The National Security Agency (NSA) plays an „absolut essential role in the world-wide assassination programs”, says Scahill. He is working on an aricle about the connection between the covert operations and the NSA with Glenn Greenwald who published the story of the NSA leaker Edward Snowden. The NSA is not a group of nerds but works with very “sophisticated hunters” to track people in the internet clouds. The CIA and the US special forced couldn’t execute their assassination without the NSA. In a time when Obama criminalizes whistleblowers in record numbers independent media are crucial, says Scahill. The new media venture with Greenwald an Laura Poitras funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar presents a great chance. “We kind of hit the jackpot”. Since governments in Europe are complicit with the US and work “hand in gloves” with the NSA, CIA and US military “European Edward Snowdens” are needed. “Don’t believe for a second that you can’t make a difference”.
Jeremy Scahill: National Security correspondent of "The Nation", author of "Dirty Wars. The World Is a Battlefield" and "Blackwater. The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army"
David Goessmann: I want to talk about the connection between the NSA spying program and the covert operations. There is already indication that NSA data have been used for targeted killings in Somalia and Pakistan. The Washington Post has just released a report based on documents from Edward Snowden on the NSA’s major role in the drone warfare. Could you talk about this connection.
Jeremy Scahill: I have to be careful in what to say about this because I’ve been working for several months with Glenn Greenwald on a story that deals with the role of the NSA in the assassination programs and we haven’t published it yet so I cant give too much away but I can say in general that the NSA plays an absolutely essential role in the global assassination program and without the NSA it would be very difficult for the CIA and for the U.S. military special operation forces to conduct these kinds of operations. It is an absolutely essential player in this lethal campaign across the globe. You can understand just thinking logically why that’s the case. What does the NSA do? They are responsible for intercepting all forms of communication, they have an incredible ability to track people by using their devices. Anything that plugs in or has a battery they can get access to. So if you think about a manhunt where you are looking for people across the globe who better tries to track them down then the masters of that kind of surveillance? I think that people tend to think about the NSA as just a bunch of nerds sitting in a room and listening to everyone’s phone calls. These are very sophisticated hunters at the end of the day, they are just hunting in digital area. So that hunt often takes place in the clouds , the internet clouds.
David Goessmann: We have just learned that you, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, an acclaimed filmmaker also involved in the NSA story, want to join forces. What can you tell us about this new media venture funded by e-bay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Jeremy Scahill: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and I have been discussing for some time trying to start our own website or news organization and we were just getting to the stage where we were thinking about how would we structure it, what would the mission of it be, how would we fund it, who would we beg for money and what kinds of reporting we wanted to see done. And I was actually in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Glenn Greenwald lives and we were discussing this and Glenn got an e-Mail from a mutual friend of Pierre’s and Glenn’s and he said „You know Pierre is going to start a new media organization and he wants to talk to you guys contributing in.“ Maybe articles or columns or.. So Glenn had this initial conversation with Pierre and his vision what he wanted to build was exactly in line with what we wanted to do and so we joined forces with him. It wasn’t that we went to him and asked him to fund us, he didn’t come to us and asked us to hire us, it was that we decided to join forces with him. You know he is one of the wealthiest people in the world but he also has an incredibly clear vision of what independent media should look like that it should happen adversarial relation with the state, that the role of journalists is to hold those in power accountable and to provide the public with information they can use to form decisions of which policies to support and which policies to oppose which is our mission in life as journalists as well. And we are incredibly excited about the project because all three of us are journalists to the core and what we believe in is journalist driven journalism not in big bureaucracies and stifle the production of stories. I don’t know where we are going to be in a year but I am really excited about the journey we are going to go on.
David Goessmann: What is the significance of such independent media projects regarding what you call the "criminalization of journalism" in the US right now?
Jeremy Scahill: There is a war again journalism around the world not just in the U.S. In Mexico journalists are murdered every week, in Somalia journalists are being killed in huge numbers, in Syria journalists are missing, journalists are in prison and beaten across the world and in the U.S. we have a president who won the Nobel Peace Prize, who is a constitutional lawyer by training and he is prosecuting whistle blowers in record numbers. They are monitoring the meta data of journalists trying to figure out who they are talking to, going after sources. And we also have a media culture in the U.S. which is totally corely bankrupt and it is driven by corporate advertising and corporations control huge parts of the process of disseminating information. So to be able to build an organization that doesn’t depend on ad revenue, that doesn’t depend on state sponsorship is a tremendous opportunity. Everyone is struggling around the world with how to build fund sustained independent media and we are all looking at new and innovative models but I feel like we sort of hit the jackpot in terms of the ability to move forward with building an actually independent news organization without fear and run by people who believe in taking the fight to those in power in terms of holding them accountable and provide people with independent information not state sponsored propaganda.
David Goessmann: Many people in Europe say that they can't do anything about the dirty and conventional wars. What could people here do in your view to stop these kind of wars?
Jeremy Scahill: First of all we are living in an extraordinary moment in history, you have the Wikileaks Action where Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, the collateral murder video showing U.S. military hunting down civilians in Iraq, you had the courage of Edward Snowden to blow the whistle on these abuses within the NSA. Glenn Greenwald often talks about how courage breads courage, I think we are going to see more whistle-blowers coming forward, we need European Edward Snowdens, we need people that are willing to take political risks in their own societies to pull back the curtain on what their governments are doing. For people in Germany and in Europe your governments are totally complicit with a global surveillance program run by the U.S. The German government is working hand in glove with the CIA, with the NSA on a regular basis, with the U.S. military and so we all have a moral obligation in our societies to confront the role that our political leaders play in these kinds of programs. but I don’t have any illusions about this going to be a sort of easy battle to win, progress is hard to judge in the moment and I think we are in an age where there is a digital war going on, a cyberwar going on and I think it is also a very exciting one to be alive. Some of the activism of the younger people is taking place entirely on the internet and don’t ever believe for a moment that you cannot make a difference but its hard sometimes in a moment to judge it. I think we are in an extraordinarily exciting and hopeful time even though it is a very dark time.