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Obama Extends War in Afghanistan – Guest Post by Kathy Kelly

Posted by themonitor on November 22, 2014


Obama Extends War in Afghanistan
by Kathy Kelly

November 23, 2014

News agencies reported Saturday morning that weeks ago President Obama signed an order, kept secret until now, to authorize continuation of the Afghan war for at least another year. The order authorizes U.S. airstrikes “to support Afghan military operations in the country” and U.S. ground troops to continue normal operations, which is to say, to “occasionally accompany Afghan troops” on operations against the Taliban.

The administration, in its leak to the New York Times, affirmed that there had been “heated debate” between Pentagon advisers and others in Obama’s cabinet chiefly concerned not to lose soldiers in combat.  Oil strategy isn’t mentioned as having been debated and neither is further encirclement of China, but the most notable absence in the reporting was any mention of cabinet members’ concern for Afghan civilians affected by air strikes and ground troop operations, in a country already afflicted by nightmares of poverty and social breakdown.

Here are just three events, excerpted from an August 2014 Amnesty International report, which President Obama and his advisers should have considered (and allowed into a public debate) before once more expanding the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan:
1)      In September, 2012 a group of women from an impoverished village in mountainous Laghman province were collecting firewood when a U.S. plane dropped at least two bombs on them, killing seven and injuring seven others, four of them seriously. One villager, Mullah Bashir, told Amnesty, “…I started searching for my daughter. Finally I found her. Her face was covered with blood and her body was shattered.”
2)      A U.S. Special Operations Forces unit was responsible for extrajudicial killing, torture and enforced disappearances during the period of December, 2012 to February, 2013. Included among those tortured was 51 year old Qandi Agha, “a petty employee of the Ministry of Culture,” who described in detail the various torture techniques he suffered.  He was told that he would be tortured using “14 different types of torture”. These included: Beatings with cables, electric shock, prolonged, painful stress positions, repeated head first dunking in a barrel of water, and burial in a hole full of cold water for entire nights. He said that both US Special Forces and Afghans participated in the torture and often smoked hashish while doing so.
3)      On March 26, 2013 the village of Sajawand was attacked by joint Afghan—ISAF (International Special Assistance Forces). Between 20-30 people were killed including children. After the attack, a cousin of one of the villagers visited the scene and stated, ”The first thing I saw as I entered the compound was a little child of maybe three years old whose chest was torn apart; you could see inside her body. The house was turned into a pile of mud and poles and there was nothing left. When we were taking out the bodies we didn’t see any Taliban among the dead, and we didn’t know why they were hit or killed.”

NYT coverage of the leaked debate mentions Obama’s promise, made earlier this year and now broken, to withdraw troops.  The article doesn’t make any other mention of U.S. public opposition to a continuation of the war.

Attempts to remake Afghanistan by military force have resulted in warlordism, ever more widespread and desperate poverty, and bereavement for hundreds of thousands whose loved ones are among the tens of thousands of casualties. Area hospitals report seeing fewer IED injuries and many more bullet wounds from pitched battles between rival armed militias whose allegiances, Taliban, government, or other, are hard to determine.  With 40% of U.S. weapon supplies to Afghan security forces now unaccounted for, many of the weapons employed on all sides may have been supplied by the U.S.

Meanwhile the implications for U.S. democracy aren’t reassuring.  Was this decision really made weeks ago but only announced now that congressional elections are safely over? Was a Friday night cabinet leak, buried between official Administration announcements on immigration and Iran sanctions, really the President’s solution to the unpopularity of  a decision affecting the lives of so many?  With concern for the wishes of U.S. citizens given so little weight, it is doubtful that much thought was given to the terrible costs of these military interventions for ordinary people trying to live, raise families and survive in Afghanistan.

But for those whose “heated debates” focus solely on what is best for U.S. national interests, here are a few suggestions:

1)      The U.S. should end its current provocative drive toward military alliances and encirclement of Russia and China with missiles.  It should accept pluralism of economic and political power in the contemporary world.  Present U.S. policies are provoking a return to Cold War with Russia and possibly beginning one with China.  This is a lose/lose proposition for all countries involved.

2)      By a resetting of policy focused on cooperation with Russia, China and other influential countries within the framework of the United Nations, the United States could foster international mediation.

3)      The U.S. should offer generous medical and economic aid and technical expertise wherever it may be helpful in other countries and thus build a reservoir of international goodwill and positive influence.

That’s something that nobody would have to keep secret.

Posted in Afghanistan, Armed Forces, Cost of War, Drones, Obama | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of November 17th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on November 17, 2014


On The Monitor this week:

  • Looking back at the underlying trends at play in the recent midterm elections – an interview with Thomas Ferguson
  • Revisiting the Don Siegelman Story – How the most notorious names in politics, used a kangaroo court to put an innocent man, behind bars – an interview with Steve Wimberly

More about this week’s guests:

Thomas Ferguson is professor of political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, senior fellow of the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1995).

