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tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  May 21, 2014 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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05/21/14 05/21/14 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is democracy now! striking events that occurred in guantánamo was the death of three prisoners in the evening of june 9. the question has been, were they suicides, were they homicides? these documents show more clearly than ever before that these were most likely not suicides, but rather homicides and are tied to the cia. >> we'll look at one of the great mysteries of guantánamo human rights attorney scott horton and also speak about the
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obama administration's decision to finally release the secret memo outlining when the u.s. can assassinate a u.s. citizen. then as the tea party suffers setbacks and midterms, we will take a look at the most influential republican political operatives, the koch brothers. >> their the poster boys for the top 1%. their money and power fuels the inequality in america. >> the name koch has become a four letter word. day in and day out, their purchasing politicians and policy. it is taking a terrible toll on democracy. >> we will speak to the film's director robert greenwald will stop republicans tried to block a capitol hill screening of the documentary this week. then daniel schulman, author of the new book, "sons of wichita: how the koch brothers became america's most powerful and private dynasty." all of that and more coming up .ill stop
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this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. at least 118 people have been killed and 45 wounded in a twin bombing in the nigerian city of jos. focused on boko haram, the militant group behind hundreds of attacks including last month kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls. the bombing comes days after western african nations declared war on the boko haram at a summit in paris. nigerian president good luck jonathan outlined plans for a multinational force to root out boko haram militants. >> they have agreed that each country will contribute one battalion of troops to the in line with force the resolution of the commission. france, the united states, and the united kingdom will extend
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technical assistance to achieve these objectives. the countries will come together to put in place an effective regime and that no effort will be spared to stop the proliferation of arms and the supply of arms and equipment made available to terrorists. >> on tuesday, activists in the nigerian capital continue to protest, demanding the girls release. a national longer problem, terrorism is a global problem and it has to be taken global publicve a good, everybody shares. when you have a global bad, everyone is affected in a master way. everybody is connected to common humanity. the idea that other nations are helping us to solve this problem is one that everyone must
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welcome. >> the obama administration has found a no longer use health workers and fake vaccination programs in clandestine operations. the move comes in response to the fallout of the cia's fake vaccination campaign in its search for osama bin laden. the taliban subsequently banned immunization efforts and launched a string of deadly attacks on medical workers, helping fuel a polio outbreak inside pakistan. the world health organization declared the spread of polio a public health emergency. the white house adviser and counterterrorism adviser lisa monaco said the cia stopped the practice last august. the obama administration says it will release the secret government memo that authorizes the killings of americans overseas. a federal appeals court ordered the memo's disclosure last month following a lawsuit by the american civil liberties union and "the new york times" seeking the legal basis for the drone strikes.
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the lawsuit came after the united states killed the american-born cleric on were all a lot the --anwar al-awlaki as well as his son abdulrahman and samir crime. the white house decided to not appeal after several senators vowed to hold up a judicial nomination of the memo's author david barron. the memo's release will be delayed as the administration redacts extensive portions that says and tame classified information. a federal judge has struck down pennsylvania's same-sex near japan, the latest in a series of marriage equality victories sweeping the country. the ruling came in response to lawsuit from same-sex couples that at the time marked the first case seeking to overturn a gay marriage ban on the state level since the supreme court decision rejecting the federal defense of marriage act. since then, 13 other courts have upheld marriage equality. with tuesday's ruling in pennsylvania, same-sex marriages are legal in the entire northeastern united states. a missouri death row prisoner
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has one a stay of execution to avoid becoming the first to be executed since oklahoma's botched killing last one. russell bucklew was scheduled to die by injection for killing a missouri man during a crime spree in 1996. defense attorneys asked for a stay because bucklew suffers from a medical condition that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels as well as tumors in his nose and throat. his attorneys said he could have experienced great suffering during the execution process. on tuesday night, just over an hour before he was scheduled to die, supreme court justice samuel alito issued an order halting the execution of bucklew. alito did not explain his reasoning. a statement indicating the full supreme court rule will consider the case wednesday. the move came after the eighth circuit court of appeals lifted a stay on the execution rented earlier in the day by a smaller panel of the court. bucklew could still be executed wednesday night at the full
