Democracy Now

Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! is an independent daily TV & radio news program, hosted by award-winning journalists Amy Goodman and Juan González. We provide daily global news headlines, in-depth interviews and investigative reports without any advertisements or government funding. Our programming shines a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power and lifts up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. Democracy Now! is live weekdays at 8am ET and available 24/7 through our website and podcasts.
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How the Pentagon Papers Came to be Published by the Beacon Press Told by Daniel Ellsberg & Others

Fri 07 10 AM

In 1972 Beacon Press lost a Supreme Court case brought against it by the U.S. government for publishing the first full edition of the Pentagon Papers. It is now well known how The New York Times first published excerpts of the top-secret documents in June 1971, but less well known is how the Beacon Press, a small nonprofit publisher affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, came to publish the complete 7,000 pages that exposed the true history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Their publication led the Beacon Press into a spiral of two-and-a-half years of harassment, intimidation, near bankruptcy and the possibility of criminal prosecution. This is a story that has rarely been told in its entirety. In 2007, Amy Goodman moderated an event at the Unitarian Universalist conference in Portland, Oregon, commemorating the publication of the Pentagon Papers and its relevance today. Today, we hear the story from three men at the center of the storm: former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst, famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times; former Alaskan senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who tells the dramatic story of how he entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record and got them to the Beacon Press; finally, Robert West, the former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We begin with Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger once described as "the world’s most dangerous man."

Mike Gravel to Senator Mark Udall: Make Full Torture Probe Public Like I Did with Pentagon Papers

Fri 07 02 AM

On the Senate floor last week, outgoing Democratic Sen. Mark Udall called for a purge of top CIA officials implicated in the torture program and cover-up, including current Director John Brennan. But as he enters the final days of his Senate term, Udall is facing calls to take action of his own. The Senate findings released last week amount to only a fraction of the full report — 480 heavily redacted pages out of more than 6,000 pages total. The White House has blocked the report’s full release in deference to the CIA’s wishes. That’s sparked demands that Udall invoke a rarely used congressional privilege and make the report public. There is precedent for him to follow: In 1971, then-Alaska Senator Mike Gravel entered more than 4,000 pages of the 7,000-page Pentagon Papers into the Senate record, insisting the public had a right to know the truth behind the Vietnam War. More than four decades later, Gravel joins us to talk about his historic action and why he is now calling on Udall to follow in his footsteps with the full Senate report on CIA torture.

René González, First Freed Member of Cuban 5, Speaks Out from Havana

Thu 07 40 AM

Earlier this month the United States released the remaining members of the Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino — as part of a deal to restore diplomatic ties with Cuba. We rebroadcast a 2013 interview with the first freed member of the Cuban Five, René González. 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.

Saul Landau on the Cuban Revolution and How the U.S. Directly Aided Anti-Castro Militants

Thu 07 01 AM

As the United States moves to normalize relations with Cuba, we rebroadcast our 2012 interview with the late filmmaker Saul Landau, who made more than 45 films and wrote 14 books, many about Cuba. We spoke to him about his film "Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up." He discussed the history of the Cuban Five and U.S. support for a group of anti-Castro militants who have been behind the bombing of airplanes, the blowing up of hotels and assassinations. Today they are allowed to live freely in the United States. "What did Cuba do to us?" Landau asks. "Well, the answer, I think, is that they were disobedient, in our hemisphere. And they did not ask permission to take away property. They took it away. They nationalized property. And the United States ... has never forgiven them."

"Diplomaculate Conception": U.S. Helped Jailed Cuban Five Member Artificially Inseminate His Wife

Wed 07 53 AM

We end today’s show with a story of love, birth and politics — a story some are calling "diplomaculate conception." The wife of one of the members of the Cuban Five who was just released from prison after 16 years is expecting a baby, due in just two weeks thanks to some unusual diplomatic moves. Gerardo Hernández, the baby’s father, is one of the three former Cuban intelligence agents released as part of a prisoner swap amidst thawing ties with Cuba last week. While he was not allowed conjugal visits, Hernández was able to impregnate his wife by having his frozen sperm transferred to his wife in Panama, a process authorized by U.S. officials, funded by the Cuban government and facilitated by a staffer for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy. We are joined by Martin Garbus, an attorney for the Cuban Five.

A Nightmare Taxi Ride: Oregon Veterinarian Jailed in East Timor After Sharing Car with Drug Peddler

Wed 07 39 AM

Nearly two years ago, Stacey Addison of Portland, Oregon, began a trip around the world starting in Antarctica. But the trip turned into a nightmare soon after she arrived in East Timor. On September 5, Stacey, a veterinarian, was traveling in a shared taxi with another passenger she had never met. The other passenger asked the driver to stop at a DHL postal office to pick up a package. It turned out the package contained illegal drugs. Soon after, the taxi was stopped by police. Police arrested everyone in the car. More than three months later, Stacey is still locked up in East Timor. Her family and friends have been waging an international campaign for her release. We are joined by two guests: Stacey Addison’s mother, Bernadette Kero, and Charles Scheiner of La’o Hamutuk, the Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis.

Will Guantánamo Ever Close? U.S. Frees More Prisoners, But Dozens Remain Behind Bars

Wed 07 27 AM

Six years after first promising to close Guantánamo, President Obama is beginning to free more men from the 13-year-old military prison in Cuba. Four Afghans were sent home this week, following six other Guantánamo prisoners sent to Uruguay earlier this month, four years after they were first approved for release. Their transfer was the largest for a single group out of Guantánamo since 2009. Meanwhile, Clifford Sloan, the Obama administration’s envoy for Guantánamo’s closure, has just submitted his resignation. But with 132 prisoners still behind bars, will Guantánamo ever close? We are joined by Pardiss Kebriaei, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Ferguson, NYC, Milwaukee: Protests Erupt as Officer Cleared in Killing of Unarmed Dontre Hamilton

Wed 07 09 AM

A Wisconsin prosecutor has decided not to bring charges against a white police officer who fatally shot a mentally ill African-American man. In April, Milwaukee Officer Christopher Manney responded to a call about a man sleeping in a park. Before Manney arrived, two other officers had already spoken to the man, Dontre Hamilton, and found he was not causing a problem. But Manney said Hamilton resisted when he tried to frisk him, sparking a confrontation, during which Hamilton grabbed Manney’s baton and hit him. Manney opened fire, shooting Hamilton 14 times. The shooting led to Manney’s firing for violating policy on handling people with mental illnesses. But on Monday, the Milwaukee County district attorney said Manney acted in self-defense. The shooting of Hamilton has sparked mass protests in Milwaukee including a highway shutdown Friday which resulted in 74 arrests. One day later, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called up the state’s National Guard to be on standby. The Justice Department has announced a federal review of the case. We speak with Democratic State Representative Mandela Barnes in Milwaukee.

"The War to Start All Wars": Did U.S. Invasion of Panama 25 Years Ago Set Stage for Future Wars?

Tue 07 52 AM

This month marks the 25th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Panama. On December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause to execute an arrest warrant against Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, once a close U.S. ally, on charges of drug trafficking. During the attack, the United States unleashed a force of 24,000 troops equipped with highly sophisticated weaponry and aircraft against a country with an army smaller than the New York City Police Department. We discuss the Panama invasion and how it served as a template for future U.S. military interventions with three guests: We are joined by Humberto Brown, a former Panamanian diplomat, and Greg Grandin, a professor of Latin American history at New York University and author of "The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World." His new article for TomDispatch is "The War to Start All Wars: The 25th Anniversary of the Forgotten Invasion of Panama." We also speak with Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Click here to watch the 30-minute extended conversation today.

Bush & Cheney Should Be Charged with War Crimes Says Col. Wilkerson, Former Aide to Colin Powell

Tue 07 42 AM

Calls are increasing for the prosecution of George W. Bush administration officials tied to the CIA torture program. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor who would investigate the crimes detailed in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the program. On Monday, The New York Times editorial board called for a full and independent criminal investigation. We put the question about prosecution to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005.

Ex-Bush Official: U.S. Tortured Prisoners to Produce False Intel that Built Case for Iraq War

Tue 07 33 AM

Since the release of Senate findings earlier this month, the assumption that the CIA’s torture program’s sole motive was post-9/11 self-defense has gone virtually unchallenged. There has been almost no recognition that the George W. Bush administration also tortured prisoners for a very different goal: to extract information that could tie al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein and justify the invasion of Iraq. While the Senate report and other critics say torture produced false information, that could have been one of the program’s goals. We are joined by retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. Wilkerson helped prepare Powell’s infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations wrongly accusing Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction. The claim was partially based on statements extracted from a prisoner tortured by Egypt on the CIA’s behalf, who later recanted his claim. Wilkerson says that beginning in the spring of 2002 — one year before the Iraq War and just months after the 9/11 attacks, the torture program’s interrogations "were as much aimed at contacts between al-Qaeda and Baghdad and corroboration thereof as they were trying to ferret out whether there was another attack coming like 9/11. That was stunning to me to find that was probably 50 percent of the impetus."

Weaponizing Health Workers: How Medical Professionals Were a Top Instrument in U.S. Torture Program

Tue 07 12 AM

Physicians for Human Rights is calling for a federal commission to investigate, document and hold accountable all health professionals who took part in CIA torture. Last week, the group released a report titled "Doing Harm: Health Professionals’ Central Role in the CIA Torture Program." The report finds medical personnel connected to the torture program may have committed war crimes by conducting human experimentation on prisoners in violation of the Nuremberg Code that grew out of the trial of Nazi officials and doctors after World War II. We speak with Nathaniel Raymond, a research ethics adviser for Physicians for Human Rights, who co-wrote the new report. "We now see clear evidence of the essential, integral role that health professionals played as the legal heat shield for the Bush administration — their get-out-of-jail-free card," Raymond says.

"There has often been this narrative that Mitchell and Jessen were the lone gunmen of torture, that they were doing this out of their garage," Raymond explains. "They were operating inside a superstructure of medicalized torture. It was not just them alone. It includes physicians’ assistants, doctors and it may include other professionals. What they were doing was everything from 'care' to actual monitoring, calibration and design of the tactics."

"The Interview" Belittles North Korea, But is Film's Backstory and U.S. Policy the Real Farce?

Mon 07 44 AM

President Barack Obama has said the United States is considering putting North Korea back on its list of terrorism sponsors after the hacking of Sony Pictures. Last week, the studio canceled the release of the screwball comedy film "The Interview," about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, following threats against theaters and a hack of corporate data, which officials say was ordered by the North Korean government. North Korea was on the U.S. list of state terrorism sponsors for two decades until the White House removed it in 2008, after Pyongyang agreed to full verification of its nuclear sites. Last month’s cyber-attack was claimed by a group calling itself The Guardians of Peace. The group released the salary and Social Security numbers of thousands of Sony employees, including celebrities, and also threatened to attack screenings of the film. Although U.S. officials have said North Korea is behind the attack, many experts have questioned whether the evidence is sufficient. North Korea has denied involvement and proposed a joint investigation with the U.S. government to prove it. We are joined by two guests: Tim Shorrock, an investigative journalist who has been writing about U.S.-Korea relations for 30 years; and Christine Hong, assistant professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, and an executive board member of the Korea Policy Institute. Hong has spent time in North Korea, including a visit to the country as part of a North American peace delegation.

Calls for Calm After NYPD Union Says Mayor, Protesters Have Blood on Their Hands for Cops' Murder

Mon 07 13 AM

New York City is grappling with the aftermath of the first targeted killings of police officers in years. Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were ambushed in broad daylight while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn on Saturday. The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, fled to a nearby subway station where he turned the gun on himself. Brinsley had shot his former girlfriend hours earlier in Maryland, leaving her wounded. He later used her Instagram account to make anti-police statements suggesting he would kill officers to avenge the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Criminal records show Brinsley had a troubled history with the law, with multiple arrests and at least two years behind bars. His family says he had mental issues, including a reported suicide attempt a year ago. But the head of the city’s biggest police union has faulted the recent anti-police brutality protests and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has expressed sympathy for the movement’s concerns. After the killings, Patrick Lynch of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said: "There’s blood on many hands tonight: those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protests, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did every day. … That blood on the hands starts on the steps of City Hall — in the office of the mayor." We discuss the officers’ murders, the recent protests against police brutality and police-community relations going forward with two guests: Graham Weatherspoon, a retired detective with the New York City Police Department and board member of the Amadou Diallo Foundation; and Steven Thrasher, a weekly columnist for the Guardian US.

Assata Shakur: What Does New U.S.-Cuba Pact Mean for Exiled Black Panther Wanted in New Jersey?

Fri 07 55 AM

Authorities in New Jersey have said they hope a historic warming of ties between the United States and Cuba will help them capture and imprison Black Panther Assata Shakur. "We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1973," said State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes. The encounter left both the officer and a fellow Black Panther, Zayd Malik Shakur, dead. Shakur has said she was shot by police with both arms in the air, and then again from the back. She was sentenced to life in prison but managed to escape and flee to Cuba, where she has lived since 1984. What will happen to Shakur now? We put the question to two attorneys: Michael Ratner and Martin Garbus.

Should Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld & CIA Officials Be Tried for Torture? War Crimes Case Filed in Germany

Fri 07 43 AM

A human rights group in Berlin, Germany, has filed a criminal complaint against the architects of the George W. Bush administration’s torture program. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has accused former Bush administration officials, including CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, of war crimes, and called for an immediate investigation by a German prosecutor. The move follows the release of a Senate report on CIA torture which includes the case of a German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, who was captured by CIA agents in 2004 due to mistaken identity and tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan. So far, no one involved in the CIA torture program has been charged with a crime — except the whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed it. We speak to Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and longtime defense attorney Martin Garbus.