In testimony on Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill told members that America’s covert shadow wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are increasing the Taliban’s strength and ‘We are trying to kill our way to peace.’
Speaking before Congress’s House Judiciary Committee, Scahill, The Nation’s national security correspondent, testified that “US Special Operations Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency are engaged in parallel, covert shadow wars that are waged in near total darkness and largely away from effective or meaningful Congressional oversight or journalistic scrutiny,” The Nation reports.
Scahill told the Committee that, in addition to the Afghan war, the war in Iraq “rages” despite the government’s spin. Neither war’s actions and consequences is being investigated by Congress, he said.
Scahill’s complete testimony was published by The Nation on Thursday. In it, Scahill told Congress: “We are trying to kill our way to peace. And the killing fields are growing in number.”
Recently returned from a two-week unembedded investigation in Afghanistan, Scahill shared part of it with the Committee. Special Ops teams are currently operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, he testified.
In February of this year, one of those teams operating in Afghanistan killed two pregnant women, a teenage girl and two men in a night raid. The forces then tried covering up the killings by blaming the Taliban, saying the women were part of an honor killing, Scahill noted. He called that a “blatant lie” which was only confirmed after the US had been forced into accountability over the deaths. It then admitted the killings were conducted by members of a Joint Special Operations Command.
At the same time as these covert operations are occurring, the US is involved in a shadow war there where the use of weaponized drones is occurring on a regular basis.
Slowly gaining play in a reluctant mainstream media, Scahill described to the Committee the “off-the-radar” war the US is conducting against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Although the US military’s stated position for this region is “limited to training and weapons support,” according to Scahill, “scores of people,” including women and children, have been killed in Yemen, the result of US-launched cruise missiles aimed at Yemeni villages, The Nation noted.
The testimony by Scahill also included other dire revelations. Among them, US Special Operations Command (SOC) requested detailed information from US diplomats stationed in Afghanistan and Pakistan about refugee camps along the Af-Pak border. That information was to include names of humanitarian aid groups operating in those camps.
Referring to an October 6, 2008 cable marked “confidential” from Anne Patterson - US Ambassador to Pakistan at the time - to senior US intelligence and defense officials, Scahill noted the ambassador was concerned that the information would be used “in a targeted killing or capture operation,” The Nation reports.
Covert operations are being conducted in Pakistan by the US, Scahill also testified. Secret raids conducted by Special Operations Forces are then denied in public by the Pentagon. Leaked diplomatic cables now prove these denials are false, Scahill claims. According to his testimony, members of the Special Operations Forces conducting these operations included an elite force of Navy SEALs and Delta Force and Army Rangers.
Scahill also testified that “US officials have consistently misled the American and Pakistani people on the extent of US military operations inside Pakistan,” The Nation reported. While pointing out the obvious to a room full of politicians may seem a daunting task, Scahill asked Committee members: “If Congress is kept in the dark about these operations, how can it expect to effectively and honestly debate US policy in Pakistan?”
According to Scahill, the stated focus of the hearing is on US policy on national security and civil liberties. In closing testimony, he said : “I believe strongly that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have a direct impact on what happens here in the United States. The same is true for the covert, shadow wars from Pakistan to Somalia to Yemen and beyond. These wars help to shape our domestic policies as well as world opinion about our nation. It is essential for journalists and this Congress to fulfill their oversight functions and to shed light on actions--as unsavory or as difficult as they might be at times--so that US policy moving forward can truly be based on what is best for the people of this nation as well as the populations of the nations where the US is waging wars, whether declared or undeclared,” The Nation reported.
Considered by many to be one of America’s leading investigative journalists, Scahill authored the best-selling Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.