tv Taiwan Outlook PBS October 22, 2013 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org-- >> welcome if you are just joining us, we have a pax news edition tonight. did today kicks off in just a few minutes. drones coming under fire. washington claims it is the best weapon to fight extra messed and allies say that they are fed up. our drone strikes legal? do they work? right after the news, and that young is standing by with the latest.
>> let's take a look at what is making headlines this hour. ensuring that the geneva peace talks will happen next month. but still no confirmation from the syrian opposition. a report by amnesty international says cia drone attacks in pakistan are responsible for unlawful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes. this is going to be as bad as it gets. why are fighters bracing themselves in australia for yet another horror day as they brace themselves on the outskirts of sydney. first, our top story and the pressure on for the syrian opposition to attend planned peace negotiations next month. the opposition is refusing to talk unless president assad steps down. talks with members of the opposition with the aim of getting them to change their mind.
let's listen to what u.s. secretary of state john kerry had to say. >> what we did today was increase our commitment to the convening of the geneva conference for the specific purpose of implementing the geneva one communiqué. we have agreed to increase assistance to the opposition including to the syrian opposition coalition. the legitimate representative of the syrian people. >> the syrian opposition has listed a new series of conditions in order for them to attend next month's meeting. >> some countries are embarrassed by atrocities carried out by assad on a daily basis. if they wash their hands on these matters by imposing unacceptable compromises on us, then it is no to geneva.
a five times, no. the solution should allow for the criminal's departure and transfer to a new government with war criminals on both sides facing justice. if that happens, we will take part in geneva two. >> we asked a serious activist if it will still go ahead next month. >> it will be imposed by the international community and it was never going to be enough if you're looking for a successful resolution of the syrian conflict. it is good that we got declarations from london and they are saying that the departure is a condition to back that transition. the conditions of geneva one have yet to be applied, the cease-fire. the opening of humanitarian aid
to the refugees. listing the siege. all these conditions must be tangible ones for the opposition to unite and tell the people in syria and the refugees that we have a chance achieving that transition. so far, we just have declarations and we have a bunch from the greatest allies, which is russia. they are not enough if they are not able to push the russians into a corner and tell them this is the only game in town. you can push or ally out. >> cia drone attacks in pakistan are responsible for unlawful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes. it has become common practice.
it has also been the source of much tension between america and pakistan. >> a serene scene, a picture- perfect family, except these youngsters are victims of a u.s. drone strike. he was wounded in october of 2012 while his grandma was killed by the attack as she was gathering vegetables. >> since the attack was carried out, everyone has been very scared of drones. it is so loud that no one can even sleep. >> with all five grandchildren wounded in the strike, amnesty international is calling for an end to the drone attacks. >> we are concerned about the u.s. drone program because it claims they can use it anywhere in the world.
we have to take the u.s. on its word because it provides no information. this is a secret program. in some cases, they have clearly killed civilians and some of these places might be a war crime. >> the area of the most intensive u.s. drone campaign in the world. the southern country itself has repeatedly condemned the strikes , saying that they killed too many civilians. >> [inaudible] >> amnesty's call came on the eve of talks between u.s. president barack obama and pakistani prime minister sharif. drone attacks are high on the agenda.
the death toll since 2004 is between 2000 and three thousand 3500. >> hurricane raymond adds towards the pacific coast. forecasts are predicting that it won't come ashore but the storm threatens to put heavy rains. firefighters in australia are bracing themselves for another hard day as they battle a nor ms. bushfires on the outskirts of sydney. they have deliberately joined up just west of the city in order to control the fires. the fires have also sparked angry debate, given cause for
the summer. they say they are absolutely linked to global warming, beating out the position to repeal the tax. we talked about just how dangerous the conditions are. >> it is looking really grim tomorrow. firefighters have taken advantage of cooler weather to put in place back burning and other measures to mitigate the effects of tomorrow's bad weather. they are expecting wind gusts of 100 kilometers an hour and temperatures in the mid-30's. it could well be quite a serious fire tomorrow. >> the u.n. climate change chief has directly linked the fires to global warming. what has the australian government been saying? >> there have been quite a bit of debate in the last few days.
they say it is not time to have the debate because people are in the middle of a crisis, but there is a push amongst environmentalists and some scientists that we do need to start talking about the link between climate change and bush fires. talking about repealing the carbon tax. they say the link should not be made at the moment. >> a russian bolshoi dancer charged with attacking the artistic director and almost blinding him. with two other men, the three could face up to 12 years in prison but the judge postponed the case for a week due to the absence of one of the lawyers. >> the russian dancer went on trial on tuesday, charged with
plotting a massive attack on the artistic director. the scandal has put a spotlight on bitter infighting between elegance and beauty of the productions of the theater. sergey, seen before his attack, had the power to make or break careers as the artistic director. a masked attacker through a mixture of sulfuric acid and urine in his face. >> i knew something wasn't right. i turn around and iran. he turned around -- and i ran. he caught up to me and sprayed me with acid. >> carried out by a certain yuri, but they deny ordering the use of acid. >> agreeing to his offer, it was only meant to be a beating as a
final resort. >> the suspected motive is the personal vendetta, at loggerheads with the director and was angry when his girlfriend was not chosen as the lead in swan mike -- "swan lake." the soloist could face up to 12 years in prison. the traditional new season gathering, he made an appearance. but with more expected, the director said he was not yet ready to resume work. >> time to hand it back. >> welcome back if you are just joining us. the weapon of choice, barack obama has a soft spot for drones which he uses to track and kill enemies in regions of pakistan, afghanistan, and yemen.
no americans get killed, no need for international diplomacy. but the drones are coming under fire. just ask washington to stop the drone strikes and human rights groups say hundreds of civilians have been killed in the process unlawfully. it might amount to war crimes. is this modern form of warfare it legal? -- illegal? does it work? let's ask our guests. we have aipac studio, security consultant with us -- we have a packed studio, a security consultant with us. you have been on the ground in pakistan from the beginning? >> that is one of my colleagues. >> if i am not mistaken, you have studied the security situation. >> i am trained to understand
how the army is influencing the newspapers and what they are telling us about the conflict. >> we are happy to have you back on set after a long absence. you are responsible for telling us whether this is legal and to what extent. you just finished a fascinating documentary, obama's dirty war. it will air in france and you will get it aired internationally. joining us from connecticut, the president of the center for finncial policy. winning the war on terror, working on homeland security and international security issues for many years now.
i would like to first go to the observer in islamabad that marched against drones last year. i would like to find out why you are against drones. >> first of all, there is more than one reason. as a pakistani, i believe they are against my country's study. there is no way any patriarch -- [indiscernible] my country, as you know, the rights of someone who is looking for any rights in pakistan, they are in the civilized world. and
yet again, there is one guy that is monitoring. he is the one that decides. the most important thing is that these drones have been protected all the way. we have seen that there are a lot of innocent casualties. it has not only incited much hatred against america, but it has given rise to globalization in the region. what happens, because of these drones, people actually have sympathy. america uses them unlawfully.
lots of times, the drone will kill an innocent child and attack family gatherings. it gives rise to terrorism and anti-american sentiment in the region. >> you have developed a number of very interesting arguments. we will be taking a closer look at those throughout the world. you say it is not a civilized weapon or affective against insurgent groups. let's try to get our viewers a visual sense of what these drone strikes are like. three years ago, one of the journalists that made his way up to the tribal regions of pakistan where the taliban have had a strong hold their. -- steroronghold there. he arrived shortly after it happened and this is an excerpt. >> a new kind of warfare.
