Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
A daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 1,100 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States.
Updated: 8 hours 1 min ago

Assata Shakur: What Does New U.S.-Cuba Pact Mean for Exiled Black Panther Wanted in New Jersey?

Fri 07 55 AM

Authorities in New Jersey have said they hope a historic warming of ties between the United States and Cuba will help them capture and imprison Black Panther Assata Shakur. "We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973," said State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes. The encounter left both the officer and a fellow Black Panther, Zayd Malik Shakur, dead. Shakur has said she was shot by police with both arms in the air, and then again from the back. She was sentenced to life in prison but managed to escape and flee to Cuba, where she has lived since 1984. What will happen to Shakur now? We put the question to two attorneys: Michael Ratner and Martin Garbus.

Should Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & CIA Officials Be Tried for Torture? War Crimes Case Filed in Germany

Fri 07 43 AM

A human rights group in Berlin, Germany, has filed a criminal complaint against the architects of the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has accused former Bush administration officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of war crimes, and called for an immediate investigation by a German prosecutor. The move follows the release of a Senate report on CIA torture which includes the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who was captured by CIA agents in 2004 due to mistaken identity and tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan. So far, no one involved in the CIA torture program has been charged with a crime — except the whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed it. We speak to Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and longtime defense attorney Martin Garbus.

New York Says No to Fracking: State Bans Drilling Following Grassroots Outcry over Public Health

Fri 07 20 AM

New York has become the first state in the nation with major natural gas deposits to ban the oil and gas extraction process of hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, citing potential risks to public health. Fracking involves blasting sand, water and toxic chemicals deep into shale rock to release oil and gas, a process which can poison water supplies and pollute the air. Following a two-year study, New York Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said fracking was too risky. We speak to biologist, activist and author Sandra Steingraber, co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. Also joining us is Cornell University professor Tony Ingraffea, president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy.

From Free Pre-K to Paid Sick Leave to Pay Raises, NYC Mayor de Blasio Fulfills Progressive Promises

Fri 07 12 AM

Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses his exclusive year-end interview with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. "The list of his accomplishments in just one year has shocked even me — a total skeptic after more 35 years of covering urban politics in this country," writes González in his latest column. "And it’s not just the big issues like education, affordable housing, reform of police-community relations, or new contracts and pay raises for city workers. It’s also a host of less publicized but important measures affecting ordinary New Yorkers. Things like paid sick leave and a living wage for low-income workers. Like the lowest rent increase in memory for 800,000."

Can Obama Lift the Embargo on Cuba Without Congress in Effort to Normalize U.S.-Cuba Relations?

Thu 07 46 AM

We look at the details of the new normalized relations between the United States and Cuba, which include an easing of restrictions on banking, investment and travel, and discuss whether President Obama can lift the embargo on Cuba without congressional approval. We speak with Robert Muse, an expert on U.S. laws relating to Cuba and attorney based in Washington, D.C. His recent article published in Americas Quarterly is "U.S. Presidential Action on Cuba: The New Normalization?" We also speak with Michael Ratner about what will happen to the U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Joining the discussion live from Havana is Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University.

Does the Release of the Cuban Five Prove the U.S. Failed to Destroy Cuba After Decades of Trying?

Thu 07 23 AM

As a new chapter in U.S.-Cuban relations begins, we host a roundtable discussion about the prisoners released as part of the new deal. Cuba freed USAID contractor Alan Gross and a former Cuban intelligence officer who who worked secretly for the CIA, and the United States released the remaining members of the Cuban Five: Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino. We speak with attorney Martin Garbus of the Cuban Five legal team and broadcast an excerpt from our 2013 interview with the first freed member of the Cuban Five, René González, who describes why he came to the United States to investigate militant Cuban exile groups. We also discuss the significance of the new relationship between the two countries. "Our government has been trying to destroy the Cuban Revolution since day one … and essentially this is an admission that it didn’t succeed," says guest Michael Ratner, co-author of "Who Killed Che?: How the CIA Got Away with Murder." We are also joined by Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, who met twice with Gross while he was detained.