Quote on the election results: “So after blowing through more money than any off year election in history, 2014 leave us with this: A war of all against all — all of the Republican Congress against all of the Democratic Executive Branch. There’s no single-minded wave like 2010: it is obvious that huge numbers of Americans detest both parties, and that one of the keys to the election’s outcome was the failure of the president’s supporters to turn out like they did in 2012. There’s nothing mystifying about their disenchantment: After six years in the White House, President Obama rescued the banks, but not most of the American people, whose incomes and job prospects continue to languish. Add to that what will likely prove to be a substantial Republican advantage in total spending, and the impression the White House conveyed of constantly being surprised by world events, and it is hardly surprising that we witnessed another installment of ‘seesaw politics.’ The interesting question for the future is how much longer this can go on, in a world in which both Europe and China are slowing down, the Fed is tapering, and the Republicans’ answers to what ails the economy comes basically out of the playbook of the George W. Bush administration: deregulation, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and further cuts in civilian spending to reduce an already shrunken deficit.”

One of Ferguson’s most recent articles is How Big Money Keeps Populism at Bay – When the 1 percent funds national campaigns, the reality of populism is in question.

 ———————————————————————————-

Writer/producer/director Steve Wimberly has worked in television production for many years with credits on shows for ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, Discovery, A&E, HGTV, and others. Working his way up from the bottom, he has gone on to sell scripts and show ideas to major networks, and has won several national awards. Prior to producing and directing, Steve served as senior editor for the Discovery Networks, and HGTV. His credits include Stalked, Frenemies, Chasing Classic Cars, White House Christmas, Say Yes to the Dress, Judge Alex, Life’s Funniest Moments, Restore America, and was Post Production Manager for America’s Funniest Home Videos. Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, and an MBA from Emory University.

Filmmaker Steve Wimberly and Dana Siegelman are launching a Kickstarter campaign to make a film about Don Siegelman’s case. From the Kickstarter page:

“The prosecutorial misconduct in this case alone is used by law schools to teach a worst-case scenario to future prosecutors and judges. Yet, Don Siegelman remains locked in a jail cell, trapped from any objective standard. That’s why we must tell this story. The time has come to reveal all the dirty deals and inside cover-ups, and expose the people who were responsible.“The Siegelman conviction is a deep stain on the justice system” – Robert Abrams, Former New York Attorney GeneralFor the first time in history, 113 former Attorneys General from across the U.S. have signed a petition to protest the judicial abuses involved in Don Siegelman’s case. This is completely unprecedented in the history of American jurisprudence.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Guest post from Brian Terrell – Redefining “Imminent”

Posted by themonitor on November 17, 2014


Redefining “Imminent”

How the U.S. Department of Justice Makes Murder Respectable, Kills the Innocent and Jails their Defenders

Political language can be used, George Orwell said in 1946, “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In order to justify its global assassination program, the Obama administration has had to stretch words beyond their natural breaking points. For instance, any male 14 years or older found dead in a drone strike zone is a “combatant” unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving him innocent. We are also informed that the constitutional guarantee of “due process” does not imply that the government must precede an execution with a trial. I think the one word most degraded and twisted these days, to the goriest ends, is the word “imminent.”

Just what constitutes an “imminent” threat? Our government has long taken bold advantage of the American public’s willingness to support lavish spending on armaments and to accept civilian casualties in military adventures abroad and depletion of domestic programs at home, when told these are necessary responses to deflect precisely such threats. The government has vastly expanded the meaning of the word “imminent.” This new definition is crucial to the U.S. drone program, designed for projecting lethal force throughout the world. It provides a legal and moral pretext for the annihilation of people far away who pose no real threat to us at all.

The use of armed remotely controlled drones as the United States’ favored weapon in its “war on terror” is increasing exponentially in recent years, raising many disturbing questions. Wielding 500 pound bombs and Hellfire missiles, Predator and Reaper drones are not the precise and surgical instruments of war so effusively praised by President Obama for “narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among.” It is widely acknowledged that the majority of those killed in drone attacks are unintended, collateral victims. The deaths of the drones’ intended targets and how they are chosen should be no less troubling.

Those deliberately targeted by drones are often far from conflict zones, often they are in countries with whom the U.S. is not at war and on some occasions have been U.S. citizens. They are rarely “taken out” in the heat of battle or while engaged in hostile actions and are more likely to be killed (with anyone in their vicinity) at a wedding, at a funeral, at work, hoeing in the garden, driving down the highway or enjoying a meal with family and friends. These deaths are counted as something other than murder only for the curious insistence by the government’s lawyers that each of these victims represent an “imminent” threat to our lives and safety here at home in the U.S.

