Michael German, Policy Counsel for the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office and former FBI Special Agent, discusses new and expanded FBI powers granted through lax Attorney General guidelines, that allow them to investigate any American for any (or no) reason without opening an official case and creating a paper trail, how we lost the protections put in place after Hoover era abuses and are back to persecuting groups based on their political beliefs and why giving law enforcement extra authority leads to more abuses, not more effective policing.
William Astore, professor of history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology, discusses his TomDispatch piece “American Militarism is Not a Fairy Tale,” how civilian control of the military is falling out of favor, especially among Republican chickenhawks, military budget cuts off the table through 2012, thanks to Democrats afraid of being labeled “soft” on anything, the blurred line between civilian (CIA) and military operations, how Gen. Petraeus made his own foreign policy by making a media case for an Afghan surge in 2009 (which would have got him fired in another era) and how Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy gives Americans a real choice between republic and empire – for the first time in a century.
Charles Goyette, former Antiwar Radio co-contributor and author of The Dollar Meltdown : Surviving the Impending Currency Crisis with Gold, Oil, and Other Unconventional Investments, discusses his LRC article “Obama Gets it Half Right,” the diminishing returns of government “stimulus” deficit spending, Bernanke’s additional job duty: juice up the stock market, why we need higher interest rates (but the decision and power to do so should not be centrally planned), the Fed as last buyer of Treasury debt, and now the largest holder, and the foreign policy implications of bad economic policy: increased militarism by desperate politicians trying to distract the public from the actual problems.
Gareth Porter, independent historian and journalist for IPS News, discusses his article “90% of Petraeus’s Captured ‘Taliban’ Were Civilians,” fact checking Afghan War statistics to prove US claimed gains were illusory; the maze of US, JSOC, NATO jails and prisons, Petraeus’s effective PR blitz in late 2010 that pushed back withdrawal to 2014 and beyond and the expectation for a summer drawdown.
Jason Ditz, news editor of Antiwar.com, discusses the Yemeni protests with Saleh out of the country, the limited authority of what’s left of the state there, the de-facto autonomy of the northern and southern provinces; US policy on Yemen from pre-Christmas day bomber to the present: a microcosm of the war on terrorism’s counter-productivity, increasing escalation of drone strikes and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki’s unilateral death sentence imposed by Obama for exercising his free speech rights and (possibly) being associated with al Qaeda.
Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent and author of War at the Top of the World and American Raj, discusses the Assad regime’s deep entrenchment throughout Syrian society (good luck overthrowing it), the foreign governments behind some opposition groups, Israeli strategy: stir up trouble in multi-factioned Arab states and let infighting leave them as the last strong state standing; US intervention in Libya: humanitarian effort or Arab spring counterrevolution and why Iraq’s government will indeed invite the US to stay past year’s end.
Robert P. Murphy, senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute,
discusses the skirting the US debt ceiling, which can continue for a few
more months, the GOP’s current pretensions of fiscal restraint, why a
failure to raise the ceiling doesn’t mean default is impending since
spending could be cut or govt. assets sold, how missed payments to bond
holders would bring a big increase in interest rates, as in greece;
debt/gdp ratios and economic death spirals, and the Republicans who
converted to free market radicals – at least rhetorically – when Obama
Patrick Cockburn discusses recent moves by the administration to try to stay in Iraq and why their presence will remain a politically divisive issue – there if not here, the very small number of members of al Qaeda in Yemen, why NATO, not the Libyan rebels, will fill the power vacuum created when Gadhafi is eventually ousted, skirmishes in Libya where the media outnumber the fighters (on both sides), the bin Laden/al Qaeda strategy of provoking the U.S. to invade and occupy the Middle East to overextend and bring down the empire, the modest demands of Bahraini Shia for a constitutional monarchy which was met by a brutal government response, Obama’s farcical “mediation” in Bahrain, and why, unfortunately, “repression works,” meaning the Arab Spring faces huge challenges.
David Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, discusses the 20,000+ nuclear weapons still around (almost all in US and Russia), the only 4 countries with deployed nukes (US, Britain, Russia,France); how nuke levels are decreasing, but not across the board and not nearly fast enough, why the new START treaty is really only a start, why the US has a moral obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament and a couple of flaws in the “deterrence” and MAD doctrines.
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantanamo Files, discusses his micro-fundraiser – give a few bucks to the world’s best Guantanamo reporter why dontcha? – Andy’s very brief employ with NYT in 2008; the unknown Gitmo prisoners, the travesty of military commissions instead of federal court trials for KSM et al; Obama’s tour of Britain where he was treated like a demigod while still holding Brits in Guantanamo, his refusal to deal with Bush “legacy” issues like Gitmo, trials, torture and law with the likely consequence that all will become established precedent.
Marcy Wheeler, blogging as “emptywheel” at firedoglake.com, discusses the unraveling of the federal government’s case against Thomas Drake, the NSA whistleblower charged with espionage but then let off with a misdemeanor charge, the substance of Drake’s whistleblowing about wasteful and privacy-destroying outsourcing of wiretapping, why it’s now safer to leak on the record, using your name, than doing in anonymously and Obama’s attempt to reinvent the Espionage Act for broad use, esp. on those who expose wrongdoing in government.
Will Grigg, blogger and author of Liberty in Eclipse, discusses the book Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Col. Edward Mandell House (for which Will wrote the forward), the political operator behind Woodrow Wilson, the book’s proposal for a corporate-state co-administered government, which as House himself boasted “anticipated” Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy, House’s legacy in the FRD administrations and modern Democratic and Republican parties, and Gabriel Kolko’s Triumph of Conservatism.
Former CIA officer and Antiwar.com contributor Philip Giraldi discusses his new article “Target Iran,” the bogus RAND paper claiming Iran could have a nuke in months and somehow under the IAEA’s nose contrasted with Sy Hersh‘s New Yorker piece on the 2011 NIE, the Ha’aretz article showing more Israeli threats to attack Iran, which would draw in the U.S. timed before September to kill the bid for a Palestinian at the UN.
Doug Bandow, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, explains why Obama is among the most flagrant violators of the constitution’s delineation of the war powers, the uncertainty of Gadhafi’s successors in Libya, if and when he is ousted, why Obama needs to wrap up Libya before election season starts while not having the political capital to send in ground troops to take Tripoli, and why the US is (hopefully) too busy to intervene in Syria or Pakistan.
Jason Ditz, news editor of Antiwar.com discusses the wounded flight of Yemen’s dictator Saleh as the country falls apart, sorting out different factions, tribes and student groups, the US call for Saleh to step down, not in support of democratic reform, but because he is no longer an effectively brutal autocrat, the US campaign of recent air strikes al Qaeda targets, the Golan Heights protests, why casualties reflect Israel’s great concern about large peaceful protests; and Syria’s increasingly unstable government amid huge protests.