Obama

Show Details for the week of March 20th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • James Carden on the continued U.S.-arming of terrorists in Syria amidst DC’s ongoing Political Theater
  • Andrew Cockburn on reviving the art of threat inflation and aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen

More about this week’s guests:

james-carden-310James Carden is a Washington, DC–based journalist focusing on US foreign policy. He is also the executive editor of the American Committee for East-West Accord, and a contributing writer at The Nation. He has served as an Advisor to the US-Russia Presidential Commission at the US State Department. He has contributed articles on US-Russia policy to The American Conservative, The National Interest, The Moscow Times. He graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. His most recent articles include:Why Does the US Continue to Arm Terrorists in Syria? and Round Up the Usual Suspects, It’s Time for a Show Hearing. You can read his articles for The Nation here.

maxresdefaultBorn in London and raised in County Cork, Andrew Cockburn moved to the U.S. in 1979. He is a journalist, an author and a filmmaker. He is also the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. His books include: Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship and The Threat: Inside the Soviet Military Machine. His most recent book is Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. His latest articles include The New Red Scare Reviving the art of threat inflation; and Acceptable Losses Aiding and abetting the Saudi slaughter in Yemen. You can read his latest articles for Harper’s here.

Show Details for the week of March 13th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Did the former president “wiretap” the current president? We discuss the allegations with Larry Johnson
  • Is the new “Muslim Ban” harsher than the old Muslim Ban? We discuss the topic with Arun Gupta

More about this week’s guests:

larryLarry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm with expertise combating terrorism and investigating money laundering. Mr. Johnson works with US military commands in scripting terrorism exercises, briefs on terrorist trends, and conducts undercover investigations on product counterfeiting, smuggling and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC’s Nightline, NBC’s Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications, including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world, including the Center for Research and Strategic Studies at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France. He represented the U.S. Government at the July 1996 OSCE Terrorism Conference in Vienna, Austria.

screen20shot202017-03-0920at2011-43-5520amArun Gupta is an independent reporter. He has written for dozens of publications including The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, the Raw Story, and Jacobin. He is the author of the forthcoming book, Bacon as a Weapon of Mass Destruction: A Junk-Food-Loving Chef’s Inquiry into Taste (The New Press). His latest article is “Meet the New Muslim Ban, Harsher Than the Old Muslim Ban,” which states: “The new order appears to be narrower in scope, at least initially. It claims to exclude ‘categories of aliens that have prompted judicial concerns.’ Green-card holders, dual citizens, and Syrian refugees are exempt from the blanket ban. Iraq is no longer on the list of affected countries, and the order allows for exceptions from the other targeted countries and for refugees on a ‘case-by-case’ basis. Nonetheless, on March 7, the state of Hawaii filed suit in federal court on behalf of the state and Ismail Elshikh, PhD, the Imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. The state claims Trump’s order harms Elshikh by preventing his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting her family in Hawaii. The state asserts the Trump Administration is acting ‘arbitrarily and capriciously’ in its choice of countries on the banned list. The revised order affords the Trump Administration wide latitude in broadening the scope of the order later on, with language that will allow the profiling of entire countries so as to exclude their citizens. It states that the U.S. government will conduct ‘a worldwide review’ to determine what ‘additional information will be needed from each foreign country’ to assess the application of any person from one of the specified countries seeking admission to the United States so as to ensure they are ‘not a security or public-safety threat.’ The order adds that ‘At any point … the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.’ And, ‘The Secretary of Homeland Security may conclude that certain information is needed from particular countries even if it is not needed from every country.’ Put together, this language could enable wildly differing criteria for nationals from one country to the next, as well as countries coming on and off the list at the whim of the White House.”

 

Show Details for the week of November 28th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • With recounts looming in several states, what do we know about voter turnout on election day? How do we explain discrepancies between exit polls and vote counts? We discuss the topic with Greg Palast
  • Enabled by Presidents Bush and Obama, what could Donald Trump do with executive powers? We discuss the topic with Peter Van Buren

More about this week’s guests:

Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time – up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian).  Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, Nation Magazine and now Rolling Stone Magazine.

Greg Palast has just released his new movie: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: A Tale of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the sequel of his New York Times bestselling book with the same title.

He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse , The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

His books have been translated into two dozen languages.

Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Caracas to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud.

 

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran of the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Following his book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, the Department of State began proceedings against him. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department on his own terms.

Peter’s commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Salon, NPR, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, The Nation, TomDispatch, Antiwar.com, American Conservative Magazine, Mother Jones, Michael Moore.com, Le Monde, Japan Times, Asia Times, The Guardian (UK), Daily Kos, Middle East Online, Guernica and others. He has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CurrentTV, HuffPo Live, RT, ITV, Britain’s Channel 4 Viewpoint, Dutch Television, CCTV, Voice of America, and more. His second book, Ghosts of Tom Joad, A Story of the #99Percent (2014) is fiction about the social and economic changes in America between WWII and the decline of the blue collar middle class in the 1980’s. You can read some of his recent work on The Nation website. He just wrote the piece “What Trump Could Do With Executive Power” for The American Conservative. He is available for a limited number of interviews, with some time slots open Monday afternoon and Wednesday.

He writes: “The dangers many are now predicting under the Trump administration did not start on November 8. The near-unrestrained executive power claimed by the Obama administration, and issues left unresolved from the Bush administration, will be handed to the president-elect. Here’s what that means. Torture: Obama did not prosecute or discipline anyone for torturing people on behalf of the people of the United States. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured almost all of the significant government documents on the torture program remain classified. He did not prosecute the Central Intelligence Agency official who willfully destroyed video tapes of the torture scenes. The president has not specifically outlawed secret prisons and renditions, just suspended their use. …

Assassinations: Obama legalized, formalized, and normalized drone assassinations on a global scale, including the killing of American citizens without due process in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, on the president’s order alone. The only real restraint he imposed was self-restraint. But when you leave a door open, you never know who will walk in. …

Guantanamo: Obama never closed the extra-legal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as he promised. He could have, simply by depopulating it regardless of what Congress might have said. …

Espionage Act: Obama prosecuted more federal whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous United States presidents combined. He sent to jail people who exposed torture and people who allegedly leaked information to journalists showing American complicity in dangerous acts abroad. He had Chelsea Manning prosecuted for exposing war crimes in Iraq. He used the Espionage Act to destroy the lives of others who under any definition except his own would be considered political heroes. …

Freedom of Information Act: The Obama administration set a record (77 percent) for redacting government files or denying access to them in fiscal year 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act. …

National Security Agency: Obama never realistically reigned in the National Security Agency after the Bush-era Patriot Act allowed them to turn surveillance tools on the homeland. The president, following his predecessor, kept this spying largely secret until whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed it.”

Show Details for the week of March 7th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

We discuss the topic of torture for the whole hour with two guests to try to answer some of the most important questions, including: Has the U.S. ended the use of torture? Does torture produce “actionable intelligence”? What was the real purpose of the torture policy? Is there a need for an investigation of Guantanamo? Our guests are Jeffrey Kaye and Mark Fallon.

More about this week’s guests:

jkaye_mugshotJeffrey Kaye is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and an independent journalist investigating human rights issues. He has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus, and writes regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter. He has published previously at Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. Follow him on Twitter.

Quote: “While the politicians play political football with the lives of prisoners at Guantanamo, the abuses and crimes that took place there — indeed may still be taking place — go unremarked and unexamined. For instance, former prisoners claim they were forcefully drugged at the facility. We need an independent investigation of all that has really taken place at DoD detention sites in the ‘war on terror,’ from Guantanamo to Bagram, from Diego Garcia to the Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.”

Jeffrey’s pieces on torture include, “More Charges of Forced Drugging at Guantanamo” and “Contrary to Obama’s promises, the U.S. military still permits torture.”

