tv [untitled] August 15, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
these are the top stories the syrian rebels say they're behind the blast that rocked central damascus the explosion struck at a military compound in just meters from the hotel where the u.n. observer mission stay. rumors that it's already granted asylum to the decision that. requests for refuge now expected later this week. and no end in sight explosions right after the deadliest day this year almost fifty people killed while another scandal over u.s.
presence in the country. just ahead the drug war reaches artie's crosstalk. please. liz. you can. start. hello and welcome to cross talk i'm peter all about america's love affair with drones the use of unmanned drone attacks has surged during the obama presidency proponents of this weapon claim they are precise say for american military personnel and with limited collateral damage critics disagree drones are immoral illegal and generate unnecessary blowback.
can. start. to cross talk america's growing affection towards drones i'm joined by bill roggio in philadelphia he's a commentator on military affairs and managing editor of the long war journal in geneva we have gene myrow she is a president of the international association of democratic lawyers and in london we cross to chris woods he's a journalist with the bureau of investigative journalism all right folks cross talk rules in effect that means you can jump in anytime you want jane if i go to you first in geneva is the use of drones and and media coverage lately has shown that obama uses them quite often a lot more than george w. bush did is it making america a safer place. absolutely not i think every time we use a drone we are creating ten more people who have some desire to hate us or to try to do some when i say i am american. and to try to take some action against. the united states ok if i can stay so i don't think it helps at
all ok if i stay clean thing is that it's a legal ok ok we'll get to that one here and let you know but i mean obama obama loves to point out the pentagon loves to point out or i should say the cia we got another one we got another one and it makes the papers and people are quite impressed i mean you know mr obama is not soft on security is he is that one of the messages you think you standing right now. i think that's the purpose for why he is doing it i think that's one of the purposes. in the united states the issue of whether or not democrats are considered strong on national defense and security is one of the issues that's always played well for republicans and so showing this macho image and the image of. going to stand up to kill these terrorists whoever we call terrorists is. it was i think it was being it was
leaked in order to make him appear stronger and. weaker and and frankly. you know there's there's a lot of. it in relate or in opposition to invading a country you know doing as targeted or you're saying you're saying this is a security policy on the cheap chris if i go to you in london a lot of the information that was leaked i guess was leaked to you guys because reading your work is quite fascinating is this you know why are they you know spoon feeding the media every once while they'll say something of course is the most secret program in america but it is same time they're going to want to brag about it and from your research in your writing it looks like they're quite proud of what they're doing. there's very little that secret about the war in pakistan and yemen and particularly except that the obama administration would like to keep aspects of it secret the difficult bits the awkward bits it's absolutely clear that these drones are killing alleged terrorists although they're not getting they're not
getting trials they're not they're not being held there simply being killed but we also know that alone it's a number of civilians unfortunately i've also been killed in pakistan and in yemen and in somalia and unfortunately american media in particular is very bad at reporting those deaths reports when the big guys are killed it's a little problematic for the american media when it comes to reporting civilian deaths and that's part of the problem now because obama has become more and more reliance on these drones as a tool of foreign policy built around this fiction that the most precise weapon ever invented and then killing civilians what we simply know that's not true well chris if i can stay with you here i mean the administration defends that you know when these drones who used to have any male adult male in the vicinity is considered a militant or a legitimate target i mean again this is this is really pushing the limit of what of using a weapon here i mean what about women and children we do know about funerals for women and children have been killed and these when they are these drones are sent
we know it is a funeral. well the cia and national us intelligence officials have indicated that they think no more than sixty civilians have been killed in almost ten years of bombing in this campaign and that's ludicrous that's absolutely not the case until we've identified around one hundred seventy five children killed just in pakistan and we think the number of civilians killed in pakistan is a minimum it's just under five hundred maybe as long as i under there are huge numbers of people we simply don't know their identity we don't know their status and for the the us to continually claim that it's not killing civilians is simply untrue i think it's wrong and they need they do need to be held to account for this ok bill what do you think is this strategy working. yeah you know this is i absolutely agree the obama administration is making political hay out of these drone strikes if it allows it to project itself as being strong on terrorism but
