Archive for jason leopold

A Bucket of Ice Water

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Nicole Sandler

When Homer Simpson joins in, you know you've gone viral.

Although the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised awareness about the disease and a lot of money, there's so much we still don't know about it - thus the need for a campaign like this one.

Homer challenged Donald Trump who actually dumped water on that thing on his head, proving that his hair really looks like that! I hope that dump also included a hefty donation!

My favorite is still this 2-year old

I'm pretty confident in guessing that most people didn't know what ALS was before this month of ice water dumping. Sadly, I knew. I knew about ALS because someone I knew and admired fought the disease and, eventually, succumbed to it.

I first met Eric Lowen in the early 1990's. He was the "Lowen" half of the duo Lowen & Navarro who wrote amazing songs and sang beautiful harmonies together. Eric was diagnosed with ALS in 2004, and lost his battle in March of 2012. 

For the past few months, I've been running interviews and performances from my music radio days on Friday mornings as a bridge to the weekend. Today, as ALS is in the news and Eric Lowen is on my mind, I reached out to my dear friend Dan Navarro and invited him to join me to talk about all of it, and share in listening to one of our in-studio sessions from December of 1999 too.

Dan Navarro has continued as a solo artist, and has worked to educate others about ALS with the goal of someday helping to eradicate this awful disease. He's also fully immersed himself (figuratively and literally) in the ALS ice bucket challenge. You can see some of his work on his Facebook page. 

It was a busy first hour of the show too. Jim Dean joined me to talk about the great work Democracy for America is doing. They've recently endorse Shenna Bellows in her race for the US Senate against Susan Collins of Maine, Mary Burke for Governor of Wisconsin (vs the evil Scott Walker), and more.

And Jason Leopold, who couldn't get to Guantanamo Bay this week through no fault of his own (damned weather gods) but has landed firmly and deservedly at Vice News, joined me to talk about his reporting on Gitmo, national security issues and the fact that his persistence in filing FOIA requests has put him squarely inside the story about Sen. Dianne Feinstein trying to delay the release of the CIA torture report. 

And with that, it's the end of the week, the month and, sadly, the summer. I'll be taking Monday off for Labor Day, but will return Tuesday to kick off the fall with GottaLaff... cuz we gotta laugh, or else we cry... and whatever else the weekend brings. Talk to you then, Radio or Not.

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Torture worse than waterboarding: Inside the Senate report on CIA interrogations

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Did you know that waterboarding was the "least worst" method of torture used on high-value detainees by the CIA under the Bush administration's watch?

My dear friend and one of the best investigative reporters out there, Jason Leopold, went on Nicole Sandler's radio show just before my weekly spot. He's a tough act to follow, especially when he reveals what the corporate "news" media won't touch with a ten-foot ad buy. Which is why you haven't heard about the "not legally authorized" torture "techniques" that will likely turn many American stomachs once details are finally (if ever) made public.

Now, because Jason has made such good and plentiful use of the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), he is being called a "FOIA terrorist" and has had to deal with considerable blowback from some very powerful people in very powerful places. IMHO, the reason they feel so "terrorized" is that they're scared to death of Jason's reporting and the truths he brings to light.

Here are a few excerpts from Jason's Al Jazeera America piece:

A still-classified report on the CIA's interrogation program established in the wake of 9/11 sparked a furious row last week between the agency and Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. Al Jazeera has learned from sources familiar with its contents that the committee's report alleges that at least one high-value detainee was subjected to torture techniques that went beyond those authorized by George W. Bush's Justice Department.

Two Senate staffers and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the information they disclosed remains classified, told Al Jazeera that the committee's analysis of 6 million pages of classified records also found that some of the harsh measures authorized by the Department of Justice had been applied to at least one detainee before such legal authorization was received. They said the report suggests that the CIA knowingly misled the White House, Congress and the Justice Department about the intelligence value of detainee Zain Abidin Mohammed Husain Abu Zubaydah when using his case to argue in favor of harsher interrogation techniques. [...]

Even before accessing the documents, committee staffers received crucial information in a briefing from former FBI agent Ali Soufan in early 2008, according to Al Jazeera’s sources. Soufan — who now runs a private security and intelligence consultancy — told the staffers that he had kept meticulous notes about the methods used by a psychologist under CIA contract to interrogate Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand after his capture in Pakistan in March of 2002. Soufan's account, the staffers say, shows that torture techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah even before some had been sanctioned as permissible by the Bush administration. [...]

