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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  January 10, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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01/10/17 01/10/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> we have an opportunity to stay -- tuesday, it may be the last opportunity we have for the people's voice to be heard. you have asked for 30 years and politicians have promised for 30 years to fix illegal immigration. have they done it? donald trump will do it. amy: almost a year after he endorsed donald trump for president, hearings begin for republican senator jeff sessions
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to serve as trump's attorney general despite his , controversial opposition to the voting rights act, support for anti-immigration legislation, and history of making racist comments. we will speak with the aclu national legal director david cole, who is set to testify at sessions' hearing and with kyle barry of the naacp defense fund. and then where esteban santiago could face charges when he opened fire in a crowded baggage claim terminal friday in fort lauderdale. he was allowed to keep his gun, despite previously walking into an fbi office in alaska and telling them he was being controlled by u.s. intelligence and being institutionalized. >> they knew ahead of time. they can't say this is a person who overnight committed an act. they are ready knew about the thoughts he was having. that angers me. amy: we will speak with thomas gabor, who argues expanding gun
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rest will not save us from more mass shootings and "new york times goes reporter richard perez-peña. been a new expose reveals the darker side of the elite military unit seal team six. guy and i shot this ahead, this guy had his feet sticking out of a rut or something. he was dead. [indiscernible] you could see his body twitching. it was like a game. it was therapy. amy: we will speak with reporter matthew cole who spent more than two years investigating accounts of ghastly atrocities committed by members of the unit, including mutilating corpses, skinnings, and attempted beheadings. all that and more, coming up.
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welcome to democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president-elect donald trump has named his son-in-law jared kushner to be a senior adviser in the white house. kushner is married to trump's daughter ivanka. the appointment may violate federal anti-nepotism laws. kushner says he won't draw a salary from his white house position. he is a wealthy real estate investor. he says he'll sell some of his assets in efforts to avoid a slew of conflicts of interests. however, ethics lawyers say his divestment plans will not avoid this conflicts, as he says he'll simply sell his assets to his brother joshua or a family trust controlled by his mother seryl. ethics lawyer matthew sanderson, who served as general counsel to senator rand paul's presidential campaign, told the "new york times" -- "it sounds like a shell game to me." kushner was one of trump's most trusted advisers during the 2016 campaign and now during the trump transition. he has defended trump's chief strategist stephen bannon amid widespread charges of his racism
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and anti-semitism. kushner is an orthodox jew. "new york times" investigation into kushner's real estate dealings with a chinese multi-billion-dollar company has sparked a new round of concern about the trump family's conflicts of interests. the "new york times" reports that in november 16, a week after the election kushner held , secret talks with the head of anbang insurance group, a chinese company and insurance group to negotiate the joint re-development of 666 fifth avenue, one of dozens of buildings kushner's family business owns. "the times goes report the meeting -- in washington, d.c., confirmation hearings for donald trump's cabinet nominees are slated to begin today. alabama senator jeff sessions will go before the senate judiciary committee to be considered for confirmation as attorney general. trump's pick has drawn widespread outrage because of
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sessions' opposition to the voting rights act, support for anti-immigration legislation and history of making racist comments, which included reportedly saying he thought the ku klux klan was "ok until i found out they smoked pot." sessions has also called the american civil liberties union and the naacp "un-american" and "communist-inspired." in sessions was denied 1986, confirmation for a federal judgeship by a republican-controlled senate committee over his racist comments. those set to testify at the hearings this week include civil rights era icon democratic congressman john lewis and democratic senator cory booker, marking the first time in senate history a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a cabinet post. last tuesday, naacp president cornell william brooks and five other civil rights leaders were arrested during a sit in at his alabama office, demanding
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sessions withdraw his name for consideration attorney general. on monday, the "new york times" editorial board criticized sessions for failing to turn over dozens, if not hundreds, of documents requested by the senate judiciary committee's questionnaire. the "huffington post" reported in december that sessions' submitted questionnaire originally failed to disclose even the fact that he'd been denied confirmation for the federal judgeship in 1986. and while the office of government ethics has completed sessions' ethics report, "the washington post" reports sessions failed to disclose that he owns oil interests in alabama -- a breach of the ethics requirements. as of monday afternoon the , ethics disclosure reports for four other trump nominees slated to go before the senate this week for confirmation hearings have not been made public at all , including the ethics report for homeland security nominee retired general john kelly, whose hearing is slated to begin today at 3:30 p.m. the office of government ethics has also not made public the ethics reports for commerce
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secretary nominee billionaire wilbur ross housing and urban , development nominee dr. ben carson, as well as education secretary betsy devos, whose confirmation hearing has been delayed from this wednesday until january 17. "the washington post" reports her family has given a total of $250,000 to five of the very lawmakers on the health, education, labor, and pensions committee who will be tasked with overseeing devos' confirmation hearing. on monday, activists rallied in boston, washington, d.c., san francisco, minneapolis, newark, new jersey, and more than a dozen other u.s. cities for a day of denial protests to demand the senate refuse to confirm trump nominees former exxonmobil ceo rex tillerson for secretary of state, former texas governor rick perry for energy , oklahoma attorney general scott pruitt to head the environment protection agency,
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and montana congressmember reince thank you for department of interior. was organizedion by and amended the senate refused to confirm the nominees on the basis that the men have denied the human impact of climate change. in turkey, the parliament has voted to continue debate on measures that would rewrite turkey's constitution and permit president recep tayyip erdogan to remain in office until 2029. erdogan has been president since 2014. before that, he was prime minister from 2003 to 2014. the turkish parliament vote comes amid a massive crackdown in turkey, following this summer's failed military coup. on friday, turkey fired another 6000 public workers, including academics. a total of 120,000 people have been suspended or fired, and 40,000 jailed over the last six months. back in the u.s., the pentagon said monday u.s. special operations troops launched a raid in eastern syria over the weekend.
