In episode 23 of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne talk with Phil Giraldi about his recent article, “Do High-Level Leaks Suggest a Conspiracy?” Former intelligence officers are questioning whether leaks and other events signal an ongoing soft coup based in the national security establishment.
Phil Giraldi is a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA. Giraldi is a columnist at The American Conservative and unz.com. He is also a commentator on mainstream and independent media. He is a consultant, the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, and he is a member of a group called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Dan and Joanne speak with author and scholar Dr. Christopher Davidson about manipulation of the Middle East by Western powers, the use of extremist groups as a strategic asset, the strife and extremism that has resulted. We also focus on the recent attack in Manchester by a man who fought with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which helped overthrow Gaddafi.
Dr. Christopher Davidson is a scholar and expert in Middle East politics who teaches at Durham University in northern England. He is the author of numerous books including his latest: “Shadow Wars: The Secret Struggle for the Middle East,” based on four years of archival work and interviews with former intelligence officials.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne talk with Doug Henwood about the anti-Trump faction’s endgame, the force applied by the unelected permanent government and about the prospect of a President Pence (a “horror”) and Republican-controlled Congress implementing the Republican dream in short order.
Doug Henwood is an American journalist, economic analyst, and financial trader who writes frequently about economic affairs. He publishes a newsletter, “Left Business Observer” and he hosts “Behind the News” a weekly radio show covering economics and politics.”
In Episode 20, a bonus episode for our excellent patrons (thank you!), Dan and Joanne talk with about the firing of FBI director, James Comey and the immediate aftermath.
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In Episode 19, Dan and Joanne talk with Gareth Porter about how US national security bureaucracies or the “Deep State” sell-out American counterterrorism interests by conducting policy and operations that serve their own and their allies’ interests. The result is that they strengthen and fuel the rise of extremist groups like al Qaeda.
Gareth Porter is an American historian, investigative journalist and policy analyst specializing in the national security state. He is the author of several books including: “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.” His work has been published in distinguished media for decades, and he was the 2012 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. He is also working on a new book on the same subject as his recent article.
In episode 18, Dan and Joanne interview photographer and film director Joe Lawrence (Joey L.) about Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria, particularly the YPG/YPJ, the Yazidis YBS, the Peshmerga, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
We discussed his trips and photography in Raqqa and Sinjar, the recent Turkish airstrikes on Kurdish groups, and the precarious triangle of the United States, Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.
Joe Lawrence, known professionally as Joey L., is a Canadian-born photographer now based in Brooklyn who specializes in long term portrait photography projects. He is also a film director. One of his documentaries is titled: “Guerrilla Fighters of Kurdistan.” Joey has traveled far and worked in Iraq, Syria, Ethiopia, and India.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview progressive journalist and activist Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk) about media concentration and the seemingly coordinated strategy to weaken, undermine, and destroy independent media.
A similar crackdown has occurred against independent media on YouTube known as the “Adpocalypse,” which has demonetized numerous independent media content under the guise of preventing advertisers from being in front of “extremist content.” The crippling demonetization of Kyle and others’ news and politics shows comes as YouTube begins to launch YouTube TV with establishment media companies.
The blacklisting and demonetization are occurring on both platforms as independent media is increasingly taking market share and relevance from legacy outlets. The dangers of “fake news” and “extremist content” appear more and more to be pretexts for anti-competitive practices to protect established media monopolies.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview educator, investigative journalist, and Marine veteran Brad Hoff on the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War.
Hoff has traveled and lived in the Middle East, including Syria. The discussion focuses on the recent chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun and the 2013 attack in Ghouta, and the parallels between the two.
Also examined is the White House assessment and counterarguments from experts about the evidence, the parties involved, and the potential for further military intervention by the United States.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview China expert Peter Lee about the future of U.S.-China relations and the situation in North Korea.
Lee discusses how solving the Korean crisis is actually antithetical to the goals of the U.S. empire. If there ever was a unification of North and South Korea, the U.S. would have difficulty justifying its presence in the region and South Korea would gravitate away from America towards China.
China’s own ambitions are also discussed, including the country’s scramble to secure resources in the developing world, especially in Africa where China is on a collision course with an ever-expanding U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr about Crowdstrike’s controversial claims on successfully identifying Russia as the actor that hacked the Democratic National Committee. The evidence has always been thin despite U.S. intelligence agencies ultimately supporting the claim.
Carr also offers a broader view of the cybersecurity industry and why firms like Crowdstrike are incentivized to often make specious claims concerning attribution of a hack. For firms like Crowdstrike, there’s no financial downside in pretending to be able to attribute a hack as the nature of cyber makes it hard to prove or disprove an attribution. Additionally, each report serves as marketing material for future clients.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview Syria expert Professor Joshua Landis on the battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa and the various competing forces in the Syrian Civil War.
Professor Landis discusses the difficulty the United States has in deciding who to work with once ISIS is driven out of its claimed capital of Raqqa. While, in theory, the Assad government is the only government recognized under international law, it appears unlikely that the U.S. will assist that government in reasserting jurisdiction.
Other factions in the Syrian Civil War on better terms with the U.S., such as Turkey and the Kurds, have their own designs for the city.
Such complexities mirror the larger struggle on how to govern Syria itself. Landis details a current plan to break up Syria into five statelets including; a Kurdish state (Rojava), Idlib state (currently run by Al Qaeda), Assad governed state, a southern state run by Jordanian militias backed by Israel, and a Euphrates valley state of Sunni Arab tribes.
Opposed to this structure are both the Kurds and the Assad government, who do not want a Sunni state backed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the other gulf states within Syria.
Landis believes Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, will ultimately prevail with a carve-out for the Kurds, who will continue to have U.S. backing.
In Around the Empire – Episode 11, a bonus episode for our patrons (thank you!) Dan and Joanne discuss RussiaGate, the House Intelligence Committee hearing, FBI director Comey and the counterintelligence investigation he decided to reveal, and the politics of it all. We also go back and review what Edward Snowden and Bill Binney have told us about domestic surveillance and who can get their hands on it. Bottom line is, we’re not buying into the Russia Russia Russia scandal and we get into some detail about why.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist Antony Loewenstein about his new book and upcoming film Disaster Capitalism. Loewenstein has traveled to the United States, Britain, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, and Australia to research how multinational corporations exploit disasters for profit.
The discussion starts with a focus on recent decisions by the Trump Administration to increase the use of private prisons and detention centers. Loewenstein details how companies profit from this approach both in the United States and around the world, and the role such companies play in expanding the surveillance and incarceration state.
Loewenstein also explains the complicated role of non-government organizations (NGOs) in international development and disaster capitalism. Using the failures of NGOs in Haiti as a starting point, he explains the conflicting incentives NGOs have that often lead to them failing to make a positive impact despite ample resources.
On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist Kenneth Lipp about the sprawling national security and incarceration state President Donald Trump inherited when he took office.
Lipp has written extensively on the role that private firms play in assisting government surveillance programs and broke news on Project Hemisphere—a service offered by AT&T that allows law enforcement to access the communications giant’s massive database for theoretically lawful investigations.
Part of the agreement for law enforcement to use Hemisphere is non-disclosure, which arguably necessitates the need for parallel construction, or using illegal information to investigate a target, then using that information to construct a legal way that information could have been obtained.
If that sounds like a great tool for an authoritarian regime to destroy political dissidents with, that’s because it is.