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Podcast: US-Installed Iraqi Government Is Slaughtering Civilians In Fallujah With US Arms

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I interviewed Truthout staff reporter Dahr Jamail about his latest article on the ongoing crisis in Fallujah, where the US-installed Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is slaughtering civilians.

Jamail, one of the only American journalists still reporting on Iraq, highlights the parallels between the current siege of Fallujah and the crimes committed by US military there in 2004.

US combat troops may have left Iraq, but the war is far from over. As Jamail explained, the sectarian divisions fueling the ongoing violence are a direct result of the US occupation, when America trained and armed Shia death squads to eradicate the predominantly Sunni armed resistance, a strategy that was executed by the same men responsible for training death squads in Latin America in the 1980s. “The sectarianism was brought in by the American tanks,” said Jamail. As a result, Iraq is far worse off than it ever was under Saddam Hussein. In fact, as Jamail explained, many Iraqis refer to Maliki—who’s private security forces torture, rape and kill Sunnis—as the “Shia Saddam.”

This comes on top of skyrocketing rates of congenital birth defects and rare cancers that are significantly worse than the rates documented in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Jamail called this “one of the lingering ongoing war crimes that is residual from the US occupation.”

In the discussion portion of the episode, Kevin and I talk at length about the corporate media’s hypocritical reaction to the on-air resignation of RT anchor Liz Wahl compared to their smearing of Abby Martin, host of RT’s Breaking the Set, following her brave on-air declaration of journalistic independence in response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Mainstream outlets love to label RT a propaganda network for toeing the Russian line on certain issues, but the truth is that the the establishment US press is no better. We also discuss the brutal treatment of CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin at the hands of Egypt’s military coup regime.

You can listen to the episode here or download it directly here. It’s also available on iTunes here.

Here is the transcript of our interview with Jamail: Read more

Jury: Police Killing Of Unarmed Anaheim Man Justified Because Victim Dressed Like Gang Member

Manuel Diaz with his daughter in undated family photo.

Manuel Diaz with his daughter in undated family photo. (OC Weekly)

On July 27, 2012, 24-year-old Manuel Diaz was shot in the back of the head by Anaheim police officer Nick Bennallack. Officers then stood over Diaz, who was unarmed, for three minutes, watching him twitch and bleed out before doing anything. It was an execution.

Almost two years later, a federal jury has rejected a lawsuit against the officer and the city filed by Diaz’s mother claiming police used excessive force. Why? Because it happened in a neighborhood where there are gangs and Diaz was, according to police, dressed like a “gang member”.

Read more

Hypocrisy of US Elites Over Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Is Out Of Control

Isn’t it ironic how the architects and supporters of the illegal US invasion of Iraq are screaming the loudest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

One of the most laughable denunciations came from David Frum, the neoconservative Bush speechwriter who coined the phrase “Axis of Evil” and till this day remains confident in the rightness of the Iraq war.

But the hypocrisy isn’t limited to neocons.

Lecturing Russia about its invasion of Crimea on Sunday’s Meet the Press, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, “[Y]ou just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests.”

I agree. But where was this sentiment when Kerry, as a Senator in 2002, voted to authorize use of force against Iraq based on a “phony pretext”? Before you start pointing to his many criticisms of the Bush administration’s “shock and awe”, keep in mind that Kerry later admitted that in hindsight he would still vote yes.

So really, the only thing praiseworthy about Kerry’s condemnation of Russia is his ability to say it with a straight face.

In case we needed anymore proof that David Gregory, host of Meet the Press, is a hack rather than a journalist, it’s worth noting that he responded to Kerry’s brazen hypocrisy by demanding to know if the US was prepared to hit back at Russia with a “military option.”

It’s an embarrassment that no one in the mainstream media, which unquestioningly cheerled the Iraq war, has challenged Kerry on this.

At a news conference during his visit to Ukraine yesterday, Kerry proclaimed: “It is not appropriate to invade a country and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st-century, G-8, major-nation behavior.”

