tv Democracy Now LINKTV March 25, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PDT
democracynow.org 03/25/14 03/25/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! invoking national defense to deny my freedom of information act request about nelson mandela. the fbi is arguing my research is a threat to national security. foia is one of the best and only tools we have to fight secrecy and foia is broken. >> suing the nsa. and a democracy now! exclusive, one of the nation's most
prolific transparency activists, ryan shapiro, reveals he is suing the nsa, fbi, and defense intelligence agency in an attempt to force the agencies to open the records detailing how the u.s. secretly helped apartheid south africa capture leadingandela in 1962, to his 27 years in prison. we will also speak with ryan shapiro about why the fbi considers his academic research on the animal rights movement a threat to national security. all of that and more coming up. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the obama administration is preparing to ask congress to reform the national security agency's own collection of phone records -- one of the most controversial nsa practices exposed by edward snowden. "the new york times," setting an
end officials, says the proposal would leave the bulk data in the hands of phone companies. to obtain specific records, the nsa would seek permission from a judge in the form of a new kind of court order. while the nsa currently retains bulk data for five years, phone companies would not have to keep it beyond 18 months. new satellite data indicates a plane carrying 239 people that vanished nearly two weeks ago crashed into the indian ocean, leaving no survivors. the malaysian prime minister made the announcement on tuesday. this is a remote location far from any possible landing sites. it is, therefore, with deep sadness and regret that i must inform you that according to mh370ew data, flight
ended in the southern indian ocean. >> espied an extensive search involving multiple countries, the plane's wreckage has yet to be recovered. the united states and its allies have expelled russia from the powerful group of eight industrialized nations in response to russia's annexation of crimea from ukraine. ukrainian troops are leaving crimea after it voted to join russia following the ouster of ukraine's pro-russian president viktor yanukovych. the group of seven say they will boycott a june summit in sochi, russia am instead holding their own talks in brussels. the group also threatened harsher sanctions if russia continues its incursions in ukraine. the action camusso the lawmakers in the united states advanced a bill to guarantee $1 billion in loans to ukraine's new pro-european government with an added $100 million in direct
aid. harry reid said the measure has brought -- broad bipartisan support. >> ukraine needs this money. and othersr durbin speaking together that this country needs our help. and without this money, the help we give will be a pat on the back, not very much help. so i'm very grateful to have the support of democrats and republicans. obstruction will stop. i'm hopeful and somewhat confident. >> right-wing nationalist leader has been shot dead in ukraine. the interior ministry said he died in a shootout with police. he was a leader of right sector,
a group that was active in the protest against president yanukovych. an election office has come under attack in the afghan capital of kabul. it is unclear how many may be dead amidst an assault on militants involving both explosions and the gunbattle with security forces. it is the latest attack in the lead up to presidential elections set for april 5. the death toll from the mudslide north east seattle, washington peopleen to 14 with 176 reported missing. several people were injured and about 30 homes destroyed. thanws from africa, more 100 congolese refugees have died after a boat carrying them home from uganda capsized on the calvert. uganda said it had recovered 107 bodies, including 57 children, as many as 250 people were on board. in egypt, throughout his or journalists have been denied bail after nearly three months in prison. peter greste, baher mohamed and mohamed fahmy stand accused of
belonging to or aiding a terrorist organization. they appeared in court inside a cage on monday when their case was adjourned for a week. mohamed fahmy condemned the proceedings. [indiscernible] >> mohamed fahmy says he has been denied proper medical care after his shoulder was broken during his arrest. egyptian prosecutors accuse al jazeera supporting the muslim brotherhood of ouster president mohamed morsi, it has been declared a terrorist group and subjected to a widening crack town. on monday, 529 brotherhood
supporters were sentenced to death. a new mass trial has open involving 683 people, including top of the leader mohammed badie. in spain, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest austerity policies imposed by the european union. marches toed dignity residents from across the country to madrid over the weekend to protest spain's 26% unemployed rate, and call for greater investment in health care, education, and housing. the protests were largely peaceful, but a government report said dozens were injured in clashes between protesters and police, who fired rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators. the united nations has released new data on the accelerating impact of climate change. the u.n. meteorology will agency reports 13 of the 14 warmest years on record have all occurred in a century. australia sought its -- so it's hottest year on record last year sought seconda
hottest. >> every decade has been warmer than the preceding one over the last 40 years. 2001-2010 was warmer than the 1990's, which in turn were warmer than the 1980's, which were warmer than the 1970's. the conclusion is actually very interesting and of concern. waveusion is that the heat is not possible to redo to -- reproduce it in the models if you don't take into account human influence. >> the secretary-general also noted greenhouse gases are at a record high, meaning the earth's atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. in related news, the world health organization estimates air pollution killed 7 million people in 2012. the agency said one in a deaths worldwide -- worldwide were tied
to pollution. the u.s. supreme court hears arguments today in two key cases about an employee's right to birth control under the affordable care act. the cases challenge the requirement that insurance plans provided by employers cover contraception. the law already contains exemptions for religious nonprofits, but now to for-profit companies, hobby lobby and conestoga would, say they should also be exempt due to religious beliefs. at stake is not only the issue of contraception, but the question of whether corporations and religious rights. the case against the contraceptive mandate has reportedly been bolstered by an alliance of dozens of anti-choice and free-market groups working closely with top state employees in ohio, michigan, alabama, and west virginia. according to records obtained by rh reality check from the group alliance defending freedom has played the role of air traffic
controller i drumming up legal briefs submitted to the court in support of the two companies. reproductive health advocates plan to hold a "not my boss's business" rally at the supreme court today. protests are planned in new mexico today after albuquerque police shot and killed a homeless man who appeared to be surrendering. james boyd was sleeping at a campsite in the sandia foothills last week when police arrived. video from a police helmet camera show officers deploying a flash grenade and then firing at boyd from yards away after he picks up his belongings and turns away. please fire beanbags and deploy a police dog as boyd lies on the ground, pleading with them not to hurt him and saying he can't move. police chief gorden eden said the shooting was justified after boyd threatened the officers with knives. but our perky mayor richard berry rejected the chiefs assessment.
i think he should not have said that. i think what we all need to do in a horrific situation like this is we need to thoroughly and conference of lee go through the process. >> the albuquerque police department already faces federal scrutiny after hearing out three dozen shootings since 2010. in new york city, corrections officer was arrested by fbi agents monday over the death of a rikers island for mentally ill prisoner whose please went -- for help went unheeded for hours. jason echevarria was a 25-year-old prisoner with bipolar disorder. in august 2012, he ate a packet of detergent and began vomiting and pleading for help. according to the complaint, captain pendergrass repeatedly ignored reports he was ill, at one point telling a subordinate he should be bothered unless there was a dead body. the next morning, jason echevarria was found dead in his cell. according to the medical
examiner, the linings of his tongue and throat were burned off by the soap chemicals. earlier this month, jason ralliedia's supporters to call for pendergrass's firing. the victim's father described his son's time in the prison solitary housing unit, or shu. >> when you put the person in the shu for two months, six months, you're breaking this person's mental capacity down to zero. he did something bad, fine, but treat them as a human being, not an animal. he has rights. he had civil rights. he has rights in this world. >> last week, news emerged that a former military homeless man basically baked to death in his cell at rikers. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we turn now to a democracy now! exclusive involving the national security agency and nelson
mandela. today one of the leading transparency activists in the united states has turned his attention to one of the country's greatest secrets. ryan shapiro has just filed a lawsuit this morning against the nsa, the fbi, and the defense intelligence agency in an attempt to force the agencies to release documents about the u.s.'s role in the 1962 capture and imprisonment of nelson mandela, the late south african president and anti-apartheid leader. the united states has never confirmed its involvement in the details have leaked out over the years. in 1990, the cox news service quoted a former u.s. official saying that within hours after mandela's arrest, a senior cia operative named paul eckel admitted the agency's involvement. he was reported as having told the official --
several news outlets have reported the actual source of the tip that led to the arrest of mandela was a cia official named donald rickard. mandela was held for 27 years after he was captured. ryan shapiro already has a pending suit against the cia over its role in mandela's capture and to find out why took until 2008 for mandela to be removed from the u.s. terrorist watch list. so far, no government agency has opened its secret records on mandela. the nsa has already rejected one of shapiro's request for information on mandela, citing "national security." over the past decade, ryan shapiro has become a leading freedom of information activist -- unearthing tens of thousands of once secret documents. his work focuses on how the government infiltrates and monitors political movements in particular, those for animal and environmental rights.
today he has around 700 freedom of information act request before the fbi, sticking around 350,000 documents. led theacity has justice department to call him the most prolific requester two per -- in one year, day. it has also led the fbi to dub his academic dissertation a threat to national security. ryan shapiro, welcome to democracy now! >> it is a real honor. >> let's start with nelson mandela. talk about why you have applied for this information. >> i am pursuing these records mostly because i'm interested in knowing why the u.s. intelligence community used mandela as a threat to american wasrity and what role the intelligence community played in thwarting him. i want the records for u.s. intelligence role in mandela's
1962 arrest and mandela's placement on the u.s. terrorist watch list until 2008, which was years after he won not only the peace prize, but the congressional gold medal. >> not to mention he was the president of south africa. , hell through that period was considered a terrorist by the united states. >> yes, he was. the want to turn to washington editor for harper's magazine. we interviewed him in december and i asked them to talk about what he had found out in the mid-1980's. at this point, nelson mandela had been imprisoned for over 20 years. reported he had been arrested thanks to a tip from the cia while disguised as a chauffeur. what i had heard at the time as he was on his way to meet an
undercover cia, an american diplomat who was a cia official. it made rather easy for them to alert the south africans where to find him. i thought it was particularly interesting to report when i did in 1986, because at that point, it was just when the sanctions were being introduced, being voted through by congress over president ronald reagan's veto. and i had noticed in the sanctions legislation, it said there should be no contact officially with the south african military, and so on and so forth, except when intelligence required they did have to have contact. so it was ongoing, this unholy relationship which had led to mandela being arrested and locked up for all those years. he continued on to the 1960's, the 1970's, through the 1980's.
it absolutely floors, with example, the nsa routinely handing over intercepts of the anc to the south african secret police. the military cooperated with the south african military intelligence, giving them information about what was going on, and in fact, the two countries, the cia and the south africans, collaborated on assisting and horrible civil war in angola it went on for years and years were thousands of people died. this wasn't just a flash in the led to the coordination on the arrest of mandela. it was absolutely a very deep, very thorough relationship that went on for decades. >> that was journalist andrew cockburn. i now want to read from the letter the nsa sent to ryan shapiro and in response to his request for records on nelson
mandela. the letter is dated december 31, 2013. it reads in part -- and it cites another statute. ryan shapiro, explain. is the next code espionage act of 1917. this is the same odious law under which chelsea manning was convicted, edward snowden is facing charges, and daniel ellsberg was prosecuted for leaking the pentagon papers. >> so how do you get around the
fact you have been denied? today, as we go to air, you filed a new foia with nsa. what changed in your request? >> today i filed a lawsuit against the nsa, fbi, and cia due to their failure to comply with the freedom of information act. they're in violation of federal law. i am suing them to hold them accountable to federal law. what changes they failed to comply with the law, so i am suing to hold them accountable. how do we get around it. that is a great question and a tough one. the nsa has a very difficult nut to crack as far as foia is concerned. not only does the nsa invoke national defense here as well as the espionage act, he also of 1959,e nsa act though the act was passed years before the freedom of
information act was passed, the nsa has succeeded in convincing the courts that the nsa act of 1959 exams the nsa entirely from the obligation to foia. so the only time the nsa complies with the freedom of information act is when it wants to, which is when the release of records would make the nsa look therefore, the ap report found the nsa failed to comply with the were denied foia requests 98% of the time master. >> how are they in violation of the law? willrney y foia be arguing in part that exemption does not apply here. in fact, the nsa is wrong arguing the nsa act exempts the agency entirely from foia. the nsa failed to conduct adequate search for records in response to my request and perhaps most basically, they're
not refusing to release records. they are saying that it would violate national security to even confirm or deny the existence of records will stop and whether or not the release my violate national security, my attorney and i intend to argue that simply confirming the existence or denying the existence of the records with silly be within the balance of the freedom of information act. >> i want to turn to president obama following nelson mandela's death last year. president obama referenced mandela's time in jail during his speech at the memorial. >> he would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of kennedy and khrushchev, and reached the final days of the cold war emerging from prison without the force of arms , like abraham lincoln, would pull his country together when it threatened to break apart. box while obama referenced the kennedy administration and his
memorial, he made no mention of the multiple reports that the cia -- under kennedy -- tipped off the apartheid south african regime in 1962 about mandela's whereabouts. now i want to fast-forward to 1990. nelson mandela had been released from jail. four months after his release, nelson mandela traveled to the united states. you spoke at yankee stadium where he was introduced by harry belafonte. >> never in the history of humankind has there ever been a voice that has more clearly caught the imagination of the spirit and fired up the hope of freedom than the voice of the deputy president of south africa nelson mandela. [cheers]
>> the principle of one person, objective. our throughout our lifetime, we have -- we will remain true to this until the end of our days. >> that was nelson mandela speaking at yankee stadium, four months after his release from prison in south africa. he came to the united states to thank those who have fought for his freedom. that clip is taken from the film "mandela in america." ryan shapiro, we're going to talk about other cases you're involved with in our next segment, but why is this so important to you? also, talk about the latest news we have a president obama seeking limits for the nsa. >> why is this so important to
me? why.t to know nelson mandela is held as cicero figure, yet the united states actively suppressed his movement. was very likely involved in putting him in prison for decades, and supported both covertly and openly the apartheid state until near its end. why? the answer has to do with this beleaguered understanding, myopic understanding of this crass military alliance in corporate profits over human rights and civil liberties. i'm interested in highlighting how we as a nation need to foster a broader understanding of national security. i think i tried to get records and white nelson mandela was on the dash and one nelson mandela was on the terrorist watch list
is a good opportunity to do that. >> and president obama changing rules? >> and they will not affect my lawsuit. obama's proposal offers some improvement, only about one surveillance program and limited portions thereof, but more problematically, obama's proposal offers a mechanism for transparency or serious oversight. remember, the only reason we know about this program to begin with is the snowden revelations and the director of national intelligence even lied to congress about it. and now obama is proposing a huge change and then asking us to trust the same people who have been spying on us and lying to us in the first place. and we're still left with a secret spy agency, operating secret surveillance programs, obtaining secret permission from secret courts. there's just no mechanism for transparency. as i was just saying, the nsa
believes it is entirely exempt from the freedom of information act. how can we trust an agency we are not allowed to know anything about? >> has the nsa ever been successfully sued? i'm unaware of any successful lawsuits against the nsa from any foia lawsuits against the nsa. very few have tried. >> ryan shapiro, we will continue with you after the break, talk about other issues you have been involved with, trying to get information from u.s. government. ryan shapiro has been called a ata superhero for his skill obtaining government records using the freedom of information act. we will see if he will be successful in his lawsuit against u.s. government, the nsa, the fbi, the dia, and getting documents around the imprisonment of nelson mandela. the nsa letter that i just read said though it wouldn't confirm the existence or nonexistence of the materials, that they are
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue with our interview with ryan shapiro, who the justice department calls the fbi's most prolific freedom of information act request or. if governments have always been notoriously secretive, new figures show shapiro is fighting an especially uphill battle under president obama. reports thatess last you the obama administration censored or government files than ever before. it also cited more legal exceptions to justify withholding materials. amidst intense public interest and surveillance programs, the government cited national
security reasons for withholding information a record 8496 times, more than double obama's first tier. the ap said it could not determine whether the denials amounted to an abuse of the exception, or whether the public at simply ask for more documents about sensitive subjects. a 138% surgeit saw in records requests from people asking whether it had collected their phone or a no records, which it generally refuses to confirm or deny, saying such requests pose an unacceptable risk because terrorists could check to see whether the u.s. had detected there activities. >> i am in total agreement with the ap report. the president of bush -- president obama has been worse including bringing more espionage act prosecution to whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. and the new ap report showing invoking national security more than ever.
>> i want to turn to leonard downie, junior, former editor of "the washington post washington post," who spoke to us about the excessive secrecy detailed in his report titled "the obama administration and the press," commission by the committee to protect journalists. >> too much is classified. the president has had repeatedly in the past too much information is classified. it is just millions and millions of documents and pieces of information that are classified that should not be. that preceded this administration, but it has not improved during this a administration the president promised to have the most transparency. he promised to make it easier to obtain government information through the freedom of information act all stop so far, none of these promises have been kept. part of the reason why agree to do this report is i would like to alert the president to the fact this is one of the first promises he made. he signed presidential records
about open government is first in office. this is not being carried out by his administration. he still has time to make good on these promises. >> that was leonard downie, the former executive editor at "the washington post." your response, ryan shapiro? >> we are expecting a crisis of secrecy. as it has been shown, the amount -- the universe of classified information out far exceeds the universe of nonclassified information. yes, president obama on day one promised to be a real advocate for foia, and it is just the opposite of what we have seen. >> how do you go about filing these foia requests? you're known as the foia superhero. filing it is easy.
you can mail it or e-mail it. the problem is sending a request that will produce documents. the fbi is highly allergic to the freedom of information act. it does everything within its power to avoid compliance with the freedom of information act. .t is easy to say request one will get a letter saying, no, we cannot find anything. the fbi gets away with this, because it is a violation, how the fbi gets away with it has been unclear. while the cia and the nsa have statutorily exempted themselves largely from the freedom of information act, the fbi has not been able to do that nearly a successfully. they've developed an unknown number, but dozens of strategies, for awarding compliance with the act. >> when they say we cannot detect any files, but you know there are files, what do you do? thehe letter doesn't -- denial letter doesn't say they don't have files, is as we were
unable to locate them. what it is really saying is we looked in one place are one type of record using one type of search and we could not find anything. what they're not telling you is in most cases, that is not the type in place and search methodology necessary to locate the response of letters. >> so how do you push further? >> over the past five or six years, i submitted hundreds of foia requests to the fbi. each request is designed to produce responsive records, but also designed to see how the fbi was going to respond. anduld compare the denials try to map out whether the fbi was doing strategies for failing to comply. read declarations submitted by the fbi in court about how their databases worked and other information retrieval systems work. i would submit foia requests about my foia requests and now the fbi is refusing to process those. i'm also suing the fbi for their
failure to process my foia requests. >> what our privacy waivers? . >> foia has nine exemptions, nine legitimate reasons that an agency may withhold a record or a portion thereof. -- one of those exemptions or several of the exemptions deal with privacy issues. it is totally reasonable. it seems reasonable i can't just request and at the a record without your consent. however, the fbi routinely abuses this privacy privilege or this privacy exemption to redact massive amounts of information that should not be redacted. so one of the things i have done in order to map out the major evolution of the fbi's understanding of the animal rights movement has been to collect privacy waivers. basically, letters from activists saying i'm allowed to request their fbi files from roughly 300 leading animal
rights activists from the 1970's until today. >> i want to talk about your work around animal rights activist and getting information. first, occupy houston. you have been working on getting information from the fbi around occupy houston. the particular issue focuses on what the fbi knew about an alleged assassination plot in 2011 against leaders of occupy houston, and wife tilde share this information. the plot was first revealed in a heavily redacted documents obtained by the partnership for civil justice through a foia request. it read -- when our guest ryan shapiro asked for more details, the fbi said it found 70 pages of
pertinent records and gave him five of them, with some of the information redacted. ryan shapiro sued, alleging the fbi had improperly invoked foia exemptions. last week, federal district judge rosemary collier seem to agree with you which you will be fbi had to explain why withheld records. she made reference in her ruling to david hardy, the head of the fbi's foia division, writing -- ryan shapiro, explain what the judge ruled and what talisman it means. >> first i should say this is a andly weird and crazy story i'm still trying to make sense of it and working at my attorney jeffrey like and journalist
