Alan Grayson

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_28_garris_grayson.mp3]

This interview was conducted by Antiwar.com director Eric Garris.

Florida Congressman Alan Grayson discusses building Congressional support for his “War is Making You Poor” bill, bipartisan cooperation with Ron Paul on the “Audit the Fed” bill, why it’s harder than ever to justify the continuing war in Afghanistan, Obama’s broken campaign promises and disappointing leadership and why Grayson has become the top target of Republicans for the 2010 House elections.

MP3 here. (19:01)

Congressman Alan Grayson was born and grew up in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City. He graduated with high honors from Harvard College, worked as an economist, then returned to Harvard. In four years, Alan earned a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Government, and finished all of the course work and passed the general exams for a Ph.D. in Government. His master’s thesis focuses on gerontology. He went on to be a founding member of the Alliance for Aging Research.

In the early 1990s Alan took leave from the practice of law and started a business. He was the first President of IDT Corp., a telecom/internet company, which is now a Fortune 1000 company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Congressman Grayson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, serving Florida’s 8th district.

Anand Gopal

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_28_gopal.mp3]

Independent journalist Anand Gopal discusses his interview with Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar about peace talks with the Karzai government, the probable short tenure of whatever political entity (including the Taliban) fills the void after US departure, why COIN-inspired night raids that succeed in killing Taliban commanders are still counterproductive and why Hamid Karzai’s dominion is even less than his derogatory “Mayor of Kabul” title suggests.

MP3 here. (28:23)

Anand Gopal has reported in Afghanistan for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.  His dispatches can be read at AnandGopal.com. He is currently working on a book about the Afghan war.

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Scott Horton interviews Anand Gopal, June 28, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. This is Antiwar Radio. I’m your host, Scott Horton, and our next guest on the show today is Anand Gopal. He writes about Afghanistan for the Christian Science Monitor, the Wall Street Journal, TomDispatch and other places. You can see interviews of him on RT, on The Real News, and in fact there’s even a YouTube of my previous interview of him, of Anand, from February, at YouTube.com/AntiwarRadio, and of course you can find him at Antiwar.com/Radio/ as well. Welcome back to the show, Anand, how are you?

Anand Gopal: I’m doing fine, thank you.

Horton: Well I really appreciate you joining us on the show today. Obviously there’s a lot of important developments about the Afghan War that need covering here, and I can’t think of too many better to plug us into what’s really going on on the ground there. First of all, I guess, I want to ask – well, we can get to all the McChrystal stuff – I want to ask you about Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and your recent interview with him. First of all, can you explain what his relationship is to the American occupation, or what it has been over the years?

Gopal: Well, Hekmatyar is an insurgent leader, a warlord, one of the three most prominent insurgent groups, he’s the head of that. And he’s been fighting in Afghanistan for years, going back to the ’80s. Back then he was close allies with the CIA and to the Pakistani intelligence services. Over time he’s turned against the Americans and now he’s, as I mentioned, an insurgent leader leading troops mostly, leading insurgents mostly in the north and the east of the country.

Horton: And now, I remember a news report, I don’t know if this was really true, but I remember a news report from say 2-3 years ago where he was bragging that he had helped Osama bin Laden escape from Tora Bora, that he took the CIA’s money and then he went and turned around and helped Osama escape, and “Ha ha, how do you like that?” he said.

Gopal: Well, that’s what he says. We don’t know if it’s the case, but he’d always expressed admiration for bin Laden in the past, at least.

Horton: All right, now, so you had this e-mail interview with him. It says that his identity was verified by high-ranking associates of his who you were able to, I guess, personally identify there. And now you asked him all about the status of possible peace negotiations. Now, I guess before you get too far into what he said, I’m curious whether these are the peace negotiations that Hamid Karzai has been pushing for, or wasn’t there a conflict where Karzai wanted negotiations now and the Obama team wanted negotiations but they didn’t want them to start for another year or so. Is that – do I understand that right?

Gopal: That’s right. Karzai wants negotiations now. I think he and other people in the Afghan government feel that they’re in a very bad place and they need to bring the insurgents to the table any way they can. Whereas the Obama administration would like to push this off for at least a year or more to try to regain momentum before they bring the insurgents to the table. And Hekmatyar reached out to the Afghan government this spring and basically offered to stop fighting and bring his fighters over to the government’s side in return for the US withdrawal or a timetable for US withdrawal and in return for a couple of other concessions.

Horton: Well, and he says in here, although I don’t know if anybody would take his word for it, that part of what he’s absolutely willing to agree to is that no so-called al Qaeda, I guess he means no Egyptian and Saudi friends of Osama or Zawahiri, will be welcome in Afghanistan at all and they are perfectly willing to make that deal with us, that they promise to keep Afghanistan al Qaeda-free from here on.

Gopal: Well, that’s right. I think what they’re looking for is power, or at least some pieces of the pie, because they’ve been kept out of power for the last nine years and I think they’re willing to trade power, or willing in return for getting power are willing to push out al Qaeda, but the real question is whether they even have the ability to exclude al Qaeda from the country, because they’re not the most powerful insurgent group, they’re only the second most powerful. The most powerful is the Taliban.

Horton: Yeah, well, even there, could you help me define Taliban? Because, I guess, you know, it used to mean Mullah Omar and his government, and to hear Hillary Clinton throw the word around, it means any Afghan who owns a rifle no matter which direction he’s shooting it, I’m pretty sure.

Gopal: Well, and that’s right. It’s a really slippery term and anybody who takes up arms against the US is labeled as Taliban, or even any sort of insecurity or instability they throw the term Taliban on, even if you look beneath the surface, it could be all sorts of other things. There’s mobs, there’s warlords, there’s gangs, they just forge all those men who don’t have any other means of making a livelihood, all of these get lumped together under the Taliban.

Horton: Yeah, well, and I mean to a drone operator apparently a guy with a gun on the ground is a legitimate target. Doesn’t matter who he is. How are you supposed to tell from the air? All you know is, he is holding a rifle, go ahead and “light him up,” right?

Gopal: Which is an extraordinary thing in a place like Afghanistan or Pakistan, because almost everybody there has weapons. This is a country that’s been at war for 30 years. Almost every household has a Kalashnikov or at least another sort of weapon. So if you’re basing it on who has weapons, then you’re going to start shooting everybody.

Horton: Okay, now, so I saw an essay, it was an opinion piece in the Washington Post a few days ago, I guess over the weekend, maybe it was Saturday, that said, “Eh, you know, maybe we need to negotiate an exit that will end up leaving Afghanistan looking more or less like Lebanon,” and in fact he even suggested in there, I’m not sure who the guy was, I forget, but you know it was in the Washington Post, so that’s something, and he was saying, “Eh, maybe we even need to give up Kabul to the Taliban, but still we could have an agreement with them.”

Gopal: Well, I think this shows just the extent to which things have gone poorly, because these are the same people who four or five years ago would have never even dreamed of giving up an inch of soil for the Taliban. But a lot of Afghans today are pushing for this. Particularly those Afghans living in areas where the fighting is happening. They’re pushing for an end to fighting, a negotiated settlement. And what I hear again and again is that the only people who are able to really deal with the Taliban problem are Afghans themselves and that the US military presence hasn’t really even been dealing with that problem.

Horton: In fact I even saw Dana Rohrabacher point out that it was the Northern Alliance, obviously with the help of, you know, CIA laser designators and the U.S. Air Force dropping gigantic bombs – but it was the Northern Alliance, the outsourced war, that overthrew the Taliban. And as Rohrabacher put it, the more troops we put in there, the stronger the Taliban gets in response. We’re going about this all wrong. And he’s the guy who, of course, was a big fan of the mujahideen in the 1980’s fighting against the Russians.

Gopal: Well that’s absolutely right. What we’ve seen in the last eight or nine years is a steady rate of troop increase. Every year there’s a few more thousand troops that come, but yet every year the violence gets worse. And what we essentially did in the ’90s – there was a civil war going on between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance – we intervened on one side of that civil war, the losing side, the Northern Alliance was on the losing end. But we intervened and basically put them into power, and that sort of, that battle is still going on today, although through different means.

Horton: Well, do you think it’s plausible that if we cut and run then that the Northern Alliance, with a little bit of help, would have been able to hold onto the power there, or is it the case that the people in power in Kabul now are just not the natural power monopoly in that country, that they only are there in power because we’re there protecting them?

Gopal: The Northern Alliance had their backs to the wall in the late ’90s and early 2000’s until the US invasion, so what we did was we took a losing force and put them up into power.

Horton: But I mean if we kept them – if we’d stayed around long enough for them to take Kabul but we hadn’t done this thing where we keep adding troops and adding troops and creating more and more reaction, could they have possibly been able to hold Kabul, or the Taliban would have just come right back anyway?

Gopal: I think the Taliban would have come back in that case as well because part of the problem was that the people that we aligned with were rapacious warlords. These are people who have been discredited for years, at least throughout the ’90s in the civil war there, and so these warlords, mostly Northern Alliance warlords or people associated with them, came back into power after 2001 and treated the population very, very poorly, and that’s what really created the space for the Taliban to come back.

Horton: And now it’s the case, though, isn’t it, that the Taliban isn’t really the natural government of even the Pashtun tribesmen and stuff, it’s basically kind of been grafted on, a movement that’s been grafted on top by the Pakistani intelligence agencies, right? Oh, I’m sorry to ask you a question right as we’re going to break here. We’ve only got 20 seconds, so hang tight right there, I’ll ask the question again when we get back from the break. It’s Anand Gopal. He writes for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal, great stuff, great coverage of the Afghan war, great answers to my questions. We’ll be right back.

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton, and I’m talking with Anand Gopal, who formerly wrote for the Wall Street Journal, has written also for the Christian Science Monitor and TomDispatch.com, our friend Tom Englehardt’s site. You can find at least a couple of his TomDispatch articles at Antiwar.com, that would be original.antiwar.com/engelhardt, and he is an expert on the Afghan War, and before we went out to the break, Anand, I was asking you whether you thought, whether you agreed with my very sort of slippery and half-informed interpretation here that the Taliban seems, my best understanding is that the Taliban is really not the natural kind of representative party or whatever of the Pashtun tribesmen of Afghanistan. It’s more like all they got. Is that basically right?

Gopal: That’s absolutely right. The Taliban are not popular at all, but they derive legitimacy from the fact that they’re not the Americans and they’re not the Afghan government. The real tragedy in Afghanistan is that the Americans aren’t popular either, nor is the Afghan government, so there’s really no force on the ground that can win the allegiance of the Afghans, and they’re sort of caught in between all of them.

Horton: Well, so, if the Americans just turned tail and ran or if I could get I Dream of Jeannie to just disappear them all back out of the country and back home again and leave Afghanistan to the Afghans, I guess it’s pretty clear that the Taliban would take Kabul, but would they be able to stay the government of Afghanistan even if they beat the Northern Alliance. Would the Pashtuns, for example, continue to allow them to be the state over the long term, you think?

Gopal: I think maybe over the next two or three years, yes, but over time possibly not because in the ’90s the Taliban showed that they really didn’t have much to offer to the Afghans. When they initially came to power in 1994 they were actually quite popular amongst the Pashtuns, but over time, by 2001, they became quite unpopular because they really didn’t deliver anything and, based on that, and at that point by 2001 there were starting to be opposition groups forming against the Taliban, but I think given enough time there would be a resistance movement against the Taliban.

Horton: All right, now, Hamid Karzai, the democratically elected president of Afghanistan, he has been known over the years as simply the Mayor of Kabul, and in Michael Hastings’ recent piece in the Rolling Stone there that caused all the controversy and cost McChrystal his job, they talk about how he just stays sick in bed with a cold all day and won’t even leave the walls of his palace, and I think it’s one of McChrystal’s men says he hasn’t left the palace in a year.

Gopal: Well, that’s right. He was the Mayor of Kabul and now he’s just a mayor of his own house. Just shows how much the Afghan government has really shrunk. And this is the case throughout the country where you have small towns of maybe 1,000 or 2,000 people surrounded by vast stretches of countryside, and in those small towns you maybe you have one or two government officials, a few police officers. Outside of that it’s completely Taliban country, or it’s controlled by warlords or drug traffickers. There’s no presence of the government at all.

Horton: Well, so, if Gen. Petraeus had an unlimited budget and an unlimited clock, is it possible, never mind the morality of it or anything like that, is it possible for America to wage a counterinsurgency war, clear, hold, build a modern state in the place that they clear, and have an allied state there in Afghanistan for the long term, say, a Korean type situation where we get to keep our troops there forever as the invited guests of the government that we help install?

Gopal: Well, to answer that, you can look at the last offensive in Marja, which happened in February, where the US sent I think 15,000 troops into this area which was really nothing more than a few villages, a small number of hamlets, and today Marja still the Taliban has a very strong presence and by even the administration’s accounts it’s not going well there. So 15,000 troops for a tiny area like Marja wasn’t enough to do the job. What does that tell you for the rest of the country or for more populous areas like Kandahar? I think no matter how many troops you have it’s going to be really difficult if not impossible to turn the situation around because it’s so much more than just troops, governance, it’s delivery of services, it’s creating security, all of that, and troops, soldiers aren’t trained to do all of those things. I think that’s a fundamental problem.

Horton: Well, and it seems too like even with the artificially high opium prices from all the global drug war, that Afghanistan could never have the gross domestic product to support the size of a state that America supposedly is nation-building for them over there. They want to have an army with I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of men and they want to have a modern air force and helicopters and everything else. This could only come at the expense of the American people. There is no way that Afghanistan could ever, even with all the gold in them thar hills afford what we’re building for them, right?

Gopal: That’s right. And I think the Afghan army would not survive a single day without our financial support and physical support on the ground. I think the way this number is now is for the Afghan government to be sustainable would require the US to fund it for at least 20 more years. So, really, Afghanistan traditionally hasn’t had its own sources of wealth and it has relied on donors and foreign states and that’s been one of the reasons why it’s been so susceptible to foreign invasions and foreign manipulations.

Horton: Now, when it comes to al Qaeda, McChrystal basically admitted to Michael Hastings that there is no al Qaeda, and this is, you know, TV at least says there is no more than 100 inside Afghanistan. How many real al Qaeda friends of Osama and Zawahiri do you think there are inside Pakistan and/or Afghanistan? And how about those two, bin Laden and Zawahiri, whatever happened to them?

Gopal: I would say that there is probably no more than 100 between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now there are some affiliate groups who aren’t Arab, but, for example, Uzbek or Pakistani. So if you include them, the numbers can get a little higher, but…

Horton: Well, just to clarify there, you say approximately 100 on both sides of the border, all told?

Gopal: All told, yeah. I think the number of Arabs in al Qaeda proper is no more than 100.

Horton: Wow. And now what about bin Laden and Zawahiri? Is bin Laden still alive up there in the Hindi Kush Mountains somewhere podcasting, or what?

Gopal: Well, I’m, if I were to bet I’d say he’s still alive. Every once in a while you hear some murmur, some sign that he is, but you know just the fact that he’s alive I think is the sort of thing, is the glue that holds together these 100 or 150 people. Because beyond that there’s not that much that puts al Qaeda together. They’re a really fractured, weak group. They don’t really have that much ability to alter the course of events anywhere in the world, including Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Horton: And now, Eric Margolis is a good friend of mine and a regular guest on this show, and he says he believes bin Laden is alive simply because his associates, or, you know, friends that he knows, his sources inside the Pakistani intelligence agencies and the military, they would tell him if he died. Everybody would know. It would be probably celebrated on TV all over the place, that kind of thing. Do you have any specific reason to think that he’s still around? Because you know a lot of people say that the tapes that they put out are faked and that kind of thing.

Gopal: Some of my sources in Pakistan that are close to the intelligence agency, they seem to believe that he’s still alive. Also, there were a couple of other instances where they have captured al Qaeda operatives. For example, I believe one that they captured in Belgium who had mentioned he had met bin laden somewhere a couple of years ago.

Horton: All right, we’ll have to hold it right there. We’ll be right back with Anand Gopal for one more segment after this. Antiwar Radio.

Horton: All right y’all. Welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m your host, Scott Horton. All right. I’m talking with Anand Gopal. He is a journalist who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, TomDispatch. You can also see interviews of him at The Real News. I have so many questions here. Let me get back to the question of the negotiations. Do you think that the Taliban – we talked about Haqqani and his interest in such a thing. But do you think that Mullah Omar at least, the actual Taliban such as it is, that they would be interested in truly negotiating, or they’d rather just wait around till we get tired or broke and leave?

Gopal: I think the Taliban are interested in negotiating. They feel that they have the upper hand right now. They can sense the fighting as well on the American side, and they’ve made a number of moves in that direction. They’ve reached out to Afghan government representatives and even went through the Pakistanis to reach out to the Afghan government. But negotiations, the real question is whether the Americans are on board or not.

Horton: Right, and, well, to read the New York Times version, anyway, they’re not. They don’t want to have anything to do with this.

Gopal: Right. At least in the White House and on the military side, that seems to be the case.

Horton: All right, now, so, what effect is the replacement of McChrystal by Gen. David Petraeus going to have on the war, do you anticipate there?

Gopal: I think largely very little, particularly from the Afghan point of view. However, McChrystal was a Special Forces guy and he was very into the sort of targeted assassinations, night raids and everything that has come to mark the war in the last year. And there was always a tension with him between kicking down doors and getting bad guys on the one hand and winning hearts and minds, which is part of counterinsurgency doctrine, on the other hand. Now it remains to be seen where Petraeus is going to strike that balance and if he’s going to sort of rely as heavily on the Special Forces as McChrystal did or if he’s not, then going to go with more traditional conventional battle.

Horton: Now, The Independent reported the other day that McChrystal actually had filed one last report about how, in so many words, all is lost, and people started speculating whether maybe he spilled his guts to Rolling Stone like that because he wanted to get fired, let the 2006 moment, as Gareth Porter calls it, comparing it to Iraq, happen on somebody else’s watch. But it also said in here that his last order was to stop the night raids.

Gopal: Yeah, I’d heard that, although he had made that order at least twice before and it doesn’t seem to really have made an effect. So it’s unclear to me if that was actually something that was done for public consumption, or if there was a real order that was actually meant to stop night raids.

Horton: Yeah. Well, I guess we’ll give him the less charitable interpretation for now, it’s most likely. Now the last time we spoke, one of the topics we talked about was a report that some students, none of them over the age of 18, were taken out, I don’t know, put on their knees and shot in the back of the head. Assassinated, basically, by Special Operations troops, and you said that a colleague of yours was going to investigate the nature of those accusations, and I wonder whether he ever told you what he found out.

Gopal: Well, yes. He found out in that case that the people who were killed were civilians and they ran between the ages of 14 and 25. It’s still unclear whether they were taken out and executed or if they were killed in the heat of the raid, I mean the heat of the action. And it’s been very difficult to reconstruct that because there are so many different accounts and you can imagine people burst into your house in the middle of the night and you’re scared or disoriented, how difficult it is to exactly give a coherent retelling of events. So we don’t know exactly, but we do know that there have been civilians that were killed.

Horton. And, yeah, I mean, heck, when the cops get the wrong door in a drug raid here in America – there was a guy for example named Cory Maye who was sentenced to death but then had his sentence commuted to just life in prison for defending himself against, as you say, armed men storming into his house in the middle of the night. He had no way to know who they were. And if one can imagine that any civilian who was able would attempt to defend themselves in a situation like that, but I guess if you pick up a weapon now you’re all fair game, huh?

Gopal: Right. This is the problem. Or even sometimes people aren’t even picking up weapons. They’re reaching for lights. There was one case that I investigated in which soldiers broke in and somebody went to get a torch. And they turned the torch on and the soldiers mistook that for some sort of fire and so they opened fire themselves and killed some of the family members.

Horton: Yeah, well, it’s a shame. And of course we know that they use robots to shoot Hellfire missiles at people all day in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, so I guess that one’s just notable particularly because when – innocent people are killed in night raids often too – that one was particularly notable though because some of the accusations were that they were taken out and executed.

Gopal: Right. Which are pretty serious accusations, and again the fog of war is pretty thick here and the area in which this happened is pretty difficult to get to, so we still don’t know exactly what happened.

Horton: All right, and then, let’s talk about the network of secret prisons around the country that we spoke about a little bit last time we were on the show. Of course there has been coverage since then, more coverage, of Appendix M, the part of the Army Field Manual that actually allows torture after John McCain and them rewrote it, and, but what you were talking about was this isn’t just going on at the secret black site at the annex over there at the Bagram prison, but that this is happening all over Afghanistan.

Gopal: That’s right. There’s a number of prisons that are on US military bases throughout the country. These are typically small prisons that are meant for interrogations. And as of early this year there were a lot of allegations surfacing that there was abuse taking place there. There has been a review of the process since we last spoke, and we haven’t heard of that many allegations coming out since then, so perhaps that’s a good sign that something’s changed, but it’ll take a few more months to actually see if that’s actually a real turnaround.

Horton: Yeah, well, and it does go to, I guess, what you call the “balance” there between trying to clear, hold and build while at the same time taking out “the bad guys” as they’re called by the military, and that means, I guess, people getting abducted and taken off to secret prisons, it means people getting shot and killed, and then somehow this is the same population that, I mean, I guess, according to the counterinsurgency doctrine, by the time we’re done winning their hearts and minds they’d elect us if they could, right? We’re trying to be their favorite people in the whole society. How do those things work together, or do they at all?

Gopal: I think this is a real tension that they haven’t, the US hasn’t really figured out how to get through. I mean, looking at the particular night raid is just – US policy for targeting Taliban leaders and midlevel commanders has actually been very successful in the last few months. They’ve killed a large number of midlevel commanders. However, that hasn’t changed the political dynamic on the ground at all because for every two or three commanders they’re killing, they’re also killing a couple of civilians, and so they’re actually continuing to turn the population against them at the same time as decapitating the Taliban on the local level.

Horton: Well, what about the idea that all this stuff about counterinsurgency this way or “Counter-Terrorism-Plus” that way, or whatever, is all just a smokescreen for staying forever? It seems like as long as there’s somebody shooting back, then there’s somebody to shoot.

Gopal: Right, and even the “Counter-Terrorism-Plus,” or [more limited -ed.] counterterrorism option, presupposes that we stay in the country and have an ability to intervene when and wherever we want, if something comes up.

Horton: Right. So, I mean, do you think that basically the military knows that all this counterinsurgency is nonsense but they got to call it something while they stay forever, which is basically the real doctrine?

Gopal: Well I think they believe in it, or at least there’s a big performance, they believe that they can actually go in there and make this work, but it’s a convenient belief because it does presuppose the idea that you have to stay there for an extended period of time.

Horton: All right, now, I apologize, I did not mention the name of your website, which is AnandGopal.com where you can find the links to all your writings, and I just want to thank you again for your time on the show today, Anand, it was great. I learned a lot.

Gopal: Thanks.

Horton: All right, y’all, we’ll be back. This is Antiwar Radio. Again, that’s AnandGopal.com for all his work.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_25_porter.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for Inter Press Service, discusses Afghanistan policy with Gen. David Petraeus in charge, how the military has achieved ideological hegemony in the US, Obama’s window of opportunity to deflect blame for failure in Afghanistan and why Petraeus was close to declaring defeat in Iraq before his 2007 testimony to Congress.

MP3 here. (18:07)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. He is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam. His articles appear on Counterpunch, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and Antiwar.com.

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Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome to the show. This is Antiwar Radio. I’m your host, Scott Horton. … We’re going to start now with my friend and my favorite reporter, Gareth Porter. He writes for Interpress Service, that’s IPSNews.net, and we republish every bit of it at Antiwar.com – original.antiwar.com/porter. Welcome back to the show, Gareth, how’s it going?

Gareth Porter: It’s going well, thanks, Scott. Thanks for having me back again.

Horton: Well I appreciate you joining us here. So, your new article says, “Switch to Petraeus Betrays Afghan Policy Crisis.” I guess everybody knows that Michael Hastings, friend of the show, published a piece in the Rolling Stone that led to the firing/resignation – I’m not sure exactly how they technically pulled it off, I guess obviously Obama asked for his resignation. And then General Petraeus, the commander of CENTCOM, which I think is all the land between Morocco and India, was demoted back down to the level of combatant commander in charge of the one war in Afghanistan. You take it from there.

Porter: Well, this is of course a huge development in the history of this war and of US policy, because of Petraeus’s prestige and the history of having salvaged the Iraq War, in a political sense at the very least, in 2007-2008. And so what we have here is a kind of, on the surface at least, a repeat of what happened in the Bush administration when you had a war that was suffering from political meltdown, that is, the meltdown of political support among the political elite and the national security elite, Petraeus sort of came in and seemed to walk on water as far as the national news media were concerned. Now, I think that what’s happening in this case is, despite the superficial appearance of similarity, you’re going to have a very different narrative emerging from this situation in Afghanistan. I mean, that’s my prediction, based on work that I’ve been doing on Petraeus and his command in Iraq, the fact that he came into Iraq –

Let me just begin with what I think is a signal fact about Petraeus that very few people know. When he agreed to take the command in Iraq in late 2006, he had no intention of going down in flames, or going down with the ship perhaps is a better way to put it, in Iraq, and he was very skeptical that this could work, that he could succeed even with 30,000 more troops in quelling the violence between Sunni and Shia, as well as taking control over both the Sunni and Shia insurgency, which was a pretty tall order, let’s face it. He gave the chances of success as considerably less than 50%, I can tell you, based on what people who worked closely with him have said. And he told his staff when he assembled them in early 2007 in Baghdad that should this not work, the only option would be to go to Congress and say it’s not working, we’re going to have to withdraw. So, the point about Petraeus that people need to understand is that he is, first of all, a political operator who is thinking about his own future more than anything else, before anything else. And when he –

Horton: Well, he wants to be the president.

Porter: Well, I don’t know if he wants to be president or not, that’s possible. I have some doubts about that, but who knows, I mean, what his view of the future is. But in any case, he clearly wants to be seen as the top dog in the military and he is at this moment atop the military hierarchy in terms of political prestige and power and he intends to enhance that by going into Afghanistan. And there’s no doubt in my mind that he expects that he’s going to have to make some adjustments in the policy. He’s going to have to work with Obama to adjust the expectations of what can be accomplished militarily in Afghanistan as part of this deal. That’s exactly what he did in Iraq, although people are not aware of that. So, the major theme that I want to lay out, and to do so even more clearly than I think I did in my article, is that there is a big, big gap between the public posture of the administration as well as Petraeus about Afghanistan and what their real thinking is and what their real plans are at this point.

Horton: So, what you’re telling me then is that when Obama says, listen, we’re getting rid of McChrystal, we are not changing the policy and that’s what putting Petraeus in charge here means and all that; when he says that, the real case is that Obama’s putting Petraeus in there because he thinks that if it comes down to it, Petraeus will be willing to tell the Congress, look, we got to get out of there, and it’s not because Obama says so, it’s because I say so.

Porter: I would say the answer is yes. Of course I think the wording is going to be very, very different, but in essence that is correct. In other words, he’s not going to be saying, you know, we’ve got to get out of here. He’s going to be putting it in terms of a set of concepts that will be much more acceptable to the public and to the military.

Horton: Right, like, we could do it, but it would take a million men and 40 years.

Porter: That’s right. I mean, it’s not feasible for the United States to prevail in Afghanistan in the sense of gaining control over the Taliban, and he knows it, even I think McChrystal in some sense knew that, but that’s not an acceptable message to lay out in the sharpest terms. What I think Petraeus is capable of doing is presenting it in a narrative that will be acceptable to the public.

Horton: Well, look, I mean, at least to my eyes he failed completely in Iraq. All he succeeded in doing was adding time to that “Washington clock” and saying, well we have to stay a little bit longer, and clearly he helped the majority win the civil war against the minority in Baghdad and, you know, let the Sons of Iraq, the Sunni leaders who’d been begging to just be allowed to patrol their own neighborhood for six years at that point, he finally said, okay, fine, stop fighting us, we’ll let you patrol your own neighborhood. They’re all getting stabbed in the back right now. I just read a piece about it last night, how the Sons of Iraq are caught between the suicide bombers and the Iranians and they – well, what they call the Iranians, meaning the Shiite majority – and you know Petraeus’s promise that, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of you, and we’ll make sure that Maliki allows you all a real place inside the Army and inside the government” and whatever, is obviously not true. They haven’t resolved the status of Kirkuk. They held an election, what, 2½ months ago, and it’s going to be another 2½ months before anybody figures out who the prime minister’s going to be over there. Iraq is a mess. There are bombs everywhere all the time. Americans are still going out on search and destroy missions. The only thing that’s really changed is the civil war part, and – the major part of the civil war and the news coverage ended. And now every single article about General Petraeus says, well, sailing on his wonderful victory in Iraq that I guess we just all know exists, right, they never have to prove this assertion at all, just refer to the slogan “The surge worked,” and because Petraeus was so successful in Iraq, he’s going to be our guy in Afghanistan now.

Porter: Well there are two levels on which I’d like to address that. The broader level–

Horton: Well you’re going to get one before the bumper music starts playing.

Porter: Okay. The broader, the more important level is, this is a perfect example of what Gramsci called “ideological hegemony,” which the US military has achieved in spades in this country.

Horton: Yeah, absolutely. In other words, military intelligence defines the terms of the debate and everybody stays within those lines. Chomsky’s “propaganda model,” only even more militarist than before.

Porter: But I want to say something more specific about that when we come back.

Horton: Okay, great. Everybody, it’s Dr. Gareth Porter, original.antiwar.com/porter. We’ll be right back on Antiwar Radio after this.

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show, Antiwar Radio, I’m your host, Scott Horton, and I’m talking with Gareth Porter, original.antiwar.com/porter. His most recent article is called “Switch to Petraeus Betrays Afghan Policy Crisis,” and when we went out to break I had set it up that at least in my view I think Petraeus failed in Iraq, all he succeeded in doing was getting you to memorize the slogan: “The surge worked.” And then Dr. Porter was going to comment on that when the bumper music started playing. Go ahead, Doc.

Porter: Yes, well the one thing I would say he succeeded in is essentially convincing or getting the Bush administration, essentially the White House, to go along with a policy in Iraq that was in fact much more accommodating to the forces that the United States had treated as enemies than the Bush administration had ever been willing to allow in the past.

Horton: Right.

Porter: There had been proposals coming from certain people in the military to make an accommodation with the Sunni insurgents in previous years, and the Bush White House said no. Because Bush I think was wedded to this narrative that the United States has got to defeat, to have a clear victory over the Sunni insurgents. That was what he had in his head.

Horton: Yeah, well, he wanted Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and his friends to rule the place.

Porter: Well, I don’t think he was so much pro-Shia as he was anti-Sunni. I mean, that was his particular hangup. But I think the point about Petraeus is that he was in a position of managing the White House. And I’ve actually heard people who worked for Petraeus put it in those terms, that he had to manage a president and a vice president, of course, even more so, who were much more hawkish about the use of military force than he was. And he was more realistic. And just to complete that thought, I mean, the thought that I began with. What people don’t know about Petraeus, in fact it’s never been published, is that two weeks before his key testimony to Congress in early September 2007, he and his staff were still trying to decide whether they were going to go to Congress and say, “This is not working, we have to get out,” or “This is working and we should continue on the same path.” And it was only in the final two weeks that they thought they’d come up with some statistics that they could put together to show progress, and in fact he went before Congress and said, yes, this is working, and the rest is history.

Horton: Well his major victory really was telling the troops, “Okay, just get back to your bases. No more IED lottery. You don’t have to drive around waiting to get blown up anymore.” And that was – I mean, hey, no more raids all day, no more insurgency.

Porter: Well, I mean that’s part of it, of course, but I think he just caught a lucky break, which you’ve alluded to, which was the decline of attacks within the capital, within Baghdad, which then allowed him to say that, you know, we’re on the right track. But I’m just pointing out that it was that close to Petraeus actually telling Congress and the American people that this is not working, we’re going to have to get out.

Horton: Now, I’m sure you probably saw this thing in the Washington Post saying that if we negotiate our way out of Afghanistan, it might look a lot like Lebanon. It might even be doable. I think he even says the name of this guy, I forget who it was that wrote it, it’s in the Washington Post though, that, “Eh, maybe we’ll even give the Taliban Kabul.”

Porter: Yeah, this is interesting. This is somebody from the US Institute of Peace, Daniel Serwer, who wrote this piece which is, you know, very sort of objective, nonideological, basically not taking any position one way or another about whether this is good or bad, but just saying this is what could be done. And, you know, this is in my view just one signal, one straw in the wind, about some of the thinking that’s going on in Washington. I’m not suggesting that there’s a straight line between that and President Obama by any means, just that this is one of the currents in play in Washington DC.

Horton: Well, I mean, because of the choice, because this is not Iraq, we’re not fighting for the majority, we’re fighting for the people who couldn’t possibly win on their own here and couldn’t possibly stand on their own here, and the, you know, all the attempts at creating an Afghanistan army the way that they did the Iraqi army have been even more of a failure, so the parallels to the Iraq so-called victory, for whatever it’s worth, pretty much all fall down. I guess the question is whether the counterinsurgency guys, who apparently have given up on their own idea anyway, are going to get a 20-year occupation and a trillion-dollar full-scale nation building, or whether, like we talked about, they’re actually going to just try to kill as many Taliban as they can and then go in a year. Except that the headline today is that last night Obama disavowed the July 2011 Afghan drawdown date. It’s the top of the page at Antiwar.com this minute.

Porter: Well, I think what’s going to happen is not, you know, it’s not that they’re going to get out fast, certainly they’re not going to get out fast before a negotiated settlement, and what I think Obama’s going to be looking for is to be in a position of telling the American people we are negotiating a way out, an exit strategy, so I think he wants to be able to be sitting down with or claiming to have somebody sitting down with or talking to the Taliban before he goes into the 2012 presidential election. I think that’s been his idea all along. This is going to take a while. I mean, you know, negotiations to end this kind of war are never going to be carried out fast. It’s going to take many, many months, and so it’s going to be a series of moves, as it was in Vietnam, I think that’s a reasonable model. You know, if you go back to the beginning of the Paris peace talks on Vietnam, it was 1968. That was five years. I’m not saying this is going to take five years, but it is going to take certainly more than 18 months for those negotiations to reach any completion, and you know, this is going to be a very, very tough, hard political conflict here at home over those negotiations, but that’s what we have to look forward to.

Horton: Well, you know, John McCain and the War Party in the Congress are always going to say, “If you leave, then Al Qaeda is going to come back from Pakistan into Afghanistan, and then from there we all know they can knock down our towers.”

Porter: But you know one of the good things is that once you agree that you have to negotiate and you’ve started the process, then the administration has an interest in telling the truth about that, which they don’t at this point. And the truth of course is that the Taliban has every reason to keep al Qaeda out, and they’ve already told us that they’re ready to negotiate, you know, legal guarantees, and that could be translated into even ways of having international inspections to ensure that al Qaeda doesn’t have any bases in Afghanistan. So, there’s plenty of ammunition that the administration can use to knock down that argument. They just don’t have any incentive at this point. I mean, I think they should, but they don’t see it that way, to really say what they could say about the issue.

Horton: Alright, so, you know, I’m not too good at all of this electoral politics stuff, because mostly I don’t care, but it seems like perhaps Obama’s doing the smart thing in putting Petraeus in charge of the war that he’s going to lose. That’s no way to become president, having been the general in charge of a lost war, right?

Porter: Well, I think there is something to that. I mean, you know, the first point about Obama and Petraeus is that Obama would rather have him close rather than farther away. I mean, there was talk about making him the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a second Obama administration, that would be one way of sort of keeping him under wraps, keeping him close by and within the administration. This might even be better.

Horton: Yeah. Well, we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out. Thanks very much for your insight, as always, Gareth.

Porter: My pleasure. Thanks, Scott.

Will Grigg

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_25_grigg.mp3]

Will Grigg, author of Liberty in Eclipse, discusses the police assault on bedridden 86-year old Lona Varner, the dissolution of the chronically-troubled Maywood CA police department and the trend toward military-style civilian law enforcement.

MP3 here. (20:38)

Will Grigg writes the blog Pro Libertate, hosts a show on the Liberty News Radio Network and is the author of Liberty in Eclipse.

Larry Siems

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_25_siems.mp3]

Larry Siems, principal author on the ACLU project The Torture Report, discusses his effort to summarize the thousands of Bush administration torture documents obtained through FOIA requests, the dozens of US citizens targeted for extrajudicial assassination by the Obama administration, John Durham’s long investigation into the CIA’s destruction of torture tapes and the massive opposition within the FBI and other agencies against torture.

MP3 here. (18:28)

Larry Siems works with the ACLU on The Torture Report, an initiative of the ACLU’s National Security Project that aims to give the full account of the Bush administration’s torture program. It will bring together information from government documents, investigations, press reports, witness statements and other publications into a single narrative – one that is updated regularly and subject to critical review and improvement as it unfolds.

Andy Worthington

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_24_worthington.mp3]

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses the nearly 75% success rate of Guantanamo detainee habeas hearings, why Gitmo inmate Mohammed Hassan Odaini – despite winning his habeas case and being cleared for release by the Bush and Obama administrations – remains in custody, the government’s incredibly flimsy evidence against the so called “worst of the worst” and how Washington political games and moral cowardice prevents justice from being served.

MP3 here. (20:40)

Andy Worthington writes for Counterpunch, the Future of Freedom Foundation and Antiwar.com. He is the author of The Guantanamo Files and blogs at AndyWorthington.co.uk. His documentary movie Outside the Law: Stories From Guantanamo is available on DVD.

Bruce Schneier

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_24_schneier.mp3]

Internationally renowned security technologist Bruce Schneier discusses Joe Lieberman’s proposal for an internet “kill switch,” why shutting down the internet during a crisis would cause more harm than good and how controversial websites like WikiLeaks use data redundancy spread out in different countries to prevent being shut down.

MP3 here. (18:51)

Bruce Schneier is an internationally renowned security technologist. He is the author of Schneier on Security, Applied Cryptography, Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World and Beyond Fear.

Regularly quoted in the media, Schneier has testified on security before the United States Congress on several occasions and has written articles and op eds for many major publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, Nature, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Washington Post.

Schneier also publishes a free monthly newsletter, Crypto-Gram, with over 150,000 readers. In its ten years of regular publication, Crypto-Gram has become one of the most widely read forums for free-wheeling discussions, pointed critiques, and serious debate about security. As head curmudgeon at the table, Schneier explains, debunks, and draws lessons from security stories that make the news.

Michael Hastings

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_23_hastings.mp3]

Michael Hastings, author of the article “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine, discusses the controversy surrounding his profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal (who has now been relieved of command in Afghanistan).

MP3 here. (8:09)

Michael Hastings is the author of I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story. In 2008, he covered the U.S. presidential elections for Newsweek, and before that he was the magazine’s Baghdad correspondent. His articles have appeared in GQ, Slate, Salon, Foreign Policy, the LA Times, and other publications. His blog The Hastings Report focuses on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other foreign policy topics.

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Scott Horton: All right, everybody, we’re joined on the phone by Michael Hastings, freelance reporter, friend of the show, and he is the author of the article that’s turned Washington D.C. upside down this week, “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine. Welcome back to the show, Michael, how are you doing?

Michael Hastings: I’m good man. How are things on your end?

Horton: Everything’s great, I really appreciate you joining us here on the phone from, where, Kandahar this morning?

Hastings: Yeah, I’m in Kandahar right now.

Horton: And how’s things there?

Hastings: Well, we, just a few, it was a half hour, 40 minutes ago, we were hit by a number of rockets, which is a pretty regular occurrence here, and there’s pretty regular fighting all around this area right now. We spent a couple moments on the floor and in a bunker.

Horton: Jeez. Well. And I hope you’re bugging out of there this morning and going back to Kabul or somewhere safer?

Hastings: Yeah, I’m heading out of here.

Horton: Okay, right on. Well in the few minutes before you get in your armored vehicle or whatever it is and get out of there, man, let’s talk about well, first of all, I guess, the reaction to your piece. You have Gen. McChrystal and his team, “Team America,” his closest buddies surrounding him, really opening up about how much they cannot stand the administration, and that seems to have been the thing that got Washington all upset.

Hastings: Yeah, apparently to criticize and make fun of the vice president in front of reporters, that’s generally probably not a good career move. But I think, I think what the comments point to from Gen. McChrystal’s view is a real frustration that his team has with the White House as well as a frustration he has with other civilian policy makers who are involved in the Afghanistan strategy.

Horton: Yeah, I mean, that’s really what comes across in the article is that it’s not a personal account really of McChrystal, it’s about his inability to succeed in Afghanistan, and then it seems like all the frustration, all the finger pointing goes up from there, instead of them taking responsibility, him and his “Team America.”

Hastings: Yeah, and I think certainly if we look at, you know, President Obama’s role in selecting Gen. McChrystal, why he selected Gen. McChrystal, and what President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan originally was remember, in March 2009, you know, President Obama said he wanted to narrow the goals in Afghanistan, narrow them to just fighting al Qaeda. Then he selected a Gen. who proceeded to do just the opposite and expand the goals almost exponentially. We went from 50,000 troops to 150,000 troops. We went from fighting al Qaeda to building a nation on an almost unprecedented scale. So, really, I think, you know part of this hostility is the relationship between the president and the general and the fact that the president has just sort of lost control of the policy.

Horton: Yeah, well, and it doesn’t sound like the troops in Afghanistan seem to be so gung ho about this anymore either.

Hastings: No, I think, I mean I’m sure you’ve discussed counterinsurgency many times on your program, and we’ve discussed this before as well. You know, the US military is made to fight. That’s what they’re really good at, and they’re really efficient at it. And it’s very difficult to put them in situations and then tell them, you know, don’t fight. And that rubs a lot of them the wrong way and a lot of them feel that they may have to make sacrifices and they might be putting their own lives more at risk rather than, say, killing who they view are insurgents.

Horton: Yeah, well, and that’s an interesting thing too, the whole, you know, sent out there to fight with one hand tied behind their back. They’re up against people who have rifles and are willing to shoot back at them and yet then because they’re supposed to be trying to avoid civilian casualties, even though all their enemies are civilians, they’re put in a position where they have to get shot rather than shoot.

Hastings: Really, and I think, I mean I think you know this is a sort of fundamental flaw with counterinsurgency is that, you know, we spend $600 billion a year on our military but then we get involved in these wars where we can’t even use our technological edge. I mean, in a way it doesn’t make much sense. So, yeah, I mean, you know, once you take away the US and the ground troops’ air support, you’re putting a US solider on, you know, a somewhat level playing field with a Taliban fighter. And so these guys who signed up to fight are like, “What the hell, you know, like, why are we here?”

Horton: Yeah, they imagined they were going to be a set piece battle against a different state’s military instead of patrolling around like a, you know, a SWAT cop or something. Well, now, you talk about how they changed the mission from fighting al Qaeda to building a nation and how McChrystal’s gotten his stamp on it, and I guess they had to change the mission because, he says in here, there are no al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Hastings: Exactly. I mean, the sort of connection between nation building and fighting terrorism and fighting al Qaeda is I think, you know, a very tenuous connection at best, and so you get stuck with this momentum of the campaign you’re fighting, and it’s worse than a quagmire. They’re saying that really it’s worse than a quagmire because it’s a quagmire we knowingly walked into. Because if say al Qaeda’s in Pakistan, then what are we doing in Afghanistan?

Horton: Yeah. Well now, the centerpiece of the COIN strategy supposedly was this, or the showpiece for it I guess, was the invasion of Marjah. They were going to give the people of Marjah a “government in a box.” Did you have a chance to talk with Gen. McChrystal much about that operation?

Hastings: Well, I did talk to him about that, and he, you know, was sort of optimistically cautious as that’s the position they take. But then, you know, much later he said that Marjah was a “bleeding ulcer.” So what does that say? And I think one of the funny things about this story is that people have been saying, “Wow, how could he have said these things in private to you?” Well look at what he says in public. He’s calling one of his operations a bleeding ulcer. So what do we expect him to say in private?

Horton: Right, yeah, his centerpiece operation. At least he’s bluntly honest, this guy. Well, and look, this is not nothing here: It seems like there is, you know, a challenge to the civilian supremacy in a sense here, you have a very powerful general mocking and ridiculing the president, the vice president, the special envoy, the ambassador, everybody but the secretary of state, apparently, he thinks he’s better than them, and that’s really not how it’s supposed to be in America. Did you take that as a real challenge to civilian supremacy or as just some drunk old general is letting off some steam here?

Hastings: I think there’s a larger kind of structural issue here about you just compare the DOD budget to the State Department budget, $600 billion to $50 billion. You know, you look at every foreign service officer you know, there’s more people in the Army band than there are foreign service officers. You know, you could fit every foreign service officer on an aircraft carrier. You know, so you look like at just the sort of decay of the State Department and basically our foreign policy has become our defense policy. You know, the two are one. And I think that translates into the fact that a lot of the time just the leaders get the blame for all the wars, and they should take their fair share of blame, but I think we also have to start looking at the military leaders in a much more critical way than they’re accustomed to be looked at. We’re packing up here and so I’ve got to take off, but I appreciate your time and we’ll talk again soon.

Horton: Likewise. Be safe, and we’ll follow up hopefully either tomorrow or Friday or next week.

Hastings: Cool.

Horton: Take care, Michael. All right, everybody, that’s Michael Hastings with the story of the week, so far, in Rolling Stone magazine, “The Runaway General.”

Scott Horton: All right, everybody, we’re joined on the phone by Michael Hastings, freelance reporter, friend of the show, and he is the author of the article that’s turned Washington D.C. upside down this week, “The Runaway General” in Rolling Stone magazine. Welcome back to the show, Michael, how are you doing?

Michael Hastings: I’m good man. How are things on your end?

Horton: Everything’s great, I really appreciate you joining us here on the phone from, where, Kandahar this morning?

Hastings: Yeah, I’m in Kandahar right now.

Horton: And how’s things there?

Hastings: Well, we, just a few, it was a half hour, 40 minutes ago, we were hit by a number of rockets, which is a pretty regular occurrence here, and there’s pretty regular fighting all around this area right now. We spent a couple moments on the floor and in a bunker.

Horton: Jeez. Well. And I hope you’re bugging out of there this morning and going back to Kabul or somewhere safer?

Hastings: Yeah, I’m heading out of here.

Horton: Okay, right on. Well in the few minutes before you get in your armored vehicle or whatever it is and get out of there, man, let’s talk about – well, first of all, I guess, the reaction to your piece. You have Gen. McChrystal and his team, “Team America,” his closest buddies surrounding him, really opening up about how much they cannot stand the administration, and that seems to have been the thing that got Washington all upset.

Hastings: Yeah, apparently to criticize and make fun of the vice president in front of reporters, that’s generally probably not a good career move. But I think, I think what the comments point to from Gen. McChrystal’s view is a real frustration that his team has with the White House as well as a frustration he has with other civilian policy makers who are involved in the Afghanistan strategy.

Horton: Yeah, I mean, that’s really what comes across in the article is that it’s not a personal account really of McChrystal, it’s about his inability to succeed in Afghanistan, and then it seems like all the frustration, all the finger pointing goes up from there, instead of them taking responsibility, him and his “Team America.”

Hastings: Yeah, and I think certainly if we look at, you know, President Obama’s role in selecting Gen. McChrystal, why he selected Gen. McChrystal, and what President Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan originally was – remember, in March 2009, you know, President Obama said he wanted to narrow the goals in Afghanistan, narrow them to just fighting al Qaeda. Then he selected a Gen. who proceeded to do just the opposite and expand the goals almost exponentially. We went from 50,000 troops to 150,000 troops. We went from fighting al Qaeda to building a nation on an almost unprecedented scale. So, really, I think, you know part of this hostility is the relationship between the president and the general and the fact that the president has just sort of lost control of the policy.

Horton: Yeah, well, and it doesn’t sound like the troops in Afghanistan seem to be so gung ho about this anymore either.

Hastings: No, I think, I mean I’m sure you’ve discussed counterinsurgency many times on your program, and we’ve discussed this before as well. You know, the US military is made to fight. That’s what they’re really good at, and they’re really efficient at it. And it’s very difficult to put them in situations and then tell them, you know, don’t fight. And that rubs a lot of them the wrong way and a lot of them feel that they may have to make sacrifices and they might be putting their own lives more at risk rather than, say, killing who they view are insurgents.