no ground troops or pilots in the air. zero risk of american deaths and devastating to its enemies. >> a group of men asked us for shelter for the night and i greeted them. there were about 40 of them in the courtyard. then a missile fell on us and many men were killed. families were destroyed because of this. why do they do this? >> a u.s. hellfire missile that destroyed the house of mohammed and fired into the night by a u.s. drone. there is no question of putting troops on pakistani soil. it is diplomatically impossible and militarily dangerous. >> you have it in a nutshell. the destruction from unmanned
aircraft and the controversy of civilians being killed. you'd even have the fragments of hellfire missiles. a central point to this debate, you say it is not civilized weapons. is there such a thing as a civilized weapon? >> it is very hard to make an objective opinion about if it is a good solution to use drones. for the u.s. and the special militaries, is civilized or not? it is a very physical question. the way you're using a tool to kill targets is changing. i'm not sure -- [indiscernible]
>> it doesn't matter what kind of weapon is used, the results of damage and instruction and death is the same? >> it is difficult to know today if it is more for civilians than a classical cooperation. if you look at the statistics published by the investigation -- >> let's look at them together. the number since 2004, most of which are been carried out under the presidency of barack obama, we are talking 300 in pakistan. the number of deaths estimated anywhere between 2500 and 3500.
civilian deaths, 400 to 800. >> one of the problems for the civilian casualties, it is part of it which is very complicated. the question was also important to ask if the aircraft does cooperations on the ground. >> you are saying there is going to be collateral damage anyway? >> if you look at the global war on terror in afghanistan or iraq, a number of civilians killed his huge. -- is huge. in yemen, an investigation has published some statistics about
cooperations on the ground. it seems that commandos, special forces -- [indiscernible] i'm not sure it is as evident as we think. >> let's bring in scott bates. why did they become so popular with this president? >> it was a search for the method of the use of force that would not violate sovereignty in a way that a full-scale invasion would like in iraq. or raids used selectively. it's an effort to limit collateral damage in a kinetic war. the president of the u.s. doesn't do these because he wants to. there is the authorization of the use of force that congress passed in 2001.
but the biggest challenge is, it's been 12 years since 9/11. an unconventional war into the second decade and in a sustainable fashion. we need allies to prosecute that war. >> drones are a more humane weapon. is that the arguments that they are more humane? >> i think they are more effective and there can be less collateral b damage. it is hard to see any humane weapon. that is the nature of warfare and it is an awful thing. it is a response to the killing of 3000 americans a dozen years ago.
from kenya to pakistan to iraq to syria, they kill thousands of civilians. a broader international approach is going to be called for to make a sustainable press against al qaeda. you can't get good intelligence without partners on the ground. i think you will see that the frequency has tailed off after the search in afghanistan has come down. >> i want to get the general to answer, but first, we can pull out the numbers, the frequency in their use. they peaked at about 2008 and started decreasing. they still seem to be sustained at a fairly high number. you're looking at the gray bar. the tallest one in 2010 is when drone strikes peaked.
after barack obama took office, the beginning and the middle of the surge in afghanistan. >> we are talking about the different kind of drones. there are three types. the first is used for reconnaissance. it is essential to acquire. the third one is in the future, able to fight in the air. we are focusing on the second time. they have a lot of electronic equipment.
we have no collateral damage. >> they are just a better weapon, plain and simple. >> the problem is where you deliver the weapons system. only if you have someone on the ground able to identify. this is the man on the ground. >> there has to be human intelligence, exactly. the problem is that they are piloted people in miami, the drone is flying somewhere and they have a checklist. sometimes you make a mistake. but at the end, when the weapons system is delivered like it was in pakistan -- >> when the bomb lands on its target. >> it is an aircraft that has some sort of collateral damage
anyway. >> interesting how you got to those figures -- >> these are estimates. it is hard to get good numbers. >> it is interesting to understand how we get to those figures. when we were shooting the documentary, we had the chance to meet one of the legal advisers for president bush. you witnessed the switch to drones. basically, after the experience at guantánamo, the go controversy, the prisoners held without trial, the obama administration decided to switch and not detain anymore. to go and kill. >> take no prisoners.
>> according to him, it is a deliberate way to change a policy. >> solve a political problem of what to do with date teenage -- detainees. >> i want to agree with some of what the general has said and take issue with drones in themselves, as an arms delivery platform, are not the problem. the problem is when we choose to use them and how. the u.s. policy is posing some the problems because, first of all, they don't infringe less on state sovereignty than in on the ground invasion. you still have to go through their airspace. the argument of invoking american self-defense after 9/ 11, it's 12 years on.
it is a doubtful argument on. it you need the criteria of imminence. it is not sure in many of these cases whether a threat is imminent every time the united states decides to go ahead with the drone strike. repressor bates was talking about sustainable war, moving away from conventional wars. what does sustainable war mean? it can be the permanent state of affairs. the state of affairs is supposed to be peacetime. >> the american policy vis-à-vis the war on terror is to move away -- >> that is a sense of what i got from the speech in may. these two reports from anise tea international point out that barack obama seemed to announce a slight change in policy from the united states. moving away from discriminant war, it will not last forever.
>> scott bates, before we go to the break, i want to hear from you on this. that the legal case for these drone strikes is shaky. >> i have not gotten the news report that they have declared war on the united states. it is carrying out operations in countries over two or three continents. they are still targeting the u.s., some sin -- some intelligence suggests that. it still leaves to retain capabilities beyond watch. we can call it what we want. it is effective with what you're doing. it would be great -- you can't just walk away from it. that is when al qaeda has the chance to set up ace and plan as they did before 9/11.
>> we will continue this debate in a few minutes after the break. >> a quick reminder of headlines, the efforts to ensure the geneva to peace talks will happen next month. still no confirmation from the syrian opposition whether they will attend. cia drone attacks in pakistan responsible for him awful killings, some of which could amount to war crimes. praising themselves for another holiday -- bracing themselves for another horror day in au stralia. and an attack on a police station after the end of the decade -- a two-decade old
peace deal. >> part 2 on barack obama's drone wars. in pakistan, yemen, afghanistan, but also killing civilians. the pakistani prime minister is demanding the drone strikes stopped immediately. joining us is a security consultant, an associate researcher, and international law specialist, a journalist finishing a documentary called "drones: obama's dirty war," and president of the center for international policy. we were just getting into the debate over the legality of drone strikes. lana taking issue with whether or not there is still a
rationale for these under international law. >> they said that until the u.s. gets a white flag from al qaeda, we are at war. a reasonable person would say that they will never have a white flag. when will they be degraded enough that the u.s. decides this is sufficient and that a law-enforcement approach will suffice? that is the real question if you don't want this to last forever and be open-ended. i think it seems that there is increasing evidence that at least not all of them are legal. >> what does international law say? anise tea international says that civilians have been killed. a group of 18 pakistanis near the afghan border having lunch.
is there any way under international law that can be illegal? -- can be legal? >> it can be if you're at war. it's lawful under international law. but it has to confirm with the principles of necessity and proportionality. >> the grandmother would have needed to be either a target or near a high-value target? >> a lawful target under international law. a military target or a civilian participating in hostilities. some collateral damage is acceptable within the principle of proportionality. >> the grandmother is clearly not a high-value target. it is legal to carry out a drone
strike that kills her if she dies in a strike targeting someone else nearby. >> if you are at war, the target is a high-value military target and the total civilian casualties conforms to the principle of proportionality. if you have a couple of civilian deaths for a height value target, that is acceptable. 300 is not acceptable. >> a public relations war, you will always find the grandmother somewhere. you are killing people. the first to react and show a picture of a child or grandmother will win. they put a picture where you see 30 people with weapons -- >> that is why we want to bring the information to viewers this evening.
it is not necessarily intuitive that it can be legal to kill civilians provided it is a small number of civilians. >> international law does not pretend to view war as black and white. but in times of war, it can be legal. not all of these in the u.s. fighting against taliban, not all of these strikes are legal. that number seems to be important enough that they are raising alarm bells. >> the amnesty report is very clear about that. it is not just the story of this grandmother, they also explained you should believe one of the pakistani sources. a taliban fighter has been located. and he should have been the target.
