Feed aggregator

Top Military Lawyer: Army Bowed to Republican Political Pressure in Court-Martialing Bowe Bergdahl

Democracy Now - Thu 07 14 AM

Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was arraigned this week on charges related to his disappearance from a U.S. base in Afghanistan in 2009. Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban and held for five years, suffering extensive torture. The Taliban freed him last year in exchange for five Guantánamo prisoners. Bergdahl has said he walked off his post in an attempt to reach another U.S. base and report wrongdoing in his unit. Two independent army experts, including the officer who investigated the case, recommended against any jail time. But earlier this month, Army General Robert Abrams rejected their advice and ordered Bergdahl court-martialed on charges of desertion and misbehavior against the enemy. We are joined by Rachel VanLandingham, a former top Army lawyer who says General Abrams bowed to Republican-led political pressure. A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, VanLandingham served as chief legal adviser for international law to U.S. Central Command under Generals Martin Dempsey and David Petraeus. She is now associate professor of law at Southwestern Law School.

Free Speech Not Allowed? Mall of America Can't Stop Black Lives Matter Rally over Jamar Clark Death

Democracy Now - Wed 07 47 AM

Is freedom of speech welcome at the Mall of America? A judge has rejected an effort by the nation’s largest shopping center to stop a Black Lives Matter protest and force organizers to post on social media that it’s canceled. But the mall did manage to ban three organizers from attending. Activists say the protest will go ahead as part of a series of actions demanding justice for Jamar Clark. Police claim Clark was shot dead after a scuffle with officers. But witnesses say Clark was shot while handcuffed. The Mall of America’s failed effort to stop the protest comes amid a tense climate for Minnesota activists. Alleged white supremacists opened fire on a rally over Clark’s death last month, injuring five people. Officers have also raided the protesters’ encampment. The protest showdown comes just weeks after charges were dismissed against BLM organizers for a similar action at the mall one year ago. Kandace Montgomery, one of the three Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organizers barred from today’s protest, joins us along with her attorney, Jordan Kushner.

Will Sandra Bland Get Justice? Family Speaks Out After Grand Jury Won't Indict Anyone in Her Death

Democracy Now - Wed 07 15 AM

Family members and supporters are demanding justice for Sandra Bland after a grand jury failed to indict anyone for her death. Bland, an African-American woman, was arrested on July 10 in Prairie View, Texas, after she allegedly failed to signal a lane change. She was jailed with bond set at $5,000. Three days later, she was found dead in her jail cell. Authorities say she committed suicide, a claim her family rejects. The family has filed a wrongful death suit and wants charges against the officer who arrested her. Will anyone be held to account for Sandra Bland’s death? We are joined by Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal; her sister, Sharon Cooper; and family attorney, Cannon Lambert.

Pete Seeger, Folk Legend & FBI Target: Declassified Docs Show Iconic Singer Was Spied on for Decades

Democracy Now - Tue 07 45 AM

The late folk artist Pete Seeger was a musical and political icon who helped create the modern American folk music movement. Now there’s some new pages to add to his songbook—the government has released nearly 1,800 pages that reveal the FBI spied on him for nearly 30 years. The surveillance began when Seeger protested the targeting of Japanese Americans during World War II. It continued until the early 1970s as he wrote some of the most famous anti-war songs of the 20th century. We are joined by Pete Seeger’s biographer, David King Dunaway.

Sy Hersh: Backing Assad's Ouster, Has Hillary Clinton Forgotten the Lessons of Iraq & Libya?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 31 AM

At Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate, front-runner Hillary Clinton rejected what she called a "false choice" between defeating the Islamic State and overthrowing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. "We will not get the support on the ground in Syria to dislodge ISIS if the fighters there who are not associated with ISIS, but whose principal goal is getting rid of Assad, don’t believe there is a political, diplomatic channel that is ongoing," Clinton said. Rivals Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley disagreed, saying it is not for the U.S. to decide Assad’s fate. "I think there should be learning curves for people with that kind of power," Hersh says of Clinton. "I think what happened in Libya should have instructed anybody in the government, including the president, that when you depose a dictator, you have to be aware of what’s going to come next, and you have to think long and hard about what you’re doing. I think, by any standard, getting rid of Gaddafi has proven to be a horrible event. It was a terrible decision, and we seem not to have learned enough from it."

Seymour Hersh's Latest Bombshell: U.S. Military Undermined Obama on Syria with Tacit Help to Assad

Democracy Now - Tue 07 14 AM

A new report by the Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joint Chiefs of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S. effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joint Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria. Hersh joins us to detail his claims and respond to his critics.

