Drone Operators Called Children ‘Fun-Sized Terrorists’

This is disgusting on so many levels.

Earlier this evening I blogged about the Tory bloodlust applauding the killing of Mohamed ‘Jihadi John’ Emwazee, the brutal Islamist thug responsible for ‘executing’ al-Qaeda’s prisoners for the sick little propaganda videos by drone. I pointed out that, while Emwazee was a murderer and war criminal, who got pretty much exactly what he deserved, this does not mean that drone strikes are an effective weapon against terrorism. I pointed out in that article that critics of the drone programme have stated that their use tends to increase support for terrorists, like the Taliban in Pakistan. Also, drones themselves are not always accurate. The machines home in on cell phone signals, for example, so that most of their victims aren’t terrorists themselves, but may simply be their relatives or those, who happen to be there at the time. Moreover, The Young Turks reported that the programme had been criticised as an instrument of extra-judicial execution of American citizens, like the al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, by the American state. Awlaki was killed by a drone strike in the Yemen. He was an American citizen, but was effectively executed without trial.

The video below is from an American show, Democracy Now. It’s of an interview with a whistleblower, Michael Haas, who revealed the callous indifference to human life amongst the drone operators. Haas states that the operators called the children killed in drone strikes, ‘fun-sized terrorists’. They rationalised the murders by comparing them to grass. ‘You have to cut the grass before it gets too tall’ was the way the saw it. And everything was done to deny their humanity in order to make the killing of children easier.

There’s also a report on this by the atheist website, Secular Talk. They report that the drone operators also used to refer to children as TITs – Terrorists In Training. Haas himself was concerned about the way the drone operators seemed determined to kill indiscriminately, regarding everyone as a target. He was an instructor in the programme, and at one point pulled one of the men he was training off the console because he was upset at the man’s bloodlust. He told him that it wasn’t a video game, and that the people killed stayed dead.

If this is account is true, it was the action of a proper, good soldier. If you watched the programme on Sandhurst, the British military academy a year or so ago, you’ll have seen how the British army is concerned about the morality of warfare and killing. It’s part of their studies, and I’ve been told that the programme accurately reflected the course’s concern for the proper conduct of what is the brutal and horrific business of killing other human beings.

Haas was, unfortunately, not praised or commended for his moral concerns. He was instead punished. After he left the army, he states that he was hooked on ‘bath salts’ and cocaine. He also stated that for every four terrorists they killed, they created ten more.

From his evidence it appears that the use of drones is both deeply immoral, and having precisely the opposite effect of what is intended.

Now the insurgents in Iraq have used children as soldiers in combat with the occupying allied troops. There’s a horrifying description of a firefight in Iraq between the Americans and a group of insurgents in the first chapter of the book, Falling Off The Edge. During the battle, couple of insurgents took refuge in a nearby house, and threw outside a seven year old boy. Lying on the ground was an unexploded RPG round, which had been fired by one of the American troopers. The boy looked like he was planning to move towards and throw the grenade. The American soldiers told him to move away, and not pick up the round. The boy reached towards the grenade, and so was shot by the troopers.

A seven year old kid, killed because he was sent to do their job by ruthless, exploitative cowards. From the description, it doesn’t seem that the American troopers in this instance had a choice. If they had not shot the lad, he would have thrown the grenade, killing them.

The drone operators are in a different position. They aren’t personally threatened by the people they kill. They aren’t physically present, and they certainly don’t have to kill children or innocents. But about 990 per cent of the people killed in drone strikes aren’t terrorists.

Secular Talk concluded their piece by demanding that the drone programme be discontinued until the American forces clean it up. I don’t share their anti-religious views, but they’re right about that. It should come to an end now, before even more innocents are killed, and more people radicalised from it.

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