jason leopold to that end. the judge's ruling is terrific on this point. basically, the fbi said we have found 17 pages, but we're only going to give you five of them because of national security. the fbi alleged and david hardy, the head of the foia division of the fbi, asserted in his declaration to the court the records were exempt from foia because they were part of the fbi's investigation, and national security oriented terrorism investigation of occupy houston protesters for potential terrorist activity, including the advocating of the overthrow of the government. david hardy provided no evidence to back up his claim. he just said the words. because so often, as sadly the cases, so often judges are deferential to the fbi and other intelligence and security agencies in the sorts of foia questions because the fbi tells the judges, we are not qualified
to decide whether or not this constitutes a threat to national security to release, so we're going to tell you. it does and you should defer to us. in this case, the judge made a wonderful ruling and said, no, you can just say the words. the words are not just talisman. you have to back them up. you can't just wave them around like magic and expect us were expected court to give you what you want. so now the judge has required the fbi to provide substantiation for their seemingly preposterous claims that occupy houston were terraced advocating the overthrow of government. -- were terraced advocating the overthrow of government. 9 to do itntil april openly or expert in camera declaration for secrecy mission to the judge or she can review the documents. >> what about this assassination attempt against occupy activists? >> as i said, i'm still china figure out exactly what is going on there, but what it wanted
know is, first of all, i requests are in part inspired because i want to know what the role of the fbi is in court manning the response to the occupy movement. why the fbi and sitter a the occupy movement a terrorist threat and i'm also wanting to know why the fbi did not inform the protesters of this tremendous threat against them. as the aclu recently said, the targets of this plot -- i think we can all safely assume the fbi would have picked up the phone. >> and call them. >> absolutely. know, why wasn't the fbi appearing to pay far more attention to peaceful protesters in their investigation into the actual terrorists who were plotting to kill the protesters? >> we are talking to ryan shapiro, who has been called the foia superhero for his skill in obtaining government records
using the freedom of information act. today we are revealing on democracy now! he is suing several federal agencies. the lawsuit that was just filed today, including the nsa, for the failure to provide with the foia including nelson mandela. ryan shapiro is a phd candidate at the massachusetts institute of technology, where he is received tens of thousands of fbi files on the animal rights movement, which is what we're going to take up next. his dissertation called "bodies ," the fbi is called a threat to national security. we will ask ryan shapiro why. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
, whouest is ryan shapiro is called the foia superhero, best known for requesting an fbi documents related to animal rights activism, which the agency has dubbed the nation's number one domestic terrorism threat. the documents have been used in a lawsuit filed by the center for constitutional rights that challenged the animal enterprise terrorism act, a 2006 law targeting activist whose protest actions lead to a loss of profits per industry. in fbi file shapiro obtained 2003 details how animal rights activists used undercover investigations to document repeated animal welfare violations. the agent who authored the report said the activists "illegally entered the linens" in order to document conditions in a slaughterhouse, and concludes there is "a reasonable indication" they violated the animal enterprise terrorism act. explainpiro, can you
who go inactivists undercover to document what is happening in slaughterhouses or in factory farms are equated with terrorist? >> i can try. in 2004, the fbi designated the animal rights and environment a movement the leading domestic terrorism threat in the country, despite neither of these movements had injured a single person in these country. --the passage of the interim this pernicious piece of legislation next lucy liu targeting animal rights and environment activists as terrorists, people have been prosecuted under the ata as terrorists under federal law facing felonies for writing anti-animal experimentation slogans on sidewalks in shock. document,rticular this is the fbi looking at an all rights activists who have
gone undercover on a factory farm in the fbi's response to the horrific conditions on this farm, and the actions and covering them, or to consider bringing felony terrorism charges against these activists. they were exposing animals confined in cages so small, they can stand up, turn around, in just horrific conditions which are the absolute norm on the factory farms. requestbout 600 foia crawling the fbi pertaining to the fbi's campaign against the animal rights movement. i have sued the fbi because they stopped complying with my request. the fbi's now arguing in court that those foia request themselves are threat to national security. keep in mind, they are not arguing releasing the documents are a threat, they're arguing having to decide now whether or not it will release the documents -- they won a seven-year delay so they can think about whether or not to
release the documents. otherwise, it will constitute a threat to national security. further, they argued that threat to national security is so severe they can't tell us why. the primary support for the radical in crazy argument they've submitted to the court in the form of an expert taking camera declaration to a secret letter from the counterterrorism division at the fbi to the judge even what a threat deciding whether or not to comply with my foia -- >> [indiscernible] >> we were able to get a very it.ily redacted copy of >> and what did you conclude from that copy? >> it is hard to tell, but there was one footnote to a redacted section. the footnote is all about the animal enterprise terrorism act. so it has something to do with why the fbi refuses to release these documents. i would encourage everyone to check out analyst will putter's website.
he does occur men this job -- he does a terminus job. >> i want to read from a 2005 fbi memo that you obtained when an agent in knoxville, tennessee writes -- he goes on to note -- ryan shapiro? >> absolutely. will potter wrote about that document when i obtained it. here we see explicitly: tell -esque, knowing the fbi can get away with it because animal rights activists won't do anything about it, primarily
being nonviolent. cynicaleeing the most strategies coming from the fbi and it very much has the feel of continued cointelpro activities. your ownu talk about animal rights activism that led you to be such a prolific foia requester? 2004, new york police filed felony burglary charges against you and sarah jane bluhm for entering hudson valley of state new york, reporting inhospitable conditions endured by the ducks living there, ultimately, you both rescued and removed ducks from the hutson the facility. what came of that? >> along with a handful of other conductedactivists, i a year-long undercover investigation offois gras
factory farms. somewhere in california. -- somewhere in california. the same is to be found across the country. some of these animals are being force fed. >> where is it? >> liberty, new york. the openly rescued a number of -- >> what does that mean, openly rescued? >> as an act of civil disobedience rather than clandestine activity, we made a movie about it. we made a documentary which you can find online. it is called "delicacy of despair." it not only show the conditions, the horrific conditions on the factory farms, but also as openly rescuing animals from these farms, rehabilitating them, and giving them 's. gras brought fois felony burglary charges for a stealing their animals. >> and what happened?
>> we ended up getting out of it to our great surprise with misdemeanor trespass charges. the important thing here is if we had done this even a year later, we would not have been fighting conventional state charges, even felony burglary charges -- which have a hefty sentence -- we would have been fighting federal terror charges. we would not be getting out with misdemeanor trespass and 40 hours of community service. we would be sitting in federal prison cells for doing far less animaled under the enterprise terrorism act. but talk about your dissertation and why it is been called a threat to national security. you go back to the 19th century and talk about animal rights activism and government spying then. >> so the only part of the dissertation the fbi is designating a threat to national security is the foia component. they're leaving the rest of it
alone. but as i said, the fbi's arguing even decide whether or not to comply with my foia request is a threat to national security, so dire they can't even tell us why. quick it is a brief history. i, wheng world war opponents of animal experimentation in the united states protested wartime animal experimentation, the self-described research community said the program will experimentation lobby alleged american animal protectionist or agents of the kaiser and there was an effort made to bring the new espionage act to bear against these animal protectionist proposing wartime animal extermination. and skipping ahead to the early cold war, the research committee alleged opposition to animal experimentation was a plot to undermine american security in order to pave the way for soviet
aggression and overthrow of the united states government. these arguments held a great deal of force. they were very convincing. >> talk about the significance of what upton sinclair did in his famous book "the jungle." 1906, i think it was. what exactly did he do in chicago? >> he brought attention to an issue that people flatly had not been paying attention to. in some way, it is analogous to under covering investigators today. to foia work, it is bringing suppress information the public light. as with much suppress information, again, more suppress information then there is un suppressed information. you can have a devastating impact on public opinion. >> and he went underground into the slaughterhouses in chicago and exposed what was going on there. he is hailed as one of the great investigators of writers, upton sinclair. >> absolutely.
forpublic is starved information. we are flooded with information, but so much of it is false or distracting or misleading. when real information about the horrific conditions that so many of us in this world and human, nonhuman, and were on a daily basis come to light, it can upset the public movement. >> so on the issue of terrorism and animal rights activism, what exactly is the government doing now and what exactly are the movements doing? there's a great trained in the united states for organic food, a whole push, even in the medical community, for vegetarianism. talk about how times have changed. has that changed the attitude of the government when it comes to calling animal-rights activists terrorists? >> a very important piece of this puzzle is the world of industry. industry is definitely critical in persuading the fbi to target
animal-rights act vests and environmental us as terrorists. industry is a critical factor in pushing back against the trend toward vegetarianism. even meatless mondays. they have been vociferous in its condemnation of meatless mondays, asking people just to reduce it one day a week, much less to go vegan. so we're seeing a lot of conflicting pieces in play at the moment. we have reports out from official medical bodies of a vegan diet is as healthy or healthier in cases than the standard american diet, get at the same time we have american politicians pushing back heavily against that. it isn't surprising the agricultural industry is a tremendously powerful lobby. >> what role do corporations
play in writing this kind of legislation like the animal enterprise act? >> huge. for example, alec -- >> the american legislative exchange council. >> has played a profound role in bills that ag-gag criminalize undercover investigations of factory farms or laboratories orfur farms. there's a relationship between the ag-gag laws and the anti-terrorism act because if you commit a crime, including violating an ag-gag bill on the state level, you can be prosecuted federally as a terrorist. >> what effect has that had on the movement, the specter being charged as terrorists? >> it is had an effect, no doubt. the animal-rights movement is a very different place than it was 10 years ago.
different groups have responded in a variety of ways, but no doubt there a chilling effect. others,why along with i'm one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the animal terrorism act. >> explain that. >> we argue it violates our first amendment rights. efficacy we once did we are kept from. suppressed our first amendment rights. the center for constitutional rights is pushing back. >> talk about when and animal-rights activist goes to jail, the difference when they are charged with this overlay of terrorism in terms of time that they have to serve. mentioned, i, as i openly rescued or stole animals from a factory farm and made a movie about it. it is a real crime. i did it as an act of civil
disobedience, but it is a real crime and i did 40 hours of community service and that was it. people have gone to prison for years for running a website opposing animal experimentation. withwant to and -- end your slogan, "see something, leak something." >> the records of government are the property of the people, but are consistently withheld from us on the basis of undefined national security. as the judge in his ruling against the nixon administration from infamous attempt to prevent "the new york times" publishing the leaked pentagon papers, the security of the nation is not at the ramparts alone. it also lies in the value of our free institutions. billing upon this ruling, we as a nation need to foster a broader conception of national security. in the interest of promoting such a conception, a conception or an the free exchange of ideas
and informed citizenry, i call upon all of those with access to unreleased records about illegal, immoral, or unconstitutional government actions to return those records to the rightful owners -- the american people. leaksee something, something." >> and how do you suggest people leak it? >> it is going to be different and all individual cases. hardhe information is not to find online. books i want to thank you very much, ryan shapiro, for being with us, called the foia superhero for his skill in obtaining government records using the freedom of information act, suing several agencies including the nsa, for the failures comply