Jail the Killer Drone Operators Instead of the Drone Whistleblowers
Ann Wright / World BEYOND War
(September 19, 2021) — Now is the time for accountability for the US assassin drone program. For decades the US has been murdering innocent civilians, including US citizens, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Mali and who knows where else. Not one person in the military has been held accountable for these criminal acts. Instead, drone whistleblower Daniel Hale is sitting in prison with a 45-month sentence.
The August 29, 2021 deaths of ten innocent civilians, including seven children, in a family compound in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan by a hellfire missile fired from a US military drone has brought the US assassination program into massive public view.
The photos of the blood-stained walls and the mangled white Toyota in the family compound in densely populated Kabul have gotten incredible attention compared to the 15 years of drone strikes in isolated areas in which hundreds of people attending funerals and wedding parties were killed.
In Kabul, the US military tracked a white Toyota for 8 hours as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime employee of the US based Nutrition & Education International, traveled around Kabul on his daily round of work for a US humanitarian organization. The US military was searching for an object for retaliation and retribution for the ISIS-K suicide attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed hundreds of Afghans and 13 US military.
For three weeks after the drone attack that killed the ten in Kabul, the senior leadership of the US military justified the killings by saying that the drone strike saved lives from an ISIS suicide bomber. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Milley had characterized the drone strike as “righteous.”
Finally, after extensive investigation by New York Times reporters, on September 17, 2021, General Kenneth McKenzie, the Commander of the US Central Command acknowledged that the drone murdered ten innocent civilians. “It was a mistake…and I am fully responsible for this strike and tragic outcome.”
Now, on Saturday, September 19, comes the news that the CIA warned that there were civilians in the target area.
Activists have been protesting the US assassin drone bases for the past 15 years in Nevada, California, New York, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and in Germany.
Now we will add Hawai’i, 2560 miles from any large landmass, to the list where young military will join others in the US military to become assassins. Two of the six Reaper assassin drones arrived last week at the US Marine Base in Kaneohe, O’ahu, Hawaii. The next US military base to house assassins is on Guam, which is scheduled to have six Reaper drones.
Will the US military hold accountable the chain of command that authorized the firing of the hellfire missile that killed ten innocent civilians?
General McKenzie said ultimately, he was responsible — so he should be charged with manslaughter as well as those down to the drone pilot who pulled the trigger on the Hellfire missile.
At least ten US military in the chain-of-command are culpable for the deaths of ten innocent civilians.
They should be charged with manslaughter. If they are not, then the US military will continue to murder innocent civilians with impunity.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was also a US diplomat for 16 years. She resigned from the US government in 2003 in opposition to the US war on Iraq. She is the co-author of “Dissent: Voices of Conscience.”