In February 2013, a U.S. Department of Justice White Paper, “Lawfulness of a Lethal Operation Directed Against a U.S. Citizen Who Is a Senior Operational Leader of Al-Qa’ida or an Associated Force,” was leaked by NBC News. This paper sheds some light on the legal justification for drone assassinations and explains the new and more flexible definition of the word “imminent.” “First,” it declares, “the condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”

Before the Department of Justice lawyers got a hold of it, the meaning of the word “imminent” was unmistakably clear. Various dictionaries of the English language are all in agreement that that the word “imminent” explicitly denotes something definite and immediate, “likely to occur at any moment,” “impending,” “ready to take place,” “looming,” “pending,” “threatening,” “around the corner.” Nor has the legal definition of the word left room for ambiguity. After World War II, the Nuremberg Tribunal reaffirmed a 19th-century formulation of customary international law written by Daniel Webster, which said that the necessity for preemptive use of force in self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, and leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” That was in the past. Now, any possible future threat – and any person on earth arguably might pose one – however remote, can satisfy the new definition. As far as the Justice Department is concerned, an “imminent” threat is now whomever an “informed high-level U.S. government official” determines to be such, based on evidence known to that official alone, never to be made public or reviewed by any court.

The breadth of the government’s definition of “imminent” is murderous in its enormity. It is all the more ironic that the same Department of Justice will also regularly define the word so narrowly as to convict and imprison law abiding and responsible citizens who act to defend the innocent from genuinely imminent harm by the actions of the U.S. government. On example especially relevant to the issue of killing by drone is the case of the “Creech 14.”

14 activists enter Creech Air Force Base, April, 200914 activists enter Creech Air Force Base, April, 2009

After the first act of nonviolent resistance to the lethal use of unmanned and remotely controlled drones in the United States took place at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada back in April, 2009, it took more than a year before the 14 of us accused of criminal trespass had our day in court. As this was the first opportunity for activists to “put drones on trial” at a time when few Americans were aware they even existed, we were especially diligent in preparing our case, to argue clearly and cogently, not in order to keep ourselves out of jail but for the sake of those who have died and those who live in fear of the drones. With coaching by some fine trial lawyers, our intention was to represent ourselves and drawing on humanitarian international law, to offer a strong defense of necessity, even while we were aware that there was little chance that the court would hear our arguments.

The defense of necessity, that one has not committed a crime if an act that is otherwise illegal was done to prevent a greater harm or crime from being perpetrated, is recognized by the Supreme Court as a part of the common law. It is not an exotic or even a particularly unusual defense. “The rationale behind the necessity defense is that sometimes, in a particular situation, a technical breach of the law is more advantageous to society than the consequence of strict adherence to the law,” says West’s Encyclopedia of American Law “The defense is often used successfully in cases that involve a Trespass on property to save a person’s life or property.” It might appear, then, that this defense is a natural one for minor infractions such as our alleged trespass, intended to stop the use of drones in a war of aggression, the crime against peace that the Nuremburg Tribunal named “the supreme international crime.”

In reality, though, courts in the U.S. almost never allow the necessity defense to be raised in cases like ours. Most of us were experienced enough not to be surprised when we finally got to the Justice Court in Las Vegas in September, 2010, and Judge Jensen ruled in lockstep with his judicial colleagues. He insisted at the onset of our case that he was having none of it. “Go ahead,” he said, allowing us to call our expert witnesses but sternly forbidding us from asking them any questions that matter. “Understand, it is only going to be limited to trespass, what knowledge he or she has, if any, whether you were or were not out at the base. We’re not getting into international laws; that’s not the issue. That’s not the issue. What the government is doing wrong, that’s not the issue. The issue is trespass.”

Our co-defendant Steve Kelly followed the judge’s instructions and questioned our first witness, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, about his firsthand knowledge of trespass laws from working at the Department of Justice during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Steve specifically guided the witness to speak of “the cases of trespass … of lunch counter activities where laws stated you were not to sit at certain lunch counters” in the struggle for civil rights. Ramsey Clark acknowledged that those arrested for violating these laws had not committed crimes. Steve pushed his luck with the judge and offered the classic illustration of the necessity defense: “A situation where there is a ‘no trespassing’ sign and there is smoke coming out of a door or a window and a person is up on the upper floor in need of help. To enter that building, in a real narrow technical sense, would be trespass. Is there a possibility, in the long run, it wouldn’t be trespass to help the person upstairs?” Ramsey replied, “We would hope so, wouldn’t we? To have a baby burn to death or something, because of a ‘no trespass’ sign would be poor public policy to put it mildly. Criminal.”

Judge Jensen by this time was obviously intrigued. His ruling to limit the testimony to trespass held, but as his fascination grew, so his interpretation of his own order grew more elastic. Over the repeated objections of the prosecution team, the judge allowed limited but powerful testimony from Ramsey and our other witnesses, retired US Army Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright and Loyola Law School Professor Bill Quigley that put our alleged trespass into its context as an act to stop a heinous crime.

I had the honor of making the closing statement for the accused, which I ended with, “We 14 are the ones who are seeing the smoke from the burning house and we are not going to be stopped by a ‘no trespassing’ sign from going to the burning children.”

Our appreciation for a judge’s extraordinary attention to the facts of the case aside, we still expected nothing but an immediate conviction and sentencing. Judge Jensen surprised us: “I consider it more than just a plain trespass trial. A lot of serious issues are at stake here. So I’m going to take it under advisement and I will render a written decision. And it may take me two to three months to do so, because I want to make sure that I’m right on whatever I rule on.”

