Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of disclosing a trove of government documents and cables to WikiLeaks, is set to go on trial next week. Manning has already pleaded guilty to misusing classified material he felt "should become public," but has denied the top charge of aiding the enemy. Speaking from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls Manning’s case "a show trial ... to terrorize people from communicating with journalists and communicating with the public." Assange also discusses his own legal status as he continues to evade extradition to Sweden. Assange fears that returning to Sweden would result in him being sent to the United States, where he fears a grand jury has secretly indicted him for publishing the diplomatic cables leaked by Manning. Click here to watch our web-only extended interview with Assange.
Julian Assange: Stratfor Hacker Jeremy Hammond Guilty Plea Part of Crackdown on Journalism, Activism
Jeremy Hammond of the hacktivist group Anonymous has pleaded guilty to hacking into the private intelligence firm Stratfor, the FBI and other institutions. Hammond says his goal was to shed light on how governments and corporations act behind closed doors. Some five million Stratfor emails ended up on the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, shedding light on how the private intelligence firm monitors activists and spies for corporate clients. In a statement, Hammond said he accepted the plea deal in part to avoid an overzealous prosecution that could have resulted in at least 30 years in prison. He has already served 15 months, including weeks in solitary confinement. Joining us from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says Hammond’s prosecution comes as part of a wider crackdown "on effective political activists and alleged journalistic sources." Click here to watch our web-only extended interview with Assange.
- U.S. Drone Strike Reportedly Kills Taliban Commander in Pakistan
- U.N. Rights Chief Criticizes Drone Warfare, Guantánamo
- Computer Hacker Jeremy Hammond Pleads Guilty in Stratfor Case
- Online Currency Site Indicted for "Staggering" Money Laundering
- Wal-Mart Workers Begin Longest Strike to Date
- Wal-Mart Pays Over $100 Million Fine for Dumping Hazardous Waste
- U.S.-Russia Split on Military Aid to Syrian Regime, Rebels
- 2 U.S. Embassy Staffers Shot in Venezuela
- Obama, Christie Tour Sandy-Hit Jersey Shore
- Report: Red Cross Hasn't Spent Majority of Sandy Funds
- Bachmann Won't Seek Re-election to House
- Saudi Boston Bombing Victim Speaks Out for First Time
- New York Legal Services Workers Strike over Pay, Cuts
- Facebook Pledges to Confront Anti-Women Hate After Boycott
- Judge in Trayvon Martin Case Rejects Bids by Zimmerman's Defense
Legendary author, poet and activist Alice Walker joins us to discuss her newest book, "The Cushion in the Road: Meditation and Wandering as the Whole World Awakens to Being in Harm’s Way," in which she discusses many of the dominant themes in her life and work, including racism, Palestine, Africa and Obama’s presidency. The collection of essays explores Walker’s conflicting desire for deep engagement in the world and for a retreat into quiet contemplation. She has also just published a new collection of her poetry, "The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness into Flowers." A film about her life, "Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth," premieres this Friday in the United States. Walker also discusses the Obama administration’s recent addition of former Black Panther Assata Shakur to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list 40 years after the killing for which she was convicted, her travels to the Eastern Congo, and the ongoing targeting of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Click here to see Part 2 of this interview.
Billionaire business tycoon and former Obama fundraiser Penny Pritzker appears headed for confirmation as commerce secretary, despite concerns about her business dealings. Pritzker and her family owned Superior Bank, a Chicago-based firm that collapsed after the Pritzkers expanded subprime lending. With net worth of more than $1.5 billion, Pritzker stands to be one of the wealthiest Cabinet secretaries in history. Her family started the Hyatt Hotel chain, which has come under scrutiny for her clashes with labor unions. The AFL-CIO says Hyatt has exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers. We’re joined by David Moberg, senior editor of In These Times magazine. His recent article is "3 Troubling Things To Know About Billionaire Penny Pritzker."
As the academic year winds down, a record number of Chicago schools are preparing to close their doors for good in the largest mass school closing ever in one U.S. city. Last week, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 of the city’s public schools in a move that will impact some 30,000 students, around 90 percent of them African American. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed for the closures in order to save the city more than $500 billion, half of its deficit. "Rahm Emanuel actually does not have an educational plan, he has an economic development plan," says our guest Diane Ravitch, who served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush. Proponents say the closures will hit schools that are both underperforming and underutilized. But a vocal coalition of parents, teachers and students has fought back, warning that the closures will lead to overcrowded classrooms and endanger those students forced to walk longer distances to their new schools. We go to Chicago to speak with Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which helped lead the campaign against the school closures. "They are making a very massive, radical and, frankly, irreversible experiment here on other people’s children," Sharkey says.
- EU Ends Arms Embargo on Syria; McCain Visits Syrian Rebels
- French Journalists Report Witnessing Syrian Chemical Attacks
- More Than 50 Killed in Iraq Bombings
- U.S. Marine Killed by Police After Shooting Spree
- Report: Right-Wing Groups Probed by IRS Tested Limits on Political Activity
- Cambodia: Workers Injured by Police During Wage Protest at Nike Factory
- Killing of British Soldier Sparks Wave of Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes
- French Soldier Stabbed While on Patrol
- Afghanistan: 4 Killed in Taliban Attack on U.N.-Affiliated Compound
- Colombia, FARC Rebels Reach Deal on Land Redistribution
- Judge Finds Sheriff Joe Arpaio Violated Constitutional Rights of Latinos
- Oregon Teen Arrested for Plotting to Blow Up High School
- Anti-Monsanto Protests Held in More Than 400 Cities Worldwide
We conclude Democracy Now!'s 2013 Memorial Day special with the video for the song, "Hero of War," by Rise Against. The Chicago-based punk band's Tim McIlrath sang the antiwar song for protesters outside the NATO Summit in Chicago earlier this month. It tells the story of an Iraq war veteran reflecting on his experiences while serving in the military. "I kicked in the door, I yelled my commands. The children, they cried, but I got my man. We took him away, a bag over his face, from his family and his friends," McIlrath sings. The video for the song has been viewed more than 13 million times online. Click here to see the other parts of the 2013 Memorial Day Special: 1, 2, 3, 4.
The antiwar march at the NATO summit on May 20, 2012, in Chicago was jointly led by members of Afghans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). "We’re here to protest NATO and call on all NATO representatives to end this inhumane, illegal, barbaric war against our home country and our people," says Suraia Sahar, a member of Afghans for Peace, who marched alongside Afghan war veteran Graham Clumpner during the anti-NATO protest in Chicago. "I feel honored standing next to this veteran, Graham, because they’re now, I believe, in my opinion, doing the right thing in speaking out against the occupation and war alongside us today." Clumpner says, "I reject any affiliation with this war." Click here to see the other parts of the 2013 Memorial Day Special: 1, 2, 3, 5.
We’re joined at the NATO summit in Chicago by Scott Olsen, who survived two tours in Iraq but almost died when he was hit with a police projectile at an Occupy Oakland protest last year. Olsen returned four of his medals at Sunday’s antiwar march. When asked why he’s joined the Occupy movement and is protesting against the heavily policed NATO summit, Olsen says, "I’m going to make every effort I can to show them that we’re doing the right thing, we’re in the right, and no matter what they do to any of us, we’ve got each other’s backs, and we’re going forward." Click here to see the other parts of the 2013 Memorial Day Special: 1, 2, 4, 5.
On a makeshift stage outside the NATO summit in Chicago, antiwar veterans fold an American flag that flew over NATO operations from Bosnia to Libya and which represents the flag that is “draped over the coffins of thousands of Americans killed in combat and thousands more who have committed suicide after they returned from service." They present the flag to Mary Kirkland, mother of Derrick Kirkland, who joined the military in 2007 and committed suicide in March 2010 after his second tour of duty in Iraq. "I am not ashamed that I have to tell people that my son committed suicide. I am ashamed of the military for failing to give him proper mental health treatment," Kirkland says. The military originally reported that her son was killed in action. Click here to see the other parts of the 2013 Memorial Day Special: 1, 3, 4, 5.
Democracy Now! returns to Chicago, site of the largest NATO summit in the organization’s six-decade history, where nearly 50 veterans discarded their war medals by hurling them down the street in the direction of the NATO summit. We hear the soldiers’ voices as they return their medals one by one from the stage. "I’m here to return my Global War on Terror Service Medal in solidarity with the people of Iraq and the people of Afghanistan," said Jason Hurd, a former combat medic who spent 10 years in the U.S. Army. "I am deeply sorry for the destruction that we have caused in those countries and around the globe." Scott Kimball, an Iraq war veteran, adds: "For all the servicemembers and veterans who are against these wars, you are not alone!" Click here to see the other parts of the 2013 Memorial Day Special: 2, 3, 4, 5.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday that admitted for the first time that the Obama administration has killed four U.S. citizens in drone strikes overseas. Today we learn more about one of them: Jude Kenan Mohammad. Until this week, the FBI had Mohammad listed on its Most Wanted website, even though he was secretly killed by the United States in November 2011. Mohammad was born in Florida and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. Friends say he grew radicalized under the influence of a local man named Daniel Boyd, who had converted to Islam at a young age and was later charged as the ringleader of a group of men — including Mohammad — who were accused in 2009 of stockpiling weapons and plotting to carry out terrorist attacks overseas. His name next surfaced on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, when the FBI warned of an unconfirmed tip that al-Qaeda planned to set off a car bomb in New York City or Washington, D.C. About a month later, his wife called his mother from Pakistan to say he had been killed in a drone strike in Pakistan. We speak with Khalilah Sabra, director of the Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center, who knew Mohammad as a child and stayed in touch with him when he moved to Pakistan as a teenager after dropping out of high school.
We speak with CodePink co-founder Diane Wilson, who is on day 25 of a water-and-salt-only hunger strike in solidarity with Guantánamo prisoners. Earlier this month, she was arrested after chaining herself to the White House fence in a CodePink demonstration urging the president to close Guantánamo. We are also joined by Pardiss Kebriaei, senior staff attorney with Center for Constitutional Rights. Her client, Ghaleb al-Bihani, is one of the Guantánamo detainees currently on a hunger strike. She is lead counsel for CCR in the Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta case, which seeks accountability for the killing of three American citizens in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen.
Less than 24 hours after she interrupted President Obama’s major speech on the future of the secret drone war and Guantánamo, CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin describes why she repeatedly interrupted Obama’s address. Benjamin, the author of "Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control," criticized Obama for failing to explain why a U.S. drone in Yemen killed the teenage U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in 2011. "I was very disappointed. He said that his policy is to capture, not kill. That’s just not true. I know personally of many incidents where it would have been very easy to capture people, like the 16-year-old Tariq Aziz in Pakistan, who was in Islamabad at a well-known hotel, but instead was killed by a drone strike two days later," Benjamin says. "I think the president is really justifying the use of drones, which will continue to happen under his administration and be passed on to the next."
Medea Benjamin v. President Obama: CodePink Founder Disrupts Speech, Criticizing Drone, Gitmo Policy
During President Obama’s first major counterterrorism address of his second term, he said the United States cannot continue waging what he described as a boundless global war on terror. He also discussed his administration’s efforts to close down the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay. He was repeatedly confronted by CodePink’s Medea Benjamin in the audience, ultimately stopping his speech to address her directly. We air the complete exchange between them. "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to," Obama said in response to Benjamin. "Obviously, I do not agree with much of what she said. And obviously she wasn’t listening to me in much of what I said. But these are tough issues, and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong." Click here to see our interview with Benjamin about her act of civil disobedience.
- Report: Obama Speech Appears to Expand Who Could Be Targeted by Drones
- CodePink Founder Medea Benjamin Repeatedly Interrupts Obama Speech
- U.S. Special Operations Command Prepares to Launch Eight Satellites
- Holder OK'd Seizing Personal Emails from Fox News Reporter
- Antiwar.com Website Sues FBI over Agency Monitoring
- Boy Scouts Lift Ban on Gay Scouts; Gay Adult Leaders Still Barred
- Lois Lerner of IRS Placed on Administrative Leave
- Billionaire Backer of Obama Penny Pritzker Set to Become Commerce Secretary
- Citigroup Lobbyists Help Write House Bill to Deregulate Trading
- Wall Street Attempt to Use Trade Deals to Gut Dodd-Frank Act
- In Farm Bill Debate, Congress Considers Drastic Food Stamp Program Cuts
- Jailed Pussy Riot Begins Hunger Strike in Russia
- Honor Student Expelled for Science Experiment Receives Space Academy Scholarship
- Salvadoran President Meets Pope Urging Sainthood for Slain Archbishop
- Coalition of Immokalee Workers Rally Outside Wendy's Shareholder Meeting
As Congress continues to shape an immigration reform bill that could provide a path to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented residents, we look at the overlooked plight of migrants from Central and South America who travel through Mexico en route to the United States. Many of them are fleeing violence and poverty in their countries only to face robberies, beatings and kidnappings by smugglers who hold them for ransom. Human rights groups estimate at least 20,000 Central and South Americans were kidnapped in Mexico last year — that is more than 50 a day. Many do not survive and hundreds have been found in mass graves throughout the country. We’re joined by two guests: Father Alejandro Solalinde, a Mexican Catholic priest who runs a shelter for migrants in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca and is now on a "Caravan of Hope" across the United States to draw attention to the plight of Central American migrants; and Marco Castillo, an organizer with Migrant Families Popular Assembly and the Acción Migrante campaign, which is calling for human rights to be the focus of migration policy changes.
As Guatemala’s high court annuls former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt’s genocide conviction, we’re joined by two people who have worked tirelessly to bring perpetrators of war crimes in the country to justice. Helen Mack, one of Guatemala’s most well-known human rights activists, fought for years to prosecute the government forces who assassinated her sister, anthropologist Myrna Mack on Sept. 11, 1990. A Right Livelihood Award Winner, today she heads the Myrna Mack Foundation, named after her sister. We also speak with Kate Doyle, a senior analyst of U.S. policy in Latin America and the director at the Guatemala Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, who is featured in the documentary, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator." Both Mack and Doyle attended Ríos Montt’s recent trial.
The Obama administration has admitted for the first time to killing four U.S. citizens in drone strikes overseas. Three died in Yemen: the Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, his 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. A fourth, Jude Kenan Mohammad — whose death was not previously reported — was killed in Pakistan. In a letter to Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that all but the attack on the elder al-Awlaki were accidental, saying the other three "were not specifically targeted." The admission came on the eve of a major address in which President Obama is expected to defend the secret targeted killing program and announce modified guidelines for carrying it out. We’re joined by Jeremy Scahill, author of the new book, "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield," and co-producer of the upcoming documentary film by the same name.