Jeffrey has also written extensively about torture being used for “exploitation” — that is, as a method of deriving false but useful information that the government can use as pretext for policy, like torturing detainees into “confessing” that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, or that Iraq was working with Al Qaeda. See his pieces: “CIA Psychologist’s Notes Reveal True Purpose Behind Bush’s Torture Program” and “‘Guidebook to False Confessions’: Key Document John Yoo Used to Draft Torture Memo Released.”

headshot Mark Fallon served for more than 30 years in the federal law enforcement and counterintelligence community. He served as Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent, and as Assistant Director for Training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center within the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Fallon has been involved in many prominent cases, including the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and as serving as Commander of the USS Cole Task Force. He is the Director of ClubFed, LLC and specializes in providing strategic consulting services to clients in the public and private sector on developing knowledge and enhancing performance in alignment with mission objectives. Mark is the author of the upcoming book We Tortured Some Folks – Terrorizing The American Way.

Mark has been involved in some of the most significant terrorism investigations and operations in recent history, including the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (known as “the Blind Sheik”) and the attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67).

Following the attacks of 9/11, Mark was appointed the Deputy Commander and Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense (DOD) Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), responsible for the investigation of terrorists possible trials before Military Commission and assessing the potential risks associated with the release or transfer of detained terrorist suspects.  He led forward deployed elements in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You can watch a video of a talk by Mark Fallon on YouTube and you can follow him on Twitter.

Show Details for the week of October 19th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Follow up with Joe Lauria on Obama and Putin – this time with more Ukraine
  • Junaid Ahmad on the continuing instability of Afghanistan and the ongoing U.S. presence there

More about this week’s guests:
Joe Lauria is an international affairs correspondent specializing in the United Nations, Lauria just wrote the piece “Obama’s Self-Deceit” for ConsortiumNews.com. Lauria writes: “There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a ‘return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.’ …

    “The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today. …

“Yet Obama on Monday was blaming Russia and China for the mess Washington has created, saying, ‘We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.’ Obama cited Russia’s ‘annexation’ of Crimea and ‘further aggression’ in Eastern Ukraine.“He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. …

“At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.

“Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has ‘few economic interests’ in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.

“And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country? …

“On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. …

“Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. …

“‘The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,’ Putin told the Assembly. ‘It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.’ …”

JAJunaid Ahmad is director of the Center for Global Dialog in Lahore, and is also a professor of law and politics at the University of Lahore, Pakistan.

The AP reports: “The head of an international medical charity whose hospital in northern Afghanistan was destroyed in a U.S. airstrike says the ‘extensive, quite precise destruction’ of the bombing raid casts doubt on American military assertions that it was a mistake.”

Huffington Post reports: “Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday that he supports President Barack Obama’s decision to keep troops in Afghanistan, prolonging the war beyond 2016. … Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton also said Friday that she thought Obama had made ‘the right decision.'”

Quote: “President Obama’s decision to rescind his earlier pronouncement of withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan must be interpreted as an admission to the great scandal of the ‘global war on terrorism’: Western violence has only increased violence and instability, not ended or reduced it. While he continues to ridiculously invoke the insignificant Al Qaeda threat as the main pretext for the ongoing U.S. presence in Afghanistan, President Obama is in fact deflecting attention attention from what’s really going on: multiplying Taliban and resistance factions emerging and militarily humiliating the puppet Afghan security forces, as well as the rapid and widespread rise of ISIS in the country. The U.S./NATO Occupation, now almost a decade and a half after the invasion of 2001, is directly responsible for creating the conditions that have produced these dangerous forces.

“While what’s really needed to solve Afghanistan’s problems and endemic violence are political negotiations involving all of the regional countries and the factions they support, Washington continues to prioritize its bitter rivalry with those countries — such as Iran, Russia, and China — and hence is only interested in continuing to project its arrogant power, regardless of the cost to the Afghan people.”

Show Details for the week of October 12th, 2015

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Presidential Debates, Cable News, and the Miseducation of the American Public – an interview with Jeff Cohen
  • Assessing Putin and Obama in Syria and Ukraine – an interview with Joe Lauria

More about this week’s Guests:

Jeff Cohen is the director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He is also is cofounder of RootsAction.org, founder of the media watch group FAIR.

From his recent article:

At the CNN-sponsored Republican Party debate last month at the Reagan presidential library, one of the three panelists CNN selected to question the candidates was conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, affiliated with the proudly right-wing Salem Radio Network. But at Tuesday’s upcoming Democratic Party debate, CNN is not planning to include a single progressive advocate among its panel of four questioners.

It’s clear that who gets to pose questions has impact on the tenor of the debate. For example, Hewitt used September’s Republican debate to declare that President Obama’s “knees buckled” over Syria and that every Republican candidate was “more qualified than” Hillary Clinton. Hewitt pressed Jeb Bush from the right over his comment about making sure guns are not in the hands of the mentally ill: “Where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?”

Along with Hewitt, the panel at CNN’s GOP debate was composed of two journalists CNN presents as neutral or objective: CNN anchor Jake Tapper and CNN correspondent Dana Bash. (Hewitt’s appearance was reportedly part of an agreement by which CNN and the right-wing Salem Media company are teaming up on three GOP presidential debates.)

At CNN’s upcoming Democratic debate, the panel is to be composed of four journalists CNN presents as neutral: CNN’s Bash and three CNN anchors (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol.) Glaringly missing from this proposed lineup is an unabashed progressive advocate.

There are many qualified journalists for this seat — from respected progressive media institutions that haven’t taken sides in the Democratic primaries (like The Nation or Mother Jones, to name just two).

Today, the online activism group RootsAction.org (which I cofounded) launched a one-sentence petition to CNN: “For the sake of basic fairness and balance, you should add to your panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.”

Recent articles:

CNN’s Double-Standards on Debates (10/9/15)
26,000 Petition Bernie Sanders to Tackle US Militarism (8/31/15)
Bernie Trumped By Mainstream Media (8/18/15)
Memo to Media: Ask Trump If He’s a ‘Serial Racist’ (7/4/15)
Will Bernie Be the Beginning of a Revolution? (6/2/15)

Joe Lauria is an international affairs correspondent specializing in the United Nations, Lauria just wrote the piece “Obama’s Self-Deceit” for ConsortiumNews.com. Lauria writes: “There was stunned silence in the General Assembly Hall on Monday as U.S. President Barack Obama warned leaders against falling back to pre-United Nations days, in which strong nations imposed their will by force against the weak. There was apparent disbelief as he said it was Russia and China that wanted a ‘return to the rules that applied for most of human history and that pre-date this institution.’ …

    “The silence in the chamber came because everything Obama ascribed to others perfectly describes U.S. behavior from the end of the Second World War until today. …

“Yet Obama on Monday was blaming Russia and China for the mess Washington has created, saying, ‘We see some major powers assert themselves in ways that contravene international law.’ Obama cited Russia’s ‘annexation’ of Crimea and ‘further aggression’ in Eastern Ukraine.

“He didn’t mention the documented U.S. orchestrated coup against a democratically-elected president in Kiev, which eastern Ukrainians have resisted. …

“At heart is either Obama’s willful ignorance of Ukraine, a clumsy attempt at disinformation, or as Vladimir Putin suggested in his U.N. speech a half hour later, a big measure of self-deception.

“Obama said Ukrainians favor the West. That may be true of most western Ukrainians but not the whole country. Then, he said the U.S. has ‘few economic interests’ in Ukraine. That’s woefully ignorant or a blatant lie. Monsanto has a big interest. Then there’s Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and a John Kerry family friend joining the board of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, just after the coup.

“And the country’s finance minister is an American, Natalie Jaresko, who was given Ukrainian citizenship on the day she began the job. Why put an American government official in charge of the treasury of a foreign country? …

“On Syria, Obama (and his junior partners in Europe) insist that President Bashar al-Assad must leave office, as though that would make ISIS lay down its arms. …

“Putin argues that Assad’s military is the most effective ground force (along with the Kurds) against the monstrous group and that all nations who want ISIS defeated should work with Assad. …

“‘The Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere,’ Putin told the Assembly. ‘It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes.’ …”