When we returned to Las Vegas in January, 2011, Judge Jensen read his decision that it was just a plain trespass trial, after all and we were guilty. Among several justifications for convicting us, the judge rejected what he called “the Defendants’ claim of necessity” because “first, the Defendants failed to show that their protest was designed to prevent ‘imminent’ harm.” He faulted our case for not presenting the court with “evidence that any military activities involving drones were being conducted or about to be conducted on the day of the Defendants’ arrest,” seeming to forget that he had ordered us not to submit any such evidence, even if we had it.

Judge Jensen’s verdict was amply supported by the precedents he cited, including a 1991 appellate court ruling, U.S. v Schoon, that concerned a protest aimed to “keep US tax dollars out of El Salvador” at an IRS office in Tucson. In this protest, the Ninth Circuit ruled, “the requisite imminence was lacking.” In other words, because the harm protested was taking place in El Salvador, a trespass in Tucson cannot be justified. So, Judge Jensen reasoned, burning children in a house in Afghanistan cannot excuse a trespass in Nevada.

The NBC leak of that Department of Justice White Paper wouldn’t happen for two more years (call it suppression of evidence?) and as far as Judge Jensen knew, the dictionary definition of “imminent” was still operant. Even so, had we been allowed to testify beyond the narrow confines set at trial, we would have shown that with new satellite technology, the lethal threat we were addressing there is always imminent by any reasonable definition of the word. Although the victims of drone violence on the day of our arrest were indeed far away in Afghanistan and Iraq, those crimes were actually being committed by combatants sitting at computer screens, engaged in real-time hostilities in trailers on the base, not so far at all from where we were apprehended by Air Force police.

The government does not believe that it needs to have “clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future” to establish an imminent threat and so carry out extrajudicial executions of human beings anywhere on the planet. Citizens who act to stop killing by drones, on the other hand, are required to have specific “evidence that any military activities involving drones were being conducted or about to be conducted,” in order to justify nonviolently entering into government property. The government’s position on this lacks coherence, at best. Even after the publication of its White Paper, the Department of Justice continues to block defendants accused of trespass from even mentioning the fact that they were arrested while responding to an imminent threat to innocent life, and the courts obligingly accept this contradiction.

The defense of necessity does not simply justify actions that technically violate the law. “Necessity,” says West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, is “a defense asserted by a criminal or civil defendant that he or she had no choice but to break the law.” As Ramsey Clark testified in a Las Vegas courtroom five years ago, “to have a baby burn to death because of a ‘no trespass sign’ would be poor public policy to put it mildly.” In a time of burning children, the “no trespassing” signs attached to the fences that protect the crimes executed with drones and other instruments of terror hold no potency and they do not command our obedience. The courts that do not recognize this reality allow themselves to be used as instruments of governmental malfeasance.

Kathy Kelly and Georgia Walker at Whiteman Air Force BaseKathy Kelly and Georgia Walker at Whiteman Air Force Base There have been many more trials since the Creech 14 and in the meanwhile, many more children have been incinerated by missiles fired from drones. On December 10, International Human Rights Day, Georgia Walker and Kathy Kelly will go to trial in U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Missouri, after they peacefully brought their grievance and a loaf of bread onto Whiteman Air Force Base, another in the growing number of stateside remote control killer drone centers.

Two years ago in that same court in a similar case, Judge Whitworth rejected the necessity defense offered by Ron Faust and me, subsequently sentencing Ron to five years of probation and sending me to prison for six months. It is to be hoped that Judge Whitworth will take advantage of this second chance that Kathy and Georgia courageously offer and exonerate himself and his profession.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of November 10th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on November 10, 2014


On The Monitor this week:

  • Despite the Democrats shalacking in the midterms the Minimum Wage is Four for Four…in “Red States.” We talk to Peter Davis about the issue.
  • As Veteran’s Day approaches, why do we keep thanking the troops? We discuss the topic with Rory Fanning.

More about this week’s guests:

Peter Davis  is a campaign activist for Time for a Raise campaign, a project of Ralph Nader’s Center for the Study of Responsive Law. He and Ralph Nader just co-wrote a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi which states: “Buried underneath the coverage of the Democrats’ second midterm ‘shalackin’ in a row is a stark public sentiment that provides a path forward for your caucuses during the upcoming lame duck session. Despite the Republican wave, a minimum wage raise passed in every state in which it was on the ballot. These were not coastal blue states: the four 2014 minimum wage ballot initiatives ­­– for Alaska, Arkansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota — ­­passed in Republican-dominated states which all elected Republican senators alongside the initiative. If your caucuses were to uniformly and exuberantly push for a minimum wage raise in the upcoming Congressional work session, it would transition the national media narrative away from Republican momentum in the never-­ending horse race and towards whether the new Congressional leadership will be responsive to the public sentiment and needs of American workers.” See the full letter.

In August, Nader wrote the piece “Democrats Are Doomed (Unless They Make the Minimum Wage the #1 November Election Issue).”

Nader’s latest book is Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. Earlier this year, Nader’s office hosted a conference on left-right alliance. See video of the conference here.

Rory Fanning walked across the United States for the Pat Tillman Foundation in 2008–2009, following two deployments to Afghanistan with the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion. He is a housing activist living in Chicago, Illinois and the author of the forthcoming book, Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America (Haymarket, 2014).

 

Quote:

“Last week, in a quiet indie bookstore on the north side of Chicago, I saw the latest issue of Rolling Stone resting on a chrome-colored plastic table a few feet from a barista brewing a vanilla latte. A cold October rain fell outside. A friend of mine grabbed the issue and began flipping through it. Knowing that I was a veteran, he said, ‘Hey, did you see this?’ pointing to a news story that seemed more like an ad. It read in part:  “This Veterans Day, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Rihanna, Dave Grohl, and Metallica will be among numerous artists who will head to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on November 11th for ‘The Concert For Valor,’ an all-star event that will pay tribute to armed services.

Concert For Valor? That sounds like something the North Korean government would organize,’ I said as I typed Concertforvalor.com into my MacBook Pro looking for more information… As I read, my heart sank, my shoulders slumped. Special guests at the Concert for Valor were to include: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, and Steven Spielberg. The mission of the concert, according to a  press release, was to ‘raise awareness’ of veterans issues and ‘provide a national stage for ensuring that veterans and their families know that their fellow Americans’ gratitude is genuine. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Michael Mullen were to serve in an advisory capacity, and Starbucks, HBO, and JP Morgan Chase were to pay for it all. ‘We are honored to play a small role to help raise awareness and support for our service men and women,’ said HBO chairman Richard Plepler. Will the ‘Concert for Valor’ mention the trillions of dollars rung up terrorizing Muslim countries for oil , the ratcheting up of the police and surveillance state in this country since 9/11, the hundreds of thousands of lives lost thanks to the wars of George W. Bush and Barack Obama? Is anyone going to dedicate a song to Chelsea Manning , or John Kiriakou , or Edward Snowden – two of them languishing in prison and one in exile — for their service to the American people? Will the Concert for Valor raise anyone’s awareness when it comes to the fact that, to this day, veterans lack proper medical attention, particularly for mental health issues, or that there is a veteran suicide every 80 minutes in this country? Let’s hope they find time in between drum solos, but myself, I’m not counting on it.”

Recent Articles:

Rory Fanning, Why Do We Keep Thanking the Troops?

Friendly? All Deaths Are Shameful in a War That Shouldn’t Be

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Armed Forces, Cost of War, Democracy, Economic Inequality, Elections, Iraq, Jobs, Minimum Wage, Radio Shows, The Economy, The Supreme Court, Wall Street | 1 Comment »

Show Details for the week of November 3rd, 2014

Posted by themonitor on November 3, 2014


 

On The Monitor this week:

  • The biggest CIA-drug money scandal you never read – an interview with Mark Ames
  • The militarization of the Police – an interview with Elizabeth Beavers

More about this week’s guests:

Mark Ames writes for PandoDaily. He was best known for his work as a Moscow-based expatriate American journalist and editor. He is the founding editor of the biweekly the eXile in Moscow, to which he regularly contributed before he returned to America. Ames has also written for the New York Press, The Nation, Playboy, The San Jose Mercury News, Alternet, Птюч Connection, GQ (Russian edition), and is the author of three books.

  • The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Co-authored with Matt Taibbi, and published in 2000 with a foreword by Edward Limonov.
  • В Россию с любовью (Записки американского изгоя), Мама Пресс, 2002. The title can be translated as To Russia with Love (Notes from an American Outcast).
  • Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond, 2005.

The interview with Mark on The Monitor this week focuses on his recent article:

The biggest CIA-drug money scandal you never read

an older article on Salon discusses the same man, Nicholas Deak: James Bond and the killer bag lady

 

Elizabeth Beavers is a Legislative Associate, Militarism & Civil Liberties for Friends Committee on National Legislation (A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest). Elizabeth is the Legislative Associate on Militarism and Civil Liberties focusing on repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, de-militarizing U.S. police forces, and closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009 with a double major in public relations and Spanish and completed her law degree in 2012 from Regent University School of Law.

Before coming to FCNL, she worked in the field of immigration. Aside from obsessing over headlines and political minutiae, Elizabeth enjoys traveling every chance she gets and working to overcome her Diet Coke addiction. Her colleague at FCNL, Michael Shank, just wrote the piece “Police Militarization Must Be Halted,” which states: “The Senate and House bills [Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)] target the Pentagon’s transfer to police forces of free military-grade equipment coming back from U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere. This program has gifted over $5 billion worth of recently used and unused war equipment — armored personnel carriers, tanks, Humvees, and Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected [MRAP] vehicles, grenade launchers, armed drones, and assault weapons — to U.S. police since the late 1990s when the program first started. The bicameral legislation would prohibit the transfer of these military weapons. Given that the Pentagon has 13,000 MRAPs to give away, this comes at a critical time.”

