The Obama administration considers any military-age male in the vicinity of a bombing to be a combatant. That is an amazing standard that shares an ugly synergy with the sort of broad-swath logic that we see employed in Stop and Frisk, with NYPD national spy network, with the killer of Trayvon Martin.For more background on this truly vile, reprehensible and heinous policy of defining "militant" to include any of-age males killed by a drone strike, see Glenn Greenwald (here and here).
Policy is informed by the morality of a country. I think the repercussions of this unending era of death by silver bird will be profound.
I can't help but recall something Noam Chomsky wrote in response to Israel's attacks in Gaza a few years back
The claim that "our side" never targets civilians is familiar doctrine among those who monopolize the means of violence. And there is some truth to it. We do not generally try to kill particular civilians. Rather, we carry out murderous actions that we know will slaughter many civilians, but without specific intent to kill particular ones. In law, the routine practices might fall under the category of depraved indifference, but that is not an adequate designation for standard imperial practice and doctrine. It is more similar to walking down a street knowing that we might kill ants, but without intent to do so, because they rank so low that it just doesn't matter.