Retired Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Mike Flynn, President Obama's former top military intelligence official, says in a forthcoming interview with Al Jazeera that the U.S. drone program is creating more terrorists than it is killing, also asserting that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a strategic mistake that facilitated the rise of the Islamic State group.
"When you drop a bomb from a drone ... you are going to cause more damage than you are going to cause good," Flynn told Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan. When Hasan pressed Flynn on whether drone strikes are creating more terrorists than they kill, Flynn said, "I don't disagree with that" and described President Obama's approach to using drones "an overarching ... failed strategy."
Flynn was forced to retired from his position as Director of Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, part of a leadership shake-up resulting from a need to trim budgets and shift focus after a decade-plus of war, according to The Washington Post.
"What we have is this continued investment in conflict," Flynn continued. "The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just... fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done but I'm looking for the other solutions."
In a study by human rights group Reprieve into U.S. drone strikes in the Middle East, the group found that as of Nov. 24, attempts to kill 41 alleged terrorists resulted in the death of an estimated 1,147 innocent civilians, including more than 200 children, with thousands more injured. Further, "41 names of men who seemed to have achieved the impossible: tohave 'died,' in public reporting, not just once, not just twice, but again and again. Reports indicate that each assassination target 'died' on average more than three times before their actual death."
Researchers at NYU School of Law and Stanford University Law School released a report last year claiming that Obama's drone campaign "terrorizes men, women, and children," occasionally attacking rescue workers coming to the aid of people injured in the original strike, as well as funerals and weddings. The group concluded that drones are counterproductive and radicalize otherwise peaceful populations.
Numerous terrorist attackers or would-be attackers have cited the War on Terror as reason for their grievances, CNN notes.
When Hasan asked Flynn about the situation in Iraq, Flynn said the U.S. invasion directly contributed to the rise of the Islamic State group. "We definitely put fuel on a fire," he told Hasan. "Absolutely... there's no doubt, I mean... history will not be kind to the decisions that were made certainly in 2003."
"Going into Iraq, definitely... it was a strategic mistake," he added.
Flynn also publicly commented for the first time on a previously classified Aug. 2012 DIA memo, which was recently obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request and reported on by HNGN. The memo had been circulated among top government officials and predicted that the U.S.'s covert support of Syrian rebels would lead to the establishment of "a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria." The memo went on to say that the U.S. desired the creation of an Islamic State because it would further weaken Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Flynn said "the [Obama] administration" did not "listen" to these warnings issues by his agency. "I don't know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision."