-- "I wanted to fight against you. I wanted to engage in armed Jihad,"
or "I wanted to blow myself up with a suicide vest,"
-- I think that it really led me to believe that we're actually giving people a legitimate reason to want to fight us or hate us. Not an ideological reason, but a reason because we had taken something from them.
To be honest with you, working on this story kind of gutted me as a person. I don't write in the first person or talk about myself often. This film became a very personal journey, and I think I realized what an impact knowing all of these people for all these years of doing it, and taking in their stories of the worst things that ever happened to them - it shakes you to the core. I think that we try to run away; as journalists doing this kind of reporting, you try to just run away from the impact that it has on you.
So when I was talking about how it changed me personally, I also was talking about us a as a society. Over this past twelve years of just nonstop war, being told that plots are being hatched at every moment and we need to be afraid - at the end of the day, I think all of us have to figure out a way to collectively confront that fear; because fear leads to a lessening of our rights, and a rollback of our rights, and that's my great concern.
Rob Kall: This is the Rob Kall Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM. I've been speaking with Jeremy Scahill, author of the book Dirty Wars, and a new movie that is just coming out. Last question, Jeremy. And I want to say: this movie is incredibly moving and powerful, and I want to thank and congratulate you for the courage that it took you to go to places where you never knew whether the bullets you were hearing being fired were bullets being fired by Taliban who could be after you next. But my question is: if this movie and book are successful, what would you like to see happen?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, I have very little faith in the jackals on Capitol Hill to do much of anything about the Kill Program or the National Security State, but my hope is that -- I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the movie is going to show there; and I hope that the film rolls out to 40 or 50 cities around the country, and that ordinary citizens are going to start asking questions of their representatives about their role in these policies, and that there is going to be a confrontation of the National Security State. But I'm not so arrogant as to believe there is a quick fox to this; "It's ultimately about hearts and minds," to use a military phrase. We made this film (and ended it) on a series of questions because we want to contribute to a dialogue and debate that ultimately is aimed at coming back to some of our basic principles about Democracy, and human rights, and freedom. I think we've steered quite far off that path. So we have a modest task, which is that we just want to be able to contribute to a debate or a discussion that's going to be aimed at dismantling some of the worst aspects of this program.
Rob Kall: Glen Greenwald has also endorsed your movie enthusiastically. He is apparently in Hong Kong with Ed Snowden, the whistle-blower who is reporting on all these disclosures about the NSA. How does what is happening there tie in with what you're reporting?
Jeremy Scahill: Oh. Well, (chuckles) we're living in a time when we have this crackdown on whistle-blowers, and the guys who actually created the torture program are running around free, when our data is being compromised, when journalists are being targeted, and when the secrecy of operations that are being done in the name of Americans around the world - that ultimately could threaten out security - when members of Congress aren't even given full access to the legal justifications to these operations, then we're heading toward a Big Brother State.