Jason Leopold, in the clip from the full-length Acronym TV episode, How Americans Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Guantanamo Prison, discusses the Obstacles President Obama faces in keeping his campaign promise to restore habeas corpus, shut down Guantanamo Prison, and restore America’s moral stature in the world. If President Obama’s true intention s are as described above, what can he do alone, and what does need cooperation from Congress to do?
“What he could do now is actually start releasing some of these prisoners,” says Leopold “The vast majority of those cleared are Yemeni prisoners. Yemen is a big country. To think that these men, who were never on a battlefield, can’t be sent back to Yemen because they will end up as part of Al-Qaeda (makes no sense).”
Citing President Obama’s major 2013 counter terrorism speech, wherein he acknowledged that a US drone had targeted and killed a U.S. citizen (Anwar Al-Awlaki) and where the President was forced to discuss GITMO because, “it was the height of a hunger strike and it attracted attention around the world.” In that speech, Leopold notes, Obama lifted a moratorium, “that he put into place and here we are year later and there have been no Yemeni’s released. As we saw with the swap with the Taliban of the five prisoners for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, that was a fight he was willing to wage with Congress.”
About the guest:
Jason Leopold is an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government, and civil liberties. He’s been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices.
The oil rich country of Iraq is facing a possible collapse.
Sunni militants, largely shut out of the new government installed by the U.S. after our illegally invasion and occupation are overtaking large parts of Iraq in a quickly developing story. U.S. foreign policy seems to lack the imagination to do anything but intervene militarily. How that intervention takes shape, whether it be in aid, advising, air strikes, boots on the ground, or the kind of shock and awe only a Nobel peace prize winning Commander in chief can deliver remains to be seen.
Joining Dennis on Acronym TV this week to discuss the situation in Iraq are Lila Garrett and Dr. Dennis Loo.
Lila Garret is a two time Emmy winner for her work in TV comedy as a writer/producer. For her progressive political activism, in 1991 she was the recipient of Senator Barbara Boxer’s WOMEN MAKING HISTORY AWARD. . In 2004 she was So. Cal. Chair of the Kucinich for President campaign. For the last 9 years she has hosted the radio political talk show, “Connect the Dots” heard every Monday morning at 7 on Pacifica’s KPFK in Los Angeles and on line atKPFK.org.
Dr. Dennis Loo is a Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona. He has won national awards for his scholarship, his journalism, and his activism. Loo is the author of Globalization and the Demolition of Society and co-editor/author of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney. He writes regularly for his website DennisLoo.com and sits on the National Steering Committee of the World Can’t Wait.
ISIS in Iraq, Barack Obama as a War President, The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Litigating the past and planning for the future, The sitcom All in the Family (and what would Meathead and Archie do now?), and Satire as a tool for the peace movement Read the rest of this entry →
Joining Dennis on the show today to make sense of all this is Mnar Muhawesh. She is the founder, CEO and editor in chief of Mint Press News, and also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups.
As the world watches Iraq quickly descending into a failed state status under the brutal onslaught from fighters in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, pundits, representatives form congress and no doubt members of Barack Obama’s inner circle are wondering if it is not time to put together another coalition of the willing and re-engage the US Military in Iraq.
Before you dust off your yellow ribbons to tie round your oak tree’s though, remember: in 2003 The United States invaded Iraq after lying to the world and the American people saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was connected to Al Qaeda — and therefore connected to the 9/11 attacks.
Iraq is collapsing. The Middle Eastern nation, where nearly 4,500 American lives were lost and nearly one billion dollars were spent from 2003-2011 to oust a dictator and rebuild a nation, is approaching chaos, perhaps even ‘failed state’ status.
The deterioration in Syria and the invasion and spread of extremism in northern and western Iraq is putting the ‘cradle of civilization’ under the control of theMiddle East’s most militant, ruthless and vile Islamic extremists.
They proffer no future for the region’s inhabitants other than oppression under the guise of rigid adherence to Sharia law.
Extremist fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — expelled from Al Qaida because of its extreme militancy — have seized Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul and took possession of Ninewah Province, after taking Fallujah and Ramadi just west of Baghdad late last year. They quickly moved south to Samarra and Tikrit, capturing both cities with little government resistance. They also seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Baiji. The militants have made no secret of their objective: Baghdad.
one of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making.
In a development that will shock nobody, no such legal architecture has been put in place to “reign in” Obama or any future POTUS.
Obama’s drone wars have killed more than 2400 civilians in countries that pose no threat to us and with whom we are not at war, and continue to mock international law and the U.S. constitution.
So what version of legal twister could the White House staff come up with to justify the President to be judge, jury, and executioner of people- including American Citizens- all over the world? For those of you (including Obama, apparently) who justify our drone wars as self defense, then let me ask you this:
How do you define self-defense? Think about it for a second.
Perhaps we should frame the question differently: Under what conditions can we justify the use of violence in our personal lives? I’m certainly no legal expert, but say a person breaks into your house looking to do you harm. Before you know what has happened, they have killed your brother. Sequences of nerve cells fire off shooting adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. Somehow your mind remembers, and your body approximates, some middle school karate kata and you render the intruder defenseless. Scrubbing the blood drippings from your carpet, you call the police, and some form of justice is administered.
We would all agree that is self-defense, yes? A justified (in the moral and legal sense term) use of force.
Now imagine it is years later that it is you breaking into someone’s house. It is not the home of the person who broke into your house, but it is in the same zip code.
The violent clashes unfolding in Kiev are directly linked to policy decisions and money flow from Washington DC. Just as the genocide of Native Americans to make way for the U.S. colonies and our expansion westward were justified by the concept of Manifest Destiny, the fires of the tinderbox that is Kiev right now are being fanned by a subtler if just as dangerous iteration of Manifest Destiny, our blowback inducing homicidal bull in a geopolitical, cultural, and religious china shop – Manifest Destiny’s Child: Neoliberalism’s front line warrior.
As Paul Craig Roberts writes in an article published on his website and PopularResistance.org:
“There is a lack of awareness on the part of the protesters that by permitting themselves to be manipulated by Washington, they are pushing the world toward a dangerous war.
A number of confirmations have come in from readers that Washington is fueling the violent protests in Ukraine with our taxpayer dollars. Washington has no money for food stamps or to prevent home foreclosures, but it has plenty of money with which to subvert Ukraine.”
The fact that we are meddling in the affairs of the Ukraine, spending money and influence that are resulting in violence and death should not read as tin foil hat conspiracy theory. These actions, and financial priorities have been US foreign policy dating back to at least the end of World War 2. Whether it is the 1953 CIA lead coup in Iran, or Ollie North funneling funny money to train freedom fighters in Afghanistan that would yield a young leader named Osama Bin Laden, the United States has been attempting to shape the geopolitical landscape and global economy loosing military conflicts ad wars for sixty years.
But don’t take my word for it. Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, old the National Press Club last December that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give “Ukraine the future it deserves.” As Paul Craig Robert reports,
“Nuland is the Obama regime official who was caught red-handed naming the members of the Ukrainian government Washington intends to impose on the Ukrainian people once the paid protesters have unseated the current elected and independent government.
What Nuland means by Ukraine’s future under EU overlordship is for Ukraine to be looted like Latvia and Greece and to be used by Washington as a staging ground for US missile bases against Russia.”
As you watch the unfolding story coming out of Kiev, keep in mind that after 60 years (give or take) of behaving like the evil villain on the world’s stage, there was a moment- around September 11, 2001 (for a day or two) when the empathy of most of the world was squarely with the United States.
Spending this political capital like the trust fund, evangelical, village idiot that he is, George Bush took the advice of a cadre a Straussian, homicidal maniacs and soon began substituting Saddam Husain for Osama Bin Laden and before you could say “wham bam thank you mam can I have another?” a newly articulated foreign policy of prevention and pre-emption to wage a war with a border less enemy meant a fete accomplie for the military industrial complex: endless, perpetual war. As Uncle Sam set about illegally invading and occupying foreign lands, engaging in overt and covert blowback inducing foreign policy, one million innocent Iraqis were killed in an illegal and immoral war. Afghanistan is the new Vietnam, and Al Quad, wounded though they might be, simply fled to Pakistan, Somalia, or just as likely, to North Brunswick, New Jersey.
