Pilots denounce drones: US Drone Pilots Denounce Program

Published: December 9, 2015

Pilots denounce drones: US Drone Pilots Denounce Program, Former Air Force airmen are speaking out against America’s use of drone warfare, calling the military drone program “morally outrageous” and “one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

In interviews with NBC News, three former servicemen – who together have 15 years of military drone experience – decried the civilian cost of drone strikes and called on President Obama to “turn this around” before he leaves office.

“We were very callous about any real collateral damage,” said Michael Haas, 29, who worked as both a drone operator and instructor. “Whenever that possibility came up, most of the time it was a ‘guilt by association’ or sometimes we didn’t even consider other people that were on screen.”

Alongside a former drone operator who was not available to speak with NBC News, the three self-described whistleblowers also wrote a letter to President Obama, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan in which they link drone strikes to the rise of ISIS and to the recent attacks in Paris. For terrorists, they wrote, drone attacks are “a fundamental recruiting tool similar to Guantanamo Bay.”

The Air Force, in a statement sent to NBC News, said: “Our remotely piloted aircraft operators perform a critically important mission that contributes significantly to national defense and global security.” The statement did not address the former airmen’s claims directly.

American drone strikes have increased exponentially under President Obama; in Pakistan alone, the current administration has launched 370 strikes compared to the Bush administration’s 51, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks the attacks.

Add Somalia and Yemen (using New America Foundation data), and President Obama has launched 894 percent more drone strikes than did his predecessor.

Combined, drone strikes on Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen have killed 2,736 to 4,169 militants, according to the New America Foundation.

Meanwhile, those strikes have also killed hundreds of civilians. Estimates range from 488 to 1,071, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.


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