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Thread: 'Did we just kill a kid?'- Drone operator

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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    'Did we just kill a kid?'- Drone operator

    'Did we just kill a kid?': The moment drone operator who assassinated Afghans with the push of a button on a computer in the U.S. realized he had vaporized a child... and could not go on

    By HELEN POW
    PUBLISHED: 04:05, 17 December 2012 | UPDATED: 19:31, 17 December 2012

    A former U.S. drone operator has opened up about the toll of killing scores of innocent people by pressing a button from a control room in New Mexico.

    Brandon Bryant, 27, from Missoula, Montana, spent six years in the Air Force operating Predator drones from inside a dark container.

    But, after following orders to shoot and kill a child in Afghanistan, he knew he couldn't keep doing what he was doing and quit the military.

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    Too much: Brandon Bryant, 27, pictured, from Missoula, Montana, spent six years in the Air Force operating Predator drones from inside a dark container

    'I saw men, women and children die during that time,' he told Spiegel Online. 'I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn't kill anyone at all.'

    Bryant joined the military by accident when he accompanied a friend who was enlisting in the army and heard that he could go to university for free if he signed up to the Air Force.

    He excelled in his course and was assigned to an intelligence collection unit where he soon learned how to control the cameras and lasers on a drone, to analyse ground images, maps and weather data.

    He was made a sensor operator, the equivalent of co-pilot, and at just 20 flew his first mission over Iraq - seated in the safety of a control room in Nevada.
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    Drone operators: A drone pilot, left, and a drone sensor operator practice on a simulator at Holloman Air Force base in New Mexico

    But it began to take its toll immediately.

    The first time he fired a missile, he killed two men instantly and cried on his way home.

    'I felt disconnected from humanity for almost a week,' he said.

    But it was an incident when a Predator drone was circling above a flat-roofed house made of mud in Afghanistan, more than 6,250 miles away, that really sticks in his mind.

    Horrific: 'I saw men, women and children die,' said Brandon Bryant, pictured

    The hut had a shed used to hold goats and when he received the order to fire, he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof with a laser.

    The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact.

    'These moments are like in slow motion,' he told the website.

    As the countdown reached seven seconds, there was no sign of anyone on the ground.

    Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point.

    But when it was down to three seconds, a child suddenly walked around the corner.

    The next thing he saw was a flash on the screen - the explosion. The building collapsed, and the child disappeared.

    Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach, he told the website.

    'Did we just kill a kid?' he asked the pilot next to him.

    'Yeah, I guess that was a kid,' the man replied.

    Thoughts jotted in his diary on uneventful days clearly show the heavy burden his job was placing on him.

    'On the battlefield there are no sides, just bloodshed. Total war. Every horror witnessed. I wish my eyes would rot,' he wrote on one occasion.

    He began to shut himself off from his friends, and his girlfriend complained about his bad moods.

    'I can't just switch and go back to normal life,' he said to her. He stopped sleeping and began to exercise instead.

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    Drones: Bryant worked as a sensor operator, the equivalent of a drone co-pilot

    One day he collapsed at work, doubling over and spitting blood. The doctor ordered him to stay home, and not to return to work until he could sleep more than four hours a night for two weeks in a row.

    'Half a year later, I was back in the cockpit, flying drones,' Bryant told Spiegel Online.

    But he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    Now Bryant has left the military and is living back at home in Montana where he feels he is slowly recuperating.

    'I haven't been dreaming in infrared for four months,' he said with a smile.

    Read more: Brandon Bryant: Drone operator followed orders to shoot a child... and decided he had to quit | Mail Online
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    Senior Member KingKong's Avatar
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    Shame on those who make the decision to operate the drones. Shameful
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    Member Skull and Bones's Avatar
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    It's a stressful job, when the life and death of people depends on the click of a single button.

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    Senior Member Hope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skull and Bones View Post
    It's a stressful job, when the life and death of people depends on the click of a single button.
    Its even more stressful when you know what you are doing is illegal and it may effect children and innocent peoples lives
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    Member Skull and Bones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hope View Post
    Its even more stressful when you know what you are doing is illegal and it may effect children and innocent peoples lives
    Yes it does, but putting a pilot in the aircraft on't change much. Only thing that can stop drone attack is PAs full scale attack on TTP and other tribal factions.