it's really a stopgap. it's it's a cheat to. in order for them not to make hard choices which is to actually get in the case of pakistan to control its own territory or do something about it itself and i believe me i don't advocate the u.s. invading pakistan's tribal areas however the reality is these are lawless areas where these strikes are occurring and the pakistani government is the their own willing or able to to it to go after the individuals that are being targeted in these strikes and these these are areas where plots are being. being hatched against not just the united states or europe but against pakistan afghanistan and other other places india so you know the idea that we could just conduct a law fair and go in there and arrest these people you know that you know that they deserve a trial first you know that this is the real problem with this with the drone
program or with the u.s. strategy period is that it's not defining this war it's not the fire it's not going after the root causes radical ideology and state sponsorship of terrorism so the drone strikes are keeping al qaeda to answer your question they're keeping al qaeda off balance but what they're not doing is they're not allowing us to hit al qaeda where it hurts that state sponsorship of terrorism that's radical ideology and its ability to exploit the ungoverned spaces so all this is a stop gap it keeps them from where i'm meeting the. cause of that if i go to jamie this is what he does every. day jeanne if i go to you chris a lot of blowback doesn't it i mean if it doesn't work it's not effective but we continue to do it i do agree that it does create blowback. and there's no question that it creates back and you know i know that. i think about just sort of trials and arrest him detention as being as being unrealistic but it's highly
realistic that's what we have international police for that's what we have. even the time so if we're going to go into north waziristan where the taliban openly control these areas. well let me let me say pakistan won't govern their own territories north and south waziristan are no go zones that's you know who is going to go in there are enemies of let me understand this regime chris and chris in london jump in go ahead i'm just saying that the pakistan military is there in in the federal tribal areas and this fighting with these groups pakistani soldiers die every day and bill well. after nine eleven just as they go after the early days of nine eleven u.s. and pakistani intelligence were very well together for him to launch numbers of al qaida roll them out very tightly the issue is who these drones are targeting and your and your excellent website bill shows most of these drone strikes and knocks
against al qaida they're actually against militant groups that have peace deals with pakistan that are fighting an insurgency across the border and that's what this is really about now kyra practically destroyed and drones have helped to do what it wants out there emotionally as in snow building here about the times square bombing chris how do you how do you talk about the crime square bombing when five times square ball always carried out by this community iran and pakistan yeah not not al qaeda and. it certainly was and you know why the t.t.p. said that the timing of these rights are going to be nice of you is rain strong problem this is it's not a serious groups that were attacking. all right jamie when a job in engineering is going. to be. allies with al qaeda with other groups. you know this is you know it's one thing to start talking about the practicalities and so forth but you know there is international law there is there
is international human rights law there's international humanitarian law there's laws of war and the minute that you start saying we or any one country has some kind of justification for violating that law everybody that has a justification for violating the law in fact i was at the human rights council today and the u.s. representative came down on the syrians for targeted killing and this and the reaction was how can the united states say that the syrians are guilty of targeted killing when they are doing that exactly and in fact haven't come up with any kind of justification in law i'm not talking about practicality or. you know deciding that somebody is a bad guy and we don't like him so let's take him out but that that's not legal if i decide somebody that i don't like that somebody or i have a strategy of counter terrorism and i think a particular person has a counter terrorist without some way of.
being within international law all right bill and there looks like you want to require you can jump in. i absolutely i actually agree with you i think the united states has and this administration for record of these strikes has not made the case either from a public standpoint or a legal standpoint is wise it's justified to do so i do believe the u.s. is justified to do so u.s. soldiers are being killed across the border by these groups and the u.s. homeland and u.s. allies are in danger. from the way these groups operated for louis these groups operate but yes i absolutely. we agree with you the case is not being made in public and the legal case is not being made and this harms u.s. credibility in the long term and this is what happens when you make a tactic of drone strikes and you take that you substituted for your strategy it's an absolute mess so i mean i'm supportive of these strikes i think they should be
done limited i think the u.s. should be clear about these targeted and i think they should be transparent however i do think they are justified i think the scope of that is something john where you do a brain damage i mean here we're going to a frame after the break we'll continue our discussion on america's excessive use of drone state authority. and you. see and so you want me to play. you cut cut cut. cut.
my parents really truly honestly believe that what had happened was as a result of my father's exposure to agent orange i was born with multiple problems . and i was missing my leg and my fingers and my big toe on my right foot i use my hands a lot in my artwork i find myself drawing my hands quite a bit to me for my hands you know just as if anyone would. but they do tell a story they tell a story of. oxen. in
a. story. well the magic crossed on your lapel to remind you we're talking about whether america is overdoing it with the use of drones. in. stores. ok chris i could go back to you in london one of the things in researching this and i read jean's excellent article i thought it was very provocative and informing one of the thing it's due process here i mean what gives the right of the president of the united states a say i want this guy dead i want this guy dead and i mean where is the due process
i mean if america is you know invading countries around the world and bombing them to democracy what right does it have to say we can assassinate anyone we want and we don't have to justify it we don't even have to tell you. there's something really wrong there and in fact. michael michael hayden the former director of the cia who introduced the drone strikes the guy the drone strikes back in two thousand and four recently said these war read about building american foreign policy on or on the memos locked up in a site that no one's allowed to see and that's the reality here the american administration keeps telling us that these drone strikes are legal but they were in charge was the basis for that decision and just to be clear practice. and whatever private agreements you have had with the united states has very publicly rescinded those now every time the u.s. bombs pakistan that country is standing up and saying please stop this is against international law so we now have america bombing an ally against allies which is this is a very disturbing development that the u.s.
administration really isn't dealing with right now it raises some very uncomfortable questions for all of america's allies bill how do you respond to that and i was going to go to bill in philadelphia go ahead yeah i actually agree with you chris i agree this is why they came should be made as far as pakistan's denouncements they've been doing this from the very beginning saying that the u.s. doesn't have a right to do so we all know i mean but this is an absolute public relations nightmare for the united states it feeds into al qaeda propaganda it feeds on the anti-american bill let me ask you a question let me ask you a question about eight let me ask you a question how i could stand it let me ask you a question i mean what how can you make a legal case for this i mean under international law is there a legal case for the use of drones the way the u.s. is using them now do you think there is a case. i do think there is a case i think that you know this is a continuation of the threat that the u.s.
is faced against from from terrorist groups that began prior to nine eleven these groups are operating and plotting to attack the united states as well as kill u.s. soldiers in afghanistan and i believe that the case can be made legally i've spoken to someone who is it was an expert on this and he has made the case for it and you know so yeah i do believe the case can be made they just the administration wall and i think that this is wrong this goes all the you know the problem goes all the way back to the bush administration which really wanted to people to not understand why we're at war and wanted us to go shopping instead of the bush administration that is you know go shopping and it looks like your administration is on steroids right now and. jeanne go ahead and jump in from geneva there's something there's more something more fundamental than that and one is that the first thing is that after nine eleven. the paradigm was we were having a war on
a tactic we were having a war on terror and that it totally changed the frame from terrorism is and is in fact a criminal act and we have to look at it and look at these people in terms of criminals and what do we do if people are criminals we try to get information about them we try to we try to arrest them we if they're if they're engaging in illegal act whether it's conspiracy and such or you can arrest them and detain them and try them and put them in jail but that was not the the way in which. the administration wanted to look at it we wanted to declare war on a tactic and so. what what's happened now is that if you look at international law and you start from the perspective of the un charter which says you really cannot you're supposed to engage in the united states and all other countries are supposed to solve their international disputes peacefully even including non-state actors and you need to be able to work with. countries
where non-state actors are are. are being. held or are being. housed or protected by some portions of the government but you need to be able to make that case make it internationally and just think of what would have happened is instead of instead of the ten years ago as invading the u.s. invading afghanistan there was a real push to actually arrest and detain the people who had planned nine eleven i think i think that would be this it wouldn't be sexy enough or i think a lot of politicians are chris if i can go to you i mean you know let me go to chris here in london and i think it's really it's interesting that they don't want to talk too much about this because these are they are precise weapons but they still kill a lot of other people here and that's the issue they really don't want to address. the cia made the extraordinary claim last year which went unchallenged by the us
media disgracefully for six months that i hadn't killed a single civilian impacts at all of course that's not true over all these co the drone strikes we think have been around a hundred and three countries now they've killed at least three thousand people we're talking about an industrial scale killing machine here and what happens on one side of the border in afghanistan you have nights i strikes governed by laws of war it's accounts of old as a process if things go wrong they admit it the moment those drones cross over the border chasing the same people and kill them no accountability no transparency we're not even alliance and i want laws the u.s. thinks it can carry these attacks on so the idea that no civilians are being killed the fiction is becoming part of the problem of course the blowback that you mentioned at the beginning in pakistan and yemen and somalia now people who are against al qaida absolutely detest and loathe al qaida are also now coming to hate the united states because of this policy that is not
a successful foreign policy ok chris i want to stay with you could you said something really important there was no comment for a half a year that no. civilians were killed in these drone attacks why isn't it the media and the west won't report on these why are there not interested or it's taboo what's what's going on here it's not you know it's not that the media in the west isn't interested in fact our experience and i'm sure there was fire in some of the agencies there are good reputable agencies on the ground do get the details of civilian deaths at the time and they're often reported internationally unfortunately there's a fire wall around the mainstream us media that will report the militant leaders killed they won't report the civilians killed and that's led i think the united states public to think well these strains of fine there's no problem they only kill militants when of course that's not true and all the time you're getting people angrier and angrier in yemen and somalia and pakistan because civilians are dying and they're being. you're not civilians so there's this disconnect between what the
international media is reporting and what the mainstream us media are supporting and that's a big problem i mean the reasons why drones are popular with the the obama people is because it's a war that you know americans don't die and ok it's all electronic it's being who knows it's at langley doing all these things the cia i mean it's a great way to run a war we don't have american casualties and probably on the cheap too in a way yeah absolutely you're correct it's a war on the cheap you don't threaten the lives of u.s. soldiers are not at risk the i mean the reality is that that's why they're being used we don't want to lose a u.s. pilot over pakistan and look at how you know it and then again this is where i really agree with chris and jane look at how the u.s. response to these are the administration response to these they've sold the us media that these are the answer this is the way to defeat al qaeda look all we need to do is kill al qaeda leaders and al qaeda will be done the the the media mocked
president bush when he did this in two thousand and two and two thousand and four and two thousand and six and they're right on board because top because access is given to top levels of the u.s. national security council to to media personalities and so they're basically eating what what the people like brennan and others tell them and that's that is why there is very little critical eye in the u.s. media given to this program and look i believe the last the polls were like eighty two percent of the american public supports the drone program you know of course the administration is going to do this it's a political winner it makes them look tough and it allows them to say they wanted to that they were able to defeat al qaeda and allows them to do what they want to do which is disengage from afghanistan and basically disengage from the middle east and fight a war on the cheap ok jane you want to jump in there. yeah what i really chris said
about if it's a militant that's ok i mean what's a militant who is a militant who defines who's a militant that's sometimes i'm pretty militant about things i believe in passionately and i don't think i should be subject to a challenge strike but you know this is the this is this is a real this is a real problem in terms of the due process aspect about this plus the whole the whole group or it is one that has been developed to the extent there is a legal analysis as i understand it that this is in the rubric of self-defense that we have to take these actions to defend ourselves against people who are plotting against us i mean if you took that on the street in new york or some other city and you said who i think that person over there is. plotting to get me and you just took out a gun and shot them you could not you you would not be able to say that was in self-defense you know it's going to families are going to go to christian line and
i mean this is one of the things about the drone warfare that's quite interesting is that you don't have to be accountable for who you killed because you don't have to say who they are do you and you you even get to give them and they are. yeah i mean most of the people we name. we think around five hundred people killed about one hundred eighty of those militants and around three hundred twenty are civilians the other two thousand minimum killed in pakistan alone this is we don't know who they are and i'm pretty sure the cia doesn't know who they're killing because of these so-called signature strikes so. if you're killing large numbers of people and you actually don't. how can you then talk about successful policy who are you killing and what are the implications for policy in terms of moving forward or going to as a as a big problem below the drones killing the right the right people i think by and large they are. you know the. when you kill
a bunch of males that are hanging around libby who do we really think they are yeah we may not know their names but it's very likely there are bodyguards there are a lot of time and fascinating discussion i'm sure we can talk about and one thing for you it's a longer time many thanks to my guest today in philadelphia geneva and in london and thanks our viewers for watching us here r.t. see you next time and remember last time. any. story.