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Jeremy Scahill

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Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill
Scahill at Sacramento City College May 3, 2007
Born Jeremy M. Scahill
(1974-10-18) October 18, 1974
Chicago, Illinois U.S.
Occupation Investigative journalist

Jeremy Scahill (born October 18, 1974) is a founding editor of the online news publication [2] His book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, was published by Nation Books on April 23, 2013. On June 8, 2013, the Dirty Wars documentary film of the same name was released, which Scahill produced and narrated.

Scahill is a Fellow at The Nation Institute.[3] He is also a producer and writer of the film Dirty Wars, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.[4][5] Scahill learned the journalism trade and got his start as a journalist on the independently syndicated daily news show Democracy Now!. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Early life

Scahill was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was raised in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, by “social activist” parents, Lisa and Michael Scahill, who work as nurses.[6] He graduated from Wauwatosa East High School in 1992.[7] He attended a few University of Wisconsin regional campuses and a local technical college before deciding that his "time would be better spent by entering the struggle for justice in this country." After dropping out of college, Scahill spent several years on the East Coast working in homeless shelters. He started his career as an unpaid intern at the nonprofit news program Democracy Now! of the Pacifica Radio network. While he was at Democracy Now!, Scahill learned the technical side of radio, and learned "journalism as a trade, rather than an academic study".[8]

Discussing the roots of his activism, Scahill said: "I think we all have to remember something that Dan Berrigan, the radical Catholic priest, said about Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement. He said she lived as though the truth were true." And: "Victory is relative when you listen to the powerful. But we have a victory in our midst, because the entire world is on our side. So I say that we call for an end to the death penalty in this country, and we call for an end to the collective death penalty being meted out on the rest of the world by this criminal government."[9]

He also worked in 2000 as a producer for Michael Moore's TV series The Awful Truth on Bravo.[10]

Journalism career

Scahill became a senior producer and correspondent for Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship", which investigated the Chevron Corporation's role in the killing of two Nigerian environmental activists.[11]

In 1998, Scahill traveled to Iraq for Democracy Now! and Pacifica Radio, where he reported on the impact of the economic sanctions on Iraq and the "No-Fly Zone" bombings in Northern and Southern Iraq.[12] An article in AlterNet has described Jeremy Scahill as a "progressive journalist".[13]

In October 2013 Scahill joined with reporters Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras to establish an on-line investigative journalism publishing venture funded by eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar.[14] The idea for the new media outlet came from Omidyar's "concern about press freedoms in the US and around the world".[15] The Intercept, a publication of First Look Media, went live on February 10, 2014.[16] The short term goal of the digital magazine is to publish reports about information contained in documents disclosed by Edward Snowden concerning the NSA. According to editors Greenwald, Poitras, and Scahill, their "longer-term mission is to provide aggressive and independent adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues, from secrecy, criminal and civil justice abuses and civil liberties violations to media conduct, societal inequality and all forms of financial and political corruption."[17]

On November 30, 2013, Scahill refused to participate in a Stop the War Conference in London unless Syrian nun Mother Agnes was dropped from the symposium. Mother Agnes eventually pulled out.[18]


Kosovo conflict

In 1999, he covered the Kosovo conflict, reporting live from Belgrade and Kosovo itself.[19] In an article in the International Socialist Review, Scahill accused the United Nations Mission in Kosovo UNMIK of being complicit in Albanian atrocities against Serbs, but did not discuss the ethnic cleansing campaign against Albanians during the previous year.[20]

After Slobadan Milosevic's death in 2006, Scahill accused the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of practicing "victors' justice" and being "a poor substitute for a true international court."[21] In October 2013 James Kirchick published an article in Commentary magazine discussing Scahill's coverage of the Kosovo conflict, writing: "Scahill’s work during the period was focused almost exclusively on isolated incidents of violence committed by ethnic Albanians—to the exclusion of the vast, methodical ethnic-cleansing campaign carried out by the Serbs, whom he portrayed as the true victims."[22]

War on Terror

Between 2001 and 2003, Scahill reported frequently from Baghdad for Democracy Now! and other media outlets. As the Iraq invasion began, Scahill appeared frequently on Democracy Now!, often co-hosting with Amy Goodman.[23]

