tv Democracy Now LINKTV January 23, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PST
01/23/15 01/23/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica this is democracy now! >> there is no president, there is no vice president, there is no prime minister, there is no. what is your take on the situation realizing this is just happening? >> correct, just happen. we've seen the report. our team is seeking confirmation of all of the reports. we continue to support a peaceful transition. >> of people on the arabian
peninsula. a coup attempt while king of dollar of saudi arabia dies at the age of 90. he will get the latest. then to ferguson as the justice department is reportedly set to clear officer darren wilson in the shooting death of michael brown. and a major decision, the supreme court sides with whistleblowers in the case of a federal air marshal who exposed a plan to cut back on security on international flights. and we will hear why jill journalist barrett brown has been sentenced to five years in prison related to the hacking of the private intelligence firm stratfor i'm a witch exposed how the firm spied on activists on behalf of corporations. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman.
yemen is facing political collapse following the mass resignations of president abdu rabbu mansour hadi, his prime minister and entire cabinet. thursday's exodus came just hours after shia houthi rebels stormed the presidential compound in the capital city of sanaa. hadi said he could not continue in office after houthis allegedly broke a peace deal to retreat from key positions in return for increased political power. we'll have more on the crisis in yemen after headlines. king abdullah bin abdulaziz of saudi arabia has died at the age of 90. king abdullah was one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful men, controlling a fifth of the known global petroleum reserves. the king's half-brother crown prince salman, has now assumed the throne. we'll have more on king abdullah's death and saudi arabia's future later in the broadcast. in the united states -- the united states and cuba have wrapped the first round of historic talks in havana. the two sides met as part of the effort to restore full
diplomatic ties for the first time in more than half a century. the head of the u.s. delegation, assistant secretary of state roberta jacobson, said while -- is the highest-ranking u.s. diplomat to enter cuba in nearly 40 years. she said there was no timeline for the re-opening of a u.s. embassy in havana. she also pressed cuban counterparts on human rights. >> i can't take exactly when that will happen. we are all working through the issues as quickly as we can, and we will do that as soon as we can resolve all of the functional issues that we need to address. on the issue of human rights, the president has spoken to the issue and certainly, that issue remains central to our conversation. we have made clear he will continue to raise that issue and i did discuss that issue
today. >> cuban officials have denied human rights issues were addressed and to has previously criticized the u.s. record. the head of u.s. affairs at the cuban foreign ministry, said cuba needs several outstanding issues addressed, including the lifting of the embargo and cuba's removal from the list of countries sponsoring international terrorism. >> for our part in the process of these discussions it is a challenge to say we are managed to reestablish diplomatic relations between cuba and the u.s.. while our country and fairly remains on the u.s. list of state sponsors of terrorism. we also say in order for us to open embassies, it is first necessary to resolve the banking situation faced by the cuban interest section in washington which have gone almost a year without services. clocks president obama urged congress to lift the embargo during his state of the union address earlier this week. the white house has confirmed to president obama will not meet with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu when he
visits the u.s. in march. he will address a joint session of congress on iran at the invitation of republican house speaker john boehner. netanyahu has backed new sanctions on iran, despite president obama's vow to veto them as he pursues a nuclear deal with tehran. the white house says obama will not be with netanyahu in line with protocol not to meet with foreign leaders so close to election in their home countries. a journalist and activist accused of working with anonymous has been given a 5-year prison term and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines. barrett brown was sentenced on thursday after pleading guilty last year to charges of transmitting threats, accessory to a cyber attack, and obstruction of justice. supporters say brown has been unfairly targeted for investigating the highly secretive world of private intelligence and military contractors. we'll have more on his sentencing later in the broadcast. and federal prosecutors have
unveiled corruption charges against the recently speaker sheldon silver following his arrest thursday. silver is accused of using his law firm to rake in millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks. the u.s. attorney said silver amassed a huge fortune through the abuse of his office. >> the complaint charges speaker silver in five counts with corruptly seeking legal business from a handful of people and entities with significant business or interest before the state and then corruptly profiting from the legal fees that were paid. all told, we allege that silver corruptly collected some $4 million in bribes and kickbacks disguised as referral fees. politicians are supposed to be on the people's payroll, not on secret retainer to wealthy special interest they do favors for. >> a democrat, sheldon silver, has been new york is only speaker for over two decades. the judge has issued seizure
wants to block him from accessing nearly $4 million spread out over eight accounts. in brief comments inside the courthouse, silver maintained his innocence. >> i'm happy the issue is coming to be aired in the legal process , and i am confident that when all the issues are aired i will be vindicated. thank you. clocks york the family speaker sheldon silver is a latest in a series of new york lawmakers to face corruption allegations. his arrest has brought new scrutiny on governor andrew cuomo's decision to abruptly shut down the anticorruption moreland commission last year. and those are some of the headlines, this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin in yemen, which is teetering on the brink of collapse. on thursday, yemeni president abdu rabbu mansour hadi, his prime minister and entire government cabinet resigned en
masse. the exodus came just 24-hours after shia houthi rebels stormed the presidential compound in the capital city of sanaa. hadi said he could not continue ruling after houthis allegedly broke a peace deal to retreat from key positions in return for increased political power. the houthis appear to have backing from the ousted leader who was forced from office in a popular uprising in 2011. talks the obama administration had praised the yemeni government is being a model for successful counterterrorism partnerships, but on thursday, the u.s. announced it was pulling more staff out of its embassy in yemen. some warn the developments could result in civil war and help al qaeda in the arabian peninsula gain more power. meanwhile, oxfam's warning or than half of yemen's population needs eight and he manager in crisis of extreme proportions is at risk of unfolding in the country if instability
continues. 10 million yemenis to not have enough to eat, including 850,000 acutely malnourished children. for more we go to london where we are joined by iona craig based in yemen for four years as a yemen correspondent for the times of london. she was awarded the martha gellhorn prize for journalism in 2014. iona craig, welcome to democracy now! talk about what has taken place. >> i think what we have seen in the last few days is pretty unprecedented in terms of yemen. i think what is happening now with hadi henning and the resignation, the prime minister and the, is really probably the smartest thing they could of done. it were backed into the corner by the houthis. they obviously or had not taken them on militarily and a fight they were unlikely able to win. this is the only way for them to turn around the houthis and say no, this is enough.
now we have the prospect of an emergency meeting in the parliament on sunday when hadi's resignation will be put forward. they have the option to reject the resignation, which means hadi would still be president after that unless he then hands his resignation and again within three months. it may actually be hadi stays and manages to survive all of this. >> iona, given the constant turbulence within the country, what is the impact on some of the regional powers? obvious the, iran and the united states and saudi arabia. >> well, really, the reason why the international community has been promoting and supporting hadi is because for them, there wasn't another option. they have been backing this transition to from the beginning. it was created initially at the end of 2011 in order to step down. this deal -- it really
originated in sanaa from the american embassy. we know that because the politicians in yemen could tell it was translated from english. that transition deal is what the international committee has been backing. in that transition deal is really what is brought to this place today because it never truly addressed the underlying problems in yemen. it was all about reshuffling power in order to concentrate on the security issues within yemen without actually making the changes that yemenis have been demand thing. issues like the houthis were persecuted unders aleh, the issue of seven succession, they were never truly addressed throughout this period. it is come to the head with the houthis taking action to get what they want. the international committed is partly responsible for the situation yemen is in. we are still focused on security issues. >> i want to turn to comments
president obama made last year when he announced additional u.s. military support to fight the islamic state in iraq and syria. in response to a question, president obama invoked u.s. policy in yemen as a possible model for iraq and syria. this is part of what he said. >> you look at a country like yemen, very impoverished country, and one that has its own sectarian or ethnic divisions. there we do have a committed partner and president hadi and his government, and we have been able to help to develop their capacities without putting large numbers of u.s. troops on the ground. at the same time as we have got enough counterterrorism capabilities that we're able to go after folks that my try to heat our embassy or might be trying to export terrorism into europe or the united states. clocks that was president obama. your response, iona craig?
