SPUTNIKRADIO – October 4, 2017:
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John Kirakou: …We are speaking with Kevin Zeese, who is co-director of Popular Resistance. And we are talking about the US “drone program”. …It’s so important, it’s not an underestimation to say that, there really is no bigger recruiting tool for real terrorist groups, for bonafide terrorist groups, than the US “drone program”. I can tell you from firsthand experience that I interrogated dozens of al-Qaeda fighters, who said eventually the same thing, that they never hand any political problem with the United States until we began droning their villages, and then killing their relatives for no reason or blowing up their schools or their masques, and they had no alternative but to take up arms against the United States.
Brian Becker: John Kirakou, let me ask you, because you were a CIA officer, you were there at the time of the Afghan, the start of the Afghan war, now sixteen years long. I have read a survey, I think it was conducted by western media of people in Kandahar, the southern part of Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold. Ninety-three percent of them have never heard of the World Trade Center according to this survey. I mean in other words, al-Qaeda was there, but the people of Afghanistan were not the ones perpetrating the terrorist action of September 11 (2001). Al-Qaeda has been given sort of guest status by the Taliban, but…how big of the deal were the drone strikes in Pakistan, in Afghanistan back then or is this a later technology.
Kevin Zeese: The technology began during George W. Bush’s (the son) first term. It was experimental…as early as to the best of my recollection as early as 2002, but it became a matter of policy and the reason that’s so dangerous, is that it became policy without any real input from anybody outside the Pentagon or the intelligence community. And so there was no open hearing on Capitol Hill; there was really no oversight from the House or Senate Arms Services Committees. This is just something that the government just decided to do, and whether you like it or not, tough luck.
Brian Becker: It’s amazing Kevin, right, you are an attorney, they just decide we are going to start killing people, you don’t need a declaration of war, any congressional authorization at all, you don’t need anything. You certainly don’t have the permission from the government of the country that you are doing the bombing in.
Kevin Zeese: Well, the president gave that approval since after 911, to respond to that attack. But that is really interesting I think also about this, is that it really heightens the problem we have in confronting war in this country. The courts will not ever look at this in any independent way. This is an area where the courts will say leave that to the executives, that’s not really our area of expertise, leave that to the executives. And so it’s very hard to get courts to look at this and gather facts, hear testimony and will on legalities of these. We are mass murderers, of these murders by technology, by drone technology. The Congress we have is on Armed Services Committees, but those committees are usually stacked by the members of congress who are most interested in those positions because they have military bases in their districts. These are not people who are attracting these committees because they want to stop war. These are key people who are attracting these committees because they generally favor military budgets and military action. So we have almost no congressional oversight. And so then Congress and then the White House thinks on itself to define the rules, and this happened mostly under President Obama – defines the rules and get the request from the intelligence agencies and makes the decision based on what he’s told by them. There’s no independent source of information to question what…the president is told. And so this is really conducted in a very strange way, and I think that it is causing incredible problems in the United States. And it is amazing that it’s not discussed anywhere…and I am kind a surprised by it, the New York Times publishing this article. It is not the typical things you read in the newspaper criticizing the drone program. That is a novel thing in the US media…and so there is not much public opinion about this; awareness about this. And so I appreciate you all doing this show and starting to discuss these issues. I think the drone program is one of the most devastatingly negative things…that the United States is doing in the name of war, because it does create more enemies; it creates more hostility. I can’t imagine any country, villages or any (area) where drones have been used, people near those villages coming out and favor the United States. They know what’s happening on the ground.
John Kirakou: And you know, Americans really need to heed the warnings we are hearing from the likes of Elan Musk and others about artificial intelligence and the future of robotic war fighters. I mean who’s going to stop the robots from going in and kill people and we are going probably 20 or 30 years from that.
Kevin Zeese: And the body of law around that, is not being developed by congress or the courts, it’s being developed by the military talking to the commander and chief, so it’s a very weird way to create a body of law, that those who favor the use of drones and mass killings with these…equipment and the president just pretty much okays what the military tells them, that’s no way to create responsible law around these very damaging and dangerous and counterproductive tools. They are going to make us less safe, not more safe.
Brian Becker: When you look at the headlines from the past couple years, I have up on my computer the New York Times story, so there’s just so many articles headlines like this John. (Reading from article:) Drones strikes reveal uncomfortable truth, US is often unsure of who will die. Okay, that is uncomfortable isn’t it?
John Kirakou: It’s criminal. It’s uncomfortable it’s criminal.
Brian Becker: Yeah. We…American doesn’t know. And then you have this article. This is an article from just last August (2016), so anybody doesn’t think this is all Donald Trump (Reading from article:) US release rules for airstrikes terror killings of terror suspects. The Obama administration has disclosed its rules and procedures for targeting individuals outside conventional war zones, including with drones, further lifting the secrecy surrounding one of its most disputed tactics for fighting terrorism. The newly declassified document. We are talking August 2016, almost end of the eight years of the Obama Administration, shows that if the top lawyers and leaders of the department and agencies on the agency agree that a proposed strike would be lawful and appropriate. The Pentagon or the CIA can proceed. If the disagree or if the person to be targeted is an American citizen, the matter must go to president for a decision. Wow.
John Kirakou: Which in the end protects no one.
Brian Becker: Okay, we can’t decide whether to kill this American citizen or someone else with a drone, we have a divide opinion? Let go to the final arbiter, the will choose.
John Kirakou: Rather than to go to court to change somebody with a crime and let him face his accusers in a count of law.
Kevin Zeese: Even people inside the intelligence agency, John knows, who talk about these issues in public, who rise these issues in public discussion are punished for it. …
Brian Becker: …Decision by the Trump Administration to drop limits…on US drone strikes and commando raids. (Kevin Zeese is co-director of the website popularresistance.org) …We were talking about the phenomenal impact that militarism has on this society. You know, it’s very interesting to sort of think it through, because…all the time the politicians and the media that functions as their echo chamber, they always say that the country is in danger, there’s always a threat; there is a national security need… The Defense Department which used to be called the War Department, is for defense. The last time the United States mainland was invaded was the war of 1812 (that was 205 years ago); almost every other country has experienced war; war in their cities, war in their towns; they know the devastation of war, but here, a country that has not had that much warfare on its own soil, is constantly at war; going to war; every generation almost have been called on to fight – Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and General Dwight D. Eisenhower said in his farewell address to the nation in January 1961, that there was a danger posed to the democracy, and he called it the Military Industrial Complex. It is an import thing to remind people of, because Dwight D. Eisenhower had a great role in forming the Military Industrial Complex and that at the very last moment he said, beware of the dangers that it posed. In the first draft of that speech, Eisenhower was actually calling it the Military Industrial Congressional Complex, but his aid said it’s too dangerous for congress to call it a complex that included congress. …Talk about the Military Industrial Complex, or as John Kirakou said, since September 11, 2001, I would say, the Military Intelligence Congressional Complex. In other words, not and by and for the people, but for this institutional power.
Kevin Zeese: I am going to make the same point that we shouldn’t leave the intelligence agencies out of that mix, because they are a major part of it. And they are not only in the government, but outside the government, so it fits with the rest of the Military Industrial. Because a lot of the intelligence activity is also occurring outside of government.
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