Afghanistan

John Kiriakou in Houston for a KPFT benefit August 12th

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Please join listeners and supporters of The Monitor radio show and KPFT 90.1 FM for a lively discussion and booksigning with John Kiriakou

omenojqDoors open at 6:30
Tickets $20 General Admission / $10 Students
No one will be turned away for lack of funds Tickets available online
Books and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Please note that if you made a pledge for this book in KPFT’s recent membership drive, we will have it for you at the event.  Those not picked up will be shipped from our office the following week.

John Kiriakou became an anti-torture whistleblower and activist when he told ABC News in December 2007 that the CIA was torturing prisoners, that torture was official U.S. government policy, and that the policy was approved by the President.  John was driven to ruin by the Justice Department because of these revelations.

Immediately after John’s interview, the Justice Department initiated a years-long investigation, determined to find something–anything–to charge him with.  This was his payback for blowing the whistle on the torture program.

John eventually was charged with three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and one count of making a false statement as a result of the 2007 ABC News interview.  Finally, in order to avoid the risk of spending 45 years in prison, John accepted a plea to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.  All other charges were dropped.  Even though he had no criminal intent, and there was no harm to the national security, accepting the plea resulted in a sentence of 30 months in prison.

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From 1990 until March 2004, first as an analyst, and later as a counterterrorism operations officer,  John Kiriakou served in the Central Intelligence Agency. He became chief of counterterrorist operations in Pakistan following the September 11 attacks acting as a senior operations officer. His tour culminated in the March 2002 with the capture of Abu Zubaydah, al-Qa’ida’s third-ranking official.

When he returned from Pakistan, John was named Executive Assistant to the CIA’s Deputy Director for Operations. In that capacity, John was the principal Iraq briefer for the Director of Central Intelligence.

John then became senior investigator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee after a brief time in the private sector, where he focused on international terrorism, piracy, and counternarcotics.  Additionally, John served as senior intelligence advisor to the Committee’s chairman, Senator John Kerry.

Following his service on the Hill, John became an intelligence and counterterrorism consultant and author.

John Kiriakou was our guest on The Monitor last April when he discussed his new book Doing Time Like A Spy. His book is a memoir of his twenty-three months in prison. Using twenty life skills he learned in CIA operational training, he was able to keep himself safe and at the top of the prison social heap. Including his award-winning blog series “Letters from Loretto,” Doing Time Like a Spy is at once a searing journal of daily prison life and an alternately funny and heartbreaking commentary on the federal prison system.

Show Details for the week of June 26th, 2015

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This is the final week of the Pledge Drive for KPFT. The Monitor has a goal of $800. Please help us reach that goal by calling in your pledge of support at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.

Our guest this week on The Monitor  is J. Michael Springmann. You can get a copy of his book Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb by calling in your pledge of $75 at 713-526-5738 or by pledging online at kpft.org.michael-springman-book

Topic: Europe is under siege, flooded by wave after wave of migrants and refugees from destabilized nations. What drives this trend—and what awaits the continent if its borders collapse?

They come from across the Middle East, South Asia, North Africa—floods of refugees seeking sanctuary in Europe. Most are men. Some are terrorists. And all represent an ethnopolitical nightmare for the European Union.

What drives these migrants? Why, instead of seeking out nations with common ethnic and religious ties, do they instead head north and west, where few speak their language or share a common culture?

In Goodbye,Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb, former diplomat J. Michael Springmann provides an in-depth analysis of the migrant flood, its causes, and what it means for Europe. Building on arguments put forward in his previous work, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World, the ex–State Department official and attorney reveals how US foreign policy created the crisis.

Springmann’s insider knowledge of US policy permeates this insightful, sometimes terrifying look at a world where migrants become weapons, nationalism is condemned, and civil liberties hang in the balance.

As the world watches the destruction of Syria and the flood of refugees into Europe, few bother to ask some important questions: Who benefits? Who provides refugees with the resources they need to head north and west? Why are most migrants male, and why is Europe a favored destination?

About our guest:

J. Michael Springmann, a career official with both the Commerce and State departments. He was economic/commercial officer in Stuttgart (1977–1980), a commercial attaché in New Delhi (1980–1982), a visa officer in Jeddah (1987–1989), a political/economic officer in Stuttgart (1989–1991), and, finally, an economic analyst at the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (1991). He is the author of Visas for Al Qaedea: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World and Goodbye, Europe? Hello, Chaos? Merkel’s Migrant Bomb

Show Details for the week of May 8th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

I am unable to be in the studio this week. Rather than play an older show I am playing the last part of a documentary series made in 2004. The series “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear” is a BBC television series by Adam Curtis. It mainly consists of archive footage, with Curtis narrating. The series was originally broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2004. It has subsequently been aired in multiple countries and shown at various film festivals, including the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

