Thank you everyone who helped us beat our goal last week! Just two more shows remain in this KPFT Pledge Drive and it is only with your help that we can beat the goal again this week.
The week’s show has a goal of $805 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ – Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!
KPFT has all the usual thank you gifts available at various pledge levels but this week’s show highlights a very special premium exclusive to The Monitor: Signed copies of Doing Time Like A Spy, a brand new book by John Kiriakou. A signed copy of this book is yours for a donation of $120. The book is not available until May but you will get your own signed copy in the mail as soon as copies are available for distribution.
More about this week’s guest:
John Kiriakou became an anti-torture whistleblower and activist when he told ABC News in December 2007 that the CIA was torturing prisoners, that that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that the policy was approved by the President. John was driven to ruin by the Justice Department because of these revelations.
Immediately after John’s interview, the Justice Department initiated a years-long investigation, determined to find something–anything–to charge him with. This was his payback for blowing the whistle on the torture program.
John eventually was charged with three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and one count of making a false statement as a result of the 2007 ABC News interview. Finally, in order to avoid the risk of spending 45 years in prison, John accepted a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. All other charges were dropped. Even though he had no criminal intent, and there was no harm to the national security, accepting the plea resulted in a sentence of 30 months in prison.
From 1990 until March 2004, first as an analyst, and later as a counterterrorism operations officer, John Kiriakou served in the Central Intelligence Agency. He became chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan following the September 11 attacks acting as a senior operations officer. His tour culminated in the March 2002 with the capture of Abu Zubaydah, al-Qa’ida’s third-ranking official.
When he returned from Pakistan, John was named Executive Assistant to the CIA’s Deputy Director for Operations. In that capacity, John was the principal Iraq briefer for the Director of Central Intelligence.
John then became senior investigator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after a brief time in the private sector, where he focused on international terrorism, piracy, and counternarcotics. Additionally, John served as senior intelligence advisor to the Committee’s chairman, Senator John Kerry.
Following his service on the Hill, John became an intelligence and counterterrorism consultant and author.
About the book:
Doing Time Like A Spy is Kiriakou’s memoir of his twenty-three months in prison. Using twenty life skills he learned in CIA operational training, he was able to keep himself safe and at the top of the prison social heap. Including his award-winning blog series “Letters from Loretto,” Doing Time Like a Spy is at once a searing journal of daily prison life and an alternately funny and heartbreaking commentary on the federal prison system.
Please support The Monitor during this drive and do so by showing your support for John Kiriakou at the same time. Get your signed copy of Doing Time Like A Spy by calling 713.526.5738 during the show and pledging $120 for your copy.
The NSA spying on Americans with the help of AT&T – an interview with Mark Klein
Demonizing and misunderstanding China – an interview with Henry Rosemont
More about this week’s guests:
Mark Klein is the whistleblower who exposed AT&T’s participation in the National Security Agency’s illegal warrantless spying on millions of Americans. Klein grew up in New York City and in 1962 entered Cornell University’s School of Engineering. As the 1960s exploded in social upheaval he was moved with his generation to investigate society and graduated in 1966 with a B.A. in history. Later he returned to technical school, obtaining certificates in electronics and computers which led to employment in computer manufacturing in the 1970s. He was hired by AT&T in 1981 as a communications technician and worked for the company for over 22 years. In 2003 he discovered the illicit National Security Agency (NSA) installation in San Francisco and in 2006 he tried to bring it to public attention, becoming a witness for a lawsuit against AT&T brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retired since 2004, Klein now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife.
