An explosive new report reveals the federal government secretly tracked billions of U.S. phone calls years before the 9/11 attacks. According to USA Today, the Justice Department and Drug Enforcement Administration collected bulk data for phone calls in as many as 116 countries deemed to have a connection with drug trafficking. The program began in 1992 under President George H.W. Bush, nine years before his son, George W. Bush, authorized the National Security Agency to gather logs of Americans’ phone calls in 2001. This program served as a blueprint for NSA mass surveillance. We speak with Brad Heath, the USA Today investigative reporter who broke the story.
Exclusive: Father of 1 of Missing Mexican 43 on How Drug War Aid "Being Used to Annihilate Students"
As the Summit of the Americas commences, several U.S.-based groups and university officials have signed a letter to President Obama questioning his response to the 43 students missing from the Mexican state of Guerrero for over six months. The letter asks why the Obama administration has placed sanctions on Venezuela, but maintained normal relations with Mexico, despite the students’ disappearance. Mexican authorities have declared the 43 students dead, saying local police acting on the orders of the mayor of Iguala attacked them and turned them over to drug gang members, who killed and incinerated them. But so far the remains of only one of the 43 have been identified, and reports have pointed to the involvement of federal authorities. We are joined by two relatives of the missing students who live here in New York: Antonio Tizapa is the father of missing student Jorge Antonio Tizapa Legideño; and Amado Tlatempa is the cousin of another missing student, Jesús Jovany Rodríguez Tlatempa. "What I would tell President Obama is to stop supporting Plan Mérida, because the weapons, the arms that are supposedly supporting the war against drugs, those arms are being used to annihilate our students," Tizapa says.
President Obama has arrived in Panama to attend the Summit of the Americas along with other leaders from Canada, Central America, South America, the Caribbean — and for the first time, Cuba. On Thursday, Obama announced the State Department has finished its review of whether Cuba should be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move would allow the two countries to reopen their embassies and move forward on historic efforts to normalize relations that were announced in December. Meanwhile, the United States faces other tensions at the summit over its recent sanctions against Cuba’s close ally, Venezuela. An executive order signed by President Obama last month used the designation to sanction top Venezuelan officials over alleged human rights abuses and corruption. This week, the United States announced it no longer considers the country a national security threat. Other topics expected to be on the summit’s agenda include trade, security and migration. We speak with two guests: Miguel Tinker Salas, professor of Latin American history at Pomona College and author of the new book, "Venezuela: What Everyone Needs to Know," and Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and president of Just Foreign Policy. His article in The Hill is headlined "Obama Could Face Disastrous Summit Due to Venezuela Sanctions."
Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses how video of the Walter Scott killing echoes other videos of police shootings, such as Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Eric Garner in New York City. "People wonder why the Black Lives Matter movement has grown and spread so rapidly across the country," González notes, "when people are seeing these videos where people who are shot and not even given immediate aid." González writes about the issue in his new column for the New York Daily News headlined "When Will the Killings of Black Males by Cops Cease?"
Imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal has spoken out from a prison infirmary about the police killing of Walter Scott in South Carolina. Abu-Jamal, who is seriously ill at SCI Mahanoy, rose from his infirmary bed to record the commentary after a fellow prisoner wheeled in a TV so he could watch coverage of the shooting. In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we air an excerpt from Abu-Jamal’s Prison Radio commentary about Michael Slager, the now-fired police officer who shot Scott during a traffic stop. "Is he a punk? A predator?" Abu-Jamal asks. "Or what Huey P. Newton called 'a pig'?" Abu-Jamal’s supporters say he remains severely ill after he was hospitalized recently for diabetic shock. Today his supporters have called a national day of action with protests in 10 cities to demand he be allowed to see a diabetes specialist. Abu-Jamal is in prison for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, but has always maintained his innocence. Amnesty International has found he was deprived of a fair trial.
- U.N.: Yarmouk Refugee Camp in "Deepest Circle of Hell"
- Iranian Leader Khamenei: No Guarantee of Final Nuclear Deal
- Massive Tornadoes Hit Midwest
- SC Police Shooting Dash Cam Video Released; Activists Call for Review Board
- St. Louis County Courts Agree to Reform Fines, Court Costs
- Mississippi: 2 White Women Sentenced to Prison in Hate Killing of Black Man
- New York: Man Who Filmed Eric Garner's Death to Spend Another Weekend in Jail
- California: Black Activist Faces "Lynching" Charge for Trying to Free Protester
- Obama Arrives in Panama for Summit of the Americas
- Mexican Activist Who Lost U.S. Asylum Bid Shot Dead in Guerrero
- Clinton to Announce Presidential Candidacy; Report Questions Ties to Colombian Oil Firm
- Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee Mulls Presidential Bid
- Georgia Allows Hormones for Transgender Prisoner
- 19 Arrested at Yale as Fossil Fuel Divestment Protests Grow
- Exclusive: Ailing Mumia Abu-Jamal Comments on Walter Scott Killing from Prison
A coalition of civil rights organizations is calling on the Obama administration to evacuate U.S. citizens from war-torn Yemen as violence there claims more and more lives. In mid-February, the U.S. government closed its embassies in Yemen and evacuated its personnel. Last month, Yemen’s airports all but shut down amidst heavy fighting, making it nearly impossible to leave the Gulf state. But critics say the Obama administration has effectively told American citizens to fend for themselves. The U.S. State Department’s website states: "There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely." The U.S. refusal to evacuate its citizens comes despite its support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The United States has vowed to ramp up weapons deliveries to members of the Saudi-led coalition and agreed to perform aerial refueling of bombers. Meanwhile, governments of several countries, including Russia, India, and even Somalia, have sent ships to rescue their citizens. We are joined by Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni American who has just managed to escape Yemen after being stranded there since December 2014.
The murder charges filed against North Charleston police officer Michael Slager for fatally shooting Walter Scott has reignited debate over whether officers should wear body cameras. Police were forced to change their story that Slager fired his gun because he feared for his safety, after Feidin Santana came forward with video of the encounter he filmed on his cellphone. The video shows Slager fired eight times as Scott was running away from him. The original police report said Scott took Slager’s Taser and that officers tried to revive him with CPR. The video appears to show neither claim is true. On Wednesday, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey announced a new order for police body cameras. Today, investigators are expected to release the dash-cam video from Slager’s patrol car. Many cities have installed cameras in their patrol cars. The Police Executive Research Forum surveyed police departments in 2013 and found about a quarter of respondents required body cameras. We are joined by Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. Stanley wrote the 2013 report, "Police Body-Mounted Cameras: With Right Policies in Place, a Win for All," and updated it this year with new ways to address civil rights concerns.
As Video Exposes Walter Scott Police Killing, Why is the Man Who Filmed Eric Garner's Death in Jail?
As a South Carolina police officer faces murder charges after his fatal shooting of unarmed Walter Scott was caught on video, we look at what happened to the man who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal chokehold on Staten Island. While no police officers were indicted for Garner’s death, the man who filmed the attack, Ramsey Orta, is now locked up in jail after facing what he described as harassment by local police. Orta was first arrested on an unrelated gun charge the day after the Staten Island coroner declared Garner’s death to be a homicide. He was later arrested and jailed on a drug charge. His mother, brother and wife have all been arrested, too. Supporters have accused the New York City Police Department of targeting Orta’s family for releasing the Garner video. We are joined by Ramsey Orta’s aunt, Lisa Mercado, as well as Orta family attorneys William Aronin and Ken Perry.
A federal jury has found Dzhokhar Tsarnaev guilty on all 30 charges for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three and injured hundreds two years ago this month. Tsarnaev was also convicted in the murder of a police officer in the ensuing days. During the trial, Tsarnaev’s defense attorneys admitted he joined his older brother, Tamerlan, in setting off two explosions. The jury will now choose between the death penalty and a sentence of life without parole. Massachusetts bars the death penalty, but the case is taking place at the federal level. We are joined by James Rooney, president of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty.
- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Found Guilty in Boston Marathon Trial; Jury to Weigh Death Sentence
- Dozens Protest Walter Scott Shooting in South Carolina; Indicted Officer is Fired
- North Charleston Mayor Orders More Police Body Cameras After Fatal Shooting
- Feidin Santana, Witness Who Filmed Walter Scott Shooting, Speaks Out for First Time
- Yemen Toll Grows amid Continued Fight for Aden
- Iran Asks Pakistan to Reject Saudi Request, Calls for "Political Solution" in Yemen
- Kerry to Iran: U.S. Won't Tolerate "Overt Warfare" Across Borders
- Red Cross Demands Immediate Access to Besieged Yarmouk Camp in Syria
- 3 U.S. Servicemembers Wounded by Afghan Soldier
- Pakistani Court Orders Charges Against CIA Officials for 2009 Drone Strike
- U.S. Deports Salvadoran General Linked to Murders, Torture
- U.S. Seeks Extradition of Salvadoran General Tied to 1989 Jesuit Killings
- Obama Endorses Petition's Call to Ban Anti-LGBT "Conversion Therapy"
In his new book, "My Journey with Maya," the television and radio broadcaster Tavis Smiley pays tribute to the late Maya Angelou, chronicling their nearly three-decade-long, multi-generational friendship. Smiley was 21 and Angelou was 58 when they first met in the mid-1980s. The book brims with the renowned poet’s words and Smiley’s remembrances of how she guided him through challenging moments in his life. The book’s release coincides with the U.S. Postal Service’s unveiling of a new limited edition forever stamp in Angelou’s honor.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has won re-election in a hard-fought runoff against challenger Jesús "Chuy" García. Emanuel defeated García with a margin of around 55 percent to García’s 44 percent. Emanuel raised $23 million for the campaign, more than three times García’s $6 million. García, the son of Mexican immigrants, shocked the nation’s political establishment by forcing Emanuel into the runoff earlier this year. Emanuel faced public dissatisfaction over his closing of 50 schools in mostly African-American neighborhoods, his handling of a 2012 teachers’ strike, and the city’s high murder rate and levels of gun violence. We are joined from Chicago by Rick Perlstein, a reporter and author who has been covering the city elections for In These Times.
Ferguson has made history in the Missouri town’s first municipal election since the police shooting of Michael Brown and the release of a scathing Justice Department report documenting racially discriminatory practices by police and local courts. For the first time in Ferguson’s 120 years, the six-member City Council will have three African Americans. Ella Jones and Wesley Bell were elected with record voter turnout of nearly 30 percent in an area that usually sees about 12 percent of registered voters go to the polls. When Brown was killed last August, Ferguson’s mayor, the police chief, the city manager and the municipal judge were all white. Since the shooting, all but the mayor have resigned. The newly elected city council members will be charged with hiring their replacements. We are joined by Patricia Bynes, Democratic committeewoman of Ferguson Township. Bynes helped register residents and get out the vote, and served as a campaign manager for two candidates.
A white South Carolina police officer has been charged with murder after a video showed him shooting an apparently unarmed African-American man who was running away. The killing happened Saturday morning after North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stopped Walter Scott for a broken brake light. On the video, Slager is seen shooting at Scott eight times as he tries to flee. The North Charleston Police Department had initially defended Slager after he said he feared for his life and claimed Scott had taken his Taser weapon. But the video shows Slager shot Scott in the back at a distance of about 15 feet. The video also appears to capture Slager planting an object next to Scott — possibly the Taser gun. The video does not appear to show Scott in possession of the officer’s stun gun at any time. We are joined by longtime South Carolina civil rights activist Kevin Alexander Gray, editor of the book "Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence."
- White Officer Faces Murder Charge After Video Shows Fatal Shooting of African American Walter Scott
- U.S. Speeds Weapons Deliveries to Saudi Arabia for Yemen Campaign
- Obama Rejects Israeli Demands for Iran Nuclear Deal
- White House: Despite Order, Venezuela Not a National Security Threat to U.S.
- U.S. Expects to Remove Cuba from Terrorist List Ahead of Panama Summit
- Report: DEA, Justice Dept. Tracked Billions of U.S. Phone Records Before 9/11
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Defeats Activist Challenger in Runoff Vote
- Kansas Becomes 1st State to Ban Second-Trimester Abortion Method
- Rand Paul Announces Presidential Candidacy; Clinton Could Be Next
- Mumia Abu-Jamal Supporters Seek Independent Medical Team After Hospitalization
The Intercept revealed last month that it is quite easy to be deemed a "suspected terrorist" at airports in the United States. A leaked checklist used by the Transportation Security Administration shows an expansive list of "suspicious signs" for screening passengers, including yawning, fidgeting, whistling, throat clearing and staring at one’s feet. All of these, according to the TSA, are considered behaviors that indicate stress or deception. Well, now The Intercept has revealed who the program actually targets: not terrorists, but undocumented immigrants. Taking a five-week period at a major U.S. airport, The Intercept found that 90 percent of all those arrested were detained for being in the country illegally. Not a single passenger was arrested or suspected for ties to terrorism. The overwhelming detention of undocumented immigrants bolsters criticism that government screening programs have targeted passengers with racial profiling. We speak to the reporter who broke this story, Jana Winter.
Cowspiracy: As California Faces Drought, Film Links Meat Industry to Water Scarcity & Climate Change
As California experiences a massive drought, we examine the overlooked link between water shortages, climate change and meat consumption. With some 98 percent of the state suffering from a water crisis, California Gov. Jerry Brown ordered residents and businesses to cut water use by 25 percent. It is the first mandatory statewide reduction in California’s history. One group not facing restrictions is big agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of California’s water. According to the Pacific Institute, 47 percent of a Californian’s water footprint is in meat and dairy products. We are joined by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, directors of the documentary, "Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret." The film contends livestock is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution despite many environmental organizations’ relative silence on the issue.
As Saudi Arabia continues U.S.-backed strikes in Yemen and Washington lifts its freeze on military to aid to Egypt, new figures show President Obama has overseen a major increase in weapons sales since taking office. The majority of weapons exports under Obama have gone to the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia tops the list at $46 billion in new agreements. We are joined by William Hartung, who says that even after adjusting for inflation, "the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion. That also means that the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II." Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, and author of "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex."
The death toll in Yemen continues to rise amid a Saudi-led military campaign and clashes between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The most intense violence is in the southern city of Aden, with more than 140 people reportedly killed in a 24-hour period. The United Nations says hundreds have been killed and more than 100,000 have been displaced since Saudi Arabia launched a military campaign two weeks ago. The Saudi regime has asked Pakistan to provide soldiers, heightening the possibility of a ground invasion. The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned of a dire humanitarian situation and demanded access to besieged areas. We are joined by the journalist Safa Al Ahmad, whose latest documentary, "The Fight for Yemen," premieres tonight on Frontline on PBS stations nationwide. She was granted extremely rare reporting access to the Houthis as they advanced in Yemen.