>> i think is really kind of goes back to what is mentioned. the international focus has always been about security in yemen. even when saleh was in power they backed him because they could work with him. and carry out the operations they wanted pleasing drone strikes in yemen, and the rest no plan b. there was no, what will we do if saleh is not there? with hadi, they knew he had been vice president under saleh, they built on the partnership. and now, there is there is no plan b. if hadi goes, this leaves them in a position -- and a really bad position of who they are now dealing with. as for the yemen model, clearly, that is something of a joke, really. the yemen model has all but collapsed. the fighting against al qaeda on the ground has been done now by the houthis, but has made the issue in the problem of al qaeda worse in yemen anyway, the
violence carried out by al qaeda has increased hugely since the houthis took sanaa in september. looking at the oxfam figures the underlying problem in yemen those figures have gone to 16 million people in need of humanitarian aid. the last figures that 14.7 million. as a population of 25. whilst international community focuses on the security issues you have an economy that is collapsing, rising humanitarian crisis, and political issues that haven't been dealt with. this kind of short-term thinking about the security situation in yemen is really never going to get to the bottom of the political problems come the economic problems, and humanitarian issues that feed into this in the end. >> you mention one of the underlying problems being an ongoing secessionist movement. most americans have short memories. they forget it wasn't long ago when there was a separate marxist state for the democratic
republic of yemen, and huge portion of what is now yemen. could you talk about that secessionist movement in the current form? >> yes, the sudden movement has been around for many years technically, since 2007. north and south yemen, we unified in 1990. then there was a brief civil war in 1994. this course of succession has been increasing rapidly over the last two years, honestly since 2011 but the international community has failed to really engage with the dust the particularly reached out to the u.k. because they had control of aden, the southern city for many years. they reached out to the international community and the international community has engaged with them, mainly because they feel if they engage with them, then it is recognizing the course of
succession and they don't want yemen to break up because they think will impact the security situation. in that void it is iran that has stepped in and has engaged with the southerners because nobody else will. they have increasingly been engaged -- engaging with them and supporting them. but we also have a situation now in the south of the last 24 hours since things have happened in sanaa, where they are now taking action. there is a big protest in the south today. they said they will refuse to take orders now from sanaa because of what is happening with the houthis and it appears the houthis are in charge. there's a lot of politicking going on in aden. you president hadi with his supporters in government on the street, you also have the houthi s supported by saleh trying to make gains in a man's wealth. it will come to a head in the south. it looks like that will happen sooner rather than later because of what is happening in sanaa. >> will saleh return as
president? >> i think that is very unlikely, but i think the chances of his son returning as president are possible. i think it is statistically possible. it may not happen in the next week, but when it comes the time of presidential elections in a goodness does when that will happen, but i think there is a possibility that saleh's son could rule yemen. for some yemenis, they would throw out their hands and say security, some form of stability, some form of governance is better than nothing. they are in a pretty dire situation right now with an economy collapsing and this humanitarian crisis going on at the same time. people most of the time just want stability so they can carry on with their lives. . >> iona craig, thanks for joining us. speaking to us from london. she spent four years in yemen. winner of the martha gellhorn
prize for journalism. we turn to saudi arabia. >> in saudi arabia, the funeral for the saudi king abdullah has begun. he died on thursday at the age of 90. his brother will now become king of the oil-rich monarchy. the white house announced vice president joe biden would travel to saudi arabia to offer condolences. king abdullah was one of the closest u.s. allies in the region. in a statement, president obama praised him saying he was "always candid and had the courage of his convictions." >> while president obama described the bill as a force of stability in the middle east, many analysts accused him of turning the uprising in syria and to a proxy war with iran. in 20 10, wikileaks published
u.s. diplomatic cables which identified saudi arabia as the world's largest source of funds for islamist militant groups. king abdullah also sent tanks to help squash pro-democracy uprisings in neighboring bahrain. saudi arabia recently came under scrutiny for badawi who was sentenced to years in prison and lashes for reasons of including insulting islam. for more on the future of king abdulla in the future of saudi arabia, we're joined via democracy now video stream by toby jones. he is an associate professor of history and director of middle eastern studies at rutgers university. he is also the author of "desert kingdom: how oil and water forged modern saudi arabia." he was previously the international crisis group's political analyst of the persian gulf. toby jones, welcome to democracy now! talk about the death of king abdulla. >> his death marks the
transition. it is getting a lot of attention. as you pointed out in the lead up his record is not quite as positive or rosie as a lot of people are reflecting upon this morning. he came to power formally in 2000 five, celebrated as a potential reformer, 70 would modernize and lead the kingdom forward. it turns out he has largely failed on every one of those measures. he is turn the clock back in terms of fighting sectarianism at home and supporting radicalism abroad or if you want to read this in a more benign way, he has at least not crackdown on domestic forces at home that have sought to incite things like sectarianism and burned bridges with iraq, solved the arab spring -- saw the arab spring is a chance to challenge authority. knowing full well with the possibility of blowback might be. supported in stability and that crushed pro-democracy forces in bahrain. he was well-liked in the west.
