Fred Branfman

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_30_branfman.mp3]

Fred Branfman, author of the Alternet article “Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World,” discusses several common-sense reasons “why they hate us” (it isn’t our freedom), how the “McChrystal ratio” exposes the bankruptcy of COIN strategy, the incredibly broad scope – both in number of forces employed and geographic space – of U.S. assassination policy, why (unlike CIA ops) these killings don’t require Presidential approval or reports to Congress, how Petraeus’s strategy seems focused on his short term career goals, why taking on 1.3 billion Muslims is national suicide and how the upcoming Republican midterm election sweep will hasten U.S. economic and societal collapse.

Here is the 3 minute video of John Pilger interviewing former CIA officer Duane Clarridge, who is presently advising CIA assassination efforts in Pakistan.

MP3 here. (51:34)

Fred Branfman is a writer and longtime activist who directed the Indochina Resource Center during the war in Indochina. He edited “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), that exposed the U.S. secret air war in Laos. Visit his Web site.

Phyllis Bennis

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_30_bennis.mp3]

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, discusses the mosque hysteria ginned up to bolster Iraq and Afghan War support, Ground Zero’s rhetorical conversion into hallowed ground – encouraging religious fervor and holy war, what Bush should have said and done after 9/11, why the only uncertainty of new Israel/Palestine peace talks is what Obama will do when they fail and how the negotiations are grounded in juvenile conflict resolution instead of international law.

MP3 here. (18:48)

Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies where she directs the New Internationalism Project. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has recent articles published in YES! magazine and Alternet. While working as a journalist at the United Nations during the run-up to the 1990-91 Gulf War, she began examining U.S. domination of the UN, and stayed involved in work on Iraq sanctions and disarmament, and later the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 1999, Phyllis accompanied a delegation of congressional aides to Iraq to examine the impact of U.S.-led economic sanctions on humanitarian conditions there, and later joined former UN Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, who had resigned his position as Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq to protest the impact of sanctions, in a speaking tour. In 2001 she helped found and remains on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. She works closely with the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, co-chairs the UN-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine, and since 2002 has played an active role in the growing global peace movement.  She continues to serve as an adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

Rep. Ron Paul

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_27_paul.mp3]

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) discusses his article “Mosque Demagoguery Is Bipartisan” and the linkage between property rights and First Amendment rights, why the abandonment of the dollar will lead to an inflationary depression and why Dennis Kucinich’s anti-assassination bill is a redundancy (but deserving of support nonetheless).

MP3 here. (13:00)

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 are here.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_27_porter.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses Obama’s refusal to declare a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program, Robert Gates’s insistence that Iran’s low enriched uranium is tantamount to a nuclear weapon, the abundance of evidence that Obama is not a secret dove and how Gates’s bipartisan tenure allows him to contradict Obama without consequence.

MP3 here. (18:32)

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

Robert Higgs

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_27_higgs.mp3]

Robert Higgs, senior fellow at the Independent Institute, discusses the widening gap between public and private sector pay, an increase in affluent military towns, the disappearance of traditional checks on state power and predation and the incremental “ratchet effect” of governmental authority that increases “temporarily” during wartime but never fully recedes.

MP3 here. (28:41)

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy for The Independent Institute and Editor of the Institute’s quarterly journal The Independent Review. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins University, and he has taught at the University of Washington, Lafayette College, Seattle University, and the University of Economics, Prague. He has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University and Stanford University, and a fellow for the Hoover Institution and the National Science Foundation. Dr. Higgs is the editor of The Independent Institute books Opposing the Crusader State, The Challenge of Liberty, Re-Thinking Green, Hazardous to Our Health? and Arms, Politics, and the Economy, plus the volume Emergence of the Modern Political Economy.

His authored books include Neither Liberty Nor Safety, Depression, War, and Cold War, Politická ekonomie strachu (The Political Economy of Fear, in Czech), Resurgence of the Warfare State, Against Leviathan, The Transformation of the American Economy 1865-1914, Competition and Coercion, and Crisis and Leviathan. A contributor to numerous scholarly volumes, he is the author of more than 100 articles and reviews in academic journals.

Alexander Abdo

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_27_abdo.mp3]

Alexander Abdo, a Fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project, discusses the “new normal” of institutionalized Bush administration lawlessness, why we should expect other countries to mimic U.S. assertions of authority to commit international extrajudicial killings, the government’s failure to cite a legal justification for killing U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, the media disclosures from Leon Panetta and John Brennan about a government hit list of American citizens and why cops now have the right to use GPS to track anyone’s car for any (or no) reason.

MP3 here. (20:06)

Alexander Abdo is a Fellow in the ACLU’s National Security Project. He has been involved in the litigation of cases concerning the Patriot Act, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the treatment of detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Navy brig in South Carolina. Mr. Abdo is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. Prior to working at the ACLU, he served as a law clerk to the Hon. Barbara M.G. Lynn, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas, and to the Hon. Rosemary Barkett, United States Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

Cindy Sheehan

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_26_KPFK_sheehan.mp3]

This interview is excerpted from the KPFK broadcast of August 26. The entire show can be heard here.

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan discusses the Iraq War’s continuation even after the withdrawal of all “combat” troops, the antiwar movement mesmerized by “hopenosis” and the 75th anniversary edition of Major General Smedley Butler’s War is a Racket with a forward by Sheehan.

MP3 here. (8:36)

Cindy Sheehan became a leader of the antiwar movement after her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq. Her efforts to get answers from President Bush, including a vigil in Crawford, Texas, have received national media attention. She has a website and radio show, is the author of Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism and wrote the introduction to 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military.

Hannah Gurman

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_25_gurman_donate.mp3]

Hannah Gurman, author of the Salon.com article “The Iraq withdrawal: An Orwellian success,” discusses the U.S. deliberations on Iraq’s future that fail to ask what Iraqis want, measuring the outcome of war in terms of “success” rather than victory or defeat, how Iraq’s inability to form a parliament is delaying the approval of lucrative oil contracts and why the Sons of Iraq who were never integrated into the army are returning to the insurgency.

MP3 here. (23:21)

Hannah Gurman is an assistant professor at NYU’s Gallatin School. She is currently working on a book about the history of counterinsurgency in American foreign policy.

Charles Featherstone

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_24_featherstone_donate.mp3]

Charles Featherstone, regular writer at LewRockwell.com, discusses his article “The Littlest Liberal Warmonger,” why Saudi Arabia isn’t nearly as repressed and despotic as most people think, how the mosque protests are as much about despair over failing wars as a Republican election year ploy to rally the base, why al Qaeda’s social agenda and use of violence is exceedingly unpopular in the Muslim world and author Frantz Fanon‘s definitive 1961 work on how violent resistance can defeat Western colonialism/imperialism.

MP3 here. (20:55)

Charles H. Featherstone is a seminarian, essayist and songwriter currently living in Chicago. He writes regularly for LewRockwell.com.

Philip Giraldi

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_25_giraldi_donate.mp3]

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi discusses recent Mossad intelligence operations in America based out of the Israel mission to the U.N. in New York , the one-way street intelligence sharing between the CIA and Israel, why FBI and DOJ espionage investigations never go anywhere and the evidence that Israeli agents in America had foreknowledge of 9/11.

MP3 here. (26:08)

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest. He writes regularly for Antiwar.com.

Patrick Cockburn

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_25_cockburn_donate.mp3]

Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent, discusses the revival of al-Qaeda in Iraq (and its minimal relation to bin Laden’s group), how the Sadrists are the only grass roots political movement in Iraq, how Prime Minister Maliki’s grip on power is an impediment to a coalition government and why the decisive outcome of Iraq’s civil war greatly decreases the chance of another major conflict.

MP3 here. (16:56)

Patrick Cockburn was awarded the 2009 Orwell Prize for political writing in British journalism. He is the Middle East correspondent for The Independent and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch.org. Cockburn is the author of The Occupation: War, Resistance and Daily Life in Iraq and Muqtada Al-Sadr and the Battle for the Future of Iraq.

Anand Gopal

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_25_gopal_donate.mp3]

Independent journalist Anand Gopal discusses the Taliban’s lucrative protection racket on U.S. supply convoys, Pakistan’s refusal to allow a bilateral peace deal between Hamid Karzai and the Taliban, Colin Powell’s disinterest in regime change in Afghanistan (in September 2001), the Afghan army’s inability to secure the country or fight the Taliban, how the Marjah screw-up has made the military cautious on the Kandahar offensive and why Gen. Petraeus’s “success” in Iraq was easy: allow majority (Shia) to rule and bribe minority (Sunni) to stop fighting – while in Afghanistan the opposite is proposed.

MP3 here. (19:30)

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.

Glenn Greenwald

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_24_greenwald_donate.mp3]

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com blogger and former constitutional lawyer, discusses the NYC anti-mosque/anti-Islam rally sponsored by neocon crazy Frank Gaffney (scroll down to update III), how the public’s fear of an Islamic bogeyman must be constantly stoked to justify a U.S. foreign policy of war and aggression, how Israel benefits from increasing anti-Islam bigotry in the U.S. and the most suppressed truth in American political discourse: that U.S. policy and behavior generate grievances that inspire acts of terrorism – including 9/11.

MP3 here. (23:21)

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.

Grant F. Smith

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_23_smith_donate.mp3]

Grant F. Smith, director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C., discusses the boon of documents released in a Senate investigation of Israel’s covert lobbying and PR campaigns, threats to the continued freedom to practice (out of favor) religions in America, how neocons use their unchallenged talking points in mainstream media to push for war with Iran, The Atlantic magazine’s history of shilling for Israel and how AIPAC wields power by withholding campaign contributions to wayward congressmen.

MP3 here. (34:46)

Grant F. Smith is the author of Spy Trade: How Israel’s Lobby Undermines America’s Economy, America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government and Foreign Agents: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee from the 1963 Fulbright Hearings to the 2005 Espionage Scandal. He is a frequent contributor to Radio France Internationale and Voice of America’s Foro Interamericano. Smith has also appeared on BBC News, CNN, and C-SPAN. He is currently director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington, D.C.

Juan Cole

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_24_cole_donate.mp3]

Juan Cole, Professor of History and author of Engaging the Muslim World, discusses Rafic Hariri’s rise to power and prominence in Lebanon before his 2005 assassination, initial suspicions cast on Syria due to its efforts in maintaining political dominance in Lebanon, how Hezbollah filled the political vacuum created by Syria’s withdrawal – much to the chagrin of Israel and the Bush administration and why the current investigation’s focus on Hezbollah could destabilize the fragile Lebanese government.

MP3 here. (17:03)

Juan Cole is the author of Engaging the Muslim World. He is a Professor of History at the University of Michigan and writes the “Informed Comment” blog at Juancole.com.

Eric Margolis

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_23_margolis_donate.mp3]

Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent and author of War at the Top of the World and American Raj, discusses the devastation caused by Pakistan’s flood, U.S. monetary aid that props up Pakistan’s economy and government, a likely return to military rule in Pakistan, Islamic aid groups providing care and scoring public relations points, longstanding pre-9/11 grievances against U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and why anti-Islam bigotry appears to be rising to the pogrom level.

MP3 here. (19:27)

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 contributor to The Huffington Post and has appeared 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.

Trita Parsi

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_23_parsi_donate.mp3]

Trita Parsi, author of the Salon.com article “A campaign for war with Iran begins,” discusses Israel’s preference for Iran’s Ahmedinejad instead of a moderate president, how Israel’s “qualitative edge” over the sum total of Gulf states is slipping away, doubts about the practical utility of the U.S.-Israel special relationship and why a U.S. reconciliation with Iran would mean the end of sanctions and expanded Iranian regional influence at Israel’s expense.

MP3 here. (10:17)

Dr. Trita Parsi is the author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, recipient of the Council on Foreign Relation’s 2008 Arthur Ross Silver Medallion and the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.

He wrote his Doctoral thesis on Israeli-Iranian relations under Professor Francis Fukuyama (and Drs. Zbigniew Brzezinski, R. K. Ramazani, Jakub Grygiel, Charles Doran) at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies while heading the largest Iranian-American organization in the US, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC).

The Other Scott Horton

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_23_horton_donate.mp3]

The Other Scott Horton (no relation), international human rights lawyer, professor and contributing editor at Harper’s magazine, discusses The Amazing Disappearing and Reappearing CIA Torture Tapes, U.S. torture by proxy in Morocco, why mosques in NYC are too ordinary to even take notice of, bogus criminal accusations against Julian Assange – who was apparently warned about “honey traps,” the vastly overstated 14 year prison sentence for bin Laden’s cook and Horton’s continuing work on the Guantanamo “Suicides” story.

MP3 here. (25:59)

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.

Suhail Khan

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_19_khan_donate.mp3]

Suhail Khan, Senior Fellow for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement, discusses the letter he co-signed with five other Muslim Republicans that takes his party to task for bashing the “Ground Zero Mosque,” the popular anti-Muslim sentiment that turns traditional Conservatism on its head, why the terrorists win if we abandon the Bill of Rights, how religious bigotry adds credence to al Qaeda’s assertion that the U.S. is at war with Islam, the remarkably-ordinary majority of American Muslims and how activism within the Republican party can effect change.

MP3 here. (29:04)

Suhail A. Khan is the Senior Fellow for Christian-Muslim Understanding at the Institute for Global Engagement. He is a Washington, DC based attorney and has previously held many government positions. Khan served as Policy Director and Press Secretary for U.S. Congressman Tom Campbell (R-CA) where he worked closely on a variety of legislative initiatives, including religious freedom. More recently, Khan served as a senior political appointee with the Bush administration. He served in the White House Office of Public Liaison assisting in the President’s outreach to various faith communities. Khan also served as Assistant to the Secretary for Policy under U.S. Secretary Mary Peters at the U.S. Department of Transportation. While at the Department of Transportation, Khan was awarded the Secretary’s Team Award in 2005 and the Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement in 2007.

Khan serves on the boards of the American Conservative Union, the Islamic Free Market Institute, the Muslim Public Service Network, the Indian American Republican Council, and on the Buxton Initiative Advisory Council. He has spoken venues such as the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the Council for National Policy (CNP), the Harbour League, and the National Press Club. He has written opinion pieces for various publications including the Washington Post/Newsweek Forum On Faith.

He was born in Boulder, Colorado to parents who emigrated to the United States from southern India. Khan is the oldest of five children, grew up in California, earned his high school diploma from St. Lawrence Academy, a private Catholic college preparatory school in Santa Clara, in 1987. He earned a B.A. in political science from University of California at Berkeley in 1991 and a J.D. from University of Iowa in 1995.

Chris Floyd

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_19_floyd_donate.mp3]

Chris Floyd, author of Empire Burlesque – High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, discusses the addition of neocon Frederick Kagan to the U.S. anti-corruption team in Afghanistan, the minimal proof needed to convince the MSM that the “surge” in Iraq or Afghanistan worked, the opportunity to really win hearts and minds by helping Pakistani flood victims (just kindly overlook those drone strikes in the north) and how a Democratic wartime president ends any meaningful opposition.

MP3 here. (30:42)

Chris Floyd operates a website and blog at chris-floyd.com. He is the author of Empire Burlesque – High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium.

Eli Clifton

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_19_clifton_donate.mp3]

Eli Clifton, writer on U.S. foreign policy at the Washington bureau of IPS News, discusses LobeLog’s Daily Talking Points on Iran-U.S. relations, the designed-to-fail nature of sanctions meant to justify military action, why Israel isn’t threatened or worried about Iran’s nuclear program and why there’s no law preventing Iran (as a sovereign nation) from withdrawing from the NPT and building nuclear weapons.

MP3 here. (19:20)

Eli Clifton writes on U.S. foreign policy as well as trade and finance at the Washington bureau of IPS. His articles have also appeared on Right Web and in the South China Morning Post. Eli has a B.A. in Political Science from Bates College and an MSc in International Political Economy from the London School of Economics.

Jason Ditz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_19_ditz_donate.mp3]

Jason Ditz, managing news editor at Antiwar.com, discusses the second fake U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, why the MSM doesn’t seem to notice the renaming of combat brigades to “transitional troops,” the evidence of a substantial residual U.S. presence (air bases, Vatican-sized embassy, proposed State Department private army), the Obama administration’s attempt to broker a deal – any deal – to get Iraq’s government together and how Iraq’s escalating violence amid the political stalemate bodes ill for the future.

MP3 here. (20:48)

Jason Ditz is managing news editor of Antiwar.com.

Sheldon Richman

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_18_richman_donate.mp3]

Sheldon Richman, senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, discusses Glenn Beck’s hypocrisy (exposed on The Daily Show – starts at 4:00 mark) on the connection between U.S. foreign policy and 9/11, the inability of some Americans to understand that Muslims are not a monolithic group (nor are adherents of other religions) and why the GOP is likely to exploit the “Ground Zero Mosque” issue right through the November elections.

MP3 here. (19:32)

Sheldon Richman is editor of The Freeman, published by The Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York, and serves as senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and FFF’s newest book Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State.

Calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling. Separating School & State has become a landmark book in both libertarian and educational circles. In his column in the Financial Times, Michael Prowse wrote: “I recommend a subversive tract, Separating School & State by Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank… . I also think that Mr. Richman is right to fear that state education undermines personal responsibility…”

Mr. Richman’s articles on population, federal disaster assistance, international trade, education, the environment, American history, foreign policy, privacy, computers, and the Middle East have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Times, Insight, Cato Policy Report, Journal of Economic Development, The Freeman, The World & I, Reason, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Liberty magazine, and other publications. He is a contributor to the Fortune Encyclopedia of Economics.

A former newspaper reporter and former senior editor at the Cato Institute, Mr. Richman is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia.

Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_18_eyre_mueller_donate.mp3]

Pete Eyre and Adam Mueller, voluntaryist activists and co-founders of Liberty on Tour, discuss their cross country travels promoting liberty and a voluntary society, Pete’s exposé on the 1985 Philadelphia police crackdown on the MOVE organization, Philly cops using military weapons borrowed from the FBI including machine guns and high explosives and how the fire and police chiefs allowed the fire on the MOVE house (caused from a police-thrown C-4 bomb) to continue until it burned down half the block.

MP3 here. (18:54)

Pete Eyre is a voluntaryist activist. After studying law enforcement, he interned at the Cato Institute in foreign policy and defense in the spring of ’05, then that summer was a Koch Fellow at the Drug Policy Alliance. For the next 2 1/2 years Pete worked at the Institute for Humane Studies, last serving as the director of the Campus Outreach program. He next spent just over a year at Bureaucrash where he worked to connect liberty-oriented activists, a position he left after co-founding the Motorhome Diaries in early 2009. When that project wrapped up he worked as an outreach consultant for the Future of Freedom Foundation and spent time in Keene as part of the Free State Project prior to hitting the road with Liberty On Tour.

Adam Mueller is a voluntaryist activist who, through Cop Block, exposes the aggression committed by the government’s armed thugs for what it is. Mueller was born and raised in Wisconsin but recently relocated to New Hampshire; looking to settle near Keene, NH next spring.  In late 2001 Adam was arrested for conspiracy to distribute marijuana. It was a challenging time in his life and not only cost him friends but many of his liberties. Since then Adam has been increasingly active in the liberty movement, primarily advocating a voluntary society.

Daphne Eviatar

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_18_eviatar_donate.mp3]

Daphne Eviatar, Senior Associate in Law and Security for Human Rights First, discusses the circumstances surrounding Omar Khadr’s capture and incarceration in Afghanistan at the age of 15 in 2002, the Military Commissions judge’s decision to allow the admissibility of a confession extracted under threat of death, the irony of the U.S. prosecuting Khadr for war crimes while sponsoring amnesty and rehabilitation for child soldiers in Africa, the purging of jurors who had any negative opinion on Guantanamo prison or U.S. foreign policy and the question of just who committed war crimes (Khadr – unarmed – was shot twice in the back).

MP3 here. (25:55)

Daphne Eviatar is a lawyer and freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, Legal Affairs, Mother Jones, the Washington Independent, HuffingtonPost and many others. She is a Senior Reporter at The American Lawyer, Senior Associate in Law and Security for Human Rights First and was an Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow in 2005 and a Pew International Journalism fellow in 2002.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_18_porter_donate.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses John Bolton’s “8 day” countdown to a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactor, clarifications on the previous day’s interview, more fanciful claims from warmongers that Iranians will be grateful for a regime-changing bombing campaign and whether the Obama administration has the nerve to “just say no” to Israel.

MP3 here. (20:56)

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

Bretigne Shaffer

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_17_shaffer_donate.mp3]

Bretigne Shaffer, author of the article “Saving Women and Preventing Genocide: The Real Reasons We’re in Afghanistan Now,” discusses the ridiculous notion of harmonious societies created by foreign occupation armies, a reminder that Aisha’s mutilation by Taliban decree happened eight years into the “protective” U.S. occupation, the very real WSJ divide between the editorial and news divisions, the American predilection to take harmful action rather than no action and how economic prosperity is generally beneficial to the plight of women (as well as everyone else).

MP3 here. (19:18)

Bretigne Shaffer is a writer and filmmaker, and the author of Why Mommy Loves the State. Her article “Saving Women and Preventing Genocide: The Real Reasons We’re in Afghanistan Now” is at LewRockwell.com. Visit her website.

Jon Basil Utley

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_17_utley_donate.mp3]

Jon Basil Utley, director of Americans Against World Empire, discusses the “national defense” exception from popular outrage against government waste, conservatives who think government isn’t competent to run a nursery school but is up to running a world empire, why warfare and welfare go hand in hand, the coming VAT that will aid in prolonging the U.S. empire and why the conservative movement is all out of good ideas.

MP3 here. (29:16)

Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative. He was a foreign correspondent in South America for the Journal of Commerce and Knight Ridder newspapers and former associate editor of The Times of the Americas. He is a writer and adviser for Antiwar.com and edits a blog, The Military Industrial Congressional Complex. Jon also runs the IraqWar.org and TheWarParty.com websites.

Will Grigg

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_17_grigg_donate.mp3]

Will Grigg, author of Liberty in Eclipse, discusses the loss of “local” police to a homogeneous federally-funded force designed to fight the war on drugs, how police departments facing budget cuts use asset forfeiture laws to make up the difference, the dramatic change of police portrayals in movies (and the culture’s acceptance of lawbreaking cops at large) following The French Connection and Dirty Harry, how the “Mosque at Ground Zero” exposed conservatives’ opposition to private property rights and how television’s idea of a balanced look at the criminal justice system means getting the story of cops and prosecutors.

MP3 here. (20:27)

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

Robert Dreyfuss

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_16_dreyfuss_donate.mp3]

This interview was conducted by Antiwar Radio producer Angela Keaton.

Robert Dreyfuss, author of The Dreyfuss Report blog for The Nation, discusses Time Magazine’s graphic warning of “what happens if we leave Afghanistan,” right-wing commentators who suddenly give a damn about the rights of women, a reminder that the (relative) paragon of Middle East gender equality was prewar Iraq, Obama’s unwillingness to choose either escalation or withdrawal and why dramatic societal changes will take generations to unfold in Afghanistan.

MP3 here. (20:48)

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, is an investigative journalist in Alexandria, Virginia, specializing in politics and national security. He is the author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam and is a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_16_porter_donate.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses the overlooked messages that undermine the premise of Jeffrey Goldberg’s Iran fear-mongering article, the recent history of Israel pretending Iran is an “existential threat” as revealed in Trita Parsi’s Treacherous Alliance and Israel’s (real) intense fear of friendly relations between the U.S. and Iran.

MP3 here. (20:57)

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

Josh Stieber

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_16_stieber_donate.mp3]

Josh Stieber, conscientious objector and former U.S. Army Specialist, discusses the explicit direct order from Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich (featured in David Finkel’s The Good Soldiers) to open fire on any Iraqis in the vicinity of an IED attack, the “magic 8-ball” type randomness to daily patrols in 2007 Baghdad, soldiers who resisted or refused orders that imperiled civilians and where veterans and active duty soldiers can find support groups.

MP3 here. (18:52) Transcript below.

Josh Stieber is a former U.S. Army Specialist deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. He was in Bravo Company 2-16 (although not on patrol) at the time it was involved in the Apache helicopter attack depicted on the “Collateral Murder” video released by WikiLeaks.

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Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Josh Stieber, August 16, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. Thanks for listening. I’m Scott Horton, and my next guest on the show today is Josh Stieber. He’s a former U.S. Army specialist deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2008. He was in Bravo Company 2-16, although not on patrol at the time that that company was involved in the Apache helicopter attack depicted on the video released by WikiLeaks. Welcome back to the show, Joshua; how are you?

Josh Stieber: I’m good. Thanks for having me back on.

Horton: I’m sorry, I’m not sure why I added the “ua” on the end there. Is it just – it’s just Josh, right?

Stieber: Right.

Horton: My mistake. Anyway, so, I’ve been reading this book The Good Soldiers by –

Stieber: Right.

Horton: – David Finkel from the Washington Post. And this is really a hell of a thing. It’s all about the 2-16, your brigade – is that what it is? I’m not sure the difference between companies and brigades and all these things. I’m not a veteran.

Stieber: It’s actually a battalion.

Horton: A battalion, right, right.

Stieber: Yeah, roughly about 800 people.

Horton: Mhmm. And so this book is the story of Lt. Col. Kauzlarich – is that how you say it?

Stieber: Kauzlarich.

Horton: Kauzlarich, okay. And you guys, his guys. And a year and a half or so that you guys spent surging into eastern Baghdad there. And again it was you guys’ company that was involved in the so-called “Collateral Murder” video put out by WikiLeaks, the Apache assault.

And so, anyway, I think I kinda want to talk to you about, you know, generally what it was like there and maybe what it’s like to be back and some of that kind of thing, but there’s a couple of specific points that I wanted to try to nail down before I talk with David Finkel so I can ask him about them.

And so the first thing is, is do you know, or have you heard, you know, from inside your battalion there, whether Finkel actually got his hands on the video of that Apache assault, or whether it was just shown to him? It’s pretty clear reading the book that it was at least shown to him, but apparently there’s some question as to whether he has the video or not. Do you have any insight into that?

Stieber: Yeah, as far as the book, it’s pretty clear that he’s quoting from the actual tape, but as to whether or not he has possession of the video, I have no idea.

Horton: Okay, and yeah, I mean, I had no reason to believe that you would necessarily, but I figured I’d go ahead and ask you about it, because, you know, it is part of this.

And then the second thing is that a fellow veteran of yours from the same battalion has said that you guys had a standard operating procedure, SOP, that said – and I guess this is a reaction to some EFP attacks on y’all’s Humvees and stuff that killed some guys – that from now on if a roadside bomb goes off, IED goes off, everyone who survives the attack get out and fire in all directions at anybody who happens to be nearby – that this wasn’t just the kind of thing that soldiers might resort to under the worst frustration fighting against ghosts setting off remote-control land mines, but that this was actually an order from above. Is that correct? Can you, you know, verify that?

Stieber: Yeah, it was an order that came from Kauzlarich himself, and it had the philosophy that, you know, as Finkel does describe in the book, that we were under pretty constant threat, and what he leaves out is the response to that threat. But the philosophy was that if each time one of these roadside bombs went off where you don’t know who set it, and you don’t know how it got there, and you’re just left with, you know, injured soldiers or dead soldiers, then people don’t know how to respond, so the way we were told to respond was to open fire on anyone in the area, with the philosophy that that would intimidate them, to be proactive in stopping people from making these bombs, because some of our leaders thought that was the only way to counteract the attacks that were going on.

Horton: Wow, so, I mean how many times did that ac – I mean, that order stood from what point to what point?

Stieber: From my experiences, after it was issued, probably, probably not too long before that video came out, which would have been July of 2007, was a fairly indefinite thing, and a lot of it depended on the lower ranking leaders. Some of them were more encouraging of the policy than others. But straight from Kauzlarich’s mouth, it was definitely permitted, and he said it to my platoon of about 30 people. And beyond that, I’m not sure who else he would have repeated it to and how broadly the policy was in use, but –

Horton: So, to be specific here now, Josh, you’re not saying that you heard from your sergeant that that’s what he said. You’re saying he told you this to your face.

Stieber: Right. Yeah. Myself and a couple of other former platoon members have all verified this, that, yeah, one of the first times that this bomb went off, we came back to the base and he said that. And then two of my friends – I wasn’t in the actual meeting, but two of my friends, you know, have publicly stated or talked about a meeting that I wasn’t part of where he brought together our platoon and again repeated that order.

Horton: Did you survive EFP attacks?

Stieber: I was in convoys where we got hit, but I was never directly in a truck that got hit by one.

Horton: It’s just amazing to me. It’s – well I don’t know the right word for it, but it’s just something else to read the stories of you guys going out there and playing the “IED lottery,” as I’ve heard it termed before. It just almost seems like you’re sent out there just to get land-mined sometimes, like they’re, you know – it seems strange. It never seemed like any of the missions had any real purpose or something. Maybe at some point, okay, set up a fire base here or a COP there, but most of the time it seems like it was just going out to pick a fight, or to get one picked with y’all.

