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Peter’s commentary has been featured in The New York Times, Reuters, Salon, NPR, Al Jazeera, Huffington Post, The Nation, TomDispatch, Antiwar.com, American Conservative Magazine, Mother Jones, Michael Moore.com, Le Monde, Japan Times, Asia Times, The Guardian (UK), Daily Kos, Middle East Online, Guernica and others. He has appeared on the BBC World Service, NPR’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air, CurrentTV, HuffPo Live, RT, ITV, Britain’s Channel 4 Viewpoint, Dutch Television, CCTV, Voice of America, and more. His second book, Ghosts of Tom Joad, A Story of the #99Percent (2014) is fiction about the social and economic changes in America between WWII and the decline of the blue collar middle class in the 1980’s. You can read some of his recent work on The Nation website.
Toby C Jones on America’s Oil Wars and the military-energy complex in the Persian Gulf
Kani Xulam on Turkey’s “Dirty War” Against the Kurds
More about this week’s guests:
Toby C. Jonesis associate professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick where he also directs the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the M.A. program in Global and Comparative History. He teaches courses on global environmental history, energy, and the modern Middle East. Jones has traveled and worked extensively in the Middle East, including in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. His more recent work examines the global history of oil, including the recent energy boom in the United States. During 2008-2009 he was a fellow at Princeton University’s Oil, Energy, and the Middle East project. From 2004 to early 2006 Jones worked as the Persian Gulf political analyst for the International Crisis Group.
Jones is the author of two books. The first, Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia was published by Harvard University Press in 2010. The second, Running Dry: Essays on Energy, Water and Environmental Crisis, published by Rutgers University Press, appeared in 2015. He is currently working on a third book, America’s Long War, which is under contract at Harvard University Press. He has written for both scholarly and general audiences, including at the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of American History, Middle East Report, Raritan Quarterly Review, The Nation, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, the New York Times, and elsewhere. In 2015 Jones was recognized as a Rutgers Chancellor’s Scholar for distinguished scholarship.
Jones appears regularly on local and national media discussing political developments and challenges in the Middle East, including at NPR, the BBC, Democracy Now!, and others.
Kani Xulam is director of the American Kurdish Information Network and a native of Kurdistan.He studied International Relations at the University of Toronto, holds a BA in history from the University of California Santa Barbara and an MA in the International Service program at American University. At the University of Toronto, he represented Kurdistan at the Model United Nations, which passed a nonbinding resolution recognizing the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination.At the University of California Santa Barbara, he was part of a group of peace activists who protested the first Gulf War by taking part in a sit-in at Chancellor’s office in January 1991. Everyone was arrested. Mr. Xulam pled not guilty, defended himself, and was sentenced to 18 hours of community service to plant saplings in Santa Barbara. In 1993, at the urging of Kurdish community leaders in America, he left his family business in Santa Barbara, California to establish the American Kurdish Information Network (AKIN) in the nation’s capital. AKIN is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering Kurdish-American understanding and friendship.
In 1997, he took part in a hunger strike on the steps of the Capitol urging members of Congress to use their good offices on behalf of their imprisoned Kurdish colleagues. 153 members signed a letter urging President Clinton to intervene on the matter. Mr. Xulam, on the advice of his physician, ended his fast on the 32nd day.
Kani Xulam recently wrote the piece “A Kurdish Girl’s Lonely Death,” for CounterPunch and is continuing a vigil outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. — now in its eleventh week — protesting Turkish attacks on Kurds.
We discuss the topic of torture for the whole hour with two guests to try to answer some of the most important questions, including: Has the U.S. ended the use of torture? Does torture produce “actionable intelligence”? What was the real purpose of the torture policy? Is there a need for an investigation of Guantanamo? Our guests are Jeffrey Kaye and Mark Fallon.
More about this week’s guests:
Jeffrey Kaye is a clinical psychologist in private practice in San Francisco and an independent journalist investigating human rights issues. He has worked professionally with torture victims and asylum applicants. Active in the anti-torture movement since 2006, he has his own blog, Invictus, and writes regularly for Firedoglake’s The Dissenter. He has published previously at Truthout, Alternet, and The Public Record. Follow him on Twitter.
