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Year-End Episode of ‘Unauthorized Disclosure’: A Look Back at 2015

All throughout the year, we have enjoyed producing weekly episodes of our podcast, “Unauthorized Disclosure.” Each guest has brought incredible insight to issues and topics, which we believe deserve widespread discussion and are often under addressed in the establishment media. But this is our final episode of 2015.

Roqayah Chamseddine, a writer and someone who currently works at “The Empire Files” with Abby Martin, joins the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast as a guest co-host (again).

For the first half of the hour-long episode, we talk about the GOP debate, which happened last week because it perfectly encapsulates a lot of what was wrong with this year. We shift to discussion about ISIS and Islamophobia. (In fact, some of our discussion may sound like what Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders said during the Saturday night debate when asked about the bigotry Donald Trump and other GOP candidates are fueling.)

We spend some time talking about the issue of climate change and how once again we’re horrified that what needs to be done is not being done by the U.S. government and other world powers. The statistics for how bad things will get continue to be stunning. Plus, our media and politicians spend very little time giving climate change the attention it truly merits.

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Below are some highlights from the year-end episode:

RANIA KHALEK: There’s a been a few debates throughout the year, and each one seems to be more extreme than the last. This recent debate — I would say at least in my lifetime and all of history I know from this century and the one before it — this was the most extreme. The rhetoric was frothing at the mouth levels of extremism and calls for mass murder and violence. Just open calls for mass violence.

You had Ted Cruz calling for carpet bombing ISIS. I think he called for surgical carpet bombing, which makes no sense. But either way he is calling for carpet bombing ISIS. Donald Trump basically affirmed his support for deterring terrorism by killing the families of members of ISIS.

Ben Carson, I think, won the award for most batshit, sociopathic insane homicidal desires. He was asked by right-wing talk radio host Hugh Hewitt, who hosted the debate with Wolf Blitzer—

HEWITT: You mention in your opening remarks that you’re a pediatric surgeon, and people admire and respect and are inspired by your life story, your kindness, your evangelical core support. We’re talking about ruthless things tonight – carpet bombing, toughness, war. And people wonder, could you do that? Could you order airstrikes that would kill innocent children, by not the scores but the hundreds and the thousands? Could you wage war as a commander-in-chief?

That question is crazy on its own because he is like, could you do it? To kill the children? To wage the war that we need you to do to be tough? And Ben Carson’s response was:

CARSON: Interestingly enough, you should see the eyes of some of those children when I say to them we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor. They’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point, but later on they love me. Sometimes I sound like him [pointing to Donald Trump]. Later on, they realize what’s going on, and by the same token, you have to be able to look at the big picture and understand that it’s actually merciful if you go ahead and finish the job rather than death by a thousand pricks.

Hugh Hewitt responds, “You’re okay with the deaths of thousands of innocent children and civilians?” And the crowd I think starts to boo Hugh Hewitt, and Ben Carson goes, you got it! That was his response.

ROQAYAH CHAMSEDDINE: It’s chilling to hear someone say this in a monotone passive kind of way. It isn’t even really his voice tone. It’s the fact that he said it so nonchalantly as if these people are not human at all.

KHALEK: And the fact that he called it merciful. That kind of talk is bizarre and just so detached and really sociopathic. I don’t know who else can say that, like it’s merciful to kill thousands of children. The point he was trying to make, which I suppose is even scarier, is that the children he has to operate on to remove their tumor—He’s saying that in order to get ISIS, which is a tumor, he has to kill hundreds or thousands of children, but in the long run, that’s a merciful thing to do, to get rid of the cancer.


GOSZTOLA: What’s really troubling is at the end of 2015, we just got this climate deal and again it doesn’t feel like it is going to do anything for the planet. It sets up a framework, but there’s so many ways that the United States will be able to get around it and not take responsibility for its role in pollution.

There’s some amazing statistics that should be brought out there, like how 2015 has been the hottest year, how 2016 is going to get even worse. There was recent study by NASA and the National Science Foundation looking at the world’s freshwater supply, looking at the 235 lakes on six different continents, and how lakes are warming at about an average of .61 degrees Fahrenheit or .34 degrees Celsius each decade. Scientists say this is greater than the global warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere. It’s going to be tremendously awful for our world.

We’ve had Dahr Jamail on our show to talk about his work on climate disruption, which is the term that he uses for what’s happening. We did an episode back in January. Dahr talked about the levels of methane gas that are being released into the atmosphere and feeding into this pollution.

It’s incredibly alarming, and especially when it is winter here in the United States and I always have this ominous feeling now when I am around family or friends and they are like, wow, it’s great. It’s 60 degrees [Fahrenheit] outside. Deep in my gut I feel nervous and tense because that’s not a good thing that it’s 60 degrees. I should be freezing cold. I don’t want to be freezing cold. I don’t want to go out and feel like I am being put through a slow miserable death, but that’s what I should be feeling. That’s what winter is like in Chicago. I’m supposed to feel like I just stepped out on Antarctica sometimes.

KHALEK: It’s a strange thing to look out and say it’s gorgeous. I’m in D.C., and it’s gorgeous outside. But it’s almost 70 degrees and it’s December 10.

CHAMSEDDINE: I was expecting it to be snowing by now. This is the first time I’ve actually been in New York really almost at all. Back to what you are saying, Kevin, people aren’t paying attention to the major issues. They’re just looking at how great it feels outside, the temperature. When in reality, all these warming waters will lead to problems in terms of, for example, the algae, which will make the water completely undrinkable and then will lead to a decline in the fish and will affect our food. So, it’s a big chain reaction that a lot of people aren’t looking at.


CHAMSEDDINE: In the aftermath of Paris, San Bernardino, a lot of people on Twitter—specifically, San Bernardino—started talking about, oh, if this were a white man, they would be calling it terrorism. They were trying to open up the circle in terms of how far we can apply the term instead of more or less kill it in the cradle.

My whole goal for 2016 is to try and get rid of the whole use of the word terrorism specifically and how it’s applied. It’s one of the most hotly contested terms because there’s no complete and utter agreement in terms of what it means, how it can be applied, and what have you. But what we saw afterwards is instead of people waiting to see what is going on, stepping back a little, no they wanted to apply the term.

After everything blew up, it was all turned on its head once again because you’re telling everyone around you that you’re okay with that term being applied by the state the way it is currently applied. I think we should try to do away with that terminology. We should look to new ways of explaining what’s going on and trying to avoid using terms that have become nothing more than orientalized terms.

KHALEK: I agree with you 100 percent, and unfortunately, I see the opposite happening, which is the expansion of the sort of things that we demand people of color, Muslims, whatever do, the collective guilt we place on Muslims for the acts of one person, that’s being expanded to now let’s do it to white people. I saw it with Donald Trump. There was something published at Salon by W. Kamau Bell, the comedian, and someone named Adam Mansbach. Basically, they came up with this idea for a hashtag, #WhitesAgainstTrump. They’re telling people to come get your guy, come collect your boy, to take responsibility for Trump as white people and have some white pride. Stop letting this man let whites look bad.

CHAMSEDDINE: That is exactly what happens to Muslims all the time. Come and get your terrorist guy. [Cross-talk] You’re feeding that sort of sentiment that is popularizing the perpetual whitewashing of crimes and criminals. You’re legitimizing the abuses that Muslims in this case face. Instead of trying to undermine this type of rhetoric, people think that it’s good. That it’s okay to then steal the rhetoric from the right-wing or from the establishment and try to use it against them. It doesn’t work that way. It isn’t a game. You are literally legitimizing abuses that all of these people face.

For the full episode, go here.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."