Two Senate staffers told Al Jazeera that the Panetta documents question the Bush administration claims about the efficacy of Abu Zubaydah’s torture, and the staffers noted that some of the techniques to which he was subjected early in his captivity had not yet been authorized.

Jason explained that the previously undisclosed torture methods made waterboarding seem like the least ghastly practice by comparison... and perhaps that's why the public focus was (intentionally) on waterboarding. See the shiny, inhumane keys? Now move along.

You can hear Jason talk about these revelations in his own words here (podcast). And please read his entire Al Jazeera post here. Where you will not read, hear, or see any references to Jason Leopold's reporting is in the corporate "mainstream" media. Maybe we can all use our social media skills to force the press into covering his work. Wouldn't that be novel?

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VIDEO- Torture's Other Victims: US Soldiers

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My dear friend and top notch investigative reporter, Jason Leopold, has a post up at Truthout.org that he has invited me to share. Here's a portion of what he wrote, and the video. Please go here for the rest:

In this compelling and heartrending on-camera interview, Phillips, who spent more than five years researching and writing "None of Us Were Like This Before," discusses his investigation into the 2004 death of Army Sgt. Adam Gray, and how it led him to uncover a tragic story about torture's other victims.

I can personally attest to the pain and suffering military families endure, even when their loved ones haven't been "officially" tortured or abused, and Jason nailed it when he referred to soldiers who "turn to alcohol and drugs to ease their mental injuries."

One of my dearest students suffered greatly herself, first because her father was on the battlefield, involved in some of the most dangerous missions, as she was growing up. She was in constant, real fear that he'd be injured or worse, and turned to drugs herself. Then, once he finally returned home, he fell into alcoholism, had major bouts of PTSD, and became violent, ripping the family apart.

He tried to get help from the various groups available to veterans, but it wasn't enough.

Even those who haven't undergone intentional physical or mental abuse have felt tortured, and have the "deep psychological scars" that Jason Leopold refers to, that much is obvious.

Thank you, Jason, for staying on this topic while so many others either choose to ignore it, or have simply lost interest.

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Air Force Suspends Christian-Themed Ethics Training Program Over Bible Passages

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LAFFY NOTE: Our dear friend Jason Leopold broke this story a few days ago, and now it's making the rounds. In fact, because of him, changes are underfoot. Please read his original report here. As I've always said, he's an excellent investigative reporter, and he nailed it with this one.

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Someone once complained that I linked to a Fox News story, and I replied that sometimes they had good stories out there for the wrong reasons. Seeing all the links to this at Memeorandum, I'm guessing the wingers think this is a bad idea, while I'm of the mind "What took them so damn long?".

The course, called “Christian Just War Theory” was taught by chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and used Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments to show missile launch officers that it can be moral to go to war.

But the watchdog group, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the course violated the constitutional separation of church and state and filed a complaint last Wednesday on behalf of 31 missile launch officers – both instructors and students.

David Smith, the spokesman for the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command, said the main purpose of the class was to help missile launch officers understand that “what they are embarking on is very difficult and you have to have a certain amount of ethics about what you are doing to do that job.”

He said the class was suspended the same day the complaint was filed.

The class is currently under review by Air Force officials who will determine whether or not to revise the material or end the class.

(snip)

“The use of Bible passage and other elements was just inappropriate,” he said. Mikey Weinstein, the president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, hailed the military’s decision to suspend the course. “We’re very pleased that the Air Force did it,” Weinstein told Fox News Radio. “Had they not done that, we would have filed an immediate class-action lawsuit in federal court to force their hand.”

Weinstein said the officers who complained are Protestant and Roman Catholics, noting the class was simply “unconstitutional training.”

(snip)

Weinstein said he was particularly concerned about a passage of Scripture that was taught from the New Testament book of Revelations. The passage, chapter 19, verse 11, describes Jesus as a mighty warrior, Weinstein said.

But David French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice, said there is no violation of the Constitution. “Just-War theory has been a vital part of American military history for the last several hundred years,” French said, dismissing the complaints as what he called “another attempt to cleanse American history of its religious realities.”

Added- If you have a minute, go check them out. MRFF is an incredible group and Mikey Weinstein is ahem, Doing the Lord's Work you might say.

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