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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  November 20, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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11/20/15 11/20/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> you never know who you are killing because you never actually see a face. you just have select -- a silhouette. they don't have to take that shot. i am the one who has to bear that burden. amy: has the u.s. drone program fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like isis? that's the conclusion of four former drone operators who are speaking out. they've issued a letter to president obama warning the u.s. drone program is one of the most devastating driving forces for terrorism. they accuse the administration of lying about the effectiveness of the drone program, saying it is good at killing people, just not the right ones.
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>> how do you feel if you can't it's iers as an excuse, obey the constitution regardless of lawful or unlawful orders. an lawful orders follow the constitution. and that is the hardest part. amy: the four u.s. drone operators are featured in a new film called "drone." they risk prosecution by an administration that has been unprecedented in its targeting of government whistleblowers. today, in a democracy now! exclusive, they join us in their first extended broadcast interview. but first, a hostage crisis is underway in mali. suspected islamist militants have stormed a luxury hotel in the capital. wallunmen opened fire taking over 180 people hostage. at least three deaths have been confirmed so far. special forces have moved in. all of that in more coming up. welcome to democracy now,
12:02 pm, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in bamako, mali, special forces have stormed the american-owned radisson blu hotel after gunmen seizing control of the hotel, early this morning. the hotel has at least guests 140 and 30 staff members as hostages, killing at least three people. state television reports 80 hostages may have been freed. we will have more on the developing situation after headlines. the french senate is expected to approve french president françois hollande's plan to extend the state of emergency by three months, and to grant hollande a sweeping expansion of state powers. the measures would include easing police raids without a warrant and allowing the government to strip citizenship from dual passport holders convicted of terrorism. french authorities say they carried out more than 414 raids across france wednesday, arrested 64 people, and placed
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another 118 under house arrest. in news from israel and the occupied territories, five people were killed thursday in two separate attacks police say were carried out by palestinians. in tel aviv, authorities say a palestinian man fatally stabbed two israeli men. hours later, a palestinian man allegedly opened fire outside a jewish-only israeli settlement in the west bank, killing three people, including an 18-year-old american student. meanwhile, israeli spy jonathan pollard has been released from a north carolina prison today. pollard is a former u.s. navy intelligence officer convicted of passing u.s. secrets to israel. in 1999, seymour hersh of "the new yorker" reported israel was suspected of sharing some of pollard's material with the soviet union in exchange for continued soviet permission for jewish emigration to israel. he had been granted israeli citizenship while in prison, and
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he says he now hopes to move to israel. the terms of his parole require him to stay in the united states for five years. in washington, the house approved legislation thursday to impose significant restrictions on iraqi and syrian refugees seeking to resettle in the united states. the american security against foreign enemies act passed the house with nearly unanimous republican support and the backing of 47 democrats. the legislation would require the secretary of homeland security, the fbi director and the director of national intelligence to personally approve every syrian or iraqi refugee's application -- in addition to the current 18-month screening process. after the vote, cnn global affairs correspondent elise labott was promptly suspended by the network for two weeks after she tweeted -- "house passes bill that could limit syrian refugees. statue of liberty bows head in anguish."
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meanwhile, republican front runners donald trump and ben carson are both under fire for comments they've made about refugees and muslims in the wake of the paris attacks. on thursday, dr. ben carson used an analogy to "rabid dogs" in defending his opposition to the resettlement of syrian refugees. carson's campaign also issued a map of the u.s. depicting the states where more than two dozen governors have said they oppose the settlement, but the map erroneously placed five new england states in the wrong location. meanwhile, donald trump took calls for a religious test for incoming refugees one step further, when an nbc reporter asked whether trump would implement a database to track all american muslims. >> there should be a lot of systems beyond database. we should have a lot of systems. today, you can do it. the right now we have to have a border.
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we have to have a wall. we cannot let what is happening to this country happen -- i would certainly implement that. absolutely. amy: democratic candidate hillary clinton has outlined her foreign policy proposals, which call for intensifying and accelerating president obama's strategy against the islamic state. speaking to the council on foreign relations in new york, clinton called for sending more u.s. special forces to syria and for imposing a no-fly zone over syria. >> effective coalition air campaign is necessary, but not sufficient. and we should be honest about the fact that to be successful, airstrikes have to be combined with ground forces actually taking back more territory from isis. like president obama, i do not believe that we should again have 100,000 american troops in combat in the middle east. that is just not a smart move to make here.
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if we have learned anything from 15 years of war in iraq and afghanistan, it is that local people and nations have to secure their own communities. we can help them, and we should, but we cannot substitute for them. amy: hillaryclinton also proposed an intelligence surge and called on companies -- technology companies to work with the government on issues of encryption. a growing number of officials have called on companies to offer government agencies a back-door into their encrypted tools in the wake of the paris attacks, even though officials have not presented any evidence that the paris attackers even used encryption. to see our recent interview with pulitzer prize-winning journalist glenn greenwald on encryption, mass surveillance and the aftermath of paris, go , to in britain, prison authorities are investigating the death of 21-year-old transgender woman, who was found dead in the all-male leeds prison in west yorkshire last friday. vicky thompson had identified as
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female since her mid-teens. she and her lawyer had repeatedly asked for her to be relocated to a women's prison. the fda has for the first time approved a genetically modified animal as fit for human consumption and for sale across the united states. the genetically engineered salmon, known as the aquadvantage salmon, that has been genetically modified to grow to market size twice as fast as a real salmon. the approval comes despite fierce opposition from consumer and environmental activists. today marks the first anniversary of a death of akai gurley, the 28-year-old african-american man who was shot to death by nypd officer peter laing in the dimly lit stairwell of a brooklyn housing project. officer liang has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter and other charges. meanwhile, in michigan, white police officer william melendez has been found guilty of assault and misconduct after pummeling and tasing 58-year-old, unarmed african-american floyd dent in january. officer melendez is nicknamed "robocop," and has been sued
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repeatedly for excessive force. in new jersey, princeton students have ended a 32-hour sit-in at the university president's office after administrators signed a commitment to begin conversations about addressing campus racism. the sit-in began wednesday amid massive national student protests. princeton students are demanding the removal of woodrow wilson's name. as president he ordered the , re-segregation of restrooms and cafeterias in washington government buildings. in some federal offices, he ordered screens to be set up to separate black and white workers. his racist views were so widely known at the time, w.e.b. dubois wrote an open letter to woodrow wilson in which he called wilson's policies "gravest attack on the liberties" of african americans since emancipation. and in new york city, one gonzalez was inducted into the deadline clubs new york journalism hall of fame yesterday in manhattan.
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he is the first latino journalist to be selected for the hall of fame. he will be inducted along with pbs host shirley rose, new york times journalist frankel, 60 minutes correspondent lesley richardaul steiger, and starley. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: juan, congratulations. next week we are going to play your acceptance speech, which was so deeply moving. juan: thank you. and all of the democracy now! crew that was there as well. a hostage crisis is underway in -- where it has been stormed by gunmen that opened fire will taking over 180 people hostage. at least three deaths have been confirmed so far. malian special forces have
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launched a rescue operation and exchanged fire with the militants inside. dozens of people have reportedly been freed so far as commandos go door-to-door. there are reports the captors have released those hostages who are muslim, while keeping those who are not. amy: and 2003, it was seized. a french led intervention after them the following year but violence continues across the country. for context on a hostage crisis in mali, though we don't know a lot of details, last week we spoke to nick turse, the author of the book "tomorrow's battlefield [captioning made possible by democracy now!] he focuses on the expanding american battlefield in africa where he says the u.s. military is now involved in more than 90% of africa's 54 nations. in a recent interview with democracy now!, he discussed how the u.s. backed intervention in libya helped fuel the ongoing militant violence in nearby mali
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. >> one example is the case of mali. we have had a u.s. trained officer who overthrew the democratically elected government there just two years ago. be awas supposed to bulwark against terrorism, supposed to be a stable, success story. instead, you have had that occurrence. last year, the u.s. trained officer overthrew the government elsewhere. i think it is troubling. you hear the talk about professionalism of the military and they are in stilling values, human rights. these sorts of things. but in reality, what we're seeing is very different. if you look at the groups that we are training, the military's we are training, and then you compare them to the state department's own list of militaries that are carrying out human rights abuses that are acting and undemocratic ways, you see these are the same