i think that is what they are asking for. not to stop the attack, but to have information. they say that war crimes might have been committed. >> that is what they are asking for and it is necessary. >> i would like to show viewers how this debate echoes in pakistan. there is an amazing piece of work. let's watch an excerpt, exclusive footage from your documentary that has not aired yet on french tv. this is how a pakistani family reacts to president barack obama giving his justification for drone strikes. >> [foreign language] >> the drones have not called an
clearly, this is the crux of the debate. pakistanis here are saying that we have nothing to do with taliban insurgents and yet we are being targeted. >the grandmother that was documented in the amnesty international report that was picking vegetables -- that is her son? >> her grandchildren also. the younger kids. this has been one of the most famous cases of civilian casualties. it is because it is the w most widely documented one. we have a little information and those investigations -- in this case where the grandmother was
killed, we have a sufficient amount of information to understand her and her grandchildren have been injured in the strike. they were civilians. >> in this particular case, you can guarantee they had nothing to do with insurgents? >> they're civilians. >> the point is to not wield the weapon, but control the weapon. piloting the drone, and we have the problem where i interviewed a u.s. officer doing that in miami. they said our problem is that living at 4:00 in the afternoon,
going back to our family, we are not linked to the war. >> talking about the people that pilot the drones in a us-based -- [talking over each other] >> their perception of the war is completely different. i think armies are working on educating the people not to be disconnected from the war. -- from the world. because then you are in a literal war. you've got to control the system. to control the system, you have to be very careful. but you will never stop having civilians killed that war. >> i understand there is a disconnect if you're not on the
battleground. does it change the decisions, the targets identified? >> there have been reports of the u.s. targeting strategy called signature strikes where they don't hand select the targets. they are picked according to a number of criteria. there are vague criteria upon which the u.s. select some of its targets. it is also a legal issue. >> mr. bates, you are in connecticut. the arguments being made here that different decisions, different military decisions are made when the people flying are pressing the fire button halfway across the world from the battle zone. there are rules of engagement and they are saying that if the
pilot is in a it flying over the battle zone or halfway across the world -- >> there are conditions in which they are given the authorization to fire. but there are problems. the fundamental problem is we are talking about sovereignty before. i understand it is not a large section of its own inventory. the government over the past decade, what would work better is for pakistan to acknowledge that they have been in on a lot of this. it was a common threat and a common enemy. 75,000 troops in that area to get under control. >> listen to the pakistani prime
minister. all right, we will bring that to you in a few moments. he has repeated this on several occasions that the u.s. drone strikes is a violation of sovereignty. you were essentially telling us this was for political consumption. >> sovereignty is a core issue, i don't take that lightly. at a certain point, if you are not exercising control, the claims to respecting sovereignty are difficult and we are not going to protect their own interests. it would be much better if we were targeting better intelligence collection.
they are not in control of their own territory. >> one of the key issues, we addressed the legality of the drone strikes, we did not talk about the efficiency of the drone strikes. is this working? is this a better tool? >> we have not talked about cost efficiency. it is seven times less expensive. i'm not talking about buying a drone, i'm talking the use of the drone. cheaper. omre e -- more efficient. the weapons system is probably more efficient because it is slower so it can target
precisely the target. the problem is control. we are talking about rules of engagement. one officer saying that he saw a truck and it was stopping very often. and so in the checklist, it was an enemy. by chance, a patrol on the ground was there. they checked and it was a merchant selling things in all the villages. the problem is really the control. a truck on the road, it is an enemy. no, you need to check. this is a problem, controlling the weapons system that is more efficient than an aircraft because they fly very slowly for a long time. >> you say this technology paves the way for a new kind of mistake being made identifying
and targeting these kind of weapons. my question is a broader one about if the u.s. is right to rely heavenly -- so much on drone strikes. >> they have been a major recruiting tool. this is a major recruiting tool. >> it is counterproductive in that respect. but before the massive use of drones, the figures were that not more than 200 to 400 members were in yemen.