Horton: Yeah, well, and that’s an interesting thing too, the whole, you know, sent out there to fight with one hand tied behind their back. They’re up against people who have rifles and are willing to shoot back at them and yet then because they’re supposed to be trying to avoid civilian casualties, even though all their enemies are civilians, they’re put in a position where they have to get shot rather than shoot. Hastings: Really, and I think, I mean I think you know this is a sort of fundamental flaw with counterinsurgency is that, you know, we spend $600 billion a year on our military but then we get involved in these wars where we can’t even use our technological edge. I mean, in a way it doesn’t make much sense. So, yeah, I mean, you know, once you take away the US and the ground troops’ air support, you’re putting a US solider on, you know, a somewhat level playing field with a Taliban fighter. And so these guys who signed up to fight are like, “What the hell, you know, like, why are we here?”

Horton: Yeah, they imagined they were going to be a set piece battle against a different state’s military instead of patrolling around like a, you know, a SWAT cop or something. Well, now, you talk about how they changed the mission from fighting al Qaeda to building a nation and how McChrystal’s gotten his stamp on it, and I guess they had to change the mission because, he says in here, there are no al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Hastings: Exactly. I mean, the sort of connection between nation building and fighting terrorism and fighting al Qaeda is I think, you know, a very tenuous connection at best, and so you get stuck with this momentum of the campaign you’re fighting, and it’s worse than a quagmire. They’re saying that really it’s worse than a quagmire because it’s a quagmire we knowingly walked into. Because if say al Qaeda’s in Pakistan, then what are we doing in Afghanistan?

Horton: Yeah. Well now, the centerpiece of the COIN strategy supposedly was this, or the showpiece for it I guess, was the invasion of Marjah. They were going to give the people of Marjah a “government in a box.” Did you have a chance to talk with Gen. McChrystal much about that operation?

Hastings: Well, I did talk to him about that, and he, you know, was sort of optimistically cautious as that’s the position they take. But then, you know, much later he said that Marjah was a “bleeding ulcer.” So what does that say? And I think one of the funny things about this story is that people have been saying, “Wow, how could he have said these things in private to you?” Well look at what he says in public. He’s calling one of his operations a bleeding ulcer. So what do we expect him to say in private?

Horton: Right, yeah, his centerpiece operation. At least he’s bluntly honest, this guy. Well, and look, this is not nothing here: It seems like there is, you know, a challenge to the civilian supremacy in a sense here, you have a very powerful general mocking and ridiculing the president, the vice president, the special envoy, the ambassador, everybody but the secretary of state, apparently, he thinks he’s better than them, and that’s really not how it’s supposed to be in America. Did you take that as a real challenge to civilian supremacy or as just some drunk old general is letting off some steam here?

Hastings: I think there’s a larger kind of structural issue here about – you just compare the DOD budget to the State Department budget, $600 billion to $50 billion. You know, you look at every foreign service officer – you know, there’s more people in the Army band than there are foreign service officers. You know, you could fit every foreign service officer on an aircraft carrier. You know, so you look like at just the sort of decay of the State Department and basically our foreign policy has become our defense policy. You know, the two are one. And I think that translates into the fact that a lot of the time just the leaders get the blame for all the wars, and they should take their fair share of blame, but I think we also have to start looking at the military leaders in a much more critical way than they’re accustomed to be looked at. We’re packing up here and so I’ve got to take off, but I appreciate your time and we’ll talk again soon.

Horton: Likewise. Be safe, and we’ll follow up hopefully either tomorrow or Friday or next week.

Hastings: Cool.

Horton: Take care, Michael. All right, everybody, that’s Michael Hastings with the story of the week, so far, in Rolling Stone magazine, “The Runaway General.”

Ann Wright

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_22_wright.mp3]

Former State Department diplomat Ann Wright discusses her reasons for joining the Gaza aid flotilla, her firsthand account of the Israeli raid on the MV Mavi Marmara and Challenger 1, the use of collective punishment to effect regime change and Obama’s silence on the death of nine activists including a US citizen.

MP3 here. (26:33)

Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she received a master’s and a law degree. She also has a master’s degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval War College. After college, she spent thirteen years in the U.S. Army and sixteen additional years in the Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel. She is airborne-qualified.

In 1987, Col.Wright joined the Foreign Service and served as U.S. Deputy Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone, the largest evacuation since Saigon. She was on the first State Department team to go to Afghanistan and helped reopen the Embassy there in December 2001. Her other overseas assignments include Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, Micronesia, and Nicaragua.

On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ann Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a disaster. Since then, she has been writing and speaking out for peace. She fasted for a month, picketed at Guantánamo, served as a juror in impeachment hearings, traveled to Iran as a citizen diplomat, and has been arrested numerous times for peaceful, nonviolent protest of Bush’s policies, particularly the war on Iraq.  In the last year, she has been on delegations to Iran and Gaza. She lives in Honolulu.

Shayana Kadidal

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_22_kadidal.mp3]

Shayana Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights, discusses the Supreme Court decision on the “material support” for terrorism case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the Court’s continued deference to “wartime” decisions made by the executive and legislative branches, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan’s lead role in arguing the government’s position in the case, why teaching the Tamil Tigers about representative democracy could land you in prison, the Clinton administration’s broadened application of economic sanctions and the wisdom in treating terrorists like criminals instead of waging a “war on terror.”

MP3 here. (19:25)

Shayana Kadidal is senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

In his eight years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases in the wake of 9/11, including the Center’s challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court (with a third case to be heard in March 2010), and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps.

He is also counsel in CCR’s legal challenges to the “material support” statute (to be argued at the Supreme Court in February 2010), to the low rates of black firefighter hiring in New York City, and to the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program.

Tom Engelhardt

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_21_engelhardt.mp3]

Tom Engelhardt, author of The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s, discusses American ignorance of the unprecedented US empire of bases, fighting one-sided impersonal wars by remote control, forgotten lessons from George Orwell’s 1984, why the USAF plan to run the world from Guam and Diego Garcia won’t be easy, another Green Zone-style US “embassy” planned for Islamabad in Pakistan and why the Obama administration seems to be floundering without the intense (if deluded) strategic vision of the Bush era.

MP3 here. (20:22)

Tom Engelhardt created and runs the Tomdispatch.com website, a project of The Nation Institute where he is a Fellow. He is the author of a highly praised history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing, as well as a collection of his Tomdispatch interviews, Mission Unaccomplished. Each spring he is a Teaching Fellow at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. His newest book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.

Jason Ditz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_21_ditz.mp3]

Jason Ditz, managing news editor at Antiwar.com, discusses Israel’s revised list of goods allowed into Gaza, smuggling tunnels from Egypt that provide “luxury” goods for a few politically connected Gazans, running the clock out on an international flotilla investigation, Obama’s gutless presidency and why Turkey is at a crossroads.

MP3 here. (17:47)

Jason Ditz is the managing news editor at Antiwar.com.

Rep. Ron Paul

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_18_paul.mp3]

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) discusses the hope for a new political realignment around the issues of peace, the Bill of Rights and ending corporate welfare, his support for the “War is Making You Poor” Act, how government insolvency can lessen restrictions on individual liberty and why the US only needs a small defensive military supplemented by volunteer militias.

MP3 here. (9:57)

Congressman Ron Paul represents Texas’s 14th district. He is the author of The Revolution: A Manifesto, A Foreign Policy of Freedom: Peace, Commerce, and Honest Friendship and Freedom Under Siege. His archived columns for Antiwar.com appear at http://original.antiwar.com/paul

John Dennis

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_18_dennis.mp3]

This interview was conducted by Antiwar.com director Eric Garris.

John Dennis, 2010 Republican candidate for the House of Representatives in California’s 8th Congressional District (Nancy Pelosi’s seat), discusses his chances for success in an overwhelmingly Democratic district, NSA warrantless wiretapping at AT&T in San Francisco that Pelosi was likely aware of, how Ron Paul’s liberty movement can coexist with the Palin wing of the Tea Party and why Pelosi hasn’t had to run a real campaign since the Reagan administration.

MP3 here. (28:19)

John Dennis, an accomplished businessman and entrepreneur, has been a pro-liberty Republican for a quarter century. Born in Jersey City, the son of a longshoreman and a city hall clerk, he grew up in one of the city’s toughest public housing projects. After graduating from Fordham University with a degree in business administration, John co-founded Humanscale, which became one of the world’s top 10 design firms, specializing in office ergonomics.

After a varied career in global development and marketing, John created Foundation Real Estate, a San Francisco-based investment company with domestic and international holdings. He is the founder of the San Francisco chapter of the Republican Liberty Caucus and currently the head of the Campaign for Liberty San Francisco. John is a board member of the Republican Liberty Caucus California, has served as an alternate on the San Francisco Republican Central Committee and is a member of the National Rifle Association.

His campaign experience includes voter contact coordination with Mike DeNunzio for San Francisco Supervisor and Harmeet Dhillon for California Assembly. In 2008, he served as Phonebank and Get Out the Vote Director for the Ron Paul Presidential campaign in San Francisco.  John, his wife Heather and daughter Devan, make their home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco.

Edward Peck

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_18_peck.mp3]

Former US Ambassador Edward Peck discusses his participation in the Gaza aid flotilla and his subsequent deportation from Israel, bogus excuses that impede progress toward a free Palestine, Joe Biden’s unwavering devotion to Israel, American ignorance about foreign affairs and why (if they really do hate us for our freedoms) the disposition of terrorists is improving.

MP3 here. (28:50)

During 32 years in the Foreign Service, Ambassador Peck served overseas as Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, and was an Embassy officer in Sweden, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt.

In Washington, he was Deputy Director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism at the Reagan White House; Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Deputy Coordinator for Global Covert Operations, and Director of Egyptian Affairs at the State Department; Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon; and Fellow, Institute for Higher Defense Studies, at The National Defense University. He speaks Arabic, French, Spanish and Swedish.

In retirement, he has been Executive Secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy; Chairman, Political Tradecraft Programs, National Foreign Affairs Training Center; Distinguished Visitor, National War College; Senior Fellow, Joint Forces Staff College; Board Member, Americans for Middle East Understanding. He is a commentator for television and radio in the US and abroad, and teaches and lectures on a broad range of international issues for governments, educational, business and civic organizations worldwide.

A paratrooper, Ambassador Peck had two tours of wartime active duty, serving from Private to 1st Lieutenant. He holds a B.S. from UCLA, and an M.B.A. from George Washington U.

Glenn Greenwald

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_17_greenwald.mp3]

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com blogger and former constitutional lawyer, discusses the SCOTUS decision not to hear the case of Canadian rendition/torture victim Maher Arar, the triumph of John Yoo’s theory of nearly unlimited executive power and the defeat of constitutional judicial oversight, how the Obama administration continues the Bush legacy of avoiding governmental accountability, how Wikileaks fills the government watchdog role abdicated by the overly deferential press corps and the resemblance of character attacks on Daniel Ellsberg and SPC Bradley Manning.

MP3 here. (29:25)

Glenn Greenwald was a constitutional lawyer in New York City, first at the Manhattan firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and then at the litigation firm he founded, Greenwald, Christoph. Greenwald litigated numerous high-profile and significant constitutional cases in federal and state courts around the country, including multiple First Amendment challenges. He has a J.D. from New York University School of Law (1994) and a B.A. from George Washington University (1990). In October of 2005, Greenwald started a political and legal blog, Unclaimed Territory, which quickly became one of the most popular and highest-trafficked in the blogosphere.

Upon disclosure by the New York Times in December 2005 of President Bush’s warrantless eavesdropping program, Greenwald became one of the leading and most cited experts on that controversy. In early 2006, he broke a story on his blog regarding the NSA scandal that served as the basis for front-page articles in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers, all of which credited his blog for the story. Several months later, Sen. Russ Feingold read from one of Greenwald’s posts during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Feingold’s resolution to censure the president for violating FISA. In 2008, Sen. Chris Dodd read from Greenwald’s Salon blog during floor debate over FISA. Greenwald’s blog was also cited as one of the sources for the comprehensive report issued by Rep. John Conyers titled “The Constitution in Crisis.” In 2006, he won the Koufax Award for best new blog.

Greenwald is the author of A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok and Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics.

Jason Ditz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_16_ditz.mp3]

Jason Ditz, managing news editor at Antiwar.com, discusses the lies and half truths in Israel’s propaganda campaign against the Gaza aid flotilla, the media’s narrative change from “Israel attacks aid ship” to “Terrorists ambush Israeli soldiers,” how outlandish Israeli accusations capture media attention while rebuttals are mostly ignored, military censorship of news stories in Israel proper and evidence that the Gaza blockade is intended as collective punishment and not to “keep the weapons out.”

MP3 here. (18:15)

Jason Ditz is the managing news editor at Antiwar.com.

Robert Parry

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_16_parry.mp3]

Robert Parry, founder of ConsortiumNews.com, discusses the mainstream media’s persecution of journalist Gary Webb for daring to investigate the CIA/contra 1980s drug trafficking connection, how the empowered right wing media and associated personal-attack groups have created a generation of self-censoring and timid journalists, alternative media that can contest conventional wisdom but can’t compete with the MSM budget-wise and the recent hit pieces on classified documents leaker SPC. Bradley Manning.

MP3 here. (29:04)

Robert Parry is an investigative journalist who won the George Polk Award in 1984 for reporting on the Iran-Contra affair and uncovering Oliver North’s involvement in it. He is the founder and editor of ConsortiumNews.com and author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery and Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_15_porter.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for Inter Press Service, discusses the impending “Iraq 2006 moment” Gen. McChrystal faces in Afghanistan, the political “fix” discussed at the June CNAS conference: Republican pressure on Obama to scrap the 2011 withdrawal timetable, the dogged American determination to continue unwinnable wars and the difference between Iran’s NPT comprehensive safeguards obligations and its temporary voluntary compliance with the much-ballyhooed Additional Protocol and code 3.1.

MP3 here. (28:49)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. He is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam. His articles appear on Counterpunch, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and Antiwar.com.

Kelley B. Vlahos

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_15_vlahos.mp3]

Featured Antiwar.com columnist Kelley B. Vlahos discusses her coverage of the mainstream Democratic interventionist CNAS conference, the unprecedented politicization of military policy, public relations stunts disguised as war strategy initiatives and why think tanks that function only as echo chambers are not part of the reality-based community.

MP3 here. (18:45)

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer, is a longtime political reporter for FoxNews.com, a contributing editor at The American Conservative magazine and featured Antiwar.com columnist. She is also a Washington correspondent for Homeland Security Today magazine.

Barry Eisler

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_15_eisler.mp3]

Barry Eisler, political thriller novelist and author of Inside Out, discusses how his previous CIA employment influenced his style of fiction writing, the degradation of US political conservatism, why the government’s response to terrorism has been more damaging than the terrorism itself and how 9/11 triggered the irrational primitive survival instincts of many Americans.

MP3 here. (18:41)

Barry Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, then worked as a technology lawyer and startup executive in Silicon Valley and Japan, earning his black belt at the Kodokan International Judo Center along the way. Eisler’s bestselling thrillers have won the Barry Award and the Gumshoe Award for Best Thriller of the Year, have been included in numerous “Best Of” lists, and have been translated into nearly twenty languages. Eisler lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and, when he’s not writing novels, blogs about torture, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

Philip Weiss

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_14_weiss.mp3]

Investigative journalist Philip Weiss discusses the isolation of neoconservatives due to Israel’s bad behavior, Senator Charles Schumer’s odd justification for the Gaza blockade, why Hamas can and should be negotiated with.

MP3 here. (20:47)

Philip Weiss is an investigative journalist who has written for The Nation, New York Times Magazine, The American Conservative, Jewish World Review and other publications. He is the author of American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps and writes the blog “Mondoweiss.”

Jason Ditz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_14_ditz.mp3]

Jason Ditz, managing news editor at Antiwar.com, discusses the brief and unproductive first session of Iraq’s new parliament, Muqtada al-Sadr’s feud with Nouri al-Maliki, Iran’s considerable influence in Iraqi politics and why US efforts to export democracy often end in disaster.

MP3 here. (16:30)

Jason Ditz is the managing news editor at Antiwar.com.

Pierre Tristam

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_14_tristam.mp3]

Pierre Tristam, editor of Flaglerlive.com, discusses his article “From Times Square to Jacksonville: When Terrorism Is a Double-Standard,” scant press coverage of the firebombing outside a Jacksonville, FL mosque, bigotry and ignorance at work in local government and the lucrative business of Islamic terrorism fearmongering.

MP3 here. (16:26)

Pierre Tristam is editor of Flaglerlive.com, About.com’s guide to Middle East issues and contributor to Commondreams.org and other progressive websites.

Daniel Ellsberg

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_09_ellsberg.mp3]

Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, discusses Specialist Bradley Manning‘s arrest for passing classified information to Wikileaks, the unfortunate negative connotations of the “whistleblower” moniker, how Obama has decriminalized torture, 260,000 possible sources of embarrassment for the State Department and the Obama administration’s eager prosecution of whistleblowers.

MP3 here. (33:12)

Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

In 1959 Daniel Ellsberg worked as a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines.

On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, he worked on the Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

Scott Horton

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_08_horton.mp3]

The Other Scott Horton (no relation), international human rights lawyer, professor and contributing editor at Harper’s magazine, discusses Israel’s failure to uphold the mark of a (somewhat) benevolent state: a high threshold for using deadly force against civilians, Israel’s purposeful destruction of  Gaza’s economy to encourage deserters, the ignoble end of Helen Thomas’s estimable career in journalism, the “good faith” defense for CIA torturers dreamed up by Dick Cheney and justified by the OLC “torture memos,” the junk science used by doctors and psychologists to quantify acceptable pain levels inflicted on prisoners, the US departure from precedents set by Nuremberg war crimes prosecutions, a possible “Guantanamo suicides” link to CIA torture experimentation at Camp “No” and the likely existence of more CIA “interrogation” videos.

MP3 here. (42:57)

The other Scott Horton is a Contributing Editor for Harper’s magazine where he writes the No Comment blog. A New York attorney known for his work in emerging markets and international law, especially human rights law and the law of armed conflict, Horton lectures at Columbia Law School. A life-long human rights advocate, Scott served as counsel to Andrei Sakharov and Elena Bonner, among other activists in the former Soviet Union.

He is a co-founder of the American University in Central Asia, and has been involved in some of the most significant foreign investment projects in the Central Eurasian region. Scott recently led a number of studies of abuse issues associated with the conduct of the war on terror for the New York City Bar Association, where he has chaired several committees, including, most recently, the Committee on International Law. He is also a member of the board of the National Institute of Military Justice, the Andrei Sakharov Foundation, the EurasiaGroup and the American Branch of the International Law Association.

Lew Rockwell

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_08_rockwell.mp3]

Lew Rockwell, founder and Chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, discusses the American cultural acceptance of torture, Ron Paul’s ability to instill libertarian ideals in young people and the uphill battle to convince Americans that Iran is not a threat.

MP3 here. (17:36)

Lew Rockwell is the founder and Chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, Vice President of the Center for Libertarian Studies in Burlingame, California, and publisher of the political Web site LewRockwell.com. He served as Ron Paul’s congressional chief of staff between 1978 and 1982. Check out his podcast show here.

Jason Ditz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_07_ditz.mp3]

Jason Ditz, managing news editor at Antiwar.com, discusses the reports emerging from flotilla activists released from Israeli custody, why the fleeting nature of media news cycles may defeat efforts to debunk Israel’s propaganda blitz and the missing-in-action official US government response to the killing of Furkan Dogan.