Again, what about Iraq? Unless I’m mistaken, the US invaded Iraq in the 21st century to do exactly that. Still, the New York Times said nothing about this blatant contradiction in its reporting.

Keep in mind that the Iraq war—which killed upwards of a million Iraqis, leaving in its wake 5 million orphans, 2 million widows and 4.5 million refugees—isn’t over, at least not for Iraqis.

As I write this, the US-installed Iraqi government is slaughtering civilians in Fallujah, a crime that has been largely ignored in the establishment press. But who cares about US-backed atrocities in Iraq when there is an anti-US superpower to vilify, right?

Meanwhile, President Obama—a man who extra judicially executes people abroad (including American citizens) based on secret evidence—has accused Russia of violating international law.

“When it comes to preserving the principle that no country has the right to send in troops to another country unprovoked, we should be able to come up with a unified position,” said Obama on Monday.

If only he would preserve that principle in his own foreign policy, which just this morning resulted in a US drone strike that killed three “suspected militants” as they rode in a car in Yemen. (Media outlets should be required to add a disclaimer next to that phrase to make it clear to their readers that Obama labels all military-age males in a strike zone “suspected militants”)  

Drone strike supporters on twitter have been quick to criticize my comparison between Obama’s drone policy and Russia in Ukraine. But war crimes are war crimes, whether they take the form of an on-the-ground or sky invasion.

More importantly, the glaring contrast between the media’s obsession with Ukraine versus its collective apathy toward nations that have their sovereignty routinely violated by the US war machine (Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.) reveals a colossal double standard.

On Monday, even the local evening news in my area was talking about Ukraine. But not a word was said about the US drone strike that killed three Yemenis, including a man sleeping near his car, that very morning.

That’s because outrage over Russia has nothing to do with genuine concern about violations of international law and everything to do with maintaining US hegemony.

What US Media Isn’t Telling You About The Protests In Venezuela

On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I speak with Eva Golinger—an American-Venezuelan lawyer and author of The Chavez Code—about what the US media isn’t telling you concerning the protests in Venezuela.

While the protesters we’ve been hearing so much about certainly have legitimate grievances, says Golinger, the opposition leaders at the helm of the protests are US Ivy League-educated elites who have been involved in past coup attempts and are hell bent on restoring Venezuela to the pre-Chavez era when a handful of wealthy families had all the power.

The opposition leaders, explains Golinger, are the equivalent of “tropical Tea Party” leaders. Their goal, fueled by a deep-seeded hatred of the poor and darker skinned, is the opposite of democracy and they are funded in large part by the US government, which has tried to undermine and even overthrow Venezuela’s democratically elected government since it went socialist in the late 1990s.

Besides having the largest oil reserves on the planet, Venezuela is a prime target for US meddling because of the positive influence its participatory democracy and socialist policies have had on other Latin American countries, which the US no longer controls.

Contrary to popular US mythology, life in Venezuela has improved drastically for the masses. Under Chavez and now Maduro, everyone has access to free healthcare, education, housing and food subsidies…basically all the things neoliberals and free market extremists despise.

Golinger talks about all this in great detail in perhaps the most fascinating interview we’ve conducted to date.

In the discussion portion, which is shorter and lighter than usual, Kevin and I express our amusement at watching mouthpieces for US hegemony eat each other on twitter before moving on to the Oscar nominated films we’re rooting for.

You can listen to the episode here or download it directly here. It’s also available on iTunes here.

Below is a transcript of our interview with Eva Golinger, who you can follow on twitter at @evagolinger. Also, check out her recent piece in the New York TimesRead more

For Marissa Alexander The System Is Working Exactly As Its Racist Architects Intended

Marissa Alexander (MSNBC)

Marissa Alexander, undated family photo (Lincoln B. Alexander/AP)

If ever you needed proof that the system, from the institutional to the individual, is stacked against people of color, look no further than Marissa Alexander.

Florida state prosecutor Angela Corey is seeking to put Marissa Alexander behind bars for 60 years because she had the audacity to defend her life.

