tv Democracy Now PBS October 16, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
10/16/15 10/16/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> this is the first time that primary source documents have been published in detail the chain of command for assassinating people around the globe. amy: "the drone papers." the intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents that expose the inner workings of the u.s. military's assassination program in afghanistan, yemen, and somalia. is there a new edward snowden? we will speak with jeremy scahill and reporters ryan devereaux and cora currier on
the assassination complex, the kill chain, and manhunting in the hindus. an unprecedented glimpse into obama's drone wars. reversesresident obama course on afghanistan. >> maintaining our current posture through next year rather than a more rapid drawdown will allow us to sustain our efforts to train and assist afghans forces as they grow stronger. not only during this fighting season, but into the next one. amy: the longest war in american history has been indefinitely extended. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has officially reversed course and announced he assaulted the withdrawal of u.s. troops from afghanistan. speaking at the white house thursday, obama described the afghanistan war as "vital to our
national security interests" and said u.s. forces will continue to go after al qaeda. >> first, i decided to maintain our current posture of 9800 troops in afghanistan through most of next year, 2016. their mission will not change. our troops will continue to pursue those two narrow tasks that i outlined earlier, training afghan forces and going after al qaeda. but maintaining our current posture through most of next year rather than a more rapid drawdown will allow us to sustain our efforts to train and assist afghans forces as they grow stronger. not only during this fighting season, but into the next one. amy: across the united states military families reacted to the , news. in oceanside, california, the father of an active duty soldier expressed concern over the prolonging of the occupation.
>> i was truly, chile hoping because my son has less than a year to complete his 20 years, i was truly, truly hoping that he would be getting out, but he signed on for two more years prior to this announcement. he and i have some talking to do. amy: we will have more with jeremy scahill later on the u.s. war in afghanistan as well as his explosive new report in the intercept called, "the drone papers." meanwhile, doctors without borders says a u.s. tank has forced its way into the afghan hospital destroyed by a u.s. airstrike sparking concern the , u.s. military may have destroyed evidence in a potential war crimes investigation. the october 3 airstrike on the hospital in kunduz, afghanistan, killed 12 medical staff and 10 patients. 33 people remain missing. doctors without borders the u.s. tank's "unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear."
this comes as the associated press reports us special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on the afghan hospital days before the airstrike out of suspicion it was being used as a base for the taliban. the intelligence included maps of the regions with a circle drawn around the hospital. the white house has described the u.s. airstrike on the hospital as a mistake. in news from israel and the occupied territories, local media sources are reporting violence by israeli forces is escalating in the west bank cities of ramallah and bethlehem, just as israel says it's deploying more troops to the border with gaza. media sources say israeli soldiers have shot and wounded at least a dozen palestinian protesters with live or rubber-coated bullets. this comes as the israeli justice minister has announced palestinian family members of suspected attackers would be stripped of their jerusalem residency rights and social security. at least 32 palestinians and 8 israelis have been killed in the
past two weeks of violence in israel and the occupied palestinian territories. on thursday, secretary of state john kerry condemned the violence. thee strongly condemn terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, and there is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks. and we will continue to support israel's right to defend its existence. it is critically important, be restored aslm soon as possible and we, the administration, will continue to stress the importance politically and privately of preventing inflammatory rhetoric , accusations, or actions that could lead to violence. amy: meanwhile, israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu is disputing the account of a 13-year-old boy who was videotaped bleeding in the streets of east jerusalem. palestinian authority president mahmoud abbas claims the boy was executed after he allegedly took
part in a stabbing attack. but netanyahu says the boy has been hospitalized and his condition is improving. israel released photos thursday of the boy in the hospital. following the photos' release, the israeli physicians for human rights issued a statement saying the move was a violation of juvenile law and medical ethics. in news from the campaign trail, democratic candidates hillary clinton and bernie sanders have raised more money than any other candidates over the last three months. clinton raised $30 million. sanders, $26 million, despite continuing to refuse to accept campaign donations from corporations and super pacs. ben carson raised $20 million, the most of any other republican candidate. at this point, the 2016 campaign is significantly outpacing recent election cycles in campaign contributions. half the money raised so far has come from outside groups like super pacs. meanwhile, republican frontrunner donald trump and his challenger ben carson are threatening to boycott the next republican presidential debate
if the host network cnbc don't agree to their demands. they want to limit the debate time to two hours and to inclu the previous republican debate stretched on for a full three hours. the debate is scheduled for october 28. this comes after the first democratic presidential debate also sparked controversy, after congresswoman tulsi gabbard of hawaii said she was disinvited one day after calling for more democratic debates than the six currently scheduled. meanwhile, a close friend of vice president joe biden has released a letter to biden's former staffers saying that he will be making a decision soon on whether to join the 2016 presidential election. the letter also asks the staffers for their support and involvement should joe biden declare his candidacy. cnn reports a senior democratic official has said the vice president will likely decide within the next three days. a frequent fox news commentator
and chargedested for falsely claiming to have worked for the cia for decades. wayne simmons said he worked as a "outside paramilitary special operations officer" for the cia from 1973 to 2000. a claim u.s. prosecutors say is false. simmons allegedly tried to use his phony record to get government security clearances and to secure work as a military contractor. he was identified as a cia operative in appearances on fox news. simmons frugally made dubious claims such as is generally statement that their "at least 19 paramilitary muslim training facilities in the united states." after his arrest, fox news that yet only appeared as an unpaid guest. simmons is charged with major fraud, wire fraud, making false statements to the government. he faces up to 35 years in prison. volkswagen has issued a mandatory recall of 8.5 million cars across europe, amid the scandal over its installation of emissions-cheating software in its diesel cars.
