45 Veterans Sign Letter Urging Drone Pilots To Stand Down

dJune 19, 2015

ReutersEric D. Warren

A group of 45 former American military members have issued a jointly signed letter pushing drone operators to step away from their controls and refuse to fly any more lethal missions.

The letter draws attention to the controversial operation of drones in foreign nations, where lethal strikes in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan have damaged terrorist networks but have also claimed the lives of innocent civilians.

“At least 6,000 lives have been unjustly taken by US drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, the Philippines, Libya and Syria. These attacks are also undermining principles of international law and human rights,” the authors write, according to the Guardian.

KnowDrones.com, which sent out the letter, is also looking to distribute them by hand outside several military bases where drone operators are known to work, including Beale Air Force Base in California and Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in New York.

Of the 45 veterans who signed the letter, the highest-ranking individual is retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from the military because she disagreed with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Previously, Wright served as a diplomat in several countries.

“I have traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Gaza to do talk to victims of US and Israeli drones,” she said in an email to Air Force Times explaining why she signed the letter. “Because of the number of civilian casualties, I firmly believe that this weapon system is jeopardizing US national security and creating large numbers of people who despise the United States (and Israel for the drone use in Gaza).”

As for KnowDrones.com, the group aims to rally support around an international ban against weaponized drones, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles used for surveillance purposes. The group has also launched a campaign dubbed “refuse to fly” that specifically urges drone pilots to stop carrying out operations in various countries.

Navy veteran Nick Mottern, who also works for KnowDrones.com, explained to Air Force Times why he believes a drone pilot might hang up the controller.

“One answer would be, ‘To save your soul,’” he said. “Another answer would be, ‘To not kill people who are being targeted without any due process.’ There are higher laws than military law.”

This past April, the group aired a brief television commercial that played near US bases where drones are operated, arguing that “no one has to obey an immoral law.”

“US drones have murdered thousands, including women and children,” the commercial stated, before urging drone pilots to “please refuse to fly.”

For its part, the Air Force dismissed the idea that drone pilots are working beyond the confines of the law.

“Our remotely piloted aircraft operators perform a critically important mission that contributes significantly to national defense,” Lt. Col. Christopher Karns said to Military Times. “They are professional and comply with applicable law, policies, and adhere to very exacting procedures.”

More at Reuters

Disclaimer:This article was not written by Lorra B.