Podcast Episode 19: Deep State Sells Out American Counterterrorism Interests feat. Gareth Porter

Originally published on May 9, 2017.

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.

Follow Gareth on Twitter at @GarethPorter.

Gareth’s recent article “US ‘deep state’ sold out counter-terrorism to keep itself in business”

Follow Around the Empire on Twitter at @AroundTheEmpire.


Podcast Episode 18: Kurdish Fighters in Iraq and Syria feat. Joe Lawrence (Joey L.)

Originally published on May 2, 2017.

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.

Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeyLDotCom

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Episode 17 (bonus) – Will the Real Donald Trump Please Stand Up?

Originally published on May 1, 2017 for our patrons.  You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.

In Bonus Episode 17 for our patrons (thank you!) Dan and Joanne explore the many contradictions of Donald Trump’s foreign policy and compare his actions with his campaign rhetoric.

Was Trump lying or did he get captured by the deep state? Why, if Trump was going to pursue these establishment-friendly policies did he attack the establishment so much?

Follow Around the Empire on Twitter at @AroundTheEmpire

Follow Dan and Joanne on Twitter at @DanSWright @joanneleon

Recorded on April 30. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Podcast Episode 16: The Blacklisting of Independent Media feat. Kyle Kulinski (Secular Talk)

Originally published on April 25, 2017.

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.

The discussion focuses on “ProporNot” blacklist and other “fake news” claims that establishment media has used to call for a crackdown on platforms such as Facebook, which has now agreed to begin blacklisting unapproved content.

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.

Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleKulinski

Podcast Episode 15: Were the Chemical Weapons Attacks in Syria a Slam Dunk? feat. Brad Hoff

Originally published on April 20, 2017.

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.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradRHoff ‏


Podcast Episode 14: The Future of China in the Age of Trump feat. Peter Lee (Chinahand)

Originally published on April 17, 2017

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).

Follow Peter on Twitter @chinahand

Podcast Episode 13: Crowdstrike’s Russian Hacking Claims feat. Jeffrey Carr

Originally published on April 12, 2017.

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 discusses Crowdstrike’s history of bad calls, including having to recently rewrite a report on alleged Russian hacking in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government as well as other cybersecurity experts heavily disputed Crowdstrikes initial claims.

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.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @JeffreyCarr

Podcast Episode 12: The Battle for Raqqa and Future of Syria feat. Joshua Landis

Originally published on April 3, 2017.

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.

Follow Josh on Twitter @Joshua_Landis

Podcast Episode 11: RussiaGate and Trump (bonus episode)

Originally published on March 23, 2017 for our patrons. You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.

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.

Podcast Episode 10: Disaster Capitalism and the Empire feat. Antony Loewenstein

Originally published on March 7, 2017.

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.

Follow Antony on Twitter @antloewenstein


Originally published on Feb. 22, 2017.

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.

Follow Ken on Twitter @KennethLipp

Podcast Episode 8: The Neocons in the Trump Era feat. Robbie Martin

Originally published on Feb. 13, 2017.

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview filmmaker Robbie Martin about the future of the neoconservatives now that the candidate they lined up against, Donald Trump, has become president.

Martin wrote, directed, and produced a comprehensive film series on the neocons titled A Very Heavy Agenda.The three-part series gives an extensive history of neonconservatism-both the ideas and the people who promoted the ideas.

With Donald Trump in the White House it would appear that the neocons are shutout of government, but are they really? Martin notes that some neoconservatism are trying to slither away from their previous positions on Trump in hopes of receiving his favor, with there already being some evidence that Trump is drifting away from his campaign positions on foreign policy.

Follow Robbie on Twitter @FluorescentGrey

Podcast Episode 7 (bonus): Trump’s Foreign Policy in Practice

Originally published on Feb. 7, 2017 for patrons only.  You can get our bonus material by becoming a patron of Around the Empire.

In Around the Empire – Episode 7, a bonus episode for our patrons (thank you!), Dan and Joanne talk about President Trump’s foreign policy in practice, based on our analysis of his cabinet picks and what we have seen during his first two weeks in office.

Recorded on 2/1/17. Music by Fluorescent Grey.

Follow Around the Empire on Twitter at: @AroundTheEmpire

Follow Dan and Joanne on Twitter at @DanSWright and @joanneleon


Podcast Episode 6: Inside the CIA’s War With Trump feat: John Kiriakou

Originally published on Jan. 25, 2017

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou about the ongoing tensions between the CIA and President Donald Trump as well as his recent article about abolishing the CIA.

Kiriakou explains how the CIA works in both theory and practice, and that the agency’s duties could be better accomplished by the State Department and the Pentagon. The State Department can do the analytical functions of the CIA, while the Defense Department’s already existing human intelligence operations can recruit and run spies around the world.

The discussion also includes Kiriakou’s detailed knowledge of John Brennan and the reforms he made to the CIA under President Barack Obama, and what Trump might do to purge the CIA of Brennan’s influence.

Follow John on Twitter @JohnKiriakou

Podcast Episode 5: The Deep State and Donald Trump feat. David Chibo

Originally published on Jan. 17, 2017

On this episode of Around The Empire, Dan and Joanne interview journalist David Chibo about his recent article on the deep state in the United States for Unz Review.

Chibo offers a comprehensive and holistic perspective for understanding the hidden forces influencing the U.S. government by synthesizing theories from seven different intellectuals to finally arrive at a “theory of everything.” Using the famous Indian story of the Blind Men and the Elephant, Chibo shows that each intellectual was seeing only one part of the overall picture, but when combined, the full animal comes into view.

The discussion includes both an overview of Chibo’s article as well as discussion of current events related to what appears to be a power struggle between President-elect Donald Trump and forces within the U.S. intelligence community.

Follow Dave on Twitter @DChibo