The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power
“In 1977, The Daily Californian, Berkeley’s student paper, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents bearing on FBI surveillance in Berkeley during the 60’s and early 70’s. In 1981, Seth Rosenfeld, then a Daily Cal reporter, started reading those files that the FBI turned over. He published some initial reports. Later that year, having observed how many files were missing or blacked out (“I wondered whether the bureau was America’s biggest consumer of Magic Markers,” he writes), he filed an additional request for “any and all” records on former UC President Clark Kerr, former Free Speech Movement leader Mario Savio, and more than a hundred other individuals, organizations, and events. Five lawsuits, many more Magic Markers, and 30 years later, he had succeeded in retrieving more than 300,000 pages of records, a federal judge having ruled that the FBI had no legitimate law enforcement purpose in keeping them secret.”
-Todd Gitlin, FDL Book Salon
Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with Seth Rosenfeld, who spent 30 years researching and writing this groundbreaking book.
Subversives traces the FBI’s secret involvement with three iconic figures at Berkeley during the 1960s: the ambitious neophyte politician Ronald Reagan, the fierce but fragile radical Mario Savio, and the liberal university president Clark Kerr. Through these converging narratives, the award-winning investigative reporter Seth Rosenfeld tells a dramatic and disturbing story of FBI surveillance, illegal break-ins, infiltration, planted news stories, poison-pen letters, and secret detention lists. He reveals how the FBI’s covert operations—led by Reagan’s friend J. Edgar Hoover—helped ignite an era of protest, undermine the Democrats, and benefit Reagan personally and politically. At the same time, he vividly evokes the life of Berkeley in the early sixties—and shows how the university community, a site of the forward-looking idealism of the period, became a battleground in an epic struggle between the government and free citizens.
Part history, part biography, and part police procedural, Subversives reads like a true-crime mystery as it provides a fresh look at the legacy of the sixties, sheds new light on one of America’s most popular presidents, and tells a cautionary tale about the dangers of secrecy and unchecked power.
About the guest:
Seth Rosenfeld is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. He was an investigative reporter for the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle and has won the George Polk Award and other journalism honors.
Regular listeners to our broadcast know – we have repeatedly made the point that the war on drugs doesn’t work – nor has it ever. Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with Dr. Oliver Villar, co-author of “Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia”, who has spent over a decade researching the subject, and has some eye-opening observations on not only why it doesn’t work, but also on why it’s supposed to work that way.
About the guest:
Dr. Oliver Villar is a lecturer in Politics at Charles Sturt University. For the past decade his research has been devoted to this book. Much of the research is based on his PhD dissertation on the political economy of contemporary Colombia in the context of the cocaine drug trade. He has published broadly on the Inter-American cocaine drug trade, the U.S. War on Drugs and Terror in Colombia, and U.S.-Colombian relations.
Oliver was born in Mendoza, Argentina and has lived in Sydney for most of his life. In 2008 he completed his PhD on the political economy of contemporary Colombia in the context of the cocaine drug trade at the then UWS Latin American Research Group (LARG). Whilst completing his PhD, Oliver’s research interests in political economy, Latin America and the global drug trade followed teaching positions in politics at UWS and Macquarie University. His academic interests have involved an engagement with the sizeable Latin American immigrant community in Sydney and Melbourne and international concerns, such as with political and policy concerns over the ‘globalisation’ of crime and terrorism and the underlying causes of the processes involved.
At CSU Oliver’s research interests continue to focus on the vast and dynamic reservoir of political economy and the study of class analysis and class relations. This abiding interest extends across economic thought, economic development and the development of social and political relationships between the First World and Third World (in particular between the United States and Latin America) and the impact of neoliberal economic globalisation.
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Bill Conroy has worked as a reporter or editor for the past eighteen years at newspapers in Wisconsin, Arizona, Minnesota and Texas.
His investigative reporting over the past five years has focused on corruption and discrimination within federal law enforcement agencies.
He is also a journalist for Narco News. His investigative pieces, particularly those on the House of Death, have made him our most-favored guest.
Stephan Salisbury is the senior cultural writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he has been a reporter for three decades.
He has won numerous awards for his work and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize as part of an Inquirer investigative team looking into local election fraud.
He is author of the recently published Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland published by Nation Books.
Howard Bloom, a Visiting Scholar at New York University, is founder of the International Paleopsychology Project, executive editor of the New Paradigm book series, a founding board member of the Epic of Evolution Society, and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the National Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Society, the Human Behavior and Evolution Society, The International Society of Human Ethology, and the Academy of Political Science. He has been featured in every edition of Who’s Who in Science and Engineering since the publication’s inception.
Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, an internationally recognized expert on intelligence, is the President and CEO of the Intelligence & Security Academy, LLC, a national security education, training and consulting company.
From 2002-2005, Dr. Lowenthal served as the Assistant Director of Central Intelligence for Analysis and Production and also as the Vice Chairman for Evaluation on the National Intelligence Council. Prior to these duties, he served as Counselor to the Director of Central Intelligence. Dr. Lowenthal was the staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the 104th Congress (1995-97), where he directed the committee’s study on the future of the Intelligence Community, IC21: The Intelligence Community in the 21st Century. He also served in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), as both an office director and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, and has been the Senior Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy at the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.
Dr. Lowenthal has written extensively on intelligence and national security issues, including five books and over 90 articles or studies. His most recent book, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy (Congressional Quarterly Press, 4th ed., 2009), has become the standard college and graduate school textbook on the subject. He has also written a fantasy novel, Crispan Magicker, published in 1978. Dr. Lowenthal is a frequent public commentator on intelligence issues. He has appeared on each of the major networks, the Lehrer Newshour and Charlie Rose; his op-eds have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Dr. Lowenthal received his B.A. from Brooklyn College and his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He joined the adjunct faculty of the Johns Hopkins University in 2008, after 14 years as an adjunct at Columbia University. He is the Executive Director of the International Association for Intelligence Education and a Chairman Emeritus of the Intelligence Committee for AFCEA.
In 2005, Dr. Lowenthal was awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the Intelligence Community’s highest award. In 2006, he received AFCEA’s Distinguished Service Award for service to the Intelligence Community. In 1988, Dr. Lowenthal was the Grand Champion on Jeopardy!, the television quiz show.
Photo by Charles Miller
LESLIE KEAN is an independent investigative journalist with a background in freelance writing and radio broadcasting. She has contributed articles to dozens of publications here and abroad including the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Providence Journal, International Herald Tribune, Globe and Mail, Sydney Morning Herald, Bangkok Post, The Nation, and The Journal for Scientific Exploration. Her stories have been syndicated through Knight Ridder/Tribune, Scripps-Howard, New York Times wire service, Pacific News Service, and the National Publishers Association. While spending many years reporting on Burma, she co-authored Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit: The Struggle for Democratic Freedom and Dignity (Aperture, 1994) and she has contributed essays for a number of anthologies published between 1998 and 2009. Her freelance journalism has been supported by grants from numerous foundations including the Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation, The Fund for Investigative Journalism, and the Nation Institute.
Kean was also a producer and on-air host for a daily investigative news program on KPFA radio, a Pacifica station in California. She began covering the UFO subject in 2000 with a feature story in the Boston Globe, and followed with additional mainstream stories. In 2002, she co-founded the Coalition for Freedom of Information (CFi), an independent alliance advocating for greater government openness on information about UFOs, and for responsible coverage by the media based on a rational and credible approach. As director of the CFi, she was the plaintiff in a successful, five-year Freedom of Information Act federal lawsuit against NASA. In 2007, she co-organized a landmark Washington DC international press conference on official UFO investigations, which received media coverage around the world.
In light of the now decade-long war in Afghanistan, and the rapid-fire political and societal changes sweeping through the world, it helps to understand how we got here… what forces played a part in setting it up – and continue to exert their influence to this day.
Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald have been writing and researching the subject for over 30 years. Their valuable insight – not just with regard to the situation on the ground, but the political machinations and power players behind the scenes – sheds a sorely-needed light on these subjects.
Tonight, Mike and Mark talk with them about this, propaganda, the media and more.
About the guests:
Gould & Fitzgerald have been involved in the Afghan debate for over thirty years. Their books, Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story (2009) and Crossing Zero – The AfPak War at the Turning Point of American Empire (2011) have been praised internationally by numerous news, foreign policy and military experts.
Their involvement in Afghanistan began in 1981 when they were the first journalists to gain access through diplomatic channels at the United Nations following the expulsion of 1135 western journalists one month after the Soviet invasion. Contracted to CBS news, they found a stark contrast to the picture that was playing on the evening news. In 1983 they invited Roger Fisher, director of the Harvard Negotiation Project to return with them to assess the chances of getting the Soviets to leave Afghanistan. Contracted to ABC Nightline, Roger was told by the Soviets that they wanted to go home. Nightline skewed the story away from negotiation. Over the years they saw efforts to negotiate a resolution in Afghanistan consistently overruled by forces who always managed to undermine peaceful solutions. Cold War journalism still haunts the Afghan story to this day.
You can read a whole bunch of their brilliant work at their website – http://invisiblehistory.com/
During its long withdrawal from South Vietnam, the U.S. military experienced a serious crisis in morale. Chronic indiscipline, illegal drug use, and racial militancy all contributed to trouble within the ranks. But most chilling of all was the advent of a new phenomenon: large numbers of young enlisted men turning their weapons on their superiors. The practice was known as ”fragging,” a reference to the fragmentation hand grenades often used in these assaults.
Between 1968 and 1973, dozens of Americans and Vietnamese were murdered in fragging incidents, but only a handful of their killers were ever brought to justice.
Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with author George Lepre about this incredibly well-researched book.
The Raw Story recently published a story about a NJ study that showed that “The use of confidential informants by New Jersey police leads to violations of civilians’ rights and botched investigations thanks to inconsistent polices and insufficient oversight.” As regular listeners know – this topic is a show favorite.
About the guest:
After several years in the U.S. Army, George Lepre is currently pursuing a graduate degree at the New School for Social Research. His first book, Himmler’s Bosnian Division, was the recipient of the Sydney Zebel History Award from Rutgers University.
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Almost four decades after Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – another whistleblower has stepped forward and now is facing similar retaliation.
Army Intelligence Specialist Bradley Manning is alleged to have turned over a large volume of classified material about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to Wikileaks.org, including the recently posted U.S. military video showing American helicopters gunning down two Reuters journalists and about 10 other Iraqi men in 2007. Two children were also injured.
The 22-year-old Manning was turned in by a convicted computer hacker named Adrian Lamo, who befriended Manning over the Internet and then betrayed him, supposedly out of concern that disclosure of the classified material might put U.S. military personnel in danger. Manning is now in U.S. military custody in Kuwait awaiting charges.
A congressional report on Iran/Contra was written haphazardly and deceptively, including an apparently false claim that Reagan’s innocence was approved unanimously by a House task force.
A recent reexamination of the task force’s work also reveals that evidence implicating Reagan’s campaign in a pre-election deal to delay the release of 52 Americans then held hostage in Iran was kept from the U.S. public and even from members of the task force; that senior staff investigators shelved late-arriving evidence of Republican guilt; and that dissent within the task force was suppressed.
Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with Robert Parry about these two important stories.
About the guest:
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com.
His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.
His investigative journalism website, consortiumnews.com, is an incredibly important resource. Please visit the site, and support them any way you can.
The Consortium News stories we cover tonight:
Wikileak Case Echoes Pentagon Papers
The Tricky October Surprise Report
The Wikileaks site about the leaked video
The strange and consequential case of Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo and WikiLeaks
The great article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon, including an interview with Adrian Lamo
On November 28, 1953, U.S. Army biochemist Dr. Frank Olson crashed through a hotel window in New York City and fell over 150 feet to the sidewalk below where he died.
The New York City Police Department, U.S. Army, and CIA, for whom he also secretly worked, reported Olson’s death as a suicide. In 1975, a Presidential-appointed commission inadvertently released information publicly that revealed that, days before his death, the CIA had surreptitiously dosed Olson with LSD. The CIA admitted that it had given the drug to Olson, but refused to reveal any details of the so-called “experiment”, or about what Olson’s work for the CIA involved. The American media briefly examined the perplexing mysteries surrounding Olson’s “suicide”, but soon lost interest. Twenty-years later, further investigation into Olson’s death revealed that there was ample reason to believe that he had been murdered. The Olson case grew even more mysterious and strange after the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office convened a grand jury inquiry into the odd death. Critical witnesses died strangely only days and weeks before they were to be questioned by prosecutors; government officials refused to speak and those that did suddenly developed severe memory problems; crucial documents were destroyed and lost; and investigators were intimidated and threatened.
Who killed Frank Olson and why? Why did the U.S. government actively work for over 50 years to conceal and cover up the facts surrounding Olson’s death? What were the bizarre connections between Olson’s death and Lee Harvey Oswald, foreign drug traffickers, and deadly government-sponsored assassins and undercover agents? What was the horrible experiment conducted by the U.S. government that cost Olson his life? What was Frank Olson’s self-admitted “terrible mistake”?
Continue reading A Terrible Mistake
How some troops are being “supported”.
Tonight, we speak with Retired Army Colonel Ann Wright about this simply disgusting story. From her April story on CommonDreams:
“The Department of Defense statistics are alarming — one in three women who join the US military will be sexually assaulted or raped by men in the military… But, now, even more alarming, are deaths of women soldiers in Iraq, and in the United States, following rape. The military has characterized each of the deaths of women who were first sexually assaulted as deaths from “non-combat related injuries,” and then added “suicide.” Yet, the families of the women whom the military has declared to have committed suicide, strongly dispute the findings and are calling for further investigations into the deaths of their daughters. Specific US Army units and certain US military bases in Iraq have an inordinate number of women soldiers who have died of “non-combat related injuries, with several identified as “suicides.”
Continue reading Rape and Murder in the Military
Was Col. Ted Westhusing’s death in Iraq something more sinister than suicide?
“Since last March, when I wrote a story about the apparent suicide of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq, I had believed there was nothing else to write about his tragic death.
But in December, I talked to a source in the Department of Defense who met Westhusing in Iraq about three months before his death. The source, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, was investigating claims of wrongdoing against military contractors working in Iraq. After a short introduction, I asked him what he thought had happened to Westhusing. ‘I think he was killed. I honestly do. I think he was murdered,’ the source told me. ‘Maybe DOD didn’t have enough evidence to call it murder, so they called it suicide.’ ”
Tonight, we interview author Robert Bryce about this sad tale.
About the guest:
Robert Bryce’s articles have appeared in dozens of publications including the Atlantic Monthly, Slate, New York Times, Washington Post, American Conservative, The Nation, Washington Spectator and The Guardian. His first book, Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego, and the Death of Enron, received rave reviews and was named one of the best non-fiction books of 2002 by Publishers Weekly. His second book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate, was published 2004.
Bryce spent 12 years writing for the Austin Chronicle. His third book, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of “Energy Independence,” will be published in March by PublicAffairs. He lives in Austin.
I am Sullied-No More – Robert Bryce’s first article about Col. Westhusing
A Death Reconsidered – Bryce’s most recent Westhusing article
Robert Bryce’s Website
The FOIA Documents Robert Bryce refers to in the episode
This week, Mike and Mark are joined by Robert Young Pelton, author of “Licensed to Kill – hired guns in the war on terror.”
About the Guest:
Author and filmmaker, Robert Young Pelton is known for overcoming extraordinary obstacles in his search for the truth. He has made a career of bypassing the media, border guards and the military in his goal of getting to the heart of the story. In his travels to and through the world’s most dangerous places, Pelton has shared risks with his hosts and often has become the sole surviving witness to history-shaping events. His recent journeys have taken him inside the siege of Grozny in Chechnya, the battle of Qala-I-Jangi in Afghanistan, the rebel campaign to take Monrovia in Liberia, inside the hunt for Bin Laden in the Tribal Areas with the CIA, with insurgents during the war in Iraq and running RPG Alley every day for four weeks with Blackwater in Baghdad.
Pelton is also known for penetrating many of the world’s most dangerous terrorist, rebel and paramilitary organizations. His goal as a neutral observer and accurate chronicler of events has earned him access on all sides of many wars including being the only journalist in combat operations with US Special Forces in Afghanistan and other covert and private military groups.
His travels have not been without penalty. He has been kidnapped by right wing death squads in Colombia, survived a plane crash in Indonesia, a head on motorcycle accident in Peru and gracefully endured numerous detainments and attacks.
His access has allowed Pelton to return with stunning interviews, surprising stories and unforgettable footage for his articles, documentaries and books. The world met just one the many characters Pelton has met when they watched his world exclusive interview of the American Taliban, John Walker Lindh.
In addition to his work for National Geographic Adventure, Pelton has worked for Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, ABC News, CBS 60 Minutes, CNN and other major media networks. His unusual perspective, insight and humor have made him a popular guest on news networks and entertainment shows that range from Oprah to NPR.
As an author, Pelton is best known for his classic underground guide to surviving danger; Robert Young Pelton’s The World’s Most Dangerous Places (Harper Collins), now in its fifth edition. His other books include Come Back Alive (Random House), an intense autobiography, The Adventurist (Broadway Books) and his latest: Three Worlds Gone Mad (Lyons Press) a book about three wars and the people Pelton met fighting them.
Robert Young Pelton’s Website – comebackalive.com
Judge Evan Wallach article – “Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime”