We have flown from Washington, D.C., from the
inauguration, to Park City, Utah, to cover the Sundance
Film Festival. It’s the 10th anniversary of the
documentary track. And we’re going to start off by
getting response to President Obama’s inaugural address.
On Monday, President Obama
declared a decade of war is now ending and that lasting
peace does not require perpetual war. But he never
mentioned the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan by name.
There was also no mention
about the secret drone war that’s vastly expanded under
President Obama. On the same day he gave his inaugural
address, a U.S. drone strike killed three people in
Yemen east of the capital, Sana’a.
Also Monday, President Obama
officially nominated John Brennan to be director of the
CIA, succeeding retired Army
General David Petraeus, who resigned. Nicknamed the
"assassination czar" by some, Brennan was the first
Obama administration official to publicly confirm drone
attacks overseas and to defend their legality.
Four years ago, John Brennan
was a rumored pick for the CIA
job when Obama was first elected but was forced to
withdraw from consideration amidst protests over his
role at the CIA under the Bush
administration. Obama also officially nominated Chuck
Hagel to head defense and John Kerry to become secretary
of state on Monday.
Well, joining us here in
Park City, Utah, is Jeremy Scahill, national security
correspondent for The Nation magazine. He is
featured in and co-wrote the new documentary Dirty
Wars: The World is a Battlefield. Jeremy’s latest
book, with the same title, is due out in April.
We’re also joined by
Dirty Wars director Richard Rowley, independent
journalist with Big Noise Films. The film premiered here
at the Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. documentary
And when we flew into Salt
Lake City last night, we went directly to the Salt Lake
City Library, where there was a packed, sold-out crowd
to see the - a showing of Dirty Wars. We want
to congratulate you, Jeremy and Rick, on this absolutely
And I think it’s very appropriate to begin our four days
of broadcasting here at Park City, on this day after the
inauguration of President Obama, to begin with Dirty
Wars: The World is a Battlefield.
Jeremy, talk about President
Obama’s first four years and where we’re going now. You
got a chance to hear his inaugural address; what you
thought of it?
Well, you know, I think if we look back at the - at the
first term of the Obama administration, what we saw was
you had this very popular Democratic president that had
- who had campaigned, in terms of his broader rhetoric
during the presidential campaign against John McCain, on
the notion that he was going to transform the way that
the U.S. conducted its foreign policy around the world.
And, you know, he then
proceeded to double down on some of the greatest
excesses of the Bush administration.
If you look at the use of
the state secrets privilege; if you look at the way the
Obama administration has expanded the drone wars; has
empowered special operations forces, including from
JSOC, the Joint Special
Operations Command, to operate in countries where the
United States is not at war; if you look at the way in
which the Obama administration has essentially boxed
Congress out of any effective oversight role of the
covert aspects of U.S. foreign policy, what we really
have is a president who has normalized, for many, many
liberals in the United States, the policies that they
once opposed under the Bush administration. And, you
know, this really has been a war presidency.
And, you know, yesterday, as
the - as President Obama’s talking about how we don’t
need a state of perpetual war, multiple U.S. drone
strikes in Yemen, a country that we’re not at war with,
where the U.S. has killed a tremendous number of
Rick and I have spent a lot
of time on the ground in Yemen.
And, you know, to me, most
disturbing about this is John Brennan, who really was
the architect of this drone program and the expansion of
the drone program - these guys are sitting around on
Tuesdays at the White House in "Terror Tuesday"
meetings, discussing who’s going to live and who’s going
to die across the world.
These guys have decided -
What do you mean, "Terror Tuesday" meetings?
Well, that’s what they’re referred to. You know, senior
- when this first came out, senior White House officials
said that they internally refer to them as "Terror
Tuesdays," where they meet and they go over the list of
And they have them, you
know, on baseball cards in some cases. And they’re
identifying people that they want to take out and that
are on the U.S. kill list. And we have an ever-expanding
kill list. You know, after 9/11, there were seven people
on the U.S. kill list, and then we had the deck of cards
in Iraq and Saddam and his top people. I mean, now there
are thousands; it’s unknown how many people are on this
And U.S. citizens - three
U.S. citizens were killed in operations ordered by the
president in late 2011, including, you know, as we
reported on Democracy Now! before, the
16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.
