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Drone program in spotlight
Bryant, 27, has talked about his experiences before -- to the German magazine Der Spiegel and to the U.S. broadcaster NBC. But the publication of his interview with GQ comes amid renewed questions about the human cost and the legality of the U.S. drone program.
U.S. officials say the program is a vital tool in the fight against militant groups such as al Qaeda.
But two international human rights groups raised serious concerns Tuesday about the consequences of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, suggesting some attacks in recent years might amount to war crimes.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch released reports giving detailed accounts of a number of attacks they say the United States carried out in each of the two countries, resulting in the deaths of scores of civilians.
The reports drew from extensive field research -- including interviews with witnesses and relatives of victims -- and called for a series of measures to bring the program in line with international law.
Leaders to meet
The White House on Tuesday disputed the reports' assertions that drone strikes had broken the law.
But the situation was made all the more awkward by the presence in Washington of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who held talks with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
After the meeting, Sharif said he had raised the issue of drones with Obama, "emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes."
Washington (CNN) -- The "Bravest Girl in the World" has stood up to President Barack Obama.
Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old shot by the Taliban for promoting girl's education in her native Pakistan, confronted Obama at the White House on Friday about U.S. drone strikes.
In a meeting that included first lady Michelle Obama, the young activist challenged one of Obama's premier counterterrorism strategies.
"I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism," she said in a statement released today. "Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact."
The U.S. government has said strikes by the unmanned aircraft are a necessary part of the fight against militant groups, including the Taliban.
In an interview that will air Sunday at 7 p.m. with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, Malala said she is far from done serving.
"I want to become a prime minister of Pakistan, and I think it's really good. Because through politics I can serve my whole county. I can be the doctor of the whole country," she said.
In a statement, the White House saluted Malala's continuing efforts to promote education for girls.
He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who's still utterly, terrifyingly human
Since its inception, the drone program has been largely hidden, its operational details gathered piecemeal from heavily redacted classified reports or stage-managed media tours by military public-affairs flacks. Bryant is one of very few people with firsthand experience as an operator who has been willing to talk openly, to describe his experience from the inside. While Bryant considers leakers like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden heroes willing to sacrifice themselves for their principles, he’s cautious about discussing some of the details to which his top-secret clearance gave him access. Still, he is a curtain drawn back on the program that has killed thousands on our behalf.
Despite President Obama’s avowal earlier this year that he will curtail their use, drone strikes have continued apace in Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghanistan. With enormous potential growth and expenditures, drones will be a center of our policy for the foreseeable future. (By 2025, drones will be an $82 billion business, employing an additional 100,000 workers.) Most Americans—61 percent in the latest Pew survey—support the idea of military drones, a projection of American power that won’t risk American lives.
He was told he would be like “the guys that give James Bond all the information that he needs to get the mission done.”
For decades the model for understanding PTSD has been “fear conditioning”: quite literally the lasting psychological ramifications of mortal terror. But a term now gaining wider acceptance is “moral injury.”
It represents a tectonic realignment, a shift from a focusing on the violence that has been done to a person in wartime toward his feelings about what he has done to others—or what he’s failed to do for them. The concept is attributed to the clinical psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, who in his book Achilles in Vietnam traces the idea back as far as the Trojan War.
The mechanisms of death may change—as intimate as a bayonet or as removed as a Hellfire—but the bloody facts, and their weight on the human conscience, remain the same.
Bryant’s diagnosis of PTSD fits neatly into this new understanding. It certainly made sense to Bryant. “I really have no fear,” he says now. “It’s more like I’ve had a soul-crushing experience. An experience that I thought I’d never have. I was never prepared to take a life.”