Show Details for the week of May 19th, 2014

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On the Monitor this week:

  • Freedom of the Press under serious assault by Obama and Holder. An interview with Matt Rothschild.
  • Is Boko Haram in Nigeria stronger because U.S.-led War in Libya Boost? An interview with Ajamu Baraka.

More about this week’s guests:

Matthew Rothschild is the senior editor of The Progressive magazine (from 1994), which is one of the leading voices for peace and social justice in this country. Rothschild has appeared on Nightline, C-SPAN, The O’Reilly Factor, and NPR, and his newspaper commentaries have run in the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other newspapers. Rothschild is the host of “Progressive Radio,” a syndicated half-hour weekly interview program. And he does a two-minute daily radio commentary, entitled “Progressive Point of View,” which is also syndicated around the country. Rothschild is the author of You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression (New Press, 2007). He also is the editor of Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive, 1909-2009 (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009)

Nearly 50,000 people have signed a petition in recent days urging President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to end legal moves against New York Times reporter James Risen.
Charging that the administration has launched “an assault on freedom of the press,” the petition tells Obama and Holder: “We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.”

Federal prosecutors are threatening Risen with jail unless he reveals a confidential source. Risen has said he will not capitulate.

Background:
Freedom of the Press Foundation: Court Guts Reporter’s Privilege
Truthout: Conversation With James Risen: Can Journalists Protect Their Sources?
Politico: Justice Department Urges SCOTUS to Pass Up Reporter’s Privilege Case
Justice Department Brief: James Risen v. United States of America

Titled “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press,” the petition says: “Without confidentiality, journalism would be reduced to official stories — a situation antithetical to the First Amendment.”

The petition was initiated by five organizations: Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR); the Freedom of the Press Foundation; The Nation; The Progressive / Center for Media and Democracy; and RootsAction.org.

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Ajamu Baraka is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies who is based in Colombia. He has written extensively on Africa and just wrote the piece “From Benghazi to Boko Haram: Why I support the Benghazi Inquiry,” which states: “Seemingly out of nowhere, Boko Haram burst into the awareness of people around the world as a shadowy group of Islamists with the ability to carry out audacious attacks that paralyzed the army of the most populous country in Africa. People now want to know the group’s origins, where they came from, why they are kidnapping girls and how they became such a powerful threat. All important questions — but questions that cannot be answered by just looking at the internal politics of Nigeria, as important as those are, because Boko Haram is incomprehensible when decontextualized from the destabilization, death and destruction unleashed across Africa from the Sahel into West Africa as a result of one historic event — the vicious NATO obliteration of the state of Libya.

“African Union Commission chief Jean Ping warned NATO, during its bombing campaign and arming of so-called rebel forces in Libya, that the weapons they provided the ‘rebels’ would end up in the hands of al Qaeda throughout Africa. He said, ‘Africa’s concern is that weapons that are delivered to one side or another … are already in the desert and will arm terrorists and fuel trafficking.’

“Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo expressed what many in Africa feared from the NATO attack on Libya: ‘We knew that at the end of the Libya operations, there would be fallout. And the fallout would be where would all the weapons go? Where would be some of those who have been trained how to use weapons [and] how would they be accounted for? … Part of what is happening in Mali is part of the fallout from Libya, and we should not expect that Mali will be the last.’

“Reports from the United Nations [Reuters headline in 2012: “Arms from Libya Could Reach Boko Haram, al Qaeda: UN“], the Guardian newspaper and many other sources reveal how Boko Haram benefited from the destabilization of various countries across the Sahel following the Libya conflict, receiving arms and training from an emboldened al Qaeda and its Saudi backers. …

“We understand that there will be an attempt to keep the focus narrow. Members of both parties and everyone in the higher echelons of the military/intelligence community knew that the U.S. had aligned with groups in Eastern Libya that were known to be jihadists. The fact that both parties supported the NATO intervention knowing that jihadists affiliated with al Qaeda played a major part in the overthrow of Gaddafi and that the largest CIA station in North Africa was established in Benghazi where it provided arms and was used as a staging ground for inserting jihadist forces into Syria, means that both parties share an interest in avoiding the serious legal and moral implications of U.S. actions in Libya. …

“And I am outraged knowing that U.S. policy-makers don’t give a damn about the school girls in Nigeria, because their real objective is to use the threat of Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country to justify the real goal of occupying the oil fields in the South and to block the Chinese in Nigeria.”

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