Ex-CIA director brushes off Afghan deaths

Following a report by human rights organizations condemning the secretive US drone war, CNN decided to bring on former CIA deputy director of counter terrorism, Phil Mudd to defend the policy.

But you won’t find any mention of the most interesting thing he had to say in CNN’s write-up of the interview. It’s still available in the video below at 5:15 when Mudd, who is now a high-paid security consultant, says:

We don’t ask questions about the tragedy of loss of life when artillery is used against an Afghan village

Mudd was responding to a question from CNN’s Hala Gorani about civilian casualties, with thousands of innocents killed by the un-manned US aircraft over recent years in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. He added:

“That is a tragedy but people have come to understand that war equates to tragedy.”


It amazes me that people like Mr. Mudd continue to command so much respect–and air time– from the media. In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Mudd, who served under President George Bush, admits to supporting torture policies and helping prepare the false UN testimony of Colin Powell to strike Iraq:

More recently Mr. Mudd has been trying to convince the American people to strike Syria. But while he writes off civilian causalities in Afghanistan as ‘the tragedy of war’ he takes a far more humanitarian approach when the US is not directly involved in the killing.

He passionately tells Colbert:

“What are we going to tell our kids that we didn’t have the courage because we were afraid to defend against the murder of 100,000 innocents? I don’t want to be there for that.”

And yet Mr. Mudd actively lobbied for the murderous US-led war in Iraq, where over five times the number killed in Syria or some 500,000 civilians have died in the destruction of that country the US invasion helped ignite and sustain. This doesn’t include the tens of thousands killed in Afghanistan  under Mr. Mudd’s watch or the thousands more killed by weapons supplied by the US or its allies today in Syria.

Colbert cleverly ends the interview by asking Mr. Mudd if he ever sent US prisoners for rendition (i.e. torture) in Syria, which was considered an ally in the ‘war against terror’ during the Bush administration.

Mudd replies:  “I don’t know, I think the answer was yes. I don’t know.”

After the CNN interview, I tweeted my disappointment to Hala Gorani at CNN’s allowance of air time for Mr. Mudd to keep spreading his deadly propaganda.

Her response:

@habib_b He has inside knowledge of US counter terror policy. You don’t just want to hear from people you agree w/ all the time, do you?
— Hala Gorani (@HalaGorani) October 22, 2013

I’ll have to respectfully disagree with Hala there. I think it is our responsibility as journalists not just to find different points of view but actually to attempt to give a voice to the voiceless, and provide information that helps viewers understand a story. Far from voiceless, Mr. Mudd has had plenty of exposure in the international media over the past decades and yet few to hold him accountable for the damaging things he has said and done.

This reminds me a lot of Lebanese television, where we keep seeing the same warlords on our television screens, providing lots of self-promotion of their destructive policies and little useful information to viewers. Instead of exposing their crimes, the media provides them a platform to stay in power and in our living rooms.