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The ‘Unauthorized Disclosure’ Podcast’s Year-End Show For 2018

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Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola wrap up this year’s season of “Unauthorized Disclosure” with MintPress News founder and editor-in-chief Mnar Muhawesh.

During the show, they reflect on some of the more pernicious social and political developments in the past year. Mnar talks about censorship by Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies, and the impact it is having on independent journalists and alternative media outlets, especially the effect on MintPress News.

“We are facing an unprecedented amount of censorship that we’ve never seen before. It’s a new wave of censorship by these Silicon tech giants, who are working hand-in-hand with the U.S. government to infringe on our civil liberties, on our First Amendment speech rights,” Mnar said. “The government can’t suppress us so they basically have hired social media giants, like Google and Facebook, to take it upon themselves to do the suppression and censorship themselves.”

Mnar continued, “This started ahead of the 2016 election when Donald Trump was running up against Hillary Clinton, and this whole Russiagate conspiracy started. The establishment, people on the left, and more specifically the Democratic Party started accusing independent media and independent journalists of working for [Vladimir] Putin, for being Putin minions because we were reporting Hillary Clinton’s emails; not that we supported Donald Trump but we were just reporting the truth about Hillary Clinton.”

Later in the show, Mnar and Rania discuss the wars in Yemen and Syria. They take a moment to address President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

The narrative around the war in Syria evolved from a humanitarian crisis that required intervention to save the people from Bashar al-Assad to the U.S. must fight the Islamic State and create this independent state for the Kurdish people.

“Whenever we hear there’s a humanitarian need to go to war, that’s like code word for we’re going to go in there and bomb the country and replace the current leader with someone more brutal and bring our troops there,” Mnar suggests. “In the last five years, the United States has occupied over 30 percent of Syrian land, and when we hear about U.S. troops in Syria, the media and our politicians really downplay U.S. influence in Syria, like we’re just arming rebels. But we have over 5,000 troops.”

As Mnar points out, the U.S. has worked with Kurdish factions. The process has stirred up a lot of bloodshed. Like past colonial powers, a divide-and-conquer strategy has devastated Syria.

While there is value in Trump’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, Rania points out the way the U.S. is likely to complete a withdrawal (if fully carried out) could be very problematic.

The U.S. has occupied northeastern Syria with troops and local allies and sabotaged Kurdish efforts to return this land to the Syrian government. Without some state apparatus, U.S. withdrawal will lead to local Syrian sectarian militias, which are Sunni, that create further chaos. It will become another incubator for Islamic State and al Qaida-style groups. That already exists in Idlib, according to Rania.

The show ends with Mnar, Rania, and Kevin each highlighting an issue or story they believe went significantly under-reported or virtually ignored in the U.S. press, including progressive media.

Listen to the year-end episode by clicking on the above player or go here.

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Note: A little over a week after this show was recorded, Rania had a video she produced on how Israel uses Palestine as a laboratory for the development of weapons removed by Facebook. It took hours of complaints from individuals, including journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ben Norton, before the video was finally restored. But Facebook apparently provided no explanation for why the company censored the video.

“This is a good reminder that at the moment these social media giants have the ability to disappear content as they please,” Rania declared. “It’s creepy and alarming and should be loudly opposed.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

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