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386px-Glenn_Greenwald_2014-01-20_001LUMPENPROLETARIAT—As we continue to consider the pros and cons of the various presidential candidates, and their respective political parties, we turn to one of our favourite political and legal analysts.  Dr. Glenn Greenwald (b. 6 MAR 1967) is an American lawyer, journalist, speaker and author. [1]

Dr. Greenwald is best known for his role in a series of reports in the Guardian newspaper on the classified information made public by whistleblower Edward Snowden, a series which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.  In February 2014, Dr. Greenwald became, along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, one of the founding editors of The Intercept.

In today’s free speech radio (and TV) broadcast of Democracy Now!, Dr. Glenn Greenwald provided us with much food for thought regarding Hillary Clinton’s ambitions for the USA’s presidency, given the fact that she has “embraced some of the most brutal dictators in the world.”  Also, Dr. Greenwald explained how Clinton, Trump, and Ted Cruz have “played into the hands of ISIL” after the recent bombins in Brussels.  Based in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Dr. Greenwald also reported on right-wing attempts to impeach the left-leaning president Dilma Rousseff (Workers’ Party) on apparently trumped up charges.  Listen (or download) here, or watch here.



[Transcript draft of broadcast introduction by Messina for Lumpenproletariat]

DEMOCRACY NOW!—[24 MAR 2016]  “From Pacifica, this is Democracy Now!.

MALE SPEAKER:  “The current attempt against Dilma is a coup.  There’s no other word for it.  It’s a coup.  This country cannot accept a coup against Dilma.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Brazil is facing its worst political crisis in decades, as right wing politicians attempt to impeach president Dilma Rousseff and send former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva [of Brazil’s Workers’ Party] to prison on corruption charges.

“But is this really a coup in the making?  Pulitzer Prize-winning Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro joins us for the hour to discuss Brazil, Brussels, and how the attack there is impacting the U.S. presidential race.”

HILLARY CLINTON[on the campaign trail] “We can’t throw out everything we know about what works and what doesn’t and start torturing people.  What Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and others are suggesting is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.  It will not keep us safe.”

AMY GOODMAN:  “Today, Glenn Greenwald for the hour, on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Brazil, Brussels, and the FBIApple Fight for Encryption.  All that, and more, coming up.

“Welcome to Democracy Now!, DemocracyNow.org, The War and Peace Report.  I’m Amy Goodman.” (c. 1:40)

[Democracy Now! News Headlines omitted by scribe]

[First segment]:  Glenn Greenwald: Is It A Coup? What Is Happening In Brazil Is Much Worse than Donald Trump]

Brazil is facing its worst political crisis in over two decades as opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attempt to impeach her on corruption charges. But Rousseff is refusing calls to resign, saying the impeachment proceedings against her amount to undemocratic attempts by the right-wing opposition to oust her from power. On Wednesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff an attempted “coup d’état.” We speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. His piece, “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy,” recently was published by The Intercept.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form. [accessed c. 12:00 PDT 25 MAR 2016]

NERMEEN SHAIKH: We begin in Brazil, which is facing its worst political crisis in over two decades as opponents of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff attempt to impeach her on corruption charges. But Rouseff is refusing calls to resign, saying the impeachment proceedings against her amount to undemocratic attempts by the right-wing opposition to oust her from power. On Wednesday, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called the impeachment proceedings against Rousseff an attempted coup d’état. Lula, who was indicted last month on corruption charges, spoke Tuesday at a trade union event in São Paulo.

LUIZ INÁCIO LULA DA SILVA: [translated] The current attempt against Dilma is a coup. There’s no other word for it. It is a coup. And this country cannot accept a coup against Dilma. If there was one last thing I could do in my life, it would be to help Dilma turn this country around, with the decency that the Brazilian public deserves.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, a judge suspended President Rousseff’s appointment of Lula da Silva to a Cabinet post. Rousseff says Lula will help strengthen her government, but critics see his appointment as a bid to protect him from what Lula says are politically motivated charges of money laundering. The judge who blocked Lula’s appointment had recently posted photos of himself on social media marching in an anti-government protest. Lula and President Rousseff are both members of the left-leaning Workers’ Party. On Tuesday, Brazil’s president, Rousseff, said she would not resign under any circumstances.

PRESIDENT DILMA ROUSSEFF: [translated] Those who call me to resign show the fragility of their conviction of the process of impeachment, because, above all, they are trying to instate a coup d’état against our democracy. I can assure you that I will not cooperate with this. I will not resign for any reason whatsoever. … I have not committed any crime under the constitution and law to justify an interruption to my mandate. To condemn someone for a crime that they did not commit is the greatest violence that can be committed against any person. It is a brutal injustice. It is illegal. I was victim to this injustice once, under the dictatorship, and I fought to never be a victim again, under democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: In recent weeks, mass protests have occurred in Brazil calling for President Rousseff to resign.

PROTESTER: [translated] The people are tired. The people don’t want this president, this Workers’ Party, this gang in power, anymore, this gang which only steals and conceals its illicit actions. The people are tired. Lula deserves to be in jail. That’s what he deserves.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined by Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist based in Brazil. He’s been covering Brazil closely for The Intercept. His recent piece is headlined “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy.” In it, Glenn Greenwald writes, quote, “this is a campaign to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by monied factions that have long hated the results of democratic elections, deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner: quite similar to the 1964 coup.”

In a moment, we’re going to be talking with Glenn Greenwald about the attacks in Brussels, as well as the presidential elections here in the United States and the battle between Apple and the U.S. government over encryption. But right now we’re starting with Brazil.

Glenn, there is very little attention in the United States in the mainstream media about what’s taking place in Brazil. President Obama is right next door in Argentina, but can you talk about what is happening in the country you live in, in Brazil?

GLENN GREENWALD: Definitely. It is a little odd that such extreme levels of political instability have received relatively little attention, given that Brazil is the fifth most populous country in the world, it’s the eighth largest economy, and whatever happens there will have reverberations for all sorts of markets and countries, including the United States. The situation in Brazil is actually fairly complicated, much more so than the small amount of media attention devoted to it in the U.S. has suggested. The media attention in the U.S. has suggested that it’s the people, by the millions, rising up against a corrupt government, and sort of depicting it as the heroic population against a corrupt left-wing, virtually tyrannical regime. And in a lot of ways, that’s an oversimplification; in a lot of ways, it’s simply inaccurate. So let me just make a couple of key points.

First of all, it is the case that the Brazilian political class and its—the highest levels of its economic class are rife with very radical corruption. That has been true for a really long time. And what has happened is that Brazil’s judicial institutions and police agencies have matured. Remember, Brazil is a very young democracy. It only exited military dictatorship in 1985. And so you finally have the maturation of these institutions applying the rule of law. And so, for the first time, political and economic elites are being held accountable for very serious political and economic corruption. The corruption is pervasive in essentially every influential political faction in Brazil, including all of its political parties. That includes the Workers’ Party, the left-wing party of Lula and Dilma, the current president, but also, even to a greater extent, the opposition parties on the center and the right that are trying to replace it. So corruption is very real. There is a very—there’s been a—what has been, until recently, an impressive judicial investigation that has resulted in the arrest and prosecution of some of the country’s richest and most powerful figures—something that you would never see in the United States—billionaires being hauled off to jail for bribery and money laundering and tax evasion and corruption, and sentenced to many years in prison. And virtually every political opponent of President Rousseff is implicated by this corruption, and many of the people in her party are, as well.

The irony of this widespread corruption is that President Rousseff herself is really the only significant politician, or one of the only significant politicians, in Brazil not to be implicated in any sort of corruption scheme for the—with the objective of personal enrichment. Everyone around her, virtually, including those trying to bring her government down and accuse her of corruption and impeach her, is implicated very seriously in schemes of corruption for personal enrichment. She’s essentially one of the only people who isn’t implicated that way.

The problem is that there—at the same time as you have this massive corruption investigation, you also have an extremely severe economic recession, as the result of lowering gas prices and contraction in China and a variety of other factors. And up until very recently, up until 2008, 2010, Brazil’s economy was booming. The people of that country, including its poorest, have been—thought that their prospects were finally improving, that the promise of Brazil, the long-heralded promise of Brazil, to become this developed power in the world was finally coming to fruition. Millions of people were being lifted out of poverty. And what this recession has done has been essentially to reverse all of that and to reimpose huge amounts of suffering, borne primarily by Brazil’s lower and working classes. And so there’s an enormous amount of discontent and anger towards President Rousseff and towards her Workers’ Party over the suffering that the people in Brazil are experiencing. And so, what you have is this corruption scheme and corruption investigation and scandal at the same time as great economic suffering.

And in Brazil, there are really rich and powerful factions, who have long hated Lula and Dilma and the left-wing Workers’ Party, who haven’t been able to defeat them at the ballot box. The Workers’ Party has won four straight national elections, going back to 2002 when Lula was first elected. And so, what they are doing—and they’re using their extremely powerful media institutions, beginning with Globo, which is by far and away the dominant, most powerful media institution in Brazil, run by, like all Brazil’s significant media outlets, extremely concentrated wealthy families—are using this corruption scandal to—or using the anger towards the government to try and rile up people and essentially remove the Workers’ Party and President Dilma Rousseff from power, really because they can’t beat her at the ballot box. But they’re trying to latch on this corruption scandal to the discontent that people feel because of the economic suffering. And so there is a validity to the corruption scandal and to the investigation, even aimed at the Workers’ Party, but at the same time what you’re now seeing is, unfortunately, the judiciary, which has been pretty scrupulous until now about being apolitical, working with the plutocrats of Brazil to try and achieve a result that really is a subversion of democracy, which is exploiting the scandal to remove President Rousseff from power through impeachment, even though there really are no grounds of impeachment that would be legal or valid as a means of removing her from office.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, one of the points that you make, Glenn, in that article is that—and I’m quoting you here—”Brazil’s extraordinary political upheaval shares some similarities with the Trump-led political chaos in the U.S.” Could you explain what you mean by that?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, what I essentially mean by that is that in the U.S. there is political upheaval, in the sense that the political order has been largely overturned. The people who have been in control of and running the Republican Party, which are largely monied interests, have completely lost control of their political apparatus. They poured huge amounts of money first into Jeb Bush and then into Marco Rubio. And typically, those factions get their way. And in this particular instance, they haven’t. And you have this kind of political outsider who has been rejecting all kinds of political orthodoxies, breaking every political rule, who is looking closer and closer to becoming the nominee of the Republican Party and potentially, after that, the president of the United States, and has done so in a way that has unleashed all kinds of instability and very dangerous and dark sentiments in the United States.

In Brazil, the instability is far greater. I was just writing for an American audience, trying to get them to understand the level of instability by saying that, actually, what’s happening in Brazil is much greater in terms of the disruption than what’s happening as a result of Donald Trump’s successful candidacy, because it pervades almost every economic and political institution. And what you really see is this young democracy in Brazil that is now being threatened as a result of this really opportunistic and exploitative attack on the part of the country’s richest media outlets and richest factions to essentially undo the result of four consecutive democratic elections by trying to remove a democratically elected president—she was just re-elected in 2014—on totally fictitious grounds of pretext. And it’s really quite dangerous once you start, you know, sort of undermining the fundamentals of democracy in the way that’s currently taking place in Brazil.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, this is interesting that today President Obama is in Argentina, and it was Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who won the Nobel Prize, Peace Prize, who said he welcomed Obama but thought that the American president should not be going to Argentina on March 24th, because that day, in 1976, 40 years ago, the military staged a coup. Human rights groups estimate something like 30,000 people were killed or disappeared in that coup that followed for the next seven or so years. Esquivel said, “I’m a survivor of that era, of the flights of death, of the torture, of the prisons, of the exiles. And,” he said, “when you analyze the situation in depth, the United States was responsible for the coups in Latin America.” What parallels, if any, do you see? And also talk about Petrobras and the role that it’s playing in all of this, the state oil company in Brazil.

GLENN GREENWALD: You can’t really understand Latin American politics, in general, and the ongoing instabilities and difficulties that almost every country in South America is still plagued by without talking about the central role that the United States has continuously played for decades in trying to control that part of the hemisphere.

In Brazil, like in so many countries, they had a democratically elected government in early 1960s, which the United States disliked because it was a left-wing government—not a communist government, but a left-wing government—that was devoted to the distribution of wealth for the social welfare, for opposing United States’ capitalistic interests and attempts to interfere in Brazil. And the Brazilian military, in 1964, staged a coup that overthrew that democratically elected government, and proceeded to impose on Brazil a really brutal military dictatorship that served the interests of the United States, was allied to the United States for the next 21 years. Of course, at the time, the United States government, U.S. officials, before Congress and in the public eye, vehemently denied that they played any role in that coup. And as happened so many times in the past, documents ultimately emerged years later that showed that not only was the U.S. supportive of that coup, but played a direct role in helping to plot it and plan it and stage it and then prop up that dictatorship for 21 years. That dictatorship used very extreme torture techniques on the nation’s dissidents, on the Brazilian citizens who were working to undermine that right-wing military dictatorship, among whom was the current president, Dilma Rousseff, who in the 1970s was a guerrilla, essentially, working against the U.S.-supported military dictatorship. She was detained and imprisoned without trial and then tortured rather severely. And the documents have revealed that it was the U.S. and the U.K. that actually taught the military leaders the best types of torture techniques to use.

And so, what you have now is not really a repeat of the 1964 coup. It’s not really responsible to say it’s identical to what’s taking place, because the impeachment against Dilma is proceeding under the constitution, which actually does provide for impeachment. There’s an independent judiciary that’s involved in the proceedings. But at the same time, if you go back and look at what happened in 1964 with that coup, the leading media outlets in Brazil, that also hated the left-wing government because it was against their oligarchical interests, justified and supported that coup. They depicted it as necessary to uproot corruption in this left-wing government. You had the same media factions—Globo, and the families who own it, and other media outlets that still persist to today—agitating in favor of the coup and then ultimately supporting the military dictatorship. And so you have similarities in terms of the anti-democratic processes at work that prevailed in 1964 and throughout Latin America in so many other years, where the United States was at the center of.

As far as Petrobras is concerned, Petrobras is the Brazilian-owned oil company, and it has become crucial to Brazil’s economic growth, because as oil prices increased and as Brazil found huge amounts of oil reserve, it was anticipated that Petrobras would essentially be the engine of Brazil’s future economic growth. And it started being drowned, essentially, in profits. And the scandal, the corruption scandal, has Petrobras at the center because it largely involves Petrobras paying bribes to various construction companies, that they would essentially hire private construction companies to build various platforms and other infrastructure for Petrobras for oil exploration, and they would essentially pay far more than what the contract really called for, and there would then be kickbacks to the head of the construction company, but also to Petrobras and to the politicians who control Petrobras. And that really is what this corruption scandal was triggered by, was the discovery of huge numbers, huge amounts—you’re talking about millions and millions of dollars in kickbacks and bribes to the politicians, in virtually every significant party in Brazil, that control Petrobras. Virtually nobody is unaffected by it. And the more they’ve investigated, the more people have turned state’s evidence, the more corruption has been discovered, to the point where even if you now do impeach Dilma, it’s almost impossible to envision somebody who could take her place who isn’t far more implicated in that corruption than she is.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Glenn Greenwald, we are going to break, and then, when we come back, we’re going to move from Brazil to Brussels, to the attacks there and the response by the U.S. presidential candidates. We’re talking to the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept. And we’ll link to his piece in this segment, “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy.” We’ll be back with him in a moment.

[Second segment: Glenn Greenwald: Cruz, Trump, Clinton “Playing into the Hands” of ISIL After Brussels Bombings]

Belgium has entered its second day of mourning following Tuesday’s bombing attack targeting the Brussels Airport and a crowded subway station near the headquarters of the European Union that killed at least 31 people and injured over 230. The bombings took place just days after authorities arrested Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people. In response to Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for “closing up” U.S. borders and doubled down on his vow to bring back waterboarding and other forms of torture. And Hillary Clinton asked for Silicon Valley’s help, calling for “an intelligence surge” to help track online activity. For more on the election, the attacks in Brussels and more, we speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.  [Accessed c. 10:00 PDT  25 MAR 2016]

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Belgium has entered its second day of mourning following Tuesday’s bombing attack targeting the Brussels Airport and a crowded subway station near the headquarters of the European Union. The attacks killed at least 31 people and injured over 230. The bombings took place just days after authorities arrested Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people. On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton asked for Silicon Valley’s help in a speech at Stanford University calling for, quote, “an intelligence surge” to help track online activity.

HILLARY CLINTON: Our enemies are constantly adapting, so we have to do the same. For example, Brussels demonstrated clearly we need to take a harder look at security protocols at airports and other sensitive so-called soft sites, especially areas outside guarded perimeters. To do all this, we need an intelligence surge, and so do our allies. We also have to stay ahead of the curve technologically.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Hillary Clinton, Democratic presidential candidate, speaking Wednesday. In response to Tuesday’s attack in Brussels, Texas Senator Ted Cruz said, quote, “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Republican front-runner Donald Trump called for “closing up” U.S. borders and doubled down on his vow to bring back waterboarding and other forms of torture.

AMY GOODMAN: For more on the election, the attacks in Brussels and more, we’re still with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. Glenn, start off by talking about what happened in Brussels and the response in the United States.

GLENN GREENWALD: What we’ve seen in Brussels is the same exact pattern as we’ve seen, essentially, for the last 15 years each time there is one of these attacks. There is never any sense at all that there’s some balance needed between security, on the one hand, and civil liberties and privacy and a constrained budget for our military and intelligence, on the other. Every single time there’s a terrorist attack—every single time—politicians like Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz come forward and say we need more of everything we’ve been doing. We need more money for intelligence, more surveillance authorities, more military presence, more security. You know, imagine if every single time there were a fatal car accident, every single time, in response, someone said not, “Well, we accept the fact that in exchange for having roads, we know there’s going to be some fatalities,” but instead, every time, said, “We need more safety regulations for cars. We need to lower the speed limit even further.” The reality is, in an open society, especially if you have a government that is constantly bombing people around the world, there are going to be people who want to bring back violence to you and who are going to succeed in doing it. You can’t stop people in every case. And it’s not necessarily the case that each time there’s a terrorist attack it means that you need more security measures, more intelligence gathering, and more security and military adventures in the way that politicians just almost reflexively call for.

I think it’s really important to note a couple things about Brussels. Number one is, the Brussels attack is now the fourth straight attack, after Boston, the Charlie Hebdo massacre and then the Paris attacks, where siblings, brothers, were at the heart of the planning. And just like in those three previous attacks that I just referenced, the attacks were carried out by people who live in the same communities, who live very close to one another, and who almost certainly met in person in order to plan them. And yet, the exploitive mindset of Western politicians is to say, every time there’s a successful attack carried out, it means we need to wage war on encryption, we need greater surveillance, we need more police in these communities. But the reality is, if people are meeting in person, if you’re talking about siblings and cousins and family members and people who go to the same mosques, who are meeting in person to plan the attacks, none of that will actually help detect the attack.

What’s amazing is that if you listen to the media narrative about how these attacks get discussed—and I had the misfortune of listening to hours of CNN coverage and MSNBC coverage, because I’m traveling, about these attacks—the one question that’s never asked is “What is the motive of the attackers? Why are people who are in their twenties and thirties willing to sacrifice their lives to kill innocent people in this really horrific way?” And ultimately, it’s not hard to figure out. They say what it is, and it’s really not that difficult, which is the countries that they’re targeting—France and Belgium and the United States and others—are in Iraq and Syria bombing ISIS. And so, of course, it’s just natural to expect—doesn’t mean it’s justified; it’s never justified to target civilians, but it’s natural to expect—that countries that go and bomb ISIS, ISIS is going to want to bomb and attack back, just as the United States, for 15 years, has been declaring itself at war and bombing multiple countries and then acts surprised when people want to come and attack us back. And so I think, more than saying we need more intelligence and more surveillance and wage war on encryption and more bombing campaigns, we need to be asking whether there are things that we can be doing that reduce the incentive for people to want to kill us—and in the process, kill themselves—and especially the support infrastructure that they get because of the anti-American and anti-European sentiment that gets generated when we engage in all of this violence in the world.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, one of the other—well, what the Islamic State has revealed explicitly about its own motivations, which was revealed in a newsletter circulated after the Paris attacks in November, included weakening—that is, their objectives—weakening unity across the European continent and exhausting European states economically. What do you make of that, Glenn?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, we’ve seen the same type of announcements and rationale very early on from al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who talked about the ultimate goal of the 9/11 attacks being to provoke the United States into this endless campaign of militarism and military spending that would essentially weaken and ultimately bankrupt the United States, much like the Soviet adventures, military adventures, in the 1980s helped to bring down the Soviet Union. And we seem to be happy to play into their hands. I mean, the goal isn’t just to make us engage in military adventures that weaken us economically. It’s also, as ISIS has said, to drive a wedge between Western Muslims and the Western societies in which they live, to essentially eliminate what ISIS refers to as the grey zone, which are Western Muslims, first-generation immigrants or second generation who are born in these countries, to feel alienated from the Western governments and the Western countries in which they live and to essentially have to choose between either ISIS and those governments, and to feel so alienated by their own countries that they’re driven into the arms of extremism. And ironically, again, the best friend of ISIS seems to be Western politicians, like you hear Ted Cruz, like you hear from Donald Trump, who, essentially, every time there’s one of these attacks, want to declare Muslims or Islam the actual culprit, which does nothing but serve to exacerbate the very wedge that ISIS is trying to drive into the heart of these Muslim populations in Western societies.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s—Glenn, let’s go right now to the two men you mentioned. Following the Belgium attacks, Republican presidential contender Ted Cruz issued a statement saying, quote, “We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.” Later, on Tuesday, Senator Cruz spoke to CNN.

SEN. TED CRUZ: If you have a neighborhood where there is a high level of gang activity, the way to prevent it is you increase the law enforcement presence there, and you target the gang members to get them off the streets. … I am talking about an area where there is a higher incidence of radical Islamic terrorism. If you look at Europe, Europe’s failed immigration laws have allowed a massive influx of radical Islamic terrorists into Europe, and they are now in isolated neighborhoods where radicalism festers.

AMY GOODMAN: So that was Ted Cruz. And on the day of the attacks, Donald Trump was asked on NBC’s Today Show about what Belgium officials should do to get information from Salah Abdeslam, who was captured last week.

DONALD TRUMP: I’m not looking to break any news on your show, but frankly, the waterboarding, if it was up to me, and if we changed the laws and—or have the laws, waterboarding would be fine. And if they want to do—as long as it’s with—because, you know, we work within laws. They don’t work within laws. They have no laws. We work within laws. The waterboarding would be fine. And if they could expand the laws, I would do a lot more than waterboarding. You have to get the information from these people. And we have to be smart, and we have to be tough, and we can’t be soft and weak, which is what we are right now.

AMY GOODMAN: And, in fact, he said that we have to torture them. Donald Trump said that this week. At least he called it what it was. But talk about the significance of what Donald Trump is calling for, the man who could be President Trump, and Cruz, before him.

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, first of all, I do get a little bit disturbed by this widespread notion on the part of a lot of well-intentioned people that Donald Trump is somehow so far outside of what we regard as what had been previously acceptable within American political discourse. I mean, if you look at what Ted Cruz has actually been saying and what he’s been doing, you could certainly make the case—and I would be someone who agrees with this—that Ted Cruz is, in many respects, maybe most respects, more dangerous than Trump. I mean, Ted Cruz is this true evangelical believer who seems to be really eager to promote this extremist religious agenda. You have him constantly expressing animosity toward Islam and toward Muslims in a way that’s sort of redolent of almost a religious-type war. He holds himself out as this constitutional scholar and small-government conservative and yet advocates some of the most extremely unconstitutional measures you could possibly imagine, like targeting American communities filled with Muslims with additional police patrolling and monitoring and surveillance and scrutinizing.

And as far as Donald Trump is concerned, you know, when he comes out and says, “I want to do waterboarding and worse,” and we all act so shocked, I mean, as you just said, you know, he almost deserves credit for what he’s saying, in the sense that he’s being more honest. The United States for 10 years did engage in torture. We did use not only waterboarding, but techniques far worse. And the reason why that’s still part of the debate is because the current administration, under President Obama, made the choice not to prosecute any of the people who implemented those techniques and who used to them, despite the fact that we’re parties to treaties requiring their criminal prosecution. And when he did that, he turned torture into nothing more than just a standard partisan political debate. And that’s why people like Donald Trump are able to stand up without much repercussion and advocate that we use those techniques. But we shouldn’t act all that shocked. The U.S. government did exactly what Donald Trump is advocating as recently as seven or eight years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, didn’t President Obama say, “We tortured some folks”?

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. And so, you know, I think if you look at the reaction to Donald Trump and this kind of horror that even Republican elites and conservatives are expressing when reacting toward him, to call it hypocritical is really to be generous. It is true that he doesn’t use the language of political diplomacy. He doesn’t really use euphemisms. He speaks like ordinary people speak when talking about politics at their dining room table, which is one of the reasons for his appeal. And in that sense, he actually provides an important value, which is he’s stripping away the pretense of what the American political system and American political culture have become and describing it in a much more honest way. And that’s the reason that so many Republican elites and other media figures, who have no problem with Republican politicians or even Democratic politicians who advocate similar policies, why they’re so offended by Donald Trump, because he sort of renders the entire system nakedly candid about what it actually is.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back to this discussion. We’re spending the hour with Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His piece for The Intercept is headlined “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy.” He lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but he’s in Tucson now. He’ll be participating in a major event with Edward Snowden, who can’t be in this country but will be joining through some kind of video situation, and Noam Chomsky, as they talk about the state of democracy in America. We’ll continue with him. We’ve talked about Ted Cruz. We’ve talked about Donald Trump. We’ll also talk about Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. He’s in Arizona, where a major voting scandal is unfolding around the Democratic primary that took place on Tuesday. People waited hour after hour after hour at voting polls. Is it because the response was so enormous on Tuesday, or is it because they quartered the number, almost, or a third, the number of polling places in places like Maricopa County, from 200 to 60? Stay with us.

[Third segment: Glenn Greenwald: Hillary Clinton Has Embraced Some of the Most Brutal Dictators in the World]

With the Republican establishment attempting to stop real estate mogul Donald Trump from receiving the GOP nomination, a new anti-Trump ad produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel alleges that Trump supports dictators. But what about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s record on dictators? Earlier this week, Clinton addressed the annual AIPAC conference, seeking to cast herself as a stronger ally to Israel than Donald Trump. We examine her record on Israel and U.S. foreign relations at large with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.  [Accessed 16:55 PDT  25 MAR 2016]

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I’d like to turn to an ad produced by the Emergency Committee for Israel, which alleges that Trump supports dictators. The ad started airing last month.

JAKE TAPPER: The world would be better off with Saddam Hussein—

DONALD TRUMP: Hundred percent.

JAKE TAPPER: —and Gaddafi in power?

DONALD TRUMP: A hundred percent.

Looking at Assad and saying maybe he’s better than the kind of people that we’re supposed to be backing.

And I think Russia can be a positive force and an ally.

But, you know, whether you like Saddam Hussein or not, he used to kill terrorists.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Glenn Greenwald, in one of your recent articles, you suggest that Hillary Clinton has demonstrated comparable support for what you call, quote, “the world’s worst despots.”

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, two things. You know, that article that I wrote about Hillary Clinton grew out of the debate where she attacked Bernie Sanders for comments he made in the 1980s in which he said positive things both about Fidel Castro and also the Sandinistan government in Nicaragua, and she very self-righteously said, “How could you possibly praise a government that is oppressive and tyrannical.” And yet, if you look at Hillary Clinton’s record, not in the 1980s, but far more recently, in the last five to six years, she has embraced and expressed extreme levels of support for some of the world’s most brutal and horrific dictators. She called President Mubarak of Egypt a close personal friend of her family and expressed all kinds of support for him at the time that the government, of which she was a part, was arming and funding him. She did the same with the Saudis. The Clinton Foundation has raised money from some of the worst and most oppressive dictatorships in the Persian Gulf, including the Saudis and the Qataris and the Emirates and the Bahrainis. Hillary Clinton, essentially, her record has been one of embracing and supporting, in all kinds of ways, the world’s worst tyrants.

The other aspect that I would add is that, you know, not just those Persian Gulf regimes, but one of the things that Hillary Clinton has done, with very little notice, has been to make a central part of her campaign embracing not just the right-wing Israeli government, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu herself—himself. She’s written op-eds in Jewish journals and in The Forward talking about the need to get even closer to Israel, if you can imagine that. And then the speech she just gave to AIPAC was about the most disgustingly militaristic, hawkish, pro-Israel speech, I think, that you could ever possibly hear, without the slightest even pretense of concern for people in Palestine or in Libya, where she supported a war that has caused great instability, or in Iraq, where she supported a war that has imposed huge amounts of suffering. And so it’s very easy to talk about Donald Trump being close to dictators or being dangerous, but there has been a huge amount of Hillary Clinton’s record that has spawned immense amounts of tyranny and violence in the world, that Democrats and progressives are steadfastly ignoring.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to a clip of Hillary Clinton addressing AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

HILLARY CLINTON: Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS. … We must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Hillary Clinton addressing AIPAC. Glenn Greenwald?