The Obama Administration’s version of the Bush Doctrine lacks the theatrics of the shock and awe campaign of Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld. However, the Obama administration is still generating an army of chickens, be they in the form of future military of terror attacks or in the form of the neoliberal house of cards set to crumble, that will certainly come home to roost.
Even with the Super Bowl weekend serving as a distraction, over 200 events took place from coast to coast the day after the Super Bowl aimed at sending a message to President Obama, that – according to 350.org: “it’s time for President Obama to be a climate champion, not the pipeline president, and reject Keystone XL. Standing together, we can be heard.”
For the State Department to suggest that the Keystone XL pipeline will not have a negative impact on the environment is like Walter White telling Phillip Seymour Hoffman that heroin is as healthy as kale.
If one reads the Obama administration State Department’s Final Environmental Study on the KXL pipeline it is almost as if the State department subcontracted the study to a company with vast financial ties to the oil and gas industry.
“in early March, the State Department released a 2,000-page draft report downplaying the environmental risks of the northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline (…) But when it released the report, State hid an important fact from the public: Experts who helped draft the report had previously worked for TransCanada, the company looking to build the Keystone pipeline, and other energy companies poised to benefit from Keystone’s construction. State released documents in conjunction with the Keystone report in which these experts’ work histories were redacted so that anyone reading the documents wouldn’t know who’d previously hired them. Yet unredacted versions of these documents obtained by Mother Jones confirm that three experts working for an outside contractor had done consulting work for TransCanada and other oil companies with a stake in the Keystone’s approval.”
Barack Obama may as well have delivered his 5th State of the Union address to and for the Superstate Oceania, the fictional empire mired in perpetual war from George Orwell’s 1984.
No, Obama did not come directly out and tell us that war is peace, freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength so much as he embodied those ideas in a nuanced, measured performance that inspired the political pundits like Chris Matthews to wax poetic like a theatre critic praising an aging stage actor who was able to find the old magic one last time.
Lee Camp and I discuss the (actual) state of the union, Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy as it relates to jobs, corporate profits and the climate crisis, and how blindly “supporting for the troops” is unhealthy for children and all other living things.
Lee Camp (bio)
Lee is comedian, writer, and activist. He is the host of the popular Moment of Clarity, which is now a video series, a book, and a full show. His stand-up comedy has garnered praise from a who’s who of comedians and activists alike.
Former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that if the people knew what was in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it would be impossible to get it signed. The Obama administration is going to great lengths to make sure that people do not know what is in the TPP before it gets signed into law, and have made “fast tracking” the TPP bill a top priority.
January 22nd marks the beginning of a ten-day push by groups who work on a wide variety of issues to stop Congress from granting the President Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The push culminates in an Intercontinental Day of Action against the TPP onJan 31- with events and actions being planned all around the world.
The TPP has been called NAFTA on Steroids, and if you hate the concept of corporate personhood, consider that from leaked chapters of the TPP text we know that if the TPP passes, we will all be getting used to the phrase corporate nationhood.
Signatories to the TPP, which now include the US, most of the Pacific rim countries, in addition to Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, and Canada will agree that trade a binding tribunal made up of 3 corporate judges will settle dispute and supersede, for example, the US Constitution.
The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret pact between the EU and the US known as Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment. However, BBC is reporting that the European commission is slamming on the brakes and has “launched a three-month public consultation on the proposed investment rules for firms, responding to fears that they could give big firms too much power to block unfavorable government policies.”
Joining me to discuss the growing movement to halt fast track and topple the TPP is Stuart Sidle.
Stuart is a senior at Reed College in Portland Oregon where he is engaged with environmental justice activities and serves on the national steering committee for the United Students for Fair Trade, a grassroots network of students and youth working in solidarity with cooperative communities and workers to promote fair trade principles and models.
MyFDL is Firedoglake's community site. Anyone can participate by commenting on posts or joining groups to find other people in your area. Content posted to MyFDL is the opinion of the author alone, and should not be attributed to Firedoglake.