"Cut Loose the Shackles of the Past": U.S. and Cuba Announce a New Dawn in Diplomatic Relations

Thu 07 11 AM

President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced Wednesday that the United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time in more than half a century. The historic deal will include the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana and comes with a prisoner exchange. Live from Cuba, we go to Havana for reaction from Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University. "Finally after 55 years, an element of sanity and effectiveness and modernization has arrived to the insane U.S. policy that U.S. presidents have been pursuing towards Cuba or all these years," Kornbluh says. He is the co-author of the book, "Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana."

Press Freedom Fight: Reporter James Risen Faces Subpoena in CIA Whistleblower Case

Wed 07 50 AM

In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, the United States government has confirmed that it will seek limited testimony from New York Times reporter James Risen. On Tuesday, Risen was ordered to participate in a hearing early next month in advance of the trial of a former CIA officer who is charged with revealing classified information. However, Risen has vowed not to testify at the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, who is accused of giving him classified information that revealed a botched CIA plot to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. If he refuses, Risen could face jail time. Prosecutors say they will not ask Risen if Sterling was his source, but it is unclear what else he will be asked. We speak to Marcy Wheeler, investigative blogger who runs EmptyWheel.net and writes for ExposeFacts.org.

Was Key Grand Jury Witness in Michael Brown Case a Racist, Mentally Ill, Lying Ex-Felon?

Wed 07 30 AM

As protests continue across the country over the police killing of Michael Brown, new questions are being raised about the grand jury that failed to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for shooting Brown. Many questions center on a woman identified in the grand jury documents simply as "Witness 40." She told the grand jury that Brown charged at Wilson "like a football player." Earlier this week, the website TheSmokingGun.com identified Witness 40 as Sandra McElroy. The website described her as a "bipolar Missouri woman with a criminal past who has a history of making racist remarks and once insinuated herself into another high-profile St. Louis criminal case with claims that police eventually dismissed as a 'complete fabrication.'" It now appears McElroy may have lied about witnessing the shooting, which occurred 30 miles from her home. On Tuesday, Rev. Al Sharpton said the report about Witness 40 gave new hope to the Brown family. He told the New York Daily News it shows the grand jury was "not a fair process." We speak about the case with TheSmokingGun.com editor William Bastone. He is the lead author of the article exposing the identity of Witness 40.

The Destabilization of Pakistan: Tariq Ali on Taliban School Massacre & U.S. Afghan War Blowback

Wed 07 14 AM

We begin today’s show in Pakistan, where people in the northwestern city of Peshawar are burying their dead after a Taliban attack at a school killed at least 145 people — including 132 children — in the Taliban’s deadliest attack to date. According to the Pakistani army, Tuesday’s attack was carried out by seven Taliban attackers against the Army Public School, which both military and civilian girls and boys attend. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared three days of mourning and convened a meeting of all parliamentary parties in Peshawar to discuss the response to the attack. The army has reportedly launched attacks at militants in the region. The Taliban said they targeted the children of military families in retaliation for Pakistan’s anti-Taliban campaign in North Waziristan. We speak to British-Pakistani political commentator Tariq Ali and Asad Hashim, Al Jazeera English web correspondent in Pakistan.

Mike Gravel to Senator Mark Udall: Make Full Torture Probe Public Like I Did with Pentagon Papers

Tue 07 48 AM

On the Senate floor last week, outgoing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall called for a purge of top CIA officials implicated in the torture program and cover-up, including current Director John Brennan. But as he enters the final days of his Senate term, Udall is facing calls to take action of his own. The Senate findings released last week amount to only a fraction of the full report — 480 heavily redacted pages out of more than 6,000 pages total. The White House has blocked the report’s full release in deference to the CIA’s wishes. That’s sparked demands that Udall invoke a rarely used congressional privilege and make the report public. There is precedent for him to follow: In 1971, then-Alaska Senator Mike Gravel entered more than 4,000 pages of the 7,000-page Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, insisting the public had a right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War. More than four decades later, Gravel joins us to talk about his historic action and why he is now calling on Udall to follow in his footsteps with the full Senate report on CIA torture.

