Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first reported Edward Snowden’s leaks, is leaving The Guardian this week to join a new media venture funded by eBay founder and multi-billionaire Pierre Omidyar. "Usually [dissenting journalists] are on the outside of institutional power, and what this is really about is being able to create a very well-funded, powerful, well-fortified institution that’s designed not to just tolerate that kind of journalism, but to enable it and protect it, strengthen it and empower it," Greenwald says. "The people who we’re going to select are all going to be people who take the same view of adversarial journalism, that it’s about holding the most powerful factions accountable, fearlessly, without regard to threats from the government or corporate factions. I think it’s going to be a very formidable force in shaping how journalism is understood and how it’s practiced."
The spat over U.S. spying on Germany grew over the weekend following reports the National Security Agency has monitored the phone calls of Chancellor Angela Merkel since as early as 2002, before she even came to office. The NSA also spied on Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, after he refused to support the Iraq War. NSA staffers working out of the U.S. embassy in Berlin reportedly sent their findings directly to the White House. The German tabloid Bild also reports President Obama was made aware of Merkel’s phone tap in 2010, contradicting his apparent claim to her last week that he would have stopped the spying had he known. In another new disclosure, the Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports today the NSA tracked some 60 million calls in Spain over the course of a month last year. A delegation of German and French lawmakers are now in Washington to press for answers on the allegations of U.S. spying in their home countries. We discuss the latest revelations with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who first reported Edward Snowden’s leaks.
As new revelations of National Security Agency spying stoke the ire of Germany, France and Spain, thousands of people marched in Washington, D.C., on Saturday in a rally against government surveillance. Organizers say the protest was the largest to date against NSA monitoring since Edward Snowden’s disclosures became public in June. We hear from Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department lawyer who now works for the Government Accountability Project, reading a message from Edward Snowden; NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was charged with espionage after he was suspected of revealing information about the agency’s warrantless wiretapping program; and New Mexico’s former Republican governor, Gary Johnson.
- Reports: NSA Spying on Germany Began in 2002; Obama Was Briefed in 2010
- Report: NSA Tracked Millions of Phone Calls in Spain
- Thousands March Against NSA Surveillance in D.C.
- Syria Submits Inventory of Chemical Stockpile
- Armed Syrian Rebels Reject Geneva Peace Talks
- 66 Killed in Over a Dozen Iraq Bombings
- Obama Admin Seeks Delay of New Iran Sanctions
- Saudi Women Defy Driving Ban
- Thousands March for Jailed Opposition Activists in Moscow
- Colombian Rebels Free Kidnapped Ex-Marine
- Demolition of Sandy Hook Elementary Underway
- Gunman Kills 4, Self in Phoenix Shooting
- Obama Touts Education Spending in Brooklyn Speech
- Report: North Dakota Failed to Disclose Nearly 300 Oil Spills
- Rock Legend Lou Reed Dies at 71
As the problem-plagued roll-out of President Obama’s signature healthcare policy undergoes congressional scrutiny for the first time, we speak with Clay Johnson, a former Obama campaign innovation expert who founded Blue State Digital, the company that built Obama’s 2008 website. During a House panel on Thursday, lawmakers questioned executives of two of the lead contractors behind the website, healthcare.gov — CGI Federal and Quality Software Systems Incorporated — about the myriad of glitches and defects. Johnson says the new website is built with outdated and proprietary software. "When the government is building software like this, it ought to be built out in the open — built with a licensing system called open source so that the public truly owns it," Johnson says. He notes that "In 1996, Congress lobotomized itself by getting rid of its technology think tank called the Technology Assessment Office. So they’re writing bills where they don’t understand the technology required in their laws."
We look at how the United States uses drones in war, and their impact, through the eyes of one of the first U.S. drone operators to speak out. Former U.S. Air Force pilot Brandon Bryant served as a sensor operator for the Predator program from 2007 to 2011, manning the camera on the unmanned aerial vehicles that carried out attacks overseas. After he left the active duty in the Air Force, he was presented with a certificate that credited his squadron for 1,626 kills. In total, Bryant says he was involved in seven missions in which his Predator fired a missile at a human target, and about 13 people died in those strikes — actions he says left him traumatized. "The clinical definition of PTSD is an anxiety disorder associated with witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event," Bryant says. "Think how you would feel if you were part of something that you felt violated the Constitution."
Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, has called on Britain and the United States to release confidential reports into the countries’ involvement in kidnapping and torture of terrorism suspects during the era of the George W. Bush administration — after years of denial. "A crucial part of the duty of accountability under international law is the so-called right to truth," Emmerson says. "That’s a right that is not just belonging to the victims, but to society at large."