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forces. u.s. has linked up with forces that are generally seen as repressive, even by our own government. amy: what is the u.s. interest in africa? >> it is difficult to say for sure. i think the u.s. has viewed africa as a place of week governance. prone to zone that is terrorism and that there can be a spread of terror groups on the continent of u.s. doesn't intervene. so there is generally only one tool in the u.s. toolkit, and that is a hammer. unfortunately, everywhere they see nails. amy: what were you most surprised by in "the drone papers" that you got a hold of, what is been described as snowden, second edward this project of the intercept that you wrote about, particularly when it came to africa? how think it is really just
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far the drone bases has spread on the continent. i have been looking at this for years, but "the drone papers" drove home to me how integral drones have become to the u.s. way of warfare on the continent. i think this feeds into president obama's strategy trying to get away from large , therint interventions disasters we've seen in iraq and afghanistan. he has leaned heavily now on special operations forces and on drones. so i think that is probably most surprising. juan: in terms of the reports we get here, you basically -- there's either news about boko haram or al-shabaab or the disintegration continuing of libya. to what extent have the special operations focused on these areas and to what -- have they had any success? >> i actually a
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great example of the best intentions gone awry by the u.s.. the u.s. joined a coalition to oust dictator moammar could off dafi.--gad he fell and instead, we saw .ibya has descended into chaos it has been a nightmare for the libyan people ever since. it has spread across the continent. tourags.d they raided his weapons stores and they moved into mali, into their traditional home and carve out their own nation. when they did that, the u.s. backed military in mali that we had been training for years, began to disintegrate. that is when the restaurant officer decided he could do a better job and overthrew the
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democratically elected government. but he proved no better at fighting the groups than the many overthrew. as a result, islamist rebels pushed out his forces and the toureags were making great games, poised to take it over. the u.s. decided to intervene again, another military intervention. we backed the french and the african forced to go in and stop the islamists. -- these proxies, the preferred method, arrest the islamists advance but now mali has descended to a level of insurgency and it is been like this for several years now. hadweapons the toureags have spread across the continent . you can find those weapons in the hands of boko haram, even as far away as sinai in egypt.
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the u.s. has seen this as a way to stop the spread of militancy. i think when you look, it has just spread it. amy: that is nick turse, author of "tomorrow's battlefield." we spoke to him last week before the latest of elements today in mali. the latest details, a hostage crisis is underway. where expected -- suspected islamist militants have stormed the radisson hotel. the gunman opened fire while taking about 180 people hostage. at least three deaths have been confirmed so far. haven special forces exchanged fire with the militants inside. dozens of people have reportedly been freed so far as commandos go door-to-door. we will bring you more through the weekend. check our website when we come back, democracy now! exclusive. please, stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: he was one of the hostages, but we believe he has been released. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: since the paris attacks
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one week ago, france has escalated bombings of syria and the u.s. has vowed an intensification of its war on the islamic state. with only a small number of u.s. special forces on the ground, iraq and syria have become new fronts in a global drone war that has launched thousands of strikes in pakistan, afghanistan, yemen, and somalia. but now an unprecedented group is calling for the drone war to stop. in an open letter to president obama, four u.s. air force service members who took part in the drone campaign say targeted killings and remote control bombings fuel the very terrorism the government says it's trying to stop. the four whistleblowers write-- "we came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like isis, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to guantanamo bay. this administration and its predecessors have built a drone program that is one of the most
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devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world." they continue -- "we witnessed gross waste, mismanagement, abuses of power, and our country's leaders lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program. we cannot sit silently by and witness tragedies like the attacks in paris, knowing the devastating effects the drone program has overseas and at home." amy: on top of the toll on civilian victims, the letter also addresses the personal impact of waging war by remote . all four reveal they have suffered ptsd and feel abandoned by the military they served, with some now homeless or barely getting by. the letter brings together the largest group of whistleblowers in the drone war's history. three of the signatories operated the visual sensors that guide u.s. predator drone missiles to their targets. two are speaking out for the first time.
