Tuesday, December 1, 2015

FOUR WE WILL REMEMBER: Former Drone Operators Speak Out Against Drone Killings

This post is a kind of stake in the ground, a time capsule, to remind us in the months and years ahead that in the fall of 2015 we were talking about the four drone operators who stood up and spoke out against US drone killings.

Let us hope that in the days ahead there are so many that we won't be able to remember what it was like when there were just these brave few.

(AND let's hope that we have all helped bring a quick reversal of the apparent persecution of these whistleblowers: see "Obama’s War on Truth. USAF Drone Operators 'Who Blew the Whistle'")

In the meantime please sign and share the Change.org petition to Protect the Drone Assassination Program Whistleblowers!

"Former US military drone operators discuss their experiences at the Guardian
offices in New York on Tuesday [September 17, 2015]."
See: "Life as a drone operator: 'Ever step on ants
and never give it another thought?'

(Photograph: Simon Leigh for the Guardian)

The following letter is reproduced from an original posted online:

President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, D.C.

Secretary Ashton B. Carter
Department of Defense

Director John O. Brennan
Central Intelligence Agency

Dear President Obama, Secretary Carter and Director Brennan:

            We are former Air Force service members. We joined the Air Force to protect American lives and to protect our Constitution. We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo Bay. This administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.

            When the guilt of our roles in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD. We were cut loose by the same government we gave so much to ­­ sent out in the world without adequate medical care, reliable public health services, or necessary benefits. Some of us are now homeless. Others of us barely make it.

            We witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country’s leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. We cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in Paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home. Such silence would violate the very oaths we took to support and defend the Constitution.

            We request that you consider our perspective, though perhaps that request is in vain given the unprecedented prosecution of truth­tellers who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.


Brandon Bryant
Staff Sergeant
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
SERE Instructor Trainee
USAF Joint Special Operations Command
3rd Special Operations Squadron
Disabled Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran
Founder of Project RED HAND

Cian Westmoreland
Senior Airman
RF Transmissions Systems
73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron
Disabled Afghanistan Veteran
Project RED HAND's Sustainable Technology Director

Stephen Lewis
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator
USAF Joint Special Operations Command
3rd Special Operations Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

Michael Haas
Senior Airman
MQ­1B Predator Sensor Operator Instructor
USAF Air Combat Command
15th Reconnaissance Squadron
Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

See their website: Project Red Hand.

Related links:

The Guardian: "Life as a drone operator: 'Ever step on ants and never give it another thought?'

Pressconference on Livestream

The Intercept: Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” By Cruelty of Assassination Program

DEMOCRACY NOW - November 20, 2015 - Exclusive: 2 Air Force Vets Speak Out for First Time on Why They Want the Drone War to Stop

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