“Dirty Wars” trailer and interview with Jeremy Scahill
You can see the full length feature here for $4. Interesting: I hadn’t realized YouTube was in the rental business.
Amy Goodman interviews Jeremy Scahill on Democracy Now!, with the video of the interview at the link. Here’s the blurb and the start of the transcript:
Just over six months ago, President Obama gave a major address unveiling new guidelines to limit drone strikes abroad, vowing to narrow the scope of the U.S. targeted killing campaign. But a new analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has raised questions about how much Obama’s new rules have actually constrained the drone program. The Bureau found that while the total number of strikes has slightly decreased, more people were killed in Yemen and Pakistan by covert drone strikes strikes in the past six months than in the six months preceding Obama’s address. We speak with independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, whose documentary film, “Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield,” directed by Richard Rowley, was one of 15 feature documentaries shortlisted this week for an Oscar.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Just over six months ago, President Obama gave a major address unveiling new guidelines to limit drone strikes abroad. He vowed to narrow the scope of the U.S. targeted killing campaign. Here’s part of what he said then.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To say a military tactic is legal or even effective is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance, for the same progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world away also demands the discipline to constrain that power—or risk abusing it. And that’s why, over the last four years, my administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists, insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in presidential policy guidance that I signed yesterday.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: President Obama speaking just over six months ago. Well, a new analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has raised questions about how much Obama’s new rules have actually constrained the drone program. The Bureau found that while the total number of strikes has slightly decreased, more people were killed in Yemen and Pakistan by covert drone strikes in the past six months than in the six months preceding Obama’s address.
AMY GOODMAN: In related news, the U.S. has halted military shipments from Afghanistan through Pakistan due to protests against the U.S. drone war. In a statement, the Pentagon says it’s suspended the removal of military equipment in Pakistan because of the dangers posed to truck drivers. Thousands of Pakistanis have taken part in protests and blockades along NATO supply routes in recent weeks to call for an end to U.S. drone strikes.
In a moment, we’ll be joined by independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, producer and co-writer of the documentary film Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, also the author of the book by the same name. This week, Dirty Wars, which was directed by Richard Rowley and co-written with David Riker, was one of 15 documentaries shortlisted for an Oscar.
[Above is a trailer of the film, which is shown at this point in the videotaped interview. - LG].
AMY GOODMAN: A trailer from Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. The book and the film came out right about the same time. The film has just been shortlisted for an Oscar for best documentary. Jeremy Scahill, the co-producer and writer, is with us right now. It was directed by Rick Rowley.
Jeremy, congratulations on the film. What a difficult subject, how important it is right now.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, thank—I mean, we’ve been, you know, over the past day, emailing all of the people that worked with us on it in Yemen and Afghanistan and Somalia and elsewhere. And, I mean, I—the hope with this is, is that people pay attention to these stories, that Americans will know what happened to the Bedouin villagers in al-Majalah, Yemen, where three dozen women and children were killed in a U.S. cruise missile strike that the White House tried to cover up and allowed the Yemeni government to take credit for, or the people that are killed in night raids in Afghanistan or drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan. I mean, that’s our hope with this. It’s been our hope from the beginning. And so, you know, we’re—in the 15 films that are on the short list for an Oscar, there are some incredible films on that. Jehane Noujaim’s film, The Square, about the Egyptian revolution is—you know, it’s a fantastic movie. The Act of Killing, of course, you had Joshua Oppenheimer on the show. And, I mean, there’s just—we’re honored to be in that field with people, and we just hope that this results in more attention being paid to this issue of the U.S. assassination program.
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, this report that just came out from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that more people have been killed in drone strikes in the six months after President Obama gave his speech—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —saying they’re reforming or changing drone policy, than the six months before?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, this—it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. I mean, you know, the drone czar, or the assassination czar, John Brennan, who now is the head of the CIA, you know, he worked very hard to create something called the “disposition matrix,” which basically is a program that’s going to be used to determine who should be assassinated, who should we try to abduct, who should we try to render, who should we—which terror suspects should we leave it up to local authorities in Yemen or Pakistan to try to deal with. And basically what Obama and his team have done in his second administration is to create an infrastructure for whoever happens to come into office next, whether they’re a Democrat or Republican, and they have ensured that this policy of pre-emptive war—that’s really what we’re talking about here. It’s—these are pre-emptive, pre-crime strikes, where the idea that we should even view terrorism as a law enforcement activity or terrorism as a crime is completely thrown away by the constitutional lawyer president. And so, what I think one of the major legacies of Obama is going to be on this front is that he has tried to put a stamp of legitimacy on what most countries around the world would claim—you know, plainly view as a global assassination program run by the empire, run by the most powerful nation on Earth.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask you about . . .
Continue reading. There’s an interesting quotation from Erik Prince, who started Blackwater (currently named Academi):
AMY GOODMAN: Erik Prince, the founder of the private military company known as Blackwater—or it was once, now Academi.
JEREMY SCAHILL: There’s a new name every week.
AMY GOODMAN: And, of course, Jeremy, you wrote the book about Blackwater, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Well, he recently told The Daily Beast the national security state he once served has grown too large. Prince said, quote, “America is way too quick to trade freedom for the illusion of security. … I don’t know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible ’cause that country would look more like North Korea than America.” That was Erik Prince’s quote. I mean, he doesn’t live in this country, does he?
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, well, he lives in Abu Dhabi. He lives in the Emirates. He was here recently on a book tour. Not only—that was a piece by Eli Lake that you’re referring to there. Not only did Erik Prince make that statement, which I agree with, and I have no problem saying that I agree with Erik Prince, as I agree with libertarians who have been the primary voices speaking out about the drone program and the question of whether or not the president can, by edict, decide that an American citizen should be assassinated. The Democrats have been totally asleep on this. I mean, I do think there’s politicking here. I mean, Erik Prince is a very right-wing libertarian, in many ways, except he does embrace, you know, the full-spectrum war.
The other thing, though, that he told Eli Lake is that he believed that Anwar al-Awlaki—he was against the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who was assassinated in Yemen in September of 2011. But he also said that he believes—and remember, Erik Prince is a guy with very close connections to the CIA and JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, and is a former Navy SEAL himself and has done all sorts of dirty covert ops stuff for the U.S. government. He said he believes that the killing of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, Anwar al-Awlaki’s son, who was killed two weeks after his father, that he believes it was intentional. . .