presented by Suzanne Al-Kayali
Saturday, January 7th
5244 Lyndale Avenue South
|"Funeral of Afghanistan's latest drone strike victims in Nangarhar province," journalist Emran Feroz wrote on Twitter. "Like many others, they will remain nameless & invisible." (Photo: @Emran_Feroz/Twitter)|
PAKISTAN, 2004 onwards
• 424 Strikes
• Total Killed 2,499-4,001
• Civilians 424-966
• Children 172-207
YEMEN, 2002 onwards
• 129-149 Strikes
• Total Killed 555-811
• Civilians 65-101
• Children 8-9
PAKISTAN, 2016 only
• 3 Strikes
• Total Killed 11-12
• Civilians 1
AFGHANISTAN, 2015 onwards
• 401-426 Strikes
• Total Killed 1,948-2,477
• Civilians 75-121
• Children 4-18
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: As commander-in-chief, I have not hesitated to use force unilaterally where necessary to protect the American people. Thanks to our military, intelligence and counterterrorism professionals, bin Laden is gone. Anwar Awlaki, a leader of the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, is gone. Ahmed Abdi Godane, the al-Qaeda leader in Somalia, he’s gone. Ahmed Abu Khattala, accused in the attacks in Benghazi, captured. Mohammad Mansour, the leader of the Taliban, gone. Leader after leader in ISIL—Haji Mutazz, their number two; Mohammed Emwazi, who brutally murdered Americans; Abu Nabil, the ISIL leader in Libya—all gone. Abu Dawud, a leader of their chemical weapons program, captured. The list goes on, because if you target Americans, we will find you, and justice will be done, and we will defend our nation.AMY GOODMAN: That was President Obama delivering the commencement speech at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs on Thursday. With only a small number of U.S. Special Forces on the ground, Iraq and Syria have become new fronts in the global drone war that has launched thousands of strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The exact number of civilians killed by drones is unknown, because the program operates in secret.
OWEN JONES: You’re a loving parent. What would you say to the loving parents of up to 202 children who have been killed by drones in Pakistan in a program which you escalated as secretary of state?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I would argue with the premise, because, clearly, the efforts that were made by the United States, in cooperation with our allies in Afghanistan and certainly with the Afghan government, to prevent the threat that was in Pakistan from crossing the border, killing Afghans, killing Americans, Brits and others, was aimed at targets that had been identified and were considered to be threats. The numbers about potential civilian casualties, I take with a somewhat big grain of salt, because there has been other studies which have proven there not to have been the number of civilian casualties.AMY GOODMAN: And last October on NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders about his position on drones.
CHUCK TODD: What does counterterrorism look like in a Sanders administration? Drones? Special Forces? Or what does it look like?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, all of that and more.
CHUCK TODD: You would—you’re OK with the drone, using drones as—
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, drone is a weapon. When it works badly, it is terrible and it is counterproductive. When you blow up a facility or a building which kills women and children—
CHUCK TODD: Sure.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: —you know what? It not only doesn’t do us—it’s terrible.
CHUCK TODD: But you’re comfortable with the idea of using drones if you think you’ve isolated an important terrorist?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Well, yes, yes, yes.
CHUCK TODD: So, that continues in a Sanders administration.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Yes. And look, look, we all know, you know, that there are people, as of this moment, plotting against the United States. We have got to be vigorous in protecting our country, no question about it.AMY GOODMAN: That’s Senator Bernie Sanders and, before that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
LARRY WILMORE: It looks like you’re really enjoying your last year of the presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool. That was cool, yeah. You know, it kind of makes sense, too, because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? Yeah, sure. What? Am I wrong?AMY GOODMAN: Larry Wilmore’s comments come as the Obama administration prepares to release for the first time the number of people it believes it’s killed in drone strikes in countries that lie outside of conventional war zones. Speaking last month in Chicago, President Obama addressed the issue of civilian deaths in drone strikes.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: There’s no doubt that some innocent people have been killed by drone strikes. It is not true that it has been this sort of willy-nilly, you know, "Let’s bomb a village." That is not how it’s—folks have operated. And what I can say with great certainty is that the rate of civilian casualties in any drone operation are far lower than the rate of civilian casualties that occur in conventional war.AMY GOODMAN: A new book being published today paints a very different picture of the U.S. drone program. It’s titled The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government’s Secret Drone Warfare Program. It’s written by Jeremy Scahill and the staff of The Intercept, based on leaked government documents provided by a whistleblower. The documents undermine government claims that drone strikes have been precise. Part of the book looks at a program called Operation Haymaker in northeastern Afghanistan. During one five-month period, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The book is based on articles published by The Intercept last year. It also includes new contributions from NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden and The Intercept's Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Snowden's introduction to the book has just been published on The Intercept’s website.
LISA LING: This is global. This is getting information anywhere at any time, shooting people from anywhere at any time. And it’s not just one person sitting there with a little remote control, a little joystick, moving around a plane that’s halfway across the world. That’s not all there is. It’s like borders don’t matter anymore. And there’s a huge system that spans the globe, that can just suck up endless amounts of your life, your personal data. I mean, this could grow to get so out of control. And we’re not the only ones that have this. This is going to be commonplace, if it’s not already. It’s a secret program. And what that means is that I can’t just go shouting off the hilltops telling the public what it is. What I can tell you is that, to me, one person who worked within this massive thing, it’s frightening.AMY GOODMAN: Drone whistleblower Lisa Ling in the documentary National Bird.
ANWAR AL-AWLAKI: Ramadan is a chance for us to get away from the worldly indulgence in everything that is material. It’s a chance for us to have a more austere life. I think that, in general, Islam is presented in a—in a negative way. I mean, there’s always this association between Islam and terrorism, when that is not true at all. I mean, Islam is a religion of peace.NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, less than 10 years later, Anwar al-Awlaki released this al-Qaeda video, "A Call to Jihad."
ANWAR AL-AWLAKI: Do not be deceived by the promises of preserving your rights from a government that is right now killing your own brothers and sisters. Today, with the war between Muslims and the West escalating, you cannot count on the message of solidarity you may get from a civic group or a political party, or the word of support you hear from a kind neighbor or a nice co-worker. The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens. Hence my advice to you is this. You have two choices: either hijra or jihad. You either leave or you fight.NERMEEN SHAIKH: That’s Anwar al-Awlaki. So, Scott Shane, can you talk about his transformation and how he came to work with al-Qaeda? And also, that video, where was it recorded?