Tag Archive: Chris Hedges

May 16 2014

The War On Words

Journalist Chris Hedges spoke with RT news host Sophia about the information difference in the news that is reported. Citing the uprising in the Ukraine as an example, he talks about how the US government uses fake facts and dubious evidence to push its propaganda on the public using an ever compliant American media.

The crisis in Ukraine and the steadily dropping temperature in relations between Moscow and Washington made many talk about a new Cold War; and many others are worried it may turn ‘hot’. But there’s another war going on right now: the information war. US Secretary of State Kerry has already attacked RT, calling it “Putin’s propaganda machine.” But Washington itself uses dubious evidence and fake facts. What is the information war? What methods is America using?

There are two sides to every story, then there is the truth.

Feb 18 2014

Chris Hedges: Antidote to Defeatism

Activist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Chris Hedges discusses the forces driving the acceleration of global decline,the military mind and the antidote to defeatism in a two part interview with Abby Martin on RT’s “Breaking the Set.”

Chris Hedges Part I: Crisis Cults and the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Chris Hedges Part II: The Military Mind & the Antidote to Defeatism

Jan 14 2014

Will the NSA Be “Reformed”?

In the run up to President Barack Obama’s promised decision on reforms the National Security Agency and its surveillance programs, there has been an  unsubstantiated press release, by House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers and his Democratic counterpart Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, that the material taken by whistleblower Edward Snowden gravely impacted America’s national security, put the lives of US military personnel at risk and aided terrorists. There are no specifics about these allegations that Snowden had downloaded 1.7 million files or had considerable information on current U.S. military operations because the Pentagon report is, of course, classified.

Meanwhile top NSA officials and their allies are making their public appeals to retain their surveillance powers

In a lengthy interview that aired on Friday on National Public Radio (NPR), the NSA’s top civilian official, the outgoing deputy director John C Inglis, said that the agency would cautiously welcome a public advocate to argue for privacy interests before the secret court which oversees surveillance. Such a measure is being promoted by some of the agency’s strongest legislative critics. [..]

But security officials are arguing strongly against curtailing the substance of domestic surveillance activities.

While Inglis conceded in his NPR interview that at most one terrorist attack might have been foiled by NSA’s bulk collection of all American phone data – a case in San Diego that involved a money transfer from four men to al-Shabaab in Somalia – he described it as an “insurance policy” against future acts of terrorism. [..]

Inglis was bolstered on Thursday by the new FBI director James Comey, who said he opposed curbing the bureau’s power to collect information from businesses through a non-judicial subpoena called a national security letter. The use of national security letters, which occurs in secret, came under sharp criticism from Obama’s surveillance review panel, which advocated judicial approval over them.

Comey told reporters that would make it harder for his agency to investigate national security issues than conduct bank fraud investigations.

What we have learned is that the massive data collection has not led to the prevention of one terrorist attack and that conventional methods using court orders were more effective (pdf).

Activist and journalist Chris Hedges, along with former NSA technical director and NSA whistle-blower William Binney, tell Real News Network‘s Paul Jay that there should be accountability, including the President himself, for the criminal practices used by the NSA against the American people.

This Friday the president will publicly announce the results of his review of National Security Agency surveillance programs at the Department of Justice, not the White House.

Jul 27 2013

Chris Hedges: Answering Questions

In Part 7, and the final segment, of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges answers viewers questions including about the American public’s complicity in the crimes of empire, if there’s any hope for Bradley Manning and whether the U.S. or Israel will attack Iran.

To the question of the American public’s responsibility for the crimes committed in its name, Hedges said:

   I would say very few Americans-and the exception would be probably those in the armed forces and those who work for contractors or the diplomatic service-actually grasp the dirty work of empire. Having spent 20 years of my life on the fringes of empire and seen how empire works, Conrad was right. It’s the horror, the horror. What is it that drones and hellfire missiles do to human bodies? Those images are rigorously censored. We never see them. We don’t understand what is done in our name. Instead, we’re fed this patriotic myth of glory and service and sacrifice and honor and heroism, terms that when you’re actually there on a battlefield become hollow if not obscene.

Transcript can be read here

Jul 26 2013

Chris Hedges: Moving Forward

In Part 6 of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges discusses issues of corporate control, and “the grim realities” facing the economy and environment:

The more we create self-sustainable systems that are local, the more we sever ourselves from these corporate forces, the less we need them. And the less we need them-I mean, let’s remember that 70 percent of the U.S. economy is driven through consumption-the less we need them, the more we impoverish them. I mean, the goal has to be to break these corporate power, this entity that has seized control of our government, our systems of communication, our judiciary.

I mean, now we’re watching them eviscerate our systems of education. Anytime hedge fund managers walk into a city like Baltimore and propose charter schools, it’s not because they want to teach people to read and write. It’s because they know the federal government spends about $600 billion a year on education, and they want it, and they’re getting it.

So I think that building local centers that are self-sustaining and that can create forms of community that are not dependent on these corporate forces is a political act, because these corporate forces need us to continue to consume their products and rely on their services. And the less we consume and the less we are hostage, the less we need these forces, the more independent we become.

Now, that has to come with a kind of political consciousness, but I think they come hand-in-hand, that both things-I think that as people take control, once again, of their own lives, that will bring a kind of consciousness, because these corporate forces, especially if they begin to feel threatened, are going to see these acts as political acts and are going to move-as we have seen corporate farming move against organic farming, they are going to move to try and destroy these forces.



Transcript can be read here

Jul 24 2013

Chris Hedges: Betrayal by the Liberal Elite

In Part 5 of a series of interviews by Paul Jay of Real News Network, journalist and author, Chris Hedges discusses how the Democratic Party and the so-called Liberal Elite betrayed the people they said they would protect. He talks about how that changed with Bill Clinton and has gotten worse with Barack Obama.

The Liberal Elite has Betrayed the People They Claim to Defend



The transcript can be read here

“Barack Obama can get up and say all the right things, but in the end, you know, it’s Wall Street and the corporations that are pulling the strings on the puppets,” he says.  [..]

“When you have the figures like Obama who continue to speak in that traditional language of liberalism and yet cannot respond to chronic unemployment, underemployment, you know, foreclosures, bank repossessions, and everything else, and in fact are running a system where the assaults against the underclass are only getting worse, then what happens is there becomes a deep disdain for not only liberal ideology but traditional liberal institutions-you saw the same thing in Weimar-so that when there is an uprising, oftentimes people want nothing to do with not only liberal elites, but the supposed liberal values, quote unquote, that these elites were purportedly espousing,” Hedges says.

“And that is a very real danger,” he continues, “because when you have figures like Obama that present themselves as traditional liberals and yet are unable to be effective in terms of dealing with the suffering and the misery of the underclass, that-and this is what happened in Yugoslavia-that when things exploded, you vomited up these very frightening figures-Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Franjo Tudman-in the same way that the breakdown in Weimar vomited up the Nazi Party. And that’s what frightens me, because we don’t have the movements, the populist movements on the left, and because we live in a system of political paralysis.”

Jul 23 2013

Chris Hedges: Questioning Everything

In the first of a seven part series, author and journalist, Chris Hedges sits down with Real News Network’s Paul Jay discussing how urban poverty led him to question everything and his commitment to the social movement:

I wanted to be an inner-city minister. You know, I was at the time. I was planning on being ordained. I was planning on spending my life in the inner-city.

And I had a kind of clash (and I write about it in the first chapter of my book Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America) with the institutional church and liberal institutions like Harvard Divinity School that like the poor but didn’t like the smell of the poor. They spent a lot of time talking about empowering people they never met. And that hypocrisy was something that I had great difficulty with. [..]

And I’ve always placed myself in or amongst the oppressed. Whether that was in Gaza, whether that was in El Salvador, whether that was in Sarajevo, I’ve always positioned myself as a reporter in a place where I was amplifying or giving voice to those who were being brutally oppressed. [..]

I would say actually the really seminal moment was moving into the inner city and watching what we do to our poor, the warehousing of our poor, the shattering of lives, especially the lives of children, of poor children. That maybe rattled me more than almost anything I saw. And I’ve seen horrific things. I remember going back to the chaplain at Colgate after a few months of living in the projects and just walking into his office and sitting down and saying, are we created to suffer? And his answer was: is there any love that isn’t?

And I think for a white person of relative privilege to confront the cruelty of what we do to poor people of color in this country and to begin to understand institutional forms of racism, all the mechanisms by which we ensure that the poor remain poor in, you know, what Malcolm X and Martin Luther King correctly called these internal colonies really rattled me, really shook me. It made me question all sorts of things–the myth we tell ourselves about ourselves, the nature of capitalism, the nature of racism, exploitation.

So those two and a half years I spent in Roxbury were quite profound–not that, of course, I wasn’t stunned at the evils of empire in places like El Salvador or Gaza or anywhere else. But Roxbury was quite a shock for me.



Full transcript can be read here

May 20 2013

AP-Gate Just Got Worse

Regardless of the left’s opinion of Fox News, the Obama administration has gone way over the constitutional line and this is adds to the serious threat to freedom of the press. The idea that the government. on its unconstrained wild hunt for whistle blowers, can issue secret subpoenas for telephone records just got worse this morning. The case is being made against Fox News reporter James Rosen for his reporting on the possibility that North Korea would respond to additional UN sanctions with more nuclear tests back in 2009. The Department of Justice is prosecuting State Department adviser and arms expert Stephen Jin-Woo Kim for “leaking” the information to James Rosen of Fox News. To makes the case against Rosen this is what the DOJ did:

They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails. [..]

Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist – and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources.

First, Kim did not obtain these documents illegally, he had access to them, He did not steal or sell the documents, or pass them to an enemy agent of the US. He gave, what is for all intents and purposes, innocuous information to a news reporter. For that Kim is being prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Now the DOJ is seeking to prosecute Rosen for revealing the information.

Glenn Greenwald reiterated that it is not against US law to to publish classified information and is far worse than the secret subpoena of the phone records of the Associated Press:

The focus of the Post’s report yesterday is that the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen, the reporter, extended far beyond even what they did to AP reporters. The FBI tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, traced the timing of his calls, and – most amazingly – obtained a search warrant to read two days worth of his emails, as well as all of his emails with Kim. In this case, said the Post, “investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.” It added that “court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist”.

But what makes this revelation particularly disturbing is that the DOJ, in order to get this search warrant, insisted that not only Kim, but also Rosen – the journalist – committed serious crimes. The DOJ specifically argued that by encouraging his source to disclose classified information – something investigative journalists do every day – Rosen himself broke the law.

In an affidavit (pdf) from the FBI by Agent Reginald B. Reyes in the application for the search warrant, Reyes alleged that because Rosen and Kim used aliases to protect their communications and sought ways to maintain confidentiality, all completely legal for journalists to do, Rosen was acting “much like an intelligence officer would run an [sic] clandestine intelligence source, the Reporter instructed Mr. Kim on a covert communications plan… to facilitate communication with Mr. Kim and perhaps other sources of information.”

In her comparison of this case with the Associated Press, and cases against James Risen of The New York Times and Bradley Manning, Marcy Wheeler notes that Agent Reyes used the strategy of painting Rosen as criminal to circumvent the “Privacy Protection Act protections for media work product” in order to obtain the warrant for Rosen’s e-mails and other records:

In other words, during a period from May 2010 through January 2011, Eric Holder’s DOJ was developing this theory under which journalists were criminals, though it’s just now that we’re all noticing this May 2010 affidavit that lays the groundwork for that theory.

Maybe that development was predictable, given that during precisely that time period, the lawyer who fucked up the Ted Stevens prosecution, William Welch, was in charge of prosecuting leaks (though it’s not clear he had a role in Kim’s prosecution before he left in 2011).

But it’s worth noting the strategy – and the purpose it serves – because it is almost certainly still in effect. FBI Special Agent Reginald Reyes accused Rosen of being a criminal so he could get around the Privacy Protection Act protections for media work product (See pages 4 and following), which specifically exempts “fruits of a crime” or “property … used [] as a means of committing a criminal offense.” Then he further used it to argue against giving notice to Fox or Rosen.

   Because of the Reporter’s own potential criminal liability in this matter, we believe that requesting the voluntary production of the materials from Reporter would be futile and would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation and of the evidence we seek to obtain by the warrant. (29)

While the AP’s phone records weren’t taken via a warrant, it would be unsurprising if the government is still using this formula – journalists = criminals and therefore cannot have notice – to collect evidence. Indeed, that may be one reason why we haven’t seen the subpoena to the AP.

It is very clear that this is an unprecedented threat to freedom of the press and the Obama administration has escalated this war since Obama took office in 2009.

In an interview last week with Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh, senior fellow at The Nation Institute Chis Hedges, called the monitoring of the AP phone records “one more assault in a long series of assault against freedom of information and freedom of the press.”

“Talk to any investigative journalist who must investigate the government, and they will tell you that there is a deep freeze. People are terrified of speaking, because they’re terrified of going to jail.”

~Chris Hedges~

Here is Mr. Hedges piece from Truthdig documenting The Death of Truth

Other related articles from Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian:

Justice Department’s pursuit of AP’s phone records is both extreme and dangerous

The major sea change in media discussions of Obama and civil liberties

Mar 26 2013

The Death of TV News

In the aftermath of 9/11 and the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the world was glued to television news, especially cable. Here in the US the news is dominated by three networks. CBS, ABC, and NBC and three major cable channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Most of the them spewed the Bush administration spin that Sadaam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was building a nuclear weapon and had ties to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and 9/11, all lies and they knew it. This war was about the control of the oil reserves in Iraq, it always from the moment that the neocons got their hooks into the White House with Ronald Reagan’s election. It was under Reagan that the free press started to die with the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the loosening of regulation that allowed the likes of Rupert Murdoch to gobble up the airways, Fox news, and print media. It culminated in the 90’s with the corporate acquisition of NBC by General Electric and CBS by Viacom and CNN by Time Warner.