this comes after germany ordered volkswagen recall 2.4 million cars. volkswagen was required to extend the recall thursday to all european cars under european union regulations. texas governor greg abbott has declared a state of disaster in a central texas county after a wildfire destroyed nine homes and sent dozens of people fleeing for their safety. the hidden pines fire in bastrop county, texas, covers more than 4000 acres and is only 15% contained. meanwhile, a global insurance company has estimated that california's wildfires this summer caused nearly $2 billion in damage. the fires were among the worst in state history. governor jerry brown has connected the fires to climate change and california's historic drought warning "this is the , future." in news from europe, an afghan refugee has been shot and killed by bulgarian border guards while trying to cross from turkey. the united nations refugee agency says it was the first case of a fatal police shooting
of a refugee on the eu's borders. this comes as the european union and turkey have agreed upon a plan for turkey to stop refugees fleeing conflict from crossing by sea into europe. in exchange, european leaders will give turkey billions more in aid money, to ease restrictions for turkish citizens traveling to europe and to restart turkey's long-stalled negotiations to join the european union. this comes a the world bank meanwhile, is considering a plan to compensate syria's neighboring countries for the cost of hosting refugees for long. the time. the second point to emphasize, we recognize for many of these countries, there is a cost associated with hosting refugees and so they need to be compensated. to enterite prepared into that dialogue with our shareholders as to how we support the compensation of countries. and in particular, the middle income countries that often do not have access to concessional
resources. and that is the conversation that is taking place. amy: in nigeria, at least 14 people have been killed in two suicide bomb attacks in the northeast borno state. the attacks hit a mosque during prayer hour thursday. this comes one day after 5 people were killed in bombing attacks the day before. no one has taken responsibility for either attack, but authorities said they suspect boko haram. this week, president obama announced the us would be dispatching 300 troops to the neighboring country of cameroon to fight boko haram. in michigan, the family of a 17-year-old teenager who was shot and killed by an eaton county sheriff's sergeant after a february traffic stop has filed a federal lawsuit against -- over his death. sergeant jonathan frost stopped deven guilford after the teenager flashed his bright lights at the sergeant because he thought the sergeant's brights were on. when deven did not give sergeant frost his driver's license which , he had left with his girlfriend, frost pulled the teenager out of the car, ordered him to lie on his stomach, and
fired his stun gun into the teenager as he handcuffed him. according to the eaton county prosecutor, some form of altercation then ensued, in which sergeant frost shot guilford seven times in a snow-filled ditch. guilford was unarmed. his family filed a wrongful death suit against sergeant frost and the county four months wednesday, after sergeant frost was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. frost remains on active duty. both frost and devon were quite. in a recent episode of showtime's hit series airbag --" featured arabic graffiti "homeland" is racist and "there is no homeland turko three said they were behind -- the three artists say the graffiti was in protest of the tv series false and misleading stereotypes of muslims.