And, you know, so the
appointment of Brennan to CIA,
to me, is the greatest symbol of how deeply invested in
covert war and an expansion of wars around the world and
the notion that was popularized under the neocons of
"the world is a battlefield," that notion that the
United States can strike in any country across the
world, wherever it determines that terrorists or
suspected militants may reside.
The most disturbing part of
this policy, to me - and I think also to people within
the intelligence community who are looking at this - is
that there are regions of Yemen or Pakistan where
President Obama has authorized the U.S. to strike, even
if they don’t know the identities of the people that
they’re striking, the so-called "signature strike"
The idea that being a
military-aged male in a certain region of a particular
country around the world, that those people become
legitimate targets based on their gender and their age
and their geographic presence, that those are going to
be legitimate targets is -
Well, I mean, this was something that started under the
Bush administration, and when President Obama first took
office, he was briefed on this by the then-director -
the outgoing director of the CIA,
And he described to him this
policy that they had developed called "signature
strikes," where they were looking at patterns of life.
If an individual had contact with certain other
individuals, if they were traveling in a certain area at
certain times, if they were gathering with a certain
number of people, that there was a presumption that they
must be up to no good, that they are suspected militants
or suspected terrorists and that the U.S. could take
preemptive action against those people - and by
"preemptive action," I mean killing them with a missile
- that there was authorization to do that.
In some cases, the president
has actually pre-cleared the CIA
to authorize these strikes without being directly
But President Obama, my
understanding from sources, you know, within the
intelligence and military world, has really sort of
micromanaged this process. And, you know, Brennan has
been - Brennan is basically the hit man of this
administration, except he never has to go out and do the
He orders, you know, planes
and missile strikes and AC-130 strikes to, you know, hit
in Somalia, in Yemen, in Pakistan.
You know, we’re looking
right now at a reality that President Obama has
essentially extended the very policies that many of his
supporters once opposed under President Bush.
And I think it says
something about the bankrupt nature of partisan politics
in this country that the way we feel about life-or-death
policies around the world is determined by who happens
to be in office. I mean, that’s - that, to me, is a very
I wanted to go to a first clip of your film, Jeremy and
Rick. The story of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki
features prominently in Dirty Wars. His
16-year-old son became the third U.S. citizen to be
killed in a drone strike in Yemen in October 2011.
President Obama called the
assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki a, quote, "milestone."
Aden - Yemen’s ancient port city was nothing like Kabul.
In Afghanistan, life was
defined by the war. Everything revolved around it. But
in Yemen, there was no war, at least not officially. The
strikes seem to have come out of the blue, and most
Yemenis were going about life as usual. It was difficult
to know where to start.
The Yemeni government
claimed responsibility for the strikes, saying they had
killed dozens of al-Qaeda operatives. But it was unclear
who the targets really were or who was even responsible.
That’s Jeremy Scahill in Yemen in the film that has just
premiered at the Sundance Film Festival called Dirty
Wars: The World is a Battlefield. Jeremy?
So what we were seeing there was a scene where we’re
first getting into what’s happening on the ground in
Yemen, and we learn about these - this series of missile
strikes, cruise missile strikes, that had happened in
December of 2009, the first time that Yemen had been
bombed by the United States in seven years.
And in the process of
looking at who the targets were, we understood that
Anwar al-Awlaki, that there had been an attempt to kill
him, and in fact that the - that it had been announced
that Awlaki had been killed. And that’s how we
discovered that Anwar Awlaki was in fact on the kill
list. And, of course, Anwar Awlaki is a U.S. citizen.
The first bombing that
happened, on December 17th, 2009, where President Obama
directly authorized the strike, was on this village of
al-Majalah in southern Yemen, and 46 people were killed,
including two dozen women and children, in that strike.
And so, what Rick and I did
is we went down to the heart of where these strikes were
happening, and we met with people on the ground, and we
interviewed survivors of these - of these missile
strikes. And we gathered evidence, and we actually
filmed the cruise missile parts. And the U.S. had - did
not claim responsibility for those strikes; in fact, the
Yemeni government claimed responsibility for the
And we know from the
WikiLeaks cables that were released that General David
Petraeus essentially conspired with senior Yemeni
officials, including the former president of Yemen, Ali
Abdullah Saleh, to cover up the U.S. role in what would
become a rapidly expanding U.S. bombing campaign inside
And, you know, this
administration has continued to pummel Yemen.
Today or - I think today,
they claimed for probably the dozenth time in the past
couple of years to have killed Said al-Shihri, one of
the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And,
you know, maybe he has been killed this time; maybe he
But what we saw on the
ground is that the United States and Yemen claim to be
killing al-Qaeda leadership - and they’ve killed a
handful of them in Yemen - but for the most part, it
seems that the drone strikes are hitting in areas where
they’re killing civilians.
And what it’s doing is it’s
turning people in Yemen that might not be disposed, have
anything against the United States, into potential
enemies that have a legitimate grudge against America.
And that’s - we saw that
Rick Rowley, your filmmaking is truly remarkable, and
you’ve shown that in your previous films, for example,
Fourth World War. But in Dirty Wars,
that you take this one camera, and you and Jeremy travel
the world, as you’ve been covering the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan for years, going to places that the entire
U.S. press corps - I mean, with their armed guards - has
rarely been, if ever at all, to track what has been
secret until now.
Talk about that journey
Yeah, I - the global war on terror is the most important
story of our generation, you know, and it’s a story
that’s been completely not covered. It remains invisible
and hidden from most Americans. I mean, this is a war -
this is the longest war in American history. It’s a war
in which hundreds of thousands of people have been
But it’s happening in the
shadows. And so, Dirty Wars - in
Dirty Wars, Jeremy and I are trying to make
this invisible war that’s being fought in our name, but
without our knowledge, visible to the American people.
And in order to do that, we had to leave the safety of
the Green Zone and go out to where - where the war takes
place, talk to the civilians on the ground in places
like Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen about how this war
is affecting their lives.
So, in Yemen, as a result of
the - all these drone strikes, as the backlash against
these drone strikes in the south was huge, when we
arrived in Yemen, an entire province in the south had
been taken over by an al-Qaeda-affiliated organization
because of the massive popular anger over the drone
strikes and the government’s complicity in the strikes,
which, you know, turned the south of Yemen into a
I mean, these missile
strikes, these night raids destabilize the countries
that they happen in, and they turn them into places
where it becomes very dangerous to move and to operate.
So, in Yemen - I mean, in
Afghanistan, as well, Jeremy and I had to travel - it
was only possible for us to work as a crew of two,
because we had to keep a low profile and try to travel
under the radar. We couldn’t roll - I mean, rolling
around with security would only make it more dangerous
Rick had to actually - he had to train one of the - our
Afghan colleagues in how to use a second camera, so that
we could have someone filming me while Rick was filming,
you know, the people that we were interviewing, because
we wouldn’t have been safe to bring more people than
So Rick actually was
training people on the fly in multiple countries on how
to do other things, because of some of the limitations,
for security purposes, of having to travel very lightly.
Yeah. I mean, one of the things that humbles both of us
is that, you know, when you arrive in a village in
Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the
first American they’ve seen since the Americans that
kicked that door in and killed half their family.
And yet, time and time
again, those families invited us in, welcomed us and
shared their stories with us, based on - you know, we
promised them that we would do everything we could to
make their stories be heard in the U.S.
And so, it’s actually really
- it’s amazing to be here at Sundance, because finally
we’re able to keep those promises.
Afghanistan, Gardez, Jeremy, talk about one of the
central focuses of Dirty Wars.
