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: 11 hours 44 min ago

Justice or Vengeance?: ACLU Raises Concerns as Boston Marathon Bombing Trial Begins

Tue 07 11 AM

Jury selection began Monday in the case of "The United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev," one of the most high-profile federal trials in decades. The 21-year-old Tsarnaev is accused of planting bombs near the finish line at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and wounded more than 260. It was the nation’s worst bombing since the Oklahoma City attack of 1995. Tsarnaev faces 30 counts, more than half carrying the death penalty. Jury selection will take several weeks followed by a trial of up to five months. But as bombing victims and the wider Boston community search for closure, concerns around due process could prolong the case for years. Ahead of the trial, defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to move the proceedings out of state, saying their client can’t receive a fair trial in the city where the bombing occurred. Federal prosecutors are also seeking the death penalty in a state where executions are barred. That will mean harsh constraints on the jury pool, ruling out anyone who opposes capital punishment. In a dissent to the First Circuit Appeals Court’s rejection of a trial delay, Judge Juan R. Torruella criticized the decision to proceed with the case, writing: "Such a rushed and frenetic process is the antithesis of due process.” We discuss the Boston Marathon bombing trial and its due process concerns with Carol Rose, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts.

From Drone Strikes to Black Sites, How U.S. Foreign Policy Runs Under a Cloak of Secrecy

Mon 07 43 AM

At least nine Pakistanis were killed Sunday in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, the first reported drone strike of 2015. News accounts of the strike are based on unnamed Pakistani government and security officials. The Obama administration has said nothing so far. For years, the United States did not even publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone strikes. The drone program is just one example of the national security state’s reliance on secret operations. The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report revealed another example: the shadowy network of overseas CIA black sites where the United States held and tortured prisoners. The report also noted the CIA shrouded itself in a cloak of secrecy keeping policymakers largely in the dark about the brutality of its detainee interrogations. The agency reportedly deceived the White House, the National Security Council, the Justice Department and Congress about the efficacy of its controversial interrogation techniques. We are joined by a guest who has closely followed the debate over national security and secrecy: Scott Horton, a human rights attorney and contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, whose new book is "Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."

Defying U.S. & Israel, Will ICC Membership Bring Justice to Stateless & Occupied Palestinians?

Mon 07 14 AM

In a move opposed by the United States and Israel, Palestinian leaders have submitted a request to join the International Criminal Court and sign over a dozen other international treaties. The Palestinian Authority says it will seek the prosecution of Israeli officials for war crimes in the Occupied Territories. In retaliation, Israel has halted the transfer of tax revenues needed to pay for Palestinian salaries and public services. The Palestinian Authority opted to join the ICC after the United States and Israel successfully lobbied against a U.N. Security Council measure calling for an end to the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2017. We are joined by two guests: Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of "Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer" and "Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today’s United Nations"; and Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of "The Battle for Justice in Palestine."

Russell Brand on Revolution, Fighting Inequality, Addiction, Militarized Police & Noam Chomsky

Fri 07 40 AM

In a holiday special, we feature our interview with Russell Brand. For years he has been one of Britain’s most popular comedians, but in 2014, he also emerged as a leading voice of Britain’s political left. He has taken part in anti-austerity protests, spoken at Occupy Wall Street protests and marched with the hacker collective Anonymous. A recovering addict himself, Brand has also become a leading critic of Britain’s drug laws. He has just come out with a new book expanding on his critique of the political system. It is simply titled, "Revolution."

Exclusive: Julian Assange on "When Google Met WikiLeaks" While He was Under House Arrest

Fri 07 20 AM

In a holiday special, we feature an exclusive Democracy Now! interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. In July, Amy Goodman spoke to Assange after he had just entered his third year inside Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has political asylum. He faces investigations in both Sweden and the United States. In the United States, a secret grand jury is investigating WikiLeaks for its role in publishing a trove of leaked documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as State Department cables. In Sweden, he is wanted for questioning on allegations of sexual misconduct, though no charges have been filed. During his interview, Assange talked about his new book, which at that time had not yet been released, titled, "When Google Met Wikileaks." The book was later published in September.

Who Goes to Jail? Matt Taibbi on "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap"

Thu 07 40 AM

In part two of our holiday special, we feature our April 2014 interview with Matt Taibbi about his book, "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap." The book asks why the vast majority of white-collar criminals have avoided prison since the financial crisis began, while an unequal justice system imprisons the poor and people of color on a mass scale. "It is much more grotesque to consider the non-enforcement of white-collar criminals when you do consider how incredibly aggressive law enforcement is with regard to everybody else," Taibbi says.

Matt Taibbi and "The $9 Billion Witness" Who Exposed How JPMorgan Chase Helped Wreck the Economy

Thu 07 00 AM

In holiday special, we feature a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive interview with Alayne Fleischmann, the whistleblower who helped the Justice Department force JPMorgan Chase to pay one of the largest fines in U.S. history for its role in the financial crisis. She is featured in a Rolling Stone investigation by recently returned Matt Taibbi, who also joins us. Fleischmann details how she witnessed "massive criminal securities fraud" in the bank’s mortgage operations. Taibbi’s investigation is headlined, "The $9 Billion Witness: Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking."

At End of Warmest Year on Record, "Alternative Nobel" Winner Bill McKibben Urges Action on Climate

Wed 07 46 AM

As the warmest year on record comes to a close, we end the last show of 2014 with climate activist and author Bill McKibben. He recently announced he is stepping down from the daily leadership of the climate action group 350.org, which he co-founded in 2007 and where he has been a leading voice warning of the dangers of not confronting global warming. He says he will remain a senior adviser and active member of the board, keeping 90 percent of his daily work the same. We play an excerpt of McKibben’s speech earlier this month in Stockholm, Sweden, where he received the Right Livelihood Award, known as the alternative Nobel Prize.

