The American Machine: Police Torture to Drone Assassinations


We're here today to announce charges in the largest college admission scam ever prosecuted by the department of Justice. On the campus of one of America's leading universities understand things. I comprehend very well. The most gifted mind to ever enter its classrooms better than I think almost anybody. Okay. This is poised genius baron. I need someone who can get through to them. So I mean, I was born with a certain eighth Elec. That is good for this. You know, I have very high aptitude from Blake a smart person. Some people can never believe in themselves until someone believes in there. You wouldn't believe it? But I was very good student. I was a good student. I was a good student, and I was a good suit. I was always a good student, and I was good student. You can do anything you want you up on five nothing. I was a very smart guy. Good student all that stuff. Okay. I was a great student. I went to the best schools. All that sub. Look, I was good student at school and all of that such a good student at the best school and all of that good student. I went to a great school and all that stuff. I was a great snood. I went to the best school. So I was very good student at the best are great student went to the best school, and some never know how much they can have unto you. Discover how much they can give I'm talking about a man who declares himself brilliant, but directed me to threaten his high school his colleges and the college board to never release his grades or SAT scores. This is intercepted. I'm Jeremy Scahill coming from the offices of the intercept in New York City, and this is episode eighty six of intercepted the FBI possessed the ability to enter into this field and to investigate and to intimidate and seek to neutralize and indeed replace is civil rights leader that they thought to be politically on acceptable. Is that correct? Yes. The history of the United States is rife with stories programs laws that have at their centre a dedication to crushing ending black lives. This nation was built on slavery. It was built on a white supremacist ideology. It was intended to be a white man's paradise served and serviced by its non white disenfranchised residents. Millions of whom were kidnapped from their homes in Africa and brought in chains by ship. Hip to the United States. Slavery was ultimately ended but the ideology behind it persisted. The white power structure in this country fought militantly against giving rights to black people it fought against allowing them to use the same bathrooms as white people or to eat in restaurants alongside white people it fought against their right to vote or to seek office as in many places over registration was designed to peop- negro voting to a minimal difficult literacy tests were administered by white officials, and negroes who attempted to register often harassed and all of this was what played out in public in full view, but it hardly stopped there in the mid nineteen. Fifties the notorious FBI director for life J. Edgar Hoover created a program that was aimed at secretly, destroying political and social movements, including black liberation movements. That program was known as until pro short for counter intelligence program. Today, you have in charge of the communist Prodi hardcore group of members who are dedicated to the overthrow of government by false violence, originally coin till pro was aimed at infiltrating and destroying the communist party in the US, but Jagger Hoover also directed that all covert operations aimed at destroying black liberation movements that they should be placed under the program as well. So under- coin tell pro you had black leaders such as Martin Luther King being surveilled, Malcolm X. Black Panther leaders. Nonviolent activists like buyer Rushton the fighter Mohammed Ali all of them were monitored around the clock smear campaigns were waged against them in the media Hoover, actually, tried to blackmail, Martin Luther King into committing suicide and the tactics they used. Apparently had no end they involved even plans to replace him with someone else. The FBI was to select as a national civil rights leader Egion provocateurs were sent to infiltrate black groups native American groups antiwar organizations socialist parties the purpose was to so division to provoke violence to destroy the movements from within. It was not until nineteen seventy one when the Quinto pro program broke out into the public light documents prove for the first time, the FBI undertook a program in nineteen sixty eight to Harrison destroy new left political organizations, those views. The federal police agency disagreed with rolled FBI director Hoover, the purpose of the program would be to expose and disrupt the new left. We must frustrate every effort of these groups and individuals to consolidate their forces or to recruit, new or youthful adherence. In every instance, consideration should be given to disrupting the organized activity of these groups director Hoover detail, the setup of the program saying anarchists and revolutionist had to be neutralized if law and order, and a civilized society were to survive, and it must be noted that several targets of Quinto pro operations were assassinated during this secret reign of the coin tell pro program, we still do not have the full story of whether the FBI was directly involved in many of those political assassinations that took place in this country. And even after coin tell pro was publicly exposed the tactics and aims of the programme have not died including to this day. We know that these tactics are still being used against black lives matter activists against Muslim groups activists in the US antiwar organizations, environmental groups and most recently journalists reporting on the border in this country individ-. Qu'ils on the list include journalists and attorney and dozens of others labeled by the US government as an organizer instigator. They all have a connection to the migrant caravan at the San Diego, Mexico border customs and border protection did not deny the database exists and defended its use. As Quinto pro was in full swing the US intensified its war in Vietnam in that war, the US ran assassination operations, including under the as so-called Phoenix program. They used torture. They killed massive numbers of civilians and a good number of the people who participated in these crimes abroad returned home to the United States and became police officers among these there was a man named John Burge. He was a military police officer in Vietnam, and then joined the Chicago police department rising to become a prominent detective during his time in the Chicago police, Jon Burge, married, the worlds of the murderous war in Vietnam. With the most extreme crimes of the Quinto pro program. He ran what can only be called it tort your program in the city of Chicago that was aimed at getting confessions from black men to crimes that many of them had nothing to do with Burge used many of the very tactics that he learned and implemented in Vietnam as a prison guard on the black men he encountered when he became police officer in the city of Chicago this torture included, a make shift torture machine that was used to electrically shock suspects, including by attaching alligator clips to the genitals of men and jolting their bodies with painful electric shocks at the same time. The Chicago police in concert with the FBI murdered the most prominent Black Panther leader in Illinois in his bedroom. In the middle of the night that leader was Fred Hampton, the chair of the Illinois Black Panthers and a national leader of the party. And our next guest was in that house soon after Fred Hampton, and it's felt Black Panther. Mark Clark were killed. He recalls standing in a pool of blood and December fourth nineteen sixty nine. I'm talking about the now legendary lawyer Flint Taylor, he's a founding partner of the people's law office in Chicago and office, which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights police violence government misconduct and death penalty cases for over forty five years. He