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three in a dv broadcast, they've never done it before. the other two have previously raised their concerns about the drone program, including in the documentary, "drone." the film, premiering in new york city and toronto today, reveals how a regular u.s. air force unit based in the nevada desert is responsible for flying the cia's drone strike program in pakistan. >> we're the ultimate voyeurs, the ultimate peeping toms. >> i am watching this person and this person has no clue what is going on. no one is going to catch us. and we are getting orders to take these people's lives. >> you never know who you are killing, because you never actually see a face. you just have a silhouette. they don't have to take the shot. they don't have to bear the burden. i'm the one who has to bear the burden. >> there has always been a connection between the world of
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war and the world of entertainment. >> the military has invested in creating video games that they're using as recruiting tools. war is an unbelievably profitable business. >> they have taken out a lot of the al qaeda leadership. it is safe. it doesn't involve putting troops on the ground. >> i believe the united states of america must remain a standardbearer in the conduct of war. that is what makes us different from those whom we fight. >> the united states is violating one of the most fundamental rights, the right to life. >> there's a large number of innocent civilians who are being killed, and that has to be reported. >> the majority of the secret drone strikes that have taken place, we have always
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understood, been carried out by the central intelligence agency. >> there is a lie within that truth. amy: the trailer for the documentary "drone," premiering today in new york city and toronto. in speaking out together, the four former service members risk prosecution by an administration that has been unprecedented in -- campaign against government whistleblowers. they set their site on the national security policy just as it threatens to escalate in the aftermath of the paris attacks. after being elected to office on a platform of iraq war opposition and a vow to bring the troops home, president obama has quietly expanded the drone war far beyond its size and lethality under president george w. bush. today in this democracy now! exclusive, these war four whistleblowers join us in their first extended broadcast interview. we're joined by brandon bryant
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, both formeraas sensor operators for the u.s. air force predator program. stephen lewis, a veteran of the united states air force, is also a former sensor operator for the air force predator program, and this week is speaking out for the first time. also going public for the first time is cian westmoreland, a former air force technician who helped build a station in afghanistan used to relay drone data. but first, i want to turn to jesselyn radack , national security and him and writes director the government accountability project, former ethics adviser to the united states department of justice. as an attorney, she is representing several former drone operators including this , group of four youngman speaking out today. jesselyn radack , how much do they risk in speaking out on democracy now! today? >> they're taking a very enormous and public risk in speaking out. i have clients and the national
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security and intelligence communities who have done nothing more than tell the truth about some of america's darkest secrets like torture and secret surveillance and now in this case, drones. and those clients, a number of them, have been prosecuted under the espionage act. edward snowden, of course, another one, is living in exile. not because they done anything wrong or even revealed classified information -- which they're not here to do today -- a because they have embarrassed the was government. all of these men, a number of them, half of them, have complained internally to no avail. they have gone through internal channels and we are hoping that today by going public that this will have more of an influence in the debate because somehow, there's a complete disconnect between these terrorist attacks in paris and elsewhere in the fact that the drone program has fueled isis and no qaeda and a
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number -- al qaeda in a number of terrorist groups, and that needs to be addressed. juan: brandon bryant, we have had you on democracy now! a couple of years ago and these guys here worked with you as well. you talk about the decision to come out as a group, how you can do that and why this particular point? courts when i first started talking out about makes princes, it was more to get a bunch of stuff off my chest. and to actually try to come clean with what i had done and reveal what exactly is going on. i'm actually really honored to be with these gentleman right here. i trust them. this is their decision to come out and i'm here to support them because i've already been doing this for three years, and it is time that we just did a bigger coalition of people together to attack this issue. amy: why did you sign this letter and what are you calling on president obama to do? >> we want the president to have
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more transparency in this issue in the american people to understand what is being done in their name. i think all of this fear and hatred that keeps going on is just out of control. we need to stop it somewhere. juan: michael, i want to ask you in terms of your experience in the drone program and the culture that the military basically allowed to flourish in the drone program, you have talked about how your fellow servicemembers talked about the children that they were targeting as well. used tothe term was denote children -- amy: what was it called? >> fun sized terrorists. be cutting theld grass before it grows too long. doing whatever you can to try to make it easier to kill whatever
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is on the screen. and the culture, that mentality is very much nurtured within the drone community. every hellfire shot is sort of lauded and applauded. wasexamining who exactly killed, just that it was an effective shot. amy: when did you start to have questions? >> shortly after i became an instructor and i started to see how much the mentality has shifted since i had been in. they really had not changed how they chained from a basic level -- trained from the basic level standpoint. they train all of the sensor operators. amy: this is at creech and nevada? >> yes. juan: you were a video game addict, as you were growing up. can you talk about this whole impact of sort of the videogame approach to war? gamers aing that makes prime target for this job field
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is the ability to multitask and do a lot of things subconsciously and out of reflex . you don't even have to think about it, which is paramount to doing this job. but a lot of it is getting used to just sing something on the screen, killing it, and going about your business as if you don't really pay it a second thought. it was just an objective to be completed. amy: i want to go to a clip from the film "drone" of brandon bryant talking about his first fatal drone strike. >> didn't really understand what it meant to kill at first. the first time was horrible. the second time was horrible. numbing. time was the fourth time was numbing.