and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. one of the most secretive military campaigns in u.s. history is under the microscope like never before. in a major exposé based on leaked government documents, the intercept has published the most in-depth look at the u.s. drone assassination program to date. "the drone papers" exposes the inner-workings of how the drone war is waged, from how targets are identified to who decides to kill. they reveal a number of flaws, including that strikes have resulted in large part from electronic communications data, or "signals intelligence," that officials acknowledge is unreliable. the documents also undermine government claims that the drone strikes have been precise. during one five-month period of an operation in afghanistan, 9 out of 10 casualties were not the intended target. and among other revelations, the documents also corroborate
previous reports that all foreign males in a target zone have been treated as militants unless they are proven innocent after death. amy: the documents were leaked to the intercept by an unnamed u.s. intelligence source who says he wanted to alert americans to wrongdoing. with obvious comparisons to nsa whistleblower edward snowden, snowden himself weighed in, tweeting out -- "when we look back on today, we will find the most important national security story of the year." in a statement, amnesty international said the leaks should spark an independent congressional inquiry over "whether the usa has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as 'combatants' to justify their killings." the leaks include detailed files on the drone war in afghanistan just as president obama has announced his plan to again delay the withdrawal of u.s. troops and extend the occupation of afghanistan indefinitely.
for more we begin with jeremy scahill, co-founder of the theintercept.com and co-author of the, "drone papers" series. his contributions to the series include the articles, "the assassination complex" and "find, fix, finish." his latest book, "dirty wars: the world is a battlefield," is out in paperback. his film, "dirty wars," was nominated for an academy award. he is also the author of the bestselling book, "blackwater: the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army." in our next segment, we will be joined by his co-authors, ryan devereaux and cora currier. jeremy, astounding revelations. why don't you first summarize what you have learned. >> the first drone strike outside of declared war zone happened in november 2002 in yemen. and in that strike, it was a cia operation with the military and the whole thing was coordinated
out of command center in washington, d.c. six people were killed, including an american citizen. at that time, condoleezza rice, senior official in the bush a administration, was defending the right of the president of the united states to assassinate individuals, including u.s. citizens, based on intelligence they never had to make public. there wasn't another drone ,trike in yemen until 2011 2012, the obama administration really starts to intensify drone operations in yemen. despite the fact that at times pakistan was being bombed once every three days by drones, you had an active drone program in afghanistan, it wasn't until may of 2013 that a sitting u.s. president gave an official address where he acknowledged that drones were being used by the united states. it was a scenario where you would have the president making jokes about killing the jonas brothers at the white house correspondents association dinner, he would talk about it
on a google hangout in response to questions from people talking to the president, but they never really fully owned this thing in public. what we published is an extensive look into how this program has operated historically, but specifically, under president obama. one of the most significant findings, and my colleague cora currier dug deep into this, we published for the first time the kill chain, what the bureaucracy of assassination looks like. theseat you see is all of officials, including people like the treasury secretary, are part of signing off on all of this. where they have these secret meetings and they discuss who is going to live and die around the world. at the end of that process, it is the president of the united states who signs what amounts to a death warrant for whoever they decided should die based on what amounts to a parallel secret judicial system in the u.s. that
is not really subjected to any kind of judicial review, where the president asked sort of as emperor, issues and needed that you die. what we show, and this is the first documentary evidence, the president gives the military a 60 day window to hunt down and kill these individuals. watchth from human rights pointed out today if the standard is that the people who are being targeted for assassination is that they represent an imminent threat, which is what the president says u.s. policy is, then why do they have 60 days to do it? why don't they need to do it now if it is imminent? they have redefined the term imminent to be so vague as to not even resemble its actual commonly understood definition. juan: one of the things that struck me, your finding that so much of the information upon which they base these attacks is based on signals intelligence, not real, live in television -- intelligence or things they
glean from other people that have interrogated. and the unreliability of it. juan: we know so much more about this because of the edward snowden links, but so much of the entire intelligence industrial complex in the u.s. empire is dependent upon intercepting people's e-mails, text messages, their phone calls , and, you know, signals intelligence can be reliable. if i'm talking to you, they can do our voice recognition and say, ok, we know jeremy scahill is speaking to juan gonzalez. but when you talk to people who really worked in that world --cora currier and i interviewed lieutenant general michael flynn, the former head of the defense intelligence agency, top official running the pentagon spy operations around the world. and he was stanley mcchrystal's top intelligence guy at jsoc. when we spoke to him, he said, look, i can record my voice on a phone and give it to a courier,
the courier can go somewhere else and then call the number and play that, and summit is going to die over there and they will think they have eliminated a target, but they did not. said, signals intelligence is very easy to fool. amy: i want to go back to a quote from the article. your source said -- "it requires an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you're using. there's countless instances where i've come across intelligence that was faulty. it's stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people. and it isn't until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother's phone the whole time." >> what the sources talking about, for the most part, the assassination program is not targeting people, is targeting your selectors, their cell phone car data thatm
they have, e-mail train that is littered with metadata that have now determined is connected to someone. i think a lot of the biggest civilian death cases that we have are because they have hit a phone that they think is in possession of a terrorist or a militant, the vague term they oops, the sub commander of the taliban happen to throw his sim card into a bag with everybody else's and they shake it up. then they all go somewhere else. they use it because they know this is how the u.s. hunt them down. it is death by metadata, basically. juan: even in afghanistan, were the u.s. has been occupying the country, boots on the ground in afghanistan, not talking about yemen, somalia or other places, your information found as many as 90% of the intended targets were -- of the people killed were not the intended targets?
