U.S. Drone Program Encouraged Overworked Pilots To Kill Civilians

U.S. military drone operators are being honored for their service, even amid allegations that the drone program has used faulty intelligence, covered up the killing of civilians, encouraged operators to target children, and overlooked a culture of addiction and mental health problems.

[DIGEST:  The Independent, The Intercept]

One of the most prominent symbols to emerge from American global anti-terrorism efforts is the drone: a killing machine that delivers death from the skies, and is all the more effective because it is cold, calculating and—literally—inhuman.

Second Nexus
Credit: Source.

But drones have pilots, and new reports suggest that the mechanical predators are as human as their pilots—and vulnerable to the same kinds of stresses and mistakes as soldiers in combat.

American drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan are estimated to have killed more than 5000 people, all of whom were supposed to have been enemy combatants. Yet operators say they frequently had no clear human intelligence or imagery for their targets. Still, anyone who popped up on their screens during a mission was to be considered a terrorist. Children were called “fun-sized terrorists” or “TITs” (for terrorists in training). Operator Cian Westmoreland was incredulous that he is credited with 204 “enemy kills.”

“That is BS. Not all the ‘enemies’ were enemies,” he said.

Other drone pilots have also gone on record as saying that the drone program has heavy civilian casualties 

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