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but of course, the first time sticks with you the longest. so we're looking at this thing, these people, and it was like almost instantaneous that someone was like, confirmed weapons, here's the nine line, your cleared to shoot -- your cleared hot. missile and the safety observer is counting down. he counts down to zero, and he says, splash! and i watch this man bleed out.
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the missile had taken off one of his legs right above the knee. and i watched him bleed out of his for moral artery and his rolling on the ground and i .magined his last moments i did not know it feel, i just knew i had into something that i had no right to end. no.i sort i did what i was supposed to do. i followed through with it. it was like my image of myself was cracking and breaking apart. last andafety observer he slaps me on the back and he says, you should have seen how you jumped when i said, splash.
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amy: that is brandon bryant in the film "drone" opening in new york and toronto. brandon bryant, do you know you killed? >> no. i killed 13 people with a total of five hellfire will -- shots and only three were combatants. amy: who were the others? >> i don't know. i would like to know. amy: you testified in the german parliament and you said also -- you testified also before the united nations? >> correct. amy: that you don't know if you might be picked up for war crimes, but your ruling to whisk it. germanelped prosecute not use of world war ii who were just following orders and we can't put ourselves into that same umbrella. we helped create the current
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system, international system, and we are unable to hold our celtic animal for our actions that i think that is unfair to the rest of the world. juan: after you justified, military showed up at your family's house in montana? >> that was the second time they approached me officially. the first time i was in seattle getting health care at the v.a., and they were like, mr. bryant, this is the fbi career not in trouble. they told me i was on the isis kill list and that i should stop my social media and stop bragging on social media -- which means they did not even read my social media stuff. , osiight after i testified appeared at my mother's house and told her she was on this list. previously, my dog had been attacked twice as well.
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i believe these are intimidation tactics. my mother is the strongest person i have met, and she told me that she believes in what we're doing and that i should continue and there is no reason i should not. juan: stephen lewis, you made one kill and then you immediately appealed to your superiors about what you were doing. could you talk about your experience, who you killed? and i waslate 2009, support a troop. that is when our troops were taking fire. juan: and this was in which country? >> afghanistan. we were told to go to the specific location, four guys walking down a mountain path and i did not see any weapons.
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i didn't see anything. andt five minutes goes by two hellfires come in. they killed three people. there was one wounded guy left. clearance -- we were given clearance to fire. that guy -- he just wasn't there anymore. juan: you are given plans to fire at the wounded guy on the ground. >> yes. amy: what did you do next? >> seriously reevaluated my life. uprtly after that, i ended writing a very, very convincing letter to my leadership and told them that i didn't belong there, i didn't want to do it anymore
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and i wanted out. amy: and what was the response? >> six months later and i was out of the air force. amy: how are you chosen as a drone operator? >> basically, at random. i went to imagery analysis wanted to look at satellite photos. that is what it wanted to do. about halfway through it, they come up and say, you're going to las vegas. you're going to sensor operator school and you're going to do this. amy: did they say why? >> they don't have to. there is no argument there. it is, yes sir, yes ma'am, i'll do whatever you tell me to. now that you're out of has what you, how did in the air force, being a drone operator, engaging in that
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kill, affected you? >> it makes any kind of relationship difficult. medicaid- i can't to properly with my friends. sorry i'm ay, i'm guys, i can hang out with you, there's too much going on right now. in effect it is killed every single relationship i've had afterwards. i can't -- juan: what about the issue you raised in your letter how the drone program is helping to fuel or create more terrorism? , it has been noted in kids are"drone" that freddie gray outside and play. during the dayol whenever the sun is out, the senate shining because they are
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afraid they're going to get struck by a drone. amy: why don't we go to that clip from the film. this is from the film "drone" a 67-year-old pakistani woman was killed by an alleged u.s. drone while picking okra in a field with her grandchildren. in 2013, we spoke to her grandchildren, who are then nine and 13, both of them were injured in the strike that killed their grandmother. this begins with zudair. >> i had gone to school that day and when i came back, i had aced not and i offered my prayers and my grandmother asked me to come outside and help her pick the vegetables. amy: you are hit by this drone that killed your grandmother? andes, i had seen a drone two missiles hit were my grandmother was standing in front of me. she was blown into pieces, and a was injured on my left leg. juan: you are nine years old.