Posted in Armed Forces, CIA, Corporations, Cost of War, Economic Inequality, Police, Radio Shows | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of October 27th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on October 27, 2014


If this page looks familiar it is because KPFT is still in pledge drive and The Monitor still needs your support.

We have a goal of $1,000 for the hour and we can only get there with your help. Because of the time constraints during pledge drive we only have one guest planned but we are working on four guests for upcoming shows around a single theme with some very special thank you gifts as well so stay tuned for the details!!

In the meantime, please call during the show to pledge your support for this show and for the station. The number is of course 713-526-5738 and you can call any time before, during or after the show to donate to the station. Please call us and help us get to our goal!

On The Monitor this week – extracts from last week’s interview with Nick Schou on Gary Webb, his book Kill the Messenger and the new movie of the same name starring Jeremy Renner.

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

More about this week’s guest and Premium:

Jeremy Renner and Nick Schou arrrive at the 'Kill The Messenger' New York Screening - After Party at Michael's on October 9, 2014 in New York City. October 8, 2014 - Source: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images North America

Jeremy Renner and Nick Schou arrive at the ‘Kill The Messenger’ New York Screening – After Party at Michael’s on October 9, 2014 in New York City. October 8, 2014 – Source: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images North America

Nick Schou is an award-winning investigative journalist whose articles have resulted in the release from prison of wrongly convicted individuals; and in the federal indictment, conviction, and imprisonment of a Huntington Beach, California mayor. He is the managing editor of OC Weekly, the alternative news publication for CA’s Orange County and Long Beach communities.

HarperCollins included one of his feature stories in Best American Crime Reporting 2008. Mr. Schou is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Epidemic Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (published by Nation Books, 2006); Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World (Thomas Dunne, 2009); and The Weed Runners (Chicago Review Press, 2013).

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 “Dark Alliance” series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led to his resignation from the paper amid escalating attacks on his work by the mainstream media. Author and investigative journalist Nick Schou published numerous articles on the controversy and was the only reporter to significantly advance Webb’s stories.

Drawing on exhaustive research and highly personal interviews with Webb’s family, colleagues, supporters and critics, this book argues convincingly that Webb’s editors betrayed him, despite mounting evidence that his stories were correct. Kill the Messenger examines the “Dark Alliance” controversy, what it says about the current state of journalism in America, and how it led Webb to ultimately take his own life.

Webb’s widow, Sue Bell Stokes, remains an ardent defender of her ex-husband. By combining her story with a probing examination of the one of the most important media scandals in recent memory, this book provides a gripping view of one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of investigative journalism.

 

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

This is Gary Webb talking about the CIA and the trafficking of cocaine:


The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

And this is the official trailer for the movie, Kill the Messenger

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of October 20th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on October 20, 2014


KPFT is in pledge drive! The Monitor needs your support. We have a goal of $1,000 for the hour and we can only get there with your help. Because of the time constraints during pledge drive we only have one guest planned but we are working on four guests for upcoming shows around a single theme with some very special thank you gifts as well so stay tuned for the details!!

In the meantime, please call during the show to pledge your support for this show and for the station. The number is of course 713-526-5738 and you can call any time before, during or after the show to donate to the station. Please call us and help us get to our goal!

On The Monitor this week:

Nick Schou on Gary Webb, his book Kill the Messenger and the new movie of the same name starring Jeremy Renner.

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

More about this week’s guest and Premium:

Jeremy Renner and Nick Schou arrrive at the 'Kill The Messenger' New York Screening - After Party at Michael's on October 9, 2014 in New York City. October 8, 2014 - Source: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images North America

Jeremy Renner and Nick Schou arrive at the ‘Kill The Messenger’ New York Screening – After Party at Michael’s on October 9, 2014 in New York City. October 8, 2014 – Source: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images North America

Nick Schou is an award-winning investigative journalist whose articles have resulted in the release from prison of wrongly convicted individuals; and in the federal indictment, conviction, and imprisonment of a Huntington Beach, California mayor. He is the managing editor of OC Weekly, the alternative news publication for CA’s Orange County and Long Beach communities.

HarperCollins included one of his feature stories in Best American Crime Reporting 2008. Mr. Schou is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Epidemic Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (published by Nation Books, 2006); Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World (Thomas Dunne, 2009); and The Weed Runners (Chicago Review Press, 2013).

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

Kill the Messenger tells the story of the tragic death of Gary Webb, the controversial newspaper reporter who committed suicide in December 2004. Webb is the former San Jose Mercury News reporter whose 1996 “Dark Alliance” series on the so-called CIA-crack cocaine connection created a firestorm of controversy and led to his resignation from the paper amid escalating attacks on his work by the mainstream media. Author and investigative journalist Nick Schou published numerous articles on the controversy and was the only reporter to significantly advance Webb’s stories.

Drawing on exhaustive research and highly personal interviews with Webb’s family, colleagues, supporters and critics, this book argues convincingly that Webb’s editors betrayed him, despite mounting evidence that his stories were correct. Kill the Messenger examines the “Dark Alliance” controversy, what it says about the current state of journalism in America, and how it led Webb to ultimately take his own life.

