Despite Saudi Arabia’s funding and arming of militants in Syria, Iraq and beyond, President Obama is set to visit the kingdom this week to meet with King Abdullah. It’s the only Middle Eastern or Gulf nation on Obama’s overseas itinerary. Many analysts say the conflict in Syria has grown into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia’s links to jihadist groups go back decades. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi. The 9/11 Commission Report identified Saudi Arabia as the main source of al-Qaeda financing. And in 2010, WikiLeaks published U.S. diplomatic cables which identified Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups. Members of Congress and human rights organizations have also been calling on Obama to address the kingdom’s treatment of women, religious minorities and political activists. We are joined by Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for The Independent. Cockburn wrote The Independent’s recent five-part series examining the resurgence of jihadists across the Middle East, "Al-Qa’ida’s Second Act: Why the Global 'War on Terror' Went Wrong."
Egypt is facing international criticism after the largest mass sentencing in its modern history. On Monday, 529 supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi were ordered killed over the death of a single police officer in protests last summer. The trial lasted just over two days, with the majority tried in absentia. The exceptionally swift trial and harsh sentences mark a new escalation of the Egyptian military regime’s crackdown on Morsi supporters, which has led to hundreds of deaths and thousands of arrests. In another closely watched trial, Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy have been denied bail after nearly three months in prison. They are accused of belonging to or aiding a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, two leading Egyptian activists have been freed after over 100 days behind bars. Alaa Abd El-Fattah and Ahmed Abdel Rahman are among a group of activists charged with violating the military regime’s anti-protest law. They and 23 others have been released on bail but still face a trial that resumes next month. We go to Cairo to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
- Obama: Gov't Needs to Win Back Public's Trust with Surveillance Reforms
- Snowden: Curbs on Bulk Collection a "Turning Point" in Surveillance Debate
- Mudslide Toll Hits 24; Report Warned of "Catastrophic" Land Instability
- GM Hid Fatal Safety Defects from Victims' Families
- BP Refinery Used for Tar Sands Oil Leaks into Lake Michigan
- Corporate Challenge to Contraception Coverage Heard by Supreme Court
- Admin Extends Deadline for Healthcare Enrollment
- 80 Killed in Iraq Violence
- U.N.: Death Sentences for Morsi Supporters Violate International Law
- Obama: "Regional Power" Russia Acted "Out of Weakness"
- European Protesters Urge Obama to Close Gitmo
- 7 Undocumented Immigrants Block Detention Center in Alabama
- Immigrant Detainees Resume Hunger Strike in Washington State
- CBO: Immigration Reform Would Trim Deficit by $900B over 20 Years
- Wrongly Convicted Prisoner Released After 32 Years Behind Bars
Over the past decade, Ryan Shapiro has become a leading freedom of information activist, unearthing tens of thousands of once-secret documents. His work focuses on how the government infiltrates and monitors political movements, in particular those for animal and environmental rights. Today, he has around 700 Freedom of Information Act requests before the FBI, seeking around 350,000 documents. That tenacity has led the Justice Department to call him the "most prolific" requester there is — in one year, two requests per day. It has also led the FBI to claim his dissertation research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would "irreparably damage national security." Shapiro discusses his methodology in obtaining government documents through FOIA requests, and the details that have emerged therein about the crackdown on animal rights activists.
Transparency activist Ryan Shapiro discusses a growing controversy over the FBI’s monitoring of Occupy Houston in 2011. The case centers on what the FBI knew about an alleged assassination plot against Occupy leaders and why it failed to share this information. The plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted document obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund through a FOIA request. The document mentioned an individual "planned to engage in sniper attacks against protesters in Houston, Texas." When Shapiro asked for more details, the FBI said it found 17 pages of pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some information redacted. Shapiro sued, alleging the FBI had improperly invoked FOIA exemptions. Last week, Federal District Judge Rosemary Collyer agreed with Shapiro, ruling the FBI had to explain why it withheld the records.
In a Democracy Now! exclusive, one of the nation’s most prolific transparency activists, Ryan Shapiro, reveals he is suing the NSA, FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency in an attempt to force them to open their records on one of the country’s greatest secrets: how the U.S. helped apartheid South Africa capture Nelson Mandela in 1962, leading to his 27 years in prison. The U.S. has never confirmed its involvement, but details have leaked out over the years. Shapiro already has a pending suit against the CIA over its role in Mandela’s capture and to find out why it took until 2008 for the former South African president to be removed from the U.S. terrorist watch list. The NSA has already rejected one of Shapiro’s requests for its information on Mandela, citing "national defense."
