- 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…”
KPFT is in its winter pledge drive. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three consecutive weeks. Last week’s show beat the goal and it would be GREAT to keep that going this week. Please call 713 526 5738 during the show or pledge online at www.kpft.org
This week we have Marjorie Cohn on the show to talk about her latest article “Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice” and a volume she edited called Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues which you can get during this week’s show for a pledge of $120.
”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.”
You can also get a copy of Censored 2016: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2014-15 for a pledge of $90.
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.
Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice (with David Dow), and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd). She is editor and contributor to The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.
- 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 takes a closer look at secrecy and cover up of the attack on the ‘consulate’ at Benghazi and the upcoming legal defense of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden. Our guests are Melvin Goodman and David K. Colapinto
More about this week’s guests:
Melvin Goodman is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University. He was division chief and senior analyst at the Office of Soviet Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency from 1976 to 1986. He was a senior analyst at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, State Department from 1974 to 1976. He was an intelligence adviser to the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks in Vienna and Washington. He is co-author of The Wars of Edvard Shevardnadze (2nd edition, 2001), The Phantom Defense, America’s Pursuit of the Star Wars Illusion (2001); Bush League Diplomacy; How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk (2004); Failure of Intelligence: the Decline and Fall of the CIA (2008). Goodman’s latest book, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism.
His recent article on tonight’s topic can be found here: The Real Benghazi Scandal
David K. Colapinto
David K. Colapinto is a nationally recognized whistleblower advocate with expertise in government fraud and qui tam cases and whistleblower retaliation cases. He has successfully represented many whistleblowers in state and federal courts and before numerous agencies. A key attorney in several cases of national interest, Mr. Colapinto represented the leading whistleblower in a major qui tam fraud action against the drug maker Bristol-Myers Squibb, helping to recover more than $500 million for U.S. taxpayers and the government under the False Claims Act in 2007. He has also played a central role in securing whistleblower protection for FBI employees, such as the firm’s successful efforts on behalf of Fredric Whitehurst, the forensics expert who suffered recriminations after reporting poor lab practices at the bureau.
David is helping with the Edward Snowden Legal Defense Fund and the National Whistleblower Legal Defense and Education Fund recently issued a statement on the topic.
- Julian Assange’s potential extradition to Sweden, an interview with Coleen Rowley
- The latest from Egypt – comments and questions from The Monitor’s listeners in Houston
Quote: “An unbelievably cruel irony exists in witnessing powerful western political figures threaten Julian Assange, someone with a unique track record of supporting whistleblowers without any viable outlet for disclosing their superiors’ illegal orders and activities. WikiLeaks’ efforts combating undue secrecy, exposing illegal cover-ups and championing transparency in government has already benefited the world. And I’m convinced, more than ever, that if that type of anti-secrecy publication had existed and enabled the proper information sharing in early 2001, it could have not only prevented the 9/11 attacks but it could have exposed the fabricating of intelligence and deceptive propaganda which enabled the Bush Administration to unjustifiably launch war on Iraq.”
More about Coleen:
Call in Segment
Quote from Seif Da’na: “Egypt’s SCAF [Supreme Council of the Armed Forces] exploited the transitional period and people’s faith in the armed forces to abort the revolution through a slowly, but well-planned coup. The outcome is a major setback to the revolution in Egypt and the region, but might result in significantly weakening the Muslim Brotherhood, whose performance during this period not only divided the revolution camp but also enabled SCAF to carry out its premeditated scheme. “On June 14, 2012, SCAF initiated what most commentators, as well as Egypt’s activists, believe was nothing less than a coup d’etat. Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, whose justices are remnants of Mubarak’s regime, dissolved the newly democratically elected parliament. Later, the Minister of Interior Affairs issued a decree empowering military police and intelligence to indefinably arrest any person considered a threat to public order, which restores the 30-year-old emergency law that was revoked a few weeks ago due to activists’ pressure. “On the eve of the run-off election, the coup was completed with SCAF’s second constitutional declaration that basically revokes the president’s power and places him under its power, in addition to taking over the legislative power of the dissolved Parliament. This renders an expected victory of Mohammad Mursi (the Muslim Brotherhood candidate) rather insignificant (the official results of the runoff elections are scheduled to be announced on Thursday, but both campaigns contest the claims of the other).” – Note this quote is from before the official announcement of the election results.
This week’s show:
- Is the Military Budget Really Being Cut? – an interview with Catherine Lutz
- Is Alleged WikiLeaks Source Bradley Manning Getting Rigged Trial? – an interview with Jeff Paterson
Catherine Lutz is the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies and holds a joint appointment with the Department of Anthropology, which she chairs. She is also co-director of the Costs of War research project based at the Watson Institute.
Her most recent books include Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and its Effects on Our Lives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), the co-authored Breaking Ranks: Iraq Veterans Speak Out against the War (University of California Press, 2010), The Bases of Empire: The Global Struggle against US Military Posts (New York University Press, 2009), Local Democracy under Siege: Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics (New York University Press, 2007, winner of a Society for the Anthropology of North America book award), and Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century (Beacon Press, 2001, winner of the Leeds Prize and the Victor Turner Prize). Others include Reading National Geographic (Chicago, 1993) with Jane Collins, and Unnatural Emotions: Everyday Sentiments on a Micronesian Atoll and their Challenge to Western Theory (Chicago, 1988). She is past president of the American Ethnological Society, the largest organization of cultural anthropologists in the U.S.
“Despite alarms sent up by politicians looking only at Pentagon press releases or their military industry backers’ interests, the new proposal for Department of Defense base budget reductions over the next five years represents only a 4 percent decline in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms, according to the Project on Defense Alternatives. And the Pentagon’s budget will remain far larger than it was ten years ago. On top of this, all of these calculations exclude, as they should not, billions in funding for the current wars.”
Jeff Paterson is a veteran and co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network. On August 7, 1990, 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Jeff Paterson refused to board a military plane in Hawaii heading to Saudia Arabia. He was the first active-duty military resister in the U.S.-led attack on Iraq. The photo of Jeff Paterson sitting on the airstrip, bravely defying orders to go fight in the Gulf War, made TV and newspapers around the world.
“Military officials are continuing their star chamber prosecution after abusing Bradley Manning of his rights for 18 months. The investigating officer is not only biased to produce an outcome that is favorable to his employer at the Justice Department — he’s under pressure from his Commander-in-Chief, who has already placed undue influence on this case. … It’s clear that the administration never had any intention of giving Bradley Manning a fair hearing. It appears that only their witnesses will be examined. Only their evidence will be considered — and they will exercise total control over what information is available to the press. The administration’s continuing retaliation against PFC Manning increasingly undermines their credibility on civil and human rights.”
See updates about the court proceeding at: Bradley Manning Support Network
This week’s show takes a look at the people most affected by the events of 9/11/2001 – the victims and the families of the victims of the attack, and some of the people who have been most directly affected by the US government ‘response’ to 9/11.
Our first guests are Andrea LeBlanc and Paul Arpaia (who is recently back from Afghanistan). They are members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, a group whose family members were killed in the attacks.
Andrea LeBlanc is a steering committee member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. Her husband, Robert LeBlanc, was killed aboard Flight 175.
Paul Arpaia is an award-winning associate professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches modern Italian and German history.
On Sept. 11, 2011, Paul’s cousin, Kathy Mazza was a captain for the New York Port Authority police force. She died at the World Trade Center carrying a person on a stretcher down a flight of stairs in the North Tower. Paul is one of 200 members of Peaceful Tomorrow from 31 states and seven foreign countries. The organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace.
The group recently issued the following statement: “The members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are grateful for the expressions of remembrance and concern being offered on the 10th anniversary of the events which took the lives of our loved ones. On this day we ask those who feel compassion for our loss to expand their compassion to include others who continue to experience loss ten years later: innocent families in Afghanistan and Iraq experiencing the loss of their loved ones and displacement from their communities as the result of war and political strife; Muslim-Americans subjected to bias and violence at home; those denied the protections of our Constitution and law, whether in Guantanamo or in our own country; those suffering from job loss and economic dislocation related to the cost of war and rising military budgets; and those who have seen their civil liberties and freedoms exchanged for the false promise of security.”
“The lesson of 9/11 is that we live in a connected world. We rise or fall together. As Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ On this 10th anniversary, let us honor those we lost by recognizing our kinship with people all over the world, and affirming the values and principles that will guarantee peaceful tomorrows for everyone.”
Our last segment is spent with Andy Worthington.
Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, author and filmmaker, specializing in Guantánamo and the “War on Terror,” but also covering revolutionary movements in the Middle East, and UK politics. He writes regularly for newspapers and websites including the Guardian, Truthout, Cageprisoners, and the Future of Freedom Foundation. He also writes occasionally for the Daily Star, Lebanon, the Huffington Post, Antiwar.com, CounterPunch, AlterNet, and ZNet, and his work is regularly cross-posted across the Internet.
His website is one of the top 100 world politics blogs, was archived by the British Library in January 2011, and receives around 300,000 page views every month. In the five years he has spent working full-time on Guantánamo and related issues, he has worked for two NGOs (Reprieve and Cageprisoners), and has also been involved with a third NGO, Amnesty International, primarily in promoting, to student audiences, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” the film he co-directed with Polly Nash. In addition, he has worked as a consultant for the United Nations, and has also worked as a media partner with WikiLeaks.