tv Democracy Now WHUT September 12, 2012 6:00pm-6:59pm EDT
09/12/12 09/12/12 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" the u.s. ambassador to libya has been killed along with three other embassy staff after protesters stormed a consular building, denouncing an american made film insulting the prophet mohammed. secrets and lies in the terror wars. and look how the bush white house was deaf to warnings ahead of the 9/11 attacks. >> one of the things that was most surprising to me during their years of reporting on this was the number of elements of the story that were advanced by
governments around the world that ended up not being true. >> kurt eichenwald on his boat "500 days." and a whistleblower once jailed after revealing how ubs had helped americans evade taxes. >> today is a great day for whistleblowers, a great day for all the honest americans out there who work their job, pay their taxes, and today is a great day for tax fairness. today is a terrible day for big- time tax cheats. >> all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the u.s. ambassador to libya and three embassy staffers have been killed in an attack on the u.s. consulate in the libyan city of benghazi.
christopher stevens and three aides died of smoke inhalation after an angry mob set fire to the building in protest of an amateur anti-muslim film produced in the united states. the film also sparked protests in egypt, where demonstrators scaled a wall of u.s. embassy in cairo and burnt the american flag. the film called "in a sense of muslims," was funded by private donors and made by director who's called islam a cancer. we will have more on this story after headlines. the white house is denying reports president obama has snubbed israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu by refusing a meeting with netanyahu -- when netanyahu visits washington next week. the reported rift is said to center around u.s.-israeli tensions over iran, with netanyahu continuing to push for a military attack. on tuesday, he escalated his rhetoric say no one in the world
can tell israel not to attack iran. >> the world says, "wait, there's still time." i say, "wait for what?" "wait until when?" those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before iran do not have a moral right to place a red light before israel. if iran knows there is no deadline, what will it do a question of exactly what it is doing. it is continuing without any interference toward obtaining nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs. >> many have taken that to know who's comments as his most forceful rebuke -- have taken the prime minister's comments as the most forceful rebuke.
united nations special envoy lakhdar brahimi is due to arrive in syria in the coming days for talks with both president bashar al-assad and the rebel opposition. at the united nations, secretary-general ban ki-moon renewed calls on both sides to halt the fighting. >> first and foremost, the violence must stop by both sides. regardless of what their political grievances may be, it is not acceptable. then those countries who may have influence over two parties should exercise and the united and influence. then, third, they should immediately begin a political dialogue to have a political resolution affecting the general -- to not aspiration of
the people. >> u.s. military has identified the guantanamo bay prisoner who died over the weekend as adnan latif, a yemeni national had previously attempted suicide multiple times since his imprisonment a decade ago. he was at least the ninth foreign prisoner to die at guantanamo since the u.s. began jailing foreigners there in 2002. adnan latif have remained at guantanamo, despite being cleared for release. appearing on "democracy now!" in june, the british journalist and worthington discussed the case. >> approved for transfer under president george w. bush in 2006 and possibly earlier, adnan laf tihad his relief approved by obama's tax force, won his habeas corpus petition as well. because the judges of the d.c. circuit court's, a bunch of right-wing judges, i think it is fair to say these people are very right wing, where been clamping down on the ability of
the lower courts to approve the release of guantanamo prisoners under any circumstances, you know, they reversed the ruling in the case of adnan latif and relied for that on saying an intelligence report, which they even said was produced in haste under battlefield conditions. >> in a letter released in 2009, adnan latif wrote -- events were held across the nation tuesday to mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. president obama spoke in a ceremony at the pentagon. >> we recommit ourselves to the values we believe in, holding firmly without wavering to the hope that we confess. that is the commitment we reaffirm today. and that is why when the history books are written, the true legacy of 9/11 will not be one
of fear or hate or division, but a safer world, a stronger nation and people more united than ever before. >> in chile, thousands turned out for the countries on 9/11 anniversary. the u.s.-backed overthrow president salvador allende. on september 11, 1973, he died in the presidential palace in the coup that brought in a chat to power. on tuesday, protesters blocked traffic and set fire to security cameras after marching to commemorate the ouster of allende. the chicago teacher strike has entered its third day. . on tuesday, thousands of chicago teachers union members flooded daley plaza outside city hall and marched toward the school district's headquarters. nearly 30,000 teachers and their support staff have walked out over reforms sought by chicago
