Former Pentagon Official Discusses Ways to Reduce Civilian Casualties
Thursday, May 7, 2009
What can be done to reduce civilian deaths during armed conflicts? We speak to a representative from Human Rights Watch about the most common causes of civilian casualties, and how governments can reduce the number of civilian deaths in war.
Maureen Cavanaugh: No matter where the conflict or how precise the weapons, it always seems that civilians bear the brunt of war. They are either the targets of terrorists or they are collateral damage in a larger battle. Civilian deaths are often not reported, underestimated, or even lied about. They are viewed as the unfortunate means to an end, and countless lives of civilian men, women and children have been and continue to be deemed expendable in the pursuit of victory.
My guest this morning has been on both sides of the issue of civilian casualties. Mark Garlasco used to work as chief of high-value targeting for the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. It was his job to calculate the number of civilian deaths acceptable in an effort to kill a terrorist or political leader.
After watching many of these operations fail to get the target, but succeed in killing hundreds of civilians, Mark Garlasco left that job and joined Human Rights Watch.
Now he is part of an elite squad that enters war zones and tries to calculate how many civilian lives have been lost.
Garlasco will be discussing his personal experiences investigating conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and Gaza at a lecture tonight at 7 p.m., at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) Theatre at the University of San Diego.