On The Monitor this week:
- Victor Wallis on Harvard rescinding Chelsea Manning’s visiting fellowship after CIA director cancels event calling Manning a “traitor”
- Jon Schwarz on North Korea, how the media is covering the story and the things we are not being told
More about this week’s guests:
Victor Wallis, is professor of liberal arts at Berklee College of Music (Boston) and managing editor of Socialism and Democracy. He is a member of the Harvard College class of 1959 and was among several Harvard graduates who presented a petition in Cambridge at the office of the Kennedy School’s dean, Douglas Elmendorf. The Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics cancelled the invitation to Manning after intense pressure from top CIA officials. The cancellation came shortly after the acting director of the Institute, Bill Delahunt, had publicly declared: “We welcome the breadth of thought-provoking viewpoints on race, gender, politics and the media.” The RootsAction petition presented on Friday says: “By revoking Chelsea Manning’s fellowship, you have disgraced the Harvard Kennedy School. By caving in to pressure from present and former top officials of the CIA, you have jettisoned academic freedom. By deciding that it is appropriate for Sean Spicer but not Chelsea Manning to retain a fellowship, you have failed to fulfill Harvard’s responsibility to be independent of government power and coercion. During his stint at the Trump White House, Mr. Spicer earned a reputation for lying. As a whistleblower, Ms. Manning earned a reputation for truth-telling. It is a sad day when a record of facile mendacity is more revered at Harvard than a record of revealing difficult truths.”
Before joining First Look, Jon Schwarz worked for Michael Moore’s Dog Eat Dog Films and was Research Producer for Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.” He’s contributed to many publications, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, and Slate, as well as NPR and “Saturday Night Live.”In 2003 he collected on a $1,000 bet that Iraq would have no weapons of mass destruction.
Recent articles on North Korea:
Please join listeners and supporters of The Monitor radio show and KPFT 90.1 FM for a lively discussion and booksigning with John Kiriakou
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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:
This 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.
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
May 25, 2016
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)
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:
Mark 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:
Thank you gifts!
You can still get a copy of Peter Van Buren’s We Meant Well: How I 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 thank 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