spent thirteen years fighting for Justice for Hampton and Clark. He was also one of the main people responsible for exposing Jon Burge and his torturing of black men and Flint Taylor has won tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits brought on behalf of some of Burge's torture. Victims Flynn Taylor has an incredible and devastating new book out. It's called the torture machine. Racism and police violence in Chicago and Flint Taylor joins me. Now, Flint, welcome to intercept. Did. Thank you, a pleasure to be with you. I wanna start where you start in your book with the murder of Fred Hampton. I explain who Fred Hampton was will Fred Hampton was a twenty one year-old. Very charismatic young leader of the Black Panther party here in Chicago, anybody anybody. Not a rich invasive because we understand that racism is an excuse us for capitalism. We know the racism is is about. Everything if everything was put back in the hands of people that we have to put it back in the name of the he was very much an upcoming star in the panther party in nineteen sixty nine. Winco even prince people and all get together the pig exploiting. We'd be run into the league. That's why they wanna get rid of targeted. Not only by the Chicago police and the district attorney known as state's attorney here in Chicago, Edwin Hanrahan. That you fat go dead. We not gonna buy blackout. Elizabeth we go onto by those. We've not going to reactive. Fees than accident. Attorney through. Having a hand reaction how we want to buy them and acting all people get together and have international potential. Miss being all out, and it turns out the FBI J. Edgar Hoover and the counter intelligence program of the FBI coin tell pro you're referring to exactly. You can run a fleet of bat around the country. But you can't run debate around the country, you can shoot liberator, but you can't shoot liberation. If you do you come up with that don't access relations that don't explain the losing that no conclusions that don't include. If you had a win win win with visit that you've got to get out here. And you got involved yourself in his book you've got to come out input. You'll see us online come out here and support the van God potty, hand revolutionnaire stove. That's the black pepper pot. This is the NBC news noon report, the latest news with joy love acting in the twenty euro, chairman of the Illinois Black Panther party. Fred Hampton was shot and killed in a pre-dawn shootout with state's attorneys police on in his west side apartment. What happened the night that Fred Hampton was killed? I think it's pretty clear. It was an assassination happened at four thirty in the morning on December fourth nineteen sixty nine. He was asleep along with many other young Black Panthers. Many of whom were like seventeen eighteen years old when the police came on a raid, fourteen police officers with machine guns, shotguns, and they burst into the front and the back of this little apartment, and they fired over ninety shots into the bedrooms. Fred Hampton, never awoke, and they shot him through the head twice and dragged his body off of the bed that he was sweeping on as a trophy and lay it on the floor outside of the bedroom. How did you Flint end up going to the house that night, we the peoples law fice which had been founded only months? Before by young, lawyers and law students, I was one of the law students we represented the Panthers in Chicago, and we represented Fred Hampton, the Panthers who survived reached out, and we got a call come to the chairman's crib. He's been murdered and the police had left it open. They hadn't closed it off like a made it a crime scene like you would expect they would with the yellow tape. So we were able to enter the apartment and for the next ten days myself, and many others spent that time taking evidence taking video and taking pictures and the Panthers very politically astute as they were they had daily guide tours of the apartment showing people in the community. What had happened showing the walls where the bullets had gone in and showing where the machine guns had riddled, the plastic board walls. Clock booted check. We will be getting. No walls, please though. Okay. This is off the did the two shotgun. But if they had five through this with shotgun. You can look at the wall out there. Some hold out there. You can see no signs of jot gun last bit five through this door here. The reaction of one older African American woman that while I was taking evidence kind of stopped and looked at the walls, and she shook her head, and she said ain't nothing, but a northern lynching literally thousands of Chicago African American and concern white people went through that apartment for for the ten days or so till the police decided that they had to close it when you say that it's clear now that this was an assassination. Explain what you're basing that on while I'm basing it on thirteen years of fighting to uncover the truth of the case, the dominant narrative was. Was that it was a shootout that the vicious and racist? Black Panthers had fired one hundred shots at the police. And the police had only answered back says soon as Daniel growth and officers James Davis where leading our men announced their office occupancy, the apartment attack them with shotgun fire, the officers immediately took cover the occupants continued firing at our policemen from several rooms within the apartment thereafter, three times sergeant growth art at all his men to cease firing and told the occupants to come out with their hands up each time, one of the occupants replied, shoot it out and continued firing at the police officers. Of course, we were able to show by the apartment itself that was at the bow face lie the head charge the Panthers who had survived with attempted murder. We were able to show that the ballistics reports that they were trying to base the fact that the panther. I fired shots fabricated. And in fact, those shots were fired by police weapons rather than panther weapons. Those cases were dismissed, and then we went to a civil suit during which we were able to uncover the fact that not only was there Coen tell pro program designed to target and and destroy the Black Panther parting. But that's specifically the FBI had drafted a floor plan of the apartment shown where Fred Hampton would be sleeping. And in fact, the bed where he was murdered and the FBI in their racial matters. Cohen tell pro unit had passed that onto the state's attorneys police and the Chicago police and that they had used that as the kind of bedrock of that four thirty in the morning raid nonetheless, given that they found the was no probable cause to charge any of the off. Officers or Hanrahan or anyone with any kind of violations of law. The body. The big ado. We might not be how might be I might be anywhere. But when I leave, you know, masthead land way down. Oh, my. Room, and you have to keep saying you pulling -tarian, I am the people. I'm not to be you've got big at the station. And if people are going to have to tech, the p the people are going to have to stand up to be that with the doing all over the way of. Depends. You fought this then legal battle. And then you have the rise of a now notorious figure within the Chicago police department, Lieutenant Jon Burge, and he ends up being put in charge of a search for those responsible for a series of shootings that had occurred in broad daylight in Chicago and Burge then goes on a rampage throughout the city. I described who John Burge was Jon Burge grew up on the south east side of Chicago in changing neighborhood. He flunked out of college and became a military police officer sergeant in Vietnam on a POW camp where it was later demonstrated that they were doing wholesale torture during interrogation 's and that they were using such tactics as electric shock after he left Vietnam came back to Chicago became a police. Officer and quickly became a detective he brought those de human and racist attitudes and tactics back to Chicago and quickly rose in the ranks to Lieutenant in charge of the entire detective division on the fire south side of Chicago, a predominantly