Between telling stories about his practical jokes on famous reporters (i.e. Walter Cronkite), and promoting his new movie, Clooney took a more serious tone with Letterman about his work with the Satellite Sentinel Project. Clooney conceived of SSP while on a trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast in October 2010.
CBS has posted a video of the entire broadcast. Clooney begins talking about SSP at 27:20.
The purpose of SSP is to spotlight and deter mass atrocities and crimes against humanity, as Clooney says, “to keep them [the Government of Sudan] from saying it’s rebel infighting—when there are tanks and planes and helicopters.” The “rental satellite” he refers to is actually a constellation of three DigitalGlobe satellites, which provides imagery of disputed border areas between Sudan and South Sudan.
“At one point Omar Al-Bashir said I was spying on him, and I mean, you can’t please all the war criminals all the time,” he joked.
Clooney explained that though the South Sudan referendum and independence were significant accomplishments, SSP continues to report on fighting in regions between the two countries. Most notably, SSP has identified evidence of mass graves in South Kordofan, and ominous troop movements in Blue Nile near Kurmuk.
“I want war criminals to be afforded the same celebrity status as me,” he said. “Famous people get a little too much attention, as you can imagine, and it doesn’t hurt to go where people don’t have that attention and shine a light on that.”
Photo: Screenshot of "The Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS)