Scahill on Dirty Wars

Jeremy Scahill is making the publicity rounds for the release of his new book, Dirty Wars. I intended to watch his 31 May NYU talk with Spencer Ackerman but the friend who planned to join me canceled. I opted not to take the bus up from DC to go by myself.

Here’s Scahill being interviewed in  AND Magazine. I’ve excerpted parts about oversight and tactics used for lack of intelligence that are potential violations of International Law. Those are the issues nearest and dearest to my heart in this debate.

…part of the issue is not that forces like JSOC, or even some of the sort of more unsavory elements of the CIA, are not subjected on paper to oversight. Its that a lot of lawmakers dont want to ask questions that they dont want the answers to…

Look at the targeted killing program, for instance. What is the oversight right now? Well, its that a handful of senators and representatives are allowed to go into a secure classified intelligence facility, and they cant bring writing utensils, and they cant bring paper, and they cant bring any recording devices, and are allowed to look at certain memos the White House has authorized them to see.And theyre not allowed to tell anyone what theyve seen in those memos…That doesn’t seem to me like real oversight.

…In Afghanistan, people know that they can engage in “death by Americans” when they want to take out one of their political rivals or when they want to take out someone who stole their goats five years ago. They can just send their family members to an American base and say, “Oh, theres an IED factory in this particular location,” or that “theres a suicide bombing class going out in this compound.” And you know, JSOC guys go and raid this place thinking they are taking out a dangerous Taliban cell, and, oops, theyve killed a couple of pregnant women and an Afghan police commander…

But the other part of it is that we are engaged in “pre-crime.” Particularly under the Obama administration and its “signature strikes,” we dont even know the identities of the people we are intentionally killing and dont even have actual intelligence to say that theyre involved with criminal or terrorist activity. So we go in and look at it pattern of life and say those are probably terrorists or probably will be some day so we’ll just take them out.

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