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:
On The Monitor this week:
- Christopher Wray is President Trump’s nominee for FBI Director. He was unanimously approved for a full Senate confirmation hearing before the August recess. We look at the issues beyond the allegations of Russian “meddling” with Emily Berman
- Military Budget proposals of at least $600 billion per year are working their way through Congress.Although President Trump promised to avoid unnecessary wars, he still is seeking a major increase in the already gigantic U.S. military budget, a risky contradiction, says Ivan Eland.
More about this week’s guests:
On The Monitor this week:
- With recounts looming in several states, what do we know about voter turnout on election day? How do we explain discrepancies between exit polls and vote counts? We discuss the topic with Greg Palast
- Enabled by Presidents Bush and Obama, what could Donald Trump do with executive powers? We discuss the topic with Peter Van Buren
More about this week’s guests:
Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time – up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian). Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, Nation Magazine and now Rolling Stone Magazine.
He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse , The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the highly acclaimed Vultures’ Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.
His books have been translated into two dozen languages.
Palast is known for complex undercover investigations, spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Caracas to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud.
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. He just wrote the piece “What Trump Could Do With Executive Power” for The American Conservative. He is available for a limited number of interviews, with some time slots open Monday afternoon and Wednesday.
He writes: “The dangers many are now predicting under the Trump administration did not start on November 8. The near-unrestrained executive power claimed by the Obama administration, and issues left unresolved from the Bush administration, will be handed to the president-elect. Here’s what that means. Torture: Obama did not prosecute or discipline anyone for torturing people on behalf of the people of the United States. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured almost all of the significant government documents on the torture program remain classified. He did not prosecute the Central Intelligence Agency official who willfully destroyed video tapes of the torture scenes. The president has not specifically outlawed secret prisons and renditions, just suspended their use. …
Assassinations: Obama legalized, formalized, and normalized drone assassinations on a global scale, including the killing of American citizens without due process in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, on the president’s order alone. The only real restraint he imposed was self-restraint. But when you leave a door open, you never know who will walk in. …
Guantanamo: Obama never closed the extra-legal prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as he promised. He could have, simply by depopulating it regardless of what Congress might have said. …
Espionage Act: Obama prosecuted more federal whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all previous United States presidents combined. He sent to jail people who exposed torture and people who allegedly leaked information to journalists showing American complicity in dangerous acts abroad. He had Chelsea Manning prosecuted for exposing war crimes in Iraq. He used the Espionage Act to destroy the lives of others who under any definition except his own would be considered political heroes. …
Freedom of Information Act: The Obama administration set a record (77 percent) for redacting government files or denying access to them in fiscal year 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act. …
National Security Agency: Obama never realistically reigned in the National Security Agency after the Bush-era Patriot Act allowed them to turn surveillance tools on the homeland. The president, following his predecessor, kept this spying largely secret until whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed it.”
On The Monitor this week:
- Is Wall Street in the Saddle? We discuss Hillary Clinton’s relationships with Wall Street and Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest with Nomi Prins
- What of the media’s role in understanding our elections? We talk about AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner with Victor Pickard
More about this week’s guests:
Nomi Prins is author of All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power and just wrote the piece “Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America: Wall Street in the Saddle” for TomDispatch.com.
Quote: “At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: the choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire, who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag, and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo-op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent. … In this election, Hillary has crafted her talking points regarding the causes of the last financial crisis as weapons against Trump, but they hardly begin to tell the real story of what happened to the American economy. The meltdown of 2007-2008 was not mainly due to ‘tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy’ or a ‘failure to invest in the middle class,’ two subjects she has repeatedly highlighted to slam the Republicans and their candidate. It was a byproduct of the destruction of the regulations that opened the way for a too-big-to-fail framework to thrive. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era act that once separated people’s bank deposits and loans from any kind of risky bets or other similar actions in which banks might engage, was repealed under the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. In addition, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed, which allowed Wall Street to concoct devastating unregulated side bets on what became the subprime crisis. … One possible contender for treasury secretary in a new Clinton administration would be Bill Clinton’s Under Secretary of Domestic Finance and Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman, Gary Gensler (who was — I’m sure you won’t be shocked — a Goldman Sachs partner before entering public service). These, then, are typical inhabitants of the Clinton inner circle and of the political-financial corridors of power. … Among the emails sent to John Podesta that were posted by WikiLeaks is an article I wrote for TomDispatch on the Clintons’ relationships with bankers. ‘She will not point fingers at her friends,’ I said in that piece in May 2015. ‘She will not chastise the people who pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop to speak or the ones who have long shared the social circles in which she and her husband move.’ I also suggested that she wouldn’t call out any CEO by name. To this day she hasn’t.” Prins’ past pieces include “Madoff in the White House? How Trump’s Conflicts of Interest Could Become Ours.”
Victor Pickard is associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of the book America’s Battle for Media Democracy: The Triumph of Corporate Libertarianism and the Future of Media Reform. He also recently wrote the piece “Media and Politics in the Age of Trump.”
Quote: “AT&T’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner would create a media behemoth with dangerous concentrations of political and economic power. With one corporation controlling so much production and distribution of news and entertainment media, this vertical integration poses significant potential hazards for millions of consumers and could harm the health of our democratic discourse. AT&T is already one of the nation’s largest internet and phone providers, as well as the largest pay-TV operator with its recent acquisition of DirecTV. By acquiring Time Warner’s media empire, which includes CNN, HBO, and Warner Bros, AT&T can privilege its own programs over competitors’ and prevent other internet and cable companies from having access to them. Such a merger deserves close regulatory scrutiny from the Justice Department. It raises serious antitrust concerns, especially since the lack of competition resulting from such mega-mergers can lead to higher costs and fewer choices for consumers. Much of the American media system is already plagued by prohibitive costs and poor services and this merger would not make things better — indeed, it could make things considerably worse. It could also spur a new wave of mergers between other content and distribution companies, encouraging an already highly concentrated media system to become more consolidated. In the coming weeks and months, we will no doubt hear from industry representatives that such a merger would provide many public benefits. But historically this has rarely been the case. Moreover, there’s growing pressure from antitrust circles — as well as activists and leading politicians — to reverse the trend toward vertically-integrated oligopolies. This proposed deal may provide a crucial test case for whether the era of new media monopolies has begun to recede.”
Pickard is also co-editor, with Robert McChesney, of the book Will the Last Reporter Please Turn out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done To Fix It.
On The Monitor this week:
- Flint Water Crisis: What Did the EPA Know? We discuss the crisis with Marsha Coleman-Adebayo
- Donald Trump’s rhetoric and the AIPAC agenda, what’s the difference? We discuss the issue with Rabbi Brant Rosen
More about this week’s guests:
Marsha Coleman-Adebayo is author of No Fear: A Whistleblower’s Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA. As senior policy analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she became a whistleblower when the EPA ignored her complaints about a U.S. company harming the environment and human health in its vanadium mining in South Africa. Denied promotion, she sued and won a jury verdict finding EPA guilty of discrimination. Coleman-Adebayo is a founder of the No FEAR Coalition and EPA Employees Against Racism. Under her leadership No FEAR organized a grassroots campaign that won passage of the “Notification of Federal Employees Anti-Discrimination and Retaliation Act,” AKA the No Fear Act. Coleman-Adebayo serves on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center and was inducted into the Project on Government Oversight’s Hall of Fame. She is an editor and columnist for the Black Agenda Report. She recently wrote the following articles for The Guardian: Flint’s best hope for justice? The streets and Water crises like Flint’s will continue until the EPA is held accountable (co-written with Kevin Berends)
Quote from her recent article on BlackAgendaReport.com: “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder are scheduled to appear before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Thursday, March 17, to provide testimony on the poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water. Public outcry has finally empowered Congress to demand that McCarthy and Snyder provide an accounting of their role in the poisoning of thousands of citizens. The essential question for this hearing is the same as that of the Watergate Hearing: what did they know and when did they know it? EPA electronic traffic between the former Region 5 Administrator and McCarthy must be subpoenaed. McCarthy and Snyder had perhaps hoped that the public would be silenced with sending former EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman careening under the bus. The ultimate authority for water regulations rests with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Water Act. In fact, the CWA provides for criminal penalties for violations of this Act. Flint, Michigan falls within the federal jurisdiction of Region 5 and, until her resignation in February in disgrace, was under EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. …EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was aware that there were problems with Hedman’s leadership prior to the Flint crisis. …This is a sickeningly familiar story at the EPA, an agency governed by fear, recrimination, retaliation and discrimination. It is likely that EPA Administrator McCarthy will argue that the Flint disaster was the result of ‘a few bad apples’ and that with Administrator Hedman’s resignation the problem has been addressed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The EPA is rife with managers who have been allowed to engage in criminal behavior without fear of accountability. Far from dealing with root causes, McCarthy stands on protocol over the well being of her own employees. She will always side with her in-house group of managers who are in bed with their corporate masters — this is one of the lessons of the Flint poisoning crisis.”
Rabbi Brant Rosen is the co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council. The group recently put out a statement, “Trump’s Islamophobic Rhetoric Goes Hand in Hand with AIPAC’s Agenda,” which states: “Many of the most alarming statements and policy proposals Donald Trump has made are already reality in Israel, and supported by AIPAC. Israel already refuses to open its doors to Syrian refugees (many of whom are of Palestinian origin), allows privileged immigration status for one religious group over others, is building highly militarized walls … and allows a demagogue leader to get away with using blatant racism to get votes.” Also see: “On Israeli election day, Netanyahu warns of Arabs voting ‘in droves.’”
Rosen is the Midwest Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee. In August 2015, he founded Tzedek Chicago, a new ‘non-Zionist’ synagogue in Chicago. Rosen previously served as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Illinois from 1998 to 2014. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine’s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. Rosen’s blog Shalom Rav explores “the intersection between Judaism and social justice, with a particular emphasis on Israel/Palestine.” In 2012, Just World Books published his book, “Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity,” which featured his posts and numerous reader comments from Shalom Rav. Rosen is also the author of the blog Yedid Nefesh, where he posts his poetry and thoughts on Judaism and spirituality. He has contributed to The Huffington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Forward, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and other media outlets.