tv Democracy Now PBS January 18, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PST
01/18/17 01/18/17 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> yesterday after years of advocacy, when we heard the president had commuted chelsea manning's sentence, we were so relieved and we finally felt like there would be some sense of long-overdue justice in her case. amy: supporters of army whistleblower chelsea manning and puerto rican independence activist oscar lopez rivera are celebrating after president obama commuted their sentences in one of his last acts in office. but obama took no action on longtime imprisoned native american leader leonard peltier. >> the only thing i am guilty of
is struggling for my people. i did not kill those agents. amy: we will speak to the attorneys of chelsea manning and leonard peltier, as well as oscar lopez rivera's brother. he is preparing for him to come home. then we look at betsy devos, donald trump's pick to be come education secretary. >> do you think if you were not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions to the republican party, that you would be sitting here today? >> as a matter of fact, i think there would be that possibility. amy: we will speak to jeremy scahill about besty devos and how her brother, blackwater founder erik prince, is advising donald trump from the shadows. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. president obama has commuted the sentences of army whistleblower
chelsea manning and puerto rican independence activist oscar lopez rivera as part of more than 200 commutations he issued tuesday. chelsea manning now set to be freed after obama shortened her may 17 sentence from 35 years to seven. say shes for manning has ready been the longest held whistleblower in u.s. history. she has been in military custody since may 2010. manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to wikileaks about the wars in iraq and afghanistan and u.s. foreign policy. she has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. she attempted to commit suicide twice last year. puerto rican independence activist oscar lopez rivera has been imprisoned for about 35 years, much of the time in solitary confinement. in 1981, lopez rivera was convicted on federal charges, including seditious conspiracy -- conspiring to oppose u.s. authority over puerto rico by force. in 1999, president bill clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the faln, but lopez rivera refused to accept the
deal because it did not include two fellow activists, who have since been released. under the obama commutation order lopez rivera will be also , released on may 17. on tuesday, obama also commuted the sentence of retired u.s. marine corps general james cartwright. last year, cartwright admitted he lied to the fbi during an investigation into who leaked classified information to "the new york times" about stuxnet, a secret u.s. cyberwarfare operation against iran. according to yahoo news, general cartwright was the 10th person to be criminally charged under president obama in a case related to classified disclosures -- more, by far, than were brought by any president before him. we'll have more on the commutations of chelsea manning and oscar lopez rivera after headlines. president obama did not, however, pardon nsa whistleblower edward snowden or native american activist leonard peltier. peltier is a former member of the american indian movement who was convicted of killing two fbi agents during a shootout on south dakota's pine ridge indian reservation in 1975. he has long maintained his innocence.
many are calling on obama to pardon peltier, and activists have been maintaining a daily vigil outside the white house since late november. they are demanding his freedom. we'll have more on the case of leonard peltier later in the broadcast. confirmation hearings for president-elect donald trump's cabinet nominations continue on capitol hill. on tuesday, education secretary nominee betsy devos faced intense questioning by democratic senators over her role in her family's foundations, which have poured millions of dollars into funding private christian schools and anti-lgbtq organizations, including the groups focus on the family and the family research council, which the southern poverty law center has listed as an anti-lgbt hate group. this is new hampshire senator maggie hassan. a i understand there is foundation, i take it, named for your parents. >> that is correct. it is my mother's foundation. >> and you sit on the board? >> i do not. >> ok, so when it made its over
$5 million focus on the family, you did not know anything about it. >> my mother makes the decisions or her foundation. amy: that's betsy devos, answering senator hassan's questioning. later in the confirmation hearing, senator hassan against questioned devos about her role in the family foundation. >> i just want to clarify the issue about whether you were on the board of your mother's foundation. i have 990's through 2013 where you are listed as the vice president and a board member. was that just a mistake on your part? >> that was a clerical error. i can assure you, i have never made decisions on my mother's foundation board. >> the listing you were vice president of the board is incorrect? >> that is correct. amy: devos was listed as the foundation's vice president in federal tax filings for several years. betsy devos is also the former chair of the michigan republican party and a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools. she and her husband have also invested in a student debt collection agency that does
business with the education department. during tuesday's hearing, washington senator patty murray questioned devos about whether she would privatize education. >> can you commit to us tonight you will not work to privatize public schools or cut a single penny from public education? >> thank you for that question. i look forward if confirmed to working with you to talk about how we address the needs of all parents and all students. we acknowledge today that not all schools are working for the students that are assigned to them. and i am hopeful we can work together to find common ground in ways that we can solve those issues and empower parents to make choices on behalf of their children that are right for them. >> i take that as not being willing to commit to not privatizing public schools or cutting money from education. amy: the senate also held confirmation hearings tuesday for montana congressman ryan zinke, who is trump's nominee to head the interior department.
this is alaska senator lisa murkowski, questioning zinke about whether he would attempt to roll back president obama's ban on oil drilling in the arctic. >> will you commit to a formal review of all of the obama administration's actions that took resource bearing lands and waters in alaska, effectively off the table, including the decisions that specifically prevented the leasing of those lands and those waters for development, and determine whether or not they can be reversed? >> yes. the president-elect has said that we want to be energy independent. amy: today the senate will hold confirmation hearings for billionaire wilbur ross, trump's nominee for commerce secretary oklahoma attorney general scott , pruitt for epa director; and for georgia republican congressman tom price, trump's pick to head the department of health and human services. price's confirmation hearing comes as a new study by the congressional budget office says 18 million people could lose their health insurance if the congress repeals major
provisions of the affordable care act. the office's report says the repeal of key parts of obamacare would leave 32 million people without health insurance, and cause the cost of insurance premiums to double over the next 10 years. obamacare currently has a favorable approval rating of 44%. 59 house democrats now say they will not attend trump's inauguration. the boycott began after trump attacked civil rights icon john lewis over the martin luther king jr. holiday weekend. on twitter, trump called lewis "all talk, talk, talk" and told lewis he should "focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities." on tuesday night, a man lit a fire near trump international hotel in washington, d.c., and said he was trying to light himself on fire as a protest against trump's inauguration. trump has a historically low approval rating for an incoming president. a monmouth university poll released tuesday found only 34% of u.s. residents view trump favorably. president obama, in comparison,
had an 84% approval rating just before his inauguration in 2009. a former contestant on trump's reality tv show "the celebrity apprentice" has sued trump for defamation. in october, summer zervos apprentice." in october, summer zervos accused trump of repeatedly sexual assaulting her during a meeting in 2007, saying trump kissed her on the lips, pressed his body against hers, and groped her breasts, all without her consent. she was among a series of women who accused trump of sexual assault during the 2016 campaign. trump, in return, called zervos and the other women liars. this is zervos, announcing her lawsuit, alongside her lawyer gloria allred. >> since mr. trump has not issued a retraction as i requested, he has therefore left me with no alternative other than to sue him in order to vindicate my reputation. i want mr. trump to know that i
will still be willing to dismiss my case against him immediately for no monetary compensation if he would simply retract his false and defamatory statements about me and acknowledge i told the truth about him. she was previously on "the apprentice." at a news conference in moscow, russian president vladimir putin responded to unsubstantiated memos prepared by a british intelligence operative that say russia has come for my's information on trump including a , sex tape of trump from 2013 involving sex workers in moscow. this is putin. >> trump arrived in straightaway rushed to meet with moscow prostitutes. this is an adult man, first of all. apart from that, a man who for many years took part in organizing beauty contest. he is socialized with the most beautiful women in the world. this hard to believe he ran to a hotel to meet with our girls of
loose morals. although, they are the best in the world. amy: just after arriving in washington, d.c. come yesterday, donald trump appeared at dinner for foreign diplomats during which he spoke about longtime exxon mobil ceo rex tillerson, who trump has nominated to head the state department. rex tillerson, he's around here somewhere. where is our rex? what a job. thank you very much. thank you. i think it is tougher than he thought. he goes into a country, takes the oil, goes into another country -- [laughter] dealing with these politicians, right? he is going to be so incredible and i am very proud of him. amy: during tillerson's confirmation hearing, he faced opposition from some members of the senate foreign relations committee, including florida senator marco rubio and others over tillerson's close ties to russia. but even if senator rubio votes against tillerson and the committee does not approve him,
the committee chair, senator bob corker may take the unusual step , of calling a vote on whether to send tillerson's confirmation to the full senate -- a move that hasn't happened in decades. the nigerian military has bombed a government-run refugee camp on tuesday, killing dozens of displaced people and at least six humanitarian aid workers. nigerian officials say the bombing was an accident. this is hugues robert with doctors without borders. >> the location, it was hard to reach. for more than six months, people could not access. it was extremely accurate. on top of that, mass casualties. bombing.alties due to -- s really like
amy: in north dakota, republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would shield drivers from liability if they injure or kill a pedestrian obstructing traffic. it's one of several bills aimed at cracking down on the fight against the $3.8 billion dakota access pipeline, which has seen native american water protectors at times marching on public roads and highways. actions against pipelines continue across the united ways, including in florida, where water protectors locked them selves to a truck money to stop the pipeline in memphis, arrested at the refinery under protest against the diamond pipeline on monday. in texas, to water protectors were arrested after locking themselves to heavy equipment friday to delay construction of the trans-pecos pipeline, which is being built by the same company behind the dakota access pipeline. in new york city, over 100 people set up a protest encampment outside the headquarters of financial giant goldman sachs, which they are calling "government sachs." at least three of trump's cabinet and cabinet-level picks are tied to goldman sachs, including treasury secretary
nominee steven mnuchin, national economic council director goldman sachs president gary cohn, and trump chief strategist former goldman sachs executive stephen bannon. over a dozen people camped out overnight in the freezing cold. this is jonathan westin. >> i would say people that believe he is going to drain the swamp have been lied to. it is in a complete fraud when he talked about draining the swamp. he brought them in closer. he brought all of these swamp monsters inside the white house. now they have a permanent office and controlling all of the institutions of government. amy: and in mexico, goldman environmental prize winner isidro baldenegro lopez has been assassinated. the indigenous leader has long organized against illegal logging and deforestation in the sierra madre mountains. decades ago, his father was also murdered after leading mass protests against illegal logging in their family's ancestral lands. this is baldenegro lopez, who won the prestigious goldman prize in 2005. >> we know there are people who
want to pillage the riches of bc era, and they don't even live here. by fraud and forgery, they managed to get away with it will stop and we oppose this. they're not going to log the forest. amy: and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. in one of his final acts in office, president obama shortened the sentences of 209 prisoners and pardoned 64 individuals on tuesday. the list included army whistleblower chelsea manning, longtime imprisoned puerto rican independence activist oscar lopez rivera and retired u.s. marine corps general james cartwright. but missing from the list is 71-year-old native american activist leonard peltier. later in the program, we will look at the cases of peltier and oscar lopez rivera. but first, to chelsea manning who is now set to be freed on may 17 after obama shortened her sentence from 35 years to seven. according to her attorneys, she is already the longest held whistleblower in u.s. history. she has been in military custody since may 2010.
manning leaked more than 700,000 classified files and videos to wikileaks about the wars in iraq and afghanistan and u.s. foreign policy. she has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender identity. chelsea manning attempted to commit suicide twice last year. joining us now are two of her attorneys. nancy hollander is manning's appellate attorney. chase strangio of the aclu represents chelsea manning in a lawsuit against the pentagon for denial of medical care related to her gender dysphoria. also with us is the intercept's .o emy scahill, author welcome to democracy now! chase strangio to your response? >> first of all, i want to thank you and everyone who supported chelsea over the years. this was a mass mobilization effort, keeping her story alive, led by chelsea herself and all of the people who made sure that
nobody forgot the justice that she fought for in the incredible symbol of democratic principles and advocacy that she really embodies. yesterday was an incredible day for us, those who care about her. as i said time and again, president obama really had her life in his hands and it is such a relief he acted on the side of mercy and justice. amy: have you spoken to chelsea? >> unfortunately, we haven't. that is a bit concerning, but we are remaining hopeful we will be able to use the quiver today and be up to share this news. it is quite unusual for the individual to not be informed of their commutation with their attorneys. was on standby waiting for this. i spoke with her around 2:00 p.m. yesterday she was her hopeful, pragmatic self waiting for news and we were all hoping and praying with her. hopefully, today we will connect
with her and get to share in this incredible moment that really did save her life. amy: you believe she was the longest total whistleblower? >> absolutely. the 35 year sentence was agreed to set the time. the egregious in retrospect. she served seven years. it is preposterous to your people saying there are no consequences for her actions will she has been tortured and imprisoned, denied basic medical care. she has suffered much and it is time for her to be free. amy: nancy hollander, the response on the networks -- i was watching cnn last night. the overwhelming response of the guests that had on. let me go to some of the comments. republican house speaker paul ryan released a statement protesting the commutation saying -- "this is just outrageous most of chelsea manning's treachery put american lives at risk and exposed some of our nation's most sensitive secrets. president obama now leaves in place a dangerous president that
those who compromise our national security will not be held accountable for their crimes." republican senator john mccain of arizona called the commutation a grave mistake that may "encourage further acts of espionage and undermine military discipline." he added -- "thousands of americans have given their lives in afghanistan and iraq upholding their oaths and defending this nation. chelsea manning broke her oath and made it more likely that others would join the ranks of her fallen comrades. her prison sentence may end in a few months' time, but her dishonor will last forever." nancy hollander, your response? >> it is just false. the secretary of defense at the time date said the worst that happened was an embarrassment for the united states. there was not a single individual ever identified who was harmed by what chelsea did. what chelsea did actually helped the united states and helped
americans. it health people around the world understand about human rights violations, understand bring war home to people. she wanted people to see what happens to somebody who gets killed, what happens to people in iraq and afghanistan. she wanted to make this real so that we would stop doing these kinds of things to people. so what they're saying is exactly the opposite of what chelsea did. there has never been a single bit of evidence that anybody was harmed or that national security was harmed. amy: on friday, white house press secretary josh earnest told reporters there was a stark difference between the cases of u.s. army whistleblower chelsea manning and nsa whistleblower edward snowden. >> there are some important the scales, including of the crimes that were committed in the consequences of their crimes.
obviously, as chelsea manning has acknowledged and we of said many times, the release of information that she provided to wikileaks was damaging to national security. but the disclosures by edward serious.ere far more amy: on friday, a campaign supporting edward snowden delivered a petition with more than 1 million signatures to the white house demanding a pardon. jeremy scahill, what josh earnest said in differentiating snowden from chelsea manning? >> there are clear differences between what chelsea manning did and the way that chelsea manning has been treated and edward snowden. but i do reject the idea that they are using edward snowden as to justifytep ladder this. the reality is, president obama should have issued a full pardon to chelsea manning and should
never have allowed the kind of abuse that she has endured to go on for this. let's remember, chelsea manning did not justly be collateral murder video that showed the killing of iraqi civilians and journalists from the reuters news agency, did not just released the state department cables that showed all sorts of blackmail, cajoling, corruption, support for dictators around the world -- it was one of the most incredible moments in the history of democracy in this country where people actually got to have the curtain pulled back and to see how the government functions in private and how it contradicts the public proclamations of the united states being this beacon of hope, the shining, you know, the city on top of the hill. and chelsea manning provided the iraq war logs the afghan war logs the detailed numerous crimes committed by the united states and its allies in iraq
and afghanistan, and also gave us an unprecedented window into how the assassination forces that the u.s. had unleashed in those countries functioned. but not a single document that chelsea manning is known to have released was a top-secret document. i think that is a technical distinction from what edward snowden did. i think that is part of why josh earnest is saying this. but let's be clear. edward snowden also is a whistleblower deserving of an embrace of people who believe in democracy. we understand now the breaking news today was that the russian government is saying it is extended edward snowden's ability to stay in russia for two more years and a senior russian official rejected the suggestion by former acting cia director michael l that snowden should be handed over as a thank you gift to the incoming president donald trump and the russian foreign ministry said it
is curious that former director of the cia actually viewed the giving of people as a gift. it says a lot about the united states. but i think the white house is using edward snowden in an attempt to justify the commutation of the sentence of chelsea manning. i am ecstatic that obama didn't even this. i think you should have gone father and issued a fertile -- amy: one of the things that josh earnest said, before the announcement that the sentence a would be commuted, winter country that was an adversary. >> that is an outright lie. when snowden was in the air -- amy: headed to latin america. >> we don't know where, but we understand was latin america. while he was in air on route to moscow, the united states canceled his passport. it was the obama administration that chose russia. then they tried to force -- they
forced able morale is, president of bolivia, plane down. tickets have been purchased for him on multiple airlines to fog up the u.s. efforts to locate them. amy: and he could not leave -- >> he had to stay at the airport for weeks on an. amy: earlier this month, wikileaks said its founder julian assange was prepared to give up his freedom in exchange for army whistleblower chelsea manning. a statement on wikileaks' twitter page read -- "if obama grants manning clemency assange will agree to u.s. extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of doj case." can you comment on this? >> first of all, i know our dear friend, the late michael ratner, believed there was a lot of evidence to indicate there was a secret or sealed indictment against julian assange. that has not been confirmed. it is unclear even if there are charges against julian assange,
some of the leaked documents from hillary clinton's circle indicate that may be there is. it is unclear there is even in a tradition request to respond to in the first place. i think assange has plenty of trouble facing him if he fit dust steps outside the embassy. the potential for the u.s. to want to extradite him, certainly there, sweden is going to want to have him spend time in jail. assange himself has acknowledged that. never does may bring a whole array of new charges against him as well. it will be interesting to see what happens. assange did say it, so we will see what happens. amy: on tuesday, judith miller tweeted -- "obama commutes sentence of chelsea manning. how many people died because of manning's leak?" she wrote several of the key articles in the lead up to the weapons oftensive
mass destruction head of the iraqi destruction, paving way for the war in iraq. >> judith miller was a willing participant in a sophisticated propaganda campaign orchestrated by dick cheney and the top levels of power in the united states government to falsify a case to invade and destroy iraq. hundreds of thousands of innocent people died in that war. thousands of u.s. soldiers were killed in that war. judith miller should not right with ink, but with the blood she has caused to be shed around the world. shame on her for attacking chelsea manning, whose entire intent was to save lives when she has knowingly participated in a drive to an unjust, illegal war that killed scores of people. as they say, she should delete her account. amy: chase strangio, as we wrap
up, your final common -- and do you know what chelsea manning will be doing when she gets out of leavenworth? >> i have no doubt that chelsea manning will continue to absolutely fight for all of the principles that she has long stood for, continue to engage in a campaign of advocacy for transparency, transgender dressed us, the justice of so many people. i have no doubt that today, as she always is, thinking about other people like leonard peltier and other people who are still awaiting to hear about the commutation of their sentence. general cartwright was part of the official leaks program where the white house once to put out information that they feel makes them look glorious. as we saw john brennan and others do in the navy seals raid. what this boiled down to was cartwright leaked information about the stuxnet virus and he appeared to have done it with the permission of the highest levels of power in the obama administration. it is unclear if obama himself approved it. within he got caught lying to
the fbi. the whole point was to say, hey, we dismantled or we penetrated iran's nuclear program with this amazing computer virus that we created potentially in concert with the israelis. cartwright got caught lying to the fbi. this is sort of the ken --akin to some of the pardon such a place in richard nixon's administration. basically, cartwright did this at the pleasure of the white house, so to speak, so he is part of the official leaks program as so many other unindicted people are in the white house. big contrast to how they treat conscience of motivated whistleblowers. amy: nancy hollander, what this means for future whistleblowers? >> i think it is very important for future whistleblowers to see how chelsea was treated and mistreated. and none of that is going to go away, but at least the president has reduced her sentence. that we have always been concerned and chelsea has been concerned that future whistleblowers will be afraid to
come out and step forward. chelsea will be out there doing service to her community, and she can't wait to do that. amy: nancy hollander, appellate attorney for chelsea manning. chase strangio, staff attorney at the aclu. strangio represents chelsea manning in a lawsuit against the pentagon. jeremy scahill, i hope you'll stay with us, to talk about the confirmation hearing for education secretary betsy devos. when we come back, oscar lopez his sentenceso had commuted. we will talk with his brother and juan gonzalez. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. on tuesday, president obama also commuted the sentence of longtime puerto rican independence activist oscar lopez rivera, who has been imprisoned for 35 years, much of the time in solitary confinement. in 1981, lopez rivera was convicted on federal charges,
including seditious conspiracy -- conspiring to oppose u.s. authority over puerto rico by force. in 1999, president bill clinton commuted the sentences of 16 members of the faln, but lopez rivera refused to accept the deal because it did not include two fellow activists, who have since been released. under president obama's commendation order lopez rivera , will be released on may 17. joining us now is oscar's brother jose lopez rivera in chicago as well as democracy , now! co-host juan gonzalez who joins us from new brunswick. jose, how are you feeling today? when did you get the news? >> we got the news around 2:00 yesterday. lawyer received the call and we had a teleconference with, wissmann luis gutierrez, the mayor of san
juan, and speaker of the new york city council. as well as oscars only daughter. a group of us have been spearheading the campaign. when she told us the news, everybody just went up -- i mean, you could hear the screams. we were unable to continue the meeting because of the incredible joy that was expressed. and i want to express, obviously, our gratitude to everyone who supported by brothers release and democracy now! and juan gonzalez were one of the few voices that spoke about this campaign. we want to thank you for that as well. amy: let's bring juan gonzalez into this conversation. talk about the significance of the release of oscar lopez
rivera. juan: well, amy, i think this is a momentous time for the people of puerto rico and was a lopez. i know the campaign to free oscar was relentless throughout the years. themember as recently as democratic national convention, you remember that, the activities there. several hundred people who had come from all over the united states and puerto rico to raise the issue before the democratic party. of course, candidate bernie sanders had repeatedly raised the issue of oscar lopez rivera and pleaded with president obama to release him. i go back to 1979. i was there when the four nationalists were freed by president jimmy carter. and they all contribute where they all can to the
ground. several of the faln members had her sentences commuted in 1996 when president clinton also released them. i think there is been a long history in the united states because puerto rico is still a colony of the united states, of people who support and believe in the independence of puerto rico, doing everything they can possibly to end colonialism. so this is really just another symbol of the reality the united states still has not dealt with the status of puerto rico. the amazing thing is in the case of oscar lopez rivera, basically, the entire puerto rican diaz brought in the nation of puerto rico united, virtually, every elected official in the united states importer he can nationality and religious groups on the island have been calling for oscar