The Obama administration’s drone and targeted killing policy will come under scrutiny at the United Nations today with a report concluding at least 400 Pakistani civilians have been killed by drone strikes over the past decade. Another 200 victims have been deemed "probable non-combatants." The report also looks at U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia, as well as Israel’s use of drones in Gaza. The U.N. report comes at a time when U.S. drone policy is facing unprecedented public criticism. Earlier this week, Amnesty International said some civilian drone killings in Pakistan may amount to war crimes. Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen. On Wednesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif urged President Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan. Ahead of unveiling his findings today at the United Nations General Assembly, Ben Emmerson, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, joins us to discuss his probe of the U.S. drone war.
- Germany, France Seek "No-Spying" Pledge from U.S.
- Report: NSA Spied on 35 Foreign Leaders
- Anti-Surveillance "Stop Watching Us" Rally Set for D.C.
- Obama Renews Call for Congressional Action on Immigration Reform
- Contractors Face Congressional Scrutiny on Healthcare Exchange Rollout
- National Guard Members Wounded in Tennessee Shooting
- Police Kill 13-Year-Old Boy Carrying Assault Weapon Replica
- Coalition Seeks Justice Dept. Probe of NYPD Spying on Muslims
- African-American Shoppers Accuse Barneys of Racial Profiling
- City College of New York Students Protest Closure of Campus Activist Center
- Catholic Worker Activists Acquitted of Protest at Drone Base
- Ex-NSA Chief Michael Hayden Outed for Off-the-Record Interview
Jailed in the U.S. for conspiracy to commit espionage, the Cuban intelligence agents known as the Cuban Five say they were in fact monitoring violent right-wing Cuban exile groups, not spying on the United States. Ricardo Alarcón, Cuba’s former foreign minister and, up until earlier this year, president of the Cuban National Assembly, has been one of the Cuban Five’s most vocal supporters. Alarcón joins us from Havana to discuss the meetings between Cuban authorities and the FBI in Cuba and the threat posed by militant exiles. "If President Obama is really interested in [projecting] a more positive image of U.S. policy abroad, if he is interested in improving relations with Latin America, he better listen to what many governments in Latin America have been telling him: Simply, free the five," Alarcón says.
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, the only freed member of the Cuban Five, René González, speaks out after a 13-year imprisonment in the United States. The five Cuban intelligence agents were arrested in the United States in 1998 and convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage. They say they were not spying on the United States, but rather trying to monitor violent right-wing Cuban exile groups responsible for attacks inside Cuba. In Cuba, the five are seen as national heroes. González was released in October 2011 and returned to Cuba in April. Joining us from Havana, González discusses why he came to the United States to spy on Cuban exiles, his arrest, and the four other members of the Cuban Five who remain in jail.
- Germany Complains to U.S. over Spying on Merkel
- Pakistani PM Asks Obama to End U.S. Strikes; Report Details U.S.-Pakistani Cooperation on Drone War
- Syria Hit by Blackouts After Attack on Pipeline
- Kerry, Netanyahu Hold Talks in Italy
- Russia Reduces Charges Against Greenpeace Activists
- U.S. Extends Deadline for Health Exchange Enrollment
- Bank of America Found Liable for Countrywide Fraud
- Detroit Bankruptcy Trial Opens Amidst Protests
- Poll: 58% Support Marijuana Legalization
- FCC Extends Deadline for Low-Power FM Radio License Applications
- Food Giants Spending Millions to Defeat GMO Labeling in Washington State
- Hawaiian Island Approves Anti-Pesticide Protections
We turn to the latest news in the so-called "kids-for-cash" scandal in Pennsylvania, in which judges took money in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to for-profit youth jails. In 2011, former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella was convicted of accepting bribes for putting juveniles into detention centers operated by the companies PA Child Care and a sister company, Western Pennsylvania Child Care. Ciavarella and another judge, Michael Conahan, are said to have received $2.6 million for their efforts. Now the private juvenile-detention companies at the heart of the kids-for-cash scandal in Pennsylvania have settled a civil lawsuit for $2.5 million. The state has also passed much-needed reforms aimed at improving its juvenile justice system and ensuring such abuses are not repeated. We are joined in Philadelphia by Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, which helped expose the corrupt judges and represented the families’ class action suit.
We look at a major new investigation into how Youth Services International, a private prison company that runs juvenile detention centers, is rapidly expanding its services, despite a record of abuse and neglect over the past 25 years. Despite allegations that include the neglect and abuse of young prisoners and the bribing of public officials to win contracts, Youth Services International has expanded its contracts to operate juvenile prisons in several states. More than 40,000 boys and girls in 16 states have gone through these facilities in the past two decades. This comes as nearly 40 percent of all detained juveniles are now committed to private facilities, and in Florida, it is 100 percent. We are joined by Chris Kirkham, business reporter at The Huffington Post, where he has just published his new two-part investigative series, "Prisoners of Profit: Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record of Juvenile Abuse." Kirkham explains: "When oversight is not as strong as it can be, companies are only going to be incentivized to do what the government that’s paying them makes them do. And so in these cases if the oversight is lacking, if there is not constant monitoring, I think there is an incentive to cut costs and services."
