Jeremy Scahill

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Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist, war correspondent, and author of several books about U.S. covert warfare and foreign policy.

After serving as the national security correspondent for The Nation until 2013,[1] Scahill co-founded the online media platform The Intercept in 2014 with investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras,[2], where he now hosts the weekly Intercepted podcast, sponsored by First Look Media Works. Scahill is also a Democracy Now! correspondent. [3]

News and Controversies

Democracy Now!

Scahill's most recent appearances on Democracy Now! featured Julian Assange's 2019 indictment by the Trump Administration[4][5] and Trump-appointed CIA director Gina Haspel's history of torture.[6][7]

Real Time with Bill Maher

After learning he was scheduled to share a February 2017 Real Time with Bill Maher panel with alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, Scahill withdrew from the show, saying "...debating Milo Yiannopoulos is many bridges too far... Appearing on Real Time will provide Yiannopoulos with a large, important platform to openly advocate his racist, anti-immigrant campaign... Yiannopoulos's appearance could also be used to incite violence against immigrants, transgender people, and others at a time when the Trump Administration is already seeking to formalize a war against some of the most vulnerable people in our society."[8] In his statements, Scahill also expressed mixed feelings about Maher's show, saying "I passionately disagree with– and find offensive– some of Bill's views, particularly when his comments on Islam and Muslims veer into vitriol. At the same time, I have deep respect for Bill... [he has] created a vital platform for debate and discussion that at times I love and other times loathe."[8]

Maher responded, saying "My comments on Islam have never veered into vitriol... Liberals will continue to lose elections as long as they follow the example of people like Mr. Scahill whose views veer into fantasy and away from bedrock liberal principles like equality of women, respect for minorities, separation of religion and state, and free speech. If Mr. Yiannopoulos is indeed the monster Scahill claims — and he might be — nothing could serve the liberal cause better than having him exposed on Friday night."[9]

Criticism of U.S. foreign policy under Obama

In a February 2012 appearance on MSNBC, Scahill engaged in a heated discussion with Princeton professor Ann-Marie Slaughter, who had served as the director of policy planning in the Obama administration.[10] During the back-and-forth, Scahill stated, "U.S. counter-terrorism obsession with Yemen trumped concern for human rights", mentioning the fact that "USAID funding is a tiny portion of the military funding that the U.S. gives to Yemen", and saying "The U.S. was complicit in the violent crackdown of [former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah] Saleh's regime against the protesters because it did not cut him off when he started to be brutal."[11]

In a September 2012 roundtable discussion of Obama's foreign policy, Scahill sharply criticized Obama's actions, saying "The fact is, Democratic foreign policy is distinguishable from the Republicans' only insofar as the president took some of the worst aspects of the Bush-era foreign policy and pushed them forward." Scahill also criticized the subsequent media coverage of Obama's policies, saying "Many of the media discussions, including here on MSNBC, about foreign policy during the convention, felt like we were watching an Obama for America meet-up, not an actual serious critique of his [sic] most egregious aspects of his foreign policy."[12]

In another MSNBC appearance analyzing then-president Obama's May 2013 counter-terrorism speech, Scahill pointed out, "One of the things we have seen under President Obama is the expansion of what are called 'signature strikes', this idea that you're engaged in pre-crime like Minority Report where we are targeting people based on a pattern of life; we don't necessarily know their identities, we don't necessarily have any evidence or intelligence to suggest that they're involved with real terror plots or criminal activity aimed at the United States and we're preemptively just going in and killing them."[13]

Scahill also underscored Obama's constitutional law expertise, claiming "I think he's sort of trying to have it both ways. I think part of what we heard in that speech is what President Obama wants the truth to be or the reality to be and then part of it was a pretty forceful defense of the idea that the United States does believe it has the authority to conduct targeted killings, I would say 'assassination operations', in virtually any country where it perceives there's a threat to... U.S. persons."[13]

Testimony Before Congress

In 2010, Scahill talked about night raids and covert killings which led to radicalization.[14]

In 2007, Scahill talked about the privatization of the U.S. military and the rise of Blackwater.[15]

Dirty Wars Documentary

In 2013 Scahill's book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield was adapted into a documentary entitled Dirty Wars. The documentary begins with Scahill learning about a U.S.-led night raid which killed several innocent Afghanis, including two pregnant women. As Scahill digs deeper in an attempt to figure out who was responsible for this killing, he discovers the Joint Special Operations Command, a covert branch of the U.S. military which reports directly to the president. Throughout the documentary, Scahill travels from Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia investigating the covert operations of the U.S. government's War on Terror.[16]

Abdulelah Haider Shaye

Dirty Wars mentions Yemeni investigative journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who was imprisoned after drawing attention to a 2009 U.S. cruise missile assault which killed 14 alleged members of Al Qaeda but also 41 civilians.[17][18]

In a 2012 piece for The Nation, Scahill outlined Shaye's arrest and criticized President Obama for his role in interfering with his potential pardon.[19]

After Shaye's eventual release in 2013, Democracy Now! reported on his case, including an interview with Scahill, who raised questions about the legitimacy of Shaye's trial and conviction, saying "The White House is citing his conviction, that he supposedly was a supporter of al-Qaeda, in a kangaroo court, a court that was condemned by every major international media freedom organization, every major international human rights organization, that it was a total sham trial, where he was kept in a cage during the course of his prosecution and was convicted on trumped-up charges. So, Mr. Constitutional Law Professor President [Obama] is saying that this Yemeni court, that has been condemned by every international human rights organization in the world, is somehow legitimate."[20]

Anwar Al-Awlaki

Another investigation in Dirty Wars follows the life of Yemeni-American Shia imam Anwar al-Awlaki. In the documentary, Scahill describes how al-Awlaki originally preached against terrorism after September 11, 2001 but radicalized as the Iraq War and the War on Terror progressed. After openly supporting violent jihad against the U.S., al-Awlaki was killed in a drone strike in 2011 without due process, marking the first and only known time a U.S. citizen was killed in a targeted drone assassination.[21] (Several U.S. citizens have been unintentionally killed by drone strikes.)[22]


Writing for the conservative publication the Washington Examiner, cultural critic and author Bruce Bawer claimed Scahill understated the danger of Islamic fundamentalism in Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, saying "Consistently, Scahill prettifies Islamic ideology and jurisprudence (quoting with a straight face the claim that Somalia’s Islamic Courts Union consisted of 'liberals, moderates and extremists' who shared only a determination to 'stabiliz[e] the country through Sharia law'). In Scahill’s lexicon, the terrorist group Al Shabab operates 'popular social programs' while the United States forms 'dark side forces' and wages 'twilight wars.'"[23]

Bawer also failed to understand Scahill's sympathy for Anwar al-Awlaki, arguing Scahill's book focused too much on the imam's victimization by the U.S. and not enough on his hand in inspiring jihadist violence: "Noting that [Al Qaeda's online propaganda publication] Inspire’s 2010 debut issue contained a 'Hit List' of artists who had caricatured the prophet, an article by Awlaki 'encouraging Muslims to attack those who defame the image of Muhammad,' and a piece entitled 'Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,' which explained how to construct an explosive device from a pressure cooker, Scahill acknowledges American intelligence concerns that such materials might 'incite young Western Muslims to commit "lone wolf" acts of terror'— although the only concern Scahill himself displays is over Awlaki’s continued well-being."[23]

A Publishers Weekly review of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army offered an alternative view of Blackwater's success than described in the book, saying "Ultimately, Blackwater and its less familiar counterparts thrive not because of a neoconservative conspiracy against democracy, as Scahill claims, but because they provide relatively low-cost alternatives in high-budget environments and flexibility at a time when war is increasingly protean."[24]

Selected Works

Written Work

My TV Debate with Ed Koch About Israel’s Gaza Flotilla Massacre, "Nation", accessed August 18, 2019.