Stieber: Yeah, I mean a lot of times that is what seemed to be the motivation. We had a joke that people sending the missions were shaking up a Magic 8-Ball to determine what we would do that day, because so much of it just seemed random and arbitrary, and in a lot of our opinions the stuff we were doing was creating more hatred against us, and yeah, picking fights, and finding more enemies, and actually the only thing that seemed to change that, and the only thing that seemed to prove worthwhile, was actually sitting down and negotiating with and talking with people we knew had at one time or another attacked us.

Horton: Well now, back to the 360-degree rotational fire order here – were there any other – well, first of all, well two questions I guess. First of all, how many times did this actually happen? I guess I read your buddy Ethan saying that, well, he would just fire up toward the rooftops rather than down, you know, at street level where he could, you know, hit innocent people or whatever in order to obey the order and yet not really carry it out, and I just wonder how many times did this really happen where guys would get bombed and then just dismount and wax everybody on the street? Did this happen over and over again?

Stieber: I would say, from what I witnessed, maybe five to ten times. And yeah, there were some guys who fired to intentionally miss. There were some guys who refused to do it. I at one point refused to, you know, take part in that and said that not only was it morally wrong, but it’s strategically stupid, seems to be creating more enemies, and then if there are actual more threats in the area, then that policy of just opening fire, you can’t even hear where a threat’s coming from. So on multiple levels it seemed like a mistake, and I lost my position as a gunner for arguing with that position, and that’s why I wasn’t on the mission in the “Collateral Murder” video, but, you know, there were a mix of responses to how guys dealt with it.

Horton: Well, that’s very interesting. On the most very basic on-the-street tactical level, “I can’t hear who’s shooting at me if I’m ordered to fire in all directions for no reason.”

All right, hold it right there, everybody. It’s Josh Stieber from the U.S. Army – thankfully no longer.

[break]

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. I’m talking with Josh Stieber about his time in Iraq, part of the 2-16 as featured in David Finkel’s book The Good Soldiers. That interview is coming up later in the show. And we’re talking about war crimes.

Josh, help me understand here, man. You know, believe me, I can imagine, only barely, but I can imagine the frustration of having IEDs and land mines going off and nobody there to shoot at, and I can – I think it’s just a mathematical formula. If you put enough troops in somebody’s country to get blown up by land mines, there are going to be times when the soldiers dismount and fire their rifles at anybody who happens to be nearby because they’re that mad at seeing their best friend blown up. It’s understandable. That’s war. That’s what happens.

You’re telling me this was a standard operating procedure passed down to you by the lieutenant colonel. And so anything more that you can tell me about that, I want to know, and I want on the record here.

But, secondly, I’m also curious as to whether there were any other direct orders from Lt. Col. Kauzlarich about, you know, basically permitting the killing of civilians, or mandating the killing of civilians like this, 360-degree rotational fire in this case.

Stieber: I would say that was the primary one. We actually didn’t have a whole lot of interaction with Kauzlarich. My platoon, or my company was out at a small factory apart from the main base where Kauzlarich spent most of his time, so only occasionally would we see him. But he definitely made it a point to pass along that order, and, yeah, kind of got into the reasoning behind it. And a lot of people accepted that reasoning, but there seemed to be a lot of flaws in it, and a number of us to varying degrees resisted that command also.

Horton: Were you at the COP that was in the factory across the street from the other factory that they started to make the COP but then it got bombed?

Stieber: Correct.

Horton: You know, there’s a thing that happens to, well, those of us who don’t go to the war and sit back here and read about it all the time, where, you know, even when we’re reading about, you know, this many soldiers were killed today by a land mine, whether in Iraq or Afghanistan, it’s still, you know, I hate to say, but it’s, you know – to a degree they’re still words on a page. You know what I mean?

And, I mean this book is that, too, but then again this book is, you know, something that the guy, you know, was embedded with you guys for more than a year and really wrote how all the – you know, the stories of all these different guys who died. Not everybody, I don’t guess, but quite a few of the guys who died, and all about, you know, who you guys are, what the attacks are like, and all these things in a way it’s so vivid and really brings home the idea about, you know, how you guys are just our next-door neighbors over there.

And especially when all throughout the book as well, Josh, is “I’m fighting for my country,” “I’m fighting for freedom,” “I always want to be a solider not to kill people but to defend my country, because I love America.” And that’s what all the soldiers say is stuff like that, these abstractions that are so abstract. They’ve got really nothing to do with the actual fight y’all are in, but they’re all based on the theory that you trust the rest of us to make sure that you don’t go to war unless it’s the right thing, that we don’t send you on a mission unless it’s worth dying for. Is that basically the understanding that you guys are operating under over there?

Stieber: Yes. And it works both ways, and that’s the common way that war seems to get spread is that, yeah, the people who live it out are expecting that they are not going to get deployed unless it’s a just cause, and they’re not going to really question that cause, but then so many of the people who are cheering for us aren’t really taking into consideration the human aspect of what’s going on, and so I think that that is the positive aspect of what David Finkel wrote about it, is putting that human face on it.

And I think that, you know, if you look back through the last decade and the support that this war had, that, you know, as much as people want to criticize – and I think there is definitely a lot of room for criticism – as much as people want to criticize specific things that soldiers did which should be examined. But we need to look at the broader society too and see that after, you know, 9/11 and everything, so many people were clamoring for vengeance, and when you start campaigns with incredible shock and awe it should be pretty evident that that kind of thing is going to happen.

And so hopefully through looking at this on a personal level, from soldiers, from civilians, both here and in Iraq and Afghanistan, then this can be a huge learning experience, if we look at the full picture.

Horton: Well said. Yeah, you know, I started the show out earlier actually with all the coverage of – or actually the TV ads for veteran support groups, TV ads for the VA now hiring, “Boy we sure need doctors and nurses over at the VA all the time,” and you know this is really part of our society from now on – is returning veterans, hundreds of thousands of guys who’ve been fighting through the war there.

And you know I was just reading last night the transcript of your buddy Ethan McCord’s interview with Cindy Sheehan where he talked about – and maybe I want to go back and look in the book and see if he was the guy, because he used the exact phrase; there’s one guy in the book, in the Finkel book, who talks always about the “slide show” in his head, and your buddy Ethan used that same phrase talking about the pictures of this, you know, madness that he lived through over there, you know, in his mind, all day, all night, this kind of thing he can’t get rid of, and I guess some people are more affected by that than others. I wonder how you’re doing?

Stieber: I’ve been pretty fortunate to have a lot of people really step up and be supportive of me, and when I got back from Iraq, or even before that when I knew that I was being a hypocrite by what I was doing on a regular basis and what I said my beliefs were, and you know, that I had to change how I was living, so I became a conscientious objector, and I really have been trying to run about and promote other ways of solving problems. But, yeah, unfortunately so many guys get back and really don’t know how to sort out that contradiction between what we say we believe and what we’re expected to do, and I think that there are times when people are unable to vent their frustration, to give themselves room to, you know, say that maybe we made a mistake, and that’s when people bottle things up, and a lot of times that leads to a lot of traumatic results.

Horton: Well, you know what? Let’s go ahead then and leave this interview on the subject of veterans’ care and that kind of thing. If you’d like to talk about any organizations that you’re a part of, how any soldiers listening can go about trying to follow your path and gaining conscientious objector status and opting out of this war. [music] Aw jeez, real quick, just name a couple of websites. I’m sorry, my clock’s wrong here.

Stieber: All right, the Center on Conscience and War helped me with my CO application, and then there’s also veterans groups like Veterans for Peace.

Horton: All right, thanks, Josh, thanks a lot.

Stieber: Thank you.

Horton: That’s Josh Stieber.

David Finkel

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_16_finkel_donate.mp3]

Washington Post reporter David Finkel, author of The Good Soldiers, discusses his year-long embedded Iraq War reporting in 2007 with Army infantry battalion 2-16, his book’s reliance on first-hand accounts and unclassified information, how the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video missed the big picture and why the ground-level view of war bears little resemblance to the one imagined in Washington strategy sessions.

MP3 here. (19:37) Transcript Below.

David Finkel is a staff writer for The Washington Post, and is also the leader of the Post’s national reporting team. He won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting in 2006 for a series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen.

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Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews David Finkel, August 16, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. Our next guest on the show is David Finkel. He is the National Enterprise Editor of the Washington Post. He was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for his series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. And his book The Good Soldiers is now out in paperback. Welcome to the show, David. How are you?

David Finkel: Hey, good, thank you. How are you?

Horton: I’m doing great. I appreciate you joining us on the show today.

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: So this book is, it’s really a hell of an accomplishment here. You’re a brave guy. I wouldn’t go over there and embed in a situation in eastern Baghdad like that for all the money in the world.

Finkel: Well, it was definitely a rough period in 2007, but we’re seeing the effects of it now, I guess.

Horton: Well, we can talk about some of that. I want to start off with some of the controversy here. The quote that I read of you said that your description of what we’ve all seen now in the so-called “Collateral Murder” video put out by WikiLeaks seems to have been written with the video in front of you while you wrote it, and the question came up of whether the Washington Post has the video, or whether you have the video, or whether you’ve ever had the video, or it was just shown to you, or something. And then the quote that I saw was that the entire book comes from unclassified sources. And I thought either that can’t be true, or that video was never classified, because you have to have seen the video. I’ve read the book.

Finkel: Mhmm. Well, I’ve never said whether I saw the video or not, and I’m not going to say whether I saw the video or not. I’m just going to – it’s an odd way to start an interview because we’re missing some context here, and let me take a second to add it.

Horton: Sure.

Finkel: There was a video released by WikiLeaks.org a few months ago that showed some people on a street in East Baghdad being gunned down, including a couple of people who worked for Reuters and including a couple of people who were found to be lying on top of weapons, an RPG launcher in one case, an AK-47 in another.

But out came this video, and it became quite controversial and aroused a lot of passion in people, and you know it’s an awful thing to see. It was a – it’s a tough video to watch, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why anybody would want to watch the video, but millions of people have. The reason you’re bringing it up is because I was there in East Baghdad the day that occurred and I wrote about that day extensively in the book The Good Soldiers.

When the WikiLeaks thing came out, a couple things happened. One, it went viral, and so many people saw it, and I tried to add context to that video by suggesting that, number one, even though the video seemed to show just a bunch of people kind of sauntering down the street, there was more going on that day. And there were some running gun battles all morning long as part of an operation. The soldiers I was writing about were in to clear out an area where there had been a lot of roadside bombs and many soldiers had been injured over the previous few weeks.

And it just got more controversial from there. WikiLeaks seems to arouse a certain passion in people, and it’s something – you know, it just, it just doesn’t do much good to talk about it at this point because it’s kind of like yelling into the wind a little bit.

I will say this, and I’ve said it before, and forgive me if I’m repeating myself: Everything I wrote about that day was based on unclassified material. The main thing was that I was present that day. That was the main source.

But, but the other – and I’m sorry for the long answer, but I might as well just clear this up at the beginning. The other thing is, there was a message, I guess that was put out by the founder of WikiLeaks, saying that the Washington Post had this video and I had the video and sat on it for two years, and that’s simply not the case. And every time I say that’s not the case, I get a slew of e-mails telling me what a bad guy I am. But facts are facts. The Washington Post never had this video. It never possessed the video. And as far as what I possessed, I possessed unclassified material that I wrote that chapter from. And to repeat myself, my presence there that day was the main thing I wrote – I used that day as sourcing material.

Horton: Okay, David, I understand –

Finkel: Let, let me go on and say one other point which I haven’t made before. The charge that I sat on anything, or the allegations, or the insinuation, is just absurd. I got material for a book, and I wrote a book, and as soon as the book came out there was a full discussion in the book of what went on that day. So anybody who says I sat on anything, they’re simply not telling the truth.

Horton: Okay, well look. I mean, what you say there makes complete sense to me as far as that goes, but, you know, I need some understanding here. You understand why I’m confused. When part of the book seems to – when you talk about they have to do a turn to get clear of the building in order to get the shot, and the banter that goes back and forth on the video – on one hand it sure seems like you must have seen that video, right? I don’t know what other conclusion that I can come to from reading that chapter. I know you were there that day, but as far as I know, you weren’t in the Apache, and even if you were, that would still be classified information too, right? So, I – you understand why fair-minded people are confused about why it seems like you’ve seen classified footage, very strongly, and yet on the other hand you say you haven’t.

Finkel: Mhmm. Mhmm.

Horton: It’s just a, it’s a minor point, really, and I would rather talk about other things in the book…

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: …to be honest, but –

Finkel: Yeah I would love to too. And I – it’s – it is a minor point. What happened in the end is I wrote a full account of that day six months, seven months before the WikiLeaks video was released. It’s all in there. And as far as what my sources were, alls I can tell you is what I told you. I think any reporter, while they’re collecting information, they make agreements with sources. And I’m not going to violate those agreements.

Horton: Oh, sure, well I don’t think anybody, you know, ever implied they expected you to betray the confidence of any people, but – well, anyway, you do understand why this seems to be a point of contention–

Finkel: Of course. Of course.

Horton: –Two facts that don’t seem congruent together.

Finkel: Of course. I do. I do. I do understand that. I can’t clarify it any better than I have. Alls I can tell you, again, let me emphasize that everything in that chapter was based on unclassified material and my being there that day. [laughs] I know I’ve said that three times now, but that’s about all I can say. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate more fully, but that’s kind of the deal.

Horton: Okay. And, all right, the other most controversial thing that I have to ask you about…

Finkel: Yeah.

Horton: …other than things that are directly out of the book, is, there’s a soldier from the 2-16, the battalion that you were working with here, named Ethan McCord…

Finkel: Right.

Horton: …and another named Josh Stieber, who I actually just talked to earlier today on the show…

Finkel: Great.

Horton: …both of whom say that they got a direct order, and Stieber told me today that Lt. Col. Kauzlarich, who’s the head of the battalion.

Finkel: Kauzlarich, yeah.

Horton: Kauzlarich, pardon me. I never say it right. Kauzlarich – he’s really the, in a major way, a focus in your book – that he gave them an order at one point, after being bombed by so many EFPs, that they were to dismount and fire 360 degrees at anybody who happened to be around…

Finkel: Mhmm.

Horton: …and that that was a Standard Operating Procedure. And there’s no mention of that in your book, and I wonder whether you had any indication of that at the time when you were embedded there.

Finkel: I don’t know if that’s true or not. If that was said, it wasn’t said in my presence, and the book I’ve reported and written about is an honest-to-God truthful account based on everything I saw and I experienced over there. Well, I shouldn’t even say it that way, Scott. It’s not a book about me. It’s a book about what a battalion of soldiers went through…

Horton: Right.

Finkel: …during the surge.

Horton: Right, absolutely.

Finkel: And it’s not a polemic. It’s not a political book in any way. It’s not a first-person book. It really is a ground-level account of what these 800 soldiers out of Ft. Riley endured when they landed, by the luck of the draw, in a pretty vicious area of East Baghdad.

Horton: Mhmm. All right, so could you confirm to me whether you ever even heard rumors of that or anything – the soldiers maybe complaining about it?

Finkel: First I’ve heard of it.

Horton: Okay. Fair enough. All right, so now here’s the thing. Because I want to – actually, we’re coming up near the break here…

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: …so I’ll just take this time to praise you actually and the writing job that you’ve done here. This book is absolutely worth the read. Again, it’s called The Good Soldiers. It’s available at Amazon and the local book store and everything else. It’s now out in paperback. And I really, I strongly urge people to read it, because it really is just as he said, it’s the story of these guys and what they went through in being part of the surge, and particularly in 2007 in eastern Baghdad, and what it was really like for them on the ground riding in their Humvees, getting their orders and carrying them out. And I want to talk a little bit more about that, well a lot more about that, when we get back from this break. It’s David Finkel, the book is The Good Soldiers, and we’ll be right back after this on Antiwar Radio.

* * * * *

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton talking with David Finkel. He’s a Washington Post reporter, Pultizer Prize winner, author of The Good Soldiers.

And, you know David, when that infamous WikiLeaks Apache video was released, the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “Yeah, well, you know, it is what it is, but it’s a view of war through a soda straw. You don’t get the context.” In fact you alluded to that a little bit, about how you tried to help add some context about what was going on on the ground in the neighborhood that day, and there was a fire fight a few blocks away, and etcetera like that.

But it’s not so much your book, because your book is, it’s about a specific topic, these guys on the ground and their lives during this year. But it seems like their view – and I would even, if I understand your reporting right, even the lieutenant colonel in charge of this battalion – that their view is maybe even at best a view of war through a paper towel tube or something. They don’t seem, even the lieutenant colonel, to really have any kind of larger understanding of what role they’re playing in the war.

They know their neighborhoods and that they’re supposed to do this counterinsurgency thing or whatever, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an understanding of the fact that there’s a civil war going on, and that ultimately they’re on the side of the people who they’re fighting against, the Sadrists against the Sunni population of Baghdad, and all this. It seems like they really don’t even know what their mission is other than go out there and secure the people and stuff, without any kind of bigger understanding. Do I understand that right?

Finkel: Well they weren’t the strategy guys. They were the tactical guys. They were carrying out the strategy. The strategy, of course, of something like this comes out of Washington, comes out of the Pentagon, comes out of [laughs] the people who were in charge of strategy. And what the book tried – one of the things the book tried to make clear is the sense that any war is really a couple of wars at the same time. There is the version that’s being strategized at the highest levels, and at the very far end of it – you know the straw, if you will, to follow what you were saying, at the other end of it – are the guys on the ground carrying out the strategy.

And the corner for this battalion, it wasn’t all of Baghdad, it was one section of East Baghdad, and they were given the mission of trying to make the population there feel safer. This is COIN strategy, and if you do that then everything will sort of trickle out from there and the war will get better. That was the mission going into it.

And, you know, as a matter of what I observed, at the beginning of the deployment, these 800 soldiers, mostly young guys, most on their first deployment, most leaving the country for the first time, they were eager to get there. They were filled with a sense of that mission. And honestly they just thought they were invincible, that as long as they did everything right they were going to be fine.

And for the first six weeks they were fine. But then the first roadside bomb killed the first one of them, and then they lost the second one, and then there were more deaths, and guys began losing arms and legs and hands and feet and eyes, and so the mission they sort of naively approached at the beginning, it became a different thing.

You know, Scott, look, I guess this is what happens in any war, and this book contains no headlines. You can reduce it to this simple thing: war is bad and people get hurt on every side. That’s what happened here. But to watch it intimately, to chronicle these young men from their initial eagerness to how they were when they came home – and if you heard from McCord this morning [Ed. Note: It was Stieber.], then you have a sense of what can happen to a young man – there is I think value in documenting that story, and that’s what the book attempted to do.

Horton: Well, and there really is something else, something that I complain about in even my own mind and something that I assume is a problem for everybody else too, is that a lot of times when we talk about foreign policy, we picture the shape of a country on a map, you know, the bird’s eye view of the political borders there, or, you know, if we read a headline that says a roadside bomb killed four soldiers in their Humvee today, we think, “Oh no,” or whatever, but still the picture in our mind is the letters on the page…

Finkel: Mhmm.

Horton: ..and that’s it! And that’s one thing that, you know, this book really does a service in putting you in the Humvee with these guys, as far as a book can do, and really letting Americans know what it’s like for these soldiers and what it is that they’re going through.

Finkel: Well these guys, these guys just went through a lot of bad days. Not every day was a bad day, but a lot of them were, and every day had the possibility of becoming a bad day. And the day you were alluding to in the beginning, the day the video comes from, it was an awful day. It was an awful day for Americans. It was an awful day for Iraqis. It was an awful day for the families of the guys from Reuters. You know, it just goes on and on. And that was one day of a 15-month deployment. And there were many such days. And it wasn’t just this battalion, it’s all the battalions who were there, all the companies and all the platoons at this particularly bad time during the war.

Horton: Mhmm. Now, you know, not everybody has to be agreed about this, but I don’t know, Dana Rohrabacher says that pretty much to a man the Republican members of Congress think now that the Iraq war was a mistake. So, you know, maybe it’s not too far of a stretch to just sort of accept as a fact that really, you know, all of this was in vain, that what these guys went through – you know, you quote the soldiers over and over again saying things to the effect, this is one specific paraphrase, but there’s so many like this, that, “Look, I’m a soldier. I’ve always wanted to be a soldier, not because I wanted to hurt anybody but because I love America. I want to defend my country.” That’s what all these guys really believed. None of them were interested, ever, really, in knowing who’s who in Iraq and who were they fighting for and against, and why, and what does it all mean, and who’s PNAC or –

Finkel: Well that strikes me as a little broad-brushed…

Horton: You know, in any of these things they trust us

Finkel: Hang on, hang on. That strikes me as a little broad brushed. There were, there were certainly guys who were interested in Iraqi culture who did their best to engage with Iraqis, and there were some who wanted nothing to do with them.

Horton: Well, but I’m not really talking about that. I’m talking about, you know, the power factions and studying, you know, who’s on which side of the civil war and these kinds of questions. I didn’t mean to say that they – that none of them had any regard for the people of the country. That’s certainly not the case, if anyone reads the book.

Finkel: I think a lot of them, to take, you know, what you’re saying one beat farther. If – a lot of them it became a matter of their daily mission. They would try to figure out who was who, but only in terms of the mission they had been given. That’s not the same thing as a diplomat going over there and trying to tease things apart.

Horton: Right. Right.

Finkel: And yet, interestingly, we’re calling on soldiers more and more to be modern American diplomats.

Horton: Yeah. Well. There’s a whole different rabbit trail we could go down there, but…

Finkel: I think so.

Horton: Yeah. But so I mean I guess the point that I’m really working on here is that these guys really trust us, the American people in the democracy and all that, to decide whether the mission that they’re on is truly defending America or not. They don’t, they don’t question whether it is or not. Their job is to be a good soldier. And we send them to go and patrol an area of somebody else’s neighborhood. They’re not fighting an army in any set-piece battle. They’re patrolling civilians basically who, as the soldiers themselves say in the book, don’t want them there.

Finkel: No, but they’re not – please don’t assume they’re people without private thoughts and capable of seeing what’s going on around them or seeing what they’re in the midst of and making personal decisions about, but –

Horton: Well that’s kind of the story of the book is them learning the hard way. Now, can you please stay one more segment with us here?

Finkel: Ahhh, sure.

Horton: Okay. Well, no pressure if you need to go.

Finkel: No, no, no. I’ve got about five minutes before I have to go upstairs and do some work at the Post.

Horton: Okay, well, it’s a five-minute break, so I guess we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much, David.

Finkel: Hey, Scott, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

Horton: David Finkel, everybody. The Good Soldiers.

Finkel: See you later.

Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews David Finkel, August 16, 2010Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. Our next guest on the show is David Finkel. He is the National Enterprise Editor of the Washington Post. He was awarded the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for his series of stories about U.S.-funded democracy efforts in Yemen. And his book The Good Soldiers is now out in paperback. Welcome to the show, David. How are you?

David Finkel: Hey, good, thank you. How are you?

Horton: I’m doing great. I appreciate you joining us on the show today.

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: So this book is, it’s really a hell of an accomplishment here. You’re a brave guy. I wouldn’t go over there and embed in a situation in eastern Baghdad like that for all the money in the world.

Finkel: Well, it was definitely a rough period in 2007, but we’re seeing the effects of it now, I guess.

Horton: Well, we can talk about some of that. I want to start off with some of the controversy here. The quote that I read of you said that your description of what we’ve all seen now in the so-called “Collateral Murder” video put out by WikiLeaks seems to have been written with the video in front of you while you wrote it, and the question came up of whether the Washington Post has the video, or whether you have the video, or whether you’ve ever had the video, or it was just shown to you, or something. And then the quote that I saw was that the entire book comes from unclassified sources. And I thought either that can’t be true, or that video was never classified, because you have to have seen the video. I’ve read the book.

Finkel: Mhmm. Well, I’ve never said whether I saw the video or not, and I’m not going to say whether I saw the video or not. I’m just going to – it’s an odd way to start an interview because we’re missing some context here, and let me take a second to add it.

Horton: Sure.

Finkel: There was a video released by WikiLeaks.org a few months ago that showed some people on a street in East Baghdad being gunned down, including a couple of people who worked for Reuters and including a couple of people who were found to be lying on top of weapons, an RPG launcher in one case, an AK-47 in another.

But out came this video, and it became quite controversial and aroused a lot of passion in people, and you know it’s an awful thing to see. It was a – it’s a tough video to watch, and for the life of me I can’t imagine why anybody would want to watch the video, but millions of people have. The reason you’re bringing it up is because I was there in East Baghdad the day that occurred and I wrote about that day extensively in the book The Good Soldiers.

When the WikiLeaks thing came out, a couple things happened. One, it went viral, and so many people saw it, and I tried to add context to that video by suggesting that, number one, even though the video seemed to show just a bunch of people kind of sauntering down the street, there was more going on that day. And there were some running gun battles all morning long as part of an operation. The soldiers I was writing about were in to clear out an area where there had been a lot of roadside bombs and many soldiers had been injured over the previous few weeks.

And it just got more controversial from there. WikiLeaks seems to arouse a certain passion in people, and it’s something – you know, it just, it just doesn’t do much good to talk about it at this point because it’s kind of like yelling into the wind a little bit.

I will say this, and I’ve said it before, and forgive me if I’m repeating myself: Everything I wrote about that day was based on unclassified material. The main thing was that I was present that day. That was the main source.

But, but the other – and I’m sorry for the long answer, but I might as well just clear this up at the beginning. The other thing is, there was a message, I guess that was put out by the founder of WikiLeaks, saying that the Washington Post had this video and I had the video and sat on it for two years, and that’s simply not the case. And every time I say that’s not the case, I get a slew of e-mails telling me what a bad guy I am. But facts are facts. The Washington Post never had this video. It never possessed the video. And as far as what I possessed, I possessed unclassified material that I wrote that chapter from. And to repeat myself, my presence there that day was the main thing I wrote – I used that day as sourcing material.

Horton: Okay, David, I understand –

Finkel: Let, let me go on and say one other point which I haven’t made before. The charge that I sat on anything, or the allegations, or the insinuation, is just absurd. I got material for a book, and I wrote a book, and as soon as the book came out there was a full discussion in the book of what went on that day. So anybody who says I sat on anything, they’re simply not telling the truth.

Horton: Okay, well look. I mean, what you say there makes complete sense to me as far as that goes, but, you know, I need some understanding here. You understand why I’m confused. When part of the book seems to – when you talk about they have to do a turn to get clear of the building in order to get the shot, and the banter that goes back and forth on the video – on one hand it sure seems like you must have seen that video, right? I don’t know what other conclusion that I can come to from reading that chapter. I know you were there that day, but as far as I know, you weren’t in the Apache, and even if you were, that would still be classified information too, right? So, I – you understand why fair-minded people are confused about why it seems like you’ve seen classified footage, very strongly, and yet on the other hand you say you haven’t.

Finkel: Mhmm. Mhmm.

Horton: It’s just a, it’s a minor point, really, and I would rather talk about other things in the book…

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: …to be honest, but –

Finkel: Yeah I would love to too. And I – it’s – it is a minor point. What happened in the end is I wrote a full account of that day six months, seven months before the WikiLeaks video was released. It’s all in there. And as far as what my sources were, alls I can tell you is what I told you. I think any reporter, while they’re collecting information, they make agreements with sources. And I’m not going to violate those agreements.

Horton: Oh, sure, well I don’t think anybody, you know, ever implied they expected you to betray the confidence of any people, but – well, anyway, you do understand why this seems to be a point of contention–

Finkel: Of course. Of course.

Horton: –Two facts that don’t seem congruent together.

Finkel: Of course. I do. I do. I do understand that. I can’t clarify it any better than I have. Alls I can tell you, again, let me emphasize that everything in that chapter was based on unclassified material and my being there that day. [laughs] I know I’ve said that three times now, but that’s about all I can say. I’m sorry I can’t elaborate more fully, but that’s kind of the deal.

Horton: Okay. And, all right, the other most controversial thing that I have to ask you about…

Finkel: Yeah.

Horton: …other than things that are directly out of the book, is, there’s a soldier from the 2-16, the battalion that you were working with here, named Ethan McCord…

Finkel: Right.

Horton: …and another named Josh Stieber, who I actually just talked to earlier today on the show…

Finkel: Great.

Horton: …both of whom say that they got a direct order, and Stieber told me today that Lt. Col. Kauzlarich, who’s the head of the battalion.

Finkel: Kauzlarich, yeah.

Horton: Kauzlarich, pardon me. I never say it right. Kauzlarich – he’s really the, in a major way, a focus in your book – that he gave them an order at one point, after being bombed by so many EFPs, that they were to dismount and fire 360 degrees at anybody who happened to be around…

Finkel: Mhmm.

Horton: …and that that was a Standard Operating Procedure. And there’s no mention of that in your book, and I wonder whether you had any indication of that at the time when you were embedded there.

Finkel: I don’t know if that’s true or not. If that was said, it wasn’t said in my presence, and the book I’ve reported and written about is an honest-to-God truthful account based on everything I saw and I experienced over there. Well, I shouldn’t even say it that way, Scott. It’s not a book about me. It’s a book about what a battalion of soldiers went through…

Horton: Right.

Finkel: …during the surge.

Horton: Right, absolutely.

Finkel: And it’s not a polemic. It’s not a political book in any way. It’s not a first-person book. It really is a ground-level account of what these 800 soldiers out of Ft. Riley endured when they landed, by the luck of the draw, in a pretty vicious area of East Baghdad.

Horton: Mhmm. All right, so could you confirm to me whether you ever even heard rumors of that or anything – the soldiers maybe complaining about it?

Finkel: First I’ve heard of it.

Horton: Okay. Fair enough. All right, so now here’s the thing. Because I want to – actually, we’re coming up near the break here…

Finkel: Sure.

Horton: …so I’ll just take this time to praise you actually and the writing job that you’ve done here. This book is absolutely worth the read. Again, it’s called The Good Soldiers. It’s available at Amazon and the local book store and everything else. It’s now out in paperback. And I really, I strongly urge people to read it, because it really is just as he said, it’s the story of these guys and what they went through in being part of the surge, and particularly in 2007 in eastern Baghdad, and what it was really like for them on the ground riding in their Humvees, getting their orders and carrying them out. And I want to talk a little bit more about that, well a lot more about that, when we get back from this break. It’s David Finkel, the book is The Good Soldiers, and we’ll be right back after this on Antiwar Radio.

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Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton talking with David Finkel. He’s a Washington Post reporter, Pultizer Prize winner, author of The Good Soldiers.

And, you know David, when that infamous WikiLeaks Apache video was released, the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, “Yeah, well, you know, it is what it is, but it’s a view of war through a soda straw. You don’t get the context.” In fact you alluded to that a little bit, about how you tried to help add some context about what was going on on the ground in the neighborhood that day, and there was a fire fight a few blocks away, and etcetera like that.

But it’s not so much your book, because your book is, it’s about a specific topic, these guys on the ground and their lives during this year. But it seems like their view – and I would even, if I understand your reporting right, even the lieutenant colonel in charge of this battalion – that their view is maybe even at best a view of war through a paper towel tube or something. They don’t seem, even the lieutenant colonel, to really have any kind of larger understanding of what role they’re playing in the war.

They know their neighborhoods and that they’re supposed to do this counterinsurgency thing or whatever, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an understanding of the fact that there’s a civil war going on, and that ultimately they’re on the side of the people who they’re fighting against, the Sadrists against the Sunni population of Baghdad, and all this. It seems like they really don’t even know what their mission is other than go out there and secure the people and stuff, without any kind of bigger understanding. Do I understand that right?

Finkel: Well they weren’t the strategy guys. They were the tactical guys. They were carrying out the strategy. The strategy, of course, of something like this comes out of Washington, comes out of the Pentagon, comes out of [laughs] the people who were in charge of strategy. And what the book tried – one of the things the book tried to make clear is the sense that any war is really a couple of wars at the same time. There is the version that’s being strategized at the highest levels, and at the very far end of it – you know the straw, if you will, to follow what you were saying, at the other end of it – are the guys on the ground carrying out the strategy.

And the corner for this battalion, it wasn’t all of Baghdad, it was one section of East Baghdad, and they were given the mission of trying to make the population there feel safer. This is COIN strategy, and if you do that then everything will sort of trickle out from there and the war will get better. That was the mission going into it.

And, you know, as a matter of what I observed, at the beginning of the deployment, these 800 soldiers, mostly young guys, most on their first deployment, most leaving the country for the first time, they were eager to get there. They were filled with a sense of that mission. And honestly they just thought they were invincible, that as long as they did everything right they were going to be fine.

And for the first six weeks they were fine. But then the first roadside bomb killed the first one of them, and then they lost the second one, and then there were more deaths, and guys began losing arms and legs and hands and feet and eyes, and so the mission they sort of naively approached at the beginning, it became a different thing.

You know, Scott, look, I guess this is what happens in any war, and this book contains no headlines. You can reduce it to this simple thing: war is bad and people get hurt on every side. That’s what happened here. But to watch it intimately, to chronicle these young men from their initial eagerness to how they were when they came home – and if you heard from McCord this morning [Ed. Note: It was Stieber.], then you have a sense of what can happen to a young man – there is I think value in documenting that story, and that’s what the book attempted to do.

Horton: Well, and there really is something else, something that I complain about in even my own mind and something that I assume is a problem for everybody else too, is that a lot of times when we talk about foreign policy, we picture the shape of a country on a map, you know, the bird’s eye view of the political borders there, or, you know, if we read a headline that says a roadside bomb killed four soldiers in their Humvee today, we think, “Oh no,” or whatever, but still the picture in our mind is the letters on the page…

Finkel: Mhmm.

Horton: ..and that’s it! And that’s one thing that, you know, this book really does a service in putting you in the Humvee with these guys, as far as a book can do, and really letting Americans know what it’s like for these soldiers and what it is that they’re going through.

Finkel: Well these guys, these guys just went through a lot of bad days. Not every day was a bad day, but a lot of them were, and every day had the possibility of becoming a bad day. And the day you were alluding to in the beginning, the day the video comes from, it was an awful day. It was an awful day for Americans. It was an awful day for Iraqis. It was an awful day for the families of the guys from Reuters. You know, it just goes on and on. And that was one day of a 15-month deployment. And there were many such days. And it wasn’t just this battalion, it’s all the battalions who were there, all the companies and all the platoons at this particularly bad time during the war.

Horton: Mhmm. Now, you know, not everybody has to be agreed about this, but I don’t know, Dana Rohrabacher says that pretty much to a man the Republican members of Congress think now that the Iraq war was a mistake. So, you know, maybe it’s not too far of a stretch to just sort of accept as a fact that really, you know, all of this was in vain, that what these guys went through – you know, you quote the soldiers over and over again saying things to the effect, this is one specific paraphrase, but there’s so many like this, that, “Look, I’m a soldier. I’ve always wanted to be a soldier, not because I wanted to hurt anybody but because I love America. I want to defend my country.” That’s what all these guys really believed. None of them were interested, ever, really, in knowing who’s who in Iraq and who were they fighting for and against, and why, and what does it all mean, and who’s PNAC or –

Finkel: Well that strikes me as a little broad-brushed…

Horton: You know, in any of these things they trust us

Finkel: Hang on, hang on. That strikes me as a little broad brushed. There were, there were certainly guys who were interested in Iraqi culture who did their best to engage with Iraqis, and there were some who wanted nothing to do with them.

Horton: Well, but I’m not really talking about that. I’m talking about, you know, the power factions and studying, you know, who’s on which side of the civil war and these kinds of questions. I didn’t mean to say that they – that none of them had any regard for the people of the country. That’s certainly not the case, if anyone reads the book.

Finkel: I think a lot of them, to take, you know, what you’re saying one beat farther. If – a lot of them it became a matter of their daily mission. They would try to figure out who was who, but only in terms of the mission they had been given. That’s not the same thing as a diplomat going over there and trying to tease things apart.

Horton: Right. Right.

Finkel: And yet, interestingly, we’re calling on soldiers more and more to be modern American diplomats.

Horton: Yeah. Well. There’s a whole different rabbit trail we could go down there, but…

Finkel: I think so.

Horton: Yeah. But so I mean I guess the point that I’m really working on here is that these guys really trust us, the American people in the democracy and all that, to decide whether the mission that they’re on is truly defending America or not. They don’t, they don’t question whether it is or not. Their job is to be a good soldier. And we send them to go and patrol an area of somebody else’s neighborhood. They’re not fighting an army in any set-piece battle. They’re patrolling civilians basically who, as the soldiers themselves say in the book, don’t want them there.

Finkel: No, but they’re not – please don’t assume they’re people without private thoughts and capable of seeing what’s going on around them or seeing what they’re in the midst of and making personal decisions about, but –

Horton: Well that’s kind of the story of the book is them learning the hard way. Now, can you please stay one more segment with us here?

Finkel: Ahhh, sure.

Horton: Okay. Well, no pressure if you need to go.

Finkel: No, no, no. I’ve got about five minutes before I have to go upstairs and do some work at the Post.

Horton: Okay, well, it’s a five-minute break, so I guess we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much, David.

Finkel: Hey, Scott, thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

Horton: David Finkel, everybody. The Good Soldiers.

Finkel: See you later.

Stephan Salisbury

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_12_salisbury_donate.mp3]

Stephan Salisbury, author of Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland, discusses the “Mosque at Ground Zero” that is neither a mosque nor at ground zero, how most “Not in MY NYC” protesters are from out of town and don’t reflect the tolerance of Manhattan residents, the hostile sendoff of NYC cultural center representative Feisal Abdul Rauf on his State Department-sponsored Middle East religious tolerance tour, the deep rooted xenophobia in the U.S. exacerbated by post-9/11 government persecution of Muslims, the FBI  informants and provocateurs behind high-profile terrorist-cell arrests and how the Woodrow Wilson-era Palmer Raids gave a career boost to young J. Edgar Hoover.

MP3 here. (36:54)

Stephan Salisbury is cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His most recent book is Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland.

Zack Mellette

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_12_mellette_donate.mp3]

Zack Mellette, cofounder of Give Us Names, discusses his organization’s short films that showcase the plight of displaced Colombian farmers, the U.S. creation of multi-billion dollar Plan Colombia in 1998 to continue the failed supply-side War on Drugs, the devastating effect of aerial fumigation on food crops (and lesser effect on the targeted coca plants), the economic incentives for Colombians to grow coca instead of food and the heavily-armed paramilitary groups that seize land and kill resisting farmers.

MP3 here. (18:50)

Zack Mellette is cofounder of Give Us Names, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization seeking to improve the lives of displaced Colombians.

Philip Giraldi

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_12_giraldi_donate.mp3]

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi discusses the State Department’s unintentionally hilarious report on global terrorism, the government’s steadfast refusal to see the underlying grievances that motivate terrorist actions, how Congressional Resolution 1553 defers Iran war-making decisions to Israel and how countries designated “state sponsors of terrorism” are placed on the State Department’s “ignore” list.

MP3 here. (20:46) Transcript below.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is a contributing editor to The American Conservative and executive director of the Council for the National Interest. He writes regularly for Antiwar.com.

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Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews Philip Giraldi, August 12, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton, and our first guest on the show today is Antiwar.com’s Phil Giraldi. He’s a former CIA and DIA officer. He’s part of the American Conservative Defense Alliance. He’s a contributing editor at The American Conservative magazine – that’s AmConMag.com. And he’s now over there at the Council for the National Interest. Welcome back to the show, Phil. How’s it going?

Philip Giraldi: Thanks, Scott. Doing fine.

Horton: Good. All right, so new article today at Antiwar.com. I think if people just go to Antiwar.com/Giraldi it’ll forward on. It’s actually original.antiwar.com/giraldi, and the article is “Hillary’s Enemies List.” Go ahead…

Giraldi: Well, I mean, you know, as the article states, we Americans are always addicted to making lists and doing numerical analysis of stuff. I mean you see it in all the reporting that comes out of the Pentagon on what’s happening in Iraq and what’s happening in Afghanistan – it’s all in numerics. And to me, one of the most invidious lists of all is the list that the State Department puts out every year. It’s a report on world terrorism. And the most, I think, reprehensible part of the report is the section on state sponsors of terrorism, because the state sponsor list is completely influenced by politics and really has very little to do with terrorism.

Horton: Yeah, I have to admit – you know, no offense or anything, but your articles usually aren’t that funny. They’re very informative and very to the point; they’re always about the very same topics I’m interested in, but it’s not usual that I’m laughing out loud, holding my gut, reading a Giraldi article. This is an exception, however. This is absolutely ridiculous. It wasn’t you cracking wise, it was just the facts as you were reporting them that I just though were absolutely absurd. I mean, I think as you say in here, basically this report could have been written in Tel Aviv. It’s not even written from an American point of view, it doesn’t even seem like.

Giraldi: Yeah, the analysis of terrorist groups and their activities over the last year, I mean, it’s just straight, you know – no analysis really of questioning why these things happen or whether these groups have aspects other than what they see as the terrorist side. I’m speaking particularly, of course, of Hezbollah and Hamas. But the Iranians, too, are lumped into the same thing, and the fact is that none of these groups actually target Americans.

Horton: All right, now, so, a little bit of background, especially for people who maybe are new to the show or haven’t heard of you before. The fact that you write for The American Conservative means that you’re a conservative, I think, American Conservative Defense Alliance and all that, and with a name like Giraldi you’ve got to be at least a little bit Catholic, and so I don’t think that you’re some kind of pinko hippie who’s just afraid of a fight – and I’m pretty sure also a Vietnam War veteran, right? I’m also pretty sure that you don’t walk around carrying a brief for radical Islamic terrorist cretins. And after all, Phil, Hamas and Hezbollah, no matter who their enemies are – they have used suicide attacks before and stuff. I mean that’s terrorism, man, right?

Giraldi: Well, you know, there’s terrorism, and there’s terrorism. I mean, the fact is that we tend to see terrorism in monochromatic terms, you know, black and white. The fact is that many of these groups that we consider terrorists start out as national resistance movements to an occupation or, like in South Africa, to a repressive state structure. You know, there are numerous examples I can cite obviously of terrorist groups that originally were actually defending the local people. And then they get cacheted as terrorists by the people that they’re opposing.

And in the case of the United States, the United States has pretty much taken over willy nilly lists of terrorists or lists of terrorist groups that are actually groups that have never ever targeted Americans in any way and never would. And so it makes you question what is the utility of this kind of compendium.

Horton: Well, and also speaking of that, I know that part of your experience in the CIA was in Turkey, so you’re also very familiar with the Middle East and the politics of that region, and so, you know, I don’t think you’re arguing that you want to see a Middle East run by Hamas and Hezbollah; you’re just trying to, well, I guess take it from the monochromatic description of the way things are in the world to add a little bit more color to that wheel and explain kind of the subtlety of the situation a little bit better, huh?

Giraldi: Well, it’s largely, you know, a question of our own self-interest. I mean, if we go around and we start labeling numerous groups that are political parties in the countries they’re in as terrorists, that means we can’t talk to them. And it also means that when we look at countries and call them state sponsors of terrorism, we can’t talk to them either. And all kinds of legal and sanction issues kick in automatically once you’re on that list. So it’s self-destructive.

It’s not that I’m saying that these groups are nice people – I’m not saying that at all. But the fact is that it limits what the United States can do to establish some kind of realistic way of dealing with these people, because you have to deal with them. I mean, Hezbollah is, I believe, the biggest party in Lebanon – political party. And Hamas is certainly the biggest political party in Gaza. So if you’re dealing with the political problems in both those areas, there’s no way you can avoid talking to them. And yet we set up this legal-quasilegal structure that ties our hands and guarantees virtually that we’ll never be able to talk to them.

Horton: Well, and you know it seems like of course the narrative is, it’s all about Iran, and as per the usual Israeli narrative, never mind the fact, it’s not even true maybe that Gaza and the West Bank have been occupied for two generations in a row or something. I mean, basically, to read this thing, the people of the West Bank and Gaza won’t stop invading Israel or something like that, and so therefore, kind of as you’re saying, there’s no national resistance kind of characterization even possible about these groups. They’re simply aggressors and – oh, in fact fronts for the Iranian regime. That’s the only reason that they’re after poor Israel over there. And therefore us, I guess.

Giraldi: Yeah, well the one thing that amazed me was, you know, I read this whole damn report, and it’s something that could put you to sleep, that’s for sure, but the thing is, I became curious about it, because it had these long descriptions of what Hezbollah was doing and Hamas is doing, and then I went and I checked the section on Israel and saw exactly how many people were killed by terrorists in Israel last year, and the number was I think four. And none of them had been killed by Hezbollah or Hamas. So here you’re identifying these groups as terrorist threats and so on and so forth. If they are terrorist threats, they’re pretty ineffective.

Horton: Well, and is it even right, really, that – I mean, clearly Hamas has ties with Iran, but I mean how separate are their interests from each other? And of course there’s the Sunni-Shia split when it comes to Hamas and Palestine, but maybe that’s not all that important.

Giraldi: Well, I think yeah, your point is right. I mean, you know, Iran is a friend of Hamas because they have a common interest in that Israel and the United States are opposing both of them. And the same thing with Hezbollah. Hezbollah has more profound connections with Iran, no doubt about it.

But the fact is that nevertheless everybody is acting out always their self-interest, and precisely what I’m saying is that, you know, you basically look – if you’re really engaged in serious diplomacy, you look at the national interest or the interests of these people, and you work those in your favor, because there will be things that they’re interested in that we’re also interested in, like, you know, there might be issues of regional stability that they’re quite interested in just as we are.

So, you know, the problem is, what you decide to categorize, put labels, put people on lists, you’re basically hurting yourself. You’re limiting your ability to do things.

Horton: Now, if you were the National Security Adviser of America, and say you wanted to bring hope and change to American foreign policy, is it completely unreasonable – I mean, I know I’m a very libertarian kind of guy with a point of view that doesn’t represent much of the population or whatever here, but is it a crazy idea to think that you could just go over there and say, “All right, look, Iranians, we’re just going to make friends. Forget all that stuff, here’s a security guarantee, stay within your safeguards agreement, sanctions are lifted, let’s work things out, we’ll have an agreement, we’ll sit down at a table, work out things in Palestine, etc.,” like that, or are they just intransigent crazy ayatollahs over there, Phil? Real quick, and then we’ll go out to this break.

Giraldi: Well I think the short answer of course is that they will have interests in common with you, and the Iranians have in the past made it clear that they want security guarantees from the United States, so we have a big bargaining pot.

Horton: Right on. All right, everybody hang tight. We’ll be right back with Phil Giraldi after this break.

[break]

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton, and I’m talking with Phil Giraldi. He writes for Antiwar.com and The American Conservative magazine and Campaign for Liberty and American Conservative Defense Alliance, and now he’s over at the Council for the National Interest, and now – oh, and a former CIA and DIA officer as well.

Now, Phil, I think that, you know, all your talk about the way to win the terror war is to ramp it down, and the way to deal with Iran is to try to shake hands, and the way to deal with Hamas and Hezbollah is to try to sit at a table – I think you’re just naïve and you won’t face up to the real truth of the danger of radical Islam.

Giraldi: Well, that claim has been made vis-a-vis me, but I think actually that we have had now 10 years nearly of facing up to the threat of radical Islam and we’re far worse off and far less secure right now than we were 10 years ago. I mean, the fact is that we have adopted the wrong strategy. It’s very clear, and I firmly believe from my own experience, in the CIA in particular, that there are ways to work issues and there are ways to work around issues, and things like that, and we haven’t tried that approach as much as we should. And I firmly believe that to be the case.

Horton: Well now, so what about Islam itself? Because I mean that really is the narrative, especially of the neocons – is that radical Islam is the basis of our conflict. And I think what that really means, if we follow the chain of dominos or whatever, it means that our civilization is in the fight of its life against a billion people in the world – at least, you know, the 10%, as Harvey Kushner put it to me in a debate once, from Family [Security] Matters for America over there, a neocon outfit. He said, “10% of Muslims in the world are so radical, they’re at war with us, that, you know, we’re going to have to kill them all.”

Giraldi: Yeah, I’ve heard that line from a few people. In fact I heard 15%, which would be a few more. But, you know, I mean, the point is that the people who’ve come out with those lines do not ask the other question, which is, “How do these people become radicalized in the first place?” They became radicalized in the first place because of actions undertaken by the United States and frequently Israel. It’s not like we were nonplayers in this process.

So my suggestion would be that we take the initiative that President Obama made when he went and spoke in Cairo shortly after he became President, and extend that, and really let it become a concept of our government that we are basically friends to everyone. This is what George Washington advised; it’s what Thomas Jefferson, Madison – friends with everyone and not getting involved in other people’s quarrels and trying to be, you know, a force for moderation in the world. We haven’t been that.

Horton: Yeah. The shining city on a hill as a light of liberty rather than a laser designator for a JDAM, huh?

Giraldi: That might be a good idea, yeah.

Horton: All right, well, so I’m looking at this article on Reuters, and you know I guess no one in the whole world could have predicted this, no? It says, Karroubi, he’s I guess one of the leaders of the opposition over there in Iran, says that the new sanctions are strengthening the government and weakening the Green movement.

Giraldi: Well, you know, that was predicted by many people, that obviously you create a siege mentality in any environment and the people are going to rally around the government. So I’m not really surprised at that. And I think that –

Horton: Do you think that’s what the sanctions are for? Is it still the case, like it was when John Bolton and them were running the place, that the moderates are the enemies, really? The more we can make it look like the CIA is behind all the dissent, the more marginalized they’ll be, and then the easier it is to come up with an excuse for war against those crazing hardliners instead?

Giraldi: Well I think that what we’re seeing is we’re seeing lots of people with lots of different agendas. I mean, obviously the military-industrial complex has a definite agenda in terms of a war economy continuing and a state of tension continuing in the world. And the Israel lobby has its own agenda. And then there are other hardliners in Congress that have their agenda. And this all kind of coalesces into a situation in which we’re just doing things for the sake of doing things, and you know it just – it really doesn’t make any sense.

I know you’ve probably already discussed on your show this congressional resolution 1553 in which our Congress will give Israel a green light for attacking Iran. I mean, what possible good can a resolution like that do for the United States and for the United States’ interests?

Horton: It’s just amazing. I mean, I guess they haven’t passed that yet, but they’re really saying, “We’ll leave it up to the government of a foreign state to get us into a war or not.” I mean, we complain that Congress doesn’t declare war any more; they give that power to the President. Now they give it to the Prime Minister of Israel?

Giraldi: That’s essentially what the resolution would do. It would give him the right to make a major strategic decision that would have a huge impact on our country.

Horton: Yeah. You know, Pat Buchanan compared it to Neville Chamberlain’s war guarantee to Poland, which Lord Gray and all of them immediately said, “What? You did what? You gave the Polish colonels the right to decide what for us?” Too late.

Giraldi: Exactly. And when it’s too late, it’s too late.

Horton: Amazing. Well, all right, so let’s move on here to the possibility that, as you put it before, the Israelis might just get us into a war real soon, if not – you know, see I always, I guess my gut tells me that they want to be able to wait a year and say, “See, the sanctions didn’t work because the Iranians are crazy.” But I guess your thing is “Netanyahu’s crazy,” and why wait, from his point of view, huh?

Giraldi: Yeah, well that’s it. I mean he basically could be voted out of office in a year. And he definitely has an agenda.

And you have to look at it this way. You have to see what the down side is for the Israelis – I mean in political terms, because that’s how they’re looking at this. And if they were to attack Iran, Iran in all probability would retaliate in such a way that the United States would get involved, whether it wanted to be or not. And if that’s the intention of the Israelis, that’s mission accomplished.

And then people have been arguing, “Oh yes, but that means that the United States and Israeli would break off relations, the United States would be so angry about this occurrence.” I don’t see that. Congress is repeatedly passing motions like 1553 that indicate that anything Israel does is fine. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have said that Israel can do whatever it wants in terms of its own security.

And, you know, it’s clearly not the message that’s being sent, and you know the mainstream media would jump right on the bandwagon together with Israel, almost immediately, and would in fact make it look s if the Israelis were the victims of the Iranian attack, even though it’s vice versa.

Horton: Yeah. Well, now – eh, there’s so many different directions to go from there. I guess the most important thing I think for people to understand, if I have this right, is that the Iranians have Sunburn missiles and – I always forget the names of both of them at the same time, I always get one or the other, but these are supersonic sea-skimming missiles that could very conceivably sink American aircraft carriers.

Giraldi: Yeah, that’s true. I mean, these are, I think derived, from the Chinese Silkworm missiles that –

Horton: Right. That’s the word I was looking for.

Giraldi: – are cruise missiles that they sold to the Iranians, and the Iranians kind of juiced them up a bit. But yeah, I mean, you know, this is serious stuff. If you’ve got a couple hundred of those lying around, and they’re hidden in various places where you’re not easily going to find them or take them out – all right, they don’t have to sink an aircraft carrier, they could sink a supertanker, and you block the Straits of Hormuz and that’s it. Gas prices go up to $15 a gallon and the American people will wonder, “Hey, what happened?”

Horton: Well, now, five years ago, in fact almost exactly five years ago, you wrote an article in The American Conservative magazine about how Dick Cheney had a plan, if there was any more terrorist attacks in America, to just go ahead and use it as an opportunity to strike Iran, and that he’d ordered the military to go ahead and include nuclear weapons in their plans, and then there was some word that that had been taken back and then maybe put back in, but I think you said – well I don’t know, three years ago now or something? – that the new version of the plan was, “Well, we’ll keep nukes in our back pocket for conventional strikes and then if they dare to resist, we’ll, I guess, have to use nuclear weapons.” Right? Because no one can even – no one in the Pentagon contemplates putting ground forces in an actual invasion and march to Tehran. So it comes down to, if the war starts and they decide to really fight back, then we’re talking hydrogen bombs. I mean, is it really as simple as that?

Giraldi: Well, I think that it’s the ultimate deterrent, really. I mean, if the Iranians are fighting back in a serious way, the United States might send them a message saying, you know, “Keep it up and we’re going to nuke you.” It seems to me, it is the ultimate deterrent for the United States in this kind of situation. And it would be stupid of people to say that that wouldn’t be contemplated.

Horton: Yeah, but I mean when the generals sit around, even when, you know, Paul Wolfowitz and his kooks at the University of Chicago, Wolfstetter and these guys, sit around and talk about, you know, nuclear weapons posture and whatever – they don’t ever talk about, “Well first you start a conventional war and then you tell them, ‘You better sit there and take it or we’ll nuke you.'” No one could really conceive of a country just sitting there and taking it, even with a threat like that, if we’re talking about we’re already in a conventional war against them, right?

Giraldi: Well, when I was at the University of Chicago, we used to sit around and talk about women and getting drunk. But, anyway, that was a different subject.

Horton: Ah, yeah, well, we’re out of time now.

Giraldi: All right.

Horton: But anyway I’m glad you didn’t take [Albert] Wohlstetter’s class. You’d be no good to us at all.

Giraldi: [laughs] All right, thank you.

Horton: Everybody, that’s Phil Giraldi. Antiwar.com/Giraldi. We’ll be back.

David Culp

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_12_culp_donate.mp3]

David Culp, Legislative Representative for the Friends Committee on National Legislation – Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program, discusses the START Treaty’s origin in the Reagan administration, how Senate Republicans and the Heritage Foundation are delaying the latest iteration of START to deprive Obama of a legislative success, the military’s preference for conventional rather than nuclear weapons and why the U.S. and Russian arsenals of 2200 deployed missiles each could be greatly reduced and provide the same deterrence.

MP3 here. (20:56)

David Culp is the Legislative Representative for FCNL’s Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program.

David has 15 years experience on nuclear arms control and disarmament legislation. He was instrumental in the passage of the nuclear testing moratorium in 1992; the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997; and the defeat of a new nuclear warhead, or nuclear “bunker buster” in 2004. Previously he was a lobbyist at the Indiana legislature for a statewide citizens group, successfully opposing two nuclear power plants. He is one of six registered lobbyists on nuclear disarmament on Capitol Hill.

David Bromwich

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_11_bromwich_donate.mp3]

David Bromwich, professor of literature at Yale University, discusses the American style of sleepwalking from one war to another, The Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg‘s effective role as public relations frontman for Israel, the ill-defined and loosely applied terms “existential threat” and “breakout capability,” Hillary Clinton’s inadvertent admission of how tenuous are U.S. claims on Iran’s nuclear threat, the fallacy of a limited war with Iran, how the simultaneous counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies in Afghanistan work in opposition to each other and why a full scale U.S. war with Iran (since a ground invasion is unthinkable) would involve nuclear weapons.

MP3 here. (28:54)

David Bromwich teaches literature at Yale. He has written on politics and culture for Huffington Post, The New Republic, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. He is editor of Edmund Burke’s selected writings On Empire, Liberty, and Reform and co-editor of the Yale University Press edition of On Liberty.

Tim Cavanaugh

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_11_cavanaugh_donate.mp3]

Reason columnist Tim Cavanaugh discusses the Georgia/Russia/South Ossetia conflict of 2008 and the Georgia-biased misinformation spewed by the Obama and McCain campaigns, former McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann‘s conflict of interest, how the U.S. media continued to get the South Ossetia story wrong for months, evidence that Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s attack was a spontaneous “loose canon” event and not the result of an April Glaspie-style wink and nod and how Georgia’s military was funded and trained by U.S. advisors (who may have seen combat action against Russian forces).