his record is one that is consistent with his predecessors. at odds with democracy, human rights, and all the things that we're supposed to value. >> at that last point, professor jones, what is the state of human rights and democracy in the saudi kingdom? >> it is as bad as it has ever been. we mentioned badawi being sentenced to long prison term and the subject of flogging publicly 1000 lashes. this might seem outlandish, but this is common practice in saudi arabia. it's prisons are full of political prisoners and have been for quite a long time. including islamist suspected terrorist as well as liberals and those who champion the cause of human rights. there has been a steady string of arrests and detentions the past two years. we pay attention now because of the terrible nature of what is involved in public beheadings in this mutable punishment of lashing people for speaking
their minds, but it is still going on in saudi arabia and has been for a long time. it is worth remembering and 2002 or 2003, abdullah, not formally the king, nevertheless, in a position became a darwin of reform lobby and what we might call the moderate political wing of saudi arabia's thomistic political society. he was seen as a reformer. he was embraced by broad cross-section of folks who believe saudi arabia following 9/11, following the decade of the 1990's in which there was a kind of brutal politics and crackdown on dissent that he was going to be the person who spearheadedp aeriod legal opening. he turned against a mystic allies. he saw opportunities to question push back against those who might challenge saudi's, he did so as crudely as any of his predecessors did. he was not a benevolent dictator. he was a dictator. >> can you talk about the man
who will succeed him, king salman? there are some information or is a rumors, that he has dementia? >> look, a lot of people claim to have insight into the internal politics of the royal family. i would caution against saying we know too much. salman is not a young man. he is at least 79, if not older than that. he's been around for quite a long time. who knows how long his reign will be. if he is suffering from health issues -- the royal family is not going to let us know too much about that. there has been speculation he is suffering from dementia. it is likely his reign will be a short one and there are powers behind the throne that will make sure the interests of the royal family will be protected. much like abdullah and his predecessor, the family protects itself. there is an arrangement likely in place at which the king is the first amongst equals, nobody can act to radically to out of step with the interests of the
family more broadly. salman's reighn will probably be a figurehead likely wield some kind of influence as will those were closest to him, as will his successor. like current crown prince, is probably about a decade younger the reality is, and i think one of the things we get caught up in, the politics of succession and will be a changing of the guard to leads to some fundamental transformation. the odds are very low that is going to happen. the royal family's interest is attacked themselves first. their privilege second, making sure their limited challenges to their authority. they're very good at this. and they have been for over half a century. >> and the role of the saudi family or society elite and the continuing of the financing of jihadists around the world? >> let me tell you saudi arabia is -- there's a lot of talk about whabism, the official
orthodoxy of the islamic -- saudi state and groups like al qaeda and isis and others. i think those ideological connections matter. there certainly operators on the ground. their support within saudi mosques for precisely these kind of networks. the saudis are in a much more difficult position. they view, i think we have to be careful. i think they view the political ritual landscape through the lens of good old-fashioned geopolitics. they see iran as arrival and al-assad as upon a night game. they understand the have a limited playbook. natural alliances which they can forge mutual interests and cooperation. the islamists happen to be among those. i don't think the royal family businesses leave this is necessarily -- the royal family
reaches out because they have to. they're dealt a certain hand. they play the game and the way they best can. this is a dangerous proposition. that we in afghanistan in the 1980's, it was that we in iraq after 2003 where the saudi's formed alliances, or allow those on the margins of the government to fund and support networks. they're also summoned tenuously dangerous to the regime itself. that is why they're building a big fence on their border with iraq. on the one hand, they would like to see isis to damage in. syria but they don't want to see it come home. over the long-term, this is an unsustainable proposition. the saudi's are eventually going to have to deal, have to reckon with the blowback from syria in iraq. they would like to postpone it as long as possible, but it is likely inevitable. >> and the relationship between saudi arabia and the united states? >> this is a long-standing and complicated one, often framed as obama mention or others will likely say today, frame through the lens of security and
stability. that's really matters from the perspective of saudi and american policiy makers. it is not as if the saudi's have power to defend their interests militarily. their largely dependent on the u.s. for security assurances. the u.s. is happily protected its military power into the persian gulf since at least the early 1970's, if not earlier than that. i think what this comes down to its the salaries of the world's most will producer -- the saudi's other worlds most oil producer. they've been in the political orbit since at least the late 1930's. oil functions and important ways. it is important the global economy and our own domestic political economic health. we see saudi arabia as an important player in that respect. oil wealth does a lot of other things. it gives -- it becomes entangled with saudi arabia.
