwar al-Awlaki, an English-speaking Yemeni-American who looked to be the next big leader of al-Queda, at least in it's AQAP (al-Queda in the Arabian Peninsula) group. Dozens of others have been killed as well, as have been people who were by-standers.
The military brass itself has put pressure on Obama to go after a large group of targets. So far, at least according to Newsweek's Daniel Klaidman's book excerpt "Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency", http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/27/drones-the-silent-killers.html
Obama has been reluctant to give an o.k. to any strike that doesn't identify a specific identifiable target. The notion of "signature strikes"--taking a shot at a group in an isolated area which looks like a terrorist camp is something Obama has been reluctant to do. He prefers "personality strikes"--knowing to the best of the ability of the NSA, CIA, et al,--exactly where a known terrorist(s) are.
For most of the 20th Century, war was carried out without "direct target" strikes. Bombs were released on cities, harbors, plants, troop concentrations, et al. There were always attempts to hit a given target, but most of the bombs dropped by the Allies in World War II, for instance, were estimated to be well off their prime targets.
At least a high-tech targeted strike, some critics say, is better than a Dresden/Coventry/Tokyo style firebombing. Or the napalming campaigns of the US Air Force in Vietnam during that war. But what is the acceptable number of collateral victims of the strike? (I guess it depends on whose kid is standing under the bombing range to my mind.)
And what compromises are there in the global war for morality advantage the USA and other nations might hold over a terrorist group if so many civilians are killed by a strike to pre-empt or retaliate in an attack? And what if the intelligence is wrong, and the White House kills the wrong people? Or we get the right people but too many died who weren't terrorists?
And how can we use lethal force in another country barring something like a declaratioo of war, even a nation like Pakistan or Yemen or Somalia? These three are nation-states which cannot or will not persue terrorists or support American efforts to do so. The government in Pakistan clearly see this as an unwelcome intrusion into a vacuum of state power.
On the other hand, waiting and doing nothing against groups like AQAP seems a deriliction of power as well. Every nation has the right to use force to defend itself--certainly from other national force. But what of "non-state actors" who pose a threat to a nation like the United States which have already been attacked by a terrorist group?
This being an election year, there is no doubt that President Obama, as a Democratic President, is under the gun from conservative critics and his opponent, Mitt Romney, to be "tough on terrorism"--- which transfers to more air strikes. A successful terrorist action against Americans abroad or at home would likely trigger a loosening of the criteria for a high-tech strike.
And the issue of using drones as domestic surveillance tools for law enforcement is another problem---a major and dangerous precedent. One may feel safer (or not) that Obama or Romney or some other developed country with a national leader will use drone technology wisely. But at least in the United States it is understood that presidents are accountable to more than just their intimates in the Oval Office.
The spectre of September 11, 2001 and 3,000 innocent lives snuffed out haunts the whole overview of this action. But so does the US Constitution. Through the War Powers Act of 1973 and Congress' War Declaration power, Congressional approval is needed, demanded in some form, for anything like an extended war.
Given all that is happening--threats and covert style-tactics from abroad from small cells of Muslim extremists-- is Obama's policies getting this right? Or ,as some say, is he simply a war criminal? (If the latter, I ask, what other modern leader who carries out any covert action in time of war or terrorist threat not a war criminal as well?)
Using "national security" as an overriding impetus, is the Obama Admistration justified in total to fight an unorthodox war with precision weapons and to ignore the demands of those in his own party like Dennis Kuchinich and international human rights critics? I don't think it's that simple either.
Further disclosure to Congress seems to me is needed as to what is going on and where the line needs to be drawn. International Law is not to be slummed off either. If a nation cannot handle terrorists who are threats to other nations inside her borders, it appears that some action through diplomacy is needed to declare via the United Nations that a portion of a nation is "ungovernable" and therefore justify this strange and troubling new phase of warfare.