Is the DNC Afraid of Democracy? Clinton WH Counselor Says Party a "Dead Carcass" for Stifling Debate

Democracy Now - Mon 07 54 AM

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee suspended the Bernie Sanders campaign’s access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. The DNC has also been accused of trying to help Clinton by limiting the number of debates and scheduling them on low-viewership periods like Saturday nights. Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, argues that the DNC is deliberately blocking debate and that chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz should resign as a result. "This is supposed to be a political party. In a healthy society, there would be a democratic process in the Democratic Party, by which elected people would be overseeing these issues by making sure there wasn’t just nepotism and insider dealing," Curry says. "That the political party itself — which is supposed to be the progressive party — has become mortgaged to a small group of Washington insiders, who raise money from large corporate PACs, [and] has become just a dead carcass of what it once was, is the most important piece of information that this contretemps over the data files has emphasized. It’s time for progressives in this country to stand up and demand a genuinely democratic process."

Bernie Sanders on Challenging Wall Street: "CEOs May Like Hillary -- They Ain't Going to Like Me"

Democracy Now - Mon 07 47 AM

Although finding concord on a host of issues including foreign policy, Saturday’s Democratic presidential debate highlighted a key difference between front-runner Hillary Clinton and top challenger Bernie Sanders: the economy. Clinton said corporations would welcome her in the White House, while Sanders pointedly said they wouldn’t. "The CEOs of large multinationals may like Hillary. They ain’t going to like me," Sanders said. "And Wall Street is going to like me even less. And the reason for that is we’ve got to deal with the elephant in the room, which is the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street." We get reaction to Clinton and Sanders’ comments from two guests: Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, and Phyllis Bennis, author and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Bernie Blackout? As DNC Accused of Targeting Sanders, Corporate Media Ignores Historic Campaign

Democracy Now - Mon 07 31 AM

Is the Democratic National Committee trying to undermine the presidential campaign of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders? That’s the charge Sanders’ team is making amid a dust-up over a breach of voter information. On Friday, the DNC suspended Sanders’ access to a critical database after finding his staffers improperly viewed front-runner Hillary Clinton’s proprietary information when a computer glitch made it briefly available. The DNC backed down after Sanders filed suit, but the Sanders campaign has accused party leadership of trying to thwart the Vermont senator’s bid. This comes as the Sanders campaign says it’s on pace to break President Obama’s record of more than 2.2 million individual donations. Sanders is making history despite being subjected to what he calls a "blackout" in the corporate media. A recent report finds the flagship news programs at major networks NBC, CBS and ABC have dedicated 234 minutes this year to stories about Donald Trump—compared to just 10 minutes for Sanders. We are joined by Symone Sanders, national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign.

As Sanders Chides Clinton on Regime Change, Is Democratic Front-Runner Touting a GOP Foreign Policy?

Democracy Now - Mon 07 13 AM

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley faced off Saturday in the third Democratic presidential debate. The candidates met just one day after the Sanders campaign sued the Democratic National Committee for blocking access to key voter data files. The DNC took action after a Sanders campaign staffer improperly viewed Clinton’s voter files, taking advantage of a glitch in the system. The Sanders campaign fired the staffer involved, and the DNC has restored access to the files. Sanders apologized for the breach during Saturday’s debate, which focused largely on foreign policy. Clinton and Sanders sparred over the role of the U.S. military, with Sanders accusing Hillary Clinton of being too quick to push for regime change overseas. We get analysis from two guests: Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of several books, including "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror."

Ceasefire in Yemen Faces Collapse as U.S. Continues Weapons Sales to Saudi Arabia, Fueling Civil War

Democracy Now - Fri 07 43 AM

United Nations-brokered peace talks in Yemen’s nine-month-old civil war are faltering, amid disputes between rival factions over the release of prisoners. Meanwhile, local officials have reported intensifying clashes and renewed airstrikes despite an ongoing ceasefire. Over the weekend, U.S.-backed, Saudi-led airstrikes killed 19 Yemeni civilians in their homes and at a market. About half of the nearly 6,000 people killed in Yemen’s conflict are civilians, including more than 600 children. Rima Kamal of the International Committee for the Red Cross in Yemen warned of a deepening humanitarian crisis. The United States has bolstered the Saudi-led coalition’s airstrikes in Yemen through arms sales and direct military support. Saudi Arabia is one of the U.S. arms industry’s biggest customers. Last month, the State Department approved a billion-dollar deal to restock Saudi Arabia’s air force arsenal, which was depleted by its bombing campaign in Yemen. The sale included thousands of air-to-ground munitions and "general purpose" bombs. The United States and other countries have also reportedly sold internationally banned cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia that are now being used in Yemen. We speak with reporter Sharif Abdel Kouddous, who has just returned from Yemen. His recent piece for GlobalPost is "With US help, Saudi Arabia is obliterating Yemen."

After 28 Years in Prison, Man Falsely Convicted in Botched Investigation to Walk Free

Democracy Now - Fri 07 27 AM

A Denver, Colorado, man has spent 28 years in prison based on a dream—and it wasn’t his. Now he could soon be free. In 1989, Clarence Moses-EL, who is African-American, was sentenced to 48 years in prison after a woman said she dreamed he was the man who raped and beat her in the dark. The victim said she was raped in her apartment after a night out drinking at a party. She was beaten so badly during the attack that she suffered broken facial bones and lost the use of one eye. Initially, the victim named three men she had been drinking with as her possible attackers—none of them was Clarence Moses-EL. But police never investigated any of those men, because, a day and a half later, the victim said she had a dream that Moses-EL was the one who raped her. Moses-EL has always maintained his innocence. But the police threw out a rape kit and any possible evidence, like bed sheets and her clothes. This summer, another man confessed to the attack, yet Moses-EL remained in prison. Now a judge has lifted his conviction, but Moses-EL still remains in jail. He could be freed as early as Tuesday, when a bond hearing has been set. The District Attorney’s Office has not yet said if they will attempt to retry him for the crime. We speak with Colorado Independent editor Susan Greene, who has long covered the story, and with Moses-EL’s attorney, Gail Johnson.

Did the U.S. Cover Up Navy SEALs' Beating Death of Afghan Detainee & Pattern of Extreme Abuse?

Democracy Now - Fri 07 11 AM

A stunning new investigation by The New York Times examines claims of military abuses and a possible cover-up that goes up the chain of command. Reporters uncovered accounts that in May 2012 members of a Navy SEAL team stationed at an outpost in Kalach, in southern Afghanistan, abused detainees that had been rounded up as suspects after a bomb exploded at a military checkpoint, killing one member of the Afghan Local Police unit the SEALs had been training. According to a report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which the Times acquired through a FOIA request, three Navy SEALs dropped heavy stones on the detainees’ chests, stomped on their heads, and poured bottles of water on their faces in a modified form of waterboarding. One of the detainees was beaten so badly that he eventually died from his injuries. But what happened after the incident has many military justice experts questioning whether Navy commanders worked to cover up the case. Four U.S. soldiers working with the SEALs at the outpost reported that they witnessed the abuse, but Navy commanders chose to deal with the matter in a closed disciplinary process, one usually reserved for minor infractions. The SEALs were cleared of any wrongdoing. Two of the SEALs implicated in the abuse of the detainees and their lieutenant have since been promoted, despite calls by one commander to have them forced out of the SEAL team. We speak with Nicholas Kulish, a correspondent with The New York Times and one of the lead reporters on "Navy SEALs, a Beating Death, and Claims of a Cover-Up."

How Flint, Michigan, Saved Money and Poisoned Its Children: City Declares Water Emergency

Democracy Now - Thu 07 43 AM

The mayor of Flint, Michigan, has declared a state of emergency to address lead poisoning in the city’s water supply. Last year, the city’s unelected emergency manager switched the city’s water source from the Detroit system to the long-polluted Flint River in an attempt to save money. A study released in September found the proportion of children under five in Flint with elevated lead levels in their blood nearly doubled following the switch. Flint residents filed a federal lawsuit accusing the city and state of endangering their health by exposing them to dangerous lead levels in their tap water. Michigan has the most sweeping emergency management laws in the country, which allow the governor to appoint a single person to run financially troubled cities. We speak to investigative reporter Curt Guyette of the ACLU of Michigan and Flint resident Melissa Mays. She and her three children have been diagnosed with lead and copper poisoning. She is the founder of Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city’s water crisis.

Fire Bad Cops, Let Victims Speak, Turn On Body Cameras: Ben Jealous Calls for Police Reform

Democracy Now - Thu 07 28 AM

From Baltimore to Ferguson to New York, Wednesday was a major day for criminal justice news. In Baltimore, a mistrial has been declared in the case of one of the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April from a spinal injury sustained while being transported in the back of a police van. Meanwhile in Ferguson, Missouri, officials say they have reached the outlines of a deal with the Justice Department that would force changes to the city’s police department and head off a civil rights lawsuit alleging years of unconstitutional policing. We speak to Benjamin Jealous, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. He’s the former NAACP president and CEO.