Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM. My guest tonight is Jeremy Scahill. He is National Security Correspondent for The Nation Magazine, a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow with the Nation Institute, and the author of the New York Times Bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He's got a new book out: Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, and a movie - a documentary - that is a gripping, intense documentary that is a must see. Welcome to the show, Jeremy.
Jeremy Scahill: Hey. Thanks for having me.
Rob Kall: What is the message that you want to get across from this combination of book and movie?
Jeremy Scahill: In the past twelve years in this post-911 world that we're in, there have been so many lines that have been crossed under both the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration on a domestic and international front, that I think we haven't really confronted how far we've gone in the creation of the National Security State, but also in this aggressive, targeted killing program around the globe. At the end of the day, I think that many of our policies are, on the one hand, internationally making us less safe, because I think they're creating more new enemies than they are killing actual terrorists; and then on a domestic front, I think this fear of a terror attack has resulted in giving up some of our liberties in the name of security. I think we're going to look back decades from now and realize this was a very key moment, and that a lot of us were asleep at the wheel. So it's intended to contribute to a debate that is just starting in our country, but should have happened long ago, about what kind of National Security Policy we want.
Rob Kall: You say in your book that this movie and the book basically gets us thinking about the future of American Democracy. What does that mean?
Jeremy Scahill: Well, look: if you have a popular Democratic President who is a constitutional lawyer by trade, won the Nobel Peace Prize, and is asserting the right of the United States to conduct what are effectively assassination operations around the world - including killing American citizens who have not been charged with a crime, and are not on an active battlefield shooting at US forces - and you have a President that had campaigned on a pledge to reverse the excesses of his predecessor, but instead is creating systems to legitimatize or systematize some of the more egregious aspects of the Bush/Cheney program, then I think we are indeed looking at a perpetual state of war, because it is being co-signed by Democrats and Republicans alike.
For me, when you take our foreign policy - the drones strikes, the "Night Raid" policy in Afghanistan - and then look at what's happening at home with the crackdown of whistle-blowers, with the targeting of phone records of journalists, with the revelations that have come out in Glen Greenwald's reporting from this NSA whistle-blower about the National Security State, I think that we're looking at an erosion of some of our basic freedoms. An undermining of not only a Democratic Press, but the ability of whistle-blowers within government to speak out about abuses, or waste, or frauds that are happening in secret. For me that comes to the heart of some of the most pressing debates we should be having about the undermining of Democratic principles in our country in the name of security.
Rob Kall: Seymour Hersh, in a very positive interview, says that what you talked about is, "What has been done in the name of America since 9/11." Could you comment on that?