>> if people are thinking about what the president said yesterday and further extending the longest war in american history to a point where we don't actually see any end inside, ryan devereaux's piece is incredible. campaignat a jsoc called operation haymaker. one among many amazing revelations is that jsoc claims to be meticulously surgically hunting down and killing leaders of al qaeda, leaders of the taliban and, in 15-month period in afghanistan where they have all of the resources, they have the surveillance technology, and performance the ground, they have ability to do night raids, after action investigations come a that 88% of the people that they killed in mostly drone strikes but some other strikes as well, were not the intended target of the strikes. what does that mean? it could mean they killed the taliban sub commander and a bunch of other taliban people, and say, well,
we were targeting this one guy, but these people were also bad. but it could also be that they were targeting someone because he had so-called arab features. in the documents, they describe arab features that they are probably -- probably than everyone else. sean naylor, great investigative journalist, and his new book he wrote, he detailed the story of target because a he was taller than the other people around them. they thought that meant he was sort of been arab or foreign fighter, and it turned out he was of average size and the people around him were children. and killed them all. with the exception of i think one survivor. amy: before we go to break, your source. this second edward snowden. who is this person? >> well, do you want to give me your pin your atm card? look, this is a very brave whistleblower. this administration has been relentless in its war against
whistleblowers. chelsea manning is rotting right now in a prison cell for exposing u.s. war crimes. edward snowden is in exile. benny werek and bill smeared and public and have the reputations ruined. jeffrey sterling is in prison right now. our source is an incredibly andcipled brave individual, i worry because the government -- this government has been relentless in its pursuit of people of conscience who blow the whistle and characterize them as traitors and spies and in the process, has criminalized the ability to do independent journalism that is meant to hold them accountable, the government accountable, without fear your sources or in some cases, the journalist themselves, will be put in the crosshairs of the so-called justice system. amy: your source for the article "the whistleblower" spoke out against the drone program saying --
"this outrageous explosion of watchlisting -- of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield -- it was, from the very first instance, wrong. we're allowing this to happen. and by 'we,' i mean every american citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it." is,his is -- the point where is congress and all of this? if this is the most transparent administration in history, especially coming off the abuses and the torture and every thing that marked the bush and administration, wooden the most transparent administration actually be a whistleblowing administration? wouldn't they say, this is messed up, it is against what we claim are our core values? instead, we see edward snowden, an analyst, chelsea manning, a private -- when are we going to have anyone of significant public importance that actually is going to be about the
business of transparency? why does it have to come from whistleblowers? otheryou also quote former military people who talk about the criticism of why the obama administration has chosen this route. flynn who iso mike no one's liberal. he is one of the mussununga expansion of the covert operations around the world. he has his own view. these guys are very powerful clique of people within the national security state that are advocating a return to extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques, snatching people. and their criticism of obama is, this guy doesn't want to stick these people in guantánamo, so he just kills them. and when he does that, we can't interrogate them and that makes us less safe. that is their argument. but it is also a turf war between the cia and pentagon. amy: we are talking to jeremy scahill co-founder of the , theintercept.com and co-author
the folksinger and former music coordinator at democracy now! who passed away in 2005. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. today we are looking at exposéne papers, new that expose the inner workings of the u.s. military's assassination program in afghanistan, yemen, and somalia. it raises the question, is there a new edward snowden? amy: we are joined by three reporters who worked on the drone papers, cora currier intercept reporter cora currier's contributions to the "drone papers" series including, "the kill chain," which reveals -- and ryan devereaux, staff reporter at the intercept and wrote a part of the "drone papers" series titled, "manhunting in the hindu kush." also still with us, jeremy scahill, co-founder of the theintercept.com and co-author of the "drone papers" series. cora currier, i want to turn to
your piece, "the kill list." how to the targets get chosen? >> this is the first time we've seen documentary evidence of how the obama white house picks and killing themts for by drone or any other kind of airstrikes him and his is for operations in yemen and somalia will stop and the slide that we have shows how task force personnel, people working on the ground in yemen or somalia, jsoc task force personnel working with other intelligence community members, established -- make a package on a potential target, collecting intelligence come a doing reconnaissance. these people are already under civilians -- under civilians. they put them in a baseball card on the target. oft passes up the ranks military come up the chain of command, under the joint chiefs of staff, secretary of defense, then send them to the white house and they are examined
there by councils senior administration officials known as the principals committee, which is of the national security council, which is basically sort of the top cabinet heads of the obama administration, all his closest advisers. and their deputies, which is called the deputies committee. that reportedly where a lot of the work is done, were they really pour over the targets at think about both the legal cases and also the sort of political ramifications and reasons to kill or not to kill somebody. this is happening in this sort of really interagency process happens at the white house. we know from outside reporting that this is the time when riod of thepe study in 2012, 2013, john brennan them became cia director, was super influential in his discussions and it was often him that brought the baseball cards to the president to finally sign off on giving jsoc operatives than a 60 day
window to go after the targets. amy: the baseball cards? a they would sign off on package, with a called and operations package, which would have the baseball card which had the intelligence on the target and then the concept of operations about how they might go about getting them. then they would have a 60 day window in which they could take a strike against the target. and that is counter to some previous reporting about whether or not the president -- you hear the rhetoric of president personally signs off on each of drone strike. it is not clear that is exactly what was meant by that. it seems more likely he signs off on these packages, then the actual decision to take a strike goes through the military chain of command. juan: a key part of the baseball cards are the sim cards and cell phone numbers and in other words, signals intelligence attached to each of these individuals? >> right. it will have everything they know about them from a variety of sources. one thing we learned in the
documents, they are heavily reliant on signals intelligence, heavily arrive -- reliant to build a picture of who they think this person is and why they think he is important. amy: in your piece "the kill 10," you talk about the different officials who sign off. jeremy megyn earlier, for example, the treasury secretary. why would the treasury secretary be involved with naming who should be killed? >> i think in practice -- by the letter from the principals committee of the national security council includes all of these top officials like the treasury secretary, the secretary of energy -- is the secretary of energy really a deciding factor in who gets yemen?in no. it is going to be -- hillary clinton at the time of this study was secretary of state. she would sort of represent the state department's opinions about this. which she actually probably
would have all of the background on these individuals would have been prepared for her by her second in command for whoever was below her and it would be representing the views of their agencies. while all of those cabinet members are on paper and on the principals committee in practice, it was a smaller circle of advisers. amy: jeremy, the president is making these decisions on the others below him based on -- i mean, it is very much shaped on the information is getting on his desk. >> one of the things that we also see in the documents is that a great jealousy intelligence that they are basing -- deal of intelligence there basing these packages on come from foreign intelligence sources. it could be from the saudis, yemenis, another entity. amy: the saudis, for example, who won a pro-democracy protester dead. >> yes, that is part of it, but more specifically to this, there are cases where it seems as though the u.s. was intentionally said that
intelligence in the effort to try to eliminate the domestic political opponent of the former dictator of yemen, for instance, where someone that was actually trying to negotiate with al qaeda but was a political opponent of the yemeni dictator at the time saley, was killed in u.s. drone strike and it seems quite likely that it was yemen had said that intelligence to try to eliminate one of their opponents. the wikileaks cables were rife with examples of the yemeni president trying to get the united states to take up his own political cause against the houthis at the time who are now controlling parts of yemen. the saudis have a huge influence over who u.s. targets in that region and foreign -- they have their own agenda. if we are basing a lot of our decisions on who should live or die in these cases on foreign intelligence and unreliable signals intelligence, he serious questions about who we are killing. juan: it seems the other aspect
as your report shows, the showsment's own reviews -- states the unreliability of this information. so they are not only making decisions without any kind of judicial process to kill people, the evidence they are using -- they themselves acknowledge is unreliable. >> remember, this task force that did these studies that are in the document -- amy: rsi? reconnaissance surveillance intelligence. you have to view it in the context of this is the pentagon trying to get all of the toys and to make themselves the boss of everything, and they largely are the boss of everything because of the biggest budget and most personnel. but what the point there is, there is this not-so-subtle agitation to start being able to do a lot more capturing. i think it is true what they're saying about the unreliability
of it, but there is a turf for a play with the cia, so i think you have to take it with a grain of salt and read it in the context of that. of innocent issue civilians. i mean, there's also an issue of the people who they believe are absolutely guilty, whether or not, cora, the president should be the judge and the jury and executioner. ju this percentage that raised earlier ofan 90% innocents killed in a drone strike, explain further what you learned on who lives and who dies. >> it was aptly striking, the pentagon study, one of the documents that ryan looked in detail at these tempe's in afghanistan where the 90% figure comes from, and yemen and somalia in this pentagon study, it was pretty striking for how little they talk about civilian casualties, how little it seems to be an issue. the whole gist of the study was,
give us more drones, give us better equipment so we can get these high-value targets. there was little discussion of what the consequences are of hitting the wrong person. was more about, we have to be more efficiently in getting the people that we want. and there was very little mention of civilian casualties. there were a few times it collateralow cde, or damage estimate, military speak for how many civilians might be harmed. it was mentioned a few times as kind of a restraining factor on strikes and something that was explaining why they were moving more slowly because they had low cde requirements. standard, it is interesting because at the same time as the study was circulated in may 2013, the president gave his big speech about how before the u.s. would take a strike, there had to be near certainty that no civilians would be harmed or injured. near certainty is not the same as low cd. the white house told us the
standard of the may 2013 speech are still in place, but they would not expire that discrepancy -- would not explain that discrepancy as to why these internal documents at the same time had different standards. amy: jeremy scahill, what was the white house's reaction to this explosive series? >> the white house was basically saying, we're not going to comment on purported internal documents. funny interaction that he can explain. at the end of the day, the pentagon ended up in one that spoke for all of them and said, you know, these are internal classified documents and we're not going to speak about it. they will speak about it all the time when it benefits the position like john brennan leaking things after bin laden, but they're not going to address -- cora had concrete questions, is this still the case? is this true? they would not answer his ego question. amy: we're going to go to break and then talk about afghanistan. that is where ryan devereaux comes in with president obama
now reversing course, the longest war in u.s. history is about to get longer. how did the drone papers weigh in here? what did they tell us about afghanistan? and much more. we're speaking with three of the authors of this stunning series at the intercept, jeremy scahill , ryan devereaux, and cora currier. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we are talking about this explosive new series called, "the drone papers" at the intercept has obtained, this cache of secret documents that exposed inner workings of the program in afghanistan, yemen, somalia. is there a new edward snowden? our guests are some of the authors of these pieces, the lead cofounder of the intercept, germany scahill, staff reporter for the intercept ryan devereaux and cora currier. we go on to, before afghanistan, i want to ask you about in your articles, you also mentioned this french base that the united states uses for a lot of its coordinated efforts in somalia, yemen, and the horn of africa. can you talk about that race -- base? >> djibouti is one of the
tiniest countries in the world, and it is positioned conveniently for yes counterterrorism operations next to somalia and sort of a stone's throw across the gulf of aden from yemen. the u.s. started using the store the end of the bush administration. a former french army outpost. they basically built that up as the epicenter of these emerging twilight wars or covert wars in somalia and yemen, andst grown n over the years. what the documents show, jsoc had a really impressive cache of firepower. they had drones, medium fixed wing aircraft, eight f-15's that can drop these massive 5000 pound bunker buster bombs, and they had other operatives, commandos positioned throughout that region. they have a base in kenya where
actually some of the seals that did the rescue operation of captain phillips were based. they also did interdictions into somalia. one of the slides shows where they have these drone bases, including in ethiopia and elsewhere. there's a great piece that people should look at where they map out the spread of these new bases on the african continent. this is a sort of under told story that the u.s. is quietly sort of spreading its footprint around africa with a focus on drone technology. djibouti has been the main hub for striking yemen and striking somalia. amy: the sum -- these are places where the u.s. has not declared war. >> and this is a big issue of contention. does the authorization for use of military force give them the right to go after people who were toddlers a 9/11? there is a debate about that right now.
they're trying to put it back on congress, ok, you decide. juan: the longest war in american history has been extended. on thursday, president obama reversed plans to withdraw most u.s. troops from afghanistan. instead, the current the planet of 9800 soldiers will remain through 2016 when obama's term ends in 2017, the u.s. will keep at least 5500 troops at four bases across afghanistan. speaking at the white house, the president said the deteriorating security situation in afghanistan forced him to act. >> the bottom line is, in key areas of the country the security situation is still very fragile. and in some places, there is risk of deterioration. maintaining our current posture through most of next year rather than a more rapid drawdown will allow us to sustain our efforts to train and assist afghans forces as they grow stronger.
not only during this fighting season, but into the next one. juan: but after 14 years of war, the taliban now holds more of afghanistan than at any point since the 2001 u.s. invasion. some people estimate that some estimates put them in control of half the country. the islamic state has also emerged in afghanistan with a presence that grows by the day. addressing the american people, obama said while he does not favor endless war, it is in the us is national security interest to stay in afghanistan. >> i know many of you have grown wary of this conflict. as you're well aware, i do not support the idea of endless war. and i've repeatedly argued against marching into open-ended that do notflicts serve our core security interests. yet given what is at stake in afghanistan, and the opportunity for a stable and committed ally that can partner with us in preventing the emergence of future threats and the fact that
we have an international coalition, i am firmly convinced that we should make this extra effort. amy: president obama's announcement comes nearly a year after he declared an official and to the us, mission in afghanistan, though u.s. military operations have continued throughout afghanistan. one of the most controversial came this month when the u.s. bombed a doctors without borders hospital in kunduz, killing at least 22 people, more than 30 are missing. on thursday, the associated press reported u.s. forces had been monitoring the hospital for alleged taliban activity before the bombing, and were aware it was a medical facility. the intelligence included maps of the region the circle drawn around the hospital. thursday marked the second time this year obama has delayed an afghan withdrawal. and it assures that despite previous pledges, the war will continue under his successor. for more, let's bring ryan devereaux into the conversation, who wrote a part of "the drone
papers" series dealing with afghanistan, which is headlined, "manhunting in the hindu kush." it reveals u.s. drone strikes often kill far more people can the intended target. during one year-long operation, afghanistan strikes on 35 direct targets killed at least 200 other people. in 15-month period, nine out of 10 were not the intended target. ratios could even be worse and the undeclared war zones of yemen and emollient. ryan, talk about what you found. quit i looked at this campaign 2011-2013 andom the statistics you cited were accurate. what is interesting about this campaign is it is really emblematic in a lot of ways, both white the administration has outlined in their planet terms of how to deal with afghanistan going forward, and the experience of the united states and afghanistan and afghan experience of the united states in afghanistan throughout
the course of this war. this campaign was aimed at taking out specific people. and using the airstrikes, particularly drone strikes, to take them out. what the documents show is the breakdown and who some of these targets were. while there are al qaeda affiliated and television affiliated guys, there also those who took up arms after the u.s. arrived in 2002 in their province, who for decades had resisted the presence of the taliban who took up arms after the united states partnered with local power brokers who would point to their business rivals and say, hey, this guy is al qaeda and the u.s. would bomb those guys and then you have an insurgency in these provinces. it is a campaign that really reveals the story of the war in afghanistan. what it breaks down is how these torations which aim decapitate these groups, you know, even when they have the best intelligence assets that they need -- this campaign they
had performance on the ground, they actually had the whole area mapped with signal intelligence. the results were still pretty terrible. they had marginal disruption of al qaeda and taliban presence in the area, and now in 2015, the report found the al qaeda presence of one of the valleys that this campaign focused on specifically is greater than in 2002. we're talking -- these are the sort of operations that are going to continue as the obama administration continues to fight this war. we know airstrikes in particular, the kind of things that are detailed in these documents, are going to be the sort of tip of the spirit and what the united states does in afghanistan. we know there has been a rise in civilian casualties resulting from airstrikes in afghanistan. a number of those airstrikes are airstrikes carried out by drones. -- report report contracted by the u.s. military found the drones in afghanistan were 10 times more dangerous to civilian populations.
