On The Monitor this week:
- Former FBI special agent Coleen Rowley on the firing of former FBI Director
- Former CIA Analyst Ray McGovern on the Russia story
More about this week’s guests:
Coleen Rowley, is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Following Comey’s firing, she said: “In July 2013, I suggested in this New York Times op-ed that James Comey should answer a lot of hard questions before the Senate confirmed his appointment by Obama as FBI Director, explaining why he had signed off on the Bush administration’s torture, unlawful detention and illegal warrantless surveillance programs. But in 2013, the Senate barely scratched the surface before rushing to confirm Comey, ironically lauding his integrity. But if anyone in government actually cared about integrity and upholding the rule of law, maybe Comey ought not to have been hired in the first place! Comey’s unorthodox press briefings are far less significant to adherence to the Constitution than his prior illegal actions. But I doubt that his press statements in the lead-up to the election are actually why Comey was fired. Hillary Clinton’s campaign apparently suspects that Trump and gang just seized on the Clinton email investigation as an opportunistic way of getting rid of Comey and they may be right.”
Ray McGovern’s 27-year career as a CIA analyst spanned administrations from John F. Kennedy to George H. W. Bush. He leads the “Speaking Truth to Power” section of Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985. In January 2003, Ray co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) to expose how intelligence was being falsified to “justify” war on Iraq.
On The Monitor this week:
I am unable to be in the studio this week. Rather than play an older show I am playing the last part of a documentary series made in 2004. The series “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear” is a BBC television series by Adam Curtis. It mainly consists of archive footage, with Curtis narrating. The series was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2004. It has subsequently been aired in multiple countries and shown at various film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
The film compares the rise of the neoconservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, drawing comparisons between their origins, and remarking on similarities between the two groups. More controversially, it argues that radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organisation, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth, or noble lie, perpetuated by leaders of many countries—and particularly neoconservatives in the U.S.—in a renewed attempt to unite and inspire their people after the ultimate failure of utopian ideas. Part 3, played on the show this week is called “The Shadows in the Cave”. Short synopsis:
On The Monitor this week:
Mark Bebawi is still on the road and not easily able to put together the normal show with live interviews. By way of thanking all those who gave to generously during the pledge drive, this week’s show features more of Adam Curtis’ work: Part 1 of his 2002 documentary titled “The Century of the Self“.
This first part is called “Happiness Machines“. It is the story of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his American nephew, Edward Bernays. Bernays invented the public relations profession in the 1920s and was the first person to take Freud’s ideas to manipulate the masses. He showed American corporations how they could make people want things they didn’t need by systematically linking mass-produced goods to their unconscious desires.
Bernays was one of the main architects of the modern techniques of mass-consumer persuasion, using every trick in the book, from celebrity endorsement and outrageous PR stunts, to eroticising the motorcar.
His most notorious coup was breaking the taboo on women smoking by persuading them that cigarettes were a symbol of independence and freedom. But Bernays was convinced that this was more than just a way of selling consumer goods. It was a new political idea of how to control the masses. By satisfying the inner irrational desires that his uncle had identified, people could be made happy and thus docile. Bernays wrote that
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p9–10.)
It was the start of the all-consuming self which has come to dominate today’s world.
Originally broadcast on 29th April 2002.
- Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
- News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.
On The Monitor this week:
- Houston-based company Crestwood Midstream Partners plans to store natural gas and butane in New York salt caverns. We discuss the possible dangers with Jeremy Alderson
- Is Google unfairly censoring internet content? We talk with Eric Garris of Antiwar.com.
More about this week’s guests:
Jeremy Alderson was the editor and publisher of the No Frack Almanac, an anti-fracking newspaper pubished in New York. He was also the first person arrested of now more than 200 who have committed civil disobedience trying to stop the Crestwood gas-storage project.
You can read more about the issue here: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/about-inergy/
In Reading, New York, 2 miles north of Watkin’s Glen on the west shoreline of Seneca Lake, Crestwood plans to store millions of barrels of liquid petroleum gases (propane and butane; so-called LPG) in depleted salt caverns. Crestwood also plans to expand existing natural gas storage in the caverns through its wholly owned subsidiary, Arlington Gas Storage. As the corporation boasts to investors, Crestwood’s stated goal is to transform the Finger Lakes Region into a “gas storage and transportation hub” for the entire Northeast.
Narrowly defined, the Arlington expansion project will fill two interconnected salt caverns—no longer used for mining salt—with compressed natural gas (methane), thus increasing the working gas capacity at this site by a third. But additional expansions are envisioned for the future, with many other empty lakeside salt caverns targeted.
Eric Garris is Founder and director of Antiwar.com, Garris just wrote the piece “Google Doubles Down: Demands Review of All Antiwar.com Content,” which states: “On Wednesday morning (3/18/15), Google AdSense suspended ad delivery to Antiwar.com demanding that we remove our 11-year-old pages that showed the abuse by U.S. soldiers of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. We publicized this and got a bit of coverage. [See in Gawker: ‘Google Suspends Site from Ad Network for Abu Ghraib Photo.”]
“Yesterday [Thursday] Google contacted us and told us that they had given in and would be restoring ad service to Antiwar.com shortly.
“However, this morning [Friday] they contacted us demanding that we remove this article.
“Antiwar.com has no intention of allowing Google to dictate our content. We are looking into alternate sources of advertising and will not likely be working with Google AdSense in the future.”