The film compares the rise of the neoconservative movement in the United States and the radical Islamist movement, drawing comparisons between their origins, and remarking on similarities between the two groups. More controversially, it argues that radical Islamism as a massive, sinister organisation, specifically in the form of al-Qaeda, is a myth, or noble lie, perpetuated by leaders of many countries—and particularly neoconservatives in the U.S.—in a renewed attempt to unite and inspire their people after the ultimate failure of utopian ideas. Part 3, played on the show this week is called “The Shadows in the Cave”. Short synopsis:

The neoconservatives use the September 11 attacks, with al-Fadl’s description of al-Qaeda, to launch the War on Terror. The final part addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorists, and were dependent on independent operatives to carry out their new call for jihad. However, the film argues that in order to prosecute bin Laden in absentia for the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, U.S. prosecutors had to prove that he is the head of a criminal organisation responsible for the bombings. They find a former associate of bin Laden, Jamal al-Fadl, and pay him to testify that bin Laden is the head of a massive terrorist organisation called “al-Qaeda”. With the September 11 attacks, neoconservatives in the new Republican administration of George W. Bush use this invented concept of an organisation to justify another crusade against a new enemy, culminating in the launch of the War on Terror. After the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist organisation, the Bush administration focuses inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. In 2003, they extend the War on Terror to a war on general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq. The ideas and tactics also spread to the United Kingdom, where Tony Blair uses the threat of terrorism to give him a new moral authority. The repercussions of the neoconservative strategy are also explored, with an investigation of indefinitely-detained terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, many allegedly taken on the word of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance without actual investigation on the part of the United States military, and other forms of “preemption” against non-existent and unlikely threats made simply on the grounds that the parties involved had the potential to become a threat. Curtis specifically attempts to allay fears of a dirty bomb attack, and concludes by reassuring viewers that politicians will eventually have to concede that some threats are exaggerated and others have no foundation in reality. He says, “In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.”the-power-of-nightmares-the-rise-of-the-politics-of-fear-33448

Show Details for the week of January 23rd, 2017

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KPFT is in Pledge Drive and this is your last chance to support The Monitor. The show has a goal of $880 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!

KPFT has all the usual thank you gifts available at various pledge levels but this week’s show is going to offer copies of the documentary “HyperNormalisation” on DVD (more about the documentary below). This DVD is available at a pledge level of $90 if you call during the show.

More about HyperNormalisation:

220px-hypernormalisationThis week’s show features excerpts from HyperNormalisation, a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. The film was released on 16 October 2016. In the film, Curtis argues that since the 1970s, governments, financiers, and technological utopians have given up on the complex “real world” and built a simple “fake world” that is run by corporations and kept stable by politicians. The documentary runs for more than 2.5 hours and features some rare archival footage that starts in the 1970s and takes the viewer on a thought-provoking journey all the way up to the election of Donald Trump.

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Starting  in 1975 with the fiscal crisis in New York City and the emergence of the idea that financial systems could run society; Curtis brings in the shuttle diplomacy between then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Middle Eastern leaders in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the subsequent retreat by Hafez al-Assad of Syria and the onset of hypernormalisation in the Soviet Union. Then, following the United States’ involvement in the 1982 Lebanon War, a vengeful al-Assad made an alliance with Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran to February 1984, when the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Lebanon because, in the words of then-US Secretary of State George P. Shultz, “we became paralyzed by the complexity that we faced”. For the remaining 2 hours Curtis takes you on a journey, full of rare footage, that is sure to make you think.

Get a copy of this fascinating documentary with a pledge of $90 to KPFT during the show. You can do so only by calling 713.526.5738 during the show and telling the volunteers that you want a copy of HyperNormalisation. Once we have a final tally of listeners wanting a copy I will take care of the rest.

Don’t help me set the table
Cause now there’s one less place
I won’t lay mama’s silver
For a man who won’t say grace
If home is where the heart is
Then your home’s on the street
Me, I’ll read a good book
Turn out the lights and go to sleep

— ”Standing Room Only” from This Is Barbara Mandrell

Hammering for Peace, by Kathy Kelly

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Hammering for Peace
by Kathy Kelly

May 25, 2016

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Jessica Reznick arrested outside of Northrop Grumman Corporation in Nebraska. Photo via tumblr

Last winter, at the Voices home/office in Chicago, we welcomed two friends who were in town for a Mennonite church gathering focused on the symbol of beating swords into plowshares. Their project embraces a vision from the biblical “Book of Isaiah” which longs for the day when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they study war anymore.”  Our friends quite literally enact this vision. They use saws to cut guns and rifles in half and then hammer on the broken weapons, turning them into useful tools for gardening and light construction.

