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With great humility but great hope, I’m writing to you from a hostel room somewhere in Berlin, attempting to reach out to tell you something that I and others like me know -- but governments and weapons companies would prefer you didn't question.
My name is Cian Westmoreland, and I am a former U.S. Air Force communications technician who built the signals relay station for receiving and transmitting data -- used in airstrikes -- obtained over 240,000 square miles of Afghanistan.
I discovered that in the time I served there, my system was a key component used in bombings from drones and other aircraft that killed at least 359 innocent civilians. This was a number derived from a UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan report for the year 2009.
Knowledge of my "life's work" at that time took me down a painful path of tremendous guilt, hopelessness, isolation, and nightmares to what ultimately culminated in me looking over a bridge at the Rio Grande, with the plan of taking my own life in October 2015. It was news of a bombing -- using my equipment -- of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, that brought me there that day.
I committed myself to the VA to protect me from harming myself. Less than a month later, on November 18, 2015, I decided to join fellow drone whistleblowers Brandon Bryant, Michael Haas, and Stephen Lewis in speaking out as a group for the first time.
We drafted a letter to President Obama, General Michael Hayden, and CIA Director John Brennan urging them to stop the extrajudicial bombings, reminding them that this policy is creating more terrorists than it is eliminating. For all of us, there is no turning back.
In the past month, I have been connecting with people around the globe, touring with drone surveillance whistleblower Lisa Ling with a film she is in called "National Bird," directed by Sonia Kennebeck, to educate the public about what the drone program really is, and to represent those people who have been psychologically and physically traumatized by drones on all sides of these strikes.
As the recipient of the first Drone Whistleblower Fellowship of the RootsAction Education Fund, I ask that you consider supporting my work through this fellowship. If you donate, your tax-deductible contribution will help to strengthen my efforts for peace.