As the Senate holds its first-ever public hearing on drones and targeted killings, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman sits down for an extended interview with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, "Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield."
Scahill charts the expanding covert wars operated by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in countries from Somalia to Yemen to Pakistan. "I called it 'Dirty Wars' because, particularly in this administration, in the Obama administration, I think a lot of people are being led to believe that there is such a thing as a clean war," says Scahill, national security reporter for The Nation magazine and longtime Democracy Now! correspondent.
The Obama administration's assassination of two U.S. citizens in 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old Denver-born son Abdulrahman, is a central part of Scahill's book. While the Obama administration has defended the killing of Anwar, it has never publicly explained why Abdulrahman was targeted in a separate drone strike two weeks later. Scahill reveals CIA Director John Brennan, Obama's former senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security, suspected that the teenager had been killed "intentionally."
"The idea that you can simply have one branch of government unilaterally and in secret declare that an American citizen should be executed or assassinated without having to present any evidence whatsoever, to me, is a -- we should view that with great sobriety about the implications for our country," Scahill says.
Scahill says U.S. diplomatic cables released WikiLeaks were instrumental in researching the book. "In terms of understanding how the covert apparatus works, WikiLeaks was indispensable," he says. "We're going to look back decades from now and realize that because of the release of those documents, there was a huge shift in how we understand some of the more hidden aspects of U.S. policy."
In 2010, Scahill was the first to reveal the plans of Blackwater founder Erik Prince to move his private security company to the United Arab Emirates amidst mounting legal troubles. The New York Times confirmed the story two months later. Speaking on Democracy Now!, Scahill reveals his source at the time was none other than military whistleblower Bradley Manning.
Scahill also teamed up with videographer Richard Rowley to produce a feature-length documentary with the same name, which be released in theaters in June. Watch Scahill and Rowley on Democracy Now! discussing the film, which won the best cinematography in a U.S. documentary award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
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