today, there are almost 2000 members. is it linked? it is. >> the number of fighters has actually increased. >> what is the assessment in washington, the benefit of hindsight of several years of intensive use of drones. you consider it an effective weapon that is working? >> nothing is without cost, but on the whole, al qaeda has been degraded significantly. we have been able to knock out, time after time, and kept them off-balance enough that they have not been able to launch major actions in the u.s..
the proof is that so far, al qaeda's abilities are significantly degraded. this is a conflict the u.s. did not seek and doesn't really want to have to take on because, as our guests are pointing out, there are pr problems with that globally. but other interactions like boots on the ground or aerial bombardments to go after those that would seek to harm us, this is an effective tool. but rules and norms have to be developed internationally. >> what about the specific argument that it could be a recruitment tool for al qaeda? >> they do their recruitment regardless. they are involved in a conflict. i don't doubt that it was used, but if not this, then what is something important to ask.
war is horrible and difficult and that is unfortunately what we are involved in because of al qaeda. we are open to other ideas to prosecute this war. >> amnesty internationals criticism of america is unrealistic. soldiers on the ground produce more innocent deaths. one of our viewers agreeing that as imperfect as they might be, they are better than some of the alternatives. >> i wanted to come back on the idea that the civilian casualties are helping them to recruit. we have to make a difference between pakistan and yemen. the concentration is not the same and the strategy of the american forces is not the same either. in pakistan, they are targeting
some taliban fighters who, most of the time, aren't high value targets. they're just fighters in a conflict that is already complicated. if you read amnesty, the people that are interviewed about drones also explained that they are really scared about taliban mines and offshore forces. so we are in a very specific situation. in yemen, high value targets -- i think that maybe more people are affiliates to al qaeda. what is the capacity today and a few years before?
>> something i have not shared with you, it is interesting. in journal documents -- internal al qaeda documents, the tips of how to avoid drones. we translated them. tip 18, hold fake meetings using dolls and statues to fool the enemy. immediately get out of the vehicle and leave in different directions. i don't know how effective that is -- >> but it shows they are scared. in the short term, it has been degraded. the top levels of leadership have been decimated. it is the most moral position there is.
you have to think long term as well. you have long-term effects for deep animosity. also, undermining the international regime for the use of force. the prohibition is a cornerstone of international law. lex you got -- >> you got the final word, sorry, general. very thought-provoking issues were raised. you can watch the debate on our website. thank you to scott bates for joining us. [indiscernible] stay tuned for his report on french tv right now looking to get it aired internationally. a very interesting part of this conversation. thank you all. let me now turn to james.
what have you got for us? >> one of the biggest stories, the latest series of revelations from the nsa, this time from an internal memo that says there was espionage on french diplomatic missions in new york at the un and washington. what's new about that? didn't we know or speculate this was completely general? they are detailing all the reactions and the fallout that has taken place. obama and hollande have spoken on the phone. he said these were unacceptable practices, the same words the foreign minister used with john kerry over the last day or two.
you get a load of official reactions, which is embarrassing for the u.s. but it really isn't informing us of anything new. this is an article -- in english. they've never done this before. the last 24 hours or so, it is not just a synopsis of the scoop. >> international audience. >> in particular, an american audience. this is the first time i have seen that. and german media by way of comparison, they had an english- language website for many years. some people being ironic. sort of unusual. >> france is officially very
angry at the u.s.. what do we know about the frence realistic including the former foreign minister saying, everybody does it, let's be honest. everyone spies on them and that is what is surprising. private individuals are the subject of espionage, not just on a corporate or diplomatic level. it reminded me going back to july when this started to break. they were poking fun at the horror being expressed at this espionage. the revelations were about eu missions in new york and washington seemed utterly unacceptable. they have u.s. internal