‘The Temptation Not To Question It’ — Daniel Hale, Drone Warfare Whistleblower

Afghanistan War veteran Daniel Hale pled guilty to revealing the truth about U.S. drone warfare on civilians. Although there’s no indication he shared what he knew with opposing forces, he wrote an anonymous chapter in the book The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program (Scahill et al., 2016) and provided documents to the lead author.

Hale later pled guilty to charges under the Espionage Act and will be sentenced today. 

Hale’s handwritten letter from prison explains his motivations for the choices that ruined his life and the lives of many others; it is full of eloquent wisdom. 

Some excerpts:

…I sat by and watched through a computer monitor when a sudden terrifying flurry of Hellfire missiles came crashing down, splattering purple-colored crystal guts on the side of the morning mountain.

Since that time and to this day, I continue to recall several such scenes of graphic violence carried out from the cold comfort of a computer chair. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t question the justification for my actions.

how could it be that any thinking person continued to believe that it was necessary for the protection of the United States of America to be in Afghanistan and killing people, not one of whom present was responsible for the September 11th attacks on our nation.

in spite of my better instincts, I continued to follow orders and obey my command for fear of repercussion. 

Yemen,  2014 from “Are US military drone strikes legal?” SBS Australia, 2014

Yet, all the while, becoming increasingly aware that the war had very little to do with preventing terror from coming into the United States and a lot more to do with protecting the profits of weapons manufacturers and so-called defense contractors

contract mercenaries outnumbered uniform wearing soldiers 2-to-1 and earned as much as 10 times their salary. 

I was starting to wonder if I was contributing again to the problem of money and war by accepting to return as a defense contractor. Worse was my growing apprehension that everyone around me was also taking part in a collective delusion and denial that was used to justify our exorbitant salaries for comparatively easy labor. 

The thing I feared most at the time was the temptation not to question it.

Source: The Indypendent, 2021

I believe that any person either called upon or coerced to participate in war against their fellow man is promised to be exposed to some form of trauma. In that way, no soldier blessed to have returned home from war does so uninjured.

on that day, years after the fact, my new friends [gasped] and sneered, just as my old ones had, at the sight of faceless men in the final moments of their lives. I sat by watching too, said nothing, and felt my heart breaking into pieces.

Left to decide whether to act, I only could do that which I ought to do before God and my own conscience. 

The answer came to me, that to stop the cycle of violence, I ought to sacrifice my own life and not that of another person.

So I contacted an investigative reporter with whom I had had an established prior relationship and told him that I had something the American people needed to know.


Daniel Hale

Leave a Reply