MP3 here. (16:17)

Jason Ditz is the managing news editor at Antiwar.com.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_07_porter.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for Inter Press Service, discusses the CIA drone operators who believe their own jobs are counterproductive, how the Obama administration caters to domestic public opinion by extending policies that sound tough even though they are ineffective, US intelligence gathering on Iran that focuses on worst-case scenarios rather than plausible outcomes and why US military expansionism can’t keep pace with the newly radicalized populations it creates.

MP3 here. (28:54)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. He is the author of Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam. His articles appear on Counterpunch, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and Antiwar.com.

Nick Baumann

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_07_baumann.mp3]

Nick Baumann, assistant editor at Mother Jones, discusses the Physicians for Human Rights study that alleges prisoners in CIA custody were used as guinea pigs, how experimentation with torture combinations was meant to bolster the legality and effectiveness of “enhanced” interrogations, the close collaboration of doctors and psychologists with CIA torturers, revised prisoner experimentation rules in the 2006 Military Commissions Act and how government-perpetrated barbarism seems to be the new normal.

MP3 here. (17:32)

Nick Baumann is an assistant editor at Mother Jones based in their DC bureau, where he covers national politics. Nick’s writing has also appeared in The Economist, The Washington Monthly, and Commonweal.

Doug Bandow

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_04_bandow.mp3]

Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses N. Korea’s heated rhetoric after being blamed (and soon to be punished) for sinking a S. Korean warship, the strong motivation of all parties involved to ultimately find a peaceful settlement and the US intervention in yet another conflict halfway around the world.

MP3 here. (8:14)

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, specializing in foreign policy and civil liberties. He worked as special assistant to President Reagan and editor of the political magazine Inquiry. He writes regularly for leading publications such as Fortune magazine, National Interest, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Times. Bandow speaks frequently at academic conferences, on college campuses, and to business groups. Bandow has been a regular commentator on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC. He holds a J.D. from Stanford University.

Dean Ahmad

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_03_ahmad.mp3]

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, founder of the Minaret of Freedom Institute, discusses his remembrance of better times in Palestine, Israeli apologists who have long departed the reality-based community, how the Ottoman Empire functioned as a sanctuary for Jews persecuted in Europe, the land (not religious) dispute at the core of Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the seeming inability of pro-Israel Americans to differentiate facts from propaganda.

MP3 here. (23:56)

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D. is the President and director of the Minaret of Freedom Institute and an internationally known interdisciplinary scientist, author of Signs in the Heavens: A Muslim Astronomer’s Perspective on Religion and Science. He is a senior lecturer at the University of Maryland where he teaches courses on religion and progress and on religion, science and freedom. He also teaches a course on Islam, Science and Development at Georgetown University for the Center on Muslim-Christian Understanding.

Jeremy Scahill

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_03_scahill.mp3]

Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, discusses the few voices of dissent against Israeli apologists for the flotilla attack in US mainstream media, fast and furious IDF press releases that shift the discussion to Hamas and away from the collective punishment of Gaza civilians, the US government’s choice to defend Israel instead of US citizens and the removal of any doubt that Israel has become a pariah state.

MP3 here. (10:32)

Jeremy Scahill operates the website Rebelreports.com and is a contributor to The Nation, Democracy Now, CommonDreams.org and Alternet.org. He is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.

Alan Grayson

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_04_grayson.mp3]

Florida Congressman Alan Grayson discusses his “War Is Making You Poor” bill that seeks to limit war spending and cut income taxes, how ending war spending on Afghanistan would free up enough money to eliminate federal taxes on income under 35k/year, why Israel’s blockade of Gaza is simply to keep Hamas from obtaining weapons.

MP3 here. (23:29)

Congressman Alan Grayson was born and grew up in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City. He graduated with high honors from Harvard College, worked as an economist, then returned to Harvard. In four years, Alan earned a J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree from the Harvard School of Government, and finished all of the course work and passed the general exams for a Ph.D. in Government. His master’s thesis focuses on gerontology. He went on to be a founding member of the Alliance for Aging Research.

In the early 1990s Alan took leave from the practice of law and started a business. He was the first President of IDT Corp., a telecom/internet company, which is now a Fortune 1000 company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Congressman Grayson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, serving Florida’s 8th district.

Craig and Cindy Corrie

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_03_corrie.mp3]

Craig and Cindy Corrie, parents of peace activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003, discuss Rachel’s enthusiastic work on behalf of Palestinian victims of occupation, witnessing firsthand the destructive effects of Operation “Cast Lead,” how Israeli checkpoints fracture communities and prevent a functional Palestinian society, why Israel shouldn’t be trusted to conduct a real investigation of its own crimes and how Rachel’s legacy continues through (among other things) the Rachel Corrie Foundation and the stage play “My Name is Rachel Corrie.”

MP3 here. (44:03)

Craig and Cindy Corrie are board members of the Rachel Corrie Foundation. Their daughter, Rachel Corrie, was 23 when she was killed in the Gaza Strip while trying to prevent Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes.

Ray McGovern

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_03_mcgovern.mp3]

Ray McGovern, former senior analyst at the CIA, discusses the 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, LBJ’s personal intervention that stopped the Navy from responding to the Liberty distress call and the two most likely explanations for the attack: Israel’s desire to assault the Golan Heights without US foreknowledge and to cover up the execution of Egyptian prisoners of war.

MP3 here. (10:11)

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years, from the John F. Kennedy administration to that of George H. W. Bush. His articles appear on Consortium News and Antiwar.com.

Winslow T. Wheeler

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_02_wheeler.mp3]

Winslow T. Wheeler, Director of the Straus Military Reform Project, discusses Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s halfhearted fight against Pentagon waste, the expensive and poor-performing next generation of fighter aircraft, differing characterizations of US expansionism: evil empire or benevolent global hegemon, ever-increasing Pentagon budgets that paradoxically result in the worst equipped military in a generation and why US Navy surface ships are sitting ducks.

MP3 here. (31:04)

Winslow T. Wheeler writes regularly for Counterpunch.org. He spent 31 years working on Capitol Hill with senators from both political parties and the Government Accountability Office, specializing in national security affairs. Currently, he directs the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information in Washington. He is author of Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security and the editor of a new anthology: America’s Defense Meltdown: Pentagon Reform for President Obama and the New Congress.

Eric Margolis

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_02_margolis.mp3]

Internationally syndicated columnist Eric Margolis discusses the indications that US military action in Pakistan will soon escalate beyond drone missile strikes, the ignorance and arrogance of American strategists and policy makers, Israel’s hard working (and busy) propaganda machine and how the US government’s continued willingness to apologize for Israel increases the risk of another 9/11.

MP3 here. (21:22)

Eric S. Margolis is an award-winning, internationally syndicated columnist. His articles appear in the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Times of London, the Gulf Times, the Khaleej Times and Dawn. He is a regular columnist with the Quebecor Media Company and a contributor to The Huffington Post. He appears as an expert on foreign affairs on CNN, BBC, France 2, France 24, Fox News, CTV and CBC.

As a war correspondent Margolis has covered conflicts in Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Sinai, Afghanistan, Kashmir, India, Pakistan, El Salvador and Nicaragua. He was among the first journalists to ever interview Libya’s Muammar Khadaffi and was among the first to be allowed access to KGB headquarters in Moscow. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain’s Sky News TV as “the man who got it right” in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq.

Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World: The Struggle for Afghanistan, Kashmir and Tibet and American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World.

Eric Garris

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_01_garris.mp3]

Eric Garris, founder and director of Antiwar.com, discusses the highly restrictive Gaza blockade that subjects 1.5 million residents to collective punishment for electing Hamas, Israel’s surprisingly violent attack on the aid flotilla after allowing half of the previous attempts to pass through, the timid official US response (amid a chorus of international condemnation) to Israel’s killing of humanitarian aid volunteers and why Israel has likely lost its key alliance with Turkey.

MP3 here. (20:48)

Eric Garris is the founder, managing editor, director and webmaster of Antiwar.com.

Flynt Leverett

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_01_porter_leverett.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for Inter Press Service and Flynt Leverett, former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council, discuss how easy it is to co-opt mainstream media and spread disinformation to start a war, controlling the narrative to influence who ultimately gets blamed if/when Iran’s tri-party uranium swap deal fails, unresolved internal division in the Obama administration over whether Iran is allowed to enrich uranium at all, dispelling the Qom facility “gotcha” myth and clarifying Iran’s actual obligations under the NPT, why the potential for war with Iran will continue to grow until a settlement on its nuclear program is reached and how the insular work environment of US intelligence analysts contributes to their poor understanding of Iranian society.

MP3 here. (57:18)

Gareth Porter is an independent historian and journalist. His articles appear on Counterpunch, Huffington Post, Inter Press Service News Agency and Antiwar.com.

Flynt Leverett directs the Iran Project at the New America Foundation, where he is also a Senior Research Fellow. Additionally, he teaches at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs.

Dr. Leverett is a leading authority on the Middle East and Persian Gulf, U.S. foreign policy, and global energy affairs. From 1992 to 2003, he had a distinguished career in the U.S. government, serving as Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council, on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and as a CIA Senior Analyst. He left the George W. Bush Administration and government service in 2003 because of disagreements about Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror.

Dr. Leverett’s 2006 monograph, Dealing With Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran, presented the seminal argument for a U.S.-Iranian “grand bargain”, an idea that he has developed in multiple articles and Op Eds in The New York Times, The National Interest, POLITICO, Salon, Washington Monthly, and the New America Foundation’s “Big Ideas for a New America” series.

Thomas E. Woods

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_06_01_woods.mp3]

Thomas E. Woods, coauthor of We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, discusses Daniel Webster’s stirring speech against the War of 1812, the slaughter of retreating Iraqi soldiers in the 1991 Gulf War and how the institution of war has become the US civic religion.

MP3 here. (17:38)

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., is the New York Times bestselling author of nine books. A senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, Woods holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University.