Who wants to start their week by reading about a travesty of justice?
Of course you've come to the right place.
I really want you to read this whole post, so I'm going to keep this whistleblower story as short and as simple as possible (which whistleblower stories never are).
Right now there is a man named Daniel Hale sitting in jail.
If you follow national news at all, do you recall hearing about America's policy of pursuing drone warfare? That is, the art of using drones to drop bombs on suspected (mostly "war on terror" type) enemy targets? If not, much of the history of this policy, which began under George W. Bush and has continued, can be explained in relatively short order in the series of articles known as The Drone Papers, published by The Intercept.
Basically, military and intelligence personnel watch targets of interest by using drones, decide that they are the targets America's commander in chief has decided need to be executed, and then drop bombs on them (again by drone) to execute them.
There are some problems with this system. The data can be faulty and the wrong person can be killed. It can lead to death by stereotype; basically, in areas like Afghanistan, any "military-age male" is considered an enemy target. A lot of civilians get killed just because they're in the wrong place at the wrong time.*
How do we know this? At least in part to whistleblower Daniel Hale, who was in the Air Force from 2009 to 2013, and then worked as a contractor in the intelligence industry. He knew this was happening, and he revealed some classified information to the Intercept. For this, he has now been charged with multiple counts against the 1917 Espionage Act. Each count against Hale carries the threat of serious jail time. On the advice of his public defender lawyers, Hale recently pleaded guilty to one count and is awaiting sentencing this July. During the past few weeks, Hale was already arrested and jailed, supposedly to keep him from being a danger to himself. He has been put in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail and is there now.
This story makes me so furious with the unfairness of it all that I just don't know where to turn. Whistleblowers are going to jail to tell the American public information they need to know--regardless of who I vote for, I am complicit in our country's (racist?) war machine. It is not fair that people just walking around in other countries, living their lives, were killed or lost limbs because they were in the wrong place, near someone WE (yes we; it's being done in my name as an American) decided needed to be executed. So then someone came forward to inform the American public, and he is being punished. Severely.
See? Not simple. But if you are interested in some further reading:
A Drone Whistleblower's Quest for Justice (this is an article I wrote for The Progressive, a quick overview of the case)
Daniel Hale Blew the Whistle on the US’s Illegal Drone Program. He’s a Hero, Not a Criminal, by Chip Gibbons, at Jacobin. A longer and better article.
Watch National Bird, a heartbreaking 2016 documentary featuring Hale and other military personnel, as well as civilian victims of our drones.
Visit Stand with Daniel Hale and learn ways you can support Hale.
Sorry to go on so long. I just can't stand it when bullies win, especially when they win against decent people who are just trying to tell the truth. And it's starting to feel like they win all the time.
*On civilians being killed: "Since 2001, unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) such as the Predator and General Atomics’ larger and more capable MQ-9 Reaper have completed thousands of missions, sometimes with unintentional consequences. While 2016 statistics released by President Obama revealed that 473 strikes had accounted for between 2,372 and 2,581 combatant deaths since 2009, according to a 2014 report in The Guardian, the civilian death toll resulting from drone strikes was, at the time, in the neighborhood of 6,000." Source.