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how have things changed for you since the attack? out -- goingoing out into the fields alone or do you fear again of other possible attacks? >> ever since the strike, i'm just scared. i'm always scared. all of us little kids are scared to go outside. la and heris nubil brother talking about the drone strikes that killed their grandmother in pakistan. they also testified with their dad who wasn't there when they were picking okra with their grandmother. a testified in the u.s. congress. that happened in pakistan. your target was in afghanistan. >> i don't think a matter of 500 miles makes a difference. the culture is very, very similar.
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and you are creating an atmosphere of fear. and there is an old saying in texas, you don't act as scared animal up against the wall. if you do that, he is going to come out fighting. i think that is what is happening now. amy: has the v.a. provided mental health too as you have suffered? >> i have been to the v.a., but it seems useless. it seems useless for me. it has been six months. ,hey said, hey, you need an mri and it is been six month without an mri. medication you need to manage this pain, and it is been six months without medication to manage the pain. if they're not going to take care of you, then why should you even go? juan: cian westmoreland, you were a technician in the drone program. can you talk about specifically what you did and how your duties differed from the operators?
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siteght, so we build a that was used as a relay station while we were there. juan: in afghanistan? inyes, and we were taking signals from all over afghanistan, 250,000 square miles, like, essentially. and we were relaying it and sending it long haul, so from there to the operations center -- juan: which is located where? >> in qatar. pretty much we had been building, you know, the site and
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one day my boss came to me and everybody else and he handed us a headset and we were listening to an airplane talking -- it was an a-10 talking to a battle manager. he smiled and he said, we're killing bad guys now, boys. and i think why it is so significant for me was my father was actually working at a headquarters in kuwait during he was ordering the missile parts for the initial bombing. he was telling me some of the culture that was there and people making command decisions.
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they would go after certain targets, and then they would have missiles left over and they would find targets -- which was essentially anyone wearing white . that was my first thought whenever he said, were killing bad guys now, boys. amy: explain what you mean by anyone wearing white. >> anyone wearing white. amy: why white? >> because the stigma that people who wore white or tell a man -- taliban. so those were the thoughts that were running through my head while was there. i started having nightmares , hurtingt i did children and me trying to help them and not being able to. amy: what year was this? >> it was 2009. and whenever we got back, we got a piece of paper, the listed performance report, and it said
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2400 that we had supported close air support missions and assisted in 200 plus enemy kills, which i knew was wrong. because anyone in the air force knows an airstrike has collateral damage, you know, a significant amount of the time. amy: so you're saying you knew it was much more. >> well, i'm saying that it wasn't all enemies, it was civilians as well. and what i looked at the report , it came out the next year was saying somewhere upward of 350 civilian kills. so it is kind of -- it has made me sort of reevaluate what i was doing there and trying to figure we --ou know, exactly how
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we got that on our piece of paper. well, i guess i have come to the conclusion that, you know, these are the people that were actually administering the strikes. you had pilots that pulled the trigger, imagery analyst that picked the target. the decision-maker. and all within the system, it is the responsibility for killing the person is divided, so nobody feels the full responsibility of what they are doing. movinghink that we are towards a world where -- in aerial warfare where increasingly, there is one to be
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more technicians and less decision-makers. and i think we should open up a time of, you know, -- paradigm, you know, of ethics and what it means to do your duty as a technician. and i think one of the more influential voices for me was open heimer, the -- >> j oppenheimer. quite exactly, who developed the seeic bomb and, i mean, to the effects of that must have been devastating. -- for me, that is kind of how i feel because all of the signals were coming through there and everybody was making the system work was responsible.
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and i think of how this applies the air base,that the data relay station, the people there are responsible for whatever signals are going through their. in the german governments, not communicating to the public or not knowing what we were doing, it was a big disrespect on america's heart and potentially the german government's part. i'm not saying they knew. juan: i want to ask you -- amy: we have to take a break and then we will come back to your question ,juan j robert oppenheimer, i think he was quoting "i have become death, the destroyer of worlds." one of the -- who was a leading scientist that created the atomic bomb in new mexico.
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and you live in new mexico, right, cian? cian westmoreland, stephen lewis , brandon bryant, and michael haas, four youngman who are speaking out, between them, more than 20 years of experience operating military drones. they have all written a letter to president obama. we urge you to stay with us as we continue this discussion. back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. i want to turn to a clip from the film "drone" about the
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connection between tokens and military agreement. this clip features air force lt. colonel bryan callahan and former u.s. navy pilot missy cummings. but first, pw singer, author of "wired for war." >> there's always been a connection between the world of war and the world of entertainment. and i call this phenomenon mini-tainment, where the world is pulling tools from the world of entertainment to do its job. the military has invested in creating video games that they are using as recruiting tools. >> there's been a lot of different theories. if you can answer that question or i can answer that question, you can make a lot of money for the air force because we don't know. we're trying to get our arms around what really does make the best candidate fragment airplanes and how do we identify these people early? video gamers do have a skill
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set that is very important and actually -- and actually enhances the skill set of drone operators. so when i talk to people about this i say, we don't need top in pilots and more, we have revenge of the nerds. juan: we're also joined by tonje hessen schei, the director of the film, "drone." welcome to democracy now! can you talk about the issue of recruitment of gamers the military? >> gamers have been incredibly important for the u.s. military, and a been targeting them in their recruiting strategies for the last decade. this has been very successful. it is also spreading around the world. germany and sweden and also in norway. gamers, their brains are pretty much wired to handle the challenges in modern warfare.
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eye-thumb court nation, team fighting, target shooting, they are basically perfect for the drone war. the relationship between the military and the entertainment industry i think is very, very important to take a close look at here. our children are basically growing up playing real war scenarios from a very young age, and this game fight, you know, strange perception of war, has a big impact on them. to them, or is made to look fun. killing estimate -- is made to look cool. i think mili-tainment has huge cost. working with the drone operators, seeing how the gaming attitude, leading into how the drone program is operating, has been very disturbing to me. know of course, you guys
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in your own experience that you are involved in a war where you never actually meet or see the people you're killing. you have no direct relationship --o real rationship to the yoe actually playing such a critical role in. i'm wondering what your thoughts on that are? >> one of the big things i think we should address is, there is a lot of gamers that have been offended by stuff we have talked about. a lot of gamers are offended by talking about the correlation between violence in video games. there are a lot of studies out there that say only certain video games, certain aspects of violence. -- or aavid gamer was. i love this medium. the drone program destroyed my love of this medium as well. i think gamers should be offended the military and the governments are using this type of thing to manipulate and recruit these guys. blatant misuse of power
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-- abuse of power. it should not be something along the lines of, yeah, i want to play this game with my friends, or even people you don't see them face-to-face. you made a lot of people instantaneously all over the world. we are more now than we ever have been in the tire human history. that is being exploited help people kill one another. amy: michael haas, as we wrap up, what you want people to be left with today and there's a large military audience, too, what you have to say to your fellow servicemen and women? >> on the other side of that screen, they are very real. it feels like a video and it looks like a videogame, but it is very, very real. keep that in mind and not become disconnected from your own humanity and not to take away theirs. that is what i want to leave them with. ?my: cian westmoreland
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all takeuld responsibility for what we do at all times. i have a cell phone in my pocket. tals and their from the democratic republican congo were there has been a year for 14 years and i think 4.4 million people have died. and that bothers me. amy: you have all left the military. did they request you reenlist? >> yes. amy: reoffered a bonus? >> we all were. amy: how much? >> $50,000. promotion. plus amy: what did you say?
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>> f tha. >> i made my decision to get out long before that enlistment became even an option. -- i burnedrned my my uniform and my bosses grill and hitchhiked around the world. juan: for so many young people, that is a lot of money. they're going to keep increasing bonuses, obviously. the situation of the war on terror continues. amy: i want to thank you all for being with us, very important yet to say today i'm a brandon cian westmoreland, michael haas, stephen lewis. an update on mali, the ongoing hostage situation in the capital, the u.s. military says the u.s. special operations troops are working with special
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operation forces to free the more than 140 hostages still inide the radisson blu hotel bamako, which was seized by suspected islamist gunmen this morning. and that does it for our broadcast. for the whole show today, you can go to there,eo and audio is the podcast and the transcript of our broadcast. democracy now! is hiring a director of development to lead our fundraising efforts. find out more at democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to 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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