MP3 here. (29:09)

Tim Cavanaugh is a Reason columnist and Hit & Run contributor.

Cavanaugh has worked as the online editor of the Los Angeles Times and, for much of the 2000s, he served as Reason.com’s Web editor. Prior to coming to work for Reason, Cavanaugh edited the late, lamented Suck, which was arguably the first, and was indisputably the most hated, daily content site on the web. He has also worked at a variety of daily and weekly newspapers, trade magazines, and websites.

Cavanaugh’s articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Beirut Daily Star, San Francisco Magazine, Mother Jones, Agence France-Presse, Wired, Newsday, Salon, Orange County Register, The Rake magazine, and countless alternative and community papers too embarrassing to mention. His own site, The Simpleton, gets updated once every blue moon.

Carlos Miller

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_11_miller_donate.mp3]

Multimedia journalist Carlos Miller discusses his arrest and court ordeal stemming from photographing police in public, cops who use wiretap laws to arrest videographers (because of the audio capability), the use of trumped-up charges (that are dropped or greatly reduced when contested) for intimidation and why the Anthony Graber “wiretapping” case is so blatantly unjust even the MSM sides against the cops.

MP3 here. (9:06) Transcript below.

Carlos Miller runs the website Photography is Not a Crime. He is a Miami multimedia journalist with more than ten years of professional experience who has been arrested twice since 2007 for photographing police against their wishes.

——————————

Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews Carlos Miller, August 11, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton. The first guest on the show today is Cole Miller – nope! Carlos Miller. Cole Miller is an entirely different guy. Good guy, but different. Carlos Miller is our guest. CarlosMiller.com is the website. “Photography Is Not a Crime, It’s a First Amendment Right,” reads the title up at the top. Welcome to the show, Carlos. How are you doing?

Carlos Miller: Thank you. Thank you for having me on.

Horton: So, photography’s not a crime? I could have swore it was – wait! I didn’t know it was a crime.

Miller: Well it looks like it. I mean, you read the stories on my blog, it is a crime to a lot of police officers, a lot of security guards. People are getting arrested on an almost regular basis. So the website, my intention is to educate people that it is not a crime. But we have this ongoing issue that people believe it is a crime. That’s the problem.

Horton: Well, you know, I’m kind of confused that this would really even be a controversy. I mean, obviously cops want to prosecute people for whatever they can, if they feel like it, because this is East Germany and there’s no accountability and they can do whatever they want.

However, I thought the courts had ruled forever ago, that, well, for example, it’s perfectly okay to film people in public. They can put up – anybody can put up security cameras everywhere, but not a microphone, because you have an expectation of privacy, being able to hold a private conversation on a public sidewalk, if you’re speaking low to the person standing next to you. But if you’re walking down the sidewalk, you don’t have an expectation of privacy, as far as people being able to document the fact that you were there or what you were doing.

So, how is it that the government can put cameras all over the place, gas stations can put cameras all over the place, and yet somehow we’re supposed to believe that police aren’t allowed to be photographed if they’re out in a public place?

Miller: Well, what the problem is, there’s no laws that say, “You are not allowed to photograph police.” So, if you are photographing or videotaping a police officer in public and they’re not happy with it, they’ll arrest you for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, interfering with the investigation, that kind of stuff. You know, they’ll come up with other charges that really have nothing to do with photography, but that in their mind can cover that. Even though if it does go to court, they get thrown out. They don’t want– I mean, there’s no way they can get a conviction out of that.

Horton: So, there are no laws on the books anywhere in the states anywhere that say you can’t take a picture of a cop. It’s always, they just twist and say, “Oh, well, whatever, you’re resisting arrest,” or whatever it is. And then, are people really going to jail for this stuff?

Miller: Well, yeah. I mean, I personally was arrested twice. I spent two nights in jail. And people go to jail all the time.

And now the other thing is, you mentioned the audio. A lot of officers are using the wiretapping charges to crack down on people who videotape them in public because the videotape records audio. And these are not private conversations that people are having, these are conversations that are happening in public.

You know, if an officer is telling– if you’re having a conversation with public officials in public, that’s generally not a private conversation, unless you’re whispering in hushed tones or something. But if an officer is ordering you to do something, that is not a private conversation.

And that’s the situation we’re having now with Anthony Graber, for example, in Maryland, where he’s facing 16 years in prison because he uploaded a video that he recorded of an officer pulling a gun on him during a traffic stop on the side of a public highway.

And, you know, we have a lot of cases like that where they’re using wiretapping charges. We had a case in Florida, a woman who was videotaping officers arresting her son, and she went to jail. Although they dropped the charges, she still spent the night in jail.

So even if they don’t get a conviction, they do end up putting you in jail, where they can screw up your life and mess up your whole night and make you spend lots of money on lawyers and just make your life very uncomfortable.

Horton: Right, well, so, a couple of things. I guess first of all, have there been any real convictions, I mean we can go back and focus on the harassment thing – they can arrest you and hold you and you know give you a real pain, but have they succeeded in really putting anybody, you know, convicting anybody and putting them in prison for something like this?

Miller: No. Not yet. And that’s why we’re all paying attention to the Anthony Graber case, because that’s the one case where it hasn’t been dropped. Normally these cases get dropped when the prosecutor sees them. You know, they either reduce the charges to some misdemeanor or they just drop them completely. Though, in this case, he’s going to trial in October, Anthony Graber is, and we’re all paying attention to that.

Although the Maryland Attorney General already released an opinion that he was against, he did not believe that videotaping police officers in public was equal to the wiretapping charge where they had an expectation of privacy – they don’t. And other State Attorneys in Maryland also agree with that. So we’ve got one guy, one State Attorney, his name is Joseph Cassilly, he’s the one that’s going full forward with this, and this is the test. He’s not going to succeed. I mean, I can tell you that right now. He’s not going to succeed, but he’s going to try it anyway. But there has been no conviction, thankfully.

Horton: Usually when it comes to freedom and real journalism, things like that, we can always find the New York Times and the Washington Post and the LA Times on the wrong side. So, like for example, when Gary Webb wrote the truth, they destroyed him, instead of, you know, verifying to the rest of society that he was in fact correct. And look at what they’re doing to Bradley Manning right now. WikiLeaks shows them up and they decide to be the arm of the state smearing the heroes instead of taking their side.

But then again, I guess there’s some times where the mainstream press – the real, you know, the Washington Post, New York Times type press – feel like even their own rights or powers are threatened and where they will, you know, somehow reluctantly find themselves on the same side of an issue as a freedom fighter like yourself. So, I wonder whether you have any help from, you know, the people at ABC and CBS and NBC and the major papers. I mean, aren’t they concerned about their right to do news stories and photojournalism?

Miller: Well, like, in this case, the Anthony Graber case, they have all come out, you know, against the prosecution. They’ve all come out in support of Anthony Graber. It took them a little while. You know, when the story first broke, the Washington Post addressed the story like, “Okay, well the police are right, you know, this guy screwed up, he deserves to be in prison.” I mean, that’s the tone they had.

And I wrote about it on my blog, and it really got a lot of readers and a lot of people. And then I wrote about it again when he spent 26 hours in jail. He turned himself in. And it took a month before the media followed up on that. But then when they followed up on it, they had a different tone and they realized, well, this is pretty messed up that this case, that this guy’s facing 16 years in prison for uploading a video of a cop, of what he did in public, you know, when there was no expectation of privacy. So the Washington Post, USA Today, NPR, ABC, MSNBC, they’ve all come out and they’ve reported on this, and they’ve taken a stand. They say, “No, this is wrong.”

Horton: Wow, so there’s actually a line that the government could cross that the mainstream media would object to in this society. We finally found where it is, their own power to take pictures of cops. Great.

Miller: Well, you know, I think – you know, I try not to be so cynical. I think they’re actually seeing it as, you know, as the right thing to do. You can’t put someone in prison for uploading a video, and that’s it. And it took them a while to realize what was going on, but, yeah. But you know and because of the Washington Post, you know, now we have a politician in New York, Ed Towns, who introduced a resolution to make these laws where you can’t have these laws. You know, make it very specific, that you are allowed to videotape police officers in public, or you’re not allowed to use the threat of…[inaudible]

Horton: Well, the music’s playing and your phone’s breaking up, so we’ll leave it there. But everybody please go check out CarlosMiller.com, Photography Is Not a Crime. Thanks very much for your time.

We’ll be back y’all, right after this.

Anthony Weller

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_10_weller_donate.mp3]

Anthony Weller, editor of First Into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War, discusses his father’s (George Weller) WWII reporting for the Chicago Daily News, George’s defiance of Gen. MacArthur’s travel restrictions in post-war southern Japan, firsthand accounts of radiation poisoning (Disease X) in Nagasaki, the severe mistreatment of prisoners in Japanese POW camps and how military censorship and George’s haphazard record-keeping kept the Nagasaki dispatches unpublished for 60 years.

MP3 here. (20:58)

Anthony Weller is a writer (novelist, poet, and journalist) and a musician (jazz & classical guitarist, composer). He is the author and editor of several books, including Days and Nights on the Grand Trunk Road and The Siege of Salt Cove: A Novel.

Weller edited and wrote a long essay for First into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War. This was the reporting by George Weller, utterly blocked at the time [September 1945] and thought lost to history until Anthony found copies among his late father’s papers. Acclaimed by historians worldwide, it was named by Kirkus one of the best books of the year. In 2009 Anthony edited an enormous follow-up compilation for Crown of his father’s finest 1941-45 reporting, Weller’s War: A Legendary Correspondent’s Saga of World War II on Five Continents.

Cindy Sheehan

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_10_sheehan_donate.mp3]

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan discusses the still-elusive “noble cause” soldiers are supposedly dying for, why consumers of mainstream media might reasonably conclude the Iraq War is over, the GI Bill’s under-utilization and why the election of a Democratic president prompts the antiwar movement to take a four year vacation.

MP3 here. (18:16)

Cindy Sheehan became a leader of the antiwar movement after her son, Casey, was killed in Iraq. Her efforts to get answers from President Bush, including a vigil in Crawford, Texas, have received national media attention. She has a website and radio show, is the author of Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism and wrote the introduction to 10 Excellent Reasons Not to Join the Military.

Mike Gogulski

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_10_gogulski_donate.mp3]

Mike Gogulski, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, discusses the progress being made on fundraising for Manning’s legal defense, another below-the-belt hit piece from the New York Times, the help of partner site Courage to Resist and Manning’s knowledge and appreciation of his support network.

MP3 here. (19:17)

Mike Gogulski is the founder and a frequent contributor to the BradleyManning.org website.

Andrew Bacevich

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_09_bacevich_donate.mp3]

Andrew Bacevich, Professor of International Relations at Boston University and author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War, discusses the end of (military) history, the bipartisan business of war-making, the destructive patriotism of Washington power elites, why military power is useless at effecting positive social change and how formerly mainstream war skeptics have been relegated to the lunatic fringe.

MP3 here. (9:41) Transcript below.

Andrew J. Bacevich is Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, he received his PhD in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University. Before joining the faculty of Boston University, he taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins.

Bacevich is the author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War (2010).  His previous books include The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism (2008);  The Long War: A New History of US National Security Policy since World War II (2007) (editor); The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (2005); and American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U. S. Diplomacy (2002). His essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and general interest publications including The Wilson Quarterly, The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Nation, and The New Republic. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among other newspapers.

In 2004, Dr. Bacevich was a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. He has also held fellowships at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews Andrew Bacevich, August 9, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton, and our next guest on the show is Andrew Bacevich, former Lieutenant Colonel, Retired. He’s the author of the new book, Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. Previously he wrote The New American Militarism and The Limits of Power. And he has an article, it’s under Tom Englehardt’s name, at Antiwar.com right now called “The End of (Military) History?” I forget if there was a question mark on that or not. Welcome to the show, Andrew. How are you?

Andrew Bacevich: Well, thanks very much. I’m fine.

Horton: I really appreciate you joining us on the show today. So: Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. I guess the real bottom line here is the bipartisan nature of the War Party and the inability of either side to put an end to this when the power switches back and forth. It seems like we just go on and on and on.

Bacevich: Yes. You’ve actually summarized a core message of the book, the fact that since the end of World War II a national security consensus really has prevailed, leading to the excessive militarization of U.S. policy and I think bringing it to where we are today, where war has become a normal condition.

The one additional thing I would want to emphasize is that it’s not simply that Washington is doing these things to us; rather, we the people become complicit because it’s happening right in front of our noses, and we really don’t ask the critical questions about whether or not things like war in Afghanistan, now in its ninth year, actually make any sense whatsoever.

Horton: Yeah, well, I’m afraid that’s too true. And I think people tend to just go along with the consensus. It seems like if you don’t really – if you’re not expert in something, you go along with what the experts seem to think about it, I guess, is the way most people look at things, you know? I mean, if you were teaching me how to scuba dive, I wouldn’t just question you. I don’t know, you’re the expert, right? That’s the attitude.

And I think also that people believe – and it’s interesting, I’ve read your work for many years, and you always write from this sort of, this point of view of a detached, almost like a narrator in the interests of the nation. And yet, I kind of – and I think that that’s what people really believe, right? Is that the people who run the government have the national interest in mind. But I’m of the idea that the people who are really the richest and most powerful in our society aren’t patriotic at all. And they don’t really care about America at all. They’d just as soon throw us away and move to China.

Bacevich: I’m not sure I agree with you. And what I would say is that they actually see themselves as patriotic. George Bush, our last president, genuinely believed, in my view, that in invading Iraq in 2003 he was doing something that was consistent with the interests of the nation. Now he was wildly wrong on that, and he also was utterly blind to the fact that his convictions in many respects derived from a set of other considerations at odds with the well-being of the nation.

So, yes, if you’re a general, you believe that it makes sense for us to be spending 700 billion dollars on the Pentagon budget. But of course if you’re a general, you have an interest in the Pentagon continuing to be able to command those kinds of resources. So convictions and interests blur in ways that make it difficult for people to recognize how utterly irrational or counterproductive some aspects of our policy have become.

Horton: Yeah, that’s an interesting way to put it. A man with a hammer, everything’s a nail kind of thing. I remember actually reading a Tom Clancy novel, oh, I don’t know, 12 years ago or something, long ago – that’s a long time to me – where the people from the biggest corporations and the government are this revolving door and whatever, but it just is completely accepted as of course legitimate. These are the best and brightest of us all, so of course they run TRW and the Defense Department, etc.

Bacevich: That’s – well, I mean, I think that we’re oversimplifying a little bit, but there’s a core truth in what you say. The people who run Wall Street and the people who run Washington share a common worldview, and that common world view very much informs the way Wall Street and Washington view our military power, its purposes, and the amount that we should be investing in military power.

Horton: And your purpose, in this article as well as in your recent book, is to explain that from your view American military power is really not good for anything in terms of going around the world in order to gain at the expense of other people in these wars. If it’s good for anything, it’s good for defense, and that’s about it, right?

Bacevich: Well, essentially yes. I mean, I am not a pacifist. I don’t wish to see us disarm. I would like to see us have a strong and effective military, but I am absolutely persuaded that force is useful, only in very limited and specific circumstances. The belief that military power can effectively be used to shape the international order, to transform societies like Afghanistan, is a great illusion, and it’s an illusion that we can no longer afford to indulge.

Horton: Well, you know, I’ve always thought that you set a really great example because in the most simple TV narrative, to be antiwar means that you’re like Michael Moore or something like that, and then there’s no “Look, there’s Andrew Bacevich, and he’s calm and he’s patient and he’s methodically explaining to you what’s good for the American republic and what’s not.” It doesn’t have to be a liberal or a conservative thing, but you always put it across in a way that I like to believe can appeal to conservatives and nationalists and people who would tend to go along with what the War Party says.

Bacevich: Well, I thank you very much for that, and I hope that people do view my writing in that way, but, I mean, I would want to reinforce the point that you just made. I think that the notion that “questioning war or being skeptical about military power should qualify as a radical or off-the-wall kind of view” is itself I think deeply un-American. We have forgotten that we have a very rich history in this country in which patriotic Americans were profoundly skeptical of war and of military institutions, and it’s time, I think, for us to recover a certain amount of that skepticism.

Horton: Well it seems like it’s really a threat to our traditions, isn’t it, to have so many people engaged in warfare all the time and then coming home, or even while they’re gone their family’s breaking up, and people being unfaithful, and then they come home, and they’re cops, and they abuse people on the side of the road, and you have more and more, you know, racism because people who started out nice kids come back detesting the “hajis” as they’ve been trained to do while they’re in the war. This is really polluting who we are here, while we’re waging these wars over there. Never mind all the violations of our Bill of Rights that goes along, and all the rest of that.

Bacevich: Well I think one of the really most troubling results of this perpetual war in which we find ourselves involved is that our soldiers have to deal with the consequences, and I think increasingly we’re beginning to appreciate this, even in reports that we see in the mainstream media.

Whether you’re talking about the prevalence of PTSD, whether you’re talking about the epidemic, really, of prescription drugs being used by American soldiers to deal with anxiety, depression, other problems resulting from their combat deployment, we’re creating a substantial community of our fellow citizens who are being seriously damaged as a consequence of their participation in war, and that very much demands our attention. It’s not something that you can simply sweep under the table by saying, “You know, I support the troops, hurrah.”

Horton: All right, everybody, that is Andrew Bacevich. He’s the author of Washington Rules: American’s Path to Permanent War, which, by the way, that’s a premium, you get the book if you donate to Antiwar.com this week more than $100, and we really thank you for your participation in that. And thank you very much for your time on the show today, Andrew.

Bacevich: Thank you.

Jason Zanon

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_09_zanon_donate.mp3]

Jason Zanon, founder of the quirky biographical website Executed Today (in the Find A Death model), discusses the facts behind Antiwar.com columnist Jon Basil Utley‘s father’s execution by firing squad in a Soviet gulag, the top 10 executions of the 2000’s, Thomas Edison’s pioneering of the electric chair during his PR campaign against Tesla’s alternating current, Cameron Willingham‘s execution in a Texas prison for the questionable arson murders of his three children and how groups of regular people turn into lynch mobs at the drop of a hat.

MP3 here. (28:34)

Jason Zanon is the founder of the website Executed Today.

Jacob Hornberger

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_06_hornberger.mp3]

Jacob Hornberger, founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, discusses the enduring myth of nuking Hiroshima and Nagasaki to save the lives of countless U.S. soldiers, how FDR’s rejection of conditional surrender prolonged the war in Europe and the Pacific, how the US empire kicked into high gear after WWII, why purposely killing civilians is a war crime unless the Air Force does it, the firebombing of Japan that inflicted more casualties than Fat Man and Little Boy combined, operation Keelhaul and the forcible repatriation of Russian soldiers to certain death back home and the illegitimacy of killing civilians to save soldiers during wartime.

MP3 here. (20:40) Transcript below.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is a regular writer for The Future of Freedom Foundation’s publication, Freedom Daily, and is a co-editor or contributor to the eight books that have been published by the Foundation.

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Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews Jacob Hornberger, August 6, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton. And our first guest on the show today is Jacob Hornberger. He’s the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation. That’s FFF.org. And in fact, let me be more specific here. Check out FFF.org/blog for Jacob’s regular writing there. How’s it going?

Jacob Hornberger: Hey, doing great. It’s an honor to be with you. Boy, I hear nothing but good things about all the great work you’re doing, especially from my colleague, Sheldon Richman. You are one of his heroes for sure.

Horton: Well, thanks, that’s nice to hear. And, yeah, Sheldon is a great guy. And, you know, I’ve learned a lot about libertarianism from him, for sure. So, he goes way back.

Hornberger: Well it’s a mutual admiration society, because all he tells me about is how he can’t wait to listen to his latest podcast of your latest show.

Horton: Well the thing’s getting out of hand. Now I’m doing – I was doing four days a week, two hours. Now I’m doing five days a week, three hours. Plus I’m doing some KPFK shows. So far, it’s Friday now, I’ve done… this is the 16th interview this week, Jacob.

Hornberger: Yeah, I really don’t see how you pull it off. Not only – I don’t see how you do the interviews. I don’t see how you line up all these guests – [laughs]

Horton: Well, that’s Angela Keaton gets all the credit for that.

Hornberger: Well, that’s incredible.

Horton: She’s the one that makes that part happen. If it was just me, I’d be interviewing you every week and that’s about it.

Hornberger: Well, Sheldon tells me that you are fully prepped for each guest; in fact that you know as much as the guest does about each subject.

Horton: Well, we’ll see about that. All right, here, let’s try it:

Harry Truman had to nuke Hiroshima because the Japanese would never surrender and it would have cost a million American lives or more to invade their home islands, and nuking Hiroshima is fair retaliation for attacking Pearl Harbor.

Do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?

Hornberger: Well, yeah. [laughter]

Horton: It was 65 years ago today that the butcher Truman dropped the first atom bomb on human beings, Jacob.

Hornberger: Yeah. It was a war crime to the full extent. You know, Americans don’t want to face that. They operate under these little myths that are all ingrained in us from the first grade in our public schools. But this was an intentional targeting of civilians – of old people, of women, of children – and if an infantryman were to do something like that, like Bill Calley did, everybody would go after him for war crimes, but because they happened to be pilots, all of a sudden people look at it differently. It’s no different. These were war crimes. Wars are supposed to be waged between soldiers, not the intentional targeting of civilians.

Horton: Well, and you know, I think something that the American people are really – somehow this is like a secret they’re not let in on, or something. And that is that all of the military guys that we think of as Republicans – many of them actual Republicans like Ike Eisenhower, jeez what’s the name, MacArthur – all those guys, they all opposed it. Right? It was Henry Stimson in the war cabinet and Harry Truman who basically decided to do this over the objections of everybody else.

Hornberger: Well, yeah, and I mean, you know, as you know the Japanese were putting feelers out. I mean they were on the ropes. It was just a matter of time. Everybody knows that, and everybody knew it at the time. They had put the feelers out through the Soviets and through the Swedish government that they wanted to talk peace, and you know that raises this whole notion of this unconditional surrender demand.

You know, everybody just automatically assumes, well, gosh, there’s no alternative to unconditional surrender. Well, that’s just nonsense. You could have easily negotiated a surrender that let them keep their Emperor and their imperial system, which they ended up doing anyway, and that most likely would have satisfied the Japanese. But instead they go off on this idiotic unconditional surrender demand and kill 200,000 people just to get that unconditional surrender, and then let them have their imperial system anyway.

Horton: Well and by that time – August 1945 – there was no Japanese navy or air force left to speak of, right?

Hornberger: That’s right. And we had broken the Japanese military codes by that time – which they didn’t know – so any defense of Japan to an invasion could have easily been circumvented, but they’ve inflated the numbers, for decades they’ve inflated the numbers. They’ve said, “Oh, you know, half a million American troops would have died, or a million Japanese would have died,” but the estimates at the time ranged in the tens of thousands, if it had even come to that, which is very unlikely.

But even if it had, you know, this is war, and in war soldiers die, and it’s never a moral justification to say, “Well, look, we killed 200,000 of their civilians, their women, their children, their old people, but that saved the lives of X number of American soldiers.” That is totally illegitimate. You go to war, and soldiers are going to die. That’s the fact of it. If you don’t want that to happen, then negotiate a peace before this unconditional surrender demand is implemented.

Horton: Right. Yeah. Well, it really is – it’s just like the War Party nowadays. They always start off with a premise that’s completely preposterous. They must give us an unconditional surrender. Who ever heard of that? I mean that’s ridiculous. And yet – nope, everybody knows that’s the starting point.

It’s also the starting point from any argument that anybody has about Hiroshima today. How else were we to get our unconditional surrender? And nobody ever questions whether that was proper or not.

I mean we could have got a conditional surrender from the Nazis. They would have got rid of Adolf Hitler, and, you know, probably could have gotten the German army to get ride of the Nazi party and ended that war long before Stalin had rolled into all of Eastern Europe! But no, we have to have an unconditional surrender.

Hornberger: You got that exactly right. There was a section of Germans, including within the military – I mean, that’s what that assassination attempt on Hitler was all about, people like Rommel and stuff – that would have been willing to talk about, you know, ousting the Nazi regime and installing another regime that would have been more palatable to sign a peace agreement. And Roosevelt would not negotiate with any of them. He had this unconditional surrender demand.

And also, as you point out, if they had negotiated a peace – let’s say even sent Hitler to Brazil or something – we could have saved all of eastern Europe from the Soviets. But instead, no, they had this unconditional surrender demand. Then, the Soviet Union, the Communists or their allies – they end up delivering them all of eastern Europe and East Germany and then say, turn around right when the war was over and say, “Now we have to have a huge cold war and a couple of hot wars and a huge military industrial complex to fight what used to be our ally.”

Horton: Yeah. You know, here’s something too that – I think this is in “Hiroshima and Nagasaki” by Ralph Raico, which is a wonderful article at LewRockwell.com, that is where I learned this – that Harry Truman was asked years later, “Well, how come you didn’t use three?” Because I think it took them still till the 12th or something before they surrendered, the 13th, I forget. And he said, “Well, you know, we considered that. But I thought that, you know, all those women and children.”

And so there he is himself admitting that, yeah, he knew that he was slaughtering, and that was kind of the point and whatever, not that he could have been ignorant of it, but the debate had always been framed before as, “Look, these were military targets” – which was a lie of course, for both cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and, “You know what, it’s terrible, but you gotta do what you gotta do.” But then later in his own words, “Naw, we couldn’t do it again because all those women and children.”

Like, two bombs, two atom bombs’ worth of women and children, that’s one thing, but three? That might be pushing it.

So it sounds to me like under Harry Truman’s own standards, he ought to just be lynched on fire over and over again for all of eternity in Hell.

Hornberger: That’s an incredible story. I didn’t know that he had said that. But obviously if he said it about a possible third bombing, the exact same principle is applied to the first two bombings.

And, you know, we also should point out, Scott, that, you know, as bad as the atomic bombs were, that the U.S. government was still doing some pretty bad things in terms of their fire bombings of Tokyo and the other Japanese cities. I mean, this is the type of thing that America, even in the midst of war, that America should not be engaged in, and that’s the intentional killing of women and children and old people and civilians.

Horton: Well, the music’s playing here, so we got to go out to break. But I do want to talk about that in more depth when we get back. After all, the only reason they nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki is they’re the two cities that hadn’t already been burnt to the ground, and so they made good tests for the new technology. It’s Jacob Hornberger. We’ll be right back after this. Antiwar Radio.

* * * * *

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. I’m talking with Jacob Hornberger. He’s the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, which is a hell of a thing. You know, the War Party has their WINEP and their CFR and their JINSA and their Foreign Policy Initiative and their Emergency Committee for Israel and their American Enterprise blah – pardon me, I can’t list all the think tanks, it would take the rest of the interview – they got their think tanks, well, we got the Future of Freedom Foundation, Jacob Hornberger’s place there.

And now, before we went out to break, we were talking about the firebombing of the Japanese cities before they actually went to the lengths of splitting uranium and plutonium atoms apart in the presence of women and children and the elderly. And, really, as somebody in the chat room was pointing out, there were far more casualties from the fire bombing of Japan by the U.S. Air Force, Jacob, than there ever were from the nukes.

Hornberger: Well, that’s right. And the principle is no different. I mean, the U.S. should not have been involved in doing this type of thing. I mean, you know, even the Japanese, you know, when they attacked Pearl Harbor, they attacked the military installations there.

And I’m not suggesting that they hadn’t committed war crimes over in China, which of course they had and so forth, but the point is is that the U.S. should stand above this type of thing. I mean, we’re different from everyone else. We’re supposed to be different. And the thought of bombing cities with women and children in there, noncombatants, that is not something that we’re supposed to be doing as a nation. It violates everything that we stand for in terms of moral principles, religious principles, just war, waging of just war, and so forth.

Horton: Yeah. Well, you know, again I think this is kind of the history that doesn’t get told. I mean, people say, “Well, yeah, you know, they firebombed Tokyo. What does that really mean?” Well, it meant that like 100,000 people who jumped into the river to try to avoid the flames boiled to death in one night. That’s what it means. It means the worst kind of nightmares that anyone could ever imagine happening, at the hands of Harry Truman.

Hornberger: Right, right.

Horton: I mean, 100,000 people boiling in the river! I mean, what –?! You can’t – I can’t even imagine that, and I’ve got a very visual imagination.

Hornberger: Right. I think in Tokyo they killed some 85,000 people, and they were firebombing some 50 or 60 other cities. They killed I think it was in the neighborhood of 300,000 people. And we’re not talking about soldiers, we’re talking about civilians, noncombatants.

