“All of the sudden, drones are everywhere,” John Oliver says above in the hilariously sad 12-minute piece from Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight. “They’re the third most annoying thing in the sky after mosquitoes and plastic bags caught in the breeze.” Oliver analyzes the Obama administration’s use of these deadly military weapons from all possible angles, concluding that “drone strikes will be as much a characteristic of the Obama presidency as Obamacare or receiving racist e-mail forwards from distant relatives.”
The heart of Oliver’s argument is that drones are often used without an appropriate level of intelligence on targets, with a loophole in the definition of “imminent threat” needed to carry out such an attack. He also cites an NBC report which claims that classified documents show a grey area in terms of causalities in drone strikes. “The question ‘How many people have you killed in drone strikes?’ is not one of those questions where it’s OK to say, ‘I don’t know.’ It’s not like asking someone, ‘Who was the voice of Disney’s Aladdin? or ‘What are Skittles made from?'”
Later, the host touches on “the psychological impact of living underneath drones,” showing a heartbreaking clip of Farea Al-Muslimi, a Yemini youth activist and journalist, addressing Congress in 2013 after his village was struck by a drone.
Oliver made the cover of last week’s issue of Rolling Stone, in which the former Daily Show correspondent gives some personal history to senior writer Brian Hiatt and offers a behind-the-scenes look at his new HBO series.
Some of the revelations from that story didn’t make it into the print issue, but the most intriguing details were rounded up for the web piece “20 Things You Learn Hanging Out With John Oliver.” Check it out to learn about Oliver’s teenage girl troubles, love of Richard Pryor and general disinterest in fame.