On the 16th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, TAC Managing Editor Kelley Vlahos spoke with two individuals—Scott Horton and John Kiriakou—who have unique insights regarding how the promulgation of law enforcement, surveillance, pre-emptive war, and the expanding U.S. footprint abroad has completely changed who we are as a country.

Kirakou, is a former CIA agent who was charged and convicted with leaking classified information regarding the use of waterboarding, and then sent was to prison in 2013 for a two year sentence. Today he is a staunch advocate for other whistleblowers, and a vocal critic of U.S. military intervention and intelligence policies.

Horton, the managing director of the Libertarian Institute, host of Antiwar Radio, and the foreign policy interview podcast The Scott Horton Show, also joined the discussion. Horton has been interviewing journalists, politicians, pundits, lawyers and experts on foreign policy and war-time law since 2003, and last month released his new book: “Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan.”

The three talked about the trampling of Americans’ civil liberties, the equally hawkish defense policies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and the shadowy, ongoing drone war, underscoring the murky and disturbing waters of U.S. interventionist policy since the attacks on 9/11.

“Thousands of people were killed during the drone war in Pakistan” Horton remarked. “They did so while targeting the last of the Al Qaeda guys hanging out with the Pakistani Taliban, and I guess they got them but they got a lot of innocent people and destroyed their lives.”

Everything came back to the blowback effects that led to “some of the Pakistani Taliban who fled the drone war and the Pakistani Army offensives under Obama’s Pakistan wars in 2010,” creating what “we now call ISIS in Afghanistan… refugees from Obama’s Pakistan war,” charged Horton.

The conversation took several more turns, from regime change in the in the Middle East and North Africa in order to support “our allies,” to asking whether or not we cared enough as a nation to acknowledge our mistakes. The overarching theme was whether or not we remember the tragic events on 9/11 as simply attacks, or if we choose to understand whether or not our decisions afterwards made any positive impact at all.

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Remso W. Martinez is an Editorial Assistant at The American Conservative. Remso is also the host of the Remso Republic podcast. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.