Horton: You know what, I might have got a decimal point wrong there. That might have been 10,000 that boiled to death in one night in the river. Anyway. That’s too many to be boiling to death in rivers, if you ask me. And, again, for a country that was already defeated.

And now let me ask you about this, Jacob, because it seems like there was a purpose, it wasn’t just stupidity, there was a real purpose in demanding unconditional surrender, and that was we wanted to replace the Japanese Greater Co-Prosperity Sphere with our own, and as – I forget who said it, but it’s so great I’m gonna repeat it anyway – Hitler annexed Poland, America annexed the entire Pacific Ocean, during World War II.

Hornberger: Well, yeah, I mean there’s no question but that this was the rise of the American empire after World War II. I mean the United States, you know, didn’t have to fight any of the war over on our homeland, and we ended up with this huge, giant military and military-industrial complex, a new official enemy, communism, Soviet communists, specifically, which had been our ally throughout World War II. And yeah, this was the rise of the U.S. empire that had gotten its start back in the Spanish-American War. And well, we had the Korean War that resulted, the Vietnam War, all the invasions, incursions in Latin America, the Middle East stuff, and it goes on and on.

Horton: You know, when people ask about my favorite interviews that I’ve done, it’s really hard to pin them down because it’s been a long time. It’s been, you know, I don’t know, more than 1,000 interviews, anyway, 1,300, 1,400 of them or something by now, and there’s lots of apples and oranges to compare, but as far as, you know, revisionist history, one of my favorites, Jacob, is my interview with you about Operation Keelhaul, which is the other theater of this war, although for all I know they pulled the same trick in the Pacific. But tell the people, kind of briefly, would you, about Harry Truman and the Russian prisoners?

Hornberger: Yeah, this was just an absolute horror story of World War II. I mean, it really goes to show you how war can degenerate a civilized people into doing some horrible things. One of the fascinating parts of World War II is: the real battle in World War II is really between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. And it was really a matter of who was going to win between those two. And so you had Communism fighting Nazism, and in the middle of this thing there’s a huge Soviet army that’s taken captive by the Nazis, and it’s headed by a guy – oh gosh, his name escapes me right now, does it ring a bell for you?

Horton: No, I’m sorry.

Hornberger: Okay, well a very famous Russian general. He had saved I think it was Leningrad and so forth. But he gets captured. And so they bring him back, and he starts doing some reflecting and he starts realizing the jerk that Stalin is, you know, just a you know Communist no-good, and he realizes that this is not good for his homeland, the Soviet Union. And so he tells the Nazis, “Look, I will help you defeat – ”

Horton: Vlasov, that’s who you’re thinking of.

Hornberger: Vlasov. It was General Vlasov. So he formed his own army under Nazi command to defeat the Soviet Union, the Soviet communists. It’s obviously somewhat naive, thinking that, you know, if they win that the Nazis would let him establish his own free country.

But in any event, so the war is over and Stalin, of course, knows what Vlasov has done, along with a lot of other Russians that were fighting against the Communists in their own country – the Cossacks, for example – and so he demands that the U.S. turn over these Russians to him. And there’s also some of them that are being held prisoner here in the United States.

And so what does the U.S. do? It honors this request. It’s just an absolute horror story.

I mean, what they really should have done was not forcibly repatriate these people to what was certain death. But they did. They deceived them. They rounded them up, told them that they were being trucked for some other purpose, and they turned them over to the Soviets. And the ones that they were taking to the ships over in Seattle and the other parts of the United States, they were actually – they were fighting, violently, with resistance to this, and then begging that the U.S. just kill them rather than turn them back over to Stalin. And of course we all know what the Communists and Stalin were susceptible of.

Well, they undoubtedly tortured Vlasov, and they tore his body into several pieces and hung the body parts around Moscow to send a message to everybody that this is what happens to traitors. And –

Horton: –This is what happens to people who trust Harry Truman.

Hornberger: Right. Well, and today, you know, what’s interesting – since the fall of the Berlin wall and the demise of the Soviet Union, Vlasov has been resurrected, I guess is the right word, where he’s treated as a hero now. I mean, the Russian people recognize that this was a man that was standing on principle. Yes, he was fighting against the government of his own country, but it was an evil government. He recognized that. And of course we ended up recognizing that it was an evil government, which was of course what the Cold War was all about.

Horton: Right, and of course they were evil all along, and Stalin had killed 30 million Russians before Hitler had ever even come to power.

Hornberger: Right.

Horton: Or at least during the same time that Hitler was coming to power.

Hornberger: Right. And that shows you, you know, that the other real horror story of World War II that – you know, Great Britain and France declare war on Nazi Germany for invading Poland, when actually the Soviet Union invaded Poland at about the same time, a couple weeks later, pursuant to the agreement they had, but the idea was that we’ve guaranteed Poland that we’re going to bring them freedom.

Well, what happens at the end of World War II? Well, you know, the Americans are celebrating, the British are celebrating, the French are celebrating. Well, the Poles are not celebrating. Because while they’ve been freed from Nazi control, they’ve been turned over to the clutches of the Communists, and stayed that way for the next 50 years. That’s why they don’t celebrate World War II like the U.S. and the Brits and the French do.

Horton: Yeah. And meanwhile, a border conflict between the Soviets and the Nazis inside divided Poland is, you know – without the deal that the Nazis and the Soviets, that really the Nazis cut with the Soviets in order that they could take the time to deal with Britain and France first – there would have been a war between the dictators quicker, and instead of going to the west and destroying all the Western democracies and killing all the people that died in Denmark and Belgium and France and the rest, and on down into southern Europe as well, he’d have just gone east. And the way I think it would have happened too, Jacob – which is just making stuff up because you can’t go back in time – but I think the Nazis probably would have been able to destroy the Soviet Union. But then they would have been destroyed attempting to occupy Russia. And of course the ideology of Nazism couldn’t have outlived Hitler anyway.

And, what, things could have been a lot different, a lot better – and especially that Keelhaul though is the – that’s the greatest treason, taking two million prisoners and sending them back to Stalin to be executed. That’s as bad as Hiroshima, right there, if you ask me. All right, well, hey, thanks, I really do appreciate your time on the show.

Hornberger: Thank you, Scott. Keep up the good work, man.

Horton: All right, everybody, that’s Jacob Hornberger. He’s the founder and the president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

Kevin Zeese

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_06_zeese.mp3]

Kevin Zeese, Executive Director and co-founder of VotersForPeace, discusses why the Antiwar movement needs to dissociate from the major political parties, how popular pressure really does affect change, the cozy relationship between corporate media and the defense industry and how creating an effective antiwar movement requires rethinking previous failures and realistically assessing the (very formidable) opposition.

MP3 here. (20:54)

Kevin Zeese  is the Executive Director and co-founder of VotersForPeace. Zeese also served as the Executive Director of Democracy Rising, is an attorney, and a long term peace advocate. Zeese took a leave from VotersForPeace for most of 2006 while he was running for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. Zeese was a founding member of the Montgmery County Coalition Against the War in Maryland and has worked with various non-profit organizations on peace, justice, and democracy issues since 1978.

Rep. Barbara Lee

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_05_lee.mp3]

Rep. Barbara Lee discusses how how it felt being the only Congressperson (including Ron Paul) to vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force,  how the AUMF continues to be used for justifying all manner of military actions, the Constitutional duty of Congress to declare war, the failure of public schools to teach foreign affairs or geography well and the need to maintain sanctions and reestablish diplomacy with Iran in order to “play it safe” on their nuclear program.

MP3 here. (18:35)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee was first elected to represent California’s 9th Congressional District in 1998 in a special election to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Ron Dellums.

A member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Lee serves on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, the State and Foreign Operations and the Financial Services Subcommittees. Additionally, she serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee on the subcommittees on Western Hemisphere and Africa and Global Health.

Congresswoman Lee was sworn in as the Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on January 6, 2009. The 42-member CBC is one of the longest standing caucuses in Congress and is often referred to as the “conscience of the Congress” for their willingness to tackle the most serious social and economic issues facing minorities in the United States.

Glen Ford

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_05_ford.mp3]

Glen Ford, founder of Black Agenda Report, discusses the obstacles to a Left-Right antiwar coalition, why pro-peace conservatives remain a marginal faction, irreconcilable differences between black America and the racist elements of the tea party right and how Obama destroyed the Left’s ability to dissent against government misdeeds.

MP3 here. (19:02)

In the fall of 2006, Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley and Leutisha Stills of CBC Monitor left Black Commentator, which Ford had co-founded and edited since 2002, and launched Black Agenda Report.

Glen Ford worked as a newsperson at four local stations: in Columbus, Georgia, Atlanta, Baltimore – where he created his first radio syndication, a half-hour weekly news magazine called “Black World Report” – and Washington, DC. In 1974, Ford joined the Mutual Black Network (88 stations), where he served as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, while also producing a daily radio commentary. In 1977, Ford co-launched, produced and hosted “America’s Black Forum” (ABF), the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television.

Ford co-founded BlackCommentator.com (BC) in 2002. The weekly journal quickly became the most influential Black political site on the Net. In October, 2006, Ford and the entire writing team left BC to launch BlackAgendaReport.com (BAR).

In addition to his broadcast and Internet experience, Glen Ford was national political columnist for Encore American & Worldwide News magazine; founded The Black Commentator and Africana Policies magazines; authored The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion (IOJ, 1985); voiced over 1000 radio commercials (half of which he also produced) and scores of television commercials; and served as reporter and editor for three newspapers (two daily, one weekly).

Ford was a founding member of the Washington chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ); executive board member of the National Alliance of Third World Journalists (NATWJ); media specialist for the National Minority Purchasing Council; and has spoken at scores of colleges and universities.

The Other Scott Horton

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_04_horton.mp3]

The Other Scott Horton (no relation), international human rights lawyer, professor and contributing editor at Harper’s magazine, discusses the only law explicitly defined in the U.S. Constitution: treason, why the founding fathers made treason prosecutions difficult by design, the very serious charges facing accused “WikiLeaker” Bradley Manning (but treason and espionage aren’t among them), Mark Thiessen’s Washington Post op-ed on why “WikiLeaks must be stopped” and the double standard that allows pro-war pundits to leak government-favorable classified information without rebuke.

MP3 here. (19:24) Transcript below.

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.

————————————-

Transcript – Scott Horton interviews The Other Scott Horton, August 4, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton, and if you google my name you’ll get this guy. I’m on there somewhere I think. No relation, but I’m a big fan. He writes the No Comment blog at Harpers.org, and lectures at Columbia Law School, and knows all about international law. Welcome back to the show, Scott. How are you?

The Other Scott Horton: Hey, great to be with you. I mean, I think if you google, you find your name up top.

SH: Well, we’ll see. It depends what order you put it in, I guess. Quotes or not, I don’t know. All right, so look here, I got the Constitution here somewhere. Article III, Section 3, Treason – and pardon me, I’m clicking my Wikipedia here:

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

Okay, so, that’s from the Constitution of the United States, the only crime defined in the Constitution of the United States. And, first of all, why? And then second of all, what did I just say when I read that? What did it mean?

TOSH: Well, what you said practically is, it’s almost impossible to charge and convict someone under American law with treason. And there’s a very good reason for that, because the people who wrote that constitution, who were our founding fathers, well they were all guilty of treason. They had risen up against the government of Britain, and under English law prevailing at that time there is little doubt that they committed acts of treason.

SH: Hey, they even allied with the French to do it.

TOSH: Exactly right. They worked with enemy powers. They, you know, they committed acts of lese majeste, they battled troops sent by their sovereign. So there’s no question about it. They committed treason. So that means that our founding fathers had a very, very restrictive view of treason, and that’s the reason why there’s hardly been – I mean, there have been one or two – but there have hardly been successful treason prosecutions in the entire history of our country.

SH: Yeah, well, I guess that’s why they had to pass the Alien and Sedition Acts in the first place. Or they could have just rounded up everybody for treason if they wanted to.

TOSH: That’s right. So, you know, sedition was used as a separate offense, so I mean most people going and looking at early American history view that period, you know, roughly 1789 to 1801, as the blackest period in the early days of the republic, when basically the government attempted to use all sorts of legal tools to repress its political adversaries.

SH: And when Aaron Burr tried to take off and become the Emperor of Mexico, and Jefferson tried to prosecute him for treason, it blew up in his face and it turned Jefferson into a laughingstock.

TOSH: That’s right. And I think, you know, it was widely viewed that this would be taken as a political gesture, and it was just unsuccessful.

SH: Okay, now. You know, it was funny, before we get to this congressman, Mike Rogers – which don’t anybody confuse him with the LewRockwell.com writer, because it’s a different guy entirely – Justin Raimondo was on the Freedom Watch with Judge Napolitano the other day arguing with a guy from the War Party, I forgot his name, and he said, “Treason is in the Constitution because that’s how important it was to the Founding Fathers.” I guess apparently you’re supposed to finish the sentence with, “that it be used against people all the time.”

TOSH: It was in the Constitution so as to make it impossible to charge.

SH: Right. And so, well and particularly here, this whole thing about adhering to their enemies, obviously the allusion here we’re talking about, the unstated premise of this whole conversation, is WikiLeaks, right? So, if WikiLeaks puts out information that, after all they’re saying, at least, the Taliban is going through it looking for snitches to go and do reprisals against or whatever, then in a sense they are actually directly helping the Taliban in that sense, although they claim their purpose was to help you and me know about the truth about our government’s war over there. So, what about court precedent? There must have been – you know, this must have been thought about before.

TOSH: Yeah, well, WikiLeaks to start off could never be charged with treason, for several reasons. First of all, it’s not an American entity. And of course the whole concept of treason is that you as a citizen of a country, or a subject of a country, owe a duty of loyalty and fidelity to your sovereign, and you dare not go against that, especially –

SH: Well, I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear, Scott. Really, the reference was to Bradley Manning, who is an American and who apparently leaked to WikiLeaks.

TOSH: Exactly. Bradley Manning is the person who clearly is the target here, and I think, you know, we even got this – our friend the congressman suggested he should be executed. Or at least I think he said the leaker should be executed. And, you know, you have a bunch of loops to jump through here. The crime that’s really involved would be espionage and sharing information, particularly militarily sensitive information, with an enemy.

And here, I think, you know, I think it would be very, very difficult to make out an espionage count against Manning. I mean, there’s nothing really that I’ve seen or heard – of course, we don’t know all the facts, they’re not fully developed – but from the press accounts of what I’ve seen and heard, there’s nothing suggesting that he was trying to collect information to share it with a foreign power or a foreign military organization like the Taliban.

Everything suggests that he was collecting – he was shocked when he came across certain information that suggested to him that political leaders in the United States had misrepresented what was going on in the conflict in Afghanistan. And he felt it was important to share this information with the public so it could form a, you know, a better informed view as to the war.

I think that’s what is fairly suggested by everything that happened. Although, you know, no one’s interviewed Bradley Manning that I know. You know, I’ve not seen him explain his motive. I have seen photographs in English papers of him participating in demonstrations and things of that sort.

SH: Well, in the chat logs, at least, as posted by the Washington Post and Wired magazine, he does talk about being – really, in fact, informing his commanding officer that some innocent men had been rounded up by the Iraqi police, and he was supposed to be participating in this. They were guilty of nothing but writing a No Comment-like article about Nouri al-Maliki, America’s warlord there, and he told his commanding officer, and his commanding officer told him, “I don’t care. You go back and help them do it some more, to more innocent people.” And that was the thing that made him say, “Whoa! Whose side am I on here? I thought we were the good guys!”

TOSH: Yeah, I think all that’s fair. And you know that suggests some measure of motive, and that motive certainly is not consistent with either treason or espionage.

SH: All right, so wait a minute now. If you’re the judge in this case or something, if he had leaked this stuff directly to the Taliban because he wanted them to – I mean, we’re assuming he even is responsible for the Afghan War Diary, but anyway, for the sake of arguing – if he leaked this stuff directly to the Taliban to help them defeat the American occupation, that would be treason. If he leaks it to WikiLeaks because he wants the American people to know about it, and the Taliban get it too, then it’s not, and it all comes down to his state of mind, as according to the best his defense can make the case, in your courtroom. Is that basically I understand you right?

TOSH: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. But you know, we have to remember that, you know, he was, he wore the uniform of the United States, and he had very specific obligations to uphold national security classified information. So, you know, I would not run out there and say, you know, he doesn’t have legal worries. He has really serious legal worries that you know could mean very substantial jail time for him.

SH: Do the secrecy oaths, Scott, bind a specialist like Bradley Manning to protect his superiors for their lawbreaking?

TOSH: Well, basically he has to safeguard classified information. He’s bound by that.

SH: No matter what it is, even if they went hunting for children because it was fun?

TOSH: But he does have certain limited rights under American law to be a whistleblower, okay, and specifically under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, he could go to Congress, he could give them some of this information through special channels. He can go to the Inspector General, Department of Defense, and give them information. He can go to the Justice Department and give them information. So there are certain protected channels through which he can blow the whistle. But definitely turning this information over to a foreign, you know, press-like entity, WikiLeaks, so that it will be published on the Internet – nope, that’s not really on the list of protected channels.

SH: I see. Okay. So, um, all very interesting stuff to think about during this break, which, I missed the break because I had the thing turned down too low here, Scott, but we’ll go out to this break. I’m going to make some notes. I have quite a few other legal issues to ask you about in the next segment, so hold it right there, please. Everybody, it’s the other Scott Horton, from Harpers.org.

* * * * *

SH: All right, y’all. Welcome back to the show. Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. I’m interviewing the other Scott Horton, no relation, but we’re both interested in torture and governmental lawlessness.

All right, Scott, so – it’s kind of surreal, you know? It’s like an episode of, what’s that one? Not the Twilight Zone, but – eh, gee, well, I can’t remember the name of it anymore. It always had a 1984ish kind of theme to it.

TOSH: The Outer Limits, maybe.

SH: Yeah, The Outer Limits, exactly. Really, I’m living this this week. We got a congressman saying that Bradley Manning ought to be tried for treason and then executed, and then we got Mark Thiessen over at the Washington Post, he used to work for George W. Bush as a speechwriter there, and in the Washington Post he says, “Law? Treason? Constitution? Anyway, here’s what we ought to do. We ought to send the JSOC to murder Julian Assange and his associates. That’ll take care of this WikiLeaks problem once and for all.” That’s in the Washington Post, man!

TOSH: Amazing, frankly, that someone like Mark Thiessen is permitted to write in the Washington Post. He’s not a journalist. He basically is a political propagandist for the Cheneys. And, you know, normally people pay for his services and he writes, I think, based on his account. So, you know, not an independent, objective analyst. But I think the most interesting thing here is the voices we hear now that are loudest calling for action, including violent action, against WikiLeaks, are the people in fact who have the most to lose from WikiLeaks’ disclosures.

SH: [laughs]

TOSH: They are people who are active in the political world who sold the country on the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, who engaged in a torrent of dissemblance, misleading statements about what was going on. The WikiLeaks disclosures make them out to be liars.

SH: Not to mention the entire torture regime is part of that.

TOSH: I think that’s exactly right. And look at Thiessen’s own game. He’s written a book, he’s written a whole series of columns in which he tells us he has access to super secret data from inside the CIA and the intelligence community, and here’s what it says, “blah blah blah blah blah.” So he constantly leaks and leaks and leaks, selectively, for political purposes. And the Thiessen view of the world is, is this is a political tool that he and others in power are entitled to use for purposes of misleading and misinforming the American public, and if anyone tries to hold them to account for this – to demonstrate that they’re lying, to show them that the intelligence says something else – well, the proper solution is that we should kill those people. Right? I mean, what sort of responsible viewpoint is this? It’s hysterical, histrionic, and you know it’s basically coming from someone who has been disclosed as a liar and is offended by this and wants to strike back.

SH: Yeah. Well, you know it really seems like the War Party’s irony button is just broken or something, and, you know, shades of George Bush criticizing the Syrian army, which America had invited into southern Lebanon, and saying, “Well, Lebanon can’t have a free election as long as there’s an occupying army in their country.” And he was actually saying this at a photo op in Iraq, where the American Army was overseeing the Iraqi election!

TOSH: That’s right. And look, Thiessen has written a whole series of columns in which he says, “It’s completely outrageous that these European countries apply concepts of universal justice, and they’re trying to begin criminal investigations into things that officers of the Bush administrationparentheses including Thiessen, close parenthesesdid.” “Completely outrageous, ridiculous, they can’t do this, a violation of international law,” he says, and then he writes a column yesterday saying, you know, “We should send teams of security agents overseas to kidnap these people so we can bring them back to the United States and prosecute them and execute them,” for basically saying things we don’t like.

SH: Amazing. Well, now –

TOSH: Total hypocrisy!

SH: So the conversation in the White House –

TOSH: And I mean he doesn’t even seem to realize he’s directly contradicting what he said just the day before.

SH: Mmhmm. Well, of course. Although, you know, he’s speaking to his audience, which is the White House, which claims the power to murder anybody at WikiLeaks they want, as long as they’re overseas, even if they were American citizens, right?

TOSH: Yep. They do.

SH: I mean, if somehow Bradley Manning escaped and stowed away on a boat to France, Barack Obama could use a drone to kill him with an air strike in downtown Paris, under the legal theory that the Obama administration operates under right now.

TOSH: Maybe not. Because that legal theory, as it’s been explained to me by people in the Justice Department and the State Department, requires them to have evidence that’s credible that he presents an imminent physical threat to Americans.

SH: Yeah, but to satisfy who, though?

TOSH: Right. Well, it satisfies the Justice Department and the White House. I’ll just extend your metaphor a little bit further and say, you know, let’s – assuming Bradley Manning escaped and was stowed away somewhere, and he had further documents which he was going to release – yeah, well then based on the claims they made in the past, they might be able to justify a drone attack, and there’s certainly no doubt that Mark Thiessen would.

SH: Yeah. Well, and there’s also no doubt that in the regular court system and in the bogus court system and in the war on terror in general, they’ve gone after innocent people over and over and over again, so – you know, whether they claim that somebody’s about to do something or not is beside the point.

TOSH: You know, repeatedly we have had people attacked, brutalized and tortured, and the CIA discovers you know six months or a year later, “Oops! We got the wrong person. Sorry about that.”

SH: Yeah. Well now, so, we talked with Pardiss Kebriaei from the Center for Constitutional Rights yesterday, and there’s actually a development in that case since that discussion, which is that the Obama administration has instructed the Treasury Department to go ahead and give them permission to not be felons while going ahead and representing the father of someone who is accused – not in any legal way, but just in the press, basically – of being a terrorist, and his father’s attempt to sue Barack Obama in order to enjoin him from murdering his son, an American citizen, overseas.

TOSH: A pretty amazing case.

SH: Yeah, back to the Outer Limits thing, like we really are there. And, we got Scalia and Thomas and these goofballs are the only thing that stands between us and forget about it.

TOSH: Yeah, and I have to say – and I’ve discussed this case with both the Justice Department and the State Department and told them basically, you know, I sort of recognize or understand the theoretical underpinnings of their claims to have the right to engage in what we call extrajudicial killing, but what I don’t see, and what they haven’t really offered, is any sort of evidence that justifies the application of this technique to this individual. They claim they have such evidence, but they’ve really not put forward anything.

SH: Yeah, well, and in fact I’m not even sure that they claim that. I mean, in the Washington Post, the anonymous administration officials claim that they believed that this guy is tied to some guys who did some things.

TOSH: Well, that’s right, including the incident at Fort Hood in Texas.

SH: I mean, that’s got to be the lowest standard of evidence since before Runnymede, right?

TOSH: Yeah, I have to say, to me it sounds really odd. I mean, unless there is a stack of evidence they’ve got that we’re not being told for some reason, but the evidence presented certainly is quite unconvincing.

SH: All right, everybody, that’s the other Scott Horton, from Harpers.org, the No Comment blog. Thanks very much for your time, Scott.

TOSH: Hey, great to be with you. Good luck.

Bonnie Docherty

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_04_docherty.mp3]

Bonnie Docherty, Lecturer at Harvard Law School and Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch, discusses the new international law banning cluster bombs (in the countries that ratified it), laudable U.K. actions on destroying cluster bomb stockpiles and advocating for universal abolition, the devastating civilian toll and glacial-paced removal of cluster bombs in Laos, the increased stigma on the largest cluster bomb manufacturing countries (U.S., Russia, Israel) and why these particular weapons are outdated Cold War-era relics.

MP3 here. (19:49)

Bonnie Docherty is a Lecturer on Law and Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard Law School’s Human Rights Program. She is also Researcher in the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW). She is an expert on international humanitarian law, particularly involving cluster munitions and civilian protection during war.

For Human Rights Watch, Bonnie has conducted field research and written reports on cluster munition use in Lebanon (2006) and Afghanistan (2001-2002) and the civilian effects of armed conflict in Israel (2006), Israel/Gaza (2005), and Iraq (2003). Through writing and advocacy, she has participated in the campaign for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which culminated in its adoption in May 2008.

Bonnie received her A.B. from Harvard University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before law school, she worked as a journalist for three years.

Andy Worthington

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_04_worthington.mp3]

Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses the last ditch effort of Omar Khadr’s military lawyer to stop his client’s war crimes trial,  government use of the catch-all “material support for terrorism” charge when all other crimes won’t stick and why the popular outcry for “tough” military commissions trials for accused terrorists ignores the near-perfect conviction rate in federal courts.

MP3 here. (20:33) Transcript below.

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.

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Transcript – Scott Horton Interviews Andy Worthington, August 4, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton, and our next guest on the show today is the great Andy Worthington. He’s the author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of 759 detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and also made the movie Outside the Law. And without him I guess we just wouldn’t know about Guantanamo Bay. Hi, Andy!

Andy Worthington: Hey, hi Scott, how are you doing?

Horton: I’m doing great. Welcome back to the show, man, how are you?

Worthington: Yeah, I’m good, thanks.

Horton: All right, so, look, let’s talk about court cases and things first here. Ah, jeez, well, that’s a really important one, I’ll put that off for a second. Let’s talk about this one from the AP: “US Supreme Court asked to halt Guantanamo trial: Military defense lawyer asks US Supreme Court to halt trial for Guantanamo’s youngest detainee” – that would be Omar Khadr. So, first of all, remind us very quickly who Omar Khadr is, and then let’s talk about what’s going on on the Supreme Court here.

Worthington: Well, Omar Khadr is the 15-year-old Canadian citizen. He was 15 at the time of his capture in July 2002, and, you know, he, from the earliest days really at Guantanamo, has been a candidate for being put forward for a war crimes trial. You know, this is in spite of his age, you know, and the fact that it’s really rather embarrassing to be putting somebody who is 15 on trial for a war crimes trial, let alone the other problems with, you know, where does the war crime come from?

Well, he’s alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in wartime. Plus, you know, the fact that for many years now, since I think 2007, there have been very serious doubts about whether it was possible for him to have thrown this grenade because of previously suppressed evidence that he was actually unconscious, half-dead under a pile of rubble at the time that it was thrown.

So this trial is supposed to be going ahead next week, much to, I think, the shame of the Obama administration. And his lawyer has pitched this kind of last-ditch effort to the Supreme Court to try and halt it, which I’m pretty sure will fail.

Horton: Do you know what the basis of the suit is?

Worthington: I don’t, actually. I only kind of skim read what was going on. I think that he’s trying to – was he trying to suggest that it’s unconstitutional in some way?

Horton: Yeah, I mean, that’s what it says here, but it doesn’t really say – oh, well, he says, “Among other concerns, he said it is unfair because it is reserved only for non-U.S. citizens.”

Worthington: That’s right, yes.

Horton: Yeah, Obama can fix that. Thanks a lot, you know, defense attorney – you’re going to get us all in trouble now.

Worthington: You know, it’s not going to work trying to suggest that there shouldn’t be kind of different ways of dealing with foreigners. I mean I think that’s been the problem we’ve had all along with the war on terror – is that, you know, that what applies to Americans doesn’t apply to foreigners. You know, I can’t see that it would be successful.

You know, the administration has the laws in place to approve the third version of the military commissions. You know, the first one was dreamt up out of some dark book that Dick Cheney had read. And the second version, when those had been chucked out by the Supreme Court, Congress approved, and they stumbled on securing a few dodgy victories under President Bush. And then, you know, President Obama, who came into office seeming to suggest that they were gone, that, you know, men who had committed terrorist crimes were going to face federal court trials, you know, consulted with people, consulted with people in Congress, and decided that actually he’d have two tiers of justice, and he’d have one that was supposed to apply to acts committed in wartime, and here we have Omar Khadr.

And, you know, everybody in an official position, when asked to talk about it, doesn’t seem to care at all that he was a child when he was seized. And, you know, that fundamentally is going to get me more than anything else, more than this absurdity of how it is that throwing a grenade in war can be a war crime – is the fact that he was 15 and that, you know, nobody, nobody has been going ahead with war crimes trials, charges for children, for a very, very long time. And the United States seems to be content to put this in front of the world as though something legitimate to do.

Horton: Yeah. Well, it’s just like with cluster bombs and land mines and the death penalty for minors – you know, trying child soldiers, it’s us and Sudan and a couple of the other worst nation states in the whole world.

Worthington: [laughs] It’s not great, is it?

Horton: No. Cluster bomb treaty is coming up on the show later, and it’s about how America – you know, and of course we give them to Israel to use against women and children all the time, too. Somehow, for some reason, America just insists on cluster bombs. I guess they’re just too much fun to watch on YouTube or something.

Anyway, back to this thing here. You know, something else legal going on in the courts here, and I can’t seem to find the article here, Andy, but I saw it just a couple of days ago, and it was about, I think it was a McClatchy story saying that some lawyers were suing over, I think, the convictions that were already handed down against David Hicks, who was the Australian mujahideen guy, and, I guess, Hamdan the cook, and whoever – and based on the theory that, no matter what David Addington says, no matter how goofy Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel can be when they’re writing these memos, under no circumstances could anybody consider material support for terrorism to be a war crime, that it just can’t be, and that’s how these charges were prosecuted. And, I guess we don’t know whether the court has ruled on that yet, but do I basically have that story right?

Worthington: Well, you know, you seem to be catching me out today, Scott. But I know that this case has been ongoing for some time, so, you know, although I don’t know exactly what’s happening at the moment with it, and there hasn’t been a decision because that would be big news whichever way it went.

You know, what this is about is that when the military commissions were first dug up by Dick Cheney, they looked to him like a great opportunity to prosecute, convict, and execute people who had been tortured without any semblance of due process whatsoever. You know, now it’s understandable, I think, why, when that was examined, that people in court said, “I think you’ve got to be kidding.”

But the version that was revised in the fall of 2006 by Congress – Congress insisted on inserting into this legislation this crime, material support for terrorism, which is not a military crime. It has no military history. Funnily enough, it is a crime if used – in fact I think I could easily say it’s overused in federal court, that it’s actually too easy to prosecute people for providing material support for terrorism in federal court. But it has no history or existence in a military context.

And last summer, when the Obama administration was working with Congress to revise it, senior officials – I mean, senior officials in the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense – said to Congress, “We can’t include this. We think that this will be beaten on appeal.” Yeah? I mean, this is what they said to Congress, and Congress said, “Well enough [inaudible]; we’re going to keep it in.”

Now the only conviction, David Hicks, who is the Australian who took a plea deal in the first conviction in the military commissions in March 2007 – the only charge was material support for terrorism. In the summer of 2008, the second conviction was Salim Hamdan, a man who was not a terrorist but who drove a terrorist around; he was parked with the car pool for Osama bin Laden. He took a paid job. The military jury threw out the charge of conspiracy in his case. He was convicted only on a charge of material support for terrorism.

And the challenges that have been made – and obviously this is a slow, slow process – but this is what it involves. It involves challenges as to whether these convictions were actually correct in the first place. And if we are to take the advice of senior Obama administration officials, they have been suggesting that these charges will be overturned on appeal. And that will leave us with one conviction in the military commissions for their whole history, and one sentence that is due to be handed down next week in the case of Ibrahim al-Qosi, who I also think was frittering around on the periphery of Osama bin Laden’s circle cooking and occasionally driving a car.

Horton: Huh, wow. It’s funny, it’s kind of – the joke that is the war on terror in general is really writ small at Guantanamo Bay. It’s just the biggest farce imaginable, except for the, you know, pain of all the people locked up there forever. All right, hang tight, everybody. It’s Andy Worthington. We’ll be right back with him after this.

[break]

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, I’m Scott Horton, and I’m talking with Andy Worthington. His website is AndyWorthington.co.uk, and he put together the movie Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo, as well as the book, The Guantanamo Files. Andy, how many people are still being held prisoner at Guantanamo Bay right now?

Worthington: 176 as of now.

Horton: And what percentage of those, in your estimation, quality not quantity, are actual bad guys, say, like Ramzi bin al-Shibh?

Worthington: Well, what I would say, you know, following information that has been revealed by various intelligence officials over the years, two to three dozen. I mean, you know, I think that the uppermost limit of people that you could have any kind of case against whatsoever would probably be about 60.

Horton: And you get that number from – that’s basically the amount of people that they brought from the secret prisons when they closed down the secret prisons that they closed down.

Worthington: Well they brought 14 in. They brought in a couple more after that that hardly anybody knows about. They had a bunch of slightly less than high value detainees that they brought in in 2004. You know, I mean all of these were people who were held in secret prisons and very explicitly were subjected to torture. We’ve seen some of those allegations confirmed in the habeas corpus petitions of the prisoners over the last year, where judges have actually ruled out some of the supposed allegations against various other prisoners because they were based on the tortured testimony of some of these guys who constitute the – apparently, the federal government who, you know, against whom there is any kind of case to be made.

So it’s pretty distressing, really, that we have 176 guys in there when even the administration only says that it wants to hold just over 80 of them. You know, it either wants to have trials – the figure that has been stated is 35 to be put forward to trial, so I would say that that counts spot on in terms of who has any kind of serious allegation against them.

I know they said they want to hold 48 others indefinitely because they – you know, one way or another they don’t have enough to put them on trial, but they are pretty scared about letting them go. You know, which is disgraceful in itself, of course, but that’s exactly the heart of the Bush administration’s theory of holding people without charge or trial. But it means that, you know, we’ve got, what, 90, just over 90 people who the administration has said it doesn’t want to carry on holding, it doesn’t want to put on trial, but it seems to be almost completely incapable of releasing.

Horton: Well, you know, I don’t know, going back to what you were saying before the break, though, they’ve had basically no success in getting anything done with their kangaroo court down there in Guantanamo, a lot of times because of the U.S. Supreme Court obstructing their plans and making them start over and these kinds of things, granting habeas corpus petitions and all this. And yet you look at the Department of Justice and the federal court system, and they got a 99.999% conviction rate. Being guilty never has had anything to do with it. They can convict anybody they want, for anything. If nothing else, they’ll call you mail fraud for accepting junk mail when you open your mailbox in the morning.

Worthington: It’s kind of absurd, isn’t it? I mean, because, you know, this whole question of whether they’re going to charge Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and these other guys who are apparently responsible for 9/11, whether they’re going to charge these guys in a federal court. You know, there’s been enormous resistance to their announcement about that last November. Now it’s been shelved, and it’s patently clear that nobody’s going to make a decision about it until after the midterm elections.

So what’s actually happening here is that a bunch of rabble-rousing Republicans, and some Democrats, are forcing the administration not to hold federal court trials for these people but to hold, you know, what they hope, what they’re pushing for, military commission trials at Guantanamo in this insane system that can barely function, that is totally inadequate for dealing with this kind of case, and they’re doing that just purely on some kind of crackpot ideology, which is actually the dominant discourse. And that’s what, you know – when they crank that up loud enough, then sadly the Obama administration, you know, senior officials won’t put their foot down and say, “Look, enough is enough; let’s just do this properly.”

So, you know, what’s going to happen? I mean, if things go badly for the Democrats in November, then we’re going to have Republicans really, you know, pulling the strings more – are these guys ever going to have a trial? Because if they do try to put them on trial in Guantanamo, it’s going to be total chaos.

Horton: Right. Because it’s all made up, right? It’s not a military court martial system or something. It’s all made up, and so rather than having, I don’t know, 230 years of practice at doing this, like they have in the federal court system, they end up just, you know, in chaos the whole time.

Worthington: Yeah, they’ve got something full of holes that was initially put together, you know, largely with Congress in 2006. It’s been revamped. It’s got all these problems that the administration itself acknowledges. It’s just got holes. Every time they convene something at Guantanamo and try and get things together, the holes in the system are more obvious than anything else.

You know, and it’s why this guy al-Qosi, this cook and part-time driver for bin Laden who accepted a plea bargain last month, you know – they want more plea bargains, because then they don’t have to bother with the actual messy details of trying to convict anybody in a broken system. You know, a broken system that they themselves resuscitated. That’s what gets me.

You know, they should have just – they should have been firm. When they came in, I think everybody who has been looking at these issues closely thought, “They are going to just go for federal court trials. Let’s just follow that route and let’s get it over with and it will be okay.”

Horton: That’s not what I thought, dude.

Worthington: [laughs]

Horton: I’ve never seen a president give up power, and I don’t expect ever to see one.

Worthington: No, no, well I mean, you know, I understand exactly what you mean, Scott, and I know that when you hand dictatorial power to the office of the president, it’s a very, very bad idea, because of course they’re not going to give up willingly. But, you know, the problem with this is that on a common sense basis it makes sense to prosecute them in federal court. I mean, it doesn’t make sense to try this idiotic system that isn’t going to work.

You know, that’s where the whole thing has spiraled out of control. I mean, this isn’t President Obama wanting to hold onto a system that was first conceived by Dick Cheney which has been a resounding success, even though it’s essentially lawless. It’s a failure. You know, there is no point in it happening. And it’s happening really because of some kind of paralysis at the heart of government, you know, where decisions are dictated more by idiotic men who can shout loud. You know. Quite often in the media or through newspaper columns or in Congress.

Horton: Yeah. You know, I’m always so critical of myself. I think I ought to tone it down and act more grown-up and stop yelling so much, but maybe I need to just yell more.

Worthington: [laughs]

Horton: I mean I can do it! You know –

Worthington: I think you’ve probably got the amount of yelling just about right, Scott, yes?

Horton: All right, thanks Andy, I appreciate that. Well, all right, so, you know, and this is all symptomatic of the larger issue, which is the end of the pretension of the rule of law, and I don’t know if you saw this one in McClatchy, but it’s a commentary by Jameel Jaffer and Larry Siems from the ACLU. It’s called “Torture Memos: Accountability Everywhere But Here?”

Worthington: Right.

Horton: And this is about how, not only do people get prosecuted for torture around the world, government officials, but America insists on the world court, etc., the ICC, etc., prosecuting people for torture all the time, and yet we pretend that, oh, well, “aggressive interrogation techniques” or whatever, and we end up letting dozens and dozens of people that we all know open conspiracy, plan to break the law and torture people, oftentimes to death, and they’re just getting away with it. The precedent’s set. We’re not looking back.

Worthington: Yeah. Yeah, well, it’s true.

Horton: So why not have bogus trials for the ones that you didn’t torture to death yet, you know?

Worthington: Yeah, right, exactly. Well, you know, which is, you know, there’s quite a lot of truth in that. All through the process they were trying to look for somebody they hadn’t tortured and finding it quite hard. But, you know, I mean not being part of the ICC is, you know, is one thing, and that certainly is a brave, if rather difficult, project for some kind of world accountability. And I think America should sign up to it.

But, you know, I have to say that although it’s very naked, the refusal in the state to “look back,” as President Obama has said, it’s pretty hard everywhere else around the world as well to actually hold anybody accountable. I mean, we’ve got this inquiry that’s going to kick off in the UK, but you know let’s not be in any doubt about the fact that the new government in this country doesn’t really want to spill the secrets of what’s happened. You know, they’ve kind of been forced into this position partly by one of the most important people in the new government, who actually, you know, made a lot of noise about this when he was in opposition.

Horton: Yeah, nobody in power wants to set the precedent that they could actually go to jail for breaking the law.

Worthington: No, right, exactly. I mean, it’s –

Horton: I’m sorry, Andy, we’ve got to leave it there, man. Top of the hour break. Fox News – everybody’s got to hear that instead of you, I guess.

Worthington: [laughs]

Horton: All right, see you next time, thanks a lot.

Worthington: Thank you, Scott.

Horton: Everybody, that’s Andy Worthington.co.uk. The Guantanamo Files.

Ali Gharib

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_05_kpfk_gharib.mp3]

This recording is excerpted from the KPFK Gustavo Arellano program of August 5th. The complete recording can be heard here.

Ali Gharib, a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy, discusses the hawkish turn taken by the middle-of-the-road think tank Council on Foreign Relations, the synchronized talking points of Iran war boosters that – like Iraq before – force antiwar opponents to prove a negative (or why the reality-based community is forever playing catch-up to history’s actors), solid economic reasons for a civilian nuclear power program in Iran and why Ret. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney is a warmongering lunatic.

MP3 here. (15:26) Transcript below.

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master’s degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.

————————

Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Ali Gharib, August 5, 2010

Scott Horton: Good afternoon, Los Angeles. You’re listening to KPFK 90.7 FM Pacifica. We’re also at 98.7 FM in Santa Barbara. I’m Scott Horton from Antiwar.com sitting in for Gustavo Arellano, who is off today. And now to our next guest. It’s Ali Gharib. I hope I’m saying that right, sir.

Ali Gharib: Yep, yep, you got it.

Horton: Great. And he writes for AlterNet, Right-Web, and of course Inter Press Service. And you can find him regularly over at Jim Lobe’s blog, LobeLog. Welcome to the show, how are you?

Gharib: Thanks very much. I’m doing well, Scott, how are you?

Horton: I’m doing great. I really appreciate you joining us today.

Gharib: My pleasure.

Horton: So you had a very interesting article over at Jim Lobe’s blog about the Council on Foreign Relations and the – I guess they kind of define these ideological splits on the foreign policy level [as] rather than just the liberals and the conservatives, it’s the neocons and the liberal internationalists and the realists, so-called. And I guess you’re saying here that the Council on Foreign Relations, the oldest foreign policy think tank in America, typically represents what we consider usually to have the realists’, or the liberal internationalists’ point of view, and yet you say that more and more they are – well, I guess now just like before the Iraq war – signing on with the neoconservatives to monger more war in the Middle East.

Gharib: Well, I should say first that if you’re going to be dividing into schools, that liberal internationalists might also be divided into interventionists and noninterventionists, just that noninterventionists tend not to play a major part in mainstream median political discourse.

Horton: Indeed.

Gharib: I’m not sure that the liberals among the scholars at CFR are necessarily signing off on it. My piece was about the Washington Post op-ed by Ray Takeyh and Steve Simon. And they did say that they don’t advise the course of bombing Iran, but nonetheless went on to basically lay out a plan of all the things that would have to be considered, and it’s just sort of enabling an attack on Iran rather than explicitly signing off on it or endorsing it.

Horton: Well, there really has been for years, but it seems it’s kind of new again, this push by the neoconservatives, with this wonderful echo chamber that they control, to create the new consensus. Nobody ever wants to talk about the facts of Iran’s nuclear program, but everybody loves saying, “What’s to be done about Iran’s nuclear weapons program?” And they kind of start the discussion from there. And it looks like with the new Emergency Committee for Israel and the Foreign Policy Initiative and whatever, Bill Kristol and his friends are really pushing again for strikes on Iran.

Gharib: Yeah, I think very much so. You have – your thesis – I’m actually working on a blog post right now about a blog post that Gabriel Schoenfeld put up on the Weekly Standard page, the magazine founded and edited by Bill Kristol. He put up on their blog that essentially blames Iran for the recent attacks at the northern and southern tips of Israel, even though nobody official outside of the right-wing Israeli government has blamed Hamas for the attacks from the south, and the gun battle at the northern border was actually with the Lebanese Army and not Hezbollah. But Gabriel Schoenfeld just breathlessly states that these groups committed these attacks, Hezbollah and Hamas, respectively, and points out that there’s Iranian proxies and kind of wonders aloud, in this maybe projecting way, about whether Iran is starting a war with Israel.

And, yeah, I think they are very much ramping up a campaign. They’ve scored a victory certainly with sanctions, which many neocons from the beginning, because they are politically astute, have viewed as a stepping stone. Because you know you try the diplomacy, the diplomacy doesn’t work. You try the sanctions, the sanctions don’t work. And then you’re left only with a military attack as the last option. And so I think they are, in the wake of the sanctions victory, they are very much ramping up this war effort.

And you even have a report that’s just out today from the American Foreign Policy Council, which is a group filled with neoconservatives and neoconservative leanings, and they got together a bunch of their experts as well as experts from other think tanks, including the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, the AIPAC spinoff think tank Washington Institute for Near-East Policy, and they got together a bunch of these experts and wrote a report on going to economic warfare with Iran, which is the step beyond sanctions.

Cliff May, the head of the Foundation for Democracies and a well-known neoconservative, wrote up the report today for the National Review Online, and he actually had an interesting point – that he admitted and sort of bragged about the fact that two of his Foundation for the Defense of Democracy fellows have been involved in writing the report and that members of the task force have been briefing members of Congress as the report was ongoing about their findings. So although the report just came out today, some of its recommendations were already incorporated into the sanctions passage, the sanctions package that was passed and signed into law by President Obama. So this really is a step-by-step neoconservative approved and to some extent written campaign that the Obama administration is perhaps unwittingly engaged in.

Horton: Well, it is always about controlling the narrative rather than the facts, I guess, and you noted – I think this was one of your blog entries there at Jim Lobe’s blog, you quoted from the legislation implementing the sanctions, or the sanctions resolution I guess it was, and it says that these sanctions are with the purpose of ending Iran’s “illicit weapons activities.”

And it sort of seems like, wow, I don’t know of any evidence in the world that there are illicit weapons activities in Iran. It doesn’t seem like the American Congress feels the need to prove the assertions that they base their sanctions on, and so here we are on the path to war over a mythical weapons program. I mean, after all, all the enrichment that’s going on in Iran is going on – uranium enrichment – is going on at safeguarded facilities, at Natanz, with IAEA inspectors standing there.

Gharib: Indeed, Scott. It’s kind of deja vu all over again. It feels like late 2002, where these speculative notions are being peddled as fact by neoconservatives as well as members of Congress, who tend to be in the right-wing Israel lobby’s pocket, which also has been – several groups that have been very much behind pushing for the sanctions package, though not explicitly a military run, so much as specifically the neoconservatives have been.

But yeah, you know, it is a tricky point, because you can’t necessarily dismiss either that the Iranians are pursuing a covert weapons program. But at the same time, as you say, there is no concrete evidence that such a program exists. The most concrete as it gets was a report from the IAEA last year in which they said that it is possible that the Iranians are conducting a nuclear weapons program, but even that was admittedly speculative, and, you know, it just goes on to be peddled and [inaudible].

I think you’re absolutely right that facts are less important in this debate than establishing a narrative, and it is eerily reminiscent to 2002 and 2003 and the run-up to the Iraq war, where we all know – after the invasion we discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although if you’re asking the neoconservatives, they want to invade Syria and they’ll find the weapons that were smuggled out of Iraq there. But that’s a whole other issue, I suppose.

Horton: Mmm. Well, no it’s not really another issue. It’s the same issue, which is that neoconservative talking points from the Schoenfeld piece you referred to earlier, to the war in Iraq that, well, the people of Iraq sure have been living through for the last decade here, and on to Iran, it’s all based on – I almost wonder whether it’s deliberate, that they make sure their talking points are so ridiculous that only those who can be fooled all of the time will believe them and will join their side, and they just figure that’s enough. And the rest of us who dispute their facts that, you know, their arguments are supposedly based off of, don’t even count really.

Gharib: Um, yeah, I think to some extent that’s true. I mean, I’m not sure to what extent the neoconservatives tend to be true believers in some of their grander ideas, but I think that at the tactical level of establishing narratives, yeah, they’re not much concerned with specific facts or cherry picking or bending intelligence to suit their political and geostrategic aims.

Horton: Well, now, so what does it really mean when Richard Haass, who’s the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and I guess from my understanding could be accounted among the “doves” in the first Bush Jr. administration, who certainly was, I guess, more in the Colin Powell camp than the Richard Perle camp, anyway.

Gharib: I think maybe a pragmatic realist might be a better way to describe him than a dove.

Horton: Yeah, there you go. Well, yeah, relative dove, comparative dove, in that administration with Dick Cheney next door, but anyway, um, so he’s the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He just wrote a piece in Newsweek that, because it has his name on it, came with all this weight, that said, “We’re losing; it’s not worth it; we’ve got to get out of Afghanistan.” And yet at the same time he’s saying, “Well, I guess the neocons are right. It’s time we all listened to Bill Kristol again and start a war with Iran”?

Gharib: That was his op-ed in February in Newsweek that he wrote where he called for regime change in Iran and said it was the only way to curb the Iranian nuclear program. Meanwhile, this once again is shoving the facts aside, because it’s widely acknowledged among Iran experts, who actually have factual knowledge about the country and speak to sources on the ground there, including reformist sources and opposition sources, that there is a little bit of a national pride issue and Iranians don’t want to give up a peaceful nuclear program. They want nuclear energy, and they want the stability that brings, and I can’t say that I entirely blame them for wanting peaceful nuclear energy, because we see now that you have the foreign oil markets are being manipulated by American sanctions to drive up oil prices in Iran.

Horton: Well, and yeah, I mean even on a regular day, in terms of the oil markets, it’s simply a matter of opportunity costs. If it’s cheaper to run their electricity, their domestic electricity program off of uranium and sell their oil on the world market, then it’s simply a mathematical equation on a piece of paper. There’s nothing else to it. People always say, “Oh why do they need nuclear energy when they’re sitting on a sea of oil?” Well, maybe they want to sell it.

Gharib: That was Condoleezza Rice’s line, and once again when you have, you know – their oil supply has been very much curtailed by previous rounds of international and U.S. sanctions, and they can’t get access to technologies that would boost their refinery capacity, so they actually can’t refine oil fast enough for their own domestic use. Now when they see international forces pushing them around in this way, like I said, I can’t see that I blame them for wanting a source of energy that they could be more independent and not be responsible to those international markets that can be manipulated by basically the U.S. throwing its weight around.

Horton: Well, you know, another comparison between the neocons’ project in Iraq and their upcoming one here in Iran is it seems like there is no real plan for what happens after the war starts. All their energy is on convincing everybody that it’s inevitable that we start the war. What happens after the Baath regime is gone? Geez, I don’t know, I guess we’ll get Moqtada al-Sadr’s government in Iraq as we found out here.

Gharib: Even more so than Moqtada al-Sadr, it’s a much more Iranian friendly government.

Horton: Yeah, yeah, the Dawa Party of Nouri al-Maliki, that’s who we’ve been fighting for the whole time in Iraq, and now it seems like with Iran you have that Washington Times piece the other day where General McInerney from the Air Force, retired, says, “Oh, well this will enable a velvet revolution. This is our war plan, is we’ll start bombing Iran, and then the people of Iran will rise up, overthrow their government,” and I guess install another Israel and America friendly dictator like back in the day.

Gharib: Um, yeah, you know, Jim did a post about this – I can’t remember if it was several months ago, if it was late last year – he saw an Iranian opposition activist, Akbar Ganji, speak in Washington, and Ganji, who obviously has much better knowledge of Iranian opposition politics, essentially said that a Western strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would destroy the Green movement. So I think Tom McInerney has no idea what he’s talking about. He’s actually the one I had in mind. He’s the one who suggested invading Syria to find the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Horton: Right.

Gharib: And, I think, yeah, my colleague Eli [Clifton] did a post based on a post by Patrick Disney, who used to be, I believe, the legislative director of the National Iranian American Council, and he’s since left there to go to graduate school, but he’s still doing his own blog on Iran, which I recommend people check out. And Patrick Disney’s post basically addressed what would the day after look like, after a U.S. bombing run on Iran.

And I think that, once again, the same way that manipulating the international market to control Iranian energy only gives the Iranians a better excuse to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program, that bombing Iran would only give the Iranians a better excuse for wanting to pursue a weapons program, to have a deterrence of such belligerent actions by foreign countries.

So there’s this little doubt that if that were to happen, all the inspectors, as you say, who are there checking out these sites now, even though there may or may not be sites that are off their list, as has been exposed in the past year, there are weapons inspectors now, all these weapons inspectors would surely be kicked out, Iran would likely withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty, and it would be just another rogue state outside the bounds of that treaty, which has been for the most part totally effective.

And, yes, so I think that it would be extremely counterproductive, and I recommend that people check out my colleague Eli Clifton and Patrick Disney’s posts on the subject.

Horton: I absolutely agree with that, and again, that’s Ali Gharib, from Inter Press Service, AlterNet and Right Web, and the blog in question here is Jim Lobe’s blog. He’s the Washington bureau chief for Inter Press Service, and that’s LobeLog.com, right?

Gharib: Yes, that’s it, LobeLog.com.

Horton: Dot com, right. Okay, well thank you very much for your time. I really do appreciate it.

Gharib: Hey, thanks very much, Scott. Any time. It was a pleasure.

Horton: Great. All right, everybody, that was Ali Gharib, again, from Inter Press Service and LobeLog.com. And I’m Scott Horton from Antiwar.com. I’m filling in for Gustavo Arellano today on his show here on KPFK in Los Angeles.

Matt Kennard

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_05_kennard.mp3]

Matt Kennard, author of the article “Neo-Nazis are in the Army now,” discusses the relaxed recruiting safeguards that allow neo-Nazis and gang members to join the U.S. military, how the desensitization training of soldiers – through dehumanizing their enemies – breeds bigotry, problems arising from combat-hardened veterans returning to their civilian criminal lives and why the legions of mercenaries have even larger problems brewing in them.

MP3 here. (18:38)

Matt Kennard graduated from the Journalism School at Columbia University as a Toni Stabile Investigative scholar in 2008. He now works for the Financial Times in London. He has written for the Guardian, Salon, The Comment Factory and the Chicago Tribune, amongst others. In 2006 he won the Guardian Student Feature Writer of the Year Award.

Malou Innocent

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_03_innocent.mp3]

Malou Innocent, Foreign Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute and author of the article “Are Our Goals in Afghanistan ‘Fairly Modest’?”, discusses the Center for a New American Security‘s (unofficial) motto on nation building: “never say die!”, military pundits who cherry pick the convenient aspects of COIN doctrine, why the U.S. can’t seem to tell the difference between insurgents and terrorists, the fallacy of Afghanistan as a “safe haven” for the 9/11 terrorists (who moved freely in the U.S. and Germany), baiting Afghan War opponents as misogynists and why the antiwar movement is MIA while think tanks unite around an unending interventionist policy.

MP3 here. (20:24) Transcript below.

Malou Innocent is a Foreign Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute. She is a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and her primary research interests include Middle East and Persian Gulf security issues and U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan, Afghanistan, and China. She has appeared as a guest analyst on CNN, BBC News, Fox News Channel, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, CNBC Asia, and Reuters.

Innocent has published reviews and articles on national security and international affairs in journals such as Survival, Congressional Quarterly, and Harvard International Review. She has also written for Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal Asia, Christian Science Monitor, Armed Forces Journal, the Guardian, Huffington Post, the Washington Times, and other outlets both in the United States and overseas. She earned dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Mass Communications and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago.

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Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Malou Innocent, August 3, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. Our next guest is Malou Innocent. She is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute, Cato.org, of course. Welcome back to the show. How are you doing?

Malou Innocent: I thank you so much for having me. I’m happy to be on.

Horton: Well I really appreciate you joining us today. So, let’s talk about Barack Obama and Afghan war policy. I guess everybody knows that on the ground, it’s just madness and people dying everywhere and it’s a losing battle, but in Washington D.C. nobody really knows what the hell is going on. It’s like we’re a bunch of Kremlinologists out here trying to figure out, you know, who’s got sway and whether it’s going to be COIN or the Biden Doctrine, or whether we’re going to split this group of Taliban from that one, or what kind of madness. What do you think is going on?

Innocent: Right, I would agree overall. I think there’s a huge disconnect between what the American public thinks and what the D.C. Washington bubble really thinks. There’s a lot of tweaking on the margins, like let’s sort of reach out to this level of insurgent group, let’s try and talk to this tribe or this village, let’s, you know, flood the area with a bunch of U.S. troops, and that’s sort of the milieu that we see in Washington D.C.

But overall, I mean, support for the war in Afghanistan has sunk to all-time lows. It’s been plummeting as a result of the increasing U.S. death toll. Also the fact that the Taliban are winning major amounts of territory in the southern and eastern provinces. So there’s a huge disconnect between what the Washington policy establishment thinks and what really many Americans feel is essentially an unwinnable quagmire.

Horton: Well, I don’t know. Kelley Vlahos talked about how she went to this meeting of the Center for a New American Security, whatever, the Democrats’ PNAC, and how they’re basically over it and they realize what failures they all are, Nagl and Tom Ricks, their PR guy, and all those guys, and they’re basically just trying to figure out, you know, how to exit out of their bogus COIN strategy without admitting defeat. Do you think they realize that they’re beaten?

Innocent: You know, it’s interesting. I saw a recent article [requires subscription] from John Nagl. He was saying essentially, you know, victory is still achievable. And you sort of think back to the ’05, ’06, and the Iraq war debate, where there are still these sort of war dead-enders who promote war no matter what the situation on the ground really is all about, because they care about protecting either their own reputation or they benefit from perpetual war.

