Interviews

  • Why we must listen to survivors of solitary confinement

    Interviews March 20, 2016 at 0 comments

    Source: Truthout. After years of relentless pressure by activists and writers — both inside and outside of prison — solitary confinement is solidly on the national political radar. There’s still a long way to go: Between 80,000 and 100,000 people remain in solitary confinement, and Black and Brown people are overwhelmingly more likely than whites to be placed in solitary. In order to shrink — and hopefully someday eliminate — that giant tally, sustained public education and advocacy will be required. That’s why last month’s release of Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices From Solitary Confinement could not be timelier. This collection of essays by survivors of solitary, as well as activists and family members on the outside, is a deep dive into the pain and lasting trauma wrought by isolation.

     
  • Traumatized by 3 years at Rikers without charge, ex-teen prisoner Kalief Browder commits suicide

    Interviews June 8, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Democracy Now! A young man imprisoned for three years at Rikers Island jail in New York without charge has committed suicide. Kalief Browder was a 16-year-old high school sophomore when he was detained on suspicion of stealing a backpack. Browder never pleaded guilty and was never convicted. He maintained his innocence and requested a trial, but was only offered plea deals while the trial was repeatedly delayed. After enduring nearly 800 days in solitary confinement and abuses from guards, Browder was only released when the case was dismissed. Browder died Saturday at his home in the Bronx. He was 22 years old. This is an interview with Jennifer Gonnerman, a staff reporter for The New Yorker who was the first to report Kalief’s suicide.

     
  • Lawyer for Pakistani scientist & terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui asks if she is alive

    Interviews April 20, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Democracy Now! Steve Downs, executive director of the National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms, details his work on one of the most baffling cases in the so-called war on terror, the story of Aafia Siddiqui. In Pakistan, she is considered a political prisoner, but in the United States she is known as “Lady al Qaeda.” She is currently incarcerated at a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is serving 86 years behind bars. Her lawyers say she hasn’t spoken with anyone for over a year.

     
  • FBI informant exposes sting operation targeting innocent Americans in new “(T)ERROR” documentary

    Interviews April 20, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Democracy Now! Today we look at an explosive new film that shines a bright light on the FBI’s shadowy use of informants in its counterterrorism sting operations. These undercover operatives are meant to root out would-be terrorists before they attack. Since 9/11, they’ve been used to prosecute at least 158 people. But critics argue they’re often targeting the wrong people. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch found the FBI has focused on, quote, “particularly vulnerable people, including those with intellectual and mental disabilities, and the indigent.” Well, a new documentary that just premiered here in New York at the Tribeca Film Festival takes us inside the world of a particular informant who has played a key role in several major terrorism cases. And it does so while he’s in the middle of carrying out his latest sting operation. It’s called (T)ERROR; the T is in parentheses, to put the emphasis on “error.” It came together when two independent filmmakers gained unprecedented access to follow Saeed Torres, aka Shariff, a 63-year-old former black revolutionary turned FBI informant, as he monitors a white Muslim convert named Khalifah al-Akili. Torres knew one of the directors, Lyric Cabral, and after he came out to her as an informant, he agreed to share his story, without informing his superiors. In this clip from the film, the other director, David Felix Sutcliffe, interviews Shariff inside the FBI safe house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the operation is underway.

     
  • Islamophobia is a lucrative industry

    Interviews March 19, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Nathan Lean is an American scholar and writer, who has investigated Islamophobia extensively. He is the author of an award-winning book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims. Lean believes that Islamophobia is a lucrative “industry” that wins skyrocketing salaries for those who promote and contribute to it. In this edition of The Interview, a new section for conversations with people around the world, Fair Observer talks to Nathan Lean about why Islamophobia is rising in the West and how the fear of Muslims is being magnified by corporate media.

     
  • “Corroded to its core”: Why the results of the Senate torture report are even worse than we thought

    Interviews March 6, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. The summary of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s (SSCI) so-called torture report was released late last year. There have been more previously classified torture-related documents released since. And what you probably won’t be surprised to hear is that these “new” documents strongly suggest that the architects and perpetrators of the United States’ global torture regime — the ones who insisted they did not torture — turn out not to have quite the recall capacities one would hope. Because, as Georgetown University law professor David Cole outlined recently in a post for Just Security, sometime between then and now, these folks apparently forgot exactly what the definition of torture was. Georgetown University Law School’s David Cole tells Salon how the “torture report” missed the whole ugly picture.

     
  • Exclusive: Deported Palestinian scholar Sami Al-Arian on his chilling post-9/11 prosecution

    Interviews, Multimedia, Videos February 6, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Democracy Now! Days after his deportation from the United States, the Palestinian activist and professor Sami Al-Arian discusses the end of his ordeal as the target of one of the most controversial prosecutions of the post-9/11 era. Sami was accused of ties to a militant group, but a Florida jury failed to return a single guilty verdict on any of the 17 charges against him. After prosecutors refiled charges, Sami chose jail time and deportation rather than face a second trial. For much of the three years following his arrest in 2003, he was imprisoned in solitary confinement and reportedly abused by prison staff under conditions Amnesty International called “gratuitously punitive.” In a broadcast exclusive, Sami joins us from Turkey for his first broadcast interview since being deported. We are also joined by his daughter Laila Al-Arian, a Peabody Award-winning journalist based in Washington, D.C.

     
  • Exclusive interview: Sami Al-Arian, professor who defeated controversial terrorism charges, is deported from U.S.

    Interviews February 5, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: The Intercept. In 2003, Sami Al-Arian was a professor at the University of South Florida, a legal resident of the U.S. since 1975, and one of the most prominent Palestinian civil rights activists in the U.S. That year, the course of his life was altered irrevocably when he was indicted on highly controversial terrorism charges by then Attorney General John Ashcroft. These charges commenced a decade-long campaign of government persecution in which Al-Arian was systematically denied his freedom and saw his personal and professional life effectively destroyed.

     
  • Prison dispatches from the war on terror: Ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou speaks

    Source: The Intercept. John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee to go to prison in connection with the agency’s torture program. Not because he tortured anyone, but because he revealed information on torture to a reporter.

     
  • “Not the way we do democracy!” Why is a Ferguson grand juror being silenced?

    Interviews January 15, 2015 at 0 comments

    Source: Salon. Executive director of Missouri ACLU tells Salon why it’s supporting “Grand Juror Doe’s” fight to speak.