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‘US drone policy makes Americans less safe’

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Press TV talks with Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CODEPINK in Washington, regarding the United States’ drone strikes in several Muslim countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Below is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Just before we were going on air, I was reading a report in the Washington Post which speaks about secret memos that prove in fact that Pakistani government has helped the CIA throughout this drone program. How does that reflect on the Pakistani prime minister’s call to end these drone strikes?

Benjamin: Well, it is clear that the Pakistani prime minister is playing to the Pakistani audience. The best majority of the Pakistani people are against the drone strikes and yet the Pakistani government relies on the United States for billions of dollars of aid every year.

If the Pakistani government really wanted to stop the drone strikes, they could just shoot down a drone but they certainly have not done that. And so yes, it is a bit of hypocrisy to hear the Pakistani prime minister denounce the drone strikes but then work with the US government on them.

Press TV: And obviously you have been an activist and you have spoken out a lot about these drones. Are you pessimistic going forward or are you optimistic that with all this attention brought to drones this issue will finally get resolved?

Benjamin: I am very optimistic because I have seen in the last two years a sea change in the attitude of the American people towards the drones becoming more and more skeptical about them.

Reports like the ones that have just come out by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and United Nations have refocused attention on the civilian casualties and I think all of this is putting pressure on the US government to reduce the number of drone strikes hopefully to phase out the drone program and to stop the violation of the sovereignty of other nations and this extrajudicial killing.

Press TV: So how do you respond then to the argument from the US government saying that it needs to be done to protect US national security?

Benjamin: I think the American people are starting to learn that the drone strikes are actually making us less safe because it is giving justification to extremists and creating more anti-American sentiment.

The American people are really tired of over 12 years now of war and want to find ways to redirect our resources from the military into our needs here at home and part of this is withdrawing the troops from Afghanistan, ending the drone wars and learning how to live in the world in a way that uses non violence and diplomacy to resolve conflicts instead of military.

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