Throughout the service, one of the men could be seen, on a screen, standing outside the Mennonite church hall, fashioning, with hammer and anvil, a rifle into a garden tool. Sparks flew with his hammer, but no-one was inflamed into anger. The fire our friends wanted to ignite was inside us. With what work can we replace war? If we are no longer training for war, what else could we be doing?” 

That winter night, at the Mennonite church, I couldn’t help but think of another activist who had swung a tool last December, in this case, a sledgehammer, because she was inspired to confront weapon makers and encourage alternatives to war. Jessica Reznicek, age 34, didn’t own the weapon system she wanted to transform.  But she felt responsible to help the general public own up to its complicity with weapon systems funded by U.S. taxpayers. She took a sledgehammer to the doors of a major weapon producing company, Northrop Grumman, outside Offut Air Force base. In a written statement explaining why she swung her tool at the plate glass, Jessica asks people to understand that Northrop Grumman’s weapon systems shatter and destroy the lives of people the world over.

As one of the manufacturers with the largest share of the global Unmanned Aerial Systems market, (18.9%), Northrop Grumman profits immensely from peddling complex weapon systems often designed to be eyes in the skies monitoring targets for assassination. This kind of surveillance and extrajudicial execution generates intense anger and backlashes in other lands. It also promotes proliferation of robotic weapons. But the U.S. military and acquiescent institutions encourage us to feel that we’ve been made safer by complex weapons of destruction, and we should instead be frightened of a young woman wielding a sledgehammer to break a plate glass window.

 

On May 24, Jessica Reznicek went go to a trial in Nebraska, expected to last two days, for her action. She has chosen to go “pro se,” – to defend herself. Courts in the U.S. seldom allow the necessity defense. If the judge in Jessica’s case does so, Jessica could try to defend herself saying she acted to prevent a greater harm.  She could establish that the U.S. government consistently provides Northrop Grumman with lavish funding, devoting immense resources of materials and scientific ingenuity to the study of war, all desperately needed elsewhere. Northrop Grumman steadily experiments in perfecting the high-tech advantage of an empire bent on endlessly dominating the world through endless war.

I wish that the testimony of my friends who literally beat guns into garden tools   could be part of the courtroom proceeding.  They urge us to make guns and other weapons unnecessary, using raw tools of compassion and service to heal the conflicts in which weapons are used. I wish my young Afghan friends here in Kabul, who live under constant surveillance of Unmanned Aerial Systems, could testify about their desire to refine tools of peace making and constructive service.

They could assure the court that it’s far more worthwhile to develop raw tools for producing needed goods and services than to develop weapon systems of mass destruction.

Jessica’s action makes me wonder if the “norm” in our society is the opposite of the biblical plowshares exhortation.  Our major institutions study the ways of war comprehensively and our “top crop” in the U.S. has become weapons.     Jessica encourages, one might even say provokes, discussion of the role militarism plays in our world.

I hope the words of a legendary barrister in Ireland, Mr. Nix, who defended “The Pitstop Plowshares,” can be recalled as Jessica’s trial nears conclusion. Shortly before the U.S. led coalition began bombing Iraq in 2003, five activists invoked the swords to plowhsares saying from the Book of Isaiah and hammered on a U.S. warplane parked on the tarmac of Shannon airport.  Ireland is a neutral country, and they believed that the U.S. Navy warplanes making “pitstops” en route to a war zone violated that neutrality. They undertook the action shortly after attending a retreat during which the Sisters of St. Brigid, in Kildare, Ireland had asked me to speak about Iraqis who suffered under 13 years of U.S. led UN economic sanctions.   Before returning to Baghdad, I gave  them enlarged, laminated photos of  Iraqi children who were among the half million who died, according to the U.N., as a direct result of economic sanctions along with photos of children killed  by an earlier U.S. aerial attack on the city of Basra. They used these photos to set up a memorial shrine next to the warplane they had damaged. Mr. Nix, preparing for trial, asked that I come to Dublin as a witness to help establish the defendants’ motivations. I will never forget  his closing statement in which he delivered a fiery indictment of war makers and described the hideous punishment wars inflict on innocent people, especially children. He ended his remarks by addressing  everyone assembled in Dublin’s Four Courts, saying:  “The question isn’t ‘Did these five have a lawful excuse to do what they did?’ The question is ‘What’s your excuse not to do more? What will rise ye?!’ The Irish jury acquitted the defendants on all charges.

No matter what the outcome of Jessica’s trial, Mr. Nix’s question, “What will rise ye?” abides. How can we, each of us, help lift the hammer of justice, cultivating a world at peace.

Kathy Kelly (Kathy@vcnv.org) co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence.  (www.vcnv.org)She is writing from Kabul where she is a guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. (ourjourneytosmile.com)

Show Details for the week of May 23rd, 2016

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KPFT is in Pledge Drive and this is your final chance to support The Monitor. The show has a goal of $650 for the hour. Please call 713.526.5738 during the show to pledge your support. You can also donate securely online at https://pledge.kpft.org/ Just select The Monitor from the list of shows and enter your details. Thank you!

This week we feature an interview with Mark Karlin during which we will discuss some of his recent articles and the importance of independent media.

More about this week’s guest:

markkarlin-0Mark Karlin is the editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout. He served as editor and publisher of BuzzFlash for 10 years before joining Truthout in 2010. BuzzFlash has won four Project Censored Awards. Karlin writes a commentary five days a week for BuzzFlash, as well as articles (ranging from the failed “war on drugs” to reviews relating to political art) for Truthout. He also interviews authors and filmmakers whose works are featured in Truthout’s Progressive Picks of the Week. Before linking with Truthout, Karlin conducted interviews with cultural figures, political progressives and innovative advocates on a weekly basis for 10 years. He authored many columns about the lies propagated to launch the Iraq War.

Some of his recent articles:

Thomas Frank: Bill Clinton’s Five Major Achievements Were Longstanding GOP Objectives

Co-Chair of 9/11 Task Force Wants Secret Saudi Involvement Document Released

Terrorism Is Profitable for US Weapons Manufacturers

Donald Trump Claims He Didn’t Know His Former Butler for Many Years and Current Pal Is a Rabid Racist, Misogynist and Islamophobic in the Most Vulgar Way

Thank you gifts!

You can still get a copy of Peter Van Buren’s We Meant Well: How I 51avkcm9n5l-_sx327_bo1204203200_Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People by pledging $60 or more to support KPFT and The Monitor.

 

We also still have copies of Nation on the Take by Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman as a NationOnTheTakehirezthank you gift for your donation of $90 or more. This book exposes legalized corruption and links it to kitchen-table issues. We spoke to Wendell on the April 25th show so take a list to that for a preview of the book

Show Details for the week of May 2nd, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Can a Single Injection Save Soldiers Suffering from PTSD? An interview with Matt Farwell
  • Educational effort to save whales, oceans, and people. An interview with Maris Sidenstecker II

More about this week’s guests:

MattBFarwell

Matt Farwell was a soldier in the United States Army from 2005 to 2010. After infantry and airborne training at Fort Benning, Ga., he was assigned to the Tenth Mountain Division’s Second Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan for 16 months. Before enlisting, he studied government and history at the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar and graduated from the United World College of the American West as a Davis Scholar. He recently wrote in Playboy of a revolutionary treatment for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The treatment is an anesthetic injection into nerves located in the side of the neck which, in lay terms, resets the veteran’s survival instinct, reducing the brain and body chemicals that lead to many of the emotional, mental and behavioral issues, including suicidality, that veterans endure upon returning home from war. The doctor performing this procedure reports a 70-80% success rate in the nearly 300 patients he has treated. What this treatment is helping to demonstrate, and as many of us with PTSD have seemed to understand for quite some time now, is that there is a biological, chemical or neurological element to PTSD that is resistant to standard psychological or psychiatric treatment.You can read a selection of Matt’s work in Vanity Fair, Maxim, The New York Times, Rolling Stone (w/ Michael Hastings) “America’s Last Prisoner of War”, Rolling Stone (w/ Michael Hastings) “The Spy Who Cracked up in the Cold”, PBS Media Shift. You can follow Matt on twitter here:@mattbfarwell

 

marisstwteemsmMaris Sidenstecker II is co-founder of Save The Whales, founded in 1977. She designed a T-shirt at the age of 14 to save the whales after reading how they were slaughtered and has carried the passion of protecting marine life throughout her life. She developed and implemented hands-on interactive classroom programs for school children and has educated over 280,000 students about protecting the fragile oceans and the life within it. As a student, she assisted with field research on orca pods in Washington State and British Columbia. Maris is also an accomplished artist and followed up her original T-shirt with other designs. B.A. double major in Marine Biology/Zoology from Humboldt State University, California. Awards: Educator of the Year award in 2007 from The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), 2009 Member of The Year by Madison Who’s Who. The Save The Whales campaign is global in scope and dedicated to conservation. Based in Seaside CA, Save The Whales marine biologists’ travel throughout Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties to educate students to help protect the oceans. Each year they educate 6,000-7,000 students with hands-on, science based programs about whales, otters, sea turtles, and endangered species.  Saving 10,000 marine animals from death from US Navy Ship Shock tests in 1994 was a ground breaking victory for Save The Whales. They reach an international audience through their website, E-newsletters and Facebook site. Since 1977, Save The Whales has educated over 305,000 school children with hands-on educational programs.