This week’s edition of The Monitor will be the last until at least the summer of 2018. After more than 14 years on the air and hundreds of interviews, I am forced to take a break from the show. Listen to last week’s show for more detail.
The Monitor goes on hiatus with a feature length interview with William Binney, a former highly placed intelligence official with the United States National Security Agency(NSA) who turned whistleblower and resigned on October 31, 2001, after more than 30 years with the agency. He was a high-profile critic of his former employers during the George W. Bush administration, and later criticized the NSA’s data collection policies during the Barack Obama administration. In 2016, he said the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election was false. You can read more about Binney in many outlets online, including: CIA DIRECTOR MET ADVOCATE OF DISPUTED DNC HACK THEORY — AT TRUMP’S REQUEST; NSA whistleblower discusses ‘How the NSA tracks you’
William Binney features in a documentary called “A Good American”. This is well worth watching and available now on Netflix. Here is the trailer:
- Donald Trump nominates Betsy DeVos to be his Secretary of Education. We discuss the topic with Diane Ravitch.
- News or Propaganda? What is happening to the news and what is the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” about? We discuss the topic with Rick Sterling.
Diane Ravitch is an historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University. She was born in Houston, Texas, attended the Houston public schools from kindergarten through high school, and graduated from Wellesley College in 1960. She received her Ph.D. in the history of American education in 1975. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Ravitch is author of many books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to the Secretary of Education from 1991-1993 under the George H. W. Bush administration. She now blogs at dianeravitch.net
Quote: “Betsy DeVos should not be approved by the Senate committee or confirmed by the Senate as U.S. Secretary of Education. She has no experience or qualifications for the job. She is a lobbyist for alternatives to public schools. Eighty-five percent of the students in the U.S. attend public schools. Her only plan is to weaken and destroy them by diverting public money to charter schools and vouchers for religious schools. DeVos is a billionaire who has never worked in a public school, never attended a public school, never sent her own children to public school. She has lived in a billionaire bubble of privilege. She has no understanding of the needs of our nation’s public schools, and she is in fact actively hostile to them. This is unacceptable. She is unacceptable. Our public schools are one of the cornerstones of our democracy. We have never had a Secretary of Education who was opposed to public schools. We should never have one.”
Rick Sterling is a retired electronics / aerospace engineer turned independent investigative journalist. He just wrote the piece “The War Against Alternative Information” for ConsortiumNews.com — which states: “The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the ‘Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act’ that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any ‘propaganda’ that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality. The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center ‘to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.’ The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to ‘coordinate with allied nations.’The new law is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian ‘propaganda’ on the Internet with a new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth — or Global Engagement Center — to protect the American people from ‘foreign propaganda and disinformation.’ As part of the effort to detect and defeat these unwanted narratives, the law authorizes the Center to: ‘Facilitate the use of a wide range of technologies and techniques by sharing expertise among Federal departments and agencies, seeking expertise from external sources, and implementing best practices.’ (This section is an apparent reference to proposals that Google, Facebook and other technology companies find ways to block or brand certain Internet sites as purveyors of ‘Russian propaganda’ or ‘fake news.’) Justifying this new bureaucracy, the bill’s sponsors argued that the existing agencies for ‘strategic communications’ and ‘public diplomacy’ were not enough, that the information threat required ‘a whole-of-government approach leveraging all elements of national power.’ The law also is rife with irony since the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest purveyors of propaganda and disinformation…”
On this week’s show we take a closer look at two topics mentioned during the news headlines segment last week. One was the statement from Lavabit owner Ladar Levison when he hinted at some of the reasons behind the shut down of the Secure Email service. The other topic is the ruling on NY state’s and ‘Stop and Frisk’ program. Our guests are Kade Crockford and Shahid Buttar.
More about this week’s guests:
Kade Crockford is director of the technology for liberty project at the ACLU of Massachusetts, where she edits and writes for the Privacy Matters blog
Quote: “That a privacy-centric email service would shut down instead of disclose information about one of its users, as appears to be the case with Lavabit, speaks incredibly highly of the company, and reminds us that even in the face of a seemingly all powerful surveillance state, each of us can bravely refuse to submit. The incident also shines a bright light on a pernicious tool of government surveillance — the National Security Letter — that violates the spirit of every democratic value and the Bill of Rights itself. That Lavabit cannot speak clearly about what actually happened here is chilling. If the United States government is seeking to alienate technologists and people who care about their privacy, it is doing a great job.”
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and the People’s Campaign for the Constitution (PCC). This is the BORDC’s focus on defending civil liberties, constitutional rights, and rule of law principles threatened within the United States by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. He is a constitutional lawyer, grassroots organizer, independent columnist, musician, and poet.
Before joining BORDC in 2009, Shahid directed a national program to combat racial and religious profiling, after serving for three years as associate director of the American Constitution Society for Law & Policy. He previously pursued public interest litigation (advancing marriage equality for same sex couples and campaign finance reform) in private practice at Heller Ehrman LLP, after receiving his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as executive editor of the Stanford Environmental Law Journal and a teaching assistant for Constitutional Law. He graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University Chicago with a BA in political science and creative writing in 2000, ten years after beginning college at the University of Chicago and after a six-year career in financial services to pay for school.
Shahid’s comments have been featured by news outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, al-Jazeera, FOX News, Agence-France Presse, Huffington Post, Truthout, Democracy Now!, and many others, including dozens of radio stations around the country. He frequently addresses public audiences, such as elected bodies, colleges, and law schools, including Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Chicago, the University of Texas at Austin, and Georgetown.
In addition to his work leading BORDC, Shahid also serves on the advisory bodies of the Rights Working Group, the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, and South Asian Americans Leading Together.
Shahid also supports populist constitutionalism as a independent columnist (writing for outlets including Huffington Post and Truthout, as well as the People’s Blog for the Constitution) community organizer, and hip-hop and electronica MC. In his creative capacities as a poet and musician, Shahid has performed around the world, co-founded several grassroots art and culture groups around the country, facilitated workshops for young people and emerging artists, and released his debut CD, Get Outta Your Chair, in 2008. Shahid’s music, many of his articles, and an expanded bio are available at his website.
In recent news, we saw Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) making headlines and being protested online by Wikileaks and Google, among others. Three weeks ago we mentioned Google’s new privacy settings and how they would affect users. How much do people really know about Google and their practices? We have Scott Cleland on the show to tell us more.
Our second guest is Rebecca Garvin from Idaho. She gives us a blow by blow description of how a homeowner gets thrown out of their home. For reference, the Obama administration recently settled with the banks on the issue of ‘robo-signing’. More about that here: Too Big to Jail
- Scott Cleland
Scott Cleland writes about Internet competition and threats to tech capitalism (economic regulation, property infringement, and harmful industry behavior and misrepresentation.) Cleland is President of Precursor® LLC, a Fortune 500 research consultancy focused on the future of Internet competition, privacy, security, property rights, innovation and algorithmic markets. Scott Cleland is author of the book: “Search & Destroy: Why You Can’t Trust Google Inc.” www.SearchAndDestroyBook.com. Cleland also authors the widely-read www.PrecursorBlog.com; publishes www.GoogleMonitor.com; and serves as Chairman of www.NetCompetition.org, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests. Eight Congressional subcommittees have sought Cleland’s expert testimony and Institutional Investor twice ranked him the #1 independent telecom analyst in the U.S. when he was working for institutional investors.