"The Great Reformer": Pope Francis Biographer on How Pontiff Became Star Diplomat & Voice for Change

Wed 07 29 AM

Pope Francis emerged this year as a star diplomat when he played a key role in the thawing of relations between the Cuba and the United States and presidents of both countries thanked him by name for his support. Earlier this month, the pope offered to assist the United States with another diplomatic hurdle: its efforts to close the Guantánamo prison. The Vatican has reportedly offered to help find adequate humanitarian solutions through its international contacts. We speak with Austen Ivereigh, whose new biography about the pope outlines these achievements, including the pontiff’s call for the Catholic Church "to create still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence" even as he has stopped short of embracing the ordination of women to the priesthood. Ivereigh also examines Pope Francis’ recent steps to recognize the significance of liberation theology in Latin America, which has faced a decades-long attack by the Vatican for its socialist orientation.

Pope Francis Calls for Action on Climate Change & Capitalism on a Planet "Exploited by Human Greed"

Wed 07 14 AM

Pope Francis is set to make history by issuing the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change, which will urge 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action. The document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests who will distribute it to their parishioners. Given the sheer number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide, the pope’s clarion call to tackle climate change could reach far more people than even the largest environmental groups. "The document will take a position in favor of the scientific consensus that climate change is real ... and link the deforestation and destruction of the natural environment to the particular economic model of which Pope Francis has been a critic," says our guest, Austen Ivereigh, author of a new biography called "The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope." The pope also plans to address the United Nations General Assembly and convene a summit of the world’s main religions in hopes of bolstering next year’s crucial U.N. climate meeting in Paris.

Did the U.S. Abandon an American Hostage in Syria? Inside the Secret Bid to Free Peter Kassig

Tue 07 42 AM

As we explore how the United States fails to win the release of its hostages overseas, we are joined by Stanley Cohen, a lawyer directly involved in secret talks to win the freedom of U.S. aid worker Peter Kassig. Cohen argues that the U.S. government missed a chance to prevent Kassig’s beheading last month by the Islamic State in Syria. A controversial attorney whose past clients include Hamas, Hezbollah and the son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, Cohen tapped his extensive contacts in a failed effort to win Kassig’s freedom. With the FBI’s blessing, Cohen flew to the Middle East where he spearheaded talks between figures aligned with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. But the plan fell apart when Jordan arrested a leading cleric who played a key role in the talks and the United States refused to intervene. Kassig was killed shortly after. "The United States made a decision — I don’t know if it was the White House, I don’t know if it was the State Department — they made a decision to throw Mr. Kassig under the bus, because, for whatever reason, the Jordanian government did not want this to happen," Cohen says.

As American Captives Die While Others Walk Free, Is U.S. Hostage Policy Costing Citizens' Lives?

Tue 07 12 AM

In a year that saw the brutal televised beheading of Western journalists and aid workers by the Islamic State, the United States is facing calls to change a hostage policy that may have undermined chances to save their lives. Journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as aid worker Peter Kassig, were all beheaded after being kidnapped by ISIS in Syria. Luke Somers, a photojournalist, was killed in Yemen this month during a failed U.S. rescue mission. Family members of the hostages have criticized U.S. government policy of refusing to engage with their captors, including the payment of ransom. Meanwhile, at least 15 hostages also kidnapped by ISIS in Syria have walked free. That’s because their governments — all but one European — have negotiated and paid millions of dollars to win their release. But not only does the United States refuse to negotiate or pay ransoms to captors, it has threatened the hostages’ families with prosecution if they try to do so on their own. We host a roundtable discussion with three guests: Philip Balboni, president and CEO of GlobalPost, where Foley was a freelance reporter when he was taken hostage in 2012; Gary Noesner, former chief of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Unit; and Sarah Shourd, who was was held prisoner by Iran for 410 days before ultimately being released in a deal brokered by Oman.

NYPD Officer Speaks Out on Fellow Cops Who Turned Backs to Mayor & Why People of Color Fear Police

Mon 07 45 AM

Some 20,000 people, including a sea of uniformed officers, gathered in New York City on Saturday for the funeral of NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, one of the two killed in a targeted ambush one week before. It was said to be one of the largest police funerals in New York City history. Controversy erupted as hundreds of police turned their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio as he delivered a eulogy inside the church, protesting his earlier comments on police brutality and racial profiling. It was the second time officers have turned their backs on de Blasio since the two officers were killed. We are joined by Adhyl Polanco, an NYPD officer who says those who shunned de Blasio do not represent the feelings held by many police officers. Polanco previously blew the whistle on superiors who told officers to meet a quota under "stop and frisk," or face punishment — a move that led to his suspension without pay and later modified assignment.

The Worst Narco-State in History? After 13-Year War, Afghanistan's Opium Trade Floods the Globe

Mon 07 31 AM

In the 13 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, the country’s opium production has doubled, now accounting for about 90 percent of the world’s supply. To learn more, we are joined by Matthieu Aikins, a Kabul-based journalist whose latest report for Rolling Stone magazine explores Afghanistan’s heroin boom. "What has happened in Afghanistan over the last 13 years has been the flourishing of a narco-state that is really without any parallel in history," Aikins says. "This is something that is extraordinary, that is catastrophic, that has grave danger for the future and yet there has been virtually no discussion of in recent years."

Peace Activist Kathy Kelly Heads to Prison for Protesting U.S. Drone War

Mon 07 24 AM

Peace activist Kathy Kelly is about to begin a three-month prison sentence for protesting the U.S. drone war at a military base in Missouri earlier this year. Kelly, along with another activist, was arrested after offering bread and an indictment against drone warfare. Kelly is the co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare.