Vanity Fair's Eichenwald: Drone Strikes Not Depriving US of Intelligence

Thursday, 27 Sep 2012 05:43 PM

By Henry J. Reske and John Bachman

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The Obama administration's reliance on drones to take out terrorists is not depriving the United States of key intelligence, New York Times bestselling author and contributing editor of Vanity Fair Kurt Eichenwald tells Newsmax.TV.

Eichenwald, a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, said the strikes are not denying U.S. intelligence of prisoners who could reveal information under interrogation. He noted that in the past, most of the high value prisoners were being scooped up in Afghanistan, England, France, and Italy, places where they could be captured.

Watch the exclusive interview here.

“It would be nice if these guys were in Afghanistan where we could capture them,” he said. “Or it would be nice if the Pakistanis would help capture them, rather than tipping them off. But that’s not going to happen. So kill them. And that’s where we are. It’s a tough judgment but it’s the right judgment.”

Eichenwald’s new book, “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” focuses on the time period surrounding 9/11. Initially, he had planned to do a more expansive book.

“This time, my original thought was I would be writing a narrative of counterterrorism in the Bush administration starting about 9/11, ending on January 20 of 2009,” he said. “ What I found after a couple of years of reporting, actually, was that everything of importance, every major decision was made in the first 500 days and those were the decisions that had the consequences in the rest of the Bush administration, decisions that we’re living with even ‘til this day. So, at that point, I decided to reshape the whole book and make it focus in on that incredibly important period of 500 days.”

Eichenwald said his goal in the book was to have people “understand the full history of what happened and if something’s secret, I want to figure out what it was.”

Among his findings were:
  • That it was during the Clinton administration “when al-Qaida and the whole concept of transnational threats, that being national security threats that were not attached to any country that was when this developed.” He said the Clinton administration “knew this one was different, this one was bigger than anything they’d heard about. So, faced with that, the government went on high alert. I mean the largest alert that the government has been in in peacetime ever. And the consequence of that was that they were able to stop multiple terrorist attacks.”
  • “When the Bush administration came back into the White House, they reverted to what they knew, that being national security issues are about other countries, and they began focusing on China, on Russia, on Iraq, on Iran.”
  • The Clinton administration shared its information with the Bush administration. “Sandy Berger, who was the national security adviser under Clinton, told Condoleezza Rice, who was the national security adviser under Bush, that the thing you will be dealing the most with over the next four years is bin Laden.”
  • President George W. Bush was given bad advice from those focused on the threat from other countries when the “CIA was coming in and pounding the drum about al-Qaida.” He said the message was that “bin Laden really is acting as a front for Saddam Hussein and what’s happening here is a false flag operation where bin Laden and Saddam in cahoots with each other are trying to make us focus on al-Qaida when the real threat is Iraq.”

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