- Obama Admin to Propose Reforms of NSA Bulk Phone Spying
- Malaysian PM: Plane Went Down in Southern Indian Ocean
- U.S., Allies Expel Russia from G8 over Crimea
- U.S. Senators Advance Massive Ukraine Aid Bill
- Right-Wing Nationalist Leader Killed in Ukraine
- Afghanistan: Election Office Comes Under Attack
- Death Toll from Mudslide in Washington State Rises to 14
- More Than 100 Congolese Refugees Die When Boat Capsizes
- 3 Al Jazeera Journalists Denied Bail in Egypt; New Mass Trial Opens
- Spain: Hundreds of Thousands Join "Dignity Marches" Against Austerity
- U.N.: 13 of 14 Warmest Years on Record Occurred Since 2000
- Report: Air Pollution Killed 7 Million People in 2012
- Supreme Court Hears Corporate Challenges to Birth Control Mandate
- New Mexico: Video Shows Police Shooting Homeless Man After He Appears to Surrender
- New York: Corrections Officer Arrested over Death of Rikers Prisoner Who Ate Soap Ball
Dear White People: Film Tackles Racial Stereotypes on Campus & Being a "Black Face in a White Space"
As colleges across the country, from Harvard to University of Mississippi, continue to witness racism on campus, we look at a new film that tackles the issue through comedy and satire. "Dear White People" follows a group of black students at a fictional, predominantly white, Ivy League school. One of the main characters, Sam, hosts the campus radio show "Dear White People," where she confronts the racist stereotypes and dilemmas faced by students of color. Racial tensions on campus come to a head when a group of mostly white students throw an African-American-themed party, wearing blackface and using watermelons and fake guns as props. We speak to actor Marque Richardson and award-winning, first-time director Justin Simien.
- Obama Meets with G7 in Europe; Ukraine Orders Crimea Withdrawal
- Leaks: NSA Hacked Chinese Telecom Firm
- House Intel Chair: Snowden Backing Russia in Ukraine
- Fmr. President Carter Uses Postal Mail to Avoid NSA Spying
- U.S. Deploys Special Forces to Hunt Kony in Uganda
- Egyptian Court Sentences Hundreds of Morsi Supporters to Death
- Leading Egyptian Activists Freed on Bail
- 3 Palestinians Killed, Several Wounded in Israeli Raid on West Bank
- 8 Killed, 18 Missing in Washington State Mudslide
- Barge Spills Shipping Oil in Texas
- Same-Sex Couples Wed in Michigan Before Ruling Placed on Hold
- FBI Agent Cleared of Wrongdoing in Todashev Shooting
- Undocumented Immigrant Who Sought Refuge in Chicago Church Released After Re-entry
- Report: Sikh Children Face High Rates of Bullying
- Army Whistleblower Files Papers for Name Change
- Netflix CEO Backs Net Neutrality After Comcast Deal
A new internal report says the Justice Department massively overstated its successes in targeting mortgage fraud while in fact ranking it as a low priority for investigation. The Justice Department’s inspector general says despite playing a central role in the nation’s financial crisis, mortgage fraud was deemed either a low priority or not a priority at all. This comes as a recently revealed internal Wells Fargo document appears to guide lawyers step by step on how to fabricate missing documents to foreclose on homeowners. Wells Fargo is the country’s largest mortgage servicer and services some nine million home loans.
Scott Olsen survived two tours in Iraq but almost died when he was hit with a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest in 2011. He was hospitalized in critical condition with a fractured skull, a broken neck vertebrae and brain swelling. At the time of the shooting, Olsen was wearing fatigues and a Veterans for Peace T-shirt. Moments after he was shot, police fired a bright flash grenade at a group of Occupy protesters who attempted to help treat him. Soon after that, protesters carried Olsen away as blood streamed down his face. Scott was later released from the hospital and sued the Oakland Police Department. He announced today on Democracy Now! he had reached a seven-figure settlement.
The latest disclosures from Edward Snowden show the National Security Agency is recording every single phone call made in an undisclosed foreign country. A surveillance system called MYSTIC stores the billions of phone conversations for up to 30 days. Agents are able to rewind and review any conversation within the previous month using a tool codenamed RETRO. One senior manager for the program compared it to a time machine. We speak to Ashkan Soltani, who co-wrote the Washington Post exposé on MYSTIC and has closely studied the cost of surveillance. He has co-written a series of other exposés for the Post that revealed how the NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking and how the NSA secretly broke into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centers around the world.
- Russia, U.S. Trade Sanctions over Ukraine; EU Leaders Sign Deal with Ukraine Gov't
- Afghanistan: AFP Reporter Among Dead in Wave of New Year's Attacks
- Reid Orders Probe of Senate Computers After Reports of CIA Spying
- Report: U.S. Boycotts Talks on Drone Strikes in Geneva
- Turkey Attempts to Block Twitter, Causing Twitter to Erupt
- Report: Groups Descended from Right-Wing Death Squads Slaughtering Residents of Colombian City
- Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Removed by President
- Texas: Hunger-Striking Immigrants in Private Prison Report Retaliation
- Top U.S. Army General Avoids Prison Time in Sexual Assault Case
- Former Navy Football Player Acquitted of Sexual Assault
- Florida Executes 5th Prisoner Using Controversial Drug Method
- North Carolina: Duke Energy Cited for Dumping 61 Million Gallons of Toxic Waste
- New York: 59 Arrested Protesting for Economic Justice at State Capitol in Albany
- NYC Mayor de Blasio Signs Paid Sick Leave Bill
- Lawrence Walsh, Prosecutor in Iran-Contra Scandal, Dies at 102
- Anti-Gay Extemist Fred Phelps Dead at 84
Texas has executed death row prisoner Ray Jasper after obtaining a new supply of pentobarbital, the drug it uses for executions, just days before its current batch was set to expire. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has postponed two executions because it lacks the drugs required to put prisoners to death. As death penalty drugs become scarce, the assistant Oklahoma attorney general has joked with a Texas colleague that he might be able to help Texas get the drugs in exchange for 50-yard-line tickets for a top college football game between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The exchange is revealed in email obtained by The Colorado Independent, which also exposed how Oklahoma injected leftover lethal drugs into the bodies of dead prisoners. We are joined by Susan Greene, editor of The Colorado Independent.
"Medicaid expansion now!" was the rallying cry this week of a rising grassroots movement spreading across the South. Nearly 40 people were arrested at the Georgia State Senate on Tuesday protesting a bill that would bar the expansion of Medicaid. Georgia has the fifth-highest number of uninsured people of any state in the country. Under the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 650,000 additional residents would be eligible for Medicaid. But Georgia is one of a number of Republican-led states that have opted out of such Medicaid expansion. The protest at the Georgia State Senate was the largest to date by Moral Monday Georgia, an outgrowth of the Moral Monday movement that began in North Carolina. We are joined by Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, which was the spiritual home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rev. Warnock was among the protesters arrested for nonviolent civil disobedience on Tuesday. "Dr. King said that the time comes when silence is betrayal," Rev. Warnock says. "That time is now. The issue is affordable healthcare for all in the richest country in the world."
The New York State Senate has rejected a bill that would have provided tuition assistance to undocumented immigrant college students. The defeated bill, known as the DREAM Act, would affect some 8,000 college-age immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents. Last night, students protested the vote in New York City. Some of them were upset at Democratic State Senator Jeff Klein of the Bronx for bringing the bill to a vote before he had the necessary support.
The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.
- Ukraine Announces Crimea Withdrawal as Russian Occupation Expands
- Israel Bombs Syrian Military in Golan Heights; Syria Shuts Lebanon Crossing
- Election Authorities Ordered to Help Enforce Voter ID Laws
- NSA: Tech Firms Knew of Bulk Spying
- Bin Laden Son-in-Law Testifies at Terrorism Trial
- Toyota Fined $1.2B for Safety Violations in Cars
- Homeless Veteran Dies in Overheated Rikers Cell
- New York City's Homeless Population Hits Record High
- Report: Nuclear Base Test Scores Boosted by Support Staff
- Fed Scales Back Bond Purchases; Winter Weather Hampered Economy
Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the servicemembers who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects. We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan and joined in the class action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.
Some 1,500 Black and Latino applicants to the Fire Department of New York have settled a long-running lawsuit with the city and the Justice Department over racially discriminatory hiring practices at the nation’s largest fire department. The agreement grants almost $100 million in back pay to those impacted. When the case was filed in 2007, the Fire Department was 90 percent white, even though African Americans and Latinos totaled half the city’s population. Under the new agreement, the Fire Department will be required to change its recruiting policies in order to increase diversity and make the department more representative of the city’s population. We discuss the settlement with two guests: Paul Washington, past president of the black firefighters’ group, the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters, and captain of Engine 234 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; and Richard Levy, the case’s lead attorney.