Yeah, you know, we - when we began working on this film,
it was a very different film. And, you know, I mean,
Amy, we - both Rick and I have been on Democracy
Now! I mean, I feel like I grew up at Democracy
On my Facebook page, I list
Democracy Now! as my university, and really,
really view it that way. And you know, because we were
talking to you at the time, that we had started on a
very different journey.
And we had read about this
raid that happened in Gardez, in Paktia province,
because a very, very brave reporter named Jerome
Starkey, who’s a correspondent for The Times of
London, who now is in Africa covering the latest sort of
expansion of the not-so-covert war in Mali -
And we’ll talk about that in a minute.
And we’ll talk about that, yeah. So we had read about
this night raid that took place, and it was a horrible
massacre. And what happened in Gardez was that U.S.
special operations forces had intelligence that there
were - you know, a Taliban cell was in a - was having
some sort of a meeting to prepare a suicide bomber.
And they raid this house in
the middle of the night, and they end up killing five
people, including three women, two of whom were
pregnant, and another person that they killed in the
house, Mohammed Daoud, turned out to be a senior Afghan
police commander who had been trained by the U.S.,
including by the mercenary - or the private security
company MPRI, Military
Professional Resources Incorporated.
They weren’t even Pashtun,
the dominant - the almost exclusive ethnicity of the
Taliban. They spoke Dari. And they’re - and what was
happening that night was not preparing a suicide bomber;
they were celebrating the birth of a child. And they
were dancing and had music, and they had women without
head covers on.
And they - and so the
soldiers raid this house, and they kill these people.
And instead of realizing that they had made a horrible
mistake and that the intelligence was wrong and it
resulted in these people being killed, they actually
covered up the killings.
And we interview the
survivors of this raid, including a man who watched,
while he was zip-cuffed, soldiers, American soldiers,
digging bullets out of his wife’s dead body.
And they then tried to -
And they did that because?
Well, so just to finish this part of it, they kill the
people, they dig the bullets our of the bodies, then
they take into custody all of the men of the house,
including a man who has just watched his sister and his
wife and his niece killed, and they fly them to a
different province, and they’re interrogating them,
trying to get them to give up some information that
would indicate that the Taliban had a connection to that
family. I mean, it shows you how horrid the intelligence
I mean, these people weren’t
even Pashtun. You have a senior police commander.
They’re dancing, playing
loud music, and they have women without head cover in
the house. And what happened is that
NATO then issues a press release and made
statements anonymously in the media where they said that
the U.S. forces had stumbled upon the aftermath of a
Taliban honor killing, and they implied that the family
- that the women were killed by their own murderous
And so, in the course of the
film, we investigate that night raid, and we learn that
the individuals who did that raid were members of the
Joint Special Operations Command. And we know that
because the then-head of the Joint Special Operations
Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven, showed up in this
village with scores of Afghan soldiers and U.S. forces.
And they - there’s a scene,
and we show this in the film, where they offload a
sheep, and they offer to sacrifice the sheep to say -
you know, ask for forgiveness. It’s an Afghan cultural
tradition, and it was meant to be a gesture of
reconciliation. And they offload the sheep, and they’re
offering to sacrifice it in the very place where the
raid had taken place.
And then Admiral McRaven
goes into the home and says his men were responsible for
killing the women and the police commander, and he asks
for forgiveness from the head of the family, Haji
Sharabuddin. Had a brave photographer named Jeremy Kelly
not been there to snap the photographs that you see in
our film of Admiral McRaven in Gardez, we may never have
known who the actual killers were that day.
And both Jerome Starkey and
I have filed Freedom of Information Act requests. We’ve
tried to get information out of the U.S. military. My
requests have been bounced all around the military. And
the most current update I have is months old from them.
They said that it’s in an
unnamed agency awaiting review. We don’t know if anyone
was disciplined for the action. We don’t know if anyone
was ever held accountable for the action.
All we know is that Admiral
McRaven and a bunch of soldiers showed up with a sheep
and said, "We did this, and we’re sorry."
