Guests and Topics for Monday February 27, 2012

It’s a big lineup for Monday, : Dylan will be talking with Eliot Spitzer, Mark Meckler on the future of the Tea Party, a discussion on rising interest rates for student loans, and the latest out of Afghanistan with Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer and Rep. Joe Sestak.

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Pentagon Responds to Manning Abuse

A Dylan Ratigan panel talks about the Pentagon’s decision to push back on claims of mistreatment of alleged leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning.



>> let’s talk about something else fairly controversial. the pentagon pushing back on claims of mistreatment towards alleged leaker private manning. manning’s lawyer saying he is in solitary confinement. the pentagon saying it is not solitary confinement merely a single occupancy cell. he’s being held by himself in a cell for 23 hours a day, which strikes me as something representing being solitary, but i’m not an expert. mannings’s lawyers says he’s forced to strip naked each night. the pentagon says there’s no daily. they simply removed his undergarments for safety concerns. there’s concerns that brigs psychiatrists have abandoned their duty of protecting their patient. regardless of your feelings, what strikes me as the apparent willingness to deviate from the military code ofius and civil code of justice to this third class of treatment, which is the arbitrary treatment of any prisoner based on the discretion of the government. how can that — how can the creation of a third class of prisoner like this not be somewhat alarming?

>> well, i’m not going to defend treatment of a third class of prisoner or defend anything that relates to deviating. it’s not something that i personally would defend. however, i would point out that if we’re going to have this discussion, we have to add to it on the side note, which has nothing to do with the way this man is being treated now, who ? this man is, and in terms of the fact this person put a ton of people in serious danger —

>> you have no idea if that’s true or not.

>> hold on, jane. let — let’s go one at a time here. otherwise we need to go off of television and —

>> he’s not telling the truth.

>> i understand. jane, i understand that, but your rebuttal desk basically although here at home is a bunch of screaming and yelling and they’ll turn the channel and it won’t matter. let’s let brent finish, though we’ve consumed another 60 seconds trying to establish a little order in the court, let’s use what time we have left, brent if you could finish up.

>> he released documents from our government —

>> no, you don’t know that he did that. you do not know that he did that.

>> if we look at the past in our country —

>> you have no idea.

>> hey, jane, i promise you, i give you my word, i swear to you, i’m going to give you time to rebut him, but i really want to have it as a conversation, and i would like brent to allow him to assert his thoughts.

>> he’s asserting —

>> i understand you believe what he’s saying is untrue and you may be completely correct. i’m not disagrees with you, jane. i’m simply asking procedurally to have this conversation in such a manner that there’s a legitimate exchange of information between people that is respectful of the medium such that everybody is not speaking at the same time and as a result no information moving from one location to another. brent, quickly, please.

>> i understand people may disagree that the accusations may not be true. my point is if they are true, then these are serious accusations of the that doesn’t defend if someone is deviating from normal policies and procedures, but they are serious accusations. if you want to disagree that the accusations are wrong, feel free to go ahead and ? do that. my point is these are serious things. if they are true, this man put a tremendous number of people’s lives in danger.

>> that’s a distraction from the fact that we have created a third class of prisoners that the government can arbitrarily do what they want to. jane, your floor is yours.

>> we are invited to discussion the pretrial conditions. to come in here and say he has actually guilty of what he hasn’t been tried of shows complete contempt for the constitution and the american system of law. it’s absolutely stun conscionable that you would say such a thing in order to paint him as deserving of some sort of punishment before trial. the fact is he is being stripped naked and, yes, if you take away his underwear at night and that’s all he is wearing, he is in fact stripped naked. as jack balkin, and other law protestors got together and wrote a letter to the pentagon saying it is their obligation to justify why they are doing this to bradley manning, and the president’s excuses that he is up there saying, well, they tell me it’s for his own good. maybe it was for the people at abu ghraib that he took those photographs, but nobody has ever yet established. if we can stick to the facts of what is known and not try him on division before he actually gets a trial, that is the respect for the american justice system we need to show.

>> i agree. i think what would be cool as a host, because the subject i was bringing up was a third class of prisoner arbitrarily by our government, irrespective of the individuals, i respect that both of you are anxious to talk about the treatment of bradley planning, but i know that brent thinks having a third class of prisoner who can be randomly tortured or whatever they want to do is offensive to brent. i assume that’s similarly offensive to you, jane?

>> absolutely, i think it is. i think everybody who cares about the legal system, that we all take pride when it operates at its best, should be concerned this is happening. he won’t get a fair trial if people keep asserting he’s guilty already.

>> my point is if ? we’re going to have that conversation, we should have the same care and concern of the people whose lives we put in danger, which may or may not —

>> he hasn’t even been tried for what you’re accusing him of and there’s not been evidence of anybody suffering harm, though we do get the transparency that president obama promised us despite the many’s words that basically our government is in bed with a lot of bad people and when nuclear warnings come into japan 2 years ago xw the fact that the plant can’t withstand we find out because of wikileaks, but apparently we don’t — forget us, our president and the pentagon don’t care about that as they don’t bother to try the man, they simply hold him in solitary naked because there’s a third class of american prisoner, who that can be treated however the president apparently wants to treat you. that is an interesting development that was created by george bush and now propagated and perpetuated by barack obama. that to me is a very sad thing. i thank both of you for the conversation.

US Faces Nuclear Anxiety

Thomas Brocher of the U.S. Geological Survey and nuclear activist John Rosenthal discuss which coast has the bigger nuclear threat.


>>> well, as the full fear of a nuclear meltdown in japan continues to persist, the startling revelation today is that they were warned. wiki leaks cables revealing a u.n. official told the japanese government 2 years ago that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes. in fact concerns with the design of the plants’ containment system had been voiced as early as 1972. even more troubling, that same design is used here in america. “new york times” reporting that 23 reactors in 16 states use the containment vessel developed by ge which to this say is a make stakeholder in this network. experts have called for decades that this particular system may be more susceptible to explosions from hydrogen buildup, which is precisely what we have seen in japan. now, there are 66 nuclear power plants in the u.s., containing a total of 104 licensed nuclear reactors. the reactor with the highest risk ? rating, none other than new york’s independencian point energy center. you can see how close it is to north america’s most pop you lated city. to the west coast we go, the diablo canyon nuclear power plant has long been a focus of its concerns with the reactors located near the san andrea fault, step secretary stephen chu insists —

>> we don’t believe there’s a danger, but in any instance like this, when there are truly unfortunate events like what we are seeing in japan, what we do is we look and learn from that.

>>> joining us is thomas m. broker, the director of the science center for the u.s. geological center. and in fact we have — he appeared on “today” to voice those concerns.

>> what we have is a massive nuclear power plant, less than three miles from a major active earthquake fault that in 1927 generated a quake 7.3 on the richter scale.

>> john, what is your sense of both the government and industry’s state of play when it comes to american nuclear facilities?

>> well, my feeling is the same 30 years later. what we have are 104 nuclear power plants that all have the same generic risks. they’re all built on water for cooling. many are built on or near earthquake faults. as we’ve seen in japan, one of the greatest risks, in addition to a meltdown of the core when it can no longer get water, you also have the storage of spent fuel rods on ? site in non-contained pools, because there is no place to put — after 60 years, there is still no long-term storage of nuclear waste. so you have the danger of a core meltdown from the operation of a plant. you also have the danger of a meltdown from the lack of water surrounding these spent fuel rods that are not even in containment buildings. what we are now experiencing is the potential of the nuclear nightmare that we have known all along, and frankly the utilities have known it all along, which is why they required congress in 1957 to pass the price/anderson act which sets limits on liability in case of a nuclear accidents like this. they also had maximum credibility accident studies that showed if you have a meltdown like we are seeing in japan from the core meltdown or from the release of these storage pools, the maximum credibility accident that jimmy carter, as president of the united states, was aware of when he thought he might have to evacuate the tees coast because of the three mile island that would actually render an areaed size of pennsylvania uninhabitable.

>> thomas we heard the energy secretary characterize this earthquake as an unforeseen event. is it fair to characterize earthquakes along known fault lines as unforeseen events?

>> no, we don’t think so. the usgs, of which i am a member, is responsible for assessing size mchards of the nation. we look carefully at the past history of earthquakes along faults, and i don’t believe it should be a great surprise to any of us that a major earthquake could happen along a plate boundary such as that the japan islands and the pacific plate.

>> is it safe to say that a ? large earthquake will occur in north america at some point in the future?

>> yes, of course. that’s — about three years ago, the usgs and others were involved in a study that concluded in the next 30 years there would be at least one magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake just in california alone with about a 97% probability. but in california it’s likely we will have the kind of earthquake we had inhquakes we’ve had in california and that we sxhekt in the future are something like 30 or even 900 times smaller than the earthquake we had last week in japan, because of the — the areas involved with the earthquake faulting are very much smaller in california than they are in japan.

>> turning back to the actual nuclear sites themselves, john, my understanding is the vast majority of these facilities received their licenses and operating agreements in the 1970s. indian point received theirs in 1976. a lots has changed since then, both in our understanding of geology and our understanding of nuclear technology player movement do you get any sense that either the utilities or the government are prepared to make the investments to update 40 and 50-year-old nuclear technology, even if it’s expensive?

>> well, we certainly are more at risk as a result of the older plants than the newer designs, but one thing that has never changed in 60 years. there is still no solution to long-term storage of nuclear waste. these fuel rods are sitting at every nuclear power plant across the world. and certainly across the ? country, in storage pools without containment. there is no long-term storage. there isn’t even an idea of how to store these things long term. and what we’re talking about, and when you watch the images of the japan disaster, when you see explosions at nuclear — at power plants or if these storage pools, they are emitting large amounts of high-level nuclear waste materials. radioactive materials that get blown by the wind, and they are ingested. alpha emitter radiation is ingested as you breathe, and unfortunately it takes so long in most cases for cancers to show up, on some levels, i wish that radiation caused acne, because you would never have nuclear power. we are no safer now than we were 60 years ago as far as i’m concerned, because there’s no long-term storage of nuclear waste and there’s this economic incentive by the utilities to keep these plants operating even when they’re old, tired and leaking, because they all leak radiation on a regular base.

>> john, thank you for your time today. thomas broecher, thank you as well for educating us. we appreciate.

Questions Persist Over Accused Leaker’s Conditions

Democratic strategist Krystal Ball and radio host Amy Holmes discuss the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning.


>> talk about bradley manning, shall we? president obama hit with a question in fact about the treatment of private manning, which is accused of stealing and leaking private government documents. manning has been held for many, many months at this point confined to his cell for 23 hours a day by himself. they don’t call it solitary confinement because he gets that one hour. he has been forced to strip naked at night and stand nude at attention in the morning because apparently, he’s a threat to himself although that is entirely up for debate. ultimately, the treatment of private manning, who has yet to be brought to trial is prompting questions that are not making it up to the president.

>> a spokesman said the treatment of bradley manning by the pentagon is ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid and i wonder if you agree.

>> i i can’t go into details, but some of this has to do with private manning’s safety as well.

>> if george w. bush was treating bradley manning the way that he is being treated, would the left roll over the way they have and be sisilent?

>> absolutely not. i agree with crowley. the treatment is ridiculous and indefensible.

>> but there’s a bigger issue here because the political machine has been immobilized because it is a liberal black democratic president who is in charge that the left by my opinion does not want to criticize even though he is exhibiting behavior that were it to be a right wing older white man, the left would be holding vigils, they would be —

>> i couldn’t agree more. we have seen enormous hypocrisy on the left. we’re seeing it with gitmo. the president said he’s going to keep that open.

>> the banks.

>> central campaign promise of president obama was to close gitmo. we’re not hearing a peep.

>> so, we’re not going to hold you accountable for entire left.

>> we see —

>> the thing is, that we see this partisan development on both sides.

>> nobody’s calls republicans america’s angels. we’ve got a man who is being held, who has not be tried. i talked to — we talked to a string of jags who do this, where there is clear violation of multiple codes of the uniform code of military conduct in the way this man is being treated and the political base that would normally be so active in defending this man.

>> the only people that you hear on the left are sort of at the extreme. the normal democratic base is not speaking on this issue.

>> where’s code pink? excuse me.

>> this is not code pink’s fault?

>> i think bradley manning needs to be held —

>> there are rules. uniform code of military justice says that if a soldier — an inmate, must be held with the to protect him or others and nothing more.

>> right. where i might disagree with you here is that i don’t think they’re holding him there as pulmo. they do say they are trying to pekt him from himself.

>> there is no evidence that is — that is garbage. there is no evidence from bradley manning, his lawyer. there’s no evidence from bradley manning’s friends. from anybody anywhere near bradley manning that he is a threat to himself.

>> the only thing the president — in a press conference.

>> i will tell you what occurred was bradley manning joked with a security guard that what, am i going to kill myself with my flip-flops and underwear?

>> if we were in an airport and made the wrong sarcastic comment —

>> stupid.

>> it’s not justifiable.

>> i just love how we like to criticize egypt and china for their treatment of political prisoners, holding people, they abuse them and yet we take somebody, we don’t try him, hold him for months and those who would be so critical on the left not to look at you again, say nothing as we abuse one of our citizens in a way that we would be so anxious to criticize in china or the middle east.

>> if you look at ” huffington post,” you will see some op-eds speaking out.

>> glenn greenwald has done an amazing job, but the organized power base that is the center left, harry reid, nancy pelosi, the people with the money and power, silent.

>> obama’s their guy.

>> obama. silent, until asked by jake tapper, go jake. nice to see you guys. that was fun. we should do this again.

>> code pink.

Does Bradley Manning Have Rights?

A few days ago, I hosted a segment of my show about the torture of Bradley Manning.  On it, I argued with regular contributors Karen Finney, Jimmy Williams, and Susan Del Percio about whether Manning, as a member of the military, has the right to due process and the right not to be tortured.  I believe he has rights, the others disagreed.
Captain David Price, a viewer and a retired JAG corps member, wrote in to clarify.  Since that segment, the commander at Quantico where Manning is housed has been replaced, and the Department of Defense conducted an embarrassing press conference (which you can view here).


I turned on the Dylan Ratigan show this afternoon somewhat in the middle of the discussions concerning PFC Bradley Manning focused on the length and conditions of his confinement at the Consolidated Brig, Marine Corps Development Command, Quantico, Virginia. While I do not have sufficient personal knowledge of either the allegations or the facts concerning his treatment to be able to respond to those concerns, for the purposes of this note I will accept as accurate what has been reported concerning unauthorized actions on the part of the command operating the brig. My response is not focused towards the specific facts of his case; but, rather, are in response to comments made on the show that there is “no due process in the military” or similar comments that when a person joins the military they surrender all legal rights and protections under the U.S. Constitution.

It is true that military service is unique. The reality, however, is that military personnel do retain the essential rights and privileges of any citizen or lawful resident of the United States, although those rights are exercised within the context of the special demands inherent in military service, where the rights of an individual will often be of secondary concern to the needs of good order and discipline in the protection of our national defense.

Throughout history are instances where individuals have abused their authority. No law or regulation will ever prevent misconduct from occurring. What laws can do, however, is provide a mechanism for holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions, whether it be PFC Manning as concerns the allegations against him; or Brig Commander James Averhart and the accusations being made against him. What is essential is responsible leadership, at all levels in the military chain of command, up to the President, as Command-in-Chief, if necessary; and through oversight responsibilities of the Congress to ensure that military personnel suspected of offenses are not being abused and that their rights are being protected.

I applaud Jane Hamsher, David House, and David Coombs (Manning’s Attorney) for their advocacy and helping bring attention and light to this issue. A proper investigation should be conducted to inquire into these allegations. IF the allegations concerning mistreatment at the Brig are proved to be correct – then it is incumbent upon those in command to hold accountable those who have abused their positions of authority. That will be the best demonstration of the existence and protection of the rights of a service member. The abuse of authority by a Commander over a subordinate, however, does not necessarily mean that a military member has no rights or that there is “no due process” within the military.

David P. Price

CAPT, JAGC, USN (Retired)

JAG Defense

#WikiFear: What are they afraid of?

There’s an unexplored part of the Wikileaks story. What exactly are its opponents afraid of? I’d like to know what you think.

Wikileaks has done what any other news organization might have done if confidential yet newsworthy information had come into its possession. Here’s Glenn Greenwald.

WikiLeaks has posted to its website only 960 of the 251,297 diplomatic cables it has. Almost every one of these cables was first published by one of its newspaper partners which are disclosing them (The Guardian, theNYT, El Pais, Le Monde, Der Speigel, etc.). Moreover, the cables posted by WikiLeaks were not only first published by these newspapers, but contain the redactions applied by those papers to protect innocent people and otherwise minimize harm.

Still, the blowback has been fierce.

Amazon drops Wikileaks.

Paypal drops Wikileaks.

Hillary Clinton implies Wikileaks is illegal.

VISA. Mastercard.

Sweden. England.

Senator Joe Lieberman.

My question is, why?

All of the institutions going after Wikileaks are afraid of something.What is it? I don’t know. What do you think? Comment below, tweet using #wikifear, or click here to add your thoughts.

(Note that Facebook is not removing Wikileaks, and that it is a tech startup – Flattr – which is still allowing funds to flow to Wikileaks.)

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