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    Senior Member Neo's Avatar
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    USA is a nation of murderers, millions have died at their hands in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and many other countries.

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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    Let us not miss the broader implication of this first hand account of the massacres of innocents in US Drone strikes - this debunks US excuses and claims of causing 'little to no civilian casualties in drone strikes'.
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    Senior Member Dash's Avatar
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    Did they kill a kid - No it was a dog. That is what it is, a human kid equated as a dog - what else.

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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    How are drone victims any different to Malala. Why no compensation or medical assistance?
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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aryan_B View Post
    How are drone victims any different to Malala. Why no compensation or medical assistance?
    What I don't understand is where the outrage over such incidents by so called Pakistani liberal commentators in the media is - heavens would fall down in the English press were this claims by Pakistani military personnel, yet we see nary a peep from our liberal bastions in the press, so absorbed with bashing Imran Khan and the Army are they.
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    Senior Member Dash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgNoStIc MuSliM View Post
    What I don't understand is where the outrage over such incidents by so called Pakistani liberal commentators in the media is - heavens would fall down in the English press were this claims by Pakistani military personnel, yet we see nary a peep from our liberal bastions in the press, so absorbed with bashing Imran Khan and the Army are they.
    It is a comparatively old article and has been discussed a bit. But the fact remains that our media have started revolving more around money, money, money and many of the things which could be discussed are deliberately ignored. It is a shame and a shameful fact.
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    Senior Member Express's Avatar
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    Pakistan life seems to be so cheap. Even our own government doesnt value it.
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    Administrator Aryan_B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgNoStIc MuSliM View Post
    What I don't understand is where the outrage over such incidents by so called Pakistani liberal commentators in the media is - heavens would fall down in the English press were this claims by Pakistani military personnel, yet we see nary a peep from our liberal bastions in the press, so absorbed with bashing Imran Khan and the Army are they.

    Clearly the outrage is saved for Malala and co. There seem to be double standards even in treatment of victims
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    Senior Member KingKong's Avatar
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    Americans and our govt should be ashamed at the loss of innocent life due to drone attacks.
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    Senior Member Sinbad's Avatar
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    How ridiculous that such illegal activity takes place over and over...... The Western governments will always be bullies and murderers. Too many innocent lives taken at the click of a button. The tables will never be turned until the Muslim ummah wakes up & all of them unite as one.....too many differences and greedy leaders
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    Senior Member Neo's Avatar
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    Ohh CENTCOM, where art thou? We need some peptalk here from good ole America. Please tell us that the drone operator has been fined $500 and downranked by his superiors before he quit....
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    Forum Administrator bilalhaider's Avatar
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    It is sad, because I have a lot of my closest American friends in the Marine Corps, in the military as well. They think they are a great duty serving their country, & who can blame them? But once they get into it, it's hard to come back out: the leadership in the US lies to its people, manipulates them, & has complete control & authority over them.

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    Senior Member Felix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bilalhaider View Post
    It is sad, because I have a lot of my closest American friends in the Marine Corps, in the military as well. They think they are a great duty serving their country, & who can blame them? But once they get into it, it's hard to come back out: the leadership in the US lies to its people, manipulates them, & has complete control & authority over them.
    Combined with our incompetant leaders its a deadly combination

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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    Here is another report from 2011 that points out the lie of 'no civilian casualties in drone strikes':

    US claims of ‘no civilian deaths’ are untrue

    July 18th, 2011 | by Chris Woods | Published in Bureau Stories, Covert Drone War, Drone strikes in Pakistan, Top Stories | 9 Comments

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    A Reaper drone on an airstrip in Kandahar. Library photo/Ministry of Defence.

    Claims by President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan that ‘there hasn’t been a single collateral [civilian] death’ in Pakistan since August 2010 are found to be untrue today, following a major Bureau investigation.

    According to Brennan, Barack Obama himself has ‘insisted’ that US drone strikes are ‘exceptionally surgical and precise’ and ‘do not put… innocent men, women and children in danger’.