Quote: “The documents prove I was right, and if a court had been willing to allow the Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit against AT&T to go forward, we would have won. But Congress knowingly put a retroactive pseudo-‘legal’ stamp on the violations of law and the Constitution, and the courts accepted it. Both parties are to blame, all three branches of government are culpable. I’d gotten my story out through the New York Times in April 2006 after the Los Angeles Times had killed it. The editor who killed the story was Dean Baquet — who is now executive editor at the New York Times. Obama had campaigned against immunizing the telcos, but by the time the vote happened in 2008, he had sewn up the nomination and switched sides. It was a betrayal even before he got to the White House. The entire congressional leadership pushed this, especially the ‘gang of eight’ who were the ones who actually knew what the immunity was about. My own senator, Dianne Feinstein, who was on the intelligence committee, wouldn’t even speak with me, she was all about covering up for the NSA. Many in congress who voted for the immunity blindly voted to immunize a crime details of which they didn’t know or didn’t want to know. It wasn’t just AT&T of course, it was that the Bush administration had brazenly violated FISA and of course the Constitution. They didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, which is why they needed the immunity.”
The New York Times and ProPublica published “AT&T Helped U.S. Spy on Internet on a Vast Scale,” which states: “The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T.
“While it has been long known that American telecommunications companies worked closely with the spy agency, newly disclosed N.S.A. documents show that the relationship with AT&T has been considered unique and especially productive. One document described it as ‘highly collaborative,’ while another lauded the company’s ‘extreme willingness to help.’ …
“The documents, provided by the former agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, were jointly reviewed by the New York Times and ProPublica. The N.S.A., AT&T and Verizon declined to discuss the findings from the files. ‘We don’t comment on matters of national security,’ an AT&T spokesman said. …
“After the Times disclosed the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program in December 2005, plaintiffs began trying to sue AT&T and the N.S.A. In a 2006 lawsuit, a retired AT&T technician named Mark Klein claimed that three years earlier, he had seen a secret room in a company building in San Francisco where the N.S.A. had installed equipment.”
Henry Rosemont JR is distinguished professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. He also spent three years in China as Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai.
Among his books are A Chinese Mirror, Rationality and Religious Experience, Is There A Universal Grammar of Religion? (with Huston Smith), and A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects. He has edited and/or translated ten other books, including Leibniz: Writings on China (with Daniel Cook) and with Roger Ames, The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. His latest book is the recently released Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family and Religion.
Quote: “As the state visit of President Xi Jinping draws nigh, his demonization at the hands of the media, many members of Congress and most of the presidential candidates will make it difficult for the Obama administration to suggest a much more cooperative than confrontational approach to U.S.-China relations. But brinksmanship with China is even more irrational than with Iran, for (at least) four reasons. First, it almost surely will not be effective. China cannot be bullied, and the U.S. has a far greater capacity to influence the country positively than negatively. Second, cooperation rather than confrontation — or even competition — would be in the best economic, military, social and environmental interests of both nations. Third, increased tensions and mutual distrust between the U.S. and China instead of close cooperation will eliminate what may well be the best option for providing a measure of global stability that neither the U. N., E.U., World Bank, I.M.F. or other international institutions seem capable of maintaining any longer on their own. And the 4th reason is the unthinkable: World War III, nuclear weapons and all. Here are a few steps the Obama administration might easily take without compromising our security or economic conditions: de-emphasize democracy issues in favor of deepening last Fall’s climate change agreement; sponsor China’s becoming a major player in the IMF and promise to support the inclusion of the renminbi for drawing rights instead of obstructing it at the next round; acknowledge that China has the same security concerns in the South China Sea as the U.S. claims for the Caribbean; refuse to sell arms to Taiwan any longer in exchange for China’s disavowal of the use of force against the island; explore the joint creation of an international naval patrol force on the model of the ‘1000 ship navy’ first proposed by the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen. The rewards for these and similar initiatives are potentially great, but cannot be achieved either by appeasement or threat. Only negotiations can achieve them, and that requires trust, not demonization. As cooperation deepens, the conversations might deepen as well, to become a genuine dialogue between civilizations: individual rights and social rights; democracy and meritocracy; security and liberty; the right and the good; divinity and a human-centered religiousness; and more. Both sides might well learn much from the other.”
Background: Bloomberg reports: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants President Barack Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit. Stealing some of his thunder, Florida Senator Marco Rubio swooped in and countered that it should be downgraded to a regular working visit.” CNN headlined a story last week: “Donald Trump: No state dinner — only Big Mac — for China’s president.”
The Rise of the Islamic State – an interview with Loretta Napoleoni
The Voice Of Convicted CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling – an interview with Judith Ehrlich
More about this week’s guests:
Loretta Napoleoni is the bestselling author of Maonomics,Rogue Economics, Terror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks.
Napoleoni is a regular media commentator for CNN, Sky and the BBC. She is among the few economists who predicted the credit crunch and the recession, and advises several banks on strategies to counter the current ongoing crisis. She lectures regularly around the world on economics, terrorism and money laundering.
Napoleoni ’s books include Modern Jihad (Pluto Press, London, 2003); Terror Inc. (Penguin, London, 2004); Insurgent Iraq (Seven Stories Press, New York, 2005); Terror Incorporated (Seven Stories Press, New York, 2005); Rogue Economics (Seven Stories Press, New York, 2008); Terror and the Economy (Seven Stories Press, New York, 2010) and Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Are Better Capitalists Than We Are (Seven Stories Press 2011) . Her latest book is the best seller Islamist Phoenix (Seven Stories Press, New York, 2014). “The IS doesn’t want to destroy. They want to build the 21st century version of the Calliphate and that is what makes them so dangerous”. Her books are translated into 18 languages including Chinese and Arabic. She lives in London and in the US with her husband and their four children.
From Loretta’s book The Islamist Phoenix
“For the first time since World War One, an armed organization is redesigning the map of the Middle East drawn by the French and the British. Waging a war of conquest, the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (al Sham), or ISIS, is erasing the borders that the Sykes-Picot Accord established in 1916. The region where the black and golden flag of IS flies already stretches from the Mediterranean shores of Syria well into the heart of Iraq, the Sunni tribal area. It is bigger than the United Kingdom or Texas and, since the end of June 2014, is known as the Islamic Caliphate. “Caliphate” is the name given to an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph, or successor to the Prophet Muhammad – the most famous being the Ottoman Caliphate (or Empire), which began in 1453 and lasted until the dissolution of the Caliphate and expulsion of the last caliph, Abdulmecid, at the hands of Kemal Ataturk in 1924.
Many believe that the Islamic State, like al-Qaeda before it, wants to turn back the clock, and indeed in Western media Syrian and Iraqi refugees describe its rule in their countries as a sort of carbon copy of the Taliban regime. Posters forbid smoking and the use of cameras. Women are not allowed to travel without a male relative, must be covered up, and cannot wear trousers in public. The Islamic State seems also engaged in a sort of religious cleansing through proselytism: people must either join its creed, radical Salafism; flee; or face execution.
Paradoxically, to deem the IS essentially backward would be mistaken. Indeed, during the last few years the belief that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group’s leader and the new Caliph, is a clone of Mullah Omar may well have led Western intelligence to undervalue him and his organization’s strength. While the world of the Taliban was limited to Koranic schools and knowledge based upon the writings of the Prophet, globalization and modern technology have been the cradle of the Islamic State.
What distinguishes the Islamic State from all other armed groups that predate it, including those active during the Cold War, and what accounts for its enormous successes, is its modernity and pragmatism. So far its leadership has understood the limitations that contemporary powers face in a globalized and multipolar world – for example, the inability to reach an agreement for foreign intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya and Iraq. Against this backdrop the Islamic State’s leadership has successfully exploited the Syrian conflict, the most recent version of the traditional war by proxy, to its own advantage almost unobserved, drawing funds from a variety of people: Kuwaitis, Qataris, Saudis, who, seeking a regime change in Syria, have been willing to bankroll several armed groups. However, instead of fighting the sponsors’ war by proxy, the Islamic State has used their money to establish its own territorial strongholds in financially strategic regions, for example in the rich oilfields of Eastern Syria. No previous Middle Eastern armed organization has been able to promote itself as the region’s new ruler with the money of its rich Gulf sponsors.