mayor rahm emanuel, who is president obama is former chief of staff. but key point of contention is the district's proposed method for evaluating teachers, which the teachers union says relies too heavily on standardized testing and could soon result in thousands of job cuts. the irs has announced a record $104 million reward to a whistleblower who exposed the biggest tax evasion scheme in u.s. history. former ubs banker brad birkenfeld first reported in 2007 that he and his colleagues had encouraged rich americans to store more than $20 billion in offshore swiss bank accounts and cheat the irs. but after coming ford, birkenfeld was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to prison. following his release last month, on tuesday, the irs vindicated his actions with $104 million award under its whistleblower program. attorney dean zerbe says
birkenfeld has been rewarded. >> this award by the irs is being made things to the information brad provided that led to over $5 billion and counting in tax payments being made by big banks and wealthy individuals who tried to evade paying their fair share of taxes. the $5 billion in payments were all made thanks to brad's willingness to stand up on behalf of honest taxpayers. >> more on this story later in the broadcast. a georgia grand jury has indicted five more suspects -- at least four of them former u.s. soldiers -- in connection with the killing of a former comrade and his girlfriend help conceal the existence of a militia they had formed to carry out anti-government attacks. prosecutors say the american soldiers spent $87,000 on guns and bombing materials for a plot that included taking over their base, fort stewart, bombing a dam and poisoning the apple crop in washington state, and
ultimately overthrowing the government and assassinating president obama. the soldiers called themselves f.e.a.r., short for forever in during always ready. they are accused of killing former soldier michael roark and a 17-year-old girlfriend, tiffany york, last december in a bid to keep their plans secret. it is the most high-profile case to involve extremism in u.s. military ranks since neo-nazi army veteran wade michael page killed six or perchers -- worshippers at the oak creek sikh temple in wisconsin and critically wounded three others before being shot dead last month. four other current or active duty soldiers have also been charged in the case. environmental activists protested shell's ongoing plans to drill for oil in the arctic. some 15 activists from the group climbed justice collective participated in the action against shell, saying its
drilling efforts off the coast of alaska are both taking advantage of and intriguing to the problem of receding sea ice. meanwhile, more naturally occurring see eyes moving into the vicinity of shells arctic drilling rig forced the company to halt its efforts on monday, just one day after began drilling an exploratory well. the arctic has seen unprecedented building rates this summer with scientists expected to announce a record low for the arctic sea ice minimum this week. a month long cross-country peace caravan led by mexican activists calling for an end of u.s.- backed drug war is wrapping up in washington, d.c. the caravan organized by the mexican poet, whose 24-year-old son was murdered by drug traffickers last year. speaking and tuesday, he called for the demilitarization of the drug war. >> the path to peace depends on
regulation of drugs, the control of deadly assault weapons, the profound and real fight against money laundering, humane immigration policy that is centered on life and not political interests. >> those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. >> >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today's show in libya where the u.s. ambassador to libya and three other embassy staff had been killed after protesters attacked the u.s. consulate in the eastern city of benghazi. ambassador christopher stevens reportedly is the first american on board to be killed a brought in more than two decades. they were attacked by protesters denouncing -- denouncing an american film. their conflicting reports on how he died. some say he got inside the consulate from smoke inhalation and others say he was killed in a car being driven from the consulate building.
there was no immediate comment from the state department in washington. >> the protests against the film began tuesday in both libya and egypt. in cairo, demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the u.s. embassy. joining us now on the phone from benghazi is a living activist and journalist. we're also joined by vijay prashad, a professor trinity college. his latest book is called, "arab spring, libyan winter." tell us what is happening in benghazi and what you understood happened yesterday. >> the security void is unclear and no one can really accuse who did this or moved these groups to make this protest. yesterday, we heard about this attack on the u.s. consulate in benghazi. we went over there and found
this building burned. people outside, looks like radical groups with weapons, and they were planning to attack the consulate. we did not know for what reason until we found out in egyptian channel, a religious egyptian channel, were accusing the americans. we need to move to protect our profit mohammed and stop this video that have been posted two months ago. we do not know why this provoked right now. nobody knows about this movie. i do not know why and who and for whose interest is to attack the embassy in benghazi. >> do you know if there were any
links between the attacks on the embassy in cairo with the coordinated attack in cairo and in the one in benghazi on the u.s. consulate? >> these groups are moved by clark's outside the country. they have no control of them. they take their orders from outside the country, so [indiscernible] with radical salafist groups. they are moved by clerks and are on satellite channels, so everyone watched them. when they get this order, they go out and do what they ask for. there is a program and channel which is religious tv. >> did you know u.s. ambassador christopher stevens?