Webb’s widow, Sue Bell Stokes, remains an ardent defender of her ex-husband. By combining her story with a probing examination of the one of the most important media scandals in recent memory, this book provides a gripping view of one of the greatest tragedies in the annals of investigative journalism.

The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

This is Gary Webb talking about the CIA and the trafficking of cocaine:


The Monitor has copies of the book available for your pledge of $100. Please call 713-526-5738 during the show and ask for Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou

And this is the official trailer for the movie, Kill the Messenger

 

 

 

Posted in CIA, Cost of War, DOJ, Drug War, War Reporting | Leave a Comment »

Volunteer Opportunity in Houston

Posted by themonitor on October 19, 2014


On September 6th Charles Belk was a guest on The Monitor. He shared the story of his false arrest and is asking for volunteers in Houston to be part of AutoErase campaign. Take a look at this link and see if you are able to volunteer in Houston.

New Charles Belk Curb 16 x 9You can find Charles online here:

- Facebook: charlesbelk
- Twitter – @charlesbelk
 More Info:

- Petition - http://tinyurl.com/AutoErase

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of October 13th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on October 13, 2014


KPFT is in pledge drive! The Monitor needs your support. We have a goal of $1,000 for the hour and we can only get there with your help. Because of the time constraints during pledge drive we only have one guest planned but we are working on four guests for upcoming shows around a single theme with some very special thank you gifts as well so stay tuned for the details!!

In the meantime, please call during the show to pledge your support for this show and for the station. The number is of course 713-526-5738 and you can call any time before, during or after the show to donate to the station. Please call us and help us get to our goal!

On The Monitor this week

  • Ebola: Are We Being Told the Truth? An interview with Meryl Nass

Background:

CNN reports: “Thomas Eric Duncan, a man with Ebola who traveled to the United States from Liberia, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the hospital said.” Reuters reports at least 3,439 people have died in the current outbreak.

More about this week’s guest:

Meryl Nass writes at the Anthrax Vaccine blog. Her recent pieces include: “Drilling Down Into the Facts Regarding Airborne Spread of Ebola” and “U.S. Ebola: [United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head] Frieden Said Every Hospital Was Ready. He is Wrong.”

Meryl Nass is a physician in private practice who is known for uncovering the use of anthrax as a biological weapon in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and for her outspoken criticism of the mandatory use of anthrax vaccine by the military. This use persists despite high rates of serious adverse reactions, and despite the fact that the vaccine was never proven effective nor licensed for the purpose for which it is being used (inhalation anthrax).  In fact, the vaccine is in Investigational New Drug (IND) status for inhalation anthrax.

Dr. Nass has been a leading opponent of military policies that continue to treat servicemembers as a ready pool of experimental subjects, in the absence of meaningful informed consent.

She has shown that many studies indicate anthrax vaccine is one cause of Gulf War Illnesses, and furthermore that recently vaccinated servicemembers have developed identical illnesses. She has provided testimony before two Institute of Medicine committees on Gulf War Illness exposures (Dec. 15, 1999), and safety and efficacy of the anthrax vaccine (Oct. 3, 2000). She provided written comments to the FDA and the House National Security Subcommittee (Shays’ Committee) on Executive Order 13139, which created a new policy regarding use of unlicensed therapeutics in human subjects.

Dr. Nass discussed experimental anthrax vaccine use in testimony to the House National Security Subcommittee on April 29, 1999, and discussed accelerated drug licensing and abbreviated testing of vaccines and drugs intended for responding to bioterrorism in testimony for the House Government Reform Committee hearing on Nov 14, 2001 (“Preparing a Medical Response to Bioterrorism”) http://www.anthraxvaccine.org/response.htm)

Among her publications addressing ethical violations in medical research:

“Who Is Protecting the Public Health? Can We Trust the Regulators?” By Meryl Nass, Z Magazine: http://www.zmag.org/ZMag/articles/april02nass.htm

“The Anthrax Vaccine Program, and an Analysis of the CDC’s Recommendations for Vaccine Use.” American Journal of Public Health. May 2002.

“The Model Emergency Health Powers Act Creates Its Own Emergency” April 8, 2002.http://www.redflagsweekly.com/nass/2002_april08.html

“The Extremely Difficult Task Of Tracking Vaccine-Related Side-Effects.” April 22, 2002. http://www.redflagsweekly.com/nass/2002_april22.html

