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‘Unauthorized Disclosure’ Weekly Podcast: Episode 18

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On this week’s episode of the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast, hosts Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola discuss President Donald Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia and how ordinary Syrians view the armed opposition in Syria. They celebrate the release of Chelsea Manning.

The hosts also talk about the Comey memo scandal that has roiled the Trump administration and a news story published by Gosztola on a development involving Trevor FitzGibbon, the founder of a progressive public relations firm which abruptly shut down as sexual allegations were leveled against him. A U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to pursue charges based on three criminal complaints, which were filed.

“Nobody seems to care about [Trump’s] relationship with Saudi Arabia. That’s like the one thing that is okay,” Khalek asserts. “The Saudi Prince gave to the U.S. a month ago, I think, and he promised Trump $200 million in infrastructure spending in Rust Belt states, basically funding his re-election bid because those are the states that got him elected in the first place.”

“In exchange, Trump approved these weapons sales that even [President] Obama didn’t approve that are basically these high-tech weapons that are just going to be used to pulverize Yemen some more,” Khalek adds.

Khalek’s story on Syrian trapped between a police state and al Qaeda was published this past week at AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. It explored why some Syrians fear regime change.

“It took awhile to cultivate relationships with people because they don’t really trust anyone. A lot of them were people who protested in 2011 against the regime. They were sort of democratic reform-minded people,” Khalek shared. “Now they want the regime to win. They want the government to win because the alternative is so acceptable. The alternative is a patchwork of Salafi jihadist groups that would take over Syria.”

After outlining his reporting on FitzGibbon, Gosztola reads an open letter that was drafted by UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy organization. It was drafted to convince progressive groups to sign on and stop FitzGibbon from returning to work in public relations. Numerous groups have signed on to the letter in the past days.

“This seems over dramatic because again they’re conflating a guy being a creep with rape survivors, and that actually really bothers me. Because rape is something very specific and fucked up in so many ways. This guy was, again, just kind of being a creep,” Khalek responds.

“That said, do you know how many creeps there are in the progressive movement? As a woman, who is an attractive woman, I can tell you that many of the men, many of them that are in progressive circles—and I mean at the leadership of them—are creeps and assholes. Almost all of them. I get hit on by them. I get treated uncomfortably by them.”

“I’m not saying that’s okay. That’s not okay, but this letter, this treatment of this one person is not going to fix or change that,” Khalek adds.

Later, she concludes this letter will not really solve any systemic problem in the progressive community. “It’s just a letter trying to hurt someone.”

To listen to the discussion, click the above player or go here.

*Note: This is the discussion portion for this week’s episode. The interview for this week was posted separately on May 16 and featured CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou. It can be found here.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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