Obama's Election Struck a Huge Blow Against Racism, But He's Kept the US War Machine "Set on Kill"
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ANJALI KAMAT: On Tuesday, President Obama made another statement on the failure of intelligence agencies to intercept the Christmas Day plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. He said the US government had the necessary information to stop the twenty-three-year-old Nigerian suspect from boarding the Detroit-bound flight, but he excoriated the intelligence community for failing to connect the dots in time.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I will accept that intelligence, by its nature, is imperfect. But it is increasingly clear that intelligence was not fully analyzed or fully leveraged. That’s not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it.
ANJALI KAMAT: Obama said intelligence agencies knew that the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had, quote, "traveled to Yemen and joined up with extremists there." The President also addressed concerns over repatriating the ninety-odd Yemeni men who are still detained in Guantanamo.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Given the unsettled situation, I’ve spoken to the attorney general, and we’ve agreed that we will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this time. But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has damaged our national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al-Qaeda. In fact, that was an explicit rationale for the formation of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And as I’ve always said, we will do so -- we will close the prison in a manner that keeps the American people safe and secure.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, it's almost been a year since President Obama’s inauguration and his promise to close the prison at Guantanamo.
For a critical look back over the Obama administration’s foreign policy and national security decisions in the last twelve months, we're joined here in New York by award-winning investigative journalist and activist Allan Nairn.
In 1991, we were both in East Timor and witnessed and survived the Santa Cruz massacre, in which Indonesian forces killed more than 270 Timorese. The soldiers fractured Allan's skull.
Over the past three decades, he has exposed how the US government has backed paramilitary death squads in El Salvador, in Guatemala, in Haiti. He also uncovered US support for the Indonesian military's assassinations and torture of civilians.
He's joining us now for the rest of the hour. Well, why don't you start off with a broad overview, as we move into this first anniversary of President Obama’s inauguration, of his term in office?
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, I think Obama should be remembered as a great man because of the blow he struck against white racism, the cultural blow. And he accomplished that on Election Day. That was huge. This is one of the most destructive forces in world history, and by simply -- by virtue of becoming president, Obama did it major damage.
But once he became president, by virtue of his actions, just like every US president before him, just like those who ran other great powers, Obama became a murderer and a terrorist, because the US has a machine that spans the globe, that has the capacity to kill, and Obama has kept it set on kill. He could have flipped the switch and turned it off. The President has -- turned it off. The President has that power, but he chose not to do so.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean? Explain more fully.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, the machine. The US spends about half of all -- almost half of all the military spending in the entire world, equal to virtually all the other countries combined. More than half of the weapons sold in the world are sold by the United States. The US has more than 700 military bases scattered across dozens of countries. The US is the world's leading trainer of paramilitaries. The US has a series of courses, from interrogators to generals, that have graduated military people guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in dozens upon dozens of countries. The US has a series of covert paramilitary forces of its own that get almost no attention. For example, right now in Iran, there are covert US paramilitaries attacking Iran from within, authorized by secret executive order. This was briefly reported, but it dropped from notice. In addition to that, there are the open attacks, the open bombings and invasions. Just in the recent period, the US has done this to Iran -- to, I'm sorry, to Iraq, to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya. Currently in the Philippines, there are US troops in action in the south. And you could go on. This is the machine.