Selected Podcasts

Whitewashing History
The Day After Mueller
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Interview
American Dissident: Noam Chomsky on the State of the Empire
Double Negative
War Games
The Haspel Ultimatum
RussiaMania: Glenn Greenwald vs. James Risen
The Clock Strikes Thirteen, Donald Trump is President


The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program(2016, Simon Schuster) ISBN 1501144138

Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield(2013, Nation Books) ISBN 156858671X (Dirty Wars documentary adaptation released in 2013)

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, (2007, Nation Books) ISBN 1560259795


Scahill and Amy Goodman produced the radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship,[25] which won a George Polk Award for radio reporting in 1999.[26]


  1. Nation Jeremy Scahill, organizational website, accessed September 4, 2019.
  2. Glenn Greenwald et al., Welcome to the Intercept, Intercept, February 10, 2014, accessed August 17, 2019.
  3. Democracy Now!, Jeremy Scahill Appearances, organizational website, accessed August 17, 2019.
  4. Democracy Now!, Jeremy Scahill: New Indictment of Assange Is Part of a Broader War on Journalism & Whistleblowers, Democracy Now!, May 24, 2019, accessed August 17, 2019.
  5. Democracy Now!, Assange Is Indicted for Exposing War Crimes While Trump Considers Pardons for War Criminals, Democracy Now!, May 24, 2019, accessed August 17, 2019.
  6. Democracy Now!, Jeremy Scahill: Gina Haspel Should Be Answering for Her Torture Crimes, Not Heading the CIA, Democracy Now, March 14, 2018, accessed August 17, 2019.
  7. Democracy Now!, Jeremy Scahill: Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable, Democracy Now!, May 10, 2018, accessed August 17, 2019.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jeremy Scahill, 832011012018728960, Twitter, February 15, 2017, accessed August 21, 2019.
  9. James Hibberd, Bill Maher defends booking Milo Yiannopoulos, Entertainment Weekly, February 15, 2017, accessed August 21, 2019.
  10. U.S. Department of State, Biography: Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, organizational website, accessed August 21, 2019.
  11. Jeremy Scahill Jeremy Scahill on MSNBC debating Ann-Marie Slaughter over Syria, dicklck YouTube Channel, February 26, 2012, accessed August 21, 2019.
  12. Jeremy Scahill Jeremy Scahill Takes Down MSNBC Panel On Obama Foreign Policy, SaveOurSovereignty3 YouTube Channel, September 9, 2012, accessed August 21, 2019.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Jeremy Scahill, Jeremy Scahill Goes Off On MSNBC Pundits For Defending Obama Drone Strikes, selfownership1 YouTube Channel, June 6, 2013, accessed August 21, 2019.
  14. Press Room Jeremy Scahill Testifies Before Congress on America’s Secret Wars, Nation, December 9, 2010, accessed August 21, 2019.
  15. Jeremy Scahill, Jeremy Scahill Testifies on Defense Contracting, 5.10.2007, mediagrrl9 YouTube Channel, May 10, 2007, accessed August 21, 2019.
  16. IMDB Dirty Wars (2013) Plot Summary, organizational website, accessed September 3, 2019.
  17. Human Rights Watch, US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen, Human Rights Watch news, October 21, 2013, accessed August 21, 2019.
  18. Amnesty International, Yemen: Images of missile and cluster munitions point to US role in fatal attack, Amnesty International press release, June 7, 2010, accessed August 21, 2019.
  19. Jeremy Scahill, Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?, Nation, March 13, 2012, accessed August 21, 2019.
  20. Democracy Now!, Yemeni Reporter Who Exposed U.S. Drone Strike Freed from Prison After Jailing at Obama’s Request, Democracy Now!, July 25, 2013, accessed August 21, 2019.
  21. Sal Gentile, ACLU criticizes killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, calling it a ‘dangerous’ precedent, PBS, September 30, 2011, accessed August 21, 2019.
  22. Karen DeYoung and Peter Finn, U.S. acknowledges killing of four U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations, Washington Post, May 22, 2013, accessed August 21, 2019.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Bruce Bawer, Unfriendly Fire, "Washington Examiner", May 20, 2013, accessed August 17, 2019.
  24. Publishers Weekly, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, Publishers Weekly nonfiction book review, accessed August 17, 2019.
  25. Democracy Now! Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria’s Oil Dictatorship, Democracy Now!, September 30, 1998, accessed September 3, 2019.
  26. George Polk Awards, Winners of George Polk Awards for Journalism, organizational website, March 10, 1999, accessed September 3, 2019.