Rick Sterling, an investigative journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area, discusses the many flaws in Amnesty International’s report accusing the Syrian government of executing thousands of political prisoners in mass hangings. This is AI’s contribution to the West’s propaganda machine that is trying to escalate the war in Syria and push for Assad’s ouster. AI has previously backed up false accusations (the infamous incubator babies) against Iraq in the lead up to the Gulf War and against Libya in 2011 as the US-backed regime change operation progressed.
George Joseph, an editorial fellow at CityLab, discusses the widespread use of powerful cell phone interception and extraction equipment by police departments, and their collection of phone location data and even the content of texts and calls with devices like “Stingrays” and “Dirtboxes” that vacuum up private information and don’t discriminate between suspected criminals and ordinary people.
James Bovard, the author of many books including Attention Deficit Democracy, discusses the 70+ fusion centers funded by the Department of Homeland Security, that specialize in wasting money, publishing worthless reports on non-existent terrorism threats, and violating the privacy of Americans. Jim also discusses the media’s hand-wringing about Trump’s fearmongering, even though the practice has a long history among US presidents looking to menace the public with “an endless series of hobgoblins.”
Tom Collina, the policy director for Ploughshares Fund, discusses why the Trump administration is planning to spend $100 billion to replace hundreds of old ICBMs deployed across Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, even though they are part of an outdated ‘nuclear sponge’ plan designed to draw Russian missiles to America’s upper Midwest in the event of nuclear war. Tom goes on to explain why ICBMs don’t make any strategic sense and should be phased out entirely – and why Trump just might be the president who can do it.
Greg Thielmann, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, discusses the Trump administration’s overblown protestations of Iran’s ballistic missile testing; the US government’s tendency to corrupt intelligence reports and exaggerate threats to start conflicts – like the 2003 Iraq War; and why the Iranian nuclear deal is a great diplomatic achievement by both sides and a victory for nuclear non-proliferation advocates.
Daniel Lazare, author of The Frozen Republic: How the constitution is Paralyzing Democracy, discusses how Trump’s new administration – including US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and national security adviser Michael Flynn – is thwarting his most promising foreign policy changes on Russia and Syria, and steering him back to the Washington consensus of endless war.
Joe Lauria, an independent international affairs journalist, discusses the Iraqi army’s long struggle to finally retake eastern Mosul from the Islamic State; the very difficult upcoming battle for the remainder of the city; the fate of Mosul’s internally displaced refugees; and Trump’s worrying consideration of Elliott Abrams for Deputy Secretary of State.
Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist based in Sanaa, discusses President Trump’s first authorized special forces raid in Yemen that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL, many Yemeni civilians, and Anwar al-Awlaki’s daughter – continuing the nearly two-year war in Yemen where the US alternates between helping and attacking AQAP.
Trevor Aaronson, a contributing writer at The Intercept and executive director of the nonprofit Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, discusses the classified FBI documents obtained by The Intercept showing that the FBI has expanded its role far beyond federal law enforcement after 9/11, and that it is now a domestic and foreign intelligence agency with “extraordinary secret powers.”
Alex Nowrasteh, an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, discusses his guide to Trump’s executive order limiting migration for people from a list of countries supposedly at risk of exporting terrorists to the US; the overly-broad definition of “terrorism-related crimes” used by Jeff Sessions and others to justify the visa ban; and how ill-defined executive orders like this create capricious and arbitrary government.
Patrick Cockburn, author of ISIS: Battling the Menace, discusses why Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban’ will lead to more terrorist attacks instead of preventing them; and why Al-Qaeda’s greatest success wasn’t bringing down the twin towers on 9/11, but provoking George W. Bush into invading Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gareth Porter, an independent journalist and historian, discusses the coalition of pro-intervention US think tanks trying to sell the Trump administration on a more muscular anti-Assad policy in Syria – a policy that has been repackaged from the previous version designed last summer for their preferred choice for president, Hillary Clinton.
Joseph Stromberg, an independent historian and writer, discusses how the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and worldwide protectionism ground the US economy to a halt in the 1930s; the enduring “accordion effect” of increasing government power and decline of civil liberties during wartime; how the distribution of defense contractor jobs among key congressional districts makes cuts in military spending politically impossible; and why government rationing is more a show of force than an attempt to fix economic problems.
Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), discusses the “gap” in the Russian hack case; why it makes much more sense that a Democratic insider, fed up with the sidelining of Bernie Sanders, gave the DNC emails to WikiLeaks; why Obama protected the CIA and John Brennan from the Senate Intelligence committee’s investigation on torture; and how Donald Trump could fulfill his professed goal of quickly knocking out ISIS.
Doug Bandow, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute, discusses why US sanctions against Sudan, put in place not long after President Omar Hassan al-Bashir took power in a 1989 coup, have failed to produce any positive results, serving only to economically cripple the Sudanese people and alienate them from Americans. Yet the sanctions endure, even though their original purpose – punishing the al-Bashir regime for sponsoring terrorism – is no longer valid.