This is a story with shocking elements. While most of us don’t quite understand what metadata is exactly, this case reminds us it’s time to get a grip on that. In fact Jeffrey Sterling was convicted in large part on the basis of metadata — not the content of his communication. That is, they don’t have to know what he said, just that he talked to or emailed the New York Times reporter who leaked news of Operation Merlin to which Jeffrey was assigned while a CIA case officer. And that metadata, the where, when and whom is not protected as the conversation might be.
The most shocking element of this story is that Jeffrey Sterling seems to be punished because he “pulled on Superman’s cape” first with a racial discrimination suit they were able to squash and then by reporting what he considered a dangerous CIA operation to the proper government channels for hearing such a concern.
I wanted to make a film that captured this couple’s deep commitment and belief in one another in the face of a decade of Kafkaesque uncertainty at the hands of the CIA. Ellsberg followed the same initial trajectory as Sterling, going to Congress with his concerns about the Vietnam War and being ignored by the oversight committees. CIA veteran Ray McGovern calls them “overlook committees.”
I was thrilled to collaborate with Norman Solomon and Expose Facts to reach an audience with this story that exposes deep problems in our justice system.
This is week two of the Pledge Drive for KPFT. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three weeks in a row. Please help us reach that goal by calling in your pledge of support at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.
Our guest this week is John Kiriakou. He was is a former CIA analyst and case officer, former senior investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and former counterterrorism consultant for ABC News, blogger for Huffington Post, and author. He was the first U.S. government official to confirm in December 2007 that waterboarding was used to interrogate Al Qaeda prisoners, which he described as torture. On October 22, 2012, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to disclosing classified information about a fellow CIA officer that connected the covert operative to a specific operation. He was the first person to pass classified information to a reporter, although the reporter did not publish the name of the operative. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison on January 25, 2013, and served his term from February 28, 2013 until 3 February 2015 at the low-security Federal correctional facility in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
We have John’s book The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror, available to you for a pledge of $120. This is John Kiriakou’s first book, co-authored with Michael Ruby. Please show your support by calling 713-526-5738 or donating at http://www.kpft.org
The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror
The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror details his years with the CIA and the beginning of his legal problems when John told ABC News in an interview in December 2007 that the CIA was torturing prisoners, that that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that the policy was approved by the President. John was driven to ruin by the Justice Department because of these revelations.
The national debate on waterboarding and other forms of torture got a second wind early in Obama’s presidency, and John clearly feels proud to have played a small part in that debate. In a larger sense, this is not an American conversation that has ended. If we have learned anything since 9/11, we have learned anew that a tension exists between protecting our national security and ensuring the human rights guaranteed according to the will of our Founding Fathers when they authored the U.S. Constitution.
Our challenge, in a world of unprecedented threats, is to strike a balance between the polarities—to find that place where the national security and human rights can live reasonably, if not comfortably, side by side. It won’t be easy. But then, it never was.
The Reluctant Spy is a fascinating book, which will give you chills when you realize that what John Kiriakou experienced at the hands of the Justice Department could happen to anyone. The book rose to #5 on the Washington Post political bestsellers list in March 2010.
We have three other book options for you to pick from at different pledge level:
For a pledge of $50 you can get The Islamist Phoenix by Loretta Napoleoni. She is the bestselling author of Maonomics,Rogue Economics, Terror Incorporated and Insurgent Iraq. She is an expert on terrorist financing and money laundering, and advises several governments and international organizations on counter-terrorism and money laundering. As Chairman of the countering terrorism financing group for the Club de Madrid, Napoleoni brought heads of state from around the world together to create a new strategy for combating the financing of terror networks.Here is an excerpt
For a pledge of $60 you can get Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. She is Writer, historian, and activist. She is the author of sixteen books about environment, landscape, community, art, politics, hope, and memory. You can read some of her writing about the topic here
For a pledge of$85 you can get The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah. He is the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli Palestinian Impasse, and co-founder and director of the widely acclaimed publication The Electronic Intifada. Based in the United States, he has written hundreds of articles and been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He is the recipient of a 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship. Any of these books will enrich you understanding of the topics they each handle. All three authors are going to be on The Monitor in the upcoming weeks.