African American part of the city, and he used those tactics to interrogate people who were suspected of committing serious crimes. What is the earliest evidence that you have of Burj torturing African American men in police custody nineteen seventy two and nineteen seventy three Burge gut to area to as it was known. And shortly thereafter, that was a serious case where a young white boy had been seriously brutalized by some African American attackers and Burge was involved in that investigation and the. Four people that they focused on where all brutally beaten in one form or another the first time that we hear of actual use of electric shock with what my book refers to as detoro machine was in early nineteen Seventy-three a man named Anthony Holmes who was suspected of a murder who was also a reputed gang leader. He was brought to area to and had electric shock and minister to him as well as suffocation what they call dry sub Marino with a bag over his head in order to attempt to get a confession from him to a series of crimes that they thought he had knowledge of. Lift about Nolan. I was a month that any lift me up toward a bad off me work up. My my made. Last time. I this. Because. Thousand of my body eastern shuttling in the sensation. Who's just? When you're lifting master this to save do have did that over the president yet the two. I think you can just moved out of there. You use the phrase the torture machine. And while people aren't able to see it. Maybe you could describe that machine. It turns out that burgeon his people used several machines to torture. Also using plastic typewriter covers to do the dry sub Marino in suffocation, and of course, using various weapons for mock executions, but the major torture machine that was described to us by Andrew Wilson, one of the two people who was picked up during this man hunt that you referred to earlier in nineteen eighty two aiding Chicago police at this moment are scouring the city. Find to hunt down three two are believed to be responsible for shooting to Chicago policeman this afternoon. One of the policemen is dead. The other is now in critical detective swarm the scene at eighty first. And Morgan at all points bulletin was issued for two black gum. On men driving a late model. Brown Chevrolet empowers. What's new tonight votes? You cut a policeman are debt three young men are being questioned suspects. Police tonight are stepping up. What is already one of the most massive manhunt the torture machine was a black box with a field generator in in by field generator. Dan, this goes back to Vietnam in Vietnam, they had phone generators, and they they had a crank on them, and they generated sufficient electric city. So that you could talk over the wires in the battlefields and the box and whatever in Vietnam on. So if you took this, and you put it in a box, which is what Burge did you then attach wires, and you put alligator clips on the end of those wires, and then you have a torture device, and what you can do is then attach those alligator clips to the nose. To the fingers to genitals. And then you crank the box. And when you crack the box, you get enough electricity to shock the person who has the wires attached to them verge who had a boat and named the vigilante. We later uncovered head thrown this box into Lake Michigan or into the Chicago river sometime subsequent to the torture of Andrew Wilson put the while. I think my baby one on one thing on another and he kicked clinking kept cranking cranking now is Holly screening. I was calling for help and stuff teeth is glad. He painted at all the he kept cranking cranking cranking kept on doing it over over and over. It hurts stays nuhere? Locate stays in your here and grandeur teeth it class constantly grants concert pain. Just stays in your head per Jess me was I going to make a statement was he gonna talk to be some more and that him. I would make a statement. I signed anything they gave me because I didn't want to be tortured anymore. You're going to fry your black gas now because of the statement I gave. So we never were able to obtain the actual box, but through the description of Andrew Wilson, we constructed a facsimile of the box right down to the fact that it would give a shock. And in fact, that torture was the culmination of a five day man hunt that was just a terror regime led by Jon Burge, and countenanced and encouraged by the mayor at that time Jane Byrne and the state's attorney of Cook County, Richard m Daley at that point in nineteen eighty seven nineteen eighty eight we then became Andrew Wilson's lawyers. That's when I started to become intimately aware of the details of not only the torture of Andrew Wilson. There were some other names that Burge had used bragging about having torture dam, and that started us out on this crusade so to speak evidentiary. The and investigative crusade defined the men who had been tortured, and that's lead over the last thirty years as chronicled in the book to documenting over a hundred and twenty five cases of police torture during that twenty year period from nineteen seventy two to nineteen ninety one and the title of my book is the torture machine, partly because of that and partly because the machine Chicago machine daily machine democratic machine, whatever you wanna call. It was so responsible for part and parcel of this happening this twenty years of police torture as well as covering it up and refusing to prosecute Birger or any of the people that worked for him, but rather promoting him and using the illicit and unconstitutional evidence that they would get from men who were tortured. Thinking that they were actually on the brink of death. Prosecutors taking those confessions being in those station rooms knowing that this was happening using that evidence in court judges knowing it was happening. Not throwing out the confessions. But rather refusing to credit the stories that were being told again, and again by tortured suspects on people who ultimately would end up convicted many of whom actually ended up on Ellen oy row. You know, I was just quote a nigga to them. That's it. They kept using that word like that was my name, you know. So no, ma'am adad. No respect me being a human being. I never respected quote police officers to do anything that Bobby in on. But because the fact that African American, you know, who's gonna believe me, you know, in court, nobody. One of the most moving stories in the book is the story of Darrell cannon to Burgess henchmen his most trusted lieutenants picked up Darrell in nineteen eighty three as a suspect in murder case took him to an abandoned area where near some factories where there was a body of water and some old railroad tracks, and they tortured him. I they attempted to hang him up by his handcuffs, but that didn't work. So they then took a shotgun out of the trunk and they took the shotgun. And they forced it into his mouth. They then pulled the trigger on the shotgun. That was in Darryl's mouth. He thought it was going to go off. It didn't they did it three times. And the third time Darryl described it as he pictured that the back of his head had been blown off. They throw him in the back of the detective car pulled his. Pants down and they had a handy. Little a cattle prod and they use the cattle prod on his genitals. And I'll timidly they got him to sign a confession back at the station that he was accountable that he had driven the car in which the the murder had taken place and Darryl's case went on for decades. In fact, I remember Flint, I believe it was the first time that I was with you in person in Chicago was years ago. When Darryl had finally gotten out of prison, and I have never been able to shake from my mind, Daryl struggling through the emotion that tears the pain to tell publicly his story. But explain how he eventually got out when he got out and what the resolution of that case was he was sentenced to life, and they put him in the supermax prison and TAM's. Which is at the very very southern tip of the state in clan country during that time, we were developing all this evidence of a pattern and practice of police torture. We were able to get Darryl new hearing in his case armed with evidence that not only was he tortured by these henchmen for Burge. But there was a whole litany of different cases that Burge and his men had tortured people and in two thousand and seven which was twenty four years after he was I tortured. He got out of prison talk about who else knew or was aware that Burge was running these torture operations, how high up did it go in the government in the city of cog or state of Illinois state's attorney daily knew that torture took place at police headquarters as well as it area to the police superintendent new. That the mayor of the city of Chicago, Jane, Byrne, new and encouraged it she met with Burge on at least two or three occasions. We learned a decades later, and she said whatever is necessary. And of course, at that point Burge was Lieutenant who is the head of an entire police area. So we're talking about people very high up daily himself was presented with medical evidence that Andrew Wilson had been tortured. He was the prosecutor, and he decided not to prosecute Burge because he knew that if he did that the case against Andrew and Jackie Wilson would be jeopardized. So he instead commended Burge as did the superintendent of police, and because of that in nineteen eighty two we have another ten years of torture that goes on before the. Evidence that we uncovered was taken to the police department and reinvestigation was done. And ultimately Burge was fired in nineteen Ninety-three. What happened after Burj was fired? Was he ultimately charged with any crimes guess fifteen years later, the virgin state your full name and spell it for the record. Please John Jalen hill initial Jesus George Burge B U R G now. During that twenty five years twenty years of working with the Chicago police department. Did you come across instances of police torture? I will adapt. My prayer answer to the first question my answer to that question. Are you taking your fifth amendment rights? It's that's correct place that play this year. Take a fifth. Correct. And where are you interrogating a suspect in area two? It seems as though that regularly. They're sort of this sense that oh Chicago now has to face up to the actions of its police department, and there has to be accountability. And this has to be stopped. And yet we keep having these kinds of cases in Chicago where there's extra judicial killings or questionable killings by the police where thirty tricks or used against suspects, and where black neighborhoods are laid siege. To what about that legacy? And the fact that the Chicago police probe it never never really seems to fundamentally change. I wouldn't argue with you. There have been significant victories that the community has accomplished over the years, not the least of which was Burge actually being convicted and being sent to the penitentiary. Of course, it wasn't for torture. It was for perjury and obstruction of Justice. And of course, reparations I mean, this is the first city to have reparations for. Survivors of police torture. Almost exclusively African American men an apology from the mayor in the city council directly to those men and most significantly a counseling center for victims of torture and brutality. And the fact that the history of police torture will be taught and is already being taught eighth and tenth graders in the Chicago public schools. But you're correct when you look at the Quan McDonald case and the cover up of that case and the judge who what those three offices who covered up in the face of the videotape. You look at the power of the fraternal order of police here who basically more powerful than the police department itself. Now, all police officers black and white belong to it or supposed to belong to it. And yet when it comes time to decide whether to defend Burge into spend the dues. To pay for private lawyers to defend Burge in his firing case. And later in his criminal case that's unanimously passed when it comes time to pay the lawyers for Van Dyke the officer who murdered Liquan McDonald on videotape. The F O P does that when it's time to pick it in a courtroom where we're fighting for the release thirty six years later of a man who was tortured, the F O P is there, and there seems to be a regardless of the fact that there's ten or fifteen percent officers of color that still happens not only does that still happen. But even though we have an African American police superintendent who was put in place by Rahm Emanuel after the Liqun McDonalds a tape became public. He came from within the department. He knows where all the bones are buried he. In fact, was part of the culture of. Of the code of silence and of racism, even though he was is African American over all these years. And in fact, he as have several of the prior African American superintendents, basically been connected to that machine. And also been in fact, front men of four the politics of racism and brutality that comes from the democratic machine on down Flynn Taylor. I want to thank you, first and foremost for the tireless work that you've done over these decades and the work that you've done to free people against the odds who were tortured by agents of the state or unjustly imprisoned by agents of the state. Thank you so much Flint Taylor for writing the book and for the work that you have done for so long. Thank you as well. I'm pleased an honor to be on your show and right back at you for all the wonderful work that you do Flynn Taylor is a founding partner of the people's law. Office in Chicago, he spent his life fighting against the torture extrajudicial killings of black people targeted by the Chicago police. His new book is called the torture machine. Racism and police violence in Chicago. It's published by Haymarket books. Just a heads up. I'm going to be a guest this week on deconstructed the podcast hosted by my colleague, Mehdi Hassan. We're gonna be talking about his incredible hour long interview of blackwater founder, Erik prince among other topics gonna talk about what prince was doing at a secret meeting with done junior and his Isreaeli and representatives of some repressive era. Governments you owe whether any communica phone communications contact with the campaign, you said of from writing papers putting up y'all signed. No what you said transcript to the conversation here. Sure, I might have been I think it was at Trump headquarters or the campaign headquarters, August the twenty sixteen usable. And he's really, dude. A back channel emerald the Saudis don't junior even with to talk about Iran policy, you own policy something important to disclose house tenants committee, while you're drove did didn't we just went through the testimony? There's no mention of the Trump Tower Tino twenty sixteen. I don't know if they got the transcript from that's coming up on Thursday on deconstructed make sure to tune in. When Barack Obama became commander in chief in January of two thousand nine he embraced a strategy proposed to him by the CIA and the US military's elite special operations command while scaling back. Some troop deployments such as in Iraq Obama began to radically increase the number of US drone strikes. Both those conducted by the CIA and the military, and he also focused more on assassinating people that his administration designated as terrorists or suspected militants this resulted in the creation of what amounted to a secret parallel Justice system, where the president and his advisors served as the prosecutors, the judge the jury and ultimately the executioner at one point they discuss these so-called nominees for death by drone strike weekly meetings known as terror Tuesday's they killed US citizens and foreigners and the entire process was shrouded in secrecy and Obama effectively. Sold liberals on the idea that he was waging a smarter war than Bush, and he sold them on the idea that they should trust his secret process to make sure the so-called bad guys were being targeted and that every precaution was being taken to spare civilian life to this day. We do not know how many people have been killed in US drone strikes. And we do not know the identity of the overwhelming majority of the people killed after nearly eight years in office in two thousand sixteen the Obama administration. Scrambled to put in place rules for these assassination operations. Obama also signed an executive order committing his administration to providing the public with estimates on the number of civilians killed as president and as commander in chief. I take full responsibility for all our counterterrorism operations, including the one that virtually took the lives of Warren and Giovanni. I profoundly regret. What happened? After the United States government. I offer our deepest apologies to the families despite Obama's claims to regret the killing of civilians his administration never explained why it killed the sixteen year old US citizen of the Rochman lucky in a drone strike in Yemen. In two thousand eleven the American Civil Liberties union has been legally challenging drone strike since they began, and when they ramped up under Obama, Donald Trump, then comes into office and twenty seventeen after having pledged to kill more people possibly kill the families of suspected terrorists. His pledge to bring back torture and to fill one tunnel backup as soon as Trump took office a botched Yemen raid killed another lucky child this time. It was the eight year old daughter of Anwar Al lucky, but Trump's murderous expansion of raids and drone strikes has only gotten worse as time has gone on. They never got hit like this. We took off to loves. In one year. We did more damage to ISIS than other administration a certain other administration did in many. Donald Trump's current director Gina hassle was a key figure in the Bush era, torture and black site program and twenty seventeen Trump did not disclose estimates of civilians killed as called for under Obama's executive order. And then earlier this year Trump made it all fischel, and he rescinded that order. The Pentagon is still required to report how many civilians have been killed in their strikes, but that requirement only covers the department of defense. So the covert drone strikes that are conducted, by the way are completely off the books. Also, there's the fact that the identities of many of the people killed in these strikes are unknown. And they are preemptively labelled enemies killed in action in less. They are posthumously proven to have been civilians, but it's not just the clawing back of the incredibly minimal standards that Obama put in place. Trump has loosened rules for striking when civilians may be killed. He's authorized and unprecedented drone assassination campaign aimed at so called foot soul. Soldiers of the Qaeda affiliate al-shabaab in Somalia in just two years in office. Donald Trump is shattering Obama's bloody record on the number of drone strikes and the numbers of people killed in those strikes to discuss all of this. I'm joined by one of the top lawyers who was fighting the Bush administration the Obama administration. And now the Trump administration on these policies in Shamsi is the director of the national security project, and she joins me now. Henna welcome back to intercepted. Thanks for having me again. So earlier this month Trump signed this executive order on the revocation of reporting requirement regarding US drone strikes overseas. Before we talk about that revocation the day before Trump comes into office. What was the policy on this that had been set by Brock Obama said there couple of things one the policy on transparency and won the policy on the underlying program. So with respect to transparency Obama had put in place. An executive order in twenty sixteen requiring disclosure of civilian and what they called combatant casualties, right? And also requiring the government certain committing the government to explain discrepancies between the government's count which has always been low, and that by independent media and human rights groups, and that's what Trump revoked their other parts of the executive order, though, which still remain which include that the government is still committed to taking into account reporting about civilian casualties from outside groups. It's just now that everything becomes less. Open far more secret. The fact that you say that Obama did this twenty sixteen he was he elected in two thousand eight he spent eight years expanding drone operations around the world. Why did it take him until twenty sixteen to put in any kind of rules? And why did they do it at the very end of the Obama administration? I think one of the things that was going on is that the Obama administration. Never let go of really the most. Underlying expensive and dangerous legal arguments about the thirty that the president had to carry out an authorized strikes in countries where we were not at war. And that's the underlying program that I mentioned earlier, and and that was what really concerned us, which is that, you know, throughout the administration. They Voss -ly expanded this lethal program of strikes, and they did so by cherry picking from a mishmash of legal frameworks that essentially exist to limit when the government kills including especially outside the context of armed conflict, and they took the most permissive aspects of those legal frameworks, but not the aspects that were safeguards, and I think genuinely people in the Obama administration were troubled by what they were doing. Even as they were unable to let it go. And so what they did was put a gloss of policy safeguards that to limit harm to civilians. But there have to be some guardrails, and what we've had to do on things like drones or say or a number of the tools that we used to. Penetrate terrorist networks we've got to do is to build this the guard rails internally essentially set up a whole series of processes to guard against government overreach to reform some practices that I thought over time with threaten civil liberties. And that's where we were by the end of twenty sixteen and then Trump gets elected. And I think there's a real sense of what's going to happen. But in unwillingness to let go of where they had arrived, which is the underlying very dangerous expensive program in the first place. If I'm not mistaken, Trump has already conducted more drone strikes in his two years or so in office than Obama did during eight years in office, we've seen this radical uptick in strikes and Somalia where hundreds of people have been killed in Somalia. We don't know who they they are. But describe. How on this issue? Things have changed from Obama to Trump in in your view as someone not just on a legal perspective in a but as someone who has just intimately followed the evolution of the assassination programs in the United States. What what is the change or difference from Obama to Trump that you've seen? So couple of things. One is. Secrecy really really gone up and higher and backup. So far more strikes being carried out exactly as you said, Jeremy and a real unwillingness, and the revocation that we just talked about as part of that real unwillingness to say where they're happening why. So that's a significant change between the end of the Obama administration the Trump administration. There's also a level of lifting of safeguards lifting of constraints. Right. And I think one of the striking things about the Trump era is that it makes very clear to everyone. How fragile policy norms are and how important legal arguments are right and legal claims. So there's been continuity in the United States with respect to this really illegal and immoral program. But now the policy constraints have been lifted and Somalia is clear example of that. So part of what we've seen happening in smaller. Is it started out as strikes stencil Bley against al-qaeda, then it expanded to shebab is an affiliate of Al Qaeda, and then it expanded to strikes against al-shabaab in support of local partner forces. So what you have is getting further and further away from any kind of strikes that are against what the program said it was about which was exceptional originally to high level people. And now, there are strikes taking place against people who are sensually, what are low level who don't pose a threat to the United States and its ever expanding as you, and I both know based on. Documents that were provided to the intercept by a whistle blower who had worked as part of the assassination program in these drone operations that at least when it comes to the two strikes directed and run by the Pentagon that the policy under Obama of the military was that if you kill thirty people in a strike, and you know, the identity of one of them because they were the objective. They were your target and you've killed that individual the other twenty nine people that are killed there are preemptively, categorized as enemies killed in action until or unless someone later proves that in fact, they were a woman or a child or an innocent civilian is that still the policy as far as, you know, under Trump, do you know, what the policy is. It isn't known. And here's why the secrecy is on. There is right. We were second to no one in criticizing Obama and his policies. And I still think that we have. To focus not just on the transparency, but what's also important, which is the underlying illegal and immoral policy itself with respect to what was happening by the end of the Obama administration. At least you had some better sent some level of commitment to providing the kind of transparency that would enable some level of public accountability and debate right, but Trump is really seeking to prevent that. Here's a thing. So in in the order that Trump just issued changing the secrecy provisions. He says they're essentially duplicative of provisions that exist in law. But here's what the law says that law applies to the military not the CIA critically. The CIA also carries out strikes including drone strikes in it does so in far greater secrecy than the military does and with far less oversight than even the imperfect oversight. There exists over the military now in twenty eight teen and twenty nineteen in legislation to congress credit it imposed some rigorous reporting requirements on the military with respects to the strikes that carries out. We'll see how those pan out. We'll see what becomes made public because that's critically important. What the Trump revocation does is increase the secrecy with respect to the CIA, even as Trump agreed with Pompeo and agreed to get the CIA back into or more involved in the business of being a paramilitary killing organization. What's the significance of Gina hospital? Ascending to the position of director of the regarding these issues, we're talking about I think it should not escape anyone's attention that Gina hassle paid a key role in the Bush administration's torture per gram and plays a key. Key role into siding. What will and will not be made public about that? And about strikes at this point. Now, we are at a point where there's more killing less oversight more secrecy, less public accountability. And the American public. I think really me to finally have a debate a reckoning about what this program is in our names in the harm. It is causing on this issue of war and killing civilians in drone strikes, and whether the US has a right to be engaged militarily in in in countries that congress hasn't declared war on what does it mean that you have William bar as the attorney general? I mean, you fought for years against Obama's attorneys-general. But what does that mean on these issues? William bar has like many people in the Trump administration to very extreme set of us about the ability of the executive branch to engage national security decision making, and I would expect that those extreme views would be reflected in any court cases. That are brought here's the thing as I hope we're starting to see I feel like sometimes, you know, when we have these conversations germy, I can feel very pessimistic. But I wanna sort of talk about a couple of more if not entirely optimistic, but things that are encouraging one is that look how much congress pushed back against Trump's emergency declaration with respect to the border wall. And that's actually one of the lawsuits that we currently have ongoing, but also just returning to this killing program this lethal strike per gram overseas, I find it somewhat encouraging that at least some former officials from the. The Obama administration are beginning to grapple with. What is a really morally and legally fought position that they have taken and are recognizing the consequences of what happens when you think. Okay. We just need to maintain the option we just need to maintain this exceptional thing. But you find that the exception becomes the rule and exceptional killing becomes a policy of killing where if I had I mean, the former killer and chief of J Sokha Stanley mcchrystal has been one of those voices that you know, he he spoken publicly and said, and it's the perception of. We can step back and hurled thunderbolts like four without any risk to ourselves. That's viewed as arrogance now, whether that's right or wrong perceptions matter in the world their argument on it is typically based on what's best for quote, unquote, American interest and the safety of of American troops. But yes, there is a growing chorus of voices of former military people in particular who are saying it's not good when we do this. They may not have the same reasoning as you or I do, but it lands at the same place killing civilians as bad it does. And I think that's because more and more people are coming to recognize that this policy of killings outside of war zones of recognized armed conflict is part of the forever war approach. Right. America's deadly addiction to war based responses to real and perceived threats without. Taking into account alternatives. Whether those alternatives are feasability of capture right, which is one of the things that need to be taken into account or diplomacy or longer-standing outcomes that people on the ground in these countries have said if you wanna help us if you want to reduce the regional and domestic conflicts that you are now purporting to engage yourself in. Then there are other things that you can do that are better than an alternative to killing. And I think more and more people are beginning to recognize that some policymakers are beginning to recognize that there's more of a commitment to ending the American forever war approach, and those are some of the things that I think we need to hang onto with a word of caution, which is that virtually old policy proposals. That we've started to see with respect to ending the forever wars carve out the ability to engage in counterterrorism strikes. Against purported terrorists and terrorist groups, and that's exactly the program that you and I are talking about now. So when we see these policy proposals. I think folks have to be really looking at what they do and don't do because the US has a long history of criticizing other countries for rights violations while excusing its own. I wanted to ask you to respond to Ned price who was one of those former Obama era officials he was at the also was the spokesperson for Obama's national Security Council, and this week the takeaway, he said that for the first time it allowed the administration to rebut with actual facts and figures the misinformation and even disinformation that terrorist groups and other adversaries around the globe put out in an attempt to undermine public confidence in and perception of the effectiveness in the accuracy. And the results of American drone strikes are counter terrorism operations around the world. What's your response to that? Well, one way to take away propaganda value is not take agent unlawful killings in the first place. And I don't mean to be glib about this at all what you've gotta realize also happening is justification and entrenchment of the entire underlying program itself. And what a perspective that focuses on the propaganda value of the proported enemy or the real enemy. Does is it really minimizes the viewpoints of people in the countries in which we're carrying out these strikes. It doesn't take into account the longer term strategic costs and consequences, and it doesn't take into account the harm to the rule of law because these are the things