Nov 24

Friedrich-Nietzsche

Drone Whistleblower Claim – Pilots Often High on Drugs; Refer to Children as “Fun Size Terrorists”

The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to “bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there.” Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had “impaired” them during missions.

– From the Intercept article: Former Drone Operators Say They Were “Horrified” by Cruelty of Assassination Program

I’ve highlighted the plight of several brave drone whistleblowers over the years who came forth to decry the barbaric and likely illegal nature of the U.S. drone program. Recently, four of them came together to denounce it more forcefully and provide more disturbing information. They also wrote a letter to Obama.

The Intercept published a powerful story on them the other day, here are a few excerpts:

U.S. DRONE OPERATORS are inflicting heavy civilian casualties and have developed an institutional culture callous to the death of children and other innocents, four former operators said at a press briefing today in New York.

The killings, part of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program, are aiding terrorist recruitment and thus undermining the program’s goal of eliminating such fighters, the veterans added. Drone operators refer to children as “fun-size terrorists” and liken killing them to “cutting the grass before it grows too long,” said one of the operators, Michael Haas, a former senior airman in the Air Force. Haas also described widespread drug and alcohol abuse, further stating that some operators had flown missions while impaired.

In addition to Haas, the operators are former Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bryant along with former senior airmen Cian Westmoreland and Stephen Lewis. The men have conducted kill missions in many of the major theaters of the post-9/11 war on terror, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“We have seen the abuse firsthand,” said Bryant, “and we are horrified.”

Recall Bryant was the guy who quit after a supervisor tried to tell him a little kid they killed was just a dog.

Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to “bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there.” Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had “impaired” them during missions.

The operators said that they felt increasing urgency to speak out in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last week; they believe drone assassinations have fed the rise of the extremist group the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

In their open letter to Obama, the former drone pilots made a similar point, writing that during their service they “came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS,” going on to describe the program as “one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

Read the full letter the drone whistleblowers sent to Obama here.

For more on the sickening drone program, see:

Meet Brandon Bryant: The Drone Operator Who Quit After Killing a Child

Leaks from a Drone Program Whistleblower – Highlights from the Intercept’s Blockbuster Investigation

This is What Really Happens in the Drone Program from an Insider

Pentagon Plans to Boost Drone Flights 50% as Bernanke Warns Cutting Defense Spending Could Hurt Economy

45 U.S. Military Veterans Sign Letter Urging Drone Operators to “Refuse to Fly”

McClatchy Study: Obama Administration Has No Idea Who They are Killing with Drones

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

 

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