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unnamed u.s. officials said the raid was carried out by the expeditionary task force and was aimed at capturing top isis militants. the u.k.-based syrian observatory for human rights says 25 people were killed in the operation, while the website deir al-zour 24 quoted witnesses who said the u.s. troops landed by helicopter and then left an hour and a half later carrying prisoners and bodies. volkswagen executive oliver schmidt appeared in federal court in miami on monday on charges of violating the clean air act and defrauding the government. schmidt was formerly the top emissions compliance executive in the united states. volkswagen has admitted to rigging some 11 million vehicles worldwide, allowing them to emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide pollutants than standards allow. in new york state, anti-drug-war activist, painter and author anthony papa has received a pardon from new york governor andrew cuomo.
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in 1985, anthony papa agreed to deliver an envelope of cocaine in a police sting operation in return for $500. his first and only criminal offense cost him a 15-year to life sentence. in 1996, papa won a sentence commutation from then-governor george pataki. he's believed to be the first person in new york state history to receive both a sentence commutation and a pardon. at least eight jewish community centers across six states were evacuated monday after being targeted with bomb threats. authorities say it's not clear whether the threats were linked. the threats led to the frantic evacuation of children from three jewish community centers in florida, as well as evacuations of jcc's in new jersey, delaware, maryland, tennessee, and south carolina. and the united states and cuba have signed an agreement to work together to prevent, contain and clean up oil spills in the gulf of mexico. the accord comes as negotiators on both sides are rushing to sign a half dozen agreements before president-elect donald trump takes office. this is cuban deputy transportation minister eduardo rodriguez davila.
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>> this signed agreement will lead to the preparation of the coordination plan for the actions a prevention, preparation, and response to events of contamination by spills of hydrocarbons another damaging and potentially dangerous substances taking place the geographic zone described. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the first of a two-day confirmation hearing for president-elect donald trump's controversial attorney general nominee begins today. republican senator jeff sessions of alabama faces questions from his colleagues on the judiciary committee, where he serves as chairman of the immigration subcommittee. trump's pick has drawn widespread outrage because of sessions' opposition to the voting rights act, support for anti-immigration legislation and history of making racist comments, which included reportedly saying he thought the ku klux klan was "ok until i found out they smoked pot." he has also called the american civil liberties union and the
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naacp "un-american" and "communist-inspired." sessions, who's full name is jefferson beauregard "jeff" sessions iii, is named after jefferson davis, who was president of the confederate states of america during the american civil war, and general pierre gustave toutant overgaard. those set to testify at session's hearing include civil rights era icon and democratic congressman john lewis, and democratic senator cory booker, marking the first time in senate history that a sitting senator will testify against another sitting senator for a cabinet post during a confirmation hearing. in 1986, sessions was denied confirmation for a federal judgeship by a republican-controlled senate committee over his racist comments. this is the late senator ted kennedy speaking at sessions' 1986 confirmation hearing. >> mr. sessions is a throwback to a shameful era, which i know both black and white americans thought was in our past. it is inconceivable to me a
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person of his attitude is qualified to be a u.s. attorney, let alone the united states federal judge. >> jefferson beauregard sessions iii was brought face-to-face with things he personally had said. or example, the naacp and the civil liberties union are un-american organizations. >> these comments that you could common organization, i may have said something like that in a general way and it was probably wrong. amy: ahead of today's hearing, the "new york times" slammed sessions for failing to turn over dozens, if not hundreds, of documents requested by the senate judiciary committee's questionnaire. the "huffington post" reported in december that sessions' submitted questionnaire failed to disclose even the fact that he'd been denied confirmation for the federal judgeship in 1986. and while the office of government ethics has completed sessions' ethics report, the washington post reports sessions failed to disclose that he owns oil interests in alabama -- a breach of federal ethics requirements. for more, we go to washington,
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d.c., where we are joined by two guests. david cole is the national legal director of the american civil liberties union. he is set to testify for the aclu against sessions in the senate hearing on cole is wednesday. professor of law and public policy at georgetown university. his most recent book is "engines of liberty: the power of citizen activists to make constitutional law." his piece for the new york review of books is headlined, "five questions for jeff sessions." also with us is kyle barry, policy counsel with the naacp legal defense fund and the lead author of their report opposing jeff sessions' nomination. we welcome you both to democracy now! david cole, what will you be saying on wednesday in your testimony before the senate judiciary committee? what are yr major concerns about senator sessions becoming attorney general? >> first, amy, we're not actually opposing senator space confirmation
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because the aclu does not support or endorse nominations. in fact, we rarely as a result testify in hearings, but we chose to testify in this hearing because we have concerns about his fidelity to the rights and interests of virtually all honorable groups in this -- vulnerable groups in this country. there's been a lot of talk about his insensitivity to or hostility to voting rights for african-americans and his racially offensive statements and the like. but that is just the beginning. trump's defended donald muslim bay and and -- muslim ban and spoke out very strongly against a resolution senator leahy introduced that simply would have underscored that it is not permissible to use forgion as a tmus test
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immigration. he is called the muslim faith a toxic ideology. millions of americans abide by. he voted against extending the hate crimes law to women and gays and lesbians because he said, "i just don't see they are victims of discrimination." now he is going to be put in charge of enforcing the hate crimes law. if you get the dissemination, you're not going to get best do a very good job enforcing laws against discrimination. he is abused his office as a prosecutor. not only did he prosecute voting sidleyactivists for getting out the black vote in alabama, but he also worked with u.s. deal, could to bitter to contributor to his senatorial campaign, to prosecute one of their competitors in a case that was ultimately dismissed by the judge hearing the case as the worst case of prosecutorial
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misconduct that judge had ever seen. and now we're going to put this man in charge of the most powerful prosecutor's office in the united states? so we think the senate has an obligation to investigate, to inquire, to get the many questions about senator sessions record answered before they vote on the confirmation. i think the central question is, look, in 1986, he was not qualified to be a local federal judge. today for aalified much more powerful post, namely, the attorney general of the united states? the senateenial, judiciary not approving him for the federal judgeship for he was nominated by president reagan -- highly unusual. only two people, him one of them, the previous half-century, about 48 years, that did not get through the senate judiciary committee? >> that's right.
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and from the party that controlled the psidency and controlled the senate at the time. yet theh threshold and kinds of statements he made in the kinds of actions he took, i mean, he essentially -- when voting rights activists started getting people out to vote, using the voting rights act, which was designed to get people out to vote who were not able to vote before, many people treated that as cause for celebration. jeff sessions treated it as cause for investigation. he went out and his people interviewed black voters throughout alabama counties and ask them why they voted, how they voted, who brought them to vote. and then prosecuted three civil rights activists for doing nothing more than getting people to the polls and assisting them in their exercising of the constitutional rights. the case was -- many of the accounts work dismissed outright
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by the judge as a's list even before trial. andontinued to go to trial all of the defendants were acquitted. amy: that was the marion three in alabama. >> exactly. those questions -- serious questions raised by those actions come and not just statements, but actions, i think unless those questions can be answered in a more understanding and understandable way today than they could back then, then i think the senate has to -- has obligationtake its seriously. i know it is difficult because he is one of their colleagues, but at the end of the day, the question is, can he be the attorney general for all the american people and can you protect the rights of the most vulnerable? amy: speaking of his colleagues, how rare is it, david cole, that new jersey senator cory booker will now testify against jeff
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sessions becoming attorney general? has this ever happened before in senate history? a sitting senator testifying against the appointment of another sitting senator? >> not to my knowledge come although, i am not a historian of the senate. i do think it is extraordinary. it reflects just how concerned many people are about the ability of jeff sessions to protect the rights of those he is being put in charge of protecting. amy: kyle barry, your policy counsel for the naacp legal defense fund. you authored the report on jeff sessions. why did you find it necessary to write a report on this nomination in particular? >> thanks, amy. one of the first things that people have to remember is that the attorney general is really the chief protector and enforcer of all of our nation civil rights laws, including the
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constitutional guarantee of equal protection and a host of very important civil rights legislation. in jeff sessions, you have someone who has been to over 40 years -- spent over 40 years of his political illegal career opposing civil rights and opposing principles of equality. we are now entering a time in the current political climate in particular were civil rights will have such an important role , really preserving the rule of law in our democracy. of course, protecting the one rebel community's -- vulnerable amenities those laws are designed to protect. we are very grave concerns that senator sessions as someone who can live up to that solemn responsibility. you have been talking about the 1986 hearing and his nomination that was rejected and what we found in looking at decades of his records since and including time as state attorney general senator, isrs as a
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the concerns from the 1980's have been borne out consistently over time. issue by issue, whether it is voting rights or criminal justice or education equality -- all of these issues that doj has a central role in dealing with, jeff sessions has opposed civil rights and opposed principles of equality at every step of the way. amy: even recently when republicans were looking at prison reforms, senator sessions worked against changes the mandatory minimums. can you talk about this? also, his support of these of chain gangs? very're very concerned -- serious concerns. in sentencing reform, he was really an outlier on the fringe of even his own party in , insing commonsense reforms particular, the use of mandatory
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minimums, which have shown to be not just as from a, particularly against african-americans and latinos, but also entirely ineffective. that reform package have the support of republican leadership, including the judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley. jeff sessions let opposition to that reform. particularly horrifying, as you mentioned, when he was a state attorney general in alabama, he was a very vocal supporter of the use of chain gangs, a practice that have been recently reinstated when he was state attorney general. he, at the time, praised the use of chain gangs. using to be completely, i think it best, oblivious to the racial implications. the historical implications in a state like alabama with such a long and toward of history of racial discrimination, and to him the image of chaining prisoners together on the side of public roadways was totally
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fine for him. in fact, he specifically stated he thought that would not be embarrassing alabama, that would not be in image problem to alabama, and the practice was perfectly constitutional and proper. for someone who was then a state attorney general to demonstrate that kind of extraordinary racial insensitivity, i think to put it lightly, imagine that on a nationwide scale if he is promoted to the highest law enforcement position in the entire united states. i think that is very concerning. amy: david cole, you talked about his record 30 years ago, his prosecution as u.s. attorney in alabama, a voting rights activist robert turner's wife -- over turner had marched alongside dr. martin luther king, considered one of the greatest voting rights activists got alabama -- alabama went from zero to something like 70,000 registered voters when they were being been prosecuted.
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some of his supporters, sessions supporters say, that was 30 years ago. in your final response, your overall concerns about today, david cole? >> that was 30 years ago, but since then, he has voted against lifting cylinders and franchise met, a practice that does the fortunately affects -- disproportionally affect african americans. since then, he is supported voter id laws, which suppress the votes of african-americans. it's then he has called the supreme court's decision in shelby county, which gutted a central portion of the voting rights act a good day for the south will stop and what we know is that led to the south engaging in racial -- racially motivated voter suppression across the country. targetingnot just african-americans. when he was asked whether donald trump's claim that as a
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celebrity he could grab women by the genitals, whether that constituted a description of sexual assault, he said, no. this is a man who is blind at tot and hostile at worse many of the right is supposed to be enforcing if he becomes attorney general. amy: david cole, thank you for being with us. you will be testify tomorrow the confirmation hearing of jeff sessions to be attorney general of the united states. david cole national legal , director of the american civil liberties union. and kyle barry is policy counsel with the naacp legal defense fund. when we come back, and we look at the case of the accused airport gunmen esteban santiago who could face charges for killing five people when he opened fire in a crowded airport in fort lauderdale on friday. he was allowed to keep his gun andite walking into the fbi alaska, telling them he is being
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controlled by u.s. intelligence, being institutionalized, and then being freed. stay with us. ♪ [music break] amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn to florida where accused
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airport gunman esteban santiago could face the death penalty for charges that he killed five and wounded eight others when he opened fire in a crowded baggage from terminal in fort lauderdale on santiago appeared in federal friday. court monday. the fbi says when he flew from alaska to florida to carry out the shooting, his only checked baggage for the flight was a box with three items -- a walther 9mm semi-automatic handgun and two magazines. after his arrival, investigators say santiago loaded his gun in a bathroom, then returned to the baggage claim. the website tmz obtained video that appears to show the suspect walked casually through baggage claim at fort lauderdale's airport before suddenly pulling out a gun and wreaking havoc. 26-year-old santiago was born in new jersey, grew up in puerto rico, and was an iraq war veteran who deployed with the 130th engineer battalion in 2010. he was later discharged from the alaska army national guard for unsatisfactory performance.
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in november, esteban santiago walked into the alaska fbi office and said he was being controlled by u.s. intelligence. he was briefly institutionalized and his gun was seized. but law enforcement authorities then returned his gun to him about a month later. cnn is reporting santiago used the same gun during friday's attack, which he had checked into his baggage legally during his flight from alaska to fort lauderdale. this is santiago's brother, brian. >> he went to the fbi offices in alaska, anchorage, alaska, to explain to them what he was seeing, the voices he was hearing, that the government was writing to him in secret code for him to do certain things. it is their fault because they are people who never go to the government to ask for help. when a barbaric act like this happens and when they evaluate them, the psychologists and psychiatrists understand there might is not well. what more than a person and went ahead of time to explain the situation? they knew it was going to happen.
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amy: esteban santiago also has a history of domestic violence. last january, santiago's then-girlfriend told prosecutors he threatened her, broke down the bathroom door where she was hiding, then hit and strangled her. he was later arrested and released on the condition he'd avoid all contact with the victim -- terms he later violated. friday's shooting came as lawmakers in florida were preparing to consider legislation that would loosen prohibitions on firearms in florida by eliminating some of the state's gun-free zones, which currently include airport terminals. for more we go to florida where , we're joined from boynton beach by thomas gabor, author of "confronting gun violence in america." his new opinion piece for the "sun sentinel" is called, "expanding gun rights won't save us from more mass shootings." and via democracy now! video stream we are joined by richard perez-peña, a reporter covering breaking news for the national desk of the "new york times." he co-wrote the article, "in year before florida shooting, suspect's problems multiplied." we welcome you both to democracy now!
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richard, let's begin with you. an extensive piece you and your colleagues did looking at esteban santiago's background and what happened that led to friday. can you get out for us? >> well, there was that incident in january that you referred to where -- january of last year where his girlfriend said he had strangled her, struck her, broke down the bathroom door in a fit of rage. that case was sort of put on hold where the charges were going to be dismissed as long as he stayed out of trouble. since then, there had been three other domestic disturbance calls to his home -- none of which resulted in arrest. the anchorage police chief said there wasn't probable cause in those cases will stop his family members said he is been sort of different. you know, not as well mentally ever since returning from iraq in 2011. it seems as though the real unraveling, mentally, took place
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in the last year or so. he was discharged from the alaska national guard in august. this is a guy who when he was serving with the puerto rico national guard, including in iraq, had won a number of accommodations. clearly, something had changed in him. episode there was this in november where he actually went to the fbi and said he was hearing voices and that the cia and isis were trying to control his mind. at least temporarily, he was put in the hospital and his gun was taken away. amy: so he is hospitalized. his gun is taken away. he is held for what, four days? then what happened? then what happened? with this story if people sort of assume
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you're crazy, you can have a gun. if you're crazy, you can put in a hospital. involuntary commitment is hard to do. if the person does not want to be there -- you need an adjudication that the person is a danger to themselves or others. you need a formal court ruling to that affect. , for the guns rights to be taken away, you need the same kind adjudication. that did not happen in this case. amy: so he was not put on any law enforcement watchlist were on the federal no-fly list -- or on the federal no-fly list, even with his history of domestic violence and strangling his former partner. once he was released from the institution, the police brought his gun back to him? >> he went back to the anchorage police and asked for the gun back. according to the timeline given by the police chief, he asked and ita couple of times
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was about a month later it was given back to him. amy: and it was that gun that he brought with him on the flight -- and this also might surprise many people, aside from that whole story, that you can take a gun on a flight through your baggage. allowt airlines will this. it is perfectly legal under federal law. you have to have it in an unloaded in a locked container in checked baggage. honestly, not in carry-on. yeah, it is not only legal, it is fairly common practice. non-gun owners are not aware of this. but it happens all the time. so your understanding, once he made it to the fort lauderdale airport, this being the only thing he carried in his baggage, went into the bathroom and took it out and came out and
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opened fire on the fellow passengers because he had been on this flight? >> that's right. we still do not know any reason why he would have chosen that place, that target. we don't know of any connection he had to fort lauderdale or, frankly, much connection to florida. news that he some was possibly going to new york instead of florida? >> i have not heard that. amy: abc news was reporting that. >> he booked this flight specifically from anchorage via minneapolis to fort lauderdale. amy: i want to turn republican florida senator greg steube sponsored senate bill 140, which would repeal a gun ban on college campuses, airport terminals, and at government meetings. this is steube speaking on "the gun writer tv" in 2015. >> i think that law-abiding
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citizens should have the right to defend themselves and i don't think that right should stop just because you're walking onto a college campus. we can carry and businesses, shopping plazas, malls, restaurants. but because there some law that says we cannot carry on a college campuses, to me, that doesn't make a lot of sense. i think people, especially young female students were people that our military -- or people that our military, veterans were now using the g.i. bill to go to school, anyone, they should have the right to defend themselves and others. we're seen time and again that terrorists and people with mental illness use places where they know that people are not carrying to target. amy: thomas gabor is also with of "confronting gun violence in america." his new opinion piece for the sun sentinel is called, "expanding gun rights won't save us from more mass shootings."
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can you respond to the florida legislation? florida is not alone in this. talk about gun free zones and where these guns would then be able -- how people would use them and the whole notion that you fight the violence, gun violence with gun violence. >> this is ironic that this is our second major mass shooting in florida and about half a year . we're looking at expanding gun rights. there is been a continuous pattern of increasing gun rights in florida. -- the senator manchin gun free zone's -- the senator mentioned gun free zones get targeted. the airport is not a gun free zone. a recent study of over 110
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sincents, mass murders 1966, show that only 13% occurred in areas where guns were prohibited. so it is a complete myth. there are so many perils involved by bringing armed civilians into congested and confined areas such as an airport. it is very challenging, even for experienced law enforcement officers who get extensive and ongoing training, to respond and engage active shooters without bystanders getting hurt, without having armed civilians who virtually noy training here in florida. we have 1.7 million gun carriers in florida or individuals who , andicensed to carry guns the courses that are being
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offered are efully inadequate. there are no tests as far as their knowledge of the law is concerned and when lethal force is appropriate. there are no tests as far as her marksmanship and judgment is concerned. so we are setting ourselves up for even greater catastrophe then we have already seen recently. amy: i want to thank you both for being with us. we will certain continue to follow this issue, thomas gabor "confronting gun violence in , america." and richard perez-peña cowrote the peace we will link to in "the new york times," "in year before florida shooting, suspect's problems multiplied." when we come back, we will look at an expose by the intercept which reveals a dark side to the seal team 6. matthew cole spent more than two years investigating the ghastly atrocities including mutilating corpses, skinnings, and
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attempted beheadings. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to a stunning new expose published today in the intercept about the elite military unit seal team 6. known as the president's own, the group is best known for killing osama bin laden as well as other high profile rescue missions, including that of captain richard phillips from the maersk alabama. but intercept national security reporter matthew cole reveals a darker side of the celebrated group. cole spent two years investigating accounts of ghastly atrocities committed by members of the unit, including mutilating corpses, skinnings, and attempted beheadings. according to sources, senior command staff were aware of the misconduct, but did little to stop it and often helped to cover it up. in the article, "the crimes of seal team 6," cole quotes one former leader as saying -- "you can't win an investigation on us. you don't whistleblow on the
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teams. and when you win on the battlefield, you don't lose investigations." well, for more, we're joined now by matthew cole. welcome to democracy now! >> thank you, amy. amy: talk about what you found, what we don't know -- and there's much we don't know, about the unit. >> i think the biggest take away is that after 15 years of four and unquestionable successes on the battlefield, there have been virtually no accounts of seal team 6 outside of the parameters of heroism, and they become almost mythic in terms of the american public and how popular they are. what w misngosaccounts was thats continuous warfare, very personal up close warfare, there were some very, very dark things that occurred in iraq and afghanistan and elsewhere that were largely suppressed and hidden from the public and
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actually from the military itself, as a way of protecting the command and those who had gone over the line to commit war crimes. amy: so talk about the bombing at occurred -- you write about it in the opening part of this very lengthy article in afghanistan. >> in march 2002, there was an have video- jsoc footage of a tall man in white garb -- john amy: joint special operations command. >> and saw someone they thought was bin laden and thought he was going to get away. they had the notion that he was -- people around him were showing deference and he was leaving a compound. so they sent seal team 6 and some helicopters to investigate, basically, to do introduction. that the convoy was going to get across the border into pakistan before the seals
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would get there, jsoc officers ordered a bombing and dropped two bombs on the convoy. they killed a lot of people pretty quickly come on must instantaneously. as the helicopters were coming down onto the scene, they then fired -- the helicopter guns onto the remaining survivors. regardless of whether they were armed because it was all presume that everyone there was al qaeda. when the seals got down onto the ground and inspected what they found right away was that it was all civilians. the few men who were armed were ining family weapons because afghanistan, it is traditional and customary for each mail, and certainly each family, to have one weapon. with a saw or dead women and children along with men. it was a horrific site for the seals who were on their first deployment in the war.
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remember, this is shortly after 9/11 and shortly after the war in afghanistan begins. they were not veterans yet of those kinds of wars. , oneccording to my sources of the officers who was on the mission allegedly mutilated one of the victims, one of the civilian victims after he had been killed. it was so upsetting to his teammate in the unit, that he then came back and reported it to his leader. what transpired then is a meeting with everyone in the unit who was enlisted and not the officers, the next day, to discuss battlefield ethics. how are we going to treat the debt. how are we going to conduct ourselves in the battlefield. the decision in the meeting was, hey, one person was there told me, we shoot them and move on. if they're bad guys we shoot them and move on between two not mutilate.
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that is not part of the game. this actually ostracized the officer who they believed had done so. but they did not turn him in. they didn't report it or tell anyone. it was strictly within the unit. that is one of the things -- amy: and the officer's name? >> the tunic commander crater. just to be clear, and the article on the record, he denies he stomped this man's head in. but that story became -- it becomes a sort of blueprint for capseal team six bank has were cracked -- seal team 6 has kept the brutality a secret for 15 years. they keep it in-house and have her own system of justice, prison rules if you will, and there is a bill divide between the officers who have the commission by law for law and order and the enlisted who make up most of the command. amy: can you talk about the seal team 6 officer who made
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so-called bleed out videos? >> he wasn't an officer. he was in enlisted -- he was a very troubled seal, a member of -- heuadron who filmed had a responsibility, which was to film the aftermath of an operation for intelligence gathering. so he had a camera. it was part of the normal course of duties after an operation would end, he went around and found -- later they can try to identify who had been killed in terms of the militants. what wasdoing described to me as bleed out videos and were known as lead out videos within the team at the time. he would bring them back and having talked to people who were dying on the battlefield, essentially, telling them they could not die yet, they were not going to heaven, they were not going to see allah, there were
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no virgins, and bring the videos back and spend time reviewing them, rewinding them over and over with a group, and doing a countdown to watch the last few moments for persons life as they expired. that was done -- this was not some darkme corner, hole in afghanistan. it was done it bagram air base in front of a lot of people. no one would do anything about it. it was not considered morally reprehensible. we use that as an example because in an of itself, it is not illegal, begins you a sense of some of the dark nature of what this war brought for members of elite special operations forces, in particular, seal team 6. amy: talk about what happened u.s. navy seal neil roberts. >> neil roberts was the first seal team 6 member of the first special operations soldier to
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die after 9/11. he was killed -- he fell off the back of a helicopter during operation anaconda in early march 2002 in eastern afghanistan. later became known as the battle for roberts ridge, an effort to save him. roberts fell off, was killed fairly quickly by al qaeda fighters who had already established a stronghold on the mountaintop. predator drone feed later sees one of the fighters standing over him, attempting to behead him. in fact, mutilated him very significantly. so when his body was brought back to bagram and estimates found out not only have they lost their teammate and pierced their sense of instability -- they were devastated by the manner in a gruesome manner in
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which his body had been treated. objective all, which happens about 18 hours later, we don't know but we believe that the alleged stomping in a mutilation of the civilian armed man -- amy: the story described before, the operation -- >> the beginning of what was a qaeda. tat against al which was, you do this to ours, we will do this to yours. robert's death in the manner of his death really shook up seal team 6. although there have been enormous amount of accounts, the battle of roberts ridge and some of the heroism and valor in trying to get him back in her other two died -- amy: others who died and did not die as it was originally thought, and survived, and then died. >> right. but will was never told was this incident that happened 18 hours
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later. looking back, it is easy to see why they would not tell the story. the pentagon itself, they had announced a week after the bombing they had killed civilians, but even then they said they were associated alehow, affiliated with qaeda. they left the impression although they killed civilians, it was a justifiable bombing. in fact, it was only silly and and had no -- in fact it was only civilians. amy: they were a wedding party? >> they were on their way to a wedding party. amy: where does britt slabinski fit into this? >> he was in enlisted seal, not an officer. he was the leader of the team that went back to get neil roberts. he won a navy cross for his
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efforts on the top of tech or gar, the mountaintop in eastern afghanistan. he was in the meeting at bagram after objective bowl in which thediscussion about how behavior happen. slabinski was devastated by robert death. sources who spoke with them at the time, he sought revenge. he wanted to go back on the battlefield and get payback. , and of course -- we unearthed exclusive audio that had never been found before. slabinski giving an interview to an author writing a book about roberts ridge in which he describes a third operation that happens after objective bull in which they ambushed a group of
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al qaeda fighters who had been on top of tucker gar, who been in the battle for roberts ridge. he led a sniper team at the time. they killed roughly 18 or 19 al qaeda fighters in eastern 2002.istan in mid-march in the audio, what you hear him the operation as payback and revenge, essentially, before would happen roberts ridge, as a way for the guys and his men to get their confidence back. i think he says, to get back in the saddle again. amy: let's go to the seal team 6 member britt slabinski. here he describes the aftermath of an operation to take down a convoy they believed was filled with al qaeda fighters trying to escape to pakistan. slabinski and a team of snipers had killed nearly 20 al qaeda fighters.
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>> after i shot this dude in the head, there was a guy with his feet sticking out of some rut over here. he was dead, but i shot him about 20 times in the leg. every time you shoot him, he would kick up a new could see his body twitching. it was like a game. good therapy. it was good there be for everybody that was there. any code that is navy seals team 6 britt slabinski. this audio being played publicly for the first time, that you got at the intercept. the significance of this? >> i think it gives you a window into the mindset of someone who became a very senior -- worst of all, after the battle of roberts ridge, he became a legendary's deal. yet a navy cross. he was a hero. he became a very influential member of seal team 6.
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at a command that is referred to a known as an enlisted market, run effectively by the enlisted heels who spend a decade in war in the unit, he was a top leader. as a result, heated up in a position running a squadron and there were a series of events that occurred that a report of clues only for the first time about the fallout of his leadership and what you get to see -- what you get to hear and that is the mindset. the thing that was most disturbing to me, i think, and listening to it, was the gleeful mess in his voice. that it was there be for him. that i think gives us some understanding -- as i was talking to a former senior leader of seal team 6 about that tape bahia never heard it and i showed him the transcript, he says what is so scary is this guy undoubtedly influenced so many of our guys with that kind of attitude. amy: matthew cole, one of the most disturbing forms of
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atrocity that seal team 6 committed was called condemning. if you could talk about that and talk about whether you believe osama bin laden was could new -- canoed. the fdot thee of darkest secrets in the last 15 years, is over the course of the war seal team 6, as well as other elements of jsoc, were involved in something called canoeing, a form of firing a bullet in the top of the forehead that splits the head open in the most gruesome manner and leaves frankly brain matter exposed and looks like desperate the top of the head in the shape of a v with a negative space that looks like a canoe would fit in there or went through it. it can happen incidentally in battle. and it does happen incidentally in battle. what i found was that for a period of years, seal team 6
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forographed their dead documentation and preservation. for a period of years, c anoed dead took up an enormous amount of space in that catalog. it was not mathematically possible. my sources say committee became sport. you shoot a person when they are dead or dying, a very close range, for the sake of seeing the gruesome results. amy: and osama bin laden? what happened was hiding in plain sight. the man who claims he killed osama bin laden robert o'neill did a long interview with esquire in 2013 in which he described what bin laden's face looked like after he shot him three times in the face and forehead. there it is, without using the word canoe, he describes this gruesome scene of splitting the top of his skull open into a v with the negative space in the
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shape of a v and bring matter exposed. 1.i make in the story is that seal team 6 been branded osama bin laden. it is an act of dominance. it is a form of sport. in this case, it does not necessarily mean that robert o'neill committed a war crime, but there's no question that the ritualistic manner in which and the frequency in which it occurred in the fact that it had no military necessity was criminal. amy: you believe that bin laden was killed unarmed and in the dark? >> absolutely. one of the things i story presents fairly conclusively is that -- my story presents fairly conclusively is that the order was to give him regardless of the situation inside. one of my sources said kill him, bring the body back. that was the order. amy: we will do
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part 2, posted online at matthew cole, we
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♪ today on secrets of a chef, i have a whole load of more recipes, and i really hope you will love them. we will be making a whole branzino fish al a nage style, poaching it in a luxurious bath of vegetables, herbs and wine. we're also making glazed carrots but without the butter and sugar. they're doused in a rich middle eastern-inspired spice mix. we will serve it with sauteed chicken breasts and a harissa yogurt sauce. it's a show you don't want to miss, so stay with me. ♪


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