Quote: “While the politicians play political football with the lives of prisoners at Guantanamo, the abuses and crimes that took place there — indeed may still be taking place — go unremarked and unexamined. For instance, former prisoners claim they were forcefully drugged at the facility. We need an independent investigation of all that has really taken place at DoD detention sites in the ‘war on terror,’ from Guantanamo to Bagram, from Diego Garcia to the Navy brig in Charleston, South Carolina.”
Mark Fallon served for more than 30 years in the federal law enforcement and counterintelligence community. He served as Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Special Agent, and as Assistant Director for Training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center within the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Fallon has been involved in many prominent cases, including the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, and as serving as Commander of the USS Cole Task Force. He is the Director of ClubFed, LLC and specializes in providing strategic consulting services to clients in the public and private sector on developing knowledge and enhancing performance in alignment with mission objectives. Mark is the author of the upcoming book We Tortured Some Folks – Terrorizing The American Way.
Mark has been involved in some of the most significant terrorism investigations and operations in recent history, including the prosecution of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (known as “the Blind Sheik”) and the attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67).
Following the attacks of 9/11, Mark was appointed the Deputy Commander and Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Defense (DOD) Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), responsible for the investigation of terrorists possible trials before Military Commission and assessing the potential risks associated with the release or transfer of detained terrorist suspects. He led forward deployed elements in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. You can watch a video of a talk by Mark Fallon on YouTube and you can follow him on Twitter.
You can follow here on twitter here and read her articles about Syria here. The interview attempts to dissect the divergent narratives presented about Syria in the media and to get an eyewitness account from somebody who has actually been there. It is sure to cause some controversy.
Edward Djerejian is a former United States diplomat who served in eight administrations from John F. Kennedy to Bill Clinton (1962–94.) He served as the United States Ambassador to Syria (1988–91) and Israel (1993–94), Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Deputy Press Secretary of Foreign Affairs (1985-1986), and was Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1991-1993.) He is the director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and is the author of the book Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador’s Journey Through the Middle East. You can read his full bio here and follow him on twitter here
The main focus of the interview is Ambassador Djerejian’s policy brief on ISIS titled A STRATEGY TOWARD DEFEATING ISIS in which he argued that recent attacks were an opportunity for a U.S.-led coalition to come together to defeat a common enemy. Full text available online in English (CME-ISIS-111915) and Arabic (CME-ISIS-Arabic-122115).
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”This book provides much-needed analysis of why America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.” —from the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
“Very important book… In a few months we will commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which, despite the limits of the day, established the founding principle of modern law: presumption of innocence. Today that principle has been rescinded. Guilty verdicts are no longer to be rendered by a jury of peers, but by a White House session deciding who we are going to kill today along with whatever unfortunates happen to be in the vicinity of the drone attack. As these valuable essays show, Obama s global terror campaign is a menace to the world, and Americans are not likely to escape unscathed.” Noam Chomsky
You can also get a copy of Censored 2016: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2014-15 for a pledge of $90.
“Project Censored’s list of the top stories that get very little mainstream media traction should in fact drive the reporting agendas of every major news outlet. These 25 stories are clearly the most consequential of the year, and what is scary in looking at the list is how obvious it is that silencing reports of these themes protects corrupt governments and corporate gatekeepers. Project Censored is a lifeline to the world’s most urgent and significant stories.” –Naomi Wolf
More about this week’s guest: Marjorie Cohn has been a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law since 1991. In summer 2016, she will become Professor Emeritus, and will continue to lecture, write, and provide media commentary. A former news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, Professor Cohn has been a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.
Understanding Middle East Power Struggles – Moving Beyond the Notion of Sunni-Shi’i Conflict with Najam Haider
More about this week’s guests:
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. He is the founding editor of Consortium News (founded in 1995) as the Internet’s first investigative magazine. He saw it as a way to combine modern technology and old-fashioned journalism to counter the increasing triviality of the mainstream U.S. news media. Robert’s best known stories about Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare (CIA manual provided to the Nicaraguan contras) and the CIA and Contras cocaine trafficking in the US scandal in 1985 continue to be very important and you should read them NOW if you have not already done so. He was awarded the George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984. He has written six books:
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, The Press & Project Truth (1992)
Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery (1993)
The October Surprise X-Files: The Hidden Origins of the Reagan-Bush Era (1996)
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2004)
Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush (2007)
America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama (2012)
Najam Haider, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion, completed his PhD at Princeton University (2007), M.Phil. at Oxford University (2000), and BA at Dartmouth College (1997). His courses bridge the gap between the classical and modern Muslim worlds with a particular emphasis on the impact of colonization on Islamic political and religious discourse. Prof. Haider’s research interests include early Islamic history, the methodology and development of Islamic law, and Shi‘ism. His first book entitled The Origins of the Shi‘a was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and focused on the role of ritual and sacred space in the formation of Shī‘ī identity. His second book (Shī‘ī Islam – Cambridge 2014) offered a comprehensive overview of three branches of Shī‘ī Islam – Zaydī, Twelver, and Ismā‘īlī – through a framework of theology and memory. His current project focuses on the link between early Islamic historical writing and Late Antique and Classical Rhetoric.
Tim Shorrock on the South Korean Government Crackdown on Citizen Protests against Labor Repression, Destructive Rice Imports and Rewriting of History Books
9/11 Whistleblower Coleen Rowley on Visas and Mideast War Root Causes
More about this week’s guests:
Tim Shorrockis Washington-based investigative journalist and author of SPIES FOR HIRE: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence. He is also a contributor to The Nation and longtime writer about Korean affairs and US-Korean political, military and economic ties. You can read his recent article “Raising a ruckus with the South Korean government” at the Nation website and his website.
Background: South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the daughter of the country’s longtime dictator, has launched a massive crackdown on labor, farmer and citizens groups opposed to her government’s policies on unions, rice imports and education. President Park, one of President Obama’s closest allies in Asia, has also come under fire for recent comments she made likening protesters to the Islamic State (IS). “Rallies where protesters wear face masks should be banned. Isn’t that how IS does it? Hiding their faces…,” Park reportedly said at a recent Cabinet meeting to discuss new counterterrorism bills. The South Korean experience is far from unique. With the deepening of corporate-led globalization processes, governments everywhere seek to weaken labor movements and worker protections and restrict options for public education and democratic debate. As a consequence, the KCTU’s efforts to anchor a broad coalition of social forces around an alternative social vision deserves international attention and support.
Coleen Rowley is a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.
Quote: “Only a few crickets chirped after our 2014 Huffpost warning of gaps in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Our second post, however, came out at the same time the President and Congress had suddenly clicked into gear to tighten the program, obviously in reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.”
Rowley criticized the lack of politicians “lamenting his or her terrible mistakes in having okayed the various post 9-11 wars and bombing campaigns to re-make the Mideast — what some warned would be like ‘hitting a hornets’ nest’ and which have only succeeded in vastly increasing the number of terrorist incidents throughout the world, as well as more people everywhere who simply hate the U.S. …
“In its mad rush to push something out to look as if they were quickly remedying the problems, the House skipped normal debate that comes from holding committee meetings, passing its bizarre ‘Trump-lite’ blanket discriminatory provisions in H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015 [passed on Tuesday 407-19], that would bar citizens of participating countries with Syrian, Iraqi, Sudanese or Iranian ancestry from participating in the waiver program even if they have never set foot in any of these countries.
“A backlash naturally erupted from civil liberties and minority rights groups. For instance, according to the ACLU’s reading of the bill, a person who was born and raised in France but whose father is a Syrian citizen would be forced to get a visa before visiting the United States, even if that person has a French passport and has never been to Syria.
“In a press release Tuesday, NIAC [National Iranian American Council] Action, a group that lobbies on behalf of Iranian Americans, lashed out at the bill. …
“Even worse, in their hurry, is the congresspersons’ choice of the four specific countries to designate for ‘blanket’ exclusion: Iraq (which was supposed to be a democratic paradise by now), Syria, Sudan and (most bizarrely) Iran, whose nationals have not ever launched a terrorist attack inside the U.S. Yet, countries like SAUDI ARABIA (well known as the main country of origin for Al Qaeda, ISIS and other Wahhabi extremism), Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Nigeria, Chechnya and other nations and regions from where terrorist perpetrators have come from are not designated as ineligible for the program. This truly makes zero sense, making us wonder if congresspersons have any clue as to the nature of the threat from ISIS and Al Qaeda terrorism.”
Background: Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq. See “Coleen Rowley: Ten years after Iraq.”