Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Photo of Bill Moyers Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Bill Moyers Journal
Watch & Listen The Blog Archive Transcripts Buy DVDs
Jeremy Scahill
Nurses Protest
Watch Video
Read Transcript
Comment
June 5, 2009

Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill has some disappointing analysis for supporters of Barack Obama. From an increase of armed contractors in Afghanistan to his handling of detainees, Scahill sees the Obama administration continuing what he believes to be some of the most dangerous U.S. foreign policies from the Bush administration. According to Scahill, President Obama has moved from inheriting policies to adopting them, "Obama is sending one message to the world, but the reality on the ground, particularly when it comes to private military contractors, is that the status quo remains from the Bush era."

President Obama has made several changes since taking office. He has changed the tone of foreign policy in his speeches; he has changed official U.S. detainee policy; he has increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and selected a new commander, General Stanley McChrystal.

But much of what President Obama has done has not corrected what Scahill sees as the fundamental problems. For instance: President Obama has left a loophole allowing indefinite detention without charges, and though President Obama plans to close Guantanamo, he is expanding Bagram Airforce base in Afghanistan. Scahill says, "They're spending $60 million to expand that prison. You have hundreds of people held without charges. You have people that are being denied access to the Red Cross in violation of international law. And you have an ongoing position, by the Obama administration, formed under Bush, that these prisoners don't have right to habeas corpus."

Underscoring the similarities for Scahill is the Obama administration's continued reliance on unmanned aerial vehicles — commonly called drones —to strike inside Pakistan and Afghanistan, a practice that can lead to high civilian death tolls.

Scahill wants the United States to back up and examine its entire approach to foreign policy and, rather than analyze the number of troops to send to Afghanistan or replace the commander, ask whether the U.S. should have any troops there at all.

For Scahill, the use of private miliatry contractors, like XE (formerly Blackwater) and Triple Canopy, is a symptom of bad policy. He asks, if we cannot fight a war with our own citizens, and must rely on foreign mercenaries, should we be fighting that war? "The fact is that I think most Americans are not aware that just under 50 percent of their dollars being spent in Afghanistan are, in fact, going to for profit corporations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "

Published June 5, 2009.

Weigh in on President Obama's war policy. Take a poll and talk back on The Moyers Blog.

Guest photos by Robin Holland

Related Media:
Christian Parenti, photo by Robin HollandBlackwater
As Blackwater CEO Erik Prince makes the rounds defending his company, from Congress to the talk shows, journalist and Blackwater expert Jeremy Scahill helps us separate the spin from the reality. (October 19, 2007)

Drone Bomber, photo by U.S. Air ForceAerial Bombing
Bill Moyers sits down with historian Marilyn Young and former Pentagon official Pierre Sprey, to discuss the use of aerial bombing, including drones, in warfare. (January 30, 2009)

FBI Domestic Spy PosterSarah Chayes
As a new administration is set to take over in the White House, Bill Moyers checks in with author Sarah Chayes on the state of affairs in America's other war in Afghanistan. An author and former journalist, Chayes has lived the last seven years in Afghanistan helping to rebuild the country. (December 19, 2008)

Christian ParentiForeign Policy and the New President
What will President-elect Obama's promises of change mean for the Middle East? JOURNAL guest host Deborah Amos sits down with Elizabeth Rubin, the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and SLATE magazine columnist Fred Kaplan. (November 14, 2008)

March in PakistanPakistan in Peril
Bill Moyers on the unrest in the streets of America's ally. (November 9, 2007)


FBI Domestic Spy PosterChristian Parenti
Journalist Christian Parenti, back from his fourth visit to the forgotten frontline, speaks to Moyers about the growing influence of warlords in government and the resurgence of the Taliban. (June 8, 2007)

FBI Domestic Spy PosterThe War Briefing
FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria and correspondent Martin Smith offer harrowing on-the-ground reporting from the deadliest battlefield in the mountains of Afghanistan, and follow the trail to the militant safe havens deep inside the Pakistani tribal areas, probing some of the most urgent foreign policy challenges facing the next president. (October 28, 2008)

References and Reading:
Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill on ALTERNET

REBEL REPORTS
Reporting by Jeremy Scahill

"Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama"
By Jeremy Scahill, ALTERNET, May 15, 2009.

"KBR Got Bonuses for Work that Killed Soldiers"
By Jeremy Scahill, THE NATION, May 20, 2009.

"Obama Has 250,000 'Contractors' in Iraq and Afghan Wars, Increases Number of Mercenaries"
By Jeremy Scahill, REBEL REPORTS, June 1, 2009.

Also This Week:

JEREMY SCAHILL ON TODAY'S WAR
From a billion dollars sought for embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan to May's highest casualties for US forces in Iraq since September, the wars abroad are taking their toll on our nation. Bill Moyers sits down with award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill to examine the human and financial costs of America's wars.

MODERN MEDIA MADNESS
From headlines surrounding the health care debate to media frenzy over Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, NPR's On the Media host Brooke Gladstone and NYU journalism professor and PressThink blogger Jay Rosen sort the messages and spin from the week's news.

>Media Literary tools for the 21st Century

THE JOURNAL ON WAR
From the press "Buying the War" to the costs that can't be measured in money — THE JOURNAL on the U.S. at war.

TALK BACK: THE MOYERS BLOG
Our posts and your comments
OUR POSTS
YOUR COMMENTS
For Educators    About the Series    Bill Moyers on PBS   

© Public Affairs Television 2008    Privacy Policy    DVD/VHS    Terms of Use    FAQ   
SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES AND PODCASTS EMAIL US