-- the story of the campaign is the story of the united states experience and afghanistan and the story of what the war will look like going forward. juan: it seems it is also the story of a country that wants to fight a war without having to endure any casualties on its side, therefore, taking the most expedient way, which is drone strikes, to be able to -- and then not worry about the impact on the population as a whole. >> but then it is a vicious cycle. without really understanding where you are, without understanding -- the story of is thevince of kush united states fighting itself in a place that it did not understand. pulled into these local conflicts, and then as a result, the insurgency goes on and on. it is hard to see in and to this. especially if these operations are going to be the face of the
united states presence in afghanistan going forward, it is hard to see an end in site. amy: explain what the hindu kush is. >> the amount range in which these operations took place. the province of kunar is historically rebellious. up in the soviet occupation. this is a very, very complex and complicated area. it is an area that resisted taliban and al qaeda presence until the u.s. came there. amy: so, jeremy, the president announcing this indefinite extension of the war, and you look at the civilian casualties, can you further draw these connections to why there more taliban control today than there was when the u.s. attacked afghanistan in october 20 11 -- 2001? >> that his account to get a question. first of all, the taliban as it
exists today is not the taliban that existed on 9/11. taliban is a generic term at this point, it is likely next is a brand, but everyone calls it that even if the brand isn't cleantech's come a that you're buying facial tissue or something. a much broader term. i think part of it has to do with the fact that people are sick of the occupation that the taliban are actually muslims rather than white guys in camouflage kicking down doors, and i think the taliban actually do have indigenous support in some parts of the country. large swaths of the country, actually. ,nd there also brutal thugs gangsters, murderers. but i think in part, the u.s. has dramatically misread, as it did in iraq and how ordinary people are going to respond. and i think that opened the door for the taliban and to retake
power in parts of the country. thinksa the president that just by extending this that there is going to be some markedly different outcome, i think it is a bankrupt belief. juan: it also appears to be his attempt to prevent the development in afghanistan that have already occurred in iraq after the united states pulled out, which is the rise of ice is, isn't it? >> if you look at what is fueling isis, they took a bunch of u.s. weapons systems in court and it's never thing and combined it with military expertise of former baathists. look, the bush and administration in invading iraq created the full situation. and obama is sort of replicating that now by further extending the afghan war. amy: is their process back -- prospect for a truce? >> ryan can answer that. >> there was a prospect for
trees when the u.s. invaded more than a decade ago and blew that opportunity. we're looking at, like germany said, we're looking at a different situation now. one would hope the united states a way forward in afghanistan that isn't just try to kill its way to victory. amy: i want to ask each of you, what most shock you in the documents that you saw, that you based your articles on, that you looked at and said, is this possible? cora currier? >> i think the sort of frank admission about the -- the military's own admission that the intelligence that was behind drone strikes was another airstrikes and yemen and somalia was so limited and of such inferior quality than the intelligence that they wanted -- to see that frank admission and to see it laid out their technical terms and their charts and in their own -- because this is something you hear from people on all sides of the
debate about counterterrorism campaigns like these, is like, well, drone strikes are only as good as the intelligence that goes into them. drones strikes can be precise, but they can also be precisely wrong. i think seeing the military's own admissions about the faulty -- the flawed intelligence collection systems they have in these countries was remarkable. amy: ryan devereaux? >> there's a graphic of one of the sides of the haymaker document, the campaign in afghanistan that i looked into, and it breaks down the number of jackpots. jackpot is killing or capturing a target from the battlefield. the number of strikes that the u.s. conducted airstrikes. it presents on the far right side of percentage, 70% something out of the airstrikes that they conducted, they got their jackpot this number of times. 70%. except in their calculation, they completely leave out the
, killedle in the ekia in action column. the calculation doesn't take into account the number of bystanders killed in these operations or the intelligence opportunities lost by filling to capture people, failing to tell good people. they just solely catholic the number of jackpots killed in your strikes. amy: jeremy scahill, your surprise, and when you got these drone papers? >> i think that people should look at the kind of cold, corporate language in the sort of voculary of assassination. people want a really good quick way to understand the scope of all of this, but also to see the finality of the language -- you should really start with an amazing contribution by josh vaguely, the glossary of it. it is a visual tour through these documents and what they reveal. i would encourage people to take the time to read all of these
pieces. we have an incredible group of journalists at the intercept, and i'm really proud of our entire team probably the work they did. amy: and what you are calling for right now? >> we're not calling for anything. amnesty international is calling for an independent avesta geisha and into this. congressional inquiry. aclu is basically saying the same thing. amy: and respond -- edward snowden tweeted -- and that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
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