Scahill has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia,[24] post-Katrina Louisiana,[25] and elsewhere across the globe. Scahill is a frequent guest on a wide array of programs, appearing regularly on The Rachel Maddow Show,[26] Real Time with Bill Maher,[27] and Democracy Now![28] He has also appeared on ABC World News, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, The Daily Show,[29] CNN, The NewsHour, MSNBC,[30] "Bill Moyers Journal",[31] and NPR.[32][33][34] In addition, Scahill has written for The Times, the Sunday Telegraph, the BBC, The Indypendent,[35] The Los Angeles Times,[36] Z Magazine,[37] Socialist Worker,[38] International Socialist Review,[39] The Progressive,[40] In These Times,[41] and The Guardian.[42] In addition, Scahill has posted material to the websites Alternet[43] and CounterPunch.[44]

He has been a vocal critic of private military contractors, particularly Blackwater Worldwide, which is the subject of his book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.[45] The book received numerous accolades, including the Alternet Best Book of the Year Award, a spot on both the Barnes & Noble and Amazon lists of the Best Nonfiction Books of 2007, and notable mention in the New York Times.[46]

Scahill’s work has sparked several Congressional investigations. In 2010, Scahill testified before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on the United States' shadow wars in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere:

As the war rages on in Afghanistan and—despite spin to the contrary—in Iraq as well, US Special Operations Forces and the Central Intelligence Agency are engaged in parallel, covert, shadow wars that are waged in near total darkness and largely away from effective or meaningful Congressional oversight or journalistic scrutiny. The actions and consequences of these wars is seldom discussed in public or investigated by the Congress. The current US strategy can be summed up as follows: We are trying to kill our way to peace. And the killing fields are growing in number.[47]

In July 2011, Scahill revealed the existence of a CIA-run counterterrorism center at the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia, and reported on a previously unknown secret prison located in the basement of the U.S.-funded Somali National Security Agency, in which—according to a U.S. official—U.S. agents interrogated prisoners.

When the public became aware of President Obama's "Kill List",[48] Scahill was frequently cited as an expert on the topic of extrajudicial killings.[49]


Scahill's first book, New York Times bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army,[50] thoroughly revised and updated to include the Nisour Square massacre, was released in paperback edition in 2008.[51][52] Blackwater depicts the rise of the controversial military contracting firm Blackwater, now called Academi.[53]

Scahill exposed the presence of Blackwater contractors in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and his reporting sparked a Congressional inquiry and an internal Department of Homeland Security investigation.[54]

Dirty Wars

Scahill at a book signing (2014)

Scahill's book published by Nation Books,[55] Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, released on April 23, 2013.[56] The main premise of the book is Obama's continuation of Bush's doctrine that "the world is a battlefield" and relying on missiles and drone strikes, JSOC to carry the bulk of the covert operations and targeted killings of suspected terrorists. Scahill expands on this theme by covering topics such as the assassination of U.S. citizens, namely Anwar Awlaki and his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, and the lack of accountability of U.S. special forces, such as the Gardez massacre,[57] where U.S. special forces killed two males, including the pro-U.S. local police commander, as well as three females, two of whom were pregnant. An Afghan investigation found signs of evidence tampering, such as bullets being removed from the wall where the women were shot.[58] Several family members of the victims alleged that the special forces subsequently used their knives to dig the bullets out of the bodies and cleaned the resultant wounds to purge any evidence of the U.S. raid.[59]

The book was later made into a 2013 American documentary directed by Richard Rowley based on a screenplay written by Scahill and David Riker. Scahill both produces and narrates the film. Dirty Wars premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013. It was released in four theaters on June 7, 2013. The film was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, ultimately losing to 20 Feet from Stardom.[60]

Abdulelah Haider Shaye

Scahill has been an advocate for imprisoned Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye. Scahill's March 13, 2012 article in The Nation states that President Obama leaned on Yemen to keep Shaye in jail because of his reporting on the 2009 Al Ma`jalah bombings—Shaye described remnants of U.S. Tomahawk missiles, although the United States initially denied involvement.[61] Subsequent English-language reports on the issue have relied on Scahill's journalism.[62][63][64]

Awards and recognition

Scahill has won numerous awards, including the prestigious George Polk Award (twice),[65] numerous Project Censored Awards, and the Izzy Award,[66] named after the muckraking journalist I. F. Stone. He was among the few Western reporters to gain access to the Abu Ghraib prison when Saddam Hussein was in power and his story on the emptying of that prison won a 2003 Golden Reel Award from The National Federation of Community Broadcasters.[67] In 2013, he was awarded the Windham–Campbell Literature Prize, one of the richest literary awards in the world.[68][69]

