It's hard to know if 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was a target or collateral damage.
Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was killed last fall at a barbeque with friends. His father, Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaida supporter and also American-born, was killed in a drone strike two weeks earlier in Yemen.
The two of them, plus one more man, now make three Americans — three of thousands — who are believed to have been killed by America's top secret drone warfare program.
Drones transformed the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. But their use has been extremely limited in U.S. skies. The Federal Aviation Administration essentially bans the commercial use of drones, and government use is still highly restricted.
But that's changing.
For a long time, drones, which are formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, were exotic, expensive and out of reach for all but military users. Today, however, a clever hobbyist can have his own eye in the sky.