Dirty Wars

Free Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill

Book: Dirty Wars by Jeremy Scahill Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jeremy Scahill
    THIS IS A STORY about how the United States came to embrace assassination as a central part of its national security policy. It is also a story about the consequences of that decision for people in scores of countries across the globe and for the future of American democracy. Although the 9/11 attacks dramatically altered the way the United States conducts its foreign policy, the roots of this story far predate the day the Twin Towers fell. In the post-9/11 world, there is also a tendency to see US foreign policy through a partisan lens that, on the one hand, suggests that President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq was an utter disaster that led the nation into a mentality that it was in a global war and, on the other, that President Barack Obama was left to clean up the mess. In the eyes of many conservatives, President Obama has been weak in confronting terrorism. In the eyes of many liberals, he has waged a “smarter” war. The realities, however, are far more nuanced.
    This book tells the story of the expansion of covert US wars, the abuse of executive privilege and state secrets, the embrace of unaccountable elite military units that answer only to the White House.
Dirty Wars
also reveals the continuity of a mindset that “the world is a battlefield” from Republican to Democratic administrations.
    The story begins with a brief history of the US approach to terrorism and assassination prior to 9/11. From there, I weave in and out of several stories, spanning the course of Bush’s early days in office and going into Obama’s second term. We meet al Qaeda figures in Yemen, US-backed warlords in Somalia, CIA spies in Pakistan and Special Operations commandos tasked with hunting down those people deemed to be enemies of America. We meet the men who run the most secretive operations for the military and the CIA, and we hear the stories of insiders who have spent their lives in the shadows, some of whom spoke to me only on condition that their identity never be revealed.
    The world now knows SEAL Team 6 and the Joint Special Operations Command as the units that killed Osama bin Laden. This book will revealpreviously undisclosed or little-known missions conducted by these very forces that will never be discussed by those at the helm of power in the United States or immortalized in Hollywood films. I dig deep into the life of Anwar al Awlaki, the first US citizen known to be targeted for assassination by his own government—despite never having been charged with a crime. We also hear from those who are caught in the middle—the civilians who face drone bombings and acts of terrorism. We enter the home of Afghan civilians whose lives were destroyed by a Special Ops night raid gone wrong, transforming them from US allies to would-be suicide bombers.
    Some of the stories in this book may, at first, seem to be disconnected, from people worlds apart. But taken together, they reveal a haunting vision of what our future holds in a world gripped by ever-expanding dirty wars.


    The young teenager sat outside with his cousins as they gathered for a barbecue . He wore his hair long and messy. His mother and grandparents had repeatedly urged him to cut it. But the boy believed it had become his trademark look and he liked it. A few weeks earlier, he had run away from home, but not in some act of teenage rebellion. He was on a mission. In the note he left for his mother before he snuck out the kitchen window as the sun was just rising and headed to the bus station, he admitted that he had taken money from her purse—$40—for bus fare, and for that he apologized. He explained his mission and begged for forgiveness. He said he would be home soon.
    The boy was the eldest child in his family. Not just in his immediate family, which consisted of his parents and his three siblings, but in the large house they shared with his aunts and

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