Police violence and torture. The rise of the Islamic State—or ISIS—and another war in Iraq. Another assault on the people of Gaza by Israel. These are the major stories highlighted on the year-end “Unauthorized Disclosure” episode.
Our guest for the episode is Roqayah Chamseddine, a freelance writer based in Australia.
After Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown, the issue of police brutality went mainstream. It was no longer a fringe issue and communities could push stories about what police had done to them into the news. But, since two NYPD officers were killed, the momentum a movement had has stalled.
President Barack Obama had pledged to have a commission review possible reforms to reduce “excessive use of force” by increasingly militarized police forces, however, the tragic deaths of NYPD officers have led Obama to indicate the commission will now also address the targeting and killing of police officers in the United States, which unlike police brutality is not a systemic issue at all.
“I have never seen a nation that is so obsessed with their police force,” Chamseddine states. “It’s almost a worship of the police and we see them referred to as if they are soldiers because that’s really what they are. Many of the people have been calling them an occupying force.” She adds that they go into black and brown neighborhoods and invoke the authority to search people randomly, harass them, kill them and face absolutely no accountability from courts.
For the portion of our show on torture, we highlight a part of the summary that went under-reported—the section that suggests CIA medical personnel engaged in “human subjects research” or even possibly human experimentation when they were calibrating torture methods for use in interrogations.
We talk about the lasting ramifications of what was learned from the summary as well as how the US is a prime funder of states in the world, which torture people.
Moving into discussion of the Islamic State, Khalek highlights the connection between torture and the Islamic State by noting that a number of leaders in the group were tortured in US-run detention facilities or the prisons of America’s dictatorial allies.
“The main problem in terms of ISIS is that many people are not blaming the main product that created them, which is the US-led invasion in 2003 and even I would actually say the killing of 500,000 children by the Clinton regime when sanctions were put in place,” Chamseddine contends. “Because it created a generation which began to see the reality of what’s going on and it influenced the political sophistication that we see with ISIS.”
Khalek notes during our discussion of the assault on Gaza that entire neighborhoods were wiped out and don’t exist anymore. “Operation Protective Edge” killed around 2,200 people, at least 500 children and the vast majority were civilians.
“It was like a live war over Twitter. We were watching it happen in real time and seeing horrifying photos and actually hearing from people in Gaza,” Khalek adds, which she says outraged people and shifted some perceptions.
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