Quote:“Thomas Eric Duncan died in spite receiving the highest level of intensive care, including dialysis and ventilation. The CDC and much of the media have been saying that you can only get Ebola through direct contact with body fluids — and at the same time they’ve been backing the use extraordinary measures to prevent transmission. The fact is, there’s no doubt that Ebola has a history of airborne droplet transmission and pundits are beginning to admit it. When only one to ten live viral particles are needed to cause an infection you are looking at airborne droplet and fomite transmission as viable routes of spread, and healthcare facilities being a locus of spread. See from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy: “Health workers need optimal respiratory protection for Ebola.” The USAMRIID [United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, based at Fort Detrick, Maryland] and Tulane University had a unit physically located near where the Ebola outbreak began. This unit’s job was to test blood for Lassa antibodies; they were also testing for Ebola as part of their work. So USAMRIID had a bird’s eye view into the Ebola epidemic from the start. Maybe WHO [World Health Organization] and CDC were too bureaucratically hamstrung to understand the implications of a big Ebola outbreak, but USAMRIID, our premier biodefense center, has no excuse that it did not understand what was happening. The military now says that they proved that Ebola had been in the area for at least eight years and a whopping 9 percent of samples tested positive for Ebola. Why wasn’t this noticed?”
Nass notes the Boston Globe is reporting: “BU biolab nears OK amid hopes for tackling Ebola, safety concerns.” But earlier this summer, she points out that there was reporting on widespread escapes at such labs. See: USA Today report in August: “Hundreds of bioterror lab mishaps cloaked in secrecy.” Nass states: “It would be a mistake to license another high containment lab in the middle of Boston when existing labs have a terrible track record of containing the very organisms they are charged with studying.”

Posted in Africa, Ebola, Economic Inequality, Education, Radio Shows, Vaccination | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Show Details for the week of September 6th, 2014

Posted by themonitor on October 6, 2014


On The Monitor this week:

  • Islam in Retrospect: Recovering the Message – an interview with Maher Mahmassani
  • Wrongfully Arrested, handcuffed on a curb because he was a “tall, bald, black male,”…”fitting the description” – an interview with Charles Belk

More about this week’s guests:

12a2eefMaher Mahmassani has written two books and numerous articles in anthologies and law journals, in Arabic, English and French, on matters ranging from Islamic law to finance, investment and family law. He earned his doctorate in 1972 and taught law in Beirut at the Lebanese University Law School and the Arab University Law School. For over two decades, he was Chief Counsel for the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia at the International Finance Corporation. He also served as General Counsel of Middle East Airlines, The Arab Investment Company and Solidere, the private sector company in charge of rebuilding the downtown area of Beirut, which was totally destroyed in the 17-year civil war. He now resides in McLean, Virginia.

From the book description online:

“Islam, in many of its current guises, no longer resembles its original Message. In a world of intractable conflicts plagued by political Islam and Islamophobia and where other forms of fundamentalism within the major religious creeds are on the rise, as well this book serves as a reminder. It aims to recover and reaffirm Islam s underlying and guiding principles. Setting out to distinguish the divine from the human in order to elucidate the pristine nature of the divine Message, Mahmassani reasserts Islam s universal, secular, and progressive character.index

In Part One of this comprehensive and meticulously researched volume, the author places the Message of Islam within its historic, geographic, and cultural contexts. Focusing on the primacy of the Holy Qur’an among the sources of Islam, he examines the controversies which have surrounded the Prophetic Tradition Sunna and Hadith as a source of Islam, demonstrating the full scope of Islam s universality. In Part Two he goes on to clarify Islam s secular nature by reconsidering inherited beliefs about the relationship between Islam and the state, and Islam and Sharia a law, revealing Islam s inherent humanism. This leads, in Part Three, to reflections on the progressive nature of Islam, and on the importance of the role of the mind in understanding and taking full benefit of religion as an engine of progress. In particular, the author focuses on human rights, including issues of human dignity, freedom of faith, and gender equality.

Islam in Retrospect: Recovering the Message is a rich contribution to continuing efforts to reform perceptions of Islam. Scholars and students in the fields of Islamic studies, religion, and the humanities, teachers, policy makers, and general readers will find this carefully constructed sourcebook invaluable for its fresh outlook and approach to understanding Islam and Muslim Scriptures in the light of today s world. As Mahmassani affirms, Islam, as a divine message, has been and continuously remains perfect.”

—————————————————————————————————–

 

CBimage Charles Belk is a Producer for and President of I Will Make You A Star Productions, a Los Angeles based, social / digital marketing and production company. He has become the face of international media coverage surrounding his August 2014 wrongful arrest by a local law enforcement agency, where (his mug shots were taken) he was fingerprinted, not allowed a phone call, denied immediate access to his attorney, and held under a $100,000 bail for felony armed bank robbery.

Belk has been able to turn the time he spent handcuffed on a curb, into helping to be a voice for the voiceless – spearheading a petition to institute new local and statewide law enforcement process improvements and lobbying for legislative changes on both the state and federal levels. He has successfully enlisted commitments from 4 state legislators to begin the process of drafting legislation to introduce in their respective chambers; those 4 being Illinois, California, North Carolina and Ohio.

Belk did his undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California, graduate studies in Business at Indiana University, and Executive Leadership at Harvard Business School.

New Charles Belk Curb 16 x 9You can find him online here:

- Facebook: charlesbelk
- Twitter – @charlesbelk
 More Info:

- Petition - http://tinyurl.com/AutoErase

Posted in Arab Spring, Education, God, Islam, News And Analysis, Police, Race | 1 Comment »

 
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