‘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

Black Activists Question Reports Claiming Biden Pulling Afghanistan Troops Sep 11

Reaper and Predator Drone Imagery on Blue Abrash Ground, 2016. Wool rug. Collection of Kevin Sudeith. Courtesy of the Gund Gallery. https://www.uvm.edu/fleming/warp-war-rugs-afghanistan

Reposting this press release with insightful analysis of the Biden Administration’s statements on allegedly withdrawing from Afghanistan. If you value the work of the Black Alliance for Peace, as I do, consider supporting them financially. As a white ally who appreciates their labor, I make a monthly donation here.

For Immediate Release

Media Contact:

(202) 643-1136

APRIL 13, 2021—Press reports were circulating April 13 that the Biden-Harris administration will not abide by the Doha agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces by May 1, violating a key component of the peace agreement negotiated by the previous administration. It appears the Biden-Harris administration is floating September 11—the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack—as a likely date to end the second longest U.S. war.

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) has consistently demanded U.S. adherence to the Doha peace agreement. BAP even organized an International Day of Action on Afghanistan on April 8 to help raise the public’s awareness on the issue.

While BAP continues to gather information on this reported proposal, we are concerned that what is being floated by the corporate media will result in increased hostilities between the Taliban and U.S. forces, providing a pretext for increased U.S. military involvement. BAP has detailed how powerful forces within the administration and among the foreign policy elite are trying to find ways to keep a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan to support broader geostrategic objectives, primarily countering Chinese influence. Some of these issues were laid out during the April 13 episode of “Voices With Vision” on WPFW (89.3 FM in Washington, D.C.).

As an internationalist organization, BAP wonders if U.S. private contractors and NATO coalition forces from other countries—both of which outnumber U.S. military personnel—will remain in Afghanistan. What role would the United States play once troops are removed? We also ask where else U.S. troops will be sent as the cold war on China is ramped up, Russia continues to be agitated and Africa remains a hotbed for U.S. military activity. We question if devastating sanctions would be slapped on the people of Afghanistan after a U.S. pullout, as in the case of 1970s Vietnam and Iraq after the 1990s bombing campaign.

For all of these reasons and as we gather information on what appears to be an attempt to test the U.S. public’s reaction, BAP continues to demand the United States and NATO pull all troops and contractors, and end all involvement. And we insist the United States respect the human rights of the Afghan people and colonized people the world over, including inside its borders.

 U.S./NATO Out of Afghanistan! 

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