Intercepted Podcast: James Comey, Chelsea Manning and the Secrets America Keeps

If the fired FBI director has the Russian goods, he could become a lethal threat to Trump's presidency. And we hear Chelsea Manning in her own voice.

Photo Illustration: Elise Swain for The Intercept. Getty Images.

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Donald Trump’s complicated relationship with FBI Director James Comey came to a shocking conclusion in Tuesday night’s episode of American shitshow. This week on Intercepted: Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill analyze Trump’s firing of Comey. If as many Democrats are alleging the FBI director was sacked because of his role in the Russia investigation, Comey could prove to be a lethal threat to Trump’s presidency. Is Trump really that stupid, or does he know something we don’t