Amnesty International has released a major new report on how U.S. drone strikes kill civilians in Pakistan, where it says some deaths may amount to war crimes. The group reviewed 45 drone strikes that have occurred in North Waziristan since January 2012. It found at least 19 civilians were killed in just two of those strikes, despite claims by the Obama administration it is accurately targeting militants. In a separate report, Human Rights Watch criticized U.S. drone strikes in Yemen that have killed civilians. We are joined by Mustafa Qadri, Pakistan researcher at Amnesty International and author of the report, "'Will I be Next?' U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan." Qadri asks: "How do they justify killing a grandmother if these weapons are so precise, if their standards and their policies for using them are very rigorous?" He also clarifies, "It’s not enough that a person is a militant to say that it’s OK to kill them. They have to be taking active part in hostilities to be lawfully targeted, and some other requirements as well."
- Obama Meets with Pakistani PM as Reports Fault U.S. on Drones
- Syrian Opposition Unsure on Geneva Peace Conference
- Head of U.N.-OPCW Reports Progress in Syria Mission
- Suicide, Gun Attacks Kill Scores in Iraq
- Thousands Ordered to Evacuate Australia Bushfires; PM Rejects Climate Change Link
- Mexico Says Obama Pledges to Probe NSA Spying Claims
- White House Admits New Flaws in Health Exchange Rollout
- Appeals Court: GPS Tracking of Vehicles Requires Probable Cause
- 10 U.S. CEOs Earned Over $100 Million for First Time
- Panel: U.S. Failing to Stop Antibiotic Use in Livestock Feed
- Chicago Palestinian Activist Accused of Immigration Fraud
- Hundreds Rally for Teen Rape Victim in Maryville, Missouri
- Ohio Man Who Challenged Ohio Gay Marriage Ban Dies
The civil rights lawsuits filed by the families of Samuel Cruz and Mohamed Bah, both murdered by police after family members called 911 for medical assistance, include a call to train police how to handle crisis intervention and how to respond to calls for help with people who are emotionally disturbed. Unlike the 2,500 communities in over 40 states, New York City and New Rochelle police do not have crisis intervention teams designed by mental health professionals. Many of these so-called CITs are based on what has become known as the "Memphis Model," a policy developed there after an officer killed a mentally ill person in 1987. We’re joined by Sam Cochran, retired police officer who served as the coordinator of the Memphis Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team for 20 years, from 1988 to 2008. He is now project coordinator with the University of Memphis’s CIT Center, where he is nationally known for his work.
On May 26, Elsa Cruz called 911 because she was worried her husband, Samuel Cruz, had stopped taking his medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Police from New Rochelle, New York, soon arrived. By the time they had left, Cruz had been shot dead. Police claimed he lunged at officers with a knife. Cruz was a 48-year-old artist from Puerto Rico. The Cruz family is filing a lawsuit against the New Rochelle Police Department today. We speak to Elsa and her attorneys, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys.
Click here to watch part 1 of this segment about the case of Mohamed Bah, who was killed by New York City police after his mother called 911 for medical help.
As the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation holds protests in several cities today, we bring you the shocking story of Mohamed Bah, a 28-year-old college student from the African nation of Guinea. He was shot dead by New York City police officers on September 25, 2012. Police arrived at Mohamed Bah’s apartment after his mother, Hawa Bah, called 911 because she thought he was depressed, and wanted an ambulance to take him to the hospital. Police claimed he lunged at officers with a knife. But many questions remain unanswered. We are joined by Hawa and her attorneys, Mayo Bartlett and Randolph McLaughlin, both longtime civil rights attorneys.
Click here to watch part 2 of this segment about a similar case involving the police murder of a bipolar Puerto Rican artist whose wife called 911 for medical help.
- Amnesty Report: U.S. Drone Killings in Pakistan May Amount to War Crimes
- Amnesty: Pakistanis Fearful of the U.S. "the Way They are Fearful of the Taliban"
- HRW: U.S. Air Strikes in Yemen Kill Scores of Civilians in Violation of International Law
- White House Admits "Legitimate Questions" Raised by Reports of NSA Spying on Allies
- Obama Defends Healthcare Law After Massive Online Failures
- Assad Dampens Hopes for Peace Talks on Syria
- Middle-School Student Opens Fire at School in Nevada
- 2 Women Shot Dead at Senior Center in Detroit
- New Jersey Gov. Christie Drops Challenge to Same-Sex Marriage
- Firefighters in Australia Face More Than 60 Blazes
- 15-Year Sentence for Qatari Poet Upheld
- Transit Workers in California Reach Tentative Deal to End Strike
- Southwestern Energy Loses Bid to Block Anti-Fracking Protests in Canada
- NAACP Names Former House Clerk Lorraine Miller as Interim President