that we are also going to be living with for very long time until we rain this back in an end, it how much responsibility should we put on Obama and his administration? For what Trump is now doing because they pushed the envelope so far and Trump just has broken it wide open. But how as we look at this issue of Trump killing people expanding wars taking away what minimal accountability there was in these kinds of strikes. How should we view that administration in the context of these Trump policies? The arguments that have been made with respect to the sleep policy. Started out under the Bush administration started out in various more or less transparent ways, mostly less, transparent ways, and the Bush administration entrenched an expanded by the Obama administration with all safeguards or critical safeguards lifted by the Trump administration and exactly as you're saying, Jeremy what it comes down to is the fact that the US has a policy in which the executive branch, the president claims the unilateral authority to kill suspects far from any battlefield without any to process at all. And that has been is continues to be a very very dangerous thing with respect to rights rule of law outcome strategy which ever perspective you want to look at it. From or heavy say, I wanna thank you for. All the work that you do in for staying as optimistic as you do given how dark and depressing. So many of the issues you take on our. I really I admire you for having the spine that you have and the heart that you have. So thank you for being with us, really no choice except to keep going. That's what my team and I do. Thank you very much for having me Hinna, Sean is the director of the American Civil Liberties union national security project. You can find our Twitter at him Shamsi. Last month. Representative Ilhan Omar apologized after mounting bipartisan allegations that she engaged in anti semitic speech, this particular point of attack on Representative Omar began after my colleague Glenn Greenwald called out house minority leader Kevin McCarthy for threatening to punish Omar and Representative Rashida to leave for criticizing Israel in response. Omar tweeted, it's all about the Benjamins baby. After a day of swift outrage from Democrats and Republicans Ilhan, Omar apologized, saying quote, anti semitism is real and I'm grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole Ilhan Omar went on to say quote at the same time. I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics. Whether it be a pack the NRA or the fossil fuel industry, but Omar's criticism of Israel. Policies and the powerful influence of lobbyists on US politics continues to be intentionally muddled with charges of antisemitism. I take very personally I would go so far as I probably for John being as IRAs does. Well, but I will say that. I don't have family that is Jewish. But Joe Lieberman and had Lieberman are my family, and I take the hate crimes rising in this country incredibly seriously. And I think what's happening in Europe is really scary getting emotional, but the idea that this politicized. I'm really not. I was very nervous about this on the show because I thought it would become politicized, and it really shouldn't be less. Week Meghan McCain the daughter of the late John McCain and co host of the view used her very large platform to acquaint Ilhan Omar's criticism of the Israeli government to anti semitic dog whistling the tactic of using coded racist language. You know, what Trump actually does all the time gestures pay Democrats tendon to the Democrats and Soros, and they came from all over gives you win the victors interviews them. And then they try and cut it. But then they'll go to a person holding who gets paid by Soros or somebody. That's what happened power-hungry globalist noted loveless. Back to Megan McCain her emotional plea conflicting criticism of the Israeli government with anti semitism. Inspired by next guest to give McCain the credibility. She was perhaps seeking that artist. Elevated in his known style of depicting subjects in a grotesque manner with folds of flesh. Drew Meghan McCain sitting at a table crying surrounded by what he calls Jewish kitsch. Once valley tweeted, it the image went viral and McCain who is not Jewish cried, antisemitism and denounced it calling the cartoon itself. Quote, one of the most anti semitic things that she'd ever seen joining me now to discuss the now infamous McCain comic is Ellie. He is a writer and artist whose work has been featured in the nation, the new Republic, the nib and elsewhere. He's also the author of diaspora boy comics on crisis in America and Israel Ellie while. Calmed intercepted. Thank you German last week. You tweeted a cartoon that featured Meghan McCain and Meghan McCain now famously went off on you. She said, this is one of the most anti semitic things I've ever seen. Also, this reveals much more about you Ellie than it does about me. I what inspired this cartoon that you drew of Meghan McCain, her tears, you know, her publicized and televised. Here is on the view the preceding day talking about how she was basically terrified and beyond concerned about the potential hazard to the Jewish people by Johann, Omar and just because I don't technically have Jewish family that are blood related me doesn't I don't take this as seriously, and it is very dangerous very dangerous. And I think we all collectively as Americans on both sides, and what Ilan home are saying is very scary to me. And it's very scary to a lot of people. And I don't think you have to be Jewish to recognize for so many in the Jewish left were appalled in general by the show trials. Ilan Omar appalled in particular. That woman who is not Jewish claiming Jewish trauma in order to vilify Muslim refugee women of color in congress clear. What the stakes are hearing what the sides are, you know, in terms of power and less power Ilan, powered I'm not trying to pretend she is currently refugee, but you know, Megan McCain, I think has more power in terms of public perception of what is good, and what is evil in American psyche. Then when the tears it was such a clear appropriation of Jewish identity and Jewish trauma. And I remember I was coming back from visiting some friends the subway and I see like everyone's like tweeting. I remember what it was, particularly if it was the tears themselves or something that happened after that jokingly tweeted don't make me draw. Megan McCain, you know, and then all of a sudden like everyone's deluge of people who are adding me saying this has to be you had to its natural number like it was like, I don't even have a choice not because of peer pressure because it was like one of those things where the comic road itself. I didn't even think of a huge scenario. I mean, I w-. Basically drawing reality with the single tweak was that I was giving her Jewish identity instead of her saying, oh, I feel so much for the Jewish people. It was like I am a job that was that was the twist describe for people what the Meghan McCain cartoon looked like and what the concept was that you were playing with as you created it. So she's saying basically, the things she said about the holy land. Specifically holy land. Which is the Christian description of Israel Palestine etcetera that refugee girl wants to exterminate us Jews and she'll pinning a star of star on her chest. She she's pouring unmixed multiple soup mix into a bowl overflowing. There's a drill there's Yandell. There's Christian guy to say to Passover Seder. I wanted to show her appropriating Jewish kid. I was trying to imagine what someone who has fetish ising Jews from outside the community would think is Jewish, you know, but I could not leave out entirely trauma because she had tears because she was implying that. Don, Omar is of the same level as like, Nazis, you know, she was claiming on demonizing the Jews. And so I wanted to symbol of that's included Jewish Yuda starve, David from Germany, and I think that might have been what pissed off the Jewish right and her the most, but I was trying not to do the the obvious Seinfeld. References trying to go for a little bit more sort of intra