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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:17 PM

Thank Goodness For Der Spiegel... 3 Part Series On A Drone Pilot Who Quit After Killing A Child

The Woes of an American Drone Operator
By Nicola Abé - Der Spiegel
12/14/12


A soldier sets out to graduate at the top of his class. He succeeds, and he becomes a drone pilot working with a special unit of the United States Air Force in New Mexico. He kills dozens of people. But then, one day, he realizes that he can't do it anymore. (Photo: Gilles Mingasson/ DER SPIEGEL)

<snip>

For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world. The container is filled with the humming of computers. It's the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren't flying through the air. They're just sitting at the controls.

Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. There was a flat-roofed house made of mud, with a shed used to hold goats in the crosshairs, as Bryant recalls. 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 says today. Images taken with an infrared camera attached to the drone appeared on his monitor, transmitted by satellite, with a two-to-five-second time delay.

With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds. Bryant felt as if he had to count each individual pixel on the monitor. Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says.

Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif.

Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared. Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

"Did we just kill a kid?" he asked the man sitting next to him.

"Yeah, I guess that was a kid," the pilot replied.

"Was that a kid?" they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

Then, someone they didn't know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. "No. That was a dog," the person wrote.

They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?


<snip>

More: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/pain-continues-after-war-for-american-drone-pilot-a-872726.html


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Reply Thank Goodness For Der Spiegel... 3 Part Series On A Drone Pilot Who Quit After Killing A Child (Original post)
WillyT Dec 2012 OP
WillyT Dec 2012 #1
jody Dec 2012 #2
Hydra Dec 2012 #3
WillyT Dec 2012 #4
LineNew Reply ^
green for victory Dec 2012 #5
WillyT Dec 2012 #6
WillyT Dec 2012 #7

Response to WillyT (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:38 PM

1. Props To The Atlantic... Just Picked This Story Up 2 Hours Ago !!!

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Response to WillyT (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 07:37 PM

2. Not to worry, our Commander in Chief will continue to kill children like the Sandy Hook 20 Angels

 

with impunity.

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Response to WillyT (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:40 PM

3. I read the whole thing

and I think I want to puke. The last line is especially chilling:

Why isn't he with the Air Force anymore? There was one day, he says, when he knew that he wouldn't sign the next contract. It was the day Bryant walked into the cockpit and heard himself saying to his coworkers: "Hey, what motherfucker is going to die today?"


Amazing that his better angel had the strength to bop him on the head at that point.

I posted a few days ago how one of my teachers said the holocaust was worse than other genocides because of the mechanical inhumanity that it had engendered.

We have apparently done them one better. We're now the gods that kill with remote control toys.

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Response to Hydra (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:43 PM

4. Yep... The Cowboys Are Back... And Running Things...

If you are an "Indian"... be aware, and beware.




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Response to WillyT (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:32 PM

5. ^

 



“Experience has shown, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”
― Thomas Jefferson

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Response to green for victory (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:40 PM

6. Yep...


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Response to WillyT (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 12:40 AM

7. Last Kick From Me...


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