The Socialization of Evil: Robert Jay Lifton on the Death Penalty, the Holocaust & Armenian Genocide
For the past five decades, eminent psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has written extensively on the psychological dimensions of war, from the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, to doctors who aided Nazi crimes, to nuclear war. In 1967, Lifton won a National Book Award for his work, "Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima." In 1970, he would testify before a Senate committee about the Vietnam War, warning about the need to help rehumanize returning veterans into society. In 1986, he published the seminal book, "The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide." In the final part of our interview, Lifton expounds on what he calls "the socialization of evil," from the Holocaust to Vietnam to the death penalty.
Robert Jay Lifton, the prominent psychiatrist famous for his study of the doctors who aided Nazi war crimes, speaks out on the role of the American Psychological Association in aiding government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A new report alleges the APA, the world’s largest group of psychologists, secretly coordinated with government officials to align its ethics policy with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. "What the APA did was a scandal within a scandal," Lifton says. "[This] is something we have to confront as a nation."
After advocating against nuclear weapons for decades, the leading American psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton has recently focused on the global threat posed by climate change. Last year, he wrote a piece in The New York Times comparing the nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s to the climate justice movement of today. "People came to feel that it was deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to engage in nuclear war, and are coming to an awareness that it is deeply wrong, perhaps evil, to destroy our habitat and create a legacy of suffering for our children and grandchildren," Lifton said. One of the nation’s best-known psychiatrists, Lifton joins us to discuss the parallels between the threats of nuclear weapons and global warming, and the growing public awareness to meet the challenges they pose.
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Juan González discusses his latest exclusive in the New York Daily News on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to enact the most sweeping expansion of tenant protections in decades for the city’s one million rent-regulated apartments. One part of the mayor’s plan calls for an end to a law that allows landlords to charge a tenant market rates once a rent-regulated unit passes a monthly threshold of $2,500. Over the past 20 years, more than 250,000 rent-controlled apartments have been deregulated in the city, many in gentrifying neighborhoods.
A new article by The Intercept details how the National Security Agency is converting people’s private phone conversations into searchable text. According to documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the agency can now automatically recognize spoken words by generating rough transcripts and phonetic representations that are easily stored and combed for information. The top-secret documents show NSA analysts congratulated themselves on developing what they called "Google for Voice" nearly a decade ago. It remains unclear how widely the spy agency uses its speech-to-text capabilities to transcribe and index U.S. citizens’ verbal conversations. The documents suggest the NSA has frequently used the technology to intercept phone calls — particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Mexico — and to monitor international news. We are joined by Dan Froomkin, staff reporter at The Intercept.
A new report from the Israeli group Breaking the Silence on Israel’s policy of indiscriminate fire during the 2014 Gaza assault comes just a week after a United Nations probe confirmed Israeli forces conducted direct attacks on its facilities in Gaza during last summer’s offensive. The attacks took place despite repeated notifications with the GPS coordinates of U.N. sites to Israeli forces. Palestinians have vowed to bring the findings to the International Criminal Court, which it officially joined last month. We discuss the implications of Palestine’s accession to the ICC with two guests: Ambassador Nabil Abuznaid, head of the Palestinian Mission to the Netherlands, and John Dugard, former U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories and emeritus professor of international law at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
A new report based on testimonies of Israeli soldiers concludes the massive civilian death toll from last summer’s Israeli assault on Gaza resulted from a policy of indiscriminate fire. The Israeli veterans group Breaking the Silence released testimonies of more than 60 Israeli officers and soldiers which it says illustrate a "broad ethical failure" that "comes from the top of the chain of command." More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the assault, the vast majority civilians. On Israel’s side, 73 people were killed, all but six of them soldiers. During the 50-day operation, more than 20,000 Palestinian homes were destroyed, and hundreds of thousands of people are still displaced. We hear candid video testimonies from the soldiers and speak to former Israeli paratrooper Avner Gvaryahu, director of public outreach at Breaking the Silence.
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Human Rights Watch is accusing the Saudi Arabia-led coalition of dropping banned cluster bombs manufactured and supplied by the U.S. on civilian areas in Yemen. Cluster bombs contain dozens or even hundreds of smaller munitions designed to fan out over a wide area, often the size of a football field. They are banned under a 2008 treaty for the high civilian toll they can cause. The treaty was adopted by 116 countries — although not by Saudi Arabia, Yemen or the United States. According to Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-supplied cluster bombs have landed near rebel-held villages in northern Yemen, putting residents in danger. On Monday, the State Department said it is "looking into" the report’s allegations, adding it takes "all accounts of civilian deaths in the ongoing hostilities in Yemen very seriously." We are joined by Stephen Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, and Belkis Wille, Yemen and Kuwait researcher at Human Rights Watch.
New details have emerged on how the American Psychological Association, the world’s largest group of psychologists, aided government-sanctioned torture under President George W. Bush. A group of dissident psychologists have just published a 60-page report alleging the APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House and the Pentagon to change the APA ethics policy to align it with the operational needs of the CIA’s torture program. Much of the report, "All the President’s Psychologists: The American Psychological Association’s Secret Complicity with the White House and US Intelligence Community in Support of the CIA’s 'Enhanced' Interrogation Program," is based on hundreds of newly released internal APA emails from 2003 to 2006 that show top officials were in direct communication with the CIA. The report also reveals Susan Brandon, a behavioral science researcher working for President Bush, secretly drafted language that the APA inserted into its ethics policy on interrogations. We are joined by two of the report’s co-authors: Dr. Steven Reisner, a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology and member of the APA Council of Representatives, and Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
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An explosive new investigation published today by The Intercept reveals the untold story of how 43 students disappeared in Mexico on the night of September 26, 2014. It is based on more than two dozen interviews with survivors of the attacks and family members of the disappeared, as well as Mexican historians, human rights activists and journalists. The Intercept also reviewed official Mexican state and federal records including communication logs by security forces and sealed testimony from municipal police officers and gang members. The evidence shows repeated inconsistencies and omissions in the government’s account of what happened when the students went missing. We speak with Ryan Devereaux, staff reporter at The Intercept and author of the two-part investigation, "Ghosts of Iguala."
As protesters in Baltimore set fire to buildings and vehicles last Monday to protest the death of Freddie Gray, protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero drove a burning truck into the congressional building in the capital Chilpancingo. The protesters were marking seven months since the disappearance of 43 students. Relatives have continued to question the Mexican government’s claim the students were attacked by local police and turned over to members of a drug gang, who killed and incinerated them. We speak with three relatives of the missing students: María de Jesús Tlatempa Bello, mother of José Eduardo Bartolo Tlatempa; Clemente Rodríguez Moreno, father of Christian Alfonso Rodríguez Telumbre; and Cruz Bautista Salbador, uncle of Benjamín Ascencio Bautista. The relatives have criticized U.S. support for the drug war, saying Mexico is using the aid to kill innocent people. "If they were really fighting organized crime, as the United States government says, then the crime rates would have gone down," Bautista Salbador says. "Apparently they are not fighting organized crime; they are fighting organized people."
Click here to see our extended interview with the three relatives of the missing students.
The six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death have been released after posting bonds of $250,000 to $350,000. Meanwhile, Allen Bullock, an 18-year-old who turned himself in for participating in riots, is facing a bond of $500,000. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman speaks with residents Sunday as they welcome the charges against the officers but note there is much more work to be done to reduce police brutality and improve accountability.
"Our Time is Now": Baltimore State's Attorney Mosby Charges Six Baltimore Cops in Freddie Gray Death
Baltimore officials have lifted a 10 p.m. curfew and National Guard troops have begun to withdraw as peaceful protests continue over the death of Freddie Gray. On Friday, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced a range of charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport, including murder and manslaughter. Gray’s family says his voice box was crushed and his spine was "80 percent severed at his neck." Police said they arrested Gray for looking a lieutenant in the eye, then running away. We play excerpts from Mosby’s dramatic announcement, when she acknowledges protests calling for justice in the case and argues officers illegally arrested Gray without probable cause, then ignored his pleas for medical help. "To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment," Mosby says. "Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now."
- Baltimore Lifts Curfew After 6 Cops Charged for Death of Freddie Gray
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- Father of Missing Mexican Student on Baltimore: "It's All Government Repression"
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- Germany: Artist Unveils Statues of Snowden, Assange and Manning
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As independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont announces his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, we speak to former presidential candidate Ralph Nader. "We don’t want a coronation of Hillary Clinton," Nader says of Sanders’ run. We also talk about his new book, "Return to Sender: Unanswered Letters to the President, 2001-2015." The book is dedicated in part to the workers of the U.S. Postal Service.
Update: Warrants have been issued for the six officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death. Watch the full press conference by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Protests continue in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray as more evidence emerges that the 25-year-old died from injuries inside a police transport van. On Thursday, police revealed that the van made a previously undisclosed stop with Gray inside. The new stop was discovered from security camera footage, not from speaking to the officers involved. The investigation also reportedly concludes Gray’s spinal injuries had to have happened inside the van, not when he was initially detained and dragged on the ground. The medical examiner reportedly found that Gray’s spinal injury was caused by his slamming into a bolt in the back of the van. It remains unclear how. Meanwhile, a key witness in the case has rejected police claims that blamed Gray for his own injuries. Baltimore police investigators have given prosecutors the initial findings from their probe, paving the way for potential indictments. We are joined by Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP.
Nepal’s army chief has warned the death toll from Saturday’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake could reach 15,000. The toll now stands at over 6,000, with almost double that number injured. Hundreds of thousands have been left homeless. Thousands of survivors slept in tents this week rather than risk returning to damaged homes susceptible to collapsing in an aftershock. The World Food Program warns 1.4 million people require emergency food assistance, and the United Nations estimates 1.3 million children are in urgent need of humanitarian aid. The quake opened massive rifts in roads and destroyed historic structures, including the 19th century Dharahara Tower in the capital Kathmandu, which was packed with sightseers when it collapsed. We go to Kathmandu to speak with Kunda Dixit, editor of the Nepali Times.