US whistleblowers speak out against drone program

A US MQ-1 Predator drone. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
A US MQ-1 Predator drone. Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

A group of whistleblowers have spoken out this week against the US government’s program of drone strikes.

Four former US Air Force personnel involved in the drone program have written an open letter addressed to President Obama where they accuse the strikes of working against America’s interests.

Primarily they point out that they believe that due to the high amount of civilian collateral damage, the strikes only create more extremists.

“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,” the whistleblowers explained.

The whistleblowers themselves made reference to the recent Paris Attacks, saying the public must know the impact of the drone strikes “overseas and at home”.

The US government argues that drone strikes are more accurate than standard air strikes, and are only used against high value terrorist targets.

Recent leaks appearing in The Intercept however, claim that up to 90% of those killed by drone strikes may be unintended targets.

Such claims are backed up by the four whistleblowers who speak of psychological trauma following the killing of civilians.

“When the guilt of our roles in facilitating this systematic loss of innocent life became too much, all of us succumbed to PTSD,” they explain.

In an interview with Democracy Now! following the publication of their letter, one of the whistleblowers, explained the dehumanising language used by drone operators.

“…the term ‘fun-sized terrorists’ was used to just sort of denote children that we’d see on screen,” said Michael Haas, a former instructor for US drone operations.

“Other terms we’d use would be ‘cutting the grass before it grows too long’, just doing whatever you can to try to make it easier to kill whatever’s on screen.”

Following the release of this letter and recent public statements, the whistleblower’s lawyer Jesselyn Radack claimed in a tweet that their bank accounts and credit cards had been frozen.

So far there has been no official response from the US government or the CIA on the allegations made by the whistleblowers.

Watch the full interview on the Democracy Now website.