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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Former Drone Operators Send Disturbing Letter To Obama, Carter and Brennan

Brandon Bryant, Michael Haas and Cian Westmoreland in a recent press conference 
You can read more about this in the November 18, 2015, Guardian. The following is from the November 19 press release and the Intercept:

"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.” ...The group also denounced the program yesterday in an interview with The Guardian and in an open letter addressed to President Obama.."

Here is their letter:

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 civilian
s 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 truth ­tellers who came before us like Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden. For the sake of this country, we hope it is otherwise.

Sincerely,

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
USAF CENTCOM
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

https://www.documentcloud.org/.../2515596-final-drone...
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