And tried to destroy Jerome Starkey’s reputation,
meanwhile, back in Kabul in a news conference.
Yeah, I mean, Jerome Starkey - there’s a couple of
journalists in our film who really emerge as the heroes
of the story that we’re telling.
Another one is currently in
jail in Yemen right now, and we can maybe talk about
him, named Abdulelah Haider Shaye - and we’ve talked
about him on the show before - in jail because President
Obama intervened, when he was about to be pardoned, to
keep him in jail after he exposed the role, U.S. role,
in certain missile strikes.
What do you mean he intervened, if you could just say
for a moment?
Well, I mean, there was - the journalist who first
exposed the missile strike I was talking about earlier
in al-Majalah, Yemen, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, had taken
photographs of the U.S. missile parts, and that’s how we
first learned that it was in fact U.S. cruise missiles.
And Yemen doesn’t have
cruise missiles. And so, after he did his reporting and
continued to report on the expanding U.S. air war in
Yemen, he was snatched from his home by the U.S.-backed
Yemeni counterterrorism units and then was put on trial
for allegedly being an al-Qaeda facilitator or
propagandist and was sentenced to five years in prison.
There was huge protests as
his trial was denounced as a sham by international human
rights and media organizations.
And he was about to be
pardoned by the Yemeni president, because there was
tremendous pressure in the country, and then President
Obama called President Ali Abdullah Saleh and expressed
his concern over the release of Abdulelah Haider Shaye.
The reporter. And then the pardon was ripped up after
that. And his lawyers say, clearly, that he’s in jail
because of Obama’s intervention, that he would have been
And lest you think this is
some kind of a conspiracy theory, you can hop onto the
White House website and see the readout of the phone
call from that day. The White House put it openly. When
I called the State Department to ask them about the
case, they said, "We stand by President Obama’s position
on - initial position on this," regarding this
journalist. They don’t even refer to him as a
journalist, "regarding this individual."
He had worked with
ABC News, The Washington
Post - you know, very small, unknown media outlets.
And I heard from a very - someone inside of a very
prominent news organization in the U.S. told me that
they had been called by the administration when they
were working with Abdulelah Haider Shaye and told that
"You should stop working with him, because he takes his
paychecks and gives them to al-Qaeda."
I mean, they tried to
slander this journalist behind the scenes and in front.
But you asked about Jerome
Starkey. When Jerome Starkey first exposed the cover-up
of Gardez, NATO publicly
attacked him by name and accused him of lying.
And then, when more
information started to come out about who did it, then
they changed their story, but they never apologized to
And, Rick Rowley, you have this remarkable footage.
Aside from you both going to Gardez and interviewing
survivors, talk about the video footage you retrieve
there and the hands of the U.S. soldiers that you see.
Yeah, one of incredible things in Gardez, the family
gave us cellphone videos that they had taken the night
of the raid.
And there was one clip in
particular. It was early in the morning. It’s a shaky
video. And we just thought it was just another sort of
shaky video of the bodies. But then you can hear voices
come over it, and they’re American-accented voices
speaking about piecing together their version of the
night’s killings, getting their story straight.
And, I mean, you hear them
trying to concoct a story about how this was something
other than a massacre.
And you see their hands.
And you see their hands moving the corpses around and
photographing the bullet holes. But we never get to see
their faces. All we have are their voices.
We spent a long time
actually trying to analyze the audio to figure out,
because a name is mentioned in one part of it, but it’s
too thin and distorted on the cellphone to find out. I
mean, these are the - these are the scraps and pieces
that we have to use to reconstruct the story of these
wars, because everything is systematically hidden from
I mean, all we had to go on
were these pictures that Jeremy Kelly took, this
cellphone video, and that -
Jeremy Kelly is the photographer, videographer for
For Jerome, yes, who is now the Kabul bureau chief -
Yeah. All we had were these tiny little scraps of clues
that weren’t even supposed to exist, and pictures of a
person who was unknown at the time.
I mean, Admiral William
McRaven, you know, no one knew who he was. I mean, that
was the first sort of shock here - looked at him, see
his rank, read his name. But he’s not - he wasn’t from
the NATO command. He wasn’t
from the Eastern Regional Command that owns that battle
He was not even - I mean,
why was this elite force operating, kicking in the doors
on farmers? I mean, that is the sort of the - the
mystery that begins the investigation.
And then you take this forward, Jeremy, back to the
United States and show McRaven a photograph.
Right. And so, you know, after - after we learn that
this figure, William McRaven, was the leader of this
raid, it sort of - our film was sort of in the - this
journey was sort of like pulling on the tail of an
elephant that’s behind a hidden wall.
And you’re pulling on it,
and you’re pulling on it, and the cracks start to show
this behemoth that’s behind a wall, and you realize that
this is part of a much bigger story. And really, that
kicked off a journey that took us to Yemen and Somalia
And, you know, for us, I
mean, the sort of - just this incredible looking-glass
moment happened when Osama bin Laden was killed.
And all of a sudden,
everyone is talking about JSOC.
It’s everywhere. I mean, we had spent so much time
embedded in this story, where there was very little
being written about it, except for a small circle of
journalists. And all of a sudden, the people that -
whose journey we’d been tracking had become national
And Disney tried to
trademark SEAL Team 6, and,
you know, the Hollywood producers got in bed with the
CIA to make their version of
the - you know, the events, the sort of official
And you’re saying that’s the film...?
Oh, Zero Dark Thirty. I mean, it’s - and we can
talk about that film later. But, I mean, the
relationship between the CIA
and Hollywood over this issue is one that I think needs
to be very, very thoroughly debated.
And I’m thankful that we are
debating it. And, you know, one great thing that has
happened as a result of Zero Dark Thirty is
that people are actually talking about torture and what
has happened in the past.
But for us to see, you know,
McRaven sitting in front of Congress and
JSOC being talked about
publicly was really an incredible experience, because we
had seen this other side. Our film is about all these
things that these same units did that almost never get
What Americans know about
JSOC is overwhelmingly limited
to what happened in the raid that killed Osama bin
Laden. And, you know, Rick often points out sort of the
irony of the way that that’s covered versus the role
these forces play around the world.
Yeah, I mean, we’re flooded with details about one raid,
the - on May 2nd, 2011. We know everything about it. We
know how many SEALs were in the helicopters.
We know what kind of
helicopters they were. We know what kind of rifles they
were carrying. We know that they had a dog with them
that was a Belgian Malinois named Cairo. We know
everything about this raid. But that same year, there
were 30,000 other night raids in Afghanistan.
So, we know everything about
this, but those - those are all hidden from us.
We’re going to break and then come back to a pair of
remarkable investigative journalists, whose
investigations are now a film, Dirty Wars: The World
is a Battlefield, that has just premiered here at
the Sundance Film Festival in its 10th year.
This is Democracy Now!
We’ll be back in a minute.
The great Somali Canadian, K’naan, singing "Somalia,"
his home country.
This is Democracy Now!,
democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m
Amy Goodman, and we’re with two great journalists: Rick
Rowley and Jeremy Scahill.
Jeremy, a longtime
Democracy Now! correspondent and national security
correspondent for The Nation. Rick Rowley,
videographer, filmmaker, who has been in Iraq and
Afghanistan for many years. They have now put together
this film, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield.
And it has premiered here. In fact, K’naan was here
celebrating the first night.
And I want to talk about
Somalia and Mali, but let’s start with a clip of this
film in Somalia. Jeremy, can you introduce it?
Yeah, we - what we discovered in Somalia was that the
U.S. had been for years outsourcing its kill list in
Somalia to local warlords.
And in our film, you meet
two of those warlords: Mohamed Qanyare and Indha Adde.
And Indha Adde at one time was protecting people who
were on the U.S. kill list, and he was an ally of the
al-Qaeda and al-Shabab figures within Somalia. And he
has been flipped and is now working with the U.S.
So, here we meet Indha Adde,
this notorious warlord who’s working on the side of the
In an earlier life, Indha Adde had been America’s
enemy, offering protection to people on the U.S.
kill list. But the warlord had since changed sides.
He was now on the U.S. payroll and assumed the title
So he’s saying that the
fiercest fighting that they’re doing right now is
happening right here.
The men fired across the
rooftops, but it didn’t make sense to me what we
were doing here - or what the Americans were doing
here in Somalia, arming this warlord-turned-general
for what seemed like a senseless war.
We’ve got to move.
So these were Shabab fighters you buried here.
[translated] If recapture fighters alive, we give
them medical care, unless they are foreigners. The
foreigners, we execute.
If you capture a foreigner alive, you execute them
on the battlefield?
[translated] Yes. The others should feel no mercy.
The U.S.-backed Somali warlord Indha Adde. Journalist
Jeremy Scahill there in Somalia, Rick Rowley filming.
Jeremy, talk about Somalia and Mali, as we - the world
learns about Mali now, with the French attacks on Mali
and what’s happened in Algeria, and how that ties into
the central theme of your film about
Right. I mean, one thing that’s interesting, you know,
we have some people from within the
JSOC community whose identities we protect in the
film, and we’re talking to them.
And we actually, you know,
two years ago, were considering going to Mali, because
we were hearing from our sources that there were covert
operations that were happening inside of Mali tracking
these - the spread of these al-Qaeda affiliates. And,
you know, this is something that we’re seeing throughout
the Horn of Africa and in places throughout the Sahel
and North Africa, where these groups are getting
stronger and stronger.
And so, you know, the U.S.
is increasingly getting itself involved in these dirty
wars in Africa.
And, you know, we could have
easily gone to Uganda or Somalia or Mali and reported on
this, but there’s - you know, since
AFRICOM was created as a full free-standing
command, like Southern Command and Central Command,
AFRICOM has been expanding
And McRaven, where he is now?
McRaven is the commander of the Special Operations
Command. He is - William McRaven is the most powerful
figure in the United States military.
He is an incredibly
brilliant man. He is very shrewd. He understands media.
And he is in charge of the most elite force the U.S. has
ever produced, and he has been given carte blanche
to do what he believes is right around the world,
empowered much more under President Obama than they were
under President Bush.
In fact, you see someone who
has worked within JSOC saying
that to us in our film. And out of Camp Lemonnier, which
is in Djibouti, the U.S. has been expanding these covert
wars in Africa. And most of what - most Americans, what
they know about Somalia is Black Hawk Down.
And I think in our film
you’re going to see a very different reality, and you’re
going to see the hellscape that has been built by a
decade of covert war.
Is it too cynical to say - I mean, this is the fourth
anniversary of President Obama promising to close
Guantánamo. It hasn’t happened. There’s still scores of
men there, 166 men.
Something - more than 80 of
them have been cleared, yet they’re still there. Is it
too cynical to say that this "dirty war," as you call
it, the targeted killings, are a way to end all of these
Because you don’t detain
prisoners, you simply kill them.
Well, that’s what people like Jack Goldsmith and other,
you know, former Bush legal advisers and national
security team - I mean, the irony of these guys, who
have no moral standing to talk about these issues, are
saying, "Well, Obama is just killing these people. At
least we stuck them in some sort of a prison."
I mean, it’s devastating
that this is what these Bush people are saying about
Obama. That’s what they’re alleging.
Well, devastating is your film, Dirty Wars: The
World is a Battlefield. It has premiered here at
the Sundance Film Festival, has just been picked up
IFC, Sundance Selects, which
means it will go out to scores of movie theaters around
This is just the beginning.
And I congratulate you both, Jeremy Scahill, Rick
Rowley, of Big Noise Films and The Nation
magazine and Democracy Now! What an amazing
film. This is our first day at the Sundance Film
I thank all for all the work