As controversy rages around the U.S. military’s use of drone strikes to assassinate terror suspects, one author has given an unprecedented look at the mindset of a drone pilot.
One of the criticisms frequently aired by opponents of drones is that their pilots might become more trigger-happy and even bloodthirsty when they are able to drop bombs from the comfort of an American base.
But an experienced pilot angrily denied that accusation in a conversation with a government lawyer, and claimed that he was keen to avoid civilian casualties.
When faced with the suggestion that he had ‘a PlayStation mentality’, the pilot described his anguish at watching the relatives of strike victims ‘weeping and in positions of mourning’.
The discussion between the unnamed drone operator and State Department legal adviser Harold Koh was reported on the Daily Beast by Daniel Klaidman, author of a new book on the War on Terror.
Mr Koh met with a number of pilots while working on a speech defending the Obama administration’s programme of targeted killings, as he wanted to become more familiar with those who carry out the programme.