Selected writings

  • "Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater" | This article appeared in the May 8, 2006 edition of The Nation[70]
  • "Blackwater's Private Spies" | This article appeared in the June 23, 2008 edition of The Nation[71]
  • "Mercenary Jackpot" | This article appeared in the August 28, 2006 edition of The Nation[72]
  • "Washington's War in Yemen Backfires" | This article appeared in the March 5–12, 2012 edition of The Nation[73]
  • "Blowback in Somalia" | This article appeared in the September 26, 2011 edition of The Nation[74]
  • "The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia" | This article appeared in the August 1–8, 2011 edition of The Nation[75]
  • "Osama's Assassins" | This article appeared in the May 23, 2011 edition of The Nation[76]


  1. ^ "Staff: Jeremy Scahill". The Intercept. Retrieved August 28, 2014. 
  2. ^ "George Polk Awards". Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Fellows: Jeremy Scahill". The Nation Institute. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ "2013 Sundance Film Festival Announces Films in U.S. and World Competitions". Sundance Film Festival. November 28, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ DeFore, John (January 19, 2013). "Dirty Wars: Sundance Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 28, 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Real Time Episode 249". HBO: Real Time With Bill Maher. May 18, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ "C-SPAN Video Player – Journalist Jeremy Scahill Speech n the Iraq War, Blackwater & WikiLeaks". August 13, 2010. Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Confronting Empire: Jeremy Scahill". Socialist Worker. June 22, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ Jeremy Scahill | Speaker Profile and Speaking Topics
  11. ^ "Previous Award Winners". Long Island University. 1998. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  12. ^ Hussein Replaces Iraqi Ambassadors | Democracy Now!
  13. ^ Hazen, Don. "Bold Face Progressives: Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater Book Big Hit at Giant Book Expo in L.A.". Alternet. 
  14. ^ '"There is a War on Journalism": Jeremy Scahill on NSA Leaks & New Investigative Reporting Venture', Democracy Now!, 5 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
  15. ^ 'Pierre Omidyar commits $250m to new media venture with Glenn Greenwald', The Guardian, 16 October 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  16. ^ 'The Intercept, the first online publication from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, is now live', The Next Web, 10 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  17. ^ "Welcome to the Intercept". First Look Media. 2014. Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  18. ^ Jalabi, Raya (5 December 2013). "Critics question Catholic nun's 'alternative story' on Syria civil war".  
  19. ^ "Jeremy Scahill Reports from Belgrade". Democracy Now!. May 18, 1999. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Washington's Men in Kosovo". International Socialist Review. October–November 2000. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Rest Easy, Bill Clinton, Milosevic can't talk anymore". Huffington Post. 13 March 2006. Retrieved February 17, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Treason Chic". Commentary Magazine. October 1, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2013. 
  23. ^ Correspondent Jeremy Scahill Reports On What Iraqis Fear"Democracy Now!"Inside Baghdad: . Democracy Now!. March 21, 2003. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Jeremy Scahill". Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  25. ^ "The Militarization of New Orleans: Jeremy Scahill Reports from Louisiana". September 16, 2005. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Jeremy Scahill on The Rachel Maddow Show". MSNBC: The Rachel Maddow Show. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  27. ^ "Real Time Episode 249". HBO: Real Time With Bill Maher. May 18, 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  28. ^ "SHOWS FEATURING JEREMY SCAHILL". Democracy Now!. 1997 to 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Jeremy Scahill's book Blackwater exposes America's outsourcing of mercenaries in Iraq". The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. April 19, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Jeremy Scahill: CNN Playing Ball With C.I.A. For Spin On Secret Prisons". MSNBC: Countdown with Keith Olbermann. August 4, 2009. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater". PBS: Bill Moyers Journal. October 19, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Why The U.S. Is Aggressively Targeting Yemen". Fresh Air from WHYY. May 16, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  33. ^ "Journalist Scahill Charts the Rise of Blackwater USA". Fresh Air from WHYY. March 19, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  34. ^ "Blackwater: Private Army In The News Again". Fresh Air from WHYY. December 16, 2009. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  35. ^ "Profile: Jeremy Scahill". The Indypendent. 2008–2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  36. ^ Scahill, Jeremy (June 16, 2008). "Blackwater's bright future". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  37. ^ "The Miami Model". Z Magazine. January 2004. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  38. ^ Let's talk about Israel's nukes |