"Psychological Torture is Enshrined in U.S. Law": Complicity in Abuses Began Long Before Bush

Tue 07 33 AM

As President Obama continues to reject a criminal probe of torture in the George W. Bush administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney has said he has no regrets about the torture of foreign prisoners, including innocent people. Speaking to NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Cheney said, "I’d do it again in a minute." Cheney’s claim highlights a key question: Are top officials above the law — and will the impunity of today lead to more abuses in the future? We discuss the issue of impunity and the history of U.S. torture with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the books, "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," as well as "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation." We are also joined by Steven Reisner, founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights.

After Duo Created CIA Torture Methods, Did World's Largest Group of Psychologists Enable Abuses?

Tue 07 11 AM

As a psychologist identified as the "architect" of the CIA’s torture program admits he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, we look at allegations that the American Psychological Association — the largest association of psychologists in the world — secretly colluded with U.S. abuses. Speaking to Vice News, retired Air Force psychologist James Mitchell confirmed for the first time he personally waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mitchell was hired to help create the interrogation program along with his partner, Dr. Bruce Jessen. The Senate report says Mitchell and Jessen were paid $81 million to help design the CIA’s torture methods, including some of the most abusive tactics. The Senate’s findings come as the American Psychological Association has launched a review to determine whether its leadership also played a role in CIA torture. The APA’s probe was prompted by revelations from Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigative reporter James Risen. In his new book, "Pay Any Price," Risen reveals how after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, the APA formed a task force that enabled the continued role of psychologists in the torture program. There has been a deep division within the APA’s policy on interrogations for years. Unlike the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association, the APA never prohibited its members from being involved in interrogations.

We are joined by two guests: Steven Reisner, a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and psychological ethics adviser to Physicians for Human Rights; and Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of "A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror," as well as "Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation."

Emissions-Cutting Deal Reached at COP 20 Lima, But Will It Help Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?

Mon 07 44 AM

After more than 30 hours of extended talks, a global agreement on climate change was reached over the weekend at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru. Negotiators from nearly 200 countries agreed to a new deal that forms the basis for a global agreement on addressing climate change. Supporters say it marks the first time all nations have agreed to cut back on carbon emissions. The final draft says all countries have "common but differentiated responsibilities" to deal with global warming. The countries most dissatisfied with the outcome in Lima were those who are poor and already struggling to rebuild from the impacts of climate change. We host a roundtable with guests from three continents: in Peru, Suzanne Goldenberg, U.S. environment correspondent for The Guardian; in London, Asad Rehman, head of international climate for Friends of the Earth; and in New Delhi, Nitin Sethi, associate editor at Business Standard.

Black Youth-Organized Millions March NYC Draws Tens of Thousands in Movement's Biggest Protest Yet

Mon 07 28 AM

Saturday’s nationwide actions against police killings and racial profiling included a "Millions March" that drew tens of thousands to the streets of New York City. It was the largest single protest of the post-Ferguson movement and the culmination of daily actions in New York City since a grand jury elected not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner. After gathering in Washington Square Park, a massive crowd spanned dozens of city blocks as it marched uptown before turning around and closing at police headquarters downtown. Democracy Now!’s Aaron Maté and Samantha Riddell were in the streets to speak to the protesters who came out, and the young black organizers who made it happen.

Why Are Our Sons Gunned Down? Parents of Black Victims of Police Killings Lead D.C. March

Mon 07 11 AM

Tens of thousands marched across the country on Saturday in the largest day of protest since the killing of Michael Brown set off a national movement four months ago. From Oakland to New York City, protesters called for indictments in the case of police officers who have killed unarmed African Americans and broader reforms to policing and criminal justice. In Washington, D.C., the families of slain African Americans led a rally and march on the White House. More than 10,000 people took part. We hear from Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, the parents of Michael Brown; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner; Samaria Rice, the mother Tamir Rice; John Crawford Jr., the father of John Crawford III; Kimberly Ballinger, the partner of Akai Gurley; and Kadiatou Diallo, the mother of Amadou Diallo.