Jewish jokes. But also, you know, like making fun of what a clearly gentle person would consider be Jewish and gentle was the core of it and also multiple soup without actually being mixed with water. Just so people understand. This fact of Meghan McCain who is not Jewish was attacking you saying that it was the most anti semitic thing she's ever seen. And she's saying that she the non Jew has been subjected to an anti semitic attack by you, the Jewish comic artist. Yeah. I mean, first of all everyone immediately on Twitter. That's what they were or the public discourse. That's like leaping onto how absurd it was. But I do need to say. That I am. So accustomed an acclimated to being called self hitting ju an anti Semite because I believe Palestinians have human rights, essentially for the past ten years that when a gentile woman says to me that when she raises my Jewishness that's nothing new to me. I wasn't even it didn't mean like click as something odd because the leadership of the Jewish community has been saying that's not only to me some special person that regard to the entire Jewish left for decades. Now, you did this cartoon of Meghan McCain. You put it online. It goes pretty viral quickly on Twitter. What was it like to be you? And they made it aftermath of that. Well, I mean, honestly, I was on doing it because often when I'm when I have an idea like this go to sleep like four in the morning wake up at like ten ish. And then I'll be drawing it all day. I'm like, no a feeling going on the view talking about her affiliation to the Jews again. And I want to get ahead of that. So I was like up all night. Just do it get it up by nine. And I was glad for that. But what changed everything was when she claimed. Sometime in the morning that was the most anti semitic thing she'd ever seen the absurdity of calming the way stretched away from reality essentially was instead of just appropriating to its culture. She was she was ju-. She had us Jews. So when she claimed that it was anti semitic. And obviously, I'm Jewish and she's not Jewish but by claiming its antisemitic this mockery of gentlewoman for appropriate Jewish culture. She's actually making the comic true, which is like something that's beautiful that can happen with satire that it actually becomes real becomes more real once it's out in the world. And there's this reaction to it which I didn't intend. I had no idea that she was going to I wasn't like bathing her. But it was like it was I'm not gonna stop her from saying it's because it's just so ridiculous. And what about from people who aren't Meghan McCain? I mean, I know there are a lot of people who were who really felt like your analysis was spot on. There were a lot of people sharing it because they felt like it was a really great searing, revelatory commentary and analysis. But what did that kick off when then Meghan McCain accused you of this? Grand act of antisemitism. Basically the bad faith. Sleaze bags the same people who have been demonizing Ilhan, Omar terrorist for saying that America's relationship with Israel is monolithic, and we need to question it. They actually happen to be the same people who've called me anti-semitic for saying Jewish left is authentic or that Palestinians have rights, and so they immediately leapt to her side, they left to the side of the gentlewoman calling Jew antisemitic because that's just part of their whole narrative as recently as Monday Sarah Sanders, when she finally agreed to do some brief speaking to reporters, she was responding to questions regarding Trump, saying Democrats hate Jews when Steve king made terrible comments. We called it out by name. We stripped him of his committee memberships, and we'd like to see Democrats follow first of all you mentioned Steve king, president creepy. Wrong has not condemned king. I said praising white supremacy as the president publicly come out and said anything. Kandar resident on a number of topics, and I've talked about that a number of times that I refer you back to those comments Bri used words, like horri- and unacceptable. Honestly, the king thing is absurd because it's one out of maybe ten thousand examples that they could be using against him. You know, that's part of the whole, you know, gasoline phenomenon and the sort of over saturation with scandal. It's like Ilan, Omar says one word allegiance, and we stop everything we talk about it for three days. Trump has been doing this like nonstop one of the problems is like when we're trying to focus on one thing he'll be doing three other things and not just with this with everything criminal about his administration. Essentially, let's start at the beginning of the of the immediate controversy. That's been ginned up around Ilhan, Omar, do you have any problem at all with any of the comments that are being cited based on what she said about APEC and originally this happened in a retreat of my colleague Glenn Greenwald. And that was how this started. She said it's all about the Benjamins baby. And then the way that she responded when there was this uproar within the Democratic Party. Was there anything that L Han, Omar said that you have a problem with thus far in my view. She has not been as delicate as she can be when dealing with these kind of thorny vernacular issues, and that's not to say, she's at all said anything antisemitic. It's to say that with insert context and removed from the full paragraph of what she said and when approached via through the lens of bad faith, assholes, then she's gonna get shit for it. So it's not so much that I have a problem what she said I have a little problem with her maybe lack of sort of sensitivity to these issues. So that she's not going to get into these unnecessary show trials, but like distractions, you know, in two thousand seventeen when launching your book diaspora, boy comics on crisis in American Israel. You said the following we have to stop allowing people who side with Nazis to define Jewish authenticity for us. Explain what you meant there in terms of. Authenticity. The Jewish world for the past. Several decades has created this veneer of authentic saying that real Jewishness Zionist real Jewishness, ultimately orthodox and everything else sort of like falling down from there under that rationale. They could say that I am a self hater. Because I am not as and I'm not orthodox and that the mass majority of American Jews have problems with their Jewishness because they have not accepted Israel as their homeland cetera. Or or that they don't agree with Netanyahu that kind of thing. And it just turns out that in the aggregate, the same people who have been pushing this. You know, the right wing Jews who happened to be in the leadership of the American Jewish community. You know, saying horrible horrible things and never getting censured never getting thrown out for it have any aggregate supported Donald Trump's rise and supported the GOP Nazi party, and they are currently in bed with people seeking to destroy the Jewish people, and we have not come to terms with yet. We haven't taken action against this in my view. There should be excommunications. If you would not say, you're not part of the Jewish people. You know? That's pretty basic fucking standard L E value. Thank you very much for joining us. Thank you for having me. It was nice Ellie is a writer artist and author of diaster boy comics on crisis in America and Israel. You can find him on Twitter at L E valley. Elliot's spelled E L I. That doesn't for this week show. If you are not yet, a sustaining member of intercepted, log onto the intercept dot com slash join and get together with the more than three thousand other people who are already sustaining members of this program intercept that is production of first look media and the intercept our producer, Jack Doro, and our executive producer is Lee. Tom Alah flora Flynn is associate producer police slain as our assistant producer and graphic designer requ on mixed the show transcription is done by nudie marquess Martinez. Our music as always was composed by DJ spooky until next week. I'm Jeremy Scahill.

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