AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Matthew Hoh into this discussion, former Marine Corps captain in Iraq, former State Department official in Afghanistan, the highest-level diplomatic official to quit over the war in Afghanistan. Matthew Hoh, your response to the news last night and what you think this means? You quit over the continued war. Do you think this could mean the end of war?
MATTHEW HOH: Good morning, Amy, and thank you for having me on.
I want to echo Josh just then, because I think his comments were spot on, and I want to refer back to Jeremy’s earlier comments about this is not just good news, but this is also a very good time for somber reflection.
What I think this means for the United States is, this gives closure on 9/11. Ten years after that horrible event, we finally have some degree of closure. We’ve the bogeyman, if you will, who caused all this. So, I think this gives the American public closure on 9/11. And what that—what I hope that translates into is provides some backbone for members of Congress who do not want to engage on the war in Afghanistan. I think everybody should be asking themselves today in the United States, if Osama bin Laden was hiding in an upscale villa an hour or two drive north, northeast of Islamabad, then why did we put 50,000 troops in Afghanistan over the last two years? I think we have to have a real serious conversation on where our war on terror has taken this country, and I think we need to reflect on the real threat. As Josh just stated, Osama bin Laden was more of a figurehead or a spiritual leader than any kind of operational leader. And if we have—so we need to understand al-Qaeda as they exist, as some form of a syndicate that operates through individuals and small cells worldwide that won’t be affected by putting hundreds of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan, but is affected by good intelligence work, good police work, and good work by our Special Operations forces in conjunction with foreign governments. So I think this is a very good time for some real somber and rational reflection on the last 10 years.
AMY GOODMAN: CIA Director Panetta says al-Qaeda will almost certainly attempt to avenge bin Laden’s death—CIA Director Panetta, who could soon become the secretary of defense—right?—replacing Robert Gates. Talk about this—
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. I mean, the timing of this is interesting—
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill.
JEREMY SCAHILL:—because, you know, General David Petraeus is also set to take over the Central Intelligence Agency. And what we’ve seen with General Petraeus’s tenure as CENTCOM commander, U.S. Central Command, and then also as ISAF commander, is really an expansion of targeted killings operations. He brought back air strikes in Afghanistan after General Stanley McChrystal had really taken moves to tamp them down. But more importantly, General Petraeus signed this order in September of 2009 authorizing an expanded use of U.S. Special Operations forces in undeclared battlefields around the world. And Yemen was one of the great playgrounds of that war game.
And so, I think that I would echo what both Josh Foust and Matt Hoh said in terms of not losing vigilance, that this whole thing is going to continue to play out. There are going to continue to be people that want to do harm to Americans around the world, some of whom may identify themselves as al-Qaeda. We’ve played a significant role in inspiring a generation of terrorists to rise up, through our actions. But also, we need to be vigilant in checks and balances within the U.S. military. There’s a lot of lawlessness taking place—targeted killing operations in other countries, drone strikes in places. And, you know, when do people step back and look at the calculus of it? Are we creating new enemies by killing a handful of people in these operations where civilians are also killed? I mean, these are the kinds of questions, I think—we need to get past the moment and look at what does this say, going forward, about how we, as a country, the United States, want to conduct ourselves around the world, but also examining how our actions actually can harm us, come back to haunt us with blowback because of the terrorism that we inspire.
AMY GOODMAN: We do not have Robert Fisk on the line with us live from Beirut, but we do have a discussion with him back a few years ago. Robert Fisk interviewed Osama bin Laden three times. And I just wanted to go to a clip of that interview.
I was just—here we go. We’re just trying to bring it up. We’re seeing if it’s possible for us to play it. But Allan Nairn, your response to Jeremy Scahill?
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At an open mike tonight, the face of one of the performers looked really familiar. When he was done his set, I asked if he was related to the family of the same name that used to live on 65th St.
He said yes, and mentioned his uncles’ names. “I went to school with your Uncle Joe,” I said. (In Phillyspeak, that means eighth grade.)
My friend turned to me and said, “You know, we really do live in a small town.” Yes, I think spotting someone’s family resemblance after 40-something years would support that theory.
Well, that didn’t take long, did it?