lopez rivera's release now for decades. they did not necessarily agree with his vision of independence, but they understood he was a freedom fighter and he is been in jail far too long considering the charges against him. amy: let's turn to oscar lopez rivera in his own words. in a rare video recording from prison, he said the charges against him were strictly political. >> i think the fact i was charged with seditious conspiracy to overthrow the government of the united states because for itself, but the charge in reference to puerto rico -- it goes back to 1936, the first time a group of puerto ricans [indiscernible] this has been a struggle political charge against puerto ricans. amy: among those who clearly supported him and certainly had the ear of president obama, were celebrities like madmen well
miranda, the creator of the broadway hit "hamilton." jose lopez rivera, how important was this? what are oscar's plans once he gets out come or should i say, perhaps your plans for and when he returns to chicago? >> well, first of all, i think he will make a stop in chicago and then go right to puerto rico where his daughter lives and obviously, a large part of my family lives. but i think the campaign to free oscar was an amazing campaign. i think juan has articulated quite well, but i would add you have 10 nobel peace prize winners, you have pope francis, thehave the voices of hispanic congressional caucus, the black caucus, the progressive caucus of the u.s. congress -- we delivered 105,000
written petitions to obama on january 11, which, by the way, one of thethday of most important voices of the 19 century puerto rican independence movement. on we theed 108,000 people petition. obviously, it was a widespread movement that included the major leaders of all the major labor organizations, the afl-cio asked me, seiu, as well as hundreds and hundreds of very important voices from the religious community from civil society, from the environmental movement. i mean, this campaign captured the imagination of credible
numbers of people across the world. on june 20 last year, in 45 countries, there were rallies and events held in support of oscar. honestly, we are pleased with it. oscar will come and join us and he will be part of the conversation to colonize puerto rico. amy: jose lopez rivera, thank you for being with us, executive director of the puerto rican cultural center in chicago and brother of oscar lopez rivera. juan, congratulations on your first day of teaching at rutgers university, speaking to you in new brunswick. juan: i would like to add you mentioned an interesting tweet yesterday we. he said "sobbing with gratitude here in london am a oscar lopez rivera is coming home. thank you @potus." he also sent a tweet to the
speaker of the new york city whocil who is honestly -- has honestly been campaigning for the freedom of oscar and he oscar, in you talk to have a show for him in chicago. it will be my honor to play hamilton the night he goes. nuel will be flying when oscar lopez is out to play elton personally in his show in chicago. amy: thank you for joining us. there may 17 covering the release of oscar lopez rivera. now to another sentence. while president obama shortened the sentences of chelsea manning and oscar lopez and tuner nine prisoners, no action was taken on 71-year-old native american activist leonard peltier. peltier is a former member of the american indian movement who
was convicted of killing two fbi agents during a shootout on south dakota's pine ridge indian reservation in 1975. he has long maintained his innocence. martin garbus joins us here. >> we just received confirmation that yesterday a letter from the vatican went to the white house. it win in in the afternoon. -- it went in in the afternoon. on behalf of letter peltier, i want to thank you. i want to thank you what has happened as a result of this show. i was on three weeks ago. and james reynolds, was the prosecutor in the peltier case, saw the show and as a result of the show, decided to come out after 40 years of silence and write a letter to the white house saying that the prosecution was flawed and asking for clemency for leonard peltier.
it is an amazing turn of events. we were all surprised by it. nothing like that has happened before. immediately after that, special fbi agent jack ryan, who had been in that area at the same time, came out with a similar letter. each of the letters went through the law. each of them went through the facts. each of the letters came out and asked for clemency. and that was the result of our discussion on this show a little while ago. amy: is there any possibility -- have you heard anything from the white house? >> we have not. we do not have a denial. of course, his name was not on yesterday's list. amy: have you spoken to leonard peltier since this came out? >> i communicated with leonard yesterday. i was upset because his name was not on yesterday's list. then when i heard about the letter from the pope, i
communicated with him. he knows there are more names coming out. i think it is fair to say that if he doesn't get commuted by president obama, he will die in jail. he is a very sick man. obama is not granting him clemency is like a sentence of death. trump eight going to do it. he is very sick and he is not going to look past that time. i do want to be negative, but that is the reality. he is very sick and has been in prison for over 40 hard years. six years in solitary. they have gotten their pound of flesh from him. i think in so far as the native americans, there should be an awareness -- he is important to them. he is important to their cause. you and i both know that that is a group of people awfully neglected. i know you are out there in standing rock recently. i'm going out there in about two months to try some cases.
so you and i both know what is happening to native americans in america. amy: when we were at standing rock, the call for clemency for leonard peltier from every angle of every resistance camp, even the fbi agent jack ryan, wrote "leonard peltier should receive clemency in the interest of justice for which my two fellow agents died in in the interest of reconciliation and compassion." >> right. i think it is hard for people to understand that you had the native americans in the center shooting out. you had the fbi and the army shooting in. it was impossible to tell which bullets went where. in indian was killed. a native american was killed. there's never prosecution of him. he for leonard was prosecuted, two other people were prosecuted and acquitted. amy: martin garbus, one of the country's leading trial lawyers, and lead counsel for leonard peltier. when we come back, we look at
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. on tuesday, education secretary nominee betsy devos faced intense questioning by democratic senators to her confirmation hearing. his a longtime backer of charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools. she and her husband have also invested in a student debt collection agency that does business with the education department. her brother is erik prince, founder of the mercenary firm blackwater. on tuesday, she was repeatedly questioned over her role in her family's foundations, which have poured millions of dollars, if not tens of millions or hundreds of millions, into funding private christian schools and anti-lgbt organizations,
including the groups focus on the family in the family research council, which the southern poverty lent -- will center has listed as a hate group. this is new hampshire senator maggie hassan. >> i understand there is a foundation to which i take it is a foundation named for your parents. is that correct? >> it is my mother's foundation. >> a new sit on the board? >> i do not. >> so when it made its over finally dollar donation to focus on the family, you did not know anything about it. >> i mother makes the decisions for her foundation. amy: later in the confirmation hearing, senator hassan agains questioned devos about her role in the family foundation. of three 2013s where you are listed as the vice president and a board member. was that just a mistake on your part? >> that was a clerical error. i can assure you i've never make decisions on my mother's behalf
on her foundation board. >> so the listing that you are the vice president of the board was incorrect. >> that is incorrect. beingetsy devos questioned during tuesday's confirmation hearing. federal tax filings show she was the vice president for several years. her brother, erik prince them has been quietly advising trump's transition team according to a former senior u.s. official who spoke to the intercept jeremy scahill. on election night, erik prince's white posted pictures from inside trump's campaign headquarters. joining us now is investigative journalist jeremy scahill, who is closely covered the families for years. his most recent article about betsy devos' brother is headlined, "notorious mercenary erik prince is advising trump from the shadows." jeremy, talk about betsy devos. >> this put this in context.
betsy devos is erik prince's brother and comes from an incredibly wealthy family in western michigan. they basically run the city of holland, michigan. erik's father built a become a that was later sold to johnson controls for $1.6 billion in cash. goes off and starts blackwater with his share of the money. heir married dick devos, to the amway corporation. those two families together in money90's gave the seed to what became known as the radical religious right in the united states. they gave the money to gary bauer in the family research council to james dobson and focus on the family. they poured0 million
into republican campaign. in addition -- on the one hand, they were engaged in a legalized form of bribery that exists in this country through campaign contributions. but they also were getting money to extremist, hateful organizations, masquerading as christian groups. these are really hateful people that if you read the sermon on the mount, for instance, in the gospels, you find almost nothing of jesus' teachings of what these people do. betsy devos and her husband dic devos took up the mantle of radical privatization of education as their primary cause. they have stated --betsy devos has dated herself that her vision of public education or education in the u.s. is to bring the kingdom of god. i do not know if she has read the first amendment, but what she wants to do to the u.s.
constitution, but what she was to do is to funnel public finds into religious schools. is focusedr hassan in on is pretty incredible. i was a directly betsy devos light in her testimony to the senate because you try to say shoot had nothing to do with her very extreme right-wing mothers foundation. asked her, rightly are you an official in his foundation? betsy devos said no. i tweeted about it. 990'sed excerpts of the the foundation file. hassan returned to the hearing -- most of the hearing was dominated by lamar alexander trying to figure out a way to not let the democrats ask questions. once we post a part of the 990, maggie hassan came back and patty murray, the ranking member, gave her party for time. she says to betsy devos, wait, i
would to clarify something we just heard. you are not on the board. you are the vice president. she says, no, i wasn't. then says, it was a clerical error. there's probably a cleric somewhere in michigan -- amy: this is when maggie hassan pushed her on it and said, i have before my dear. -- i have the form right here. one taxwas not just filing. this was a decade worth of tax filings where betsy devos and erik prince are listed as vice presidents of their mothers foundation specifically during the time when they were pouring money into what the southern poverty law center says was an anti-lgbt to hate group. the the devos lied to senators. that is not the most scandalous thing about that the devos being named as education secretary. it should be an immediate disqualifier. amy: let's turn to senator bernie sanders questioning betsy devos. sanders: my question is,
and i don't mean to be rude, if you are not a multibillionaire, if your family had not made hundreds of millions of dollars of contributions to the republican party, you would be sitting here today? fact,ator, as a matter of i do think there would be that possibility. i have worked very hard on behalf of parents and children for the last almost 30 years to be a voice for appearance and a voice for students and to empower parents to make decisions on behalf of their children. primarily, low income children. amy: there you have betsy devos responding to bernie sanders. >> betsy devos was also asked in the hearing directly about the whole scam that was trump university. to refused to really commit the idea they shouldn't -- these kinds of private so-called career colleges like the fraud that donald trump engaged in, should receive federal funds. she really would not commit to
that. there could not be a less qualified individual to run the public education ministry of the united states government then betsy devos is the point is to support public education. and is toat the devos prion off public financing nce', to go tos religious schools , because theywa do not believe in ant separation of church and state. they believe in a christian supremacist the accuracy that should govern the united states and trump was not their first choice, but if you look at the kind of crowd these guys run in, the very right-wing evangelicals, they now have come to peace with the idea that trump is god's chosen vehicle to deliver these policies. they're very diligent believers. betsy devos can try to separate herself from what her mother does, such as giving $450,000 in
one month alone to try to defeat a ballot initiative over gay marriage -- to support a ballot initiative that would support gay marriage in california and she lives in michigan. she was the vice president at the height of these hate groups. the idea we are going to have some of who has supported gave conversion therapy bureau foundations was vice president of them even as she says to tammy baldwin, the first openly gay woman in the senate, oh, no, no, i view the intrinsic value of every life. she looked like she wanted to vomit having to speak to an openly gay senator because they hate hate people. let's be clear about it. the prince family and devos family, public records suggest they hate anyone who is not straight, white, and christian. amy: i would ask you about betsy devos's other, erik prince, the founder of blackwater. in july, he spoke to steve bannon who at the time was the head of breitbart news and is
now trump's senior advisor. prince said that trump would be -- should re-create the assassination ring phoenix program that operated during the vietnam war, to fight isis. but destroyvicious the viet cong as a military force. that is what needs to be done to the funders of islamic terror and that would be even the wealthy, radical, islamist billionaires funding of from the other east and any of the illicit activities they are in. amy: that was erik prince post of the significance of what he is saying? >> erik prince views himself as the rightful heir to the legacy of wild bill donovan, who was the head of the agency that was the precursor to the cia. in the daily after 9/11, erik prince became very, very close to a number of people within the
cia and also dick cheney and dick cheney's office. angel them up with the idea that erik prince could run a kind of hit squad that could roam the world, conducting assassinations with the united states. there would be no effective paper trail and no ability for congress to engage in the oversight. leon panetta, obama cia director early on in obama's term, said, oh, we shut down that program and no one was killed. i do not believe that for a moment. that was part of the legacy of the phoenix program that was a murderous death squad operation in vietnam, but also included enhanced interrogation. erik prince being around trump -- amy: talk about what you found out about election night and what his role is. , whose daughter rebecca ran one of the most important super pacs to trump make america number one super
track, and erik prince and his mother were two of the largest contributors to one of the most significant super pacs is supported donald trump, erik prince is free close to robert mercer. prince was also at the euros and balance party that mercer through in long island. there is a picture that the right wing billionaire who destroyed gawker, a picture of peter thiel, donald trump, and peter thielthat says is not safe for the internet. it is clear air prince, through betsy devos and robert mercer and through his very right-wing paramilitary crowd, has the ear of president elect donald trump. our understanding from a very well-placed source is that prince has even been advising trump on his selections for the stuffing of the defense department and the state department. amy: we will have a post-show discussion and post it on democracynow.org. that is jeremy scahill.
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