he had been there for years. in fact, he had been there when the u.s. was having a moment with muammar gaddafi, then named the ambassador. >> i did meet him once in a demonstration in the square, along talking to the people without guards. he trusted the people. he left the people in the people loved him so much. i think he respected people. he was going around with no high security in the beginning. then he disappeared, of course, after the frequent incidents in benghazi. they started to have higher security. after the attack on the embassy by the are pg months ago, he disappeared. we did not know if he was in benghazi or in tripoli. >> were people aware he was in benghazi at the time of the
attack, though? >> well, i was there after the attack and i found -- when i saw the people's faces in the group, they themselves were confused and shocked that the ambassador was inside. so there was like a big confusion. they tried to hide the story. they could not talk about it to the public. i definitely know they did not know, because they were outside the embassy by that time. >> you are there in benghazi. what has been the reaction since the killing of the u.s. ambassador and his aides? >> confusion is looming. everybody is worried, especially
from these groups, because they are starting to have a little control and take action. , especially with this security void and political void. there has been a call against these groups, but now the state is doing nothing to control them or arrest them. this is what worries everybody here in benghazi. they're not comfortable with them. today, there is a demonstration not only for chris and for the security here and against those groups, so we are hoping that it -- everyone that's is depressed about this news. i talked to a lot of people. there were not really comfortable. they could not sleep all night because they are really worried
about their families, their security. and everything. >> and when you say chris, you're referring to the u.s. ambassador, christopher stevens, who was killed last night. we're talking to nizar sarieldin who is in benghazi right now prepare also joined by vijay prashad, professor at trinity college for his latest book is, "arab spring, libyan winter." as you learn this is, your reaction to what has taken place in libya? >> obviously, the first thing is this is not a very surprising even to me. it is a very sad event, very sad when there is violence of this kind chris stevens was a career foreign service officer. he had been in the peace corps. he also was in benghazi in 2011 at the start of the february revolution. he was put there by the u.s. state department. he has had a long relationship with libya.
but it is not surprising because there are social forces inside the villa that have been suppressed,-inside libya that i have been suppressed on that are seeking an outlet. this is that the first incident of this kind in 1996, during the high point of the danish there was aroversy, demonstration of more than 1000 people in front of the italian consulate. and italian minister had won a t-shirt that had the danish cartoons on it. in that demonstration, the gaddafi regime opened fire and killed 11 people in the crown. that was on february 17, 1996. because of that firing on the crowd, several human-rights activists have become
politicized. it was for the fifth anniversary of that police firing by the gaddafi regime on february 17, 2011, that people had planned demonstrations in benghazi for the fifth anniversary to commemorate the gaddafi shooting against this crowd. [indiscernible] of the rebellion last year essentially was around the commemoration of the shooting in benghazi in 1996. there are social forces in libya that have had a sense of being humiliated and suppressed. many of them come in a sense, have the framework of islamism, but i do not think we should fully make the situation, well, these are far-right radicals, al qaeda, things like that. sure, there were black flags, but i think there is an exaggeration of the black flag used in these demonstrations
both in cairo and benghazi. the black flag, for instance, is not only a symbol of a al qaeda but has become a routine flight of islamists. at the storming of the cairo embassy, it was not just islamists, but also the group that have played a significant role in tahrir square rebellion in egypt. but there is a section of the population that is feeling marginalized. they have no political voice. there is a section that fills the election, where the rules may have not fully allow them to put forward their own position. there is a complicated social section that i think we need to consider its role. i think is continuing and injuring sense that it has no voice. i do not think arresting a lot
of people were shooting people in these demonstrations is going to quell that social section. instead of a political voice. >> vijay prashad, you mention the danish cartoons controversy in 2005. can you elaborate a little bit on what the response in benghazi was at the time to those cartoons? >> certainly. when the cartoon controversy began in november, december 2005, it spreads rapidly around the world. just as iran is and now the satellite television channels played a major role there, there were demonstrations across the world, really, against the cartoon controversy. in february, there is a major demonstration in benghazi. we should keep putting this in context. the 1996 demonstration in february was not the first major demonstration in benghazi on this idea of being a people
humiliated. why is it the west wants to humiliate us with things like these cartoons or this ridiculous film the florida pastor? in benghazi in 1996, there was a major demonstration -- i'm sorry, in 2006, there was a major demonstration and the police fired. when i say, let's put this in context, in 1996, the libyan islamic fighting group had started its rebellion. at that time, it was people put down by the gaddafi regime. so whether it is 1996, 2006, 2011, 2012 -- you cannot suppress the social section simply by force of arms. >> i want to read a bit from the ap saying what the film that people were protesting is, who it was made by. an israeli filmmaker based in
california went into hiding tuesday after his movie attacking islam's prophet mohammed sparked angry assaults but ultraconservative muslims and u.s. missionmuslims in egypd libya. the writer and director sam the seal bacile remained a financing islam is a cancer and the 56- year-old intended the film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion. it goes on to say the two-hour movie and a sense of muslims cost $5 million to make. the film comes mohammed was a fraud and english language, 13- minute trailer on youtube shows an amateur cast performing in wooden dialogue of insults disguised as revelations about profit mohammed is to begin followers are presented as a cadre of goons, saying he approved of child sex abuse among other overtly insulting
clans that have caused outrage. this was made in 2011. it is unclear why this is gaining attention right now. it was made in three months in the summer of 2011 with 59 actors and about 45 people behind cameras. the film was dubbed into egyptian arabic by some he does not know, it speaks in up to confirm the translation is accurate. -- but he speaks enough to confirm the translation is accurate and would like a comet from vijay prashad and then, nizar sarieldin. >> i was the 13-minute trailer. it is very disturbing it is not the presence of the film or the making of the film itself that is the problem. it is that it has been heavily promoted. as i mentioned, terry jones, the pastor in florida who threatened to burn the koran to
commemorate 9/11 a few years ago, has been promoting films like this. he has become a touchstone. at the other end of the spectrum, there are radical clerics like this radical preacher who are mirroring him. they're creating a dense clash of civilizations -- atmosphere, in which there is a combustion going to happen. i think that is the context in the larger sense. in the more specific sense, they're certainly political jockeying going on in egypt where this really began. egyptian social section within the egyptian political section that is jockeying for authority in contemporary egypt. it just happened to be a coincidence that in libya, the prime minister was going to be announced yesterday. so it was just coincidence in libya as well there is a political jockeying.
but in egypt, there is a very real political battle between the section of the islamists and those who want to have a different kind of constitution that indeed is written. this is the kind of context there. this battle between two kinds of radicalism came in the middle of it. >> nizar sarieldin, could you comment as well on this film, the trailer has been circulating in libya? >> well, if you check the number of yours, two months ago, it could find only five house of people have been watching this video. since the channels talk about it, it gave it a boost with like 25,001 day, and only in libya. so i guess who did the publicity for this movie is actually
clerks and like this channel made the publicity and made everybody watched it. and moved [indiscernible] there is a reason. i think they want to score something. they want to hide certain facts because we're going toward democracy, and democracy -- of course, those radicals are against democracy and are not really happy with this election and everything. they want it to be like in old time islamic ruling, which is everybody disagrees with. >> nizar sarieldin, thank you for being with us, speaking to us from benghazi, libya and activist and journalist in benghazi or the u.s. ambassador christopher stevens was killed last night with three embassy
aides. vijay prashad joining us from trinity college in hartford, conn. his latest book is called, "arab spring, libyan winter." this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. when we come back, kurt eichenwald will join us to talk about secrets and lies in the terror war. his new book, "500 days." ♪ [music break]
>> one day after the 11th anniversary of the september 11 attacks, we begin the show by talking about newly disclosed documents that provide further evidence the bush administration ignored repeated warnings about osama bin laden's plans to attack the united states. writing in "the new york times," journalist and author kurt eichenwald reports the bush administration dismissed a number of warnings of an al qaeda attack in the u.s. beginning in the spring of 2001, instead of focusing on iraq and saddam hussein. eichenwald writes -- >> to talk about the significance of these findings, we're joined by the author himself, kurt eichenwald, an award winning journalist and
contributing editor at "vanity fair." his of a guest today is called, "the deafness before the storm." his latest book, "500 days: secrets and lies in the terror wars." we welcome you to "democracy now!" lay out the chronology for us but a lot of people know august 6, 2001, right before the september 11 attacks, explain then that memo and how you went back. >> that is the way to look at this, which is backwards. in 2004, the 9/11 commission hearings were saying, we want to see these presidential daily greeks. the bush administration fought releasing them. they finally released the august 61, which now have the infamous headline "bin laden determined to strike u.s.." in her testimony, condoleezza rice, the national security
adviser at the time, said this was merely a historical document, a review of bin laden and al qaeda and what they've done. when you read it, that is what it was. it was also a red herring. i cannot say that is why they released it, but it certainly was convenient. that document was the only one of the many that have gone out over the previous few months that was historical. all of the others were, "there is an attack coming." "there are going to be mass casualties." "there is a terrorist cell in the united states plotting to strike." with a great deal of table pounding. i don't want to keep picking on secretary rice, but in that she
did testify, "if we had been made aware that there was an attack coming, we would have done something." well, they were made aware. in the end, what these documents show is that the bush in ministration was not at that point prepared to consider a al qaeda and these kind of non- staple terrorist organizations as been a significant threat. >> who are the neoconservatives leaders you point to four more interested in iraq than listening to al qaeda? >> the lead fellow was paul wolfowitz, the number to the pentagon. since this piece came out, members of the bush ministration, ari fleischer last night was an, paul was kicking this idea around, but people said, no, and that was it. that is ia lie.
the cia actually had to go back and put together an entire brief saying, no, we are not being fooled, this is real, let's have -- it is going to the president of the u.s.. there is a debate playing out to the president of the nine states june 29 of 2001 about whether these warnings are even worth listening to. it is a very serious -- >> who else heard the briefings apart from the president? >> it would have gone to the vice president. there are two levels of briefings. there are the presidential daily briefs, and a second level down call the seib. that gets around a broader group of people. elements of what are in the presidential daily breves are also in the seib. so i can say some elements of
what i am saying were among the whole national security, a senior advisory group within the bush demonstration. >> this is a clip of the secretary of state condoleezza rice testifying in a hearing before the 9/11 commission about the attacks. >> there was no silver bullet that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks. in hindsight, if anything might help spot 911, it would've been better information about threats inside the united states. something made it very difficult by structural and legal impediments that prevented the collection and sharing of information by our law enforcement and intelligence agencies. >> that was then secretary of state condoleezza rice who spoke of republican national convention this summer. kurt eichenwald, talk about what she said and then talk about what you describe as the obsession now with osama bin laden, but with saddam hussein and how they felt this was
sidetracking that targeting. >> that quote from secretary rice is something that to the courgoes to the heart of what is so offensive. begin said, here are the warning warnings. what we know is now that these documents are out, the cia did a spectacular job in developing the evidence and bringing it to the white house. and the white house did not listen. what you had from almost the get go was the white house and members of the administration saying, "well, the intelligence was not good enough "and "if we had only had more." and then they said, and we are
not given a place in a time, as if we were talking about a birth the invitation. if you have that much information, it was simply the, "we have arrested these people." one more little fact, the only other time he had a series of threats alert on the scale of the summer of 2001, was in december 1999. it was bin laden is about to strike. same thing, very similar. the entire government went on high alert. you're the counter-terrorism center at the cia told, "don't worry about your budget." they blew through their first nine months of the year budget in 15 days. this was a full-court press we're going to stop them bread and they picked up terrorists around the world. the one people know about is the
fellow who was planning to bomb los angeles international airport. but there were people picked up in indonesia, pakistan, who are going to attack american interests there. so that was very, very successful. it was successful because the government has the ability and the capacity to go on high alert. what the bush administration did was say, this is very concerning, let's have a meeting. let's put out notices to our embassies into our military to be particularly careful. but it is not the same thing. >> what about some of the same? the significance of the problem of the bank osama bin laden for the neocons in the white house, because they wanted to get saddam hussein. >> you have to understand the shift that took place in that time. the republicans have been out of
the white house since 1992. when they left, the nation state was the enemy. iraq, iran, north korea, whoever you wanted to pick. saddam hussein was the center of the war. they leave. from 1992-2000, the detached threat, the nomination state threat develops. al qaeda it develops. we had not heard of al qaeda before. when the republicans get back into office, they've spent the last year on the outside rattling the "we have to take down a rociraq." the clinton people tell them, the most important thing you're going to deal with over the next few years is bin laden. but they have not adapted to that. this is a new world. and it is, "iraq is the most
important." unfortunately, fax started been shoved into that mindset. if you have a piece of information come up, well, how does that relate to iraq? what is for breakfast today? how does that relate to iraq. >> i want to turn to your appearance on msnbc yesterday or you were joined by republican governor of new york who challenged the premise of your book and what you're saying now, your book "500 days: secrets and lies in the terror wars." >> this is incredibly unfortunate. first of all, having been there on september 11 and for weeks, months thereafter, president bush provided inspired, effective leadership. september 11 everything changed. to look 11 years later and say, this was happening before
september 11 and to selectively take out quotes saying you should have done that, you should of done that, i think is incredibly unfair and a disservice to history. by the way, if you look back, there are those that could of said, "president roosevelt was at fault for pearl harbor." >> some to say that. >> but the government did not look back and said, "let's plan the president." we came together to fight an important war. you could also look back and say, you got intelligence we were going to be attacked. of course, we had already been attacked. the towers were blown up in 1993. i do not think it serves any point to say clinton and ministration treated it as a criminal act as opposed to a terrorist act. >> that was george pataki, governor of new york when the attacks happened. your response? >> over the last 24 hours, there has been a disturbing response
from republicans, which is actually surprising. what i'm doing is writing history. this is what happened. i do not come in and say, something a bit about, well, this is what should happen and they should of acted in this way and could have stopped 9/11. and never say any of that. i have said this is what they did in 1999 and worked and they could have done that. what is sort of the concede of what governor pataki is saying is, well, we do not want to hear the history because george bush did a great job after 9/11 and what ever happened before and is irrelevant. his comment about roosevelt, i mean, this would be as if we're saying in 1956, we could not talk about the history of what happened before the bombing before the attack on pearl harbor.
it is 11 years before, it is history. unfortunately, so much now in this country is seen through this partisan prism that when you're dealing with, here is what happened, people don't want to hear it if it doesn't to the talking points of the day. >> the people who threaten to quit within the cia, i mean, this was not just a minor issue. you had a whole group of people -- we remember when dick cheney repeatedly said, you're not giving me the information i want to attack saddam hussein. the cia folks who were talking about it being osama bin laden when the rest for pushing them to say saddam hussein? >> i think what you're talking about is the july 9 meeting at the cia, with the counter- terrorism people all got
together. this goes to exactly what governor pataki was saying. we get these warnings all the time. the something in 1993. as if there is no purpose for counter-terrorism because, we all know they will come at us all the time. the people who put together the intelligence, the people there day in and day out, the people who were listening in on the phone calls, the people protecting american citizens were sitting in a conference room saying, "we need to put in for a mass transfer because this is coming, and it is going to be really bad." >> and they're going to be blamed for it. >> yes. the senior fellow in the room says, "there is nobody more qualified than us to ride this thing down. they will not be able to get people in here that are qualified and we're going to be the ones here holding the bag." which is exactly what happened.
they're sitting there saying, not, "oh, what is the next thing we can do?" they're saying, "we have done everything we can do. it is going to be bad. we're glad to be blamed. the only thing they failed to do was to get the white house off the dime, and that was not their responsibility. >> one of the most interesting accounts in your book is a president bush tried to persuade then-president bush tried to persuade french president jacques chirac to support this military action in iraq. you write that bush said to him -- "jacques
can you elaborate on that? >> it was a very interesting day when i heard that. this was a phone call -- at that point, jacques chirac have been expressing a great deal of doubt about the intelligence that saddam hussein had weapons of mass destruction. his doubts opposite were well played. bush was trying to get a unified effort behind getting a resolution from the u.n. and then for military action. chirac was not been particularly cooperative, for the very reason he did not trust the intelligence. there's this phone call and bush is giving many reasons why france should become part of why
chirac be joining in, and his not having allowed of success. suddenly, a shift to this religious conversation. jacques chirac's response to this was, he gets off the phone and other people have been in on the call, they all say, does anyone know what he was talking about? his in ministration, someone there reaches out to an expert on the bible in switzerland. this person is like, what is gog and magog? this person writes a report -- i say this in this surreal. he writes a report for the french president explaining these biblical terms that were cited by the president of the united states in the national security conversation. gog and magog are from to the books in the bible.
central elements in the apocalyptic -- the armageddon conception. jacques chirac's response when he reads this is, "i am dealing with a fanatic and i'm not going to make national security decisions for france based on based on the president's interpretation of the bible." >> kurt eichenwald, we have to in this conversation but the book is fascinating. we want to do part two after the show and put it online at democracynow.org. kurt eichenwald is contributing writer at "vanity fair." this latest book, "500 days: secrets and lies in the terror wars." this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we will be back in a moment. ♪ [music break]
>> this is "democracy now!," democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. >> we turn now to a major development in the case of a banking whistleblower. former ubs ag banker brad birkenfeld first reported in 2007 that he and his colleagues had encouraged rich americans to store more than $20 billion in offshore swiss bank accounts and cheat the irs. after he can afford, was convicted of conspiracy and sentenced to prison. he was released from prison in august and on tuesday, the irs vindicated his actions with a $104 million award under the irs whistle-blower program. >> ubs ultimately paid $780 million to resolve the investigation, admitted to criminal wrongdoing, and closed the unit where birkenfeld worked. his disclosure also prompted at least 33,000 americans to report offshore accounts to the irs, generating more than $5 billion. the irs is now investigating at
least 11 other banks. we're going directly to washington, d.c., this stephen kohn. his executive director of the national whistleblower center and the author of, "the whistleblower's handbook: a step-by-step guide to doing what's right and protecting yourself." birkenfeld himself is under home confinement after getting out of jail, not authorized by the bureau of prisons to do interview, now seeking a presidential pardon. stephen kohn, welcome back to "democracy now!" talk about this unprecedented award to brad birkenfeld who has just gotten out of jail. >> well, it is the largest whistleblower award in history, but birkenfeld turned in the largest financial fraud. he turned in 19,000 felons and $20 billion in one unit. but we also know 33,000 people are turning themselves in, and
the total amount of u.s. dollars in illegal offshore accounts is over $5 trillion. that is the estimatedestimation. the irs tried to change the dynamic when the justice department prosecuted by the birkenfeld and one of the most absurd and misguided efforts, they took a person who turned in the keys to the kingdom, the first whistleblower to expose exactly how the legal swiss banking work and illegal offshore banking was working across the world, and instead of using him, the persecuted him. the irs now is turning that around. the irs -- i think one of the reasons they had to give such a big award is because they need informants. they need other bankers to step
forward. with the justice department did had a devastating impact on the whistleblower program. they have turned around and give the largest whistleblower award ever. we worked on that for over three years, through the process, trying to make sure he wanted because his victory is really a victory against offshore illegal banking. were millionaires and billionaires stash their wealth, where corrupt politicians put in their money, drug dealers -- when you're looking at the illegal offshore banking, it is really a handmaiden to corruption. it is extremely important public policy, public interest to go to war against these banks. this award to mr. birkenfeld, in our view, is one of the most important steps forward to
encourage others to step forward and tackle illegal offshore banking. >> offshore tax havens have recently come under increasing focus because of republican presidential nominee mitt romney's foreign accounts. earlier this summer, he defended his foreign investments during an interview with radio iowa. >> with regards to any foreign investments, i enter stand and you understand that my investments have been held by a blind trust. they had been managed by a trustee. i do not even know where they are. the trustee follows all u.s. laws, all the taxes are paid as appropriate, all of them have been reported to the government. there is nothing hidden there. for instance, if you own shares the say in fiat or renault, you still have to pay taxes and disclose that in the u.s. >> that was mitt romney speaking this summer. can you talk about the significance of this case and how it relates to what mitt
romney said? >> first to clarify, this is not an anti-romney campaign. we do not have any direct information about candidate romney. but i want to talk about how the swiss banking system works, it illegal offshore banking works. there are two ways it happens. first, you have a direct account sitting in the bank, trading stocks or gaining interest or whatever. and that was the $20 billion program. the second way is they set up trusts, offshore trusts in which an american invests in the trust. so you give them $1 million and the trusty runs the investment. these are often usually illegal, because the trustee is the american investor a one-step removal from the actual illegal activities and in that the to
deny involvement. it also gets very hard to track this money. because if you just put $1 million into a trust that say has 200 and dollars in assets, how do you follow that money that make a to one or two or three offshore locations? >> we have five seconds. >> birkenfeld turn that in britain want to emphasize, this is not anti-romney, but it does call for more investigation. >> stephen kohn, thank you for being with us. go to democracynow.org where juan gonzalez has written a piece in "the new york daily news" as he continues to follow this case. and that does it for our show. if you'd like a copy, go to our website at democracynow.org. week. the philadelphia free library; then to pittsburgh at the 5:00 p.m. in cleveland at first church at 106 north main street. college in gambier, ohio, at noon; then at 3:00 in columbus