And I think in the case of the CNAS guys. It’s that, as you mentioned, they sort of propose this COIN doctrine, this population-centered counterinsurgency approach, which essentially is large-scale nation building and social engineering. And for them, their reputations are on the line. They’ve written a lot about the doctrine. And I really do think that they firmly believe that it can work, that only if we send in hundreds of thousands more troops, as long as we commit to it for a multi-decade mission, they really do believe that we can change Afghanistan. It’s almost a delusion for these people.

And I think, going forward, how they’re going to try and scale back that rhetoric after they’ve gone so far out on a limb, saying that we can essentially “remake entire societies,” as Nagl said, is really just a daunting task for them alone. I mean, I’m almost wondering if they’re able to have the absurd logic that we can re-create entire societies, maybe it won’t be too difficult for them to sort of back away from their position. I’m not sure.

Horton: Well, you know, I mean, it’s easy for Obama and the War Party – you’ve got John McCain and those guys in the Senate and whatever providing all the cover on the right for the decision to just go ahead and “forget that I ever said we’re going to start leaving in 2011,” and all that. But you have a real disconnect, I think, between we’re even going to pretend like we’re trying to wrap this thing up and the COIN doctrine – which after all mandates, doesn’t it, well I think you just said hundreds of thousands of troops, but doesn’t it also mandate decades and decades of occupation and nation building?

Innocent: Exactly. In fact, and this is sort of what I am really angry about when it comes to the COIN people, and these COINdinistas, as Vlahos refers to them all, is the fact that they really do cherry pick what part of the COIN doctrine they want to apply. In one respect they say, you know, we need to flood the country with hundreds of thousands of troops – which we don’t have, and we will never actually ever commit – but at the same time they sort of ignore the fact that, you know, it requires decades upon decades of doing so, and that it’s very difficult, and we don’t even know if that would even succeed if we were able to commit that much time and energy and resources to such a project.

Another issue they always forget, and something they always try to omit, is that we require, if we did sort of the counterinsurgency nation-building approach – it requires a legitimate host nation government. Of course we don’t have that with Hamid Karzai. Him and his cabinet of people really do profit at the expense of peace. They have a whole entire network of mafia drug lords that they use to consolidate their power in the south. They are considered widely illegitimate by the majority of Afghan people. And yet we’re relying on this government and pumping it with billions of dollars, and we’re essentially creating a puppet government that does not have the support of its people.

Horton: Well, now, the counterinsurgency doctrine, in terms of, you know, creating and installing governments, “government in a box,” like McChrystal called it in Marjah, that’s certainly proving to be a failure. But then the other half of that is sending the Delta Force out on night raids and targeted assassinations all the time, and I guess this supposedly is the other half of the argument inside the Democrat circles, right? This is the Vice President’s position, is, “Eh, forget government in a box. Let’s just do targeted killings all the time.”

And, it’s funny, because of course they’ve been doing this all along, but the funny part is the headline in the New York Times, “Targeted Killing is New U.S. Focus in Afghanistan,” which I guess, again, is back to the question, whether these people are admitting defeat for one strategy and shifting to another or not?

Innocent: Well, I mean, we’ve sort of been doing targeted killing. I think that it’s just been ramped up in the past year or so under Obama. But what matters is who we’re targeting. If we’re targeting members of the Taliban, it’s not exactly clear why we are, simply because the Taliban poses a threat to the incredibly illegitimate Afghan government. The Taliban movement does not pose an existential threat to the United States. I think we’ve sort of conflated over the years the al Qaeda threat and the Taliban threat, these sort of indigenous jihadi Pashtun guerilla movements in this region that do not post an existential threat to the United States.

And so I think overall we’ve sort of been getting confused with insurgents versus terrorists. There are certainly insurgents who don’t support the Afghan government, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they pose a threat to the United States.

Horton: Well, and even when it comes to the friends of bin Laden and Zawahiri, I like to refer people to the Bob Dreyfuss article that he wrote for I think it was Rolling Stone called “The Bogus War on Terror.” [Actual title is “The Phony War.” -Ed.] And it was about – it begins with numerous quotes, and I think that, you know, there’s a lot of other evidence of this same thing being true – but it begins with a bunch of quotes from the CIA guys talking about how, “Look, man, we went in there and we pointed our laser designators at the al Qaeda guys, and then the Air Force came by and blew them to bits. And if you wanted to do a body count, bring Q-tips,” they said. There were a couple of dozen who escaped. We’re talking about the “Arab Afghans,” so called, right, the terrorists as opposed to the insurgents. There were a couple of dozen who escaped into Pakistan.

And – there’s nothing magical about Pakistan or Afghanistan that makes them somehow, you know, great bases to wage terrorist attacks on the United States. The September 11th attack was coordinated in Europe by a bunch of grad students in Germany and who lived in the United States for extended periods of time. You know? They plotted, as James Bamford points out – they had their last big meeting down the road from National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland. It’s not Afghanistan that did September 11th! This is ridiculous!

Innocent: Absolutely. I mean, absolutely. That’s really the critical aspect of this whole safe haven myth argument that a lot of people have just sort of glommed onto. But you’re absolutely correct. I mean, 9/11 was plotted in Germany and especially in parts of Florida and Maryland. This is definitely – it’s sort of a movement that doesn’t require one single base or one single safe haven.

And yet this notion that we must rid Afghanistan of terrorists and make sure that al Qaeda never again comes to have a base in Afghanistan, well that’s simply a rationale for a prolonged U.S. mission, and as well as an open-ended justification to intervene nearly everywhere in the world.

And if we’re going to say that al Qaeda requires a base, then I mean that opens up the door to Somalia, to Yemen, to Pakistan, to everywhere.

And I think, overall – I mean the people who again sort of support that sort of mission, either 1) they have a doctrine that supports that mission, or 2) they profit at the expense of peace.

Horton: All right, well, we’re about to come up on a break here. Yep, there goes the music. So when we come back we’ll talk a little bit about some of the excuses, some more about some of the excuses, for staying in Afghanistan and what it might take to really get, you know, a change of consensus about policy, where it matters, you know, to people who actually have the influence to make a difference, with Malou Innocent from the Cato Institute, right after this, y’all.

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Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio, Scott Horton. I’m talking with Malou Innocent. She writes at Cato At Liberty. She’s a foreign policy analyst there at the Cato Institute. It’s Cato At Liberty, with dashes in between the words there, dot org. And her most recent article there is called “Are Our Goals in Afghanistan ‘Fairly Modest’?” That’s actually a quote of Lord Obama, and it’s featured today, this article, you can find the link in the Viewpoint section today at Antiwar.com.

So now, well, we’re talking about some of the excuses for staying, in terms of, you know, protecting the world from Ayman al-Zawahiri forever and ever, and how if we accept that premise then we have to invade the whole rest of the world too, which sounds like it’s probably in the plan. They call it the Long War, after all.

Innocent: Right.

Horton: But, well, you’re a woman and a libertarian, which means you by default must be a feminist, and so, what about allll of the arguments, and there are a lot of them, that for America to leave Afghanistan is to condemn the women there all basically to prison at best for the rest of their lives, and so we have to stay to help them and give them freedom.

Innocent: You know, it’s interesting. That’s a particularly pernicious argument that a lot of people use. It’s sort of like the question, “when did you stop beating your wife?” It’s sort of the notion that if you are against this war, then you must hate women, or you must therefore want to subjugate women and want to see oppression continue. That’s definitely not the case, and I think, number one, we have to start from the position that America cannot eradicate the world of evil. Number one, such a position would deplete our resources overnight. Number two, it’s blatantly hypocritical. I don’t see us wagging our sanctimonious finger at the Saudis, and yet the Saudis treat their women horribly.

And I think going forward, if you look at sort of the broader policy options that we have toward Egypt, toward China, toward our other allies, you’d have to begin sort of reshaping U.S. policy everywhere. And that’s the second issue.

A third issue is that I think a lot of the times those people at least who argue that we should stay in Afghanistan to alleviate oppression of Afghan women, they seem to confuse the Taliban’s gender system of oppression with indigenous cultural prohibitions that discriminate against women. I mean, overall Afghan society is extremely conservative, very traditional. And in fact a lot of the domestic abuses against women are attributed to not just the Taliban but also local family members, people in their local communities. So there’s a great deal of oppression that happens independent of the Taliban. We have to look at simply the community level aspects that also oppress women. And it’s not simply something that if the Taliban were sort of – if I had a magic wand and allowed them to simply disappear, that oppression all across the country would be alleviated.

And I think it’s very interesting, in fact, that we never see Karzai’s wife. No one ever sees her. And in fact if he was the sort of beacon of democracy and freedom that we make him out to be, his wife should be out there like Jackie O, promoting women’s right, but she doesn’t, simply because, again, the culture overall is very conservative. Women must sort of, you know, have more of a backdoor role, a behind-the-scenes role, in many respects, and even though they have a great deal of legal rights that are enshrined in the Afghan constitution, women are still considered to be second-class citizens.

Horton: Well, and you know, I can’t help but note, when you talk about the hypocrisy of the whole thing, that of course there are women who are killed for the crime of being near some guy that they think maybe is a “specially designated global terrorist,” or whatever they want to call them now when they kill somebody, on a daily basis there, oftentimes by the dozens and dozens. And also, you know, the Secretary of Defense, I forgot exactly what they call him, the Minister of War or whatever, in Afghanistan, is General Dostum, [Chief of Staff of the Afghan army – Ed.] who was like the worst mass rapist evil killer warlord maniac male chauvinist pig in all of Afghanistan. And he’s our guy!

Innocent: Exactly. And I think that’s also true, is the fact that this sort of hypocrisy about the entire thing, I mean, when you look at the number of warlords and ex-human rights abusers and criminals that make up only just the Afghan government in particular, I mean we really just have to begin questioning this notion that we must perpetuate the occupation in order to liberate the people.

And I think sort of related to that is sort of this whole, sort of related to the whole WikiLeaks issue, is that so many people are up in arms about what this might mean to the possible killings of interpreters and those who help – and don’t get me wrong, I think maybe those names should have been expunged – but we sort of ignore the ongoing treatment of people within Afghanistan and the fact that they are being bombed, they are being killed, wedding parties are getting doused with bullets at all times and bombs, and there are many people who are dying as a result of the occupation, and yet right now we’re sort of concerning ourselves with liberating them. But in what respect are we liberating them with this continued occupation of the region?

Horton: Yeah, I mean it really is something else to see Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accuse a journalist of having blood on his hands. With a straight face!

Innocent: Isn’t it [inaudible].

Horton: And in front of a press corps that doesn’t burst out laughing!

Innocent: Right.

Horton: And everybody just pretends like this is legitimate!

Innocent: Mmhmm. I mean, it just goes to show. I mean, this is sort of my issue, and I’m happy to be on Antiwar.com, is that it’s not simply right and left. I mean, there are people on the left who endorse war, there are people on the right who endorse war. I almost think that the proper divide should be pro-intervention and anti-intervention.

Because many times you have people like Hillary Clinton, who says that we should liberate the Afghan women. You have people like Barack Obama, who’s perpetuating the occupation of Afghanistan and expanded into a new front with Pakistan. And then you have those on the right, such as Boehner and a lot of the Republican establishment people who endorse, you know, a never-ending campaign through counterinsurgency.

And in fact, I mean, even just a couple of weeks ago, I was a guest speaker for Dr. Ron Paul’s policy luncheon, and there were many Republicans there: Representative John Duncan, Walter Jones, Tim Johnson, Rodney Alexander, and a couple others. And they definitely agree, there is no end game in Afghanistan and the mission has no direct relationship to our national security. So again I think trying to build these bridges between those who do agree on this policy, that we should get out of Afghanistan, I really hope that that continues for the future.

Horton: Well, even Richard Haass, who, you know, Lord knows George Bush never listened to him when he was in the State Department, but he’s the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and he recently wrote in Newsweek, “forget about it.”

And you know in fact it was Angela Keaton, my producer, who was complaining, here we’ve got a real split already developing inside the establishment, inside the groups, the cocktail party collections of people who actually have power and influence, are doubting this policy, and where’s the antiwar movement? Where’s the outrage in the public telling them, “Yeah! Exactly! Give it up! It’s stupid! Stop it!”

After all, you can have a long war and occupy all of Central Asia forever and still give up Afghanistan. We’ve got bases in Kurdistan and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and all the stans that I forget how to pronounce.

Innocent: No, I mean, that’s true. I mean, it’s funny, you mentioned PNAC earlier, and really what’s interesting is that when you read the PNAC doctrine back in the ’90s, the late ’90s, the sort of open letter to President Bill Clinton to oust Saddam Hussein, years before 9/11, so there was obviously a rationale to go in to begin with – when you read a lot of their stuff, really they have achieved exactly what they wanted. They wanted bases in the Middle East. They wanted bases in Central Asia. And now we have that. It’s almost as if there’s a trajectory in U.S. policy across Democratic and Republican administrations for U.S. primacy and hegemony abroad. And I think, overall, since sort of the end of World War II, we’ve seen that steady expansion.

And again this goes beyond the right and left. This is something that is very much sort of an indoctrination of sort of D.C. policy establishment thinking. So I’m happy to see that there are emerging splits within this consensus, but we still definitely have a tough road to hoe.

Horton: After all, you know, when it comes down to it, you know, foreign policy is not determined at all by Republican or Democrat parties, or certainly not liberal or conservative philosophies, it’s all about the think tanks. It’s all about the Council on Foreign Relations and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for a New American Security, and the Project for a New American Century, and on and on down the list, and which of these different factions of so-called realists and neoconservatives and liberal internationalists and all the different weirdo definitions of the people with power there, none of them include noninterventionists.

It’s all just a question of – so where you even have like the Council on Foreign Relations types tended to oppose the Iraq war and wanted to focus more on the Arc of Crisis, as they call it, in Central Asia and the Caspian Basin there, but now they’re more on board with the neocons for the Iran war. And the Council on Foreign Relations just published a thing – Jim Lobe was noting over at the LobeBlog – promoting war with Iran. And I think that was one that Richard Haass certainly got wrong. Now they’re in bed with the neocons on that one. The realists are.

And, you know, this is where the policy’s made. It has nothing to do with the will of the people, really, unless we just insist we’re against all of it in unison, and instead we get silence from the masses out here.

Innocent: Right, and in many respects, it is a great deal, a whole lot of the sort of Washington policy establishment that’s allowed to sort of perpetuate this ongoing hegemony, U.S. hegemony, in the world stage.

But overall what I’m really concerned about is the lack of concern from the American public. I mean those who are in tune with what our government’s doing abroad, they definitely don’t agree with it. But you have the vast majority of Americans who are totally disconnected from the wars – and even not necessarily they just don’t know anyone who’s fighting in them, they just don’t read the paper, they could care less, they’re focused on their 401(k)s or the Gulf oil spill. They’re totally detached from what our government is doing abroad, and that’s even more dangerous.

Horton: Indeed. Well, and there’ll be hell to pay some day.

Innocent: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

Horton: Thank you so much for your time on the show. Everybody, that’s Malou Innocent from Cato.

Innocent: Thank you.

Horton: See y’all tomorrow.

Chris Busby

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_04_busby.mp3]

Chris Busby, co-author of the epidemiological study “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” discusses the difficulties of carrying out a door-to-door survey of skeptical and hostile Fallujah residents, the severe birth deformities in regions where depleted uranium munitions were used, the study’s focus on infant mortality rates, the military’s outdated risk modeling for battlefield uranium exposure and why a dramatically lower male birth rate is a telling sign of regional genetic damage.

MP3 here. (19:19) Transcript below.

Chris Busby is director of the independent environmental consultancy, Green Audit. He has a first-class Honours degree in Chemistry from London University and a PhD in chemical physics from the University of Kent. He is Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk and a member of the UK Department of Health Committee Examining Radiation Risk for Internal Emitters (CERRIE).

Chris also sits on the UK Ministry of Defence Depleted Uranium Oversight Board and is National Speaker on Science and Technology for the Green Party of England and Wales. Chris is a fellow of the University of Liverpool in the Faculty of Medicine. He is also scientific advisor of the Low level Radiation Campaign which he helped to set up in 1995.

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Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Chris Busby, August 4, 2010

Scott Horton: All right y’all, welcome to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m your host, Scott Horton. Thanks for tuning into the show today. We’ve got a good one lined up for you. Andy Worthington’s going to be here to talk about Guantanamo. Bonnie Docherty will be here to talk about the new cluster bomb treaty. And we’re going to start right now with Dr. Chris Busby, and he is the coauthor, I think the principal author, of this study called, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009.” It was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. You can find it at Scribd.com. Welcome to the show, Chris. How are you?

Chris Busby: Yes, hello. I’m fine, thank you.

Horton: Well thank you very much for joining us today.

Busby: You’re welcome.

Horton: All right, so, I guess before we get too far into this, I’ll just remind the audience that there were two major battles in Fallujah – against Fallujah – in the spring and then again in the fall of 2004. It’s a city in the Anbar province of Iraq there, west of Baghdad, and it saw some of the heaviest fighting of the Iraq War. And so that’s what this study’s about.

Now before we get into the results and what you guys found out, I was wondering if you could tell us, first of all, how you got the idea to do this, and then second of all if we could discuss the method of study a little bit.

Busby: Well, okay. Well, I’ve been concerned about the health effects of depleted uranium since about 1997, and I was on the British Ministry of Defence Depleted Uranium Oversight Board and also on a British government committee looking at health effects of internal radionuclides – these are radioactive substances like uranium which get inside the body and act by destroying cells from inside, rather than external radiation.

So I’ve become, if you like, a scientist involved in examining the health risks of radioactivity. I’ve also done some research looking at weapons in Lebanon and in Gaza – finding uranium in weapons, in weapon craters and in air filters.

I was contacted by Malak Hamdan, who is an Iraqi lady living in London, and she wanted to know if there was any way in which we could investigate the many reports that were coming out of Fallujah of increases in cancer and congenital malformations. There have been a lot of anecdotal reports – people who have been saying, “There seems to be a lot of increase in cancer and so forth.” But there haven’t been any proper epidemiological studies, and so the international community has tended to ignore these reports, although I think they are quite wrong to do this, and also they didn’t do any studies of their own.

So I said to Malak that it was quite possible for us to do an epidemiological study, that we needed to look at about 5,000 people to get statistical significance, and we just had to send people around to knock on doors and ask about the people who lived there – you know, how old they were, how many people, men and women, and whether there’d been any cancers reported or diagnosed in the last 5, 10 years, and infant deaths and so forth, you know.

So you build up a picture of a group of people – a random selection from the overall population of Fallujah, and then you can do a proper epidemiological statistical analysis on that, and then find out whether these reports are true or not.

So she went off and she organized all of this stuff. I created the questionnaire and I did the analysis too and helped out with the general idea, but she organized the people on the ground – very difficult it was, too – in Fallujah.

Horton: Okay, now, so let’s talk about some of the weaknesses in the method which you address actually in the study itself. You say that there was one neighborhood I guess in Fallujah where the word had gone out that you guys were CIA or something and so you weren’t able to really get any answers from anybody, right?

Busby: At the beginning of the study, some of our helpers who were working with us – some of the interviewers who were working with us – were knocking on doors in one area where the people were very, very suspicious. I mean the whole place is full of suspicion, you know? I mean, it’s a terrible war zone, and they were frightened that these people of ours were Iraqi agents or CIA agents or something, so they actually beat them up.

And so after that we had to arrange for some local person who was a significant person who was known in the community, in the particular area, to travel around with the interviewer so that the locals had some faith in what was happening and would give reasonable answers. And after that happened we were okay, we got a pretty good response rate.

Horton: Well and also you mention in here – and this is something I guess everybody knows – that Fallujah has had, of all the five million Iraqis displaced from their homes, a great many of them were Fallujans. And so if you were to go to the refugee camps in Jordan or Syria, you would find a lot of Fallujans there. And so I wonder whether that messes up your science here.

Busby: Well, all of these things mess up the science to some extent, and so you cannot take the results that we got and say that they were quantitatively accurate, you know, that the numbers were exactly right. It’s extremely difficult to do epidemiology a long time after the event, and there are all sorts of problems with people leaving the area, and also one problem is that people who die, of course, you know, can’t answer the questionnaire. So you have to rely upon some of the people remaining knowing that somebody had died of cancer in the family.

But I have to say that we’ve done these studies in a number of other places, and they tend to work out pretty accurate, pretty accurate. So you can say plus or minus a little bit. And so I am fairly confident that the results qualitatively show – but not quantitatively – that there was a significant increase in cancer and birth defects and also that there is an alteration in the sex ratio.

And the other thing about all of this is that all of these different pieces of information put together, they add up to a picture. So in other words, we are not just finding increases in cancer, which is a genetic disease, but we are also finding increases in infant mortality, increases in congenital malformation – which weren’t reported, incidentally, in the paper for reasons which I can go into – and also this peculiar sex ratio change which only occurred in those children who were born after 2004. So all of these things together point to the introduction in 2004 into that population of a very, very powerful genetically mutating agent – a mutagen.

Horton: Okay, so, well, you make me very glad that I started out with the method here, and I really appreciate the way that you characterize the study, how valuable it is, how much faith or hard knowledge can be gained from it and the difference between quality and quantity and all these things – this is how real scientists talk, sparing in their conclusions and yet still willing to try to dive in and explain what the data show there. So I appreciate that.

So now, I’m sorry, we only have about two and a half, three minutes before we have to go out to the first break here, so I was wondering if maybe we could just start with one of these – and let’s start with the one that you said did not make the paper there, the deformed children. There have been even rumors at least of a child born with two heads in Fallujah.

Busby: Yes, that’s right, we’ve heard of that too. I mean of course you can go into any hospital and find children with deformities, but in Iraq, and also incidentally in Kosovo too, we have had reports of peculiarly horrible deformities, ones that don’t normally get reported and don’t normally turn up. So there does seem to be some agent that’s common to these areas where depleted uranium has been used which result in these very, very peculiar and unusual deformities.

We didn’t use the rates of congenital malformation – the reported congenital malformation rates – and the reason is because it became apparent quite quickly that a lot of people are very concerned about talking – they don’t want to talk about their children’s congenital malformations because they see it as some kind of slur on them. And so in order to get the numbers right, we concentrated on infant mortality because we thought that didn’t really carry quite so much of a stigma with it.

There were reports after Hiroshima also, too, by the women who were affected by the radiation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki – they wouldn’t report congenital malformations because they didn’t want anyone to know. They were ashamed of what had happened to them, you see?

Horton: Well, that’s too bad, but I guess I can see how that would work, you know, because depleted uranium wouldn’t necessarily get the blame or whatever, it could be a stigma for the family, that kind of thing. I understand.

Busby: Yes, sure, sure that’s right, that’s right. And in fact the Iraqi authorities originally when they heard about these increases in congenital malformation, they said, “Well, all the people there are inbred.”

Horton: All right, yeah, of course, “It’s everybody but the Army’s fault.” All right, hold it right there. Everybody, we’re talking to Christopher Busby. He wrote this paper about cancer in Fallujah. We’ll be right back after this.

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Horton: All right y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. I’m talking with Chris Busby. He’s co-author of this study, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,” published at the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. You can find it at Scribd.com and of course the blog entry of the archive of this show, later the mp3, at Antiwar.com/Radio, will have a link straight to it as well.

Okay, so now – well, when we were going out to break we were talking with Dr. Busby here about how the people of Iraq didn’t really like to – well, nobody really likes to answer questions about deformities among their children – so you guys really decided, I guess, that the numbers wouldn’t be concise enough; you just skipped that question and focused on child mortality rates.

Busby: Yes, that’s right. We went through infant mortality. And then the other thing about that is congenital malformation rates are very difficult to compare across countries because different countries record different levels – different types of malformation. So, you know, in the United Kingdom or for instance in Europe, the EUROCAT database, they actually record some quite – well, not terribly important, if you like, you know, not very serious malformations.

So when they talk about the rates of malformation per thousand births, they won’t be strictly comparable with the kinds of malformations that we would be looking at in Iraq – like you were saying, two heads and no limbs and the most peculiar and awful, horrible things – one eye and so forth, you know? You just have an extra finger, and in the EUROCAT database that would be classed as a malformation. So the numbers would then not really be strictly comparable.

There is a big problem with congenital malformations as a comparing system across different databases.

Horton: All right, well, see, my problem is I’m no doctor. I don’t really understand these things. It’s easy for me to imagine that depleted uranium – even if it’s 99% 238 – that, I don’t know, I’m not a chemist, I’m not a scientist, I don’t really know. As far as I know, sure, it shoots out gamma rays and alpha particles and whatever and rearranges chromosomes, but I don’t really know that. Do you know that that’s true?

Busby: Yes, that’s about right. But it’s actually worse than that because in the last five years – and I’ve been associated with this research, incidentally, too, it’s all been published in the literature now – what happens is that when uranium gets into the body, it actually binds chemically to the chromosomes, so it targets the chromosomes, because the uranyl ion [UO2]2+ is similar to the calcium ion and it binds to the phosphate backbone of the chromosome, so it goes to the chromosomes. But because it has a very high atomic number – it has the highest atomic number of any natural element on earth – it also absorbs natural background radiation.

So we all get irradiated with natural background gamma radiation, but most of it goes right through us because we’re made of water, essentially. But the absorption of this gamma radiation is proportional to the fourth or fifth power of the atomic number, so you can imagine the atomic number of water being about eight, I suppose, if you use the oxygen, so the fourth or fifth power of eight has to be compared with the fourth or fifth power of 92, which is the atomic number of uranium.

And you’re talking about something which is therefore acting as a little antenna and absorbing hundreds, maybe thousands of times more gamma radiation energy into the DNA, and this seems to be the problem with uranium.

And none of these ideas, none of these developments, have been incorporated into the current risk model. So when the American army or the British army used this material as a weapon and aerosolized it so that it floats around the place and people inhale it, they’re still using an old-fashioned model of radiation risk which goes back to the 1950s, which just deals with the intrinsic radioactivity of uranium. It doesn’t deal with any of these chemical affinities for DNA or this idea of it acting as a sort of agent for focusing natural background radiation into the DNA. I mean, this is an idea, it’s a theory, but calculations show that this idea is correct.

And even if it wasn’t for the calculations, we would be able to tell now from all of the effects that have been seen after exposure to uranium, that there is something seriously wrong with the way in which uranium risks are being computed – being understood.

Horton: Well, you know, I guess the skeptics would say, “Hey, there’s uranium in the ground everywhere. We’re all exposed to uranium radiation all the time,” but I think that you’re really –

Busby: It’s not inhaled, you see, this is the point.

Horton: Right. Hang on a second, because I was just going to explain to the audience that they use this for armor-piercing rounds because the form of the molecular structure allows it to be self-sharpening – rather than getting dull on impact, it gets sharper and sharper, and basically aerosolizes as it penetrates armor. So anybody around is, as you’re saying, breathing this stuff in – in tiny, tiny little particles.

Busby: Yeah, nanoparticles – particles that get into the cells. And this has never occurred throughout the whole of human evolution. Because, as you say, uranium has been around since the beginning of time on earth. So we’ve been exposed to the gamma rays from the uranium in the rocks, but nobody’s ever taken the uranium out of the rocks and made it extremely pure and then fired it at something very hard so that it burns and knocks a hole and turns into these very fine, fine particles that get inhaled. So nobody’s inhaled uranium. That’s the problem.

Horton: Okay, now, you’ve talked about how you’ve been studying this since 1997. I wonder about the – you know, because this was something that I guess few people paid attention to – but some people did, the Gulf War syndrome, Gulf War illnesses, plural, of the 1990s from the First Gulf War. Were European troops, French and British and other troops, exposed to depleted uranium in the First Gulf War?

Busby: Of course they were. Of course they were. And many of them have got seriously ill. Many of them have gotten cancer.

I mean I was an expert witness in a coroner’s inquest with a jury a couple of years ago – September 2008, I think it was – or maybe it was 2009 – anyway, it wasn’t that long ago – and a coroner’s jury listened to the evidence that I gave to them over this Gulf War veteran, a UK Gulf War veteran who had been cleaning out vehicles that had been struck by uranium weapons, and he died of colon cancer at a young age. And the jury found that his cancer was caused by the uranium. This is quite a landmark to have this happen.

But of course what happens is the military just close their ears or bury their heads in the sand and just refuse to listen to this stuff. There’s no doubt about it. There have been huge increases in ill health in American servicemen and in British servicemen and presumably also in other European people working in war zones where uranium was being used as a result of exposure to this material.

Horton: All right, now, I’m afraid we’re running short on time and I have another guest coming up after the next break, so I don’t know what to do here because there’s so much more to go over still. Can you just briefly touch on the birth sex-ratio problems?

Busby: Yes. Okay, genetic defects can be shown by the birth sex-ratio. So in other words, normally, in normal human populations, there are 1,050 boys born to every 1,000 girls. This is absolutely standard. But if you cause genetic damage, you damage the boy chromosomes more easily because they don’t have a redundant X chromosome. Boys are XY and girls are XX, so the girls have a redundant X chromosome, so the boys are preferentially killed off. And so if you find a reduction in the number of boys, it’s a sure sign of genetic damage.

And this was found after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And so this is what we found too. We found 860 boys per 1,000 girls in the Fallujah cohort. And in general all of the things we found in the Fallujah cohort were similar to the Hiroshima/Nagasaki results, but much, much worse. So what happened in Fallujah was much worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Horton: Well, Dr. Busby, I really appreciate your time on the show today. I hope we can do this again. I have so many more questions for you.

Busby: Okay, you’re welcome. It’s a very important subject.

Horton: Okay, thank you very much. Everybody, please go look at “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009.”

Karen Kwiatkowski

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_03_kwiatkowski.mp3]

Karen Kwiatkowski, columnist at LewRockwell.com and retired USAF lieutenant colonel, discusses the neocon infiltration of the formerly decent Hudson Institute, her firsthand account of how the Office of Special Plans lied us into the Iraq War, Col. David Hackworth’s pushback against OSP propaganda and why the Iraq War instigators are now directing their war cries toward Iran.

MP3 here. (20:40)

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., is a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel, who spent her final years in uniform working at the Pentagon’s Near East/South Asia bureau (NESA). Her assignment was to work on policy papers for the Secretary of Defense and other top brass at the Pentagon. Shortly thereafter, she was assigned to a newly-formed bureau inside the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans, which was created to help the Pentagon deal with issues in Iraq.

Deeply frustrated and alarmed, Kwiatkowski, still on active duty, took the unusual step of penning an anonymous column of internal Pentagon dissent that was posted on the Internet by former Colonel David Hackworth, America’s most decorated veteran. She lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley, and among other things, writes for lewrockwell.com.

Mike Ludwig

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_02_ludwig.mp3]

Truthout contributor Mike Ludwig discusses the U.S. military’s missed opportunity to minimize the health risks from depleted uranium munitions, the Department of Defense’s policy of “don’t look, don’t find” regarding a link between DU and Gulf War Veterans Illness, the 40-year late Congressional action on Agent Orange related illnesses and why the health and safety of enlisted troops is a secondary concern to the generals in charge.

MP3 here. (20:40)

Mike Ludwig writes for Truthout.org.

Pardiss Kebriaei

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_03_kebriaei.mp3]

Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, discusses the ACLU/CCR joint lawsuit against the Treasury Department for ignoring a request for permission to represent the father of accused terrorist (and U.S. citizen) Anwar al-Aulaqi, the dubious legal gatekeeping role assigned to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, the dozens of people on Obama’s extrajudicial executive assassination hit-list, why the Obama DOJ Office of Legal Council probably has memos that would make David Addington blush, the lawyer-free zone for Specially Designated Global Terrorists and how the post-9/11 Authorization for Use of Military Force is now used as a blanket justification for U.S. military or covert action anywhere on anyone.

MP3 here. (18:52) Transcript below.

Pardiss Kebriaei joined the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in July 2007. She provides direct representation to several of CCR’s clients at Guantánamo and helps coordinate CCR’s network of hundreds of pro bono counsel representing other prisoners. She also focuses on using international human rights mechanisms to bring international pressure to bear on the U.S. government and hold other governments accountable for their role in the violations at Guantánamo.

Pardiss came to CCR after five years at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she specialized in international litigation, working within the Inter-American, European and UN human rights systems, and in foreign jurisdictions including the Philippines, India, Nepal, Thailand, and Colombia.

She has also worked with Global Rights in Morocco and as an adjunct professor at Hunter College in New York, where she taught courses on international human rights and women’s rights. She is a graduate of the University of  Pennsylvania Law School and has degrees in Middle Eastern studies and cello performance from Northwestern University. She speaks Farsi, Dari and French.

————————————

Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Pardiss Kebriaei, August 3, 2010

Scott Horton: All right y’all, welcome back to the show. Thanks for listening. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. And earlier on in the show, I was flipping through the tabs here and I hit refresh on Glenn Greenwald’s blog and found the headline, “ACLU, CCR” – that’s the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights – “seek to have Obama enjoined from killing Awlaki without due process.”

Now, this guy Awlaki was born in the United States – I think in New Mexico – and, well, we’ll get to that – and he’s an American citizen. And Barack Obama – his intelligence director Blair said that this guy was on the death mark list, I guess you could call it, and that was confirmed by anonymous administration officials in the Washington Post. And then Eli Lake published an interview in the Washington Times with John Brennan, Obama’s head of counterterrorism, who said that there are dozens of American citizens around the world who are on a list of people to be murdered, executed, assassinated, by the CIA or the Joint Special Operations Command.

And now we are joined on the phone with a lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights. Her name is Pardiss Kebriaei. Welcome to the show. How are you doing?

Pardiss Kebriaei: I’m good, thank you very much.

Horton: Did I say your name right?

Kebriaei: Yes!

Horton: Ha! So, somebody in the chat room just owes somebody five bucks. Okay.

Kebriaei: [laughs]

Horton: All right, now, okay, so there are two important issues at stake here. The first thing is, you guys are filing a lawsuit of behalf of Anwar Awlaki’s father, seeking to prevent Barack Obama from murdering him. And then secondly, there’s this giant hurdle that you have to cross to get permission from the Treasury Department? Or else, according to Glenn Greenwald’s writing here – and he’s a constitutional lawyer – he says you could be prosecuted for a criminal offense for attempting to be a lawyer for this accused? Is that even the right legal term for this guy’s father? Help me, please, understand.

Kebriaei: Sure. No, that’s exactly right. The case today that was brought by CCR and the ACLU is against the Department of the Treasury and a unit, an agency within the Treasury Department called the Office of Foreign Assets control, to challenge the legality and the constitutionality of a scheme that essentially requires attorneys like us, organizations like us, who provide pro bono legal services, to get a license, to get special permission, to be able to represent, provide services to or for the interest of someone who has been labeled by the government, through their own bureaucratic process, labeled as a terrorist.

So what’s happened here is that we were retained by the father of Anwar al-Awlaki in early July, in connection with the authorization by the president, by the executive branch, to target and kill his son, who is currently hiding in Yemen. And essentially the authorization gives the green light to the CIA and the special forces of the U.S. military to go into Yemen with a drone or with whatever other means and to target this person without any kind of due process, any kind of transparency, anything at all like that.

Horton: Well even short of that, they don’t even seem to really be making concrete assertions. I mean, when anonymous administration officials talk to the Washington Post, they say they believe that he is tied – and, you know, they have – he apparently is associated with a couple of the 9/11 hijackers, with the Fort Hood shooter, as well as, they claim anyway, Abdulmutallab, the attempted Christmas Day Detroit Underbomber there. But all we get is sort of half-baked assertions where they don’t even say they know. They claim, anonymously, to believe that this guy is tied to terrorists.

Kebriaei: That’s exactly right. And I think what gets lost a little bit is that the allegations that have been made publicly about this person – or, you know, I’m not sympathetic if you believe what the government is saying, but we have to remember, and we cannot lose sight of the fact, that these are allegations at this point. This person is a suspect. He is not someone who has been charged and tried and convicted of any crime.

And there are plenty of reasons, given the experience that we’ve had since 9/11, to question the government’s say-so. I mean, we know now, eight years after Guantanamo first opened and after mass detentions of men in the United States and elsewhere, that the government deemed hundreds if not thousands of people around the world as dangerous terrorists, the worst of the worst, you know, detentions, detained them, subjected them to torture, rendered them, only to find out later, either though a court process or themselves that they often had the wrong people. So there is good reason to really be skeptical of the allegations that are being made.

Horton: Well, and it’s not just the allegations, too, but it’s the entire legal theory, right? I mean, this goes – you know, all these memos were repudiated by the Bush administration five days before they left office, many of them even before that, that said that, you know, Bush is the king of the world and he has plenary powers to override any law or constitutional amendment or anything that he could ever imagine, and they got rid of all of that.

But then I wonder, there must be a giant pile of new memos written up by Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel and Obama’s White House Counsel’s office that tell him that he has the authority to murder anyone in the world, that the whole world’s a battlefield, and in fact he’s claiming more authority here than David Addington and them ever dreamt of, right?

Kebriaei: Right. I mean, I think the Obama administration has not come out entirely clearly about what their justification is for authorizing the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen in a country like Yemen, which is thousands of miles away from any war zone in Afghanistan or Iraq. So they haven’t come forward and clearly explained what they’re relying on. But they have sort of asserted that one authority they are relying on is the authorization, called the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, that was issued by Congress after 9/11 that was the basis for the U.S. to go into Afghanistan.

Well, whatever you think about that authorization and what followed from it, that was not a blank check for the U.S. government and the executive to therefore say, you know, “On the basis of that authorization, we have the right to go into any country in the world, wherever we want, whenever we want, with respect to whoever we want, and commit U.S. troops, and you know, take military force to those countries.” It was not an open-ended license like that, at all.

So, but that’s – I mean that’s one basis that the U.S. seems to be using as justification for what they’re trying to do here. Which is terrifying. I mean, you know, by claiming a war on terror, that does not render the entire world a battlefield. But that’s essentially what this precedent would set.

Horton: Yeah, I mean, and that term just sounds silly, really. But what it means is there’s no law that binds the power of the commander-in-chief. He’s not the chief executive of, you know, American government departments; he’s the commander of the Army, even in our own neighborhood, and including over our own family members, even – is the power he’s claiming here.

And now, isn’t it the case, if not the law – because I wouldn’t rely on Congress, I hate to even say – but certainly the courts must have ruled already – my understanding was that a “U.S. person” means anybody inside the United States or any American citizen anywhere in the world, and that those U.S. persons are entitled to all of the Bill of Rights, no matter what – no matter what?

Kebriaei: That’s right.

Horton: As long as the courts are open for business, they ruled after the Civil War.

Kebriaei: That’s exactly right. And our argument would be that Mr. Awlaki’s son is a U.S. citizen; he’s someone who was born in this country, he’s in a country that the U.S. is not involved in a war with, and that he should, just like any other U.S. citizen, or any other U.S. person, have the right to know what the evidence may be against him, to challenge it, to be charged, and to be given a fair process. If indeed, you know, what the government has alleged is true, if there is credible evidence for that, give him a process. Charge him and try him. But it is absolutely illegal for the U.S. to do what it’s purporting to do here, which is authorize his killing through a secret executive process in a country that is far from any battlefield.

Horton: Well, and when John Brennan claims dozens of American citizens on this list, to Eli Lake, I think, the presumption was there that there are people all over the world on any continent – they could be in Antarctica, they could be the furthest place from any real battlefield –

Kebriaei: Right.

Horton: It’s a legal theory, this battlefield, not a place.

Kebriaei: Exactly. And, you know, again, another important point here is that whatever the public may think about this particular case and this particular person, it’s the precedent that this sets.

Horton: Well, you can stay 10 more minutes, please?

Kebriaei: Sure.

Horton: Okay, because we’ve got to discuss whether you’re a felon now for trying to take this case. We’re talking with a lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Pardiss Kebriaei, I think. We’ll be right back.

[break]

Horton: All right, y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m Scott Horton. And Barack Obama claims the power to be the cop, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, the jailer, and the executioner now of American citizens, and the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU are suing him over it. I’m talking with a lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Pardiss Kebriaei, and she’s saying no to this. And the Obama administration seems to be trying to set up a situation where they could prosecute you for daring to be a lawyer of someone that they call a terrorist? Say that ain’t so. C’mon, this is America.

Kebriaei: Yeah, no, that’s exactly what’s happening. We at CCR and the ACLU would indeed be subject to pretty severe fines and criminal penalties if we were to go forward to represent the father of someone – the father who himself is not designated as a terrorist at all – but to represent him in a case representing the interests of his son, who is on the list, in connection with the government’s decision to authorize his son’s death through an executive process without any kind of judicial review. So that is indeed what we’re talking about today.

Horton: Okay, now, so, how does this work? Please explain. We have a very sophisticated audience here at Antiwar Radio. They can keep up. How is it that you have to get permission from the government to represent this guy’s father?

Kebriaei: There is a licensing scheme that was promulgated by the Department of Justice and an agency within them called the Office of Foreign Assets Control. And essentially there are regulations that make it against the law to provide broadly what’s termed property or services or interest in property to anyone who has been designated by the government as someone called a “specially designated global terrorist.” There are hundreds and hundreds of people and organizations who are on this list. And again, you get on this list, really, just through an administrative process. It’s not through the courts. It’s through just an administrative decision to put someone on this list.

So what happened is that we were retained by Nasser al-Awlaki, who is the father of someone who is on this list, who has been targeted for death by the U.S., who is in Yemen right now. Two weeks after we were retained and were actively working on a case to challenge the government from killing his son, who again is a U.S. citizen and should be entitled to due process, the Department of Treasury designated his son as a terrorist. And given that designation at this point, under the regulations that currently exist – which we think are unconstitutional and illegal, but they exist – that under that framework, it would be a crime for us to go to court and represent the father in a case asking the government to give his son, you know, basic due process if they’re going to kill him.

Horton: Okay, well, this is just sort of a technical point, I guess, but there used to be a thing called an “enemy combatant.” And then, as best I understand, the Obama administration still has the same sort of really lawless category. It’s a made-up word because it’s not in the law, that’s why they made it up. And they changed it to – in the Obama administration – to an “unprivileged enemy belligerent.” Is that the same thing as a “specially designated global terrorist,” or these things are, you know, on the Venn diagram, they sometimes overlap but not necessarily?

Kebriaei: You know, I don’t really know what the standards are for the government to designate someone as a specially designated terrorist. You’re right that the Obama administration sort of abandoned the literal term “enemy combatant,” but they’re now using, you know, just another word that essentially means the same thing.

But as far as the overlap, part of the problem is that the categories are so vague, and they’re not defined, so it’s hard to know exactly what you have to be doing to be designated as either an SDGT or an enemy combatant or whatever else the Obama administration’s calling people these days. So that’s part of the problem – is overbroad and vague standards and a lack of definition and standards that meet the law, as codified in the Constitution and in international rules.

Horton: All right, now, I’m looking at this great article by Glenn Greenwald today at Salon.com/opinion/greenwald, about this lawsuit that y’all have filed. It’s called “ACLU, CCR seek to have Obama enjoined from killing Awlaki without due process.” And so, if I can focus more on this whole thing about whether you’re a criminal now or not for participating in this.

So they pass this law or this rule or something – you can clarify – that says that if you want to represent someone that’s a specially designated global terrorist, you have to get permission from the Treasury Department first. So you guys wanted to represent this guy’s father in a lawsuit to prevent – to try to get the court to tell Obama, “You may not murder this guy this way.” So, you went to the Treasury Department and said, “Okay, well, so give us the license to represent this guy’s father like in the new rules,” and then they didn’t even so much as answer you. So now you’re suing to get permission to represent the father so you can represent the father in a lawsuit against Obama to prevent him from murdering the father’s son.

Kebriaei: That’s exactly right. And in our request – we filed a request about 10 days ago with the Treasury Department, saying that we think these regulations, if they were to deny us a license, are illegal and unconstitutional, but given that they exist, then that’s the current law, you know, we’re requesting a license. But we underlined that we’re talking about urgent circumstances here. We’re talking about an order for our client’s son’s death. So we asked them to respond, you know, immediately. And that was 10 days ago. Right now we haven’t heard anything from OFAC or from the Department of the Treasury, and given that, you know, the silence, we did go to court today to basically challenge what’s constructively been a denial of a license allowing us to go forward.

Horton: Well, now, so what about your lawyer? Is he telling you, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you out of prison”? You could really get in trouble for this.

[crosstalk]

Horton: You have your cart and your horse in order here, right?

Kebriaei: Yes.

Horton: You’re waiting to see whether the court will mandate the Treasury Department to give you the license. But if they don’t, then you’re going to go ahead and try to represent this guy’s father anyway?

Kebriaei: Well, we’re going to have to wait and see what happens. We do think that – we will pursue, I think, the challenge to the constitutionality and legality of this scheme. If we don’t get a quick answer from the court or get a license, we’re going to have to revisit, you know, our strategy in whether we would go forward with the underlying case or not. We’re sort of taking things a day at a time.

But at this point we’ve got a pretty quick schedule that we’ve asked for from the court to hear our arguments and require the government to respond and have a hearing and argument in court so that we can try to resolve this quickly and move forward with what’s really at issue, which is that the government has authorized the death of our client’s son in a country that we are not at war with, without any kind of due process, and that would be illegal in many circumstances, that we’re talking about a U.S. citizen here.

Horton: Well, I’m determined to get a kick out of the absurdity of it. I just – I can’t even believe that this is real. We’re not talking about a story from what it was like in Russia back in the ’40s or something, we’re talking about in America, right now.

And you know what? Here’s where I get to stop and praise the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and there’s a lesson out here I think for the audience in the whole thing about: well, if I don’t do it, who will? And somebody’s got to do it. [If] you guys don’t file this lawsuit, it doesn’t get filed. And that’s the way space-time works, you know – somebody’s actually got to do the work to try to stop them, the best way whoever it is knows how, and I’m so thankful that there are people like you who have the credentials and the ability to file these suits and try to challenge this madness. And so thank you.

Kebriaei: Oh thank you.

Horton: And thank you for your time on the show today.

Kebriaei: Thank you for having me.

Dahr Jamail

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_03_jamail.mp3]

Dahr Jamail, author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, discusses how U.S. involvement in Iraq intensified after 1958, continued U.S. support for Saddam Hussein during his worst atrocities, the April Glaspie moment and infamous Madeleine Albright soundbite, the 1990s decade of bombing a sanctions-crippled Iraq, what Obama really means by “withdrawal” and how Nouri al-Maliki continues to wield power while the rest of Iraq’s government remains impotent.

MP3 here. (31:21)

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, and The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight In Iraq and Afghanistan. His Mideast dispatches can be found at his website, Alternet.org and Antiwar.com.

Gareth Porter

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_08_03_porter.mp3]

Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses Obama’s weasel-worded admission that combat brigades will remain in Iraq despite his promise to remove them by Sept. 1, 2010, new doubts on the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline on withdrawing all U.S. forces from Iraq and why Iraq’s government still has the last word on whether the U.S. ultimately stays or leaves.

MP3 here. (8:46)

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

Mike Gogulski

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_07_30_kpfk_gogulski.mp3]

This recording is excerpted from the KPFK Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman  program of July 30th. The complete recording can be heard here.

Mike Gogulski, founder of the Help Bradley Manning website, discusses Manning’s brig transfer from Kuwait to Virginia and his status on suicide watch, the involvement of Courage to Resist in fundraising efforts for Manning’s legal defense and how sympathizers can donate or volunteer to help Bradley Manning.

MP3 here. (11:23) Transcript below.

Mike Gogulski is the founder and frequent contributor to the Help Bradley Manning website.

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Transcript – Scott Horton interviews Mike Gogulski, July 30, 2010

Scott Horton: All right, everybody, it’s Scott Horton here from Antiwar.com, filling in for Suzi Weissman. And our next guest on the show is Mike Gogulski, from BradleyManning.org. Welcome to the show, Mike, how are you?

Michael Gogulski: Good afternoon, thanks, glad to be here.

Horton: Well I appreciate you joining us. Tell us about Bradley – well, actually, before you tell us about BradleyManning.org, tell us about Bradley Manning. There are a lot of people who may be driving around, flipping through the dial, who haven’t really heard this story in much detail.

Gogulski: Well, Bradley Manning is the 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist who has been accused of leaking, first, a damning video to WikiLeaks back earlier this year, and then has now been linked to the leak of the 90-some-thousand “Afghan War Logs” that has dominated so much of the news this past week. He was imprisoned in Kuwait at a field consignment facility, and yesterday he was moved to the military brig at Quantico, Virginia, where he is now reportedly on suicide watch.

Horton: Really. I guess that’s the latest development. I heard that he was in Virginia earlier today. And now, do you know whether it was strange or not that they held him in Kuwait for four weeks before they even charged him? I’m not as familiar with the Uniform Code of Military Justice as, you know, a typical American arrest.

Gogulski: Yeah, I’m not entirely certain, although from what I understand, the normal procedure is that a soldier arrested in the field would be held at a field consignment facility at or near their place of deployment. Perhaps because Baghdad is a combat zone, there was no such facility available there, and therefore he was moved to Kuwait, at least temporarily.

Horton: Okay, and now, another four weeks later, after they finally charged him, they brought him back to Virginia, and you say that he’s on suicide watch tonight?

Gogulski: That’s the latest thing that I’ve seen reported. The first place I saw it was on the Telegraph, and Google News says that 605 other news sources have the story as well.

Horton: Okay. Well, let’s hope they watch him.

Gogulski: It’s an opportunity for people to make their support for him known. On the most recent article on BradleyManning.org, there are two comments giving the mailing address, the fax number, and also the telephone number for the brig at Quantico, so there’s an opportunity there for anybody who wants to phone, fax, or mail in and express support to do so.

Horton: Well, that’s a really good point. Being held in isolation for a month, or more, two months, in Kuwait, without really being able to hear about the response to his story in the general society is probably part of what he’s so depressed about. If he knew how many people like yourself are standing behind him, I’d say he would feel a little bit better.

Gogulski: I’d like to hope so.

Horton: All right, and this kid again is facing 54 years in prison – I should say young man, 54 years in prison, Private Bradley Manning. So, I guess, let’s talk a little bit about BradleyManning.org. How quickly after you heard this kid’s story did you set up this website, Mike?

Gogulski: I believe the story broke on June 10, or maybe on June 8. I registered the domain name a couple of days after that, and a couple days subsequently I put up the website and kind of launched this, and at this point I’m kind of overwhelmed because I didn’t really expect that there was going to be this much support and this much to do, so it’s rapidly consuming my life.

The most important thing that we’re doing right now is we just launched earlier this week a defense fund where we’ve partnered with Courage to Resist, which is a project of a 501(c)(3) organization, so people who would like to donate to Bradley’s legal defense can do so tax deductible. There’s a big red button up at BradleyManning.org website that’ll take you directly there. It’s also very pleasing to announce that in the first 48 hours, or slightly less, of launching that effort, we’ve raised $9,100, so we’re well on the way to being able to fund a vigorous defense.

Horton: Right on. I am Scott Horton. I’m talking with Mike Gogulski, and we’re talking about young Bradley Manning, who has been charged with leaking the “Collateral Murder” video, and the DoD is telling the papers they think that he’s also the leaker of the Afghan War Logs as well, and Mike has set up this website, BradleyManning.org. Now I need you to please tell us a little bit more about Courage to Resist, and if – you know, anybody could set up a website that says Bradley Manning on it, Mike. If people did want to contribute, they would have to be assured that there are lawyers and that this is legitimate, that the money is going to go where you say it’s going to go.

Gogulski: Yes. For the moment, Courage to Resist is holding a fund earmarked for Bradley and subject to, you know, the reporting requirements that go along with being a legally constituted nonprofit corporation. Courage to Resist is an organization which supports military resisters of different types. They organized and supported the defense, for example, of Lieutenant Ehren Watada, who refused to deploy to Iraq, and now they’re supporting this effort as well. The founder, Jeff Patterson, who’s made a number of media appearances, also refused to deploy back in the first Gulf War and was tried before a court martial. So none of the money that is donated via the website actually goes through my hands. It all goes directly into the accounts of the International Humanity Center, which is Courage to Resist’s parent organization.

Horton: Okay, now, we have the phone numbers here if people want to call the brig in Virginia and let the military know that they would like for Bradley Manning to be notified that he has support out here. Here’s two phone numbers for you: The brig supervisor is 703-784-6873. The company gunny is 703-432-6154. And, well, you want to go ahead and give out the fax and everything, here?

Alan Minsky: This is Alan Minsky, I have important – people want to listen to what I have to say, in one minute, let me give the rest of the information out. And by the way, Mike, over there, I’m Sancho Panza to Scott’s Don Quixote this hour here. So the brig’s fax –

Horton: [laughs] Chewie to my Han Solo.

Minsky: There we go. The brig fax is 703-784-4242. All of the area codes are 703. Okay? And then the mailing address is 3247 Elrod Avenue, Quantico, Virginia, and the zip is 22134.

Now I happened to be watching Larry King interview Michael Moore. I don’t know if Mike knows about this, but on Tuesday Larry King asked Michael Moore about Bradley Manning, and Michael Moore – the filmmaker, you know, Capitalism A Love Story, Roger and Me, etc. – said he feels that people should be hailing him as a hero and that people should support his legal defense fund.

That’s from the filmmaker Michael Moore, and I do believe, Mike, you can probably locate that interview on the – I’m just going to look for it, Larry King Live, CNN, and maybe you want to throw that up on your website there. But Michael Moore very clearly said he views Bradley Manning as a hero and he feels that people should support him and should support his legal defense fund.

Horton: And, by the way, everybody, all those phone numbers, all that information, if you want to call the brig or fax them or mail them to support Bradley Manning, all of that information is available at BradleyManning.org in the comments section on the front page there. Mike, you were going to say?

Gogulski: Yeah, well, I’ve seen the interview with Michael Moore, and – fantastic. He’s also been linking to BradleyManning.org from his website, which has brought a lot of visitors this way.

The other thing is that we have arranged for a very prominent attorney with substantial experience in defending cases in the military courts, very high profile, wants to meet on Monday by phone with Manning to discuss possibly representing him. If Bradley doesn’t select this attorney, there are another two of similar prominence in the queue behind him, so we’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to put together an excellent defense.

Horton: All right now, are you already in contact with his family, and you’re working with them together? I kind of get the idea that there might be a few different groups trying a few different things here, and not necessarily coordinating.

Gogulski: The coordination has been somewhat haphazard to date. I have been in touch with a member of his family who has been nominated by Bradley to handle the funds for the legal defense, and I’ve also been in touch with the military lawyers who are on the case. They’re based in Baghdad, but I confirmed with them last night that they are still on the case despite it being transferred to Virginia.

Horton: Okay, now, again everybody, it’s Mike Gogulski from BradleyManning.org, and if people were interested in participating in helping Bradley Manning, by going to BradleyManning.org, what else should they know?

Gogulski: There’s also an opportunity for volunteers. We’re forming up a steering committee right now to kind of, you know, put together an agenda and a program and guide this organization forward. We’ve got an opportunity to build partnerships with other organizations and individuals who can bring more media attention, more activism off the internet as well as on, and really get behind this effort to support Manning whatever the outcome of his legal process is.

Horton: Well, you know, it seems like the War Party and all their myna birds like to try to focus on how, well, “despondent” Bradley Manning supposedly was. That was the Washington Post headline, and I think if you search for “Manning” and “despondent” you’ll get 700,000 results or something. That’s the best that they can do to attack him is say that he was sad. And yet, you know, if we believe the chat logs posted at Wired.com and at the Washington Post, he makes it pretty clear in there, doesn’t he, that he was horrified to find out some of the things that he was finding out about America’s war in Iraq, and that was really what motivated him to liberate these documents for us. This video.

Gogulski: Yes. That’s certainly what was in there, and I have to say that I think if folks look around at the world and what’s going on on the world stage with open eyes, I think despair is really the appropriate reaction.

Horton: Yeah. Fair enough. All right, everybody, that is Mike Gogulski from BradleyManning.org. They’re raising money for his legal defense, and they can prove it’s legit. Go and look at the site.

Minsky: Yes, thank you so much, and thank you so much for your courage in what you’re doing, Mike.

Gogulski: Thanks for having me on.

Aaron Glantz

[audio:http://dissentradio.com/radio/10_07_30_kpfk_glantz.mp3]

This recording is excerpted from the KPFK Beneath The Surface with Suzi Weissman  program of July 30th. The complete recording can be heard here.

Aaron Glantz, author of The War Comes Home: Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans, discusses the lawsuit against Prudential Insurance Co. of America for stealing the interest earned from veterans’ life insurance policies, the increasing expense and lowered expectations required to meet military recruitment goals, the long history of veterans denied benefits by the government and some tips on navigating the enormous VA bureaucracy.

MP3 here. (9:19)

Aaron Glantz is an independent journalist who specializes on the impact of war on those who have experiened it directly: soldiers and civilians, aid workers and journalists. Aaron reported extensively from inside Iraq from 2003 to 2005 and has been covering veterans’ issues since his return to the United States.

Aaron’s work has appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, San Francisco Chronicle, The American Prospect, Forbes, Inter Press Service, Alternet and on Democracy Now! and Yahoo! News. He is a Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow at the Carter Center and a Fellow at the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media at Columbia University Teachers College.

In addition to The War Comes Home, he is author of the San Francisco Chronicle best-seller, How America Lost Iraq, and co-author of Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan.