Testimony for the April 23 Senate hearing on drones from Colonel Mary A. Wright (retired)
April 20, 2013
Dear Senator Durbin,
My name is Mary A. Wright. I served in the US Army/Army Reserves for 29 years and retired as a Colonel. I also served 16 years as a U.S. Diplomat in U.S. Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. I was on the small State Department team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December, 2001. I was Deputy Chief of Mission of the last four U.S. Embassies.
I was one of three U.S. government employees who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.
Having served almost three decades in the U.S. military, I am very concerned about the use of weaponized drones for targeted killings and assassinations.
I firmly believe the targeted killings, signature strikes and by name assassinations in which the President of the United States becomes the prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner of even American citizens violates our own laws and endangers our national security.
I believe the rationale that using drones will prevent U.S. casualties is deeply and fatally flawed. More U.S. military were killed last year in Afghanistan by Afghan soldiers that the U.S. was training and equipping than by the Taliban and al Qaeda. My question is–why?
I believe one of the most probable answers will be that many of the Afghans the U.S. is training come from the border area of Afghanistan and Pakistan where drone strikes are most common. I believe that those Afghan soldiers who have killed U.S. soldiers have had family members who have been killed by U.S. drones—family members who are not militants, but mothers, children, elderly relatives.
We know that the Pakistani-American who attempted to blow up Times Square several years ago with explosives in his car told law enforcement officers that he was fed up with the American drones killing Pakistanis.
We also know that the CIA’s agent into al Qaeda, a Jordanian medical doctor who turned double agent and became a suicide bomber who blew himself up and killed eight senior CIA officials in Afghanistan, left a letter with his wife in Jordan that he was horrified by the carnage wrecked by U.S. drones.
Time will reveal why the two young men exploded the bombs at the Boston Marathon, but I would not be surprised that they too were outraged by the U.S. assassin drone program.
I travelled to Pakistan in October, 2013 as a part of a U.S. citizen diplomacy delegation. Our delegation talked with surviving family members of U.S. drone attacks who stated that U.S. drones have killed hundreds of civilians. Pakistani polls reveal that 95% of the Pakistani population is angry with the U.S. for using drones to kill their fellow citizens.
As a retired U.S. Army Colonel with 29 years in the U.S. military, I strongly request that the Congress rein in the administration’s use of assassin drones for the safety and security of our country. As a minimum, the public has a right to see the memoranda that authorize these assassin drone strikes.
And finally, as the Congress holds hearings on the non-military use of drones, I hope Congress will protect what little is left of our privacy. Congressional legislation and executive orders allowing the National Security Agency to have access to our cellphone conversations and emails have pretty well gutted our right to privacy.
Constant surveillance of the population by drones will effectively complete the actions needed for a police state in our country.
Please help stop the extraordinary curtailments of civil liberties since 9/11, the militarization of our society in general and the making of a police state written about in fiction books.
Mary A. Wright
2333 Kapiolani Blvd #3217
Honolulu, HI 96826
“Dissent: Voices of Conscience” www.voicesofconscience.com
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.