Jeremy Scahill’s important investigation into how Blackwater is working in Pakistan for the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) made waves all over the world. From a base in Karachi, an elite division of the private security contractor plans targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives. According to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus and a former senior executive at Blackwater, the company’s operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and hep run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes.
According to Scahill’s sources, Blackwater’s Pakistan JSOC contracts are secret and are therefore shielded from public oversight.
Scahill’s piece was widely-reported in the Middle East; our most-trafficked piece of the month; and drew coverage everywhere from ABCNews.com and HuffingtonPost to MSNBC (see Scahill’s interview on Morning Joe here) and Pakistani television. At the Pentagon? Not so much. As Scahill reports here, the Department of Defense referred the question to the State Department (even though it concerns operations under their jurisdiction). General Stanley McChrystal, the top US Commander in Afghanistan, was the head of JSOC from 2003-2008.
Scahill will continue to report on the role of Blackwater and other contractors and their links to the US military in sensitive special operations in the Af-Pak arena in the weeks to come. As President Obama prepares to announce his Afghan strategy, Scahill’s reporting–along with Aram Roston’s investigation from earlier in November–continues to raise serious doubts about the integrity and viability of our mission in the region.
Also, check back at TheNation.com this week for continuing coverage of President Obama’s decision on Afghanistan. We will be laying out alternatives to the likely Afghan strategy, and also providing organizing tools–in the magazine at TheNation.com–for those seeking a more responsible exit strategy.
Three other items of note this week:
– The Nation has a great team heading to Copenhagen for the climate talks the week of December 7th. Naomi Klein, Mark Hertsgaard, Naomi and Rob Eshelman will be reporting live daily from the gathering, and we’ll be collaborating with Mother Jones and Grist.org for some of the most comprehensive coverage on the web.
In advance of the Copenhagen talks, we went to an unlikely but compelling voice for his view on climate change: playwright Tony Kushner. Angels in America, of course, is a play (and later a film) which raised concerns about global warming and the hole in the ozone. In this brief VideoNation feature, Kushner explains why it’s so difficult for artists and writers to tackle the topic of climate change, and gives his view on why change has been so slow, decades after the hole in the ozone layer captured the public’s attention:
The next issue of The Nation will also feature a package on Seattle at 10 with trade & globalization activist Lori Wallach.
– How hard has the recession hit young people? You told us. In response to Lizzy Ratner’s essay, "Generation Recession," young readers told us about their struggles in this economy, and their fight to hold on to hope and idealism. The reader responses are both poignant and surprising.
– Finally, if you want to support important investigative work like Jeremy Scahill’s and Aram Roston’s, The Nation Institute’s Annual Gala Dinner is a great way to do it. In New York on December 7th, the dinner features a menu designed by the legendary Alice Waters, and remarks from Tony Award-Winning playwright Sarah Jones; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky; and writer, activist and humorist Jim Hightower. It should be a great night; you can buy tickets here.