Alexander, a 33-year-old black mother of three and survivor of domestic violence, was initially sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the wall of her home in 2012 with her legally owned gun to scare off her abusive husband, who’s violence is well documented. No one was harmed but Corey prosecuted anyway.

After nearly three years behind bars, Alexander was granted a new trial.

But Corey—the same prosecutor who failed to put Trayvon’s killer in prison, who refused to address race during the trial of Jordan Davis’ killer and who leads the state in prosecuting black children as adults—is now aiming for three 20 year sentences for Alexander, which amounts to a life sentence.

This is an outrage, for sure, but unfortunately it’s not at all surprising. I say that because the criminal justice system is working exactly as intended by the white racists who built it.

This is after all the same system that punishes victims of police brutality who are lucky enough to survive, like Kwadir Felton, Leon Ford Jr., Lamont Earl Dukes, Glenn Broadnax and Andre Fiorentino.

This is the same system that required massive public protests to even consider prosecuting the man who killed Renisha McBride.

This is the same system that sentenced John McNeil to life in prison for shooting a white man who was coming at him with a knife.

This is the same system that views black children as disposable, shutting down their schools while shuffling them into prison.

And the list goes on.

Yet we keep looking to this backwards system as the solution to securing justice for the countless people of color this nation has wronged. How much more proof do we need that the system is fucked before we stop trying to “reform” it and start trying to dismantle and rebuild it? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s something to think about.

In the meantime, you can support Marissa Alexander by donating to her legal fund.

Podcast: Jordan Davis, Colorblind Prosecutions And ‘Presumed Guiltiness of Black Bodies’

UD3On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure, Kevin Gosztola and I speak with independent journalist and filmmaker Raven Rakia about the Michael Dunn verdict, Jordan Davis’ defiance of respectability politics, the lack of outrage over police killings, and how structural and implicit racism work together to perpetuate what Raven calls the “presumed guiltiness of black bodies.”

The prosecution’s omission of race from the Dunn trial, explained Raven, “plays to the need for a colorblind society…so people don’t have to take responsibility.”

I encourage you to read Raven’s moving response to the Dunn verdict here. Also, follow her incredible work on twitter at @aintacrow.

In the discussion portion of the show, Kevin and I talk about the nuances missing from US media coverage of the protests in Venezuela and Ukraine, the LAPD’s Israel-inspired love affair with drones, the US Border Patrol killing a Mexican man for allegedly throwing rocks at the officers chasing him, a terrible court decision that absolves the NYPD of wrongdoing for spying on Muslims, and the the disastrous implications for press freedom in the aftermath of the David Miranda case.

Unauthorized Disclosure is finally available on iTunes! You can also download it directly here or you can listen to it here.

Below is a transcript of our interview with Raven.  Read more

LAPD Travels To Israel, Falls In Love With Drones And Mass Surveillance

The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone. If the LAPD had their way, they'd would be watching you with this.

The HoverMast-100, an Israeli surveillance drone that the LAPD hopes to add to its arsenal. (Image source: Sky Sapience website)

The Jewish Journal has an incredible write-up on the Los Angeles Police Department’s recent visit to Israel.

For nine days early this month, eight of the LAPD’s highest ranking officers toured Israel on a trip organized by LAPD Deputy Chief and commander of the Counter-Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau Michael Downing, and headed by LAPD Information Technology Bureau commander Horace Frank.

While it’s unclear how much the trip cost taxpayers, Frank told the Journal that the trip was financed with “grant funding that was available for us to look at emergency technologies and best practices.”

Since 2001, the US government has doled out tens of billions of dollars in federal grants to local and state police departments in the name of fighting terrorism, so it’s likely that the grant that paid for the LAPD’s Israel trip came from DHS.

Though LAPD officers have visited Israel in the past, this appears to have been the most high-level trip to date. But it wasn’t your typical propaganda tour.

Instead of stopping at the Western Wall or Yad Vesham, officers visited Israel’s private security firms and drone manufacturers, most of them formed by former members of Israel’s top-secret 8200 Unit, which, like the NSA, engages in mass spying and cyber warfareRead more

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