‘A Dog on Two Legs?’

December 17th, 2012

Via: Der Spiegel:

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.

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?

4 Responses to “‘A Dog on Two Legs?’”

  1. tito Says:

    If you have not already, I strongly suggest reading the book: “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill” by Lt Colonel David Grossman.

    I do not agree with everything he says in the book, but it is a well thought out and revealing look at the psychology of killing, especially how interjecting more technology between killer and target lowers the killer’s natural reluctance to take a human life.

  2. Larry Glick Says:

    One can only hope that, when this “drone pilot” does the honorable thing and takes his own life, his life ends as quickly as did that of this innocent child.

  3. Larry Glick Says:

    At a time when the country is mourning the loss of over 20 innocent lives in Connecticut last week, let us recall that we Americans have just as brutally taken hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  4. alvinroast Says:

    … and Pakistan and Yemen and who knows where else.

    What’s baffling to me as that the Obama zombies can’t see that – especially with the passage of NDAA – any civilian anywhere in the world is a dog on two legs in the eyes of those in power. This mindset is far more dangerous than a weapons stockpile.

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