News Release

“The Drone Papers,” Killings and Whistleblowers


Today, the Intercept published “The Drone Papers” — a series of articles based on “a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.”

In the piece “The Assassination Complex,” Jeremy Schahill writes: “The White House and Pentagon boast that the targeted killing program is precise and that civilian deaths are minimal. However, documents detailing a special operations campaign in northeastern Afghanistan, Operation Haymaker, show that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. In Yemen and Somalia, where the U.S. has far more limited intelligence capabilities to confirm the people killed are the intended targets, the equivalent ratios may well be much worse.”

Also today, former drone operator Brandon Bryant testified at a German parliamentary inquiry committee about that country’s role in the U.S. drone program. In an interview with a German paper he states that the major U.S. base at “Ramstein is absolutely essential to the U.S. drone program. All information and data go through Ramstein. Everything. For the whole world. Also for the CIA operations. …

“I was frustrated anyway about how our superiors were treating me and my peers. We were supposed to function and never ask questions. Then there was this moment while we were hunting for Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen. I suddenly realized that by doing what I was doing I was going against the American Constitution which I had sworn to protect. That was when I decided I had to get out.”

Radack is national security and human rights director of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts. She has represented Bryant and other whistleblowers. Her pieces on drones include “How many drones kill how many people? Questions Remain about Drone Program.”

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at
McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. His pieces include “The Silence of the Drones.”