  39. ^ ISR issue 14 | Jeremy Scahill reports from Kosovo
  40. ^ Oil Is Our Damnation | The Progressive
  41. ^ Scahill on Osama’s Assassination – In These Times
  42. ^ Scahill, Jeremy (December 1, 2008). "Barack Obama's kettle of hawks". London: The Guardian (UK). Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  43. ^ Stories by Jeremy Scahill | Alternet
  44. ^ The Black Shirts of Guantánamo » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
  45. ^ New York: Nation Books, 2007. ISBN 1-56025-979-5 (hardcover); revised and updated edition, 2008. ISBN 1-56858-394-X
  46. ^ Garner, Dwight (April 8, 2007). "Inside the List". The New York Times. 
  47. ^ "Jeremy Scahill Testifies Before Congress on America's Secret Wars". December 9, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  48. ^ Becker, Jo; Shane, Scott (May 29, 2012). "Secret 'Kill List' Proves a Test of Obama's Principles and Will". New York Times. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  49. ^ """The "Kill List. MSNBC: UP With Chris Hayes. June 1, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  50. ^ "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army". Perseus Books. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  51. ^ "Blackwater: From the Nisoor Square Massacre to the Future of the Mercenary Industry". Democracy Now!. June 2, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Hardcover Nonfiction". New York Times. April 8, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2013. 
  53. ^ "Advance Praise for Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill". January 1, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  54. ^ "In the Black(water)". The Nation. May 29, 2006. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  55. ^ "Nation Books". Nation Books. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  56. ^ "Jeremy Scahill: The Secret Story Behind Obama’s Assassination of Two Americans in Yemen". Democracy Now!. Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  57. ^ "Made in America: The Gardez Massacre". Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  58. ^
  59. ^ Oppel, Richard A.; Abdul Waheed Wafa (2010-04-05). "Afghan Investigators Say U.S. Troops Tried to Cover Up Evidence in Botched Raid". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-02. 
  60. ^ "Nominees for the 86th Oscars". Retrieved January 28, 2014. 
  61. ^ Scahill, Jeremey (March 13, 2012). "Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen?". The Nation. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  62. ^ Scahill, Jeremey; Marco Werman; Joyce Hackel (April 6, 2012). "Prominent Yemeni Journalist Lands in Jail; US Wants him to Stay There". The World. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  63. ^ "Jeremy Scahill: Why is President Obama Keeping Yemeni Journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in Prison?". Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  64. ^ White House Stands By Obama Push for Yemeni Journalist to Remain Behind Bars, ABC News, Retrieved 2012-05-04.
  65. ^ "Previous Award Winners". Long Island University. 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  66. ^ "Investigative Journalist Jeremy Scahill Wins Izzy Award for Independent Media". Ithaca College. March 24, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  67. ^ "NFCB Announces 2003 Golden Reel Award Winners". The National Federation of Community Broadcasters. March 21, 2003. Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  68. ^ Dorie Baker (March 4, 2013). "Yale awards $1.35 million to nine writers". YaleNews. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  69. ^ "Jeremy Scahill Wins $150,000 Windham Campbell Award for Writing". Democracy Now!. March 6, 2013. Retrieved March 6, 2013. 
  70. ^ Blood Is Thicker Than Blackwater | The Nation
  71. ^ Blackwater's Private Spies | The Nation
  72. ^ Mercenary Jackpot | The Nation
  73. ^ Washington's War in Yemen Backfires | The Nation
  74. ^ Blowback in Somalia | The Nation
  75. ^ The CIA's Secret Sites in Somalia | The Nation
  76. ^ Osama's Assassins | The Nation

External links

  • The Nation Institute
  • Dirty Wars
  • Jeremy Scahill's reports at The Guardian
  • Jeremy Scahill's reports at The Huffington Post
  • Jeremy Scahill's reports at
  • Jeremy Scahill's reports at The Nation
  • , online at CBC Words at Large (audio)Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary ArmyInterview about
  • Jeremy Scahill, "Bush's Shadow Army"—from The Nation: March 15, 2007
  • . "Cuba". August 1997, 4:12, 48Metaphoria
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