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Common Dreams

Military Industry Employee 'Throws Down Rifle' for 'Good of the World'

Taking inspiration from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Brandon Toy publicly resigns from private 'defense' contractor and says 'you can do it too'

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

A five-year employee at private defense contracting corporation General Dynamics publicly resigned Tuesday in protest of the company's arming of US-led wars, declaring: "I have always believed that if every foot soldier threw down his rifle war would end. I hereby throw mine down."

Brandon Toy sent his resignation letter in an email to his immediate supervisors, coworkers, and the corporate chain of command, as well as to Common Dreams, who published the statement Tuesday.

The letter has since gone viral, racketing tens of thousands of views on social media sites as attention continues to climb.

Toy—who penned the letter in May and sat on it for months—says that when he pressed send and walked out of his office, he felt that a "giant weight had been lifted from [his] shoulders."

"I feel fantastic," he told Common Dreams. "I did the right thing. I am a little concerned about what I will do for work, but I know I will be working for the good of the world."

Robert Doolittle, General Dynamics spokesperson, told Common Dreams he was aware of Toy's resignation but had no comment.

The Detroit-based Army veteran, who had worked as an engineering project manager for General Dynamics, says that as a paper-pusher for this arms industry giant, he was ethically implicated in its role arming and fighting US-led wars.


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"I felt a lot of cognitive dissonance for last two or three years," he explains. "I knew what the truth was and what the consequences of our actions were. But I needed to make a living."

One of the top 'defense' companies in the world, General Dynamics has been mired in controversy for its over 100 years of war profiteering, with profit windfalls from the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thanks to extensive US contracts. The company has been met with harsh criticism for supplying weapons, including Stryker armored vehicles, tanks and guns, to the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while operating behind a veil of secrecy.

Yet, General Dynamics was not Toy's first taste of US-led wars. He had formerly served in the Army as a military police machine gunner in Iraq during a 2004 deployment. Having joined as a fervent believer in the US-led war in Iraq, Toy says the experience turned him against a war that wasn't helping anyone and was just "killing civilians" and "destroying cities."

He became further disillusioned with the US role in the world when President Obama failed to bring the "hope and change everyone was hoping for." He says that 'courageous' journalists and advocates, including Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks who exposed US war crimes, "showed him the truth" and filled him with anger as he worked his General Dynamics job following his honorable discharge from the Army.

Toy says that when Edward Snowden blew the whistle on NSA warrantless spying, he was deeply moved.

"When [Edward Snowden] talked about how he had believed in the mission, joined after the Iraq war, and found out it was false, it was like my words coming out," he said. "It gave me hope that he took the chance and risked his life to do what he was doing."

When asked if he has any advice for people in similar positions, he simply stated, "My actions speak louder than any words I could say. You don't have to continue doing what you're doing."


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