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supreme court rejects his appeal. in sixes were held states tuesday to select candidates for the upcoming midterm elections. a number of republicans staved off tea party challenges including senate majority leader mitch mcconnell of kentucky. he will face alison lundergan grimes. in her victory grants, she rejected mcconnell's attempts to link her candidacy to president obama. >> president obama is not on kentucky's 2014 election ballot. nothing about this election will change who was in the white house, but we can change who is an washington, d.c. and finally put someone for the commonwealth of kentucky. senator mcconnell, this race is between you and me. that's the name that appears on the ballot. >> in a closely watched ballot measure on primary day, voters in two small oregon counties approved bans on the cultivation
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of genetically engineered crops. the bans call for the removal of all gmo crops within 12 months. at least one of the measures is subject to a legal challenge under a new state law barring such bans. oregon's wheat exports were disrupted last year after a strain of one sancho biotech wheat was discovered in a contaminated field. the inspector general of the department of veteran affairs is expanding a program into the people delays of medical treatment for u.s. service members at facilities nationwide. the v.a. has come under scrutiny after it emerged health clinics in phoenix, arizona and colorado used elaborate schemes to hide records of patients who waited too long for care, causing dozens of deaths. some 10 facilities were under investigation last week, but the number has more than doubled to 26. veterans affairs secretary shinseki is meeting today at the white house with president obama. recalled anrs has
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additional 2.4 million cars over a safety defect linked to hundreds of deaths. gm began recalling its vehicles just this year despite knowing of a faulty ignition switch in its vehicles at least a decade earlier. it is now recalled 13.6 mean vehicles in the u.s. and 15 point 2 million worldwide. the department of transportation fined gm $35 million last week as part of a series of government probes into the concealment of the deadly ignition flaws. beingraeli military is accused of unlawfully killing two unarmed palestinian youths following the release of a video footage showing the attacks. the two victims were shot dead during annual palestinian rallies in the occupied west bank marking the nakba, or catastrophe, as the palestinians called it will stop hundreds of thousands of palestinians were displaced during the period around israel's declaration of
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statehood. on the tapes, the first victim is shot as he walks down a street with his hands by his side. the second victim is shot as he walks away from a protest area with his back turned. the group defense of children international called on these really government to launch an investigation. thate final conclusion neither of the children deserve to be -- to get killed. this is one thing. the second thing, there are several hundred [indiscernible]
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open an investigation and that the people in the world know about what has happened exactly. >> new york university has apologized after report detailing harsh abuses of migrant workers at its newly completed campus in abu dhabi. according to a front-page piece in "the new york times," hundreds of workers were beaten up, jailed, deported after striking for higher pay last year. workers paid recruiting fees of up to a years worth of wages just to get hired. any had to work up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week to earn the wages they were promised. they were forced to live in squalor, crammed the filthy crowded apartments. many are still awaiting the back pay they are owed. in a statement, nyu said "any worker who was not treated in line with the standards we set and circumstances went undetected and unremitting, we offer our apologies." was new york times" report
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censored in the united arab emirates with local distributors pulling all copies of the newspaper on the day the story was published. "the new york times" said its local partners to the report "too sensitive." an activist in chile says he is destroyed student debt records worth $500 million. says he stolea the papers from the for-profit mar anddad del burned them in an act of love in order to free the students from loan debt. the rise of privatized education in chile began under the dictatorship of general pinochet. a new united states, study shows student debt has increased more rapidly at schools with the highest-paid presidents. report by the institute for policy studies looked at public universities with the highest rates of executive pay and found that administrative spending outstripped spending on scholarships by more than two to
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one. the german nuclear physicist durr has hans-peter died at the age of 84. he received a right livelihood award for his critique of the strategic defense initiative -- a reagan-backed defense system against potential nuclear attacks -- and for his work to convert high technology to peaceful uses. in an interview with democracy now!, he spoke about how he convinced the famous physicist isenberg not to help build a nuclear reactor in germany. >> i knew it was easily to be in a military way. i wanted to go to [indiscernible] he said, i'm not allowed to take the laboratory to munich. it is too close to russia. not dove decided i will
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anything with the reactor, but i will go to munich and i will only do the philosophical part. exactly that was my dream. >> dead at the age of 84, died in germany. he was a student at university of california berkeley after world war ii. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we turn now to one of the great mysteries of guantánamo. on the night of 29, 2006, 3 prisoners, two from saudi arabia and one from yemen, died at the prison. authorities at guantánamo said the three men, yasser talal al-zahrani, salah ahmed al-salami, and mani shaman , had killed themselves. the commander at guantánamo described their deaths as "act
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of asymmetrical warfare waged against us." but explosive new evidence showed there may have been a cover-up on how the men actually died. recently discovered pages from the naval criminal investigative service suggest the men died not from suicide, but torture. the new evidence includes an eyewitness account of al-zahrani on the night of s death which indicates he may have died from torture and suffocation during questioning and a secret black site facility at guantánamo known as camp no, or penny lane. >> harper's magazine future bidding editor scott horton first raised questions about that night in a 2010 fees headline, "the guantánamo suicides." he won a national magazine award for reporting will stop you just uncovered more details on the deaths of the three men. his latest piece is called, "the guantanamo 'suicides' revisited." attorney scott horton joins us now. human rights lawyer, lecturer, author of the forthcoming book,
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"the lords of secrecy: the national security elite and america's stealth foreign policy." scott, welcome back to democracy now! talk about what happened on june 9, 2006. >> the official government narrative is that these three suicide in amitted coordinated act using exactly the same techniques in their cells that night. the major problem with that narrative has been internal contradictions in the story, but also the account up to this ncos on duty army that evening who said they were not in that cell block but had been removed and taken to secret cia facility just outside of the camp and returned at the time the deaths were announced. and now we have a set of new documents, this one published by harper's -- i can also say that today, seton hall law school
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will be publishing another report which will disclose 12 additional documents, also pressed from the internal government investigation. and all of these documents show collectively that the official account cannot be correct, and the most vivid of them is, i think, this document that we published which is an eyewitness account from a military policeman of the last hours of the life of mr. al-zahrani. >> describe it. >> he is summoned urgently to the detainee clinic to transport a prisoner. he discovers al-zahrani there. he reaches down and feels his pulse and discovers he is alive. although he is surrounded by medical professionals, there's no effort being made to administer cpr or bring him back to life. to the contrary, he sees another guard fascinating his hands with
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cloth come the same clock that was used for the noose. this terrifically contradicts the government's claim which is that these prisoners tied themselves up with this cloth and with the noose. he then begins to administer cpr. he transports the prisoner to the hospital, the naval hospital at guantánamo. more bizarre things happen including al-zahrani coughing up orange foamy blood on the way and when he reaches the hospital, he hears strange inquiries. the camp commander is calling and asking, is he dead yet? so all the circumstances suggest that the military personnel in attendance at that time don't seem to understand whether they're supposed to be staging a suicide or whether they're supposed to be reviving the individual. there's complete infusion. >> could you explain, scott
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horton, when were questions first raised about the veracity of the government account? these three men died in 2006. you did your initial report in 2010. and then explain how you got access to this eyewitness account now. >> well, i would say the first questions were raised immediately by the family members who said, we just don't believe that these people would have committed suicide. in fact, al-zahrani's father said he had received a letter after he got the notice of his death and the letter said, i know i've been slated for release and am happy to be coming home. so all the psychological circumstances that would've indicated suicide were not present. but then there was an additional independent pathological test conducted in switzerland that pointed to very serious questions about the claims of the u.s. government. ncis09, copies of the
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report were forced out with a detailed account of how the government thought they had died. pretty much everyone who looked at it said, that's not possible. the independent medical examiner's we asked to look at it said, there is no historically reported case of anyone ever committing suicide this way. it is not even physically possible to do. so there were horrible problems with it. and then the bombshell disclosure of the four ncos saying they were not even in the cellblock at that time. now with these disclosures, it was a needle in a haystack aeration, largely driven by number of law students, especially at seton hall. but i would say the key occurred here through adobe acrobat. you see these documents were redacted, but through adobe acrobat, you could go back in un reject some of them and that is how we upturned exhibit 25, by finding this was the missing key
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document. there is very good reason to understand why it had been suppressed. - camplain what cap no - no is. >> i'll have to turn to important work done by the associated press at the end of last year. they got accounts from cia officials who have been involved time,p no and say at this 2005, 2 thousand six, the bush administration was preparing to release prisoners from guantánamo. as is conventional and warfare, there was some effort undertaken to turn these prisoners into assets for the united states. camp no -- this job was given to the cia in conjunction with military. camp no was set up for this purpose, used for this operation. we don't know in great detail what was going on there, but we know it included very sophisticated psychological operation that involved the
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concept of learned helplessness. this is preparing prisoners to be reflective and break them. and the so-called enhanced interrogation techniques -- waterboarding, putting people in forth,hypothermia, so these were used in connection with that program. and here we see the likely application of a technique that measures, like waterboarding, but without water. what appears to have occurred here is the introduction of cloths into the mountains of the three prisoners to induce a sense of the six nation. that is the same sensation with waterboarding. university of california at dutch study pulled us out and show there is evidence the same technique having been applied in other locations including the charles naval brig by intelligence officers at about the same time.