our relationship is not just about providing security for oil. it is about maintaining a certain kind of strategic and economic relationship the profits both sides. >> toby jones, thank you for being with us, associate professor of history and director of middle eastern studies at rutgers university. he is the author of, "desert kingdom: how oil and water forged modern saudi arabia." when we come back, we will talk ferguson. what about the justice department not bringing civil rights charges against the police officer who killed mike brown? can we will talk about a supreme court decision you might not have learned about this week, a major decision on behalf of whistleblowers. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> we turn now to news that the justice department does not plan to bring civil rights charges against police officer darren wilson for shooting unarmed african-american teenager michael brown in ferguson, missouri. on wednesday, "the new york times" reported attorney general eric holder will have the final say, but will almost certainly side with investigators who are recommending no charges. a wider justice department probe into ferguson police over reports of racial profiling in traffic stops and use of excessive force remains underway. meanwhile, a judge has rejected an naacp legal defense fund request for a new grand jury to consider criminal charges against wilson. the group raised concerns over the actions of prosecutor bob mcculloch, including his decision to let a witness provide false testimony. >> all this comes as president obama made a single mention of ferguson in his state of the union address tuesday, prompting activists to release their own video on the state of the black
union. this is a clip. >> recognize that even a black president [indiscernible] we must continue to make america uncomfortable in hopes that together we can reimagine what is possible and build a system that is designed [indiscernible] >> for more on the news that the federal government does not plan to file civil rights charges against police officer darren wilson for shooting michael brown in ferguson, missouri, we are joined by vincent warren the executive director of the center for constitutional rights. welcome back to democracy now! were you surprised? >> not terribly surprised. it is disappointing because i think a range of people want a measure of accountability. when you look at the federal civil rights laws, it is a much higher and harder burn for them to prove these types of charges. they're going to have to essentially show during wilson intended to violate mike brown's civil rights. there are ways they can do that i looking at the totality of the
evidence, and what he said, but i think their view is, the evidence just is probably not enough to support that higher burden of proving intent to do something based on race to violate his civil rights and that way. >> what about the ongoing investigation of ferguson by the justice department? >> the department of justice has two options, one is the criminal route, which looks like is not going to happen with respect to during wilson. but they have civil lawsuits against the ferguson police department for pattern and practice of activities that violate civil rights as an option. excessive force and things like that. that is clearly that something they intended to forward. beyond that, the brown family has the ability to follow civil lawsuit, which is not outstanding for the justice that people want, but it certainly is a remedy that could send a strong financial message. >> on the issue of intent. i mean even if he did in that morning when he got up say, i want to violate his rights, or
even five minutes before, once he did that, why is that not sufficient? >> there is a range and things of life that happens under difficult to prove after the fact. the proof doesn't require him to say the "n" as he pulls the trigger. you can look at the facts and circumstances. whether mike brown's hands were up or not matters, whether mike brown was running away or toward would matter. those are the totality of the circumstances they can begin to look at. however, i think their take is based on the information they had some eight is going to be very hard for them to issue an indictment in the federal court that would sustain this type of charge unfortunately. >> and what has been the impact nationwide the following ferguson, in terms of attempts by local communities to reform the police abuse situation in their own communities?
for instance, this week, governor cuomo announced new measures during his state of the state address wednesday announced his reforms secondly to the point of special prosecutors in cases where police kill unarmed suspects in a grand jury fails to indict the officer. >> i will appoint an independent monitor who will review police cases where a civilian dies and no true bill is issued, an independent monitor can recommend a special prosecutor be appointed. the independent monitor should have access to the grand jury information, which will be protected, but this way, the independent monitor can actually make an intelligent recommendation because they will have all the evidence and they will have all the facts. >> that was governor cuomo at his state of the state. your analysis of his proposals and what is going on in other parts of the country as well as? >> the ferguson situation has
everything to do with what is going on throughout the country. with respect to that proposal, i was asked a part of a meeting with attorney general of new york who proposed a similar measure in which his office would be appointed to be able to look at these things more independently than local prosecutors to work with police officers. this i think is a step in the right direction. it points to the larger issue that we're talking systemic failure. what is happening and grand jury's around the country, even in terms of the federal prosecution, the system is not keeping up with the current nature of the civil-rights violations that are happening with police departments. we need protesters out there to push a political agenda to make sure that black lives matter and we need smart reforms like this one that shift the dynamic so the system is not trying to reform itself. >> vince warren, thank you for being with us executive director , of the center for constitutional rights. >> a journalist accused of working with anonymous has been sentenced to 5 years in prison
and ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in restitution and fines. barrett brown held in custody , since september 2012, pleaded guilty to charges of transmitting threats, accessory to a cyber attack, and obstruction of justice for interfering with the execution of a search warrant. after his sentencing on thursday, brown released a satirical statement that read in part -- "good news! the u.s. government decided today that because i did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex they're now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex." >> before brown's path crossed with the fbi, he frequently contributed to vanity fair, the huffington post, the guardian and other news outlets. in 2009, brown created project pm which was -- "dedicated to investigating private government contractors working in the secretive fields of cybersecurity, intelligence and surveillance." he was particularly interested in the documents leaked by wikileaks and anonymous.
in the documentary, "we are legion," barrett brown explains the importance of information obtained by hackers. >> some of the most important things that have had the most far-reaching influence and but the most important in terms of what has been discovered by an ominous -- anonymous is the result of hacking. that information cannot be obtained or won't be obtained by congressional committee or federal oversight committee. for the most part, that information has to be taken by hackers. >> in 2011, the group anonymous hacked into the computer system of the private security firm hb gary federal and disclosed thousands of internal emails. barrett brown has not been accused of being involved in the hack, but he did read and analyze the documents, eventually crowd-sourcing the effort through projectpm. one of the first things he discovered was a plan to tarnish the reputations of wikileaks and sympathetic journalist glenn greenwald of the guardian. brown similarly analyzed and
wrote about the millions of internal company emails from stratfor global intelligence that were leaked on christmas eve, 2011. shortly thereafter, the fbi acquired a warrant for brown's laptop and authority to seize any information from his communications, or in journalism parlance, his sources. in september 2012, a troupe of armed agents barged into brown's apartment in dallas, texas, and handcuffed him face down on the floor. he has been in prison ever since. >> for more the sentencing of their brown, we go to dallas, texas, to speak with kevin gallagher. he attended brown's sentencing hearing on thursday. he is a writer activist, systems administrator currently working for freedom of the press foundation. he recently wrote a piece for the "new york observer" called "don't believe what the government says about barrett brown." welcome to democracy now! talk about who barrett brown is, the sentencing yesterday, and what it means for freedom of the
press. talk about just what he did. >> certainly. thank you for having me on, amy. as you provided in very good brackett around, barrett brown is an activist who became known through anonymous. he went on the radar of the ei through his investigations of the private intelligence contractor industry. his case has gone on for over two years now and his sentencing was delayed several times. finally, yesterday the second half of the sentencing hearing the judge imposed a sentence. it was quite extraordinary because the judge essentially agreed with the government on most of the sentencing enhancements, which they have proposed, overruling the defenses objections. he did not seem to understand what the public impact of this case would be. he dismissed out of hand the mid-getting factors of grants mental state when he made the videos. he was more concerned about the chilling effects on fbi agents
in conducting their investigations than any chilling effects on journalists. i think anyone does any journalist in the u.s. should be concerned about the president this sets for people who share information, people who report on hacking, or those who use hackers as sources or do computer security research things of that nature. even just anyone who shares a link without knowing exactly what is in it, they set an unreasonable expectation you should know for sure the link you're sharing does not contain stolen credit cards or things of that nature before doing so. >> and what is the importance of the information that he provided about stratfor? who is stratfor intelligence and its role? >> stratfor is a private intelligence firm, much like a private version of the cia.
they do global analysis and generate reports which people subscribe to and receive these reports. as a result of the e-mails that you wikileaks, several things came out. they were conducting surveillance of occupy wall street, going after activists in bhopal, india, even peta and coca-cola. brown did most of his work on the hb gary e-mails and looking at things like persona management and the scandal you mentioned, more than here to chancellor to look at stratfor. >> i want to go to that issue. by analyzing the information from the hbgary hack, barrett brown discovered the security firm's plan to undermine journalist glenn greenwald's defense of wikileaks. one slide read, "without the support of people like glenn wikileaks would fold." hbgary intended to spread disinformation to discredit both glenn greenwald and wikileaks. in the documentary "we are legion," the director spoke to former hbgary ceo aaron barr about these plans.
>> it seems like you are trying to attack the journalist. >> i don't want to talk too much more about glenn greenwald other than what i previously said. there was never an intent to attack journalists. not on my part. i guess i should say -- i should generalize that and to say i would never just outright attack in a journalist unless i felt there was a journalist in my mind that was acting unethically, that -- that is fair game for having a public discussion about. >> that his former hbgary ceo aaron barr.
kevin gallagher, the significance of what barrett brown in relation to hbgary. and as we wrap up, with the sentencing says to people in this country? >> it says they should be very concerned about the state of press freedom in this country. the u.s. has dropped in the ranking of press freedom as told by reporters without borders. in fact, due to this case specifically. as far as hbgary, one of the biggest things brown found and there was a program called -- this mobile phone application proposal to target the arab world. to me, this is on par within report your scene from the snowden documents. this was discovered two years before snowden even came forward. >> and that sentencing, he will spend how long in jail? >> he is been sentenced to 63 months, which is the maximum under the guidelines which the judge calculated according to the
offense levels. if you could be out within one or two years if he completes an imprisoned drug rehab program. the bottom line is, this is not going to deter him from doing his work, which is writing, making people after his hilarious column, and investigating government wrongdoing. >> kevin gallagher, thank for joining us, writer, activist and systems administrator currently working for freedom of the press foundation. also the director of free barrett brown, a support network, advocacy organization and legal defense fund. kevin gallagher attended brown's sentencing hearing on thursday. when we come back, a major decision from the supreme court this week on whistleblowers. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
>> this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> we turn now to a major supreme court decision upholding the right of federal employees to become whistleblowers. the case centered on a transportation security administration federal air marshal named robert maclean. in july 2003, maclean revealed to a reporter from msnbc that the department of homeland security had decided to stop assigning air marshals to certain long-distance flights in order to save money despite warnings of a potential plot to hijack u.s. airplanes. msnbc's report on the story sparked outcry and the policy was quickly reversed. maclean was fired three years later after admitting to being the source of the article. he sued beginning a multi-year legal battle. >> earlier this week, the supreme court in a 7-2 decision
, ruled on robert maclean's behalf. at issue was whether maclean's actions could be protected by the u.s. whistleblower protection act, a law that protects employees if a disclosure exposes unlawful conduct, gross mismanagement or threats to public safety. robert maclean joins us now from orange, california. we are also joined by attorney neal katyal who argued maclean's before the supreme court. katyal is the former acting solicitor general of the united states. let's first go to robert maclean . go back to 2003. tell us why you decided to do what you did. you were in their marshal. >> initially, i thought it was a mistake because two days before, we had been given an unprecedented emergency briefing that we were going to be attacked by al qaeda hijackers smuggling weapons onto aircraft
and targeting overseas flights. so we have never had such a briefing. so two days later we get this text message to immediately cancel all of our hotel reservations, it made no sense. >> that meant you would no longer be flying overseas, or marshals. >> pretty much, it would have affected any flight that was about 3.5 hours long. >> what did you do? >> first, i called my office to find out what was with this text message we all got. everybody got it across the country. and the supervisor told me that the agency had no more money and they were going to cancel these missions and definitely.
subsequent investigations by the inspector general in the u.s. government account ability office -- accountability office concluded would last for the fiscal year. it would've been two months until more funding can to the agency. >> what did you do subsequent to that to go through the normal procedures that you would have to appeal a decision like this? >> i called the hotline for the inspector general's office and they asked me where i was located. so they directed me to an office in san diego california, where they told me they were simply an audit office and they did not handle the type of disclosure that i was giving them. so they gave me a number for the oakland office, where i spoke to a criminal investigator who had been, according to what he told me, he was detailed from the federal emergency management
agency fema, and i explained to him what was happening. he actually sympathized, but he said there is really nothing that could be done, these things happen, agencies run out of money, so there is nothing that he could do. he gave me sort of a lecture, don't press this, you have a long career ahead of you. we discussed our ages. he said, just walk away. >> but you didn't. tell us what you did. >> after that, there were two journalists there were doing really good and very responsible -- i flew myself so i did not want to put myself in danger in the public that i was serving in danger, so i was careful to find these two journalists.
one was unavailable and the other i got through. he explained to me that he was in touch with senior members in congress who ended up being hillary clinton, john kerry barbara boxer, and how rogers. he said he was in touch with them and he also verified air marshals from all across the country got the same message and the story broke out a few hours later. >> what was the reaction within the agency once the story broke? >> immediately, the agency denied it. they said, that's not what were doing. eventually, at the end of the day, the issued a press statement that they had made a mistake. >> you would later be fired for
when it was revealed that you are the source of this information? >> that's correct. >> on what grounds? >> i was charged with one charge of unauthorized sensitive security information. >> this is after senators held news conference and investigation was done, the policy was honest immediately reversed. >> yes. the plan was to go in effect five days later, so it never went into effect. >> but you are fired three years later when they found out who did this. >> that's correct. >> i would like to ask neal katyal the importance of this case and the repercussions that resulted from the whistleblowing here? >> it is an incredibly important case. let me start with who it is important to. it is important to robert and his family, obviously. whistleblowing is a really hard
thing to do. robert, for a decade, has been living with the consequences of it. the chief justice's opinion for the supreme court to a seven-to sweeping decision and robert's favor, finally gives him a measure of relief from what has been a really unfortunate ordeal. that is just on a personal level. on the long-term systemic level, this is a really important decision because congress enacted the was a blowing act in 1978 for precisely this kind of thing. they knew that government agencies engage in wasteful spending or sometimes far, far worse. it is up to people who are employees like robert to do the right thing and come forward and to say, hey, you can't do this, this is wrong. and what the administration and the tsa argued in this case was no, we can write our own
regulations to punish people like robert despite what congress says. and what the u.s. supreme court said in an opinion that transcended all kind of political lines or anything like that, seven justices signing onto it, they said no, the whole point of the whistleblower act is to prevent agencies from doing this kind of stuff, these shenanigans like they did to robert. look, i don't mean to malign the tsa here in general. but i think congress in 1978 when they wrote the rules understood, yeah there are responsible people, but sometimes there are people who aren't. that is why we need the act. this is the u.s. supreme court in a pretty dramatic fashion coming forward to say hey agencies, you're wrong on this stuff. it is really commerce to set the ground rules here, and they protect people like robert. >> neal katyal, the u.s. court
of appeals for the federal circuit ruled and in robert's favor, but the obama administration appealed saying they had made a serious legal mistake that would embolden further disclosures by federal employees and could put lives at stake. can you respond? >> obviously, the u.s. supreme court rejected the obama administration's argument. i should say, i don't hold any blame for the obama administration and bringing the case to the supreme court. it was an important case to bring. the solicitor general, i think, made an understandable decision to bring the case to the supreme court. it is one that i disagree with personally but reasonable people can have different views of that. that at the end of the day, it is the u.s. supreme court and its decision two days ago that controls this, not with the obama administration said when asking the court to hear the
case. and what the u.s. supreme court said is, hey agencies cannot be trusted with this measure of responsibility to allow them to kind of do an end run around the whistleblower act. the chief justice's opinion said, it is basically like a fox guarding the hen house. and it can't possibly be -- it is interesting because in this day and age, i think so many people out there in the country think, oh, it is the robber supreme court, it is political in one way or another, all of these decisions were fine before. this is a good illustration of how the supreme court doesn't always act politically one way or another. it come together in a bipartisan fashion. it is a good reminder -- last her, the chief justice did something, kind of surprising, they agreed and roughly two thirds of the cases unanimously. you have to go back to 1940 to find that level of agreement.
robert's case wasn't totally unanimous, it was 7-2, but seven justices were ruling against the government and a national security case. that is a pretty rare thing to happen. >> i'm wondering in terms of the impact of this case whistleblowers, not just in the federal government, is that potentially this case could potentially be cited because at local state government levels there are government employees who see major problems arising within their agencies, sometimes affecting public safety -- will this embolden them at the local level as well? >> i think different states have different whistleblower acts. they work in different ways. the chief justice's opinion was careful to really talk about the federal whistleblower act and federal employees. strictly speaking as a legal matter, i don't think it changes the game with respect to states. i think what robert did here is
inspiring to all americans. i don't think whistleblowing is something that should be done lightly. it should only be reserved for circumstance like this. but in a circumstance like this, in which the public lives are in danger and the agency is doing the wrong thing, i think this u.s. supreme court said someone like robert has got to come forward. that is what the system depends on. >> we just have 10 seconds. implications for edward snowden? >> there are no implications. i think that is a very, very different case. >> robert, what does this mean for you? you were fired years ago. do you get reinstated? >> well, i believe not only the mayor systems protection board in its last decision agreed that i had a reasonable belief of wrongdoing a current, but also the tsa. when i made --