During the lead up to Iraq there was one voice on the airways that stood out against the hype, Phil Donahue, whose liberal voice focused on issues that divide liberals and conservatives in the United States, such as abortion, consumer protection, civil rights and war issues. His feud with another MSNBC host, Chris Matthews over the Iraq War led to the cancellation of Donahue’s popular show. Matthew’s involvement in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is never mentioned.

The Day That TV News Died

by Chris Hedges, Truthdig

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual-a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft-MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war-were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices

In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. “They were terrified of the antiwar voice,” Donahue says.

Transcript here

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman confronted Matthews on Donahue’s firing outside NBC headquarters in New York City on the 10th anniversary of the invasion.

Buzzfeed unearthed the videos of the vitriolic exchanges between Matthew and Donahue revealing how much they despised each other. Matthews was the driving force that got Donahue fired and MSNBC was not eager to promote the anti-war point of view. Thank the internet for You Tube, here are the videos of the episode from Donahue’s show with guest Matthews:

Feb 13 2013

NDAA: Killing the Democratic State

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Truthdig columnist, Chis Hedges, along with six other journalists and activists filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration  over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) alleging that it violated free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment and due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Last Wednesday they were back in Federal Court in Manhattan for a hearing before three judges:

Attorney Bruce Afran, addressing press and gathered activists in an icy downtown Manhattan plaza Wednesday, said the three-judge panel today challenged the government to prove that the NDAA provision is nothing more than an “affirmation” of the laws regarding indefinite detention already established by Authorization for Use of Military Force. According to the DoJ, the NDAA provision is nothing new, but simply a codification of AUMF. The plaintiffs and their supporters vehemently disagree, as did Judge Forrest last year. Afran stressed again Sunday that 1021(b)(2) “broadens the power of the military” when it comes to the capture and indefinite detention of U.S. citizens and as such “breaches the constitutional barrier between civilians and the military” and constitutes a significant extension of the military state beyond the powers given by AUMF.

Mr. Hedges explains the consequences for the nation and the democratic state should they lose this case:

If we lose in Hedges v. Obama – and it seems certain that no matter the outcome of the appeal this case will reach the Supreme Court – electoral politics and our rights as citizens will be as empty as those of Nero’s Rome. If we lose, the power of the military to detain citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military prisons will become a terrifying reality. Democrat or Republican. Occupy activist or libertarian. Socialist or tea party stalwart. It does not matter. This is not a partisan fight. Once the state seizes this unchecked power, it will inevitably create a secret, lawless world of indiscriminate violence, terror and gulags. I lived under several military dictatorships during the two decades I was a foreign correspondent. I know the beast. [..]

Five thousand years of human civilization has left behind innumerable ruins to remind us that the grand structures and complex societies we build, and foolishly venerate as immortal, crumble into dust. It is the descent that matters now. If the corporate state is handed the tools, as under Section 1021(b)(2) of the NDAA, to use deadly force and military power to criminalize dissent, then our decline will be one of repression, blood and suffering. No one, not least our corporate overlords, believes that our material conditions will improve with the impending collapse of globalization, the steady deterioration of the global economy, the decline of natural resources and the looming catastrophes of climate change.

But the global corporatists-who have created a new species of totalitarianism-demand, during our decay, total power to extract the last vestiges of profit from a degraded ecosystem and disempowered citizenry. The looming dystopia is visible in the skies of blighted postindustrial cities such as Flint, Mich., where drones circle like mechanical vultures. And in an era where the executive branch can draw up secret kill lists that include U.S. citizens, it would be naive to believe these domestic drones will remain unarmed. [..]

After the hearing, Mr Hedges, along with three of his co-plaintiffs, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg; Revolution Truth Executive Director Tangerine Bolen; journalist and U.S Day of Rage founder Alexa O’Brien; and Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal, and their attorneys, Carl Mayer and Bruce Afran, sat down to discuss the state of the lawsuit. The discussion was moderated by Natasha Lennard of Salon and Matt Sledge of The Huffington Post.

In a second panel to “discuss the broader context of the case,” Mr. Hedges, Mr. Ellsberg and Ms. Bolen were joined by film maker and activist Michael Moore, NSA whistle-blower Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, an attorney for CIA whistle-blower John Kiriakou and a director of the Government Accountability Project.

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