    Yet a detailed examination by the Bureau of 116 CIA ‘secret’ drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 has uncovered at least 10 individual attacks in which 45 or more civilians appear to have died.

    The Bureau has identified and can provide the family names for, six children among those killed.

    At least 15 additional strikes warrant urgent investigation, with many more civilian deaths possible.

    Despite the Bureau’s evidence, US intelligence agencies insist that no civilians have died. A senior official described the Bureau’s data as ‘wildly inaccurate’, but refused to share any evidence.

    ‘No civilians killed’

    For more than six months, US intelligence sources have been insisting that there have been no civilian deaths since a drone strike on August 23 2010. That CIA attack caused the deaths of at least seven civilians, all women and children, and reportedly led to a policy change in how strikes are targeted.

    Last month, one of President Obama’s most trusted advisers went on the record with the claim. John Brennan is Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, and former deputy executive director of the CIA.

    A detailed examination by the Bureau of 116 CIA ‘secret’ drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 has uncovered at least 10 individual attacks in which 45 or more civilians appear to have died. Six children are named among those killed.

    Asked on June 29 about US ‘targeted killings’, a euphemism which in this case referred to the CIA drone strikes, Brennan responded: ‘One of the things President Obama has insisted on is that we’re exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat. And by that I mean, if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger.’

    He was more precise: ‘In fact I can say that the types of operations… that the US has been involved in, in the counter-terrorism realm, that nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.’

    The Bureau understands that Mr Brennan’s publicly stated views chime closely with those of the CIA itself. The ‘no civilian deaths’ claim has remained substantially unchallenged until now.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which is seeking public scrutiny of CIA drone strikes, said: ‘It is absurd that senior US government officials would state that there have been no civilian casualties in drone strikes in Pakistan, and at the same time refuse to confirm or deny the existence of civilian casualty data.’

    In recent months, as part of a major investigation of the US covert war on terror, the Bureau has examined 116 reported CIA drone strikes in Pakistan between August 23 2010 and June 29 2011.

    Between them, the attacks have killed at least 740 people, among them 36 named fighters from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups. Hundreds of unnamed low-ranking fighters are also likely to be among the dead.

    But civilian deaths have been credibly reported in more than one in five of the strikes.

    To date, the Bureau has identified 45-56 civilian victims across 10 individual strikes – the most recent in mid-June 2011. The dead include six children.

    There is also sufficient evidence to warrant further investigation into at least 15 further strikes, in which 66 or more additional civilians may have died.

    Clive Stafford Smith is an American human rights lawyer who lives in Britain and heads up Reprieve, a campaigning law firm. He said the Bureau’s investigation raises major concerns about whether President Obama is being misled about civilian deaths:

    ‘I voted for President Obama, and had high hopes in his administration. There is the greatest danger here of a falsehood being told by US intelligence services, which misleads President Obama into taking decisions which are manifestly contrary to America’s best interests.’

    Get the data: Twenty-five deadly strikes
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    The Bureau presented a summary of its findings to the White House and to John Brennan’s office, and asked for comment. Both declined.

    But a senior US official told the Bureau: ‘There haven’t been any noncombatant casualties for about a year, and assertions to the contrary are wrong. The most accurate information on counter-terror operations resides with the United States, and this list is wildly inaccurate. Those operations are designed to protect America and our allies, including Pakistan, from terrorists who continue to seek to kill innocents around the world.’

    Yet civilians continue to die in US strikes. Our researchers have identified that on July 12 Abdul Jalil, a migrant worker on leave from Dubai, died in a drone attack which also killed eight suspected militants.

    US claims of ‘no civilian deaths’ are untrue: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

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    Retired AgNoStIc MuSliM's Avatar
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    US drone assassinations flout all domestic, international laws: Activist

    The assassination drone attacks carried out by the United States worldwide are against all domestic and international laws and disregard the sovereignty of nations, an activist tells Press TV.

    Washington uses its assassination drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, claiming that they target the terrorists. The attacks, however, have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.

    Press TV has conducted an interview with Toby Blome, a CodePink peace activist, from Washington, to further discuss the issue. Blome is joined by Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow of American Progress, from Washington, and Mike Harris, a financial editor at Veterans Today, from Arizona. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

    Press TV: Our other guest in Washington [Mr. Korb] says basically what has happened, the drone attacks and also the president’s kill list is totally legal, your take.

    Blome: First of all, I’d like to say that the administration and the military have been very non-transparent and secretive about what legal justification they have. And there’s been all kinds of attempts by many different people to try to have it open to the American public as to what they use to justify killing people with these robotic weapons.

    Second of all, the administration officials and military officials have been very dishonest to the American people saying these drone weapons kill people, that they’re very precise instruments targeting very specific individuals.

    I personally went to Pakistan. I met with a lot of the people from Waziristan who came to Islamabad to meet with us and share their personal stories of many innocent people that have been killed.

    The government should be doing their own investigation to find out when they have a drone strike, who really is killed? They really don’t. They fire the Hellfire missiles and they go on and do their next job.

    We want open transparency. Personally, I find the drone program completely illegal because it’s killing people off the battlefield. It’s becoming an institutionalized form of assassination that’s really against all international and national laws.

    Even our conservative presidents Reagan and Ford had executive orders calling for banning banning any US employee assassinating anyone in the world.

    So, we’re going against executive orders from way back when. It is completely illegal and people of conscience, Americans who are aware - and unfortunately most Americans don’t realize, that’s the other scary part is that most Americans are totally unaware of what we’re really doing with these drone weapons.

    Press TV: Actually, that was one of the next questions I wanted to ask you, Ms. Blome, staying with you. You talked about going to Pakistan and visiting some of the families, the victims. I want to know, when you were visiting some of these families, were there any cameras from the mainstream media? Was this covered when you got back to the United States to show the American people the effect of these drone attacks?

    Blome: We had a lot of press while we were in Pakistan. Unfortunately, the way most journalism is now, it’s not very thorough questioning, so we don’t get a chance to tell in depth our personal experience, talking to the people from there.

    But we did get quite a bit of press coverage, so it brought the issue out in the public in a way that it usually is not...

    Press TV: In the United States also?

    Blome: Well, in the United States, there in Pakistan when we were there, we got a lot of international including US press. There was a man from the Washington Post that travelled on the bus when we did the caravan toward Waziristan and did a story. We did get some coverage but again it’s always so brief.

    Press TV: With the drone attacks, they have been condemned by the United Nations, and last year a UN investigator said that US policy of targeted killings is a major challenge to international law. Why aren’t we seeing more pressure from the international community on the United States?

    Blome: That’s a really good question that I don’t know if I’m expert enough to answer. What I’m most concerned about is why we aren’t hearing our own Congress speak out about what our Executive Branch is doing. It says something about how little checks-and-balances there are in our own government.

    I have been recently starting to go to meet with my Congress members, getting a group of people from the region to come to the offices. As one young activist said, I don’t understand why we should even have to come to our representatives’ office and ask them to do the oversight on these illegal drone attacks. Our Congress should be looking it over.

    There is so much passivity about it and yet we’re creating so many crimes. We’re just making more and more enemies as we continue these drone strikes.

    There are American citizens that are aware and are very concerned, and are trying to stop it. I’ve been involved in regular protests at military bases because I’ve given up in a lot of ways that Congress is really going to do anything about it. We need to work with the military at the bottom and ask them to start looking at their conscience about what they’re participating in.

    This is a really different kind of warfare that’s never existed before. We’re going around the world killing people while they’re in their kitchens cooking meals. We’re killing, attacking funerals and weddings.

    There’s been an incredible study done by Stanford University that was released in October. They went to Waziristan, they talked to the people there. Because of all the attacks on their social gatherings with the funerals and wedding parties and jirgas being attacked, the people in these societies are afraid to even participate in anything where there’s a large gathering because we just attack anytime or often when there is a large gathering.

    They’re afraid that they’re going to be targeted when they go to any kind of social gathering. This is really abominable. We’re turning their societies upside down.

    I am so appalled at what my government’s doing. Yet, most of the public is totally unaware.

    GMA/HMV

    PressTV - US drone assassinations flout all domestic, international laws: Activist

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