GLENN GREENWALD: What she’s doing there is affirming one of the most vile slanders that currently exists. There is a campaign in the United States and in Israel to literally outlaw any advocacy of a boycott movement against Israel, similar to the boycott and divestment and sanctions campaign that brought down Israel and the United States’s closest ally, which was the apartheid regime in South Africa. Now you can certainly raise objections to the tactic of boycotting Israel, and lots of people have, but to render it illegal depends upon this grotesque equating of an advocacy of a boycott of Israel with anti-Semitism and then saying that because anti-Semitism should be banned from universities or from private institutions, that it should be literally outlawed, to ban advocating the boycott of Israel, as well. And people in Europe are actually being arrested for advocating a boycott of Israel. Students in American universities are being sanctioned and punished for doing so.

And what Hillary Clinton did was go before AIPAC and pander, as grotesquely as she typically does, by affirming this line that if you “malign,” quote-unquote, the government of Israel and support a boycott of it, in opposition to their decades-long occupation of the Palestinians, it means essentially that you’re guilty of maligning the Jewish people. She is conflating the government of Israel with Jews, which, ironically enough, is itself a long-standing anti-Semitic trope. But it’s just part of her moving to the right in order to position herself for the general election by affirming some of the United States government’s worst and most violent policies.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, Democratic candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the only one to skip the AIPAC conference earlier this week. He did address the issue on the campaign trail, though, from Utah, calling for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Bernie Sanders in Utah. Glenn Greenwald, I believe he did offer to address AIPAC by video stream or Skype, as did Romney in 2012, but we heard he was told no.

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, I mean, a couple months ago, Donald Trump, on an MSNBC program, said, when asked about Israel and Palestine, that he thought the U.S. should be neutral in order to be a more effective arbiter, which until 20 years ago was a standard mainstream U.S. position, but now has become very shocking. Same with what Bernie Sanders just said. To hear a prominent American politician stand up and actually criticize Israel in such stark and blunt terms, calling them occupiers, essentially, and criticizing how they’re treating the Palestinians, is almost shocking to the ear. Hillary Clinton would never do it, nor would leading Republican politicians. And yet it’s really a very mild way to talk about Israel. And it shows just how far to the right the discourse has shifted in the United States when it comes to Israel, and how much a part of that rightward shift is Hillary Clinton, when you think about how almost shocking it is to hear pretty mild criticisms of Israel coming from Sanders or mild proclamations of neutrality coming from Trump.

AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly, before we end, Glenn, the issue of encryption, again raised, of course, in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, but the whole battle between the government, the FBI and Apple?

GLENN GREENWALD: The government’s attempt to make sure that nobody can use encryption to keep them out of private communications is based on continuous deceit. They falsely claimed that the Paris attackers used encryption, when they had no idea if it was true. They’re already making that claim about the Brussels attackers, even though there’s no suggestion that it’s true. And the whole campaign against Apple was based on what turned out to be a total lie, which is that they needed Apple to help them break into the San Bernardino phone, when all along they could have done it themselves. And it’s up to the media to check these claims on the part of the government, and, of course, the media has been very lax in doing so.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you, Glenn, for staying with us. We’re going to talk to you for a few more minutes after this broadcast, and we’ll post it online at democracynow.org. Glenn Greenwald, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, his piece for The Intercept is headlined “Brazil Is Engulfed by Ruling Class Corruption—and a Dangerous Subversion of Democracy.” Another recent piece, “The Rise of Trump Shows the Danger and Sham of Compelled Journalistic ‘Neutrality.'” We’ll link to these and many others at democracynow.org.

Democracy Now! has job openings, three of them: broadcast engineer, director of finance and operations and director of development. Visit democracynow.org for information.

Learn more at DEMOCRACY NOW!.


[1] Dr. Glenn Greenwald holds a Bachelor of Arts bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from George Washington University (1990) and a Juris Doctor (or Doctor of Law), a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law, from the New York University of Law (1994).


[Image entitled “Glenn Greenwald 2014-01-20 001” by David dos Davos used via Creative Commons by 3.0]

[25 MAR 2016]

[Last modified 16:56 PDT  25 MAR 2016]