Following up on last week’s show, this week The Monitor is all about whistleblowers and the need for them to be able to report violations. Both guests are connected to the newly launched ExposeFacts.org.
First up is William Binney and rounding out the hour is Matthew Hoh.
Newsweek just published “The Website That Wants the Next Snowden to Leak” about the newly launched ExposeFacts.org. The lengthy article includes discussion of the legality of exposing classified documents. At the news conference launching ExposeFacts.org, former NSA official William Binney, who is now on the advisory board of ExposeFacts.org, noted that classifying documents to cover up wrongdoing violates the Executive Order on classification. [video at 1:01:00]
More about this week’s guests:
William Binney is a former high-level National Security Agency intelligence official who, after his 2001 retirement after 30 years, blew the whistle on NSA surveillance programs. His outspoken criticism of the NSA during the George W. Bush administration made him the subject of FBI investigations that included a raid on his home in 2007. Even before Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, Binney publicly revealed that NSA had access to telecommunications companies’ domestic and international billing records, and that since 9/11 the agency has intercepted some 15 to 20 trillion communications. The Snowden disclosures confirmed many of the surveillance dangers Binney — without the benefit of documents — had been warning about under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Binney has been singled out for praise by Snowden, who told the Wall Street Journal: “I have tremendous respect for Binney, who did everything he could according to the rules. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for highlighting how the Intelligence Community punishes reporting abuses within the system.”
Quote: “Not too many people are paying too much attention to this, but under Executive Order 13526, sec 1.7 — this is the executive order that governs classification for the U.S. government — you cannot use classification to cover up a crime, illegality, abuse of any form, or fraud, corruption, waste or embarrassment and a number of other things. And a lot of these things that Snowden exposed were in fact evidence of crimes against the constitution or other laws that existed, statutes in the country. So those things [documents] cannot legitimately be classified under that executive order.
Matthew Hoh is the Former director of the Afghanistan Study Group, Hoh is a former Marine and State Department official. In 2009 he resigned from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan (Washington Post, front page, “U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War,” October 27, 2009). Hoh discussed the launch of ExposeFacts.org when he appeared on Huffington Post Live yesterday, interviewed on “Free Speech Zone with @AlyonaMink.”
Quote: “I am very much honored and more than a bit humbled to be included in the launch of such a worthy and necessary effort, particularly one bearing the name of Daniel Ellsberg. After over eleven continuous years of service with the U.S. military and U.S. government, nearly six of those years overseas, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as positions within the Secretary of the Navy’s Office as a White House Liaison, and as a consultant for the State Department’s Iraq Desk, I resigned from my position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of war in 2009. It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience. It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic, and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy. I trust ExposeFacts and its efforts will encourage others to follow their conscience and do what is right.”
The ExposeFacts organization is part of the nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy, founded in 1997. See text of Executive Order 13526, sec 1.7:
(a) In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to:
(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
(3) restrain competition; or
(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.
On this week’s show:
- New Study on Campaign Cash Behind the National Surveillance State – an interview with Paul Jorgensen
- The Complexity “Baked into Obamacare” – an interview with Philip Caper
More about this week’s guests:
Paul Jorgensen is assistant professor of political science at the University of Texas Pan American and a lab fellow of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University. With Thomas Ferguson and Jie Chen, he just completed a major study of campaign finance in the 2012 election. They summarize their results on AlterNet: “Who Buys the Spies? The Hidden Corporate Cash Behind America’s Out-of-Control National Surveillance State.”
Quote: “As the storm over surveillance broke, we were completing a statistical analysis of campaign contributions in 2012, using an entirely new dataset that we constructed from the raw material provided by the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service. … In our big sample, which pretty well approximates ‘business as a whole,’ Obama trailed far behind Romney.”
But they continue: “In sharp contrast to … claims that big business was deeply suspicious of the president, our statistical results show that a large and powerful bloc of ‘industries of the future’ — telecommunications, high tech, computers, and software — showed essentially equal or higher percentages of support for the president in 2012 than they did for Romney.
“We think this finding is the most significant of all: Firms in many of the industries directly involved in the surveillance programs were relative bastions of support for the president.
“Bush and Cheney may have invented it, but national Democratic leaders are full-fledged players in this 21st century National Surveillance State and the interest group pressures that now help to sustain its defenders in Washington work just as powerfully on Democrats as on Republicans.”
They add that “we do not believe that it would be impossible to strike a reasonable balance between the demands of security and freedom that accords with traditional Fourth Amendment principles. … But a system dominated by firms that want to sell all your data working with a government that seems to want to collect nearly all of it through them is unlikely to produce that.”
A preliminary version of their longer study, with several tables, is available as a Roosevelt Institute Working Paper: “Party Competition and Industrial Structure in the 2012 Elections: Who’s Really Driving the Taxi to the Dark Side?“
Philip Caper is a doctor in Portland, Maine and regular columnist at the Bangor Daily News. He is a founding board member of Maine AllCare, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group committed to making health care in Maine universal, accessible and affordable for all. He recently wrote the piece “The High Costs of Complexity in Health Care Reform.” Caper said today: “The problem with the ACA is not that the federal government is involved, but that literally thousands of private insurers have their fingers in the cookie jar, resulting in a law that is much too complicated for what it needs to accomplish, and too complex for anybody to administer efficiently and effectively. … Together, Medicare and Social Security — both run by the federal government — have been successfully providing access to private health care and income security for millions of seniors and the disabled for almost 50 years. They have been a major factor in keeping seniors in our country out of poverty. … We need expanded and improved Medicare-for-All. And we need to vote any politician who won’t advance us toward that goal out of office.”
KPFT is in Pledge Drive and The Monitor has three shows during the drive. Our goal this week is $1200.
Please help us get there by calling 713-526-5738 or going online at www.kpft.org during the show.
This week’s show takes a look at Big Brother Mining Your Data with our first guest, Pratap Chatterjee. During last week’s show we mentioned that war funding has not been impacted by the government shut down. Our second interview looks at the ongoing war in Afghanistan with our second guest Matthew Hoh.
More about this week’s guests:
Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch and author of Halliburton’s Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Nation Books, 2009) and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press, 2004). He has many years of experience working in radio, print and digital media, including hosting a weekly radio show on Berkeley station KPFA, working as global environment editor for InterPress Service and as a freelance writer for the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent of London. He has won five Project Censored awards as well as a Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for his work in Afghanistan, and the best business story award from the National Newspaper Association (US), among others. He has also appeared as a commentator on numerous radio and television shows ranging from BBC World Service, CNN International, Democracy Now!, Fox and MSNBC. Pratap serves on the board of Amnesty International USA and Corporate Europe Observatory.
Quote: “Big Bro is watching you. Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits — if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag — the reams of data about ourselves that we give away. …But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable. This second category is made up of professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government — in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars — but we have no control over them. Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go; Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept our overseas calls; and companies like James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers. There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism, presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.”
Matthew Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009.
Quote: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”
- How the Security-Industrial Complex is tracking your data and what that means for you – an interview with Richard Stallman
- The president should fire James Clapper and Keith Alexander over domestic spying revealed by Edward Snowden – an interview with Ray McGovern
More about this week’s guests:
As an act of conscience, on March 2, 2006 Ray returned the Intelligence Commendation Medallion given him at retirement for “especially meritorious service,” explaining, “I do not want to be associated, however remotely, with an agency engaged in torture.” He returned it to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R, Michigan), then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman.
Recent Op-Ed: Obama needs to take charge on NSA spying scandal
Visit Ray’s Website for more.
This week’s show looks at online privacy in the age of PRISM and revisits the downing of TWA Flight 800.
- Online Privacy – does it exist? An interview with Mark Weinstein
- 17 years go this coming month TWA flight 800 plunged into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff. All 230 on board died. A new call to reopen the investigation into what happened by former investigators and a new documentary looking at the story – an interview with Kristina Borjesson
More about this week’s guests:
Mark Weinstein is an online privacy advocate and founder of Sgrouples – billed as the world’s private social network. He is an Advisory Board Member of the Future of Privacy Forum; Steering Committee Member of National Strategy for the White House Initiative, Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC); Honored as “Ambassador of Privacy by Design” by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter: @markweinstein
Kristina Borjesson has been an independent producer and writer for almost twenty years.won an Emmy and a Murrow Award for her investigative reporting on “CBS Reports: Legacy of Shame” with correspondents Dan Rather and Randall Pinkston, and was the producer and co-writer for “CBS Reports: The Last Revolutionary,” an Emmy-nominated film biography of Fidel Castro. Borjesson’s credits also include “Showdown in Haiti,” an Emmy-nominated investigative documentary for PBS’s Frontline, ”Living with Crocodiles,” a National Geographic Explorer production, the CNN NewsStand magazine shows Fortune andEntertainment Weekly, a PBS film biography of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and renowned social critic, and “On Television,” a 13-part series for PBS examining TV in America. Borjesson is an alumna of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Kristina Borjesson is also the author of: “Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11, Top Journalists Speak Out” (Oct. 2005). You can follow Kristina on Twitter: @veritasclub