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>> and this method is called dry boarding? >> exactly right. >> what do you think we learned? you have the eyewitness account of this man called denny. from the eyewitness account he gives of the night he was with al-zahrani, what do we conclude about the other two? they all had exactly the same -- they died from the same causes. >> the other two were dead at the beginning of this narration, or least denny believes there are that. al-zahrani is the survivor. i was a the astonishing thing is the failure of resuscitation. these medics and the other professionals on hand would have been trained immediately to begin to apply cpr but also to strip away all obstructions. al-zahrani had a noose still tied around his neck. they did not remove the news. -- the noose.
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if it had just been applied and people were instructed to do that, and that would explain why was not removed in conformity with the normal procedures. i think all the circumstances he describes are not consistent with standard procedures that would be applied in the cpr context, but are consistent with the, i would say, the cover-up scenario. and also the location of this prisoner. he sees for the first time in the clinic and denny is saying, he should've been in the cellblock. the tower ncos had seen a vehicle transported directly from camp no to the clinic, so that explain why he was at the clinic. >> scott horton, who are these men? two from saudi arabia and one from yemen. >> they're all individuals against whom the united states had no claims. they were facing no charges. it all been picked up in
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pakistan or afghanistan on sort of a commission basis and this is the circumstance in which the u.s. was paying local tribesmen and others to turn over prisoners, particularly arabs or people who were not locals. so these -- all three were picked up in the street in the u.s. are pretty much decided these are people, too, and a reason to continue to hold them. i would say they are in the ofatively large number clear-cut mistakes at guantánamo that never should have been held there. >> penny lane was in operation for three years and closed after these three men died? >> that is another significant factor here. immediately after this incident in june, we see a decision taken to shut down penny lane, but beyond that, an important decision in taken in the national security council involving the administration at the highest levels to pare back on the yak to program, to stop a number of the more aggressive
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practices that have been used, to put the cia out of the prison business altogether -- of course, it was acknowledged a number of cia mistakes have led to that decision, but those mistakes had never been particularly explain. i think here we are seeing now what they are. >> do you know during the course of these three years, how many of these men who were slated for release were actually became informants for the cia and the countries to which they were released? >> that is exactly the information the cia is struggling to keep secret. i would say that is a legitimate point. obviously, these individuals, if their identity were disclosed, they would become targets and could be killed. that is a legitimate point that the cia should keep that information secret, but with these three individuals who are dead, there's really no justification for other than keeping the entire program secret. that is also really pointless.
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it is understood that any military situation it anytime there is warfare and prisoners are released, there's an effort to return some of them into -- there's an effort to turn some of them into assets. >> how does this story tied to the intelligence report that has not yet been released? >> right in the middle of it, i think. we know the cia was pushing back aggressively against the investigation the committee was conducting. we know one of the areas they pushed back most aggressively was exactly this program designed to turn prisoners. --y said it was to them they said it was too sensitive. i think one of the things we will want to see me daily when the report is released, which we isect any day now, frankly, whether they succeed in getting information about the operations at penny lane. >> your original piece came
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under criticism from adweek. they ran an article headlined "the national magazine award in guantánamo, tall tale gets the prize." the reporter writes, perimeter guards, distant from the prisoners. >> that is true. but their whole point of their positioning was to observe what passed in and out of the camp, and that is what they did that evening. those criticisms that were raised including alex couples criticisms, all boil down to one thing. who are you going to trust, your own eyes and this information, or the government? theit is just not credible government would have done such horrible things. we have copious evidence of these programs. as time goes on, more and more
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evidence is coming out that helps give a clear explanation of what happened that evening. .> our guest is scott horton you investigated the suicides that happen in 2006 and has written a piece in guantánamo called, "the guantanamo 'suicides' revisited." we also want to take on the issue of the obama administration officials saying that the justice department will finally reveal part of the contents of the secret memo that authorizes the assassinations of americans overseas. a federal's appeals court ordered the memo's disclosure last month following a lawsuit by the american civil liberties union and "the new york times" seeking the legal basis for drone strikes. the lawsuit coming after the u.s. killed the american-born cleric anwar al-awlaki, his 16 year old son abdulrahman, as khan, despite never having charged any of them with a crime. administration's decision not to
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appeal the ruling came just days after senator republican -- republican senator rand paul threatened to filibuster the nomination if the memo's author david barron to a seat on the court of appeals of the first circuit. barron's expected to come up for a vote this week. validaid there is no legal precedent to justify the killing of an american citizen not engaged in combat. there's a role battle going on in the senate right now. talk about the significance of the obama administration not appealing the court decision. >> significant on several points. one is the decision the second circuit, written by one of the most famous appeals court judges , basically took the government to task for its attitude toward secrecy. so the government is keeping this secret but they're going before audiences and talking about in detail the doj is releasing a detailed white paper. you can't have it both ways. either it is secret or it is in the public sector and can be discussed.
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there's this fundamental criticism which -- the second major point really has to do with david barron. an important figure, i think, a lot of people are critical of his decision, particularly his .pinion on anwar al-awlaki i think the judicial appointment is a particularly important one. >> marcy wheeler's headline was, obama to release a will see memo after only 24 congressional request from 31 members of congress. we're talking democrats and republicans. >> in the end, shows the tactic works that can force these materials into the public. >> what you expect to see? >> i expect to see a much clearer explanation of the .ationale legal rationale probably, will see the cia was authorized to execute anwar
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al-awlaki, therefore, it was viewed as being outside of the restrictions on murder overseas. >> we want to thank you, scott horton, for being with us, human rights attorney and creature ridding editor at harper's magazine. his latest piece at harper's is called, "the guantanamo 'suicides' revisited." also author of the forthcoming book, "the lords of secrecy: the national security elite and america's stealth foreign policy." back, what is the film that republican legislators in washington tried to stop from being screened? we will be joined by the director. stay with this. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> there's a chilling new documentary about the billionaire koch brothers that some republicans don't wait to see. on monday, republican representative candace miller of michigan tried to block an event at the capitol unveiling the film, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." miller claimed the documentary could violate house rules and cross the line into partisan politics. she unsuccessfully argued that showing the documentary was an inappropriate use of taxpayer-funded facilities. on tuesday evening, the film event proceeded as planned.
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house democratic leader nancy pelosi, senate majority leader harry reid, and independent senator bernie sanders of vermont all attended and spoke at the congressional press briefing where parts of the film were aired. this is the trailer for, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." >> the koch brothers of the poster boys for the top 1%. their money, power, feels the growing inequality in america. >> the name koch has become a four letter word. day in and day out, the kochs be politicians and policy. it is taking a terrible toll on democracy. >> they're bound and determined to do away with government. >> stopping on poor people. >> charles koch said he wants to eliminate the minimum wage. >> i think the fact the koch brothers or try to take away minimum wage is ridiculous. i don't see how one dollar could affect them. and i couldn't imagine anybody making that much even being
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concerned with someone making minimum wage. it doesn't make sense to me. >> the most important thing is not that they have wealth, it is that they're using their immense portion to run roughshod over the american people and grab more wealth for themselves. >> the kochs a bill to never right-- ever-growing wing. >> instituted a photo id requirement for every voter. >> regulate co2 under the clean air act is wrong and should not be allowed to stand. >> the show has played out on a national stage. when the curtain is pulled back, we discover the production is all under the direction of the koch brothers. >> part of the trailer of the documentary, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." havees and david koch funneled millions of dollars to conservative candidates and causes over the last four decades -- have also worked tirelessly to open the
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floodgates for money in politics. the koch brothers network tops $100 billion in their currently tied for fourth on the forbes 400 list of wealthiest americans. for more we go to washington, d.c. where we're joined by the director of the new film, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." robert greenwald is the founder and president of brave new films. robert, tell us what happened on capitol hill. what was the controversy over your film? >> the controversy is really another example of how the kochs work, which is they tried to change the conversation. the koch lawyer put out a statement immediately then candidates who received money from the kochs picked up the statement and carry their water in an effort to really stop free speech and prevent the public airing of the clips from the film. it can't happen today because billions of people will see the full film for free on the internet, but it was really an
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effort to remove the conversation so that we were talking about the fundamental issue, which is the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent, but there was some silly argument that could it be shown or could it not be shown. diversion, diversion, and a version. >> your film notes that each koch brother makes $1.8 million every hour. it would take a minimum wage worker 76 years to make that much money. i want to turn to a new clip in your updated film, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." this is a minimum wage worker. if you're a minimum wage, it is hard getting by. but ise is section eight can't afford to buy anything extra or anything better. it is really hard trying to get by. i think the fact the koch brothers are trying to take away
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minimum wage is ridiculous. i'm just filling out the forms them a public assistance requires in order to get assistance for anything. wage was raised one dollar, i would need public assistance. -- i wouldn't need public assistance. soundsion a day wonderful. i can't imagine anyone making that much would even be concerned with anyone making minimum wage. it doesn't make is to me how they would consider taking it away or lowering it. if anything, i would think they would be giving back and helping us. >> in this clip, we see how the koch brothers, charles and david they have attacked labor unions. >> what we would like to see is
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to take the unions out of the knees of a low have the resources to fight these battles. >> this is a coordinated effort when you have alec and emeritus for prosperity's, the millions and millions of dollars being spent to fight unions and to take this country backward. >> the koch brothers want to eliminate the ability for working folk to have power and are using -- they try to eliminate trade unions. >> they not only want to destroy unions, they want to destroy the lives of working people across the country. >> they do not want to have safety regulation. they do not want workers to be able to negotiate wages and benefits. >> that is a clip of robert greenwald's new film, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition."
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explain why you made a new film. reason was citizens united. the way the koch brothers played a role in changing the law because they had not liked it, so now they helped bring about citizens united. and of course, what we're seeing now, which is just extraordinary, the sums of money -- literally, hundreds of millions of dollars -- spent and so many different ways. look, we have an amazing team of researchers. they literally have been working 18 to 20 hours a day trying to get the numbers, get the facts. so in addition to what is public, there's so much money they hide, that the so-called koch bank. they are a trust set up. we are still turning out our hair about how much more money we are not even knowing about. the film is an effort to talk about that and to bring up the
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new information, as you showed, the minimum wage clip, to update some of the information about how the kochs give money to colleges with strings attached and the catholic for fencers objecting to the money being given to catholic university, to bring up some of the victories where in north carolina, the local school board finally through the koch candidates out and brought or turned back their efforts to resegregation schools. there are some victories in all of this, but most importantly, this is a tool. the film is free. we want people to be able to see it for free, thanks to over 2000 small donors, many people in your audience, and we want people to be able to take clips and sections of the film and ford it on. cindy environmental clip on or the union clip -- >> you mention the environmental clip. keystone xl. how do charles and david koch fit into this battle raging between the white house and many
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environmentalists around whether to approve the keystone xl? will be major beneficiaries if that is approved. they make an enormous amount of money from oil. the keystone, if approved, they will increase their profit who knows how much. they get involved in every level, so it is a good question. they get involved in finding the candidates. they get involved in funding attack ads. they get involved in think tank papers that would help justify keystone. it is all across the board. they are smart enough so they just don't do it in any one way. >> robert greenwald, thank you for being with us, producer and director and activist, just released an updated version of his documentary, "koch brothers exposed: 2014 edition." when we come back, daniel schulman joins us, out the new book, "sons of wichita: how the koch brothers became america's most powerful and private dynasty."
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stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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>> this is democracy now!,, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. to talk more about the koch brothers, we turn to daniel schulman, senior editor at mother jones magazine and his new book just out this week is, "sons of wichita: how the koch brothers became america's most powerful and private dynasty." the story is based on hundreds of interviews with koch family and friends as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. daniel schulman, we welcome you to democracy now! explain why you wrote this book. >> in 2010-2011 timeframe, you really started to see the koch brothers become demonized and villain eyes. they really became these cartoon villains behind the curtain of politics. they were a caricature.
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i started looking into their story a little bit. the one thing that first interested me was there are four koch brothers, not two. we always talk about charles and david koch but there are also frederick and bill koch. they have a phenomenally interesting political story, but their family story is just as fascinating to me. >> why don't you tell us in a nutshell that family story? >> ok. her father fred koch in the 1920's developed the process for refining oil. by firm into getting sued the major oil companies of the era and in order to find work, he ends up having a look for contracts overseas. that leads him to work in stalin's soviet union and the early 1930's, where his firm makes $5 million helping to modernize the soviet oil industry.
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when he returns home, he vows to do everything he can to fight communism. he ends up becoming a founding member of the john birch society , ultraconservative group whose leader robert welsh considered what eisenhower to be literally an agent of the communist his see. fred koch is in the room when the john birch society is founded. charles koch becomes a member of the john birch society as a young man. his three brothers -- >> explain, especially for young people, the john birch society, ku klux klan, what were the relationships are the kind of issues, the similarities? >> john birch society was certainly accused of racism. they rejected and anti-semitism -- anti-semitism come and they rejected. they saw evidence of communist subversion behind every move of government --
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>> like john mccarthy? >> they accused marley 13 of being a communist agent. that sort of thing. they thought the u.n. was a jeweler bringing about a one world government. you hear a lot of this today in the tea party rhetoric. there is kind of a direct to the tea party. there are three other koch brothers. the eldest never went into the family business, frederick. he is a philanthropist and art collector who spent his life restoring a series of really fabulous historic homes around the world. including marie antoinette's bed. that is the rarest object in the house. >> did you get to sleep and it? >> no guest gets to sleep in it. unfortunately, no. david and bill koch are the youngest of the koch brothers.
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they are fraternal twins. in terms of the few that broke out between brothers, this is really what is fascinating about this family. these four brothers into that pairing off, charles and david with frederick and bill over the business empire their father bequeathed show them. it was basically two decades of the most brutal legal fighting you could ever imagine. we're talking private detectives snooping through each other's trash. they believed moles had been inserted within the ranks of each other's enterprises. that sort of stuff. -- it isly baird the brutal in terms of the testimony they were forced to give about their childhood and the relationships with each other. disinherited or was
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partially disinherited by their father when he died in 1967. that sort of carried a sting that never quite went away. so all of this really came out in the most public of settings for the most private of families. it was quite poignant. >> you also suggested that fred koch, the father of the four, had a role to play in fostering this competition among his sons. one of the things you mentioned come a we talked about the john birch society. one things that koch fred koch said, he warned in the was of of this years -- vicious race forcing the color man looms large in the communist plan to take over america. could you explain to what extent his views permeated those of charles and david koch, his sons who became and here's? >> sure. they grew up with the sort of anti-communist rhetoric in their home.
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one sort of amusing story i heard was in the early 1960's, visitor shows up to the house during a copy of earnest teaming ways "the sun also rises." charles opens the door and is eyes flicked over the cover of the book. it is clear there's something wrong. the visitors says,, is everything ok? well, you can't come and caring a copy of that book. hemingway was a communist. that type of literature was not allowed in the family home. one thing a lot of people don't know about fred koch, he was a leader of the drive in kansas for right to work in 1958, successfully, to pass that amendment and the state. >> could you explain? >> right to work is basically a measure passed in many states since then, but it basically bans closed union shops were you have to be -- where union membership is compulsory. forlso, the sympathy
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fascism. you write, in 1938, then sympathetic to the fascist regimes ruling germany, italy, wrote that hed hoped one day the united states would resemble these nations, which had overcome the vices of idleness, feeding at the public trough, and dependence on government. >> he made a lot of bombastic and strange statements. i think even david has acknowledged his dad went little overboard with the anti-communism stuff. but there's no question that his antigovernment and fears about socialism are reflected today in the politics of his sons. charles and david, in particular. >> talk about their politics and how they went from this private dynasty to coming out much more, maybe it was after the battles within the family, to be so foricly powerful
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influencing -- we just passed the midterm mini super tuesday -- defeats around the country, but they're a huge funder of this organization. >> it has been a decades long evolution, essentially. the one thing to understand about charles and david cope, there consider this monolith but they're quite different people. david is much more of a classic philanthropist. philanthropy is a medical research and that sort of thing. charles -- >> and the arts. >> exactly. >charles, as those who know him, his lifelong as soon as been to change the political culture. this has been going on for over five decades. he was a john birch society member and ends up getting not quite he resigns because he runs an ad blasting the vietnam war in "the wichita
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eagle." from there he sort of gets involved with the fledgling libertarian movement of that day. he was an early trustee of a school called the freedom school, which was in the rain part mountain range, organized by his colorful antigovernment votingo believed even by you are legitimizing government. that is how antigovernment his philosophy was. charles falls in with this kind of radical student anarchist and freedom seekers of all sorts. he decides the mainstream of libertarian ideas will be his philanthropic legacy. he first tries to do this to the libertarian party -- through the libertarian party and david koch ends up running for the vice president shall candidacy in the 1980 election. there was no question they thought this was going to be an election they would win. the whole point was to sort of
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get these ideas out there and get people exposed to them. implodedtion sort of the movement because, frankly, david koch was not radical enough for the libertarians of those days. towas calling for reforms the income tax and they wanted to abolish it entirely. >> was he more political than then he became subsequently? it is david koch gives more to the arts and medical causes and so on. >> he plays the role of the political face man. it is charles that is really the big strategic thinker. david is much more comfortable putting himself out there in a political setting. charles was, in fact, asked if he wanted to run for the vice presidential candidacy. he is a very private guy and not comfortable with public speaking. he had a big company to run. he said he did not want to do that and asked his brothers
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david and bill if they were interested. bill turned him down a david said -- >> david describes in his 19 80 campaign is the libertarian vice presidential candidate. it was his proudest achievement, he wrote, in his 25th class reunion book at m.i.t.. mark gaines has written, in 1976, the magazine devoted an entire issue to promoting holocaust deniers. one of them was rand paul's congressional aide at the time, gary north, who wrote it was the favorite horror story. how did this follows through in charles and david koch's work? >> i'm not sure if that is part and parcel of the sort of theme they would advocate. and the libertarian movement of the 1970's -- i'm honestly not failure with that issue of the magazine -- you had a lot of fringe thinkers. this is one of the reasons why david and charles koch sort of jettisoned themselves from the
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movement in the 1980's, because they were trying to bring some level of respectability to libertarian free-market ideas. those are their issues. there were a lot of french players in the -- fringe players and they felt it was tarnishing the movement. >> what were you most surprised with? >> the absolute brutality of the battle that played out the between these brothers. you cannot imagine the sorts of things happening between some of your worst enemies, let alone people that had grown up under the same roof. and it was the depth to which they were influenced by their dad and some of the things that played out in their childhood. >> and what did charles and david koch end up with in terms of the family business? people don't even think about them as oil barons, but in fact -- >> koch industries really
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started out when trolls ran it in the 1960's after their father's death, it was midsized oil cattle ranching empire. from there it has grown into an international behemoth with 100,000 employees, locations in 60 countries. it has gone well beyond oil and gas. they own georgia-pacific. brawny paper towels, dixie cups. full paper.e they may be motion sensor paper towel dispenser. , thank youchulman for being with us, senior editor at mother jones magazine. his new book is just out this week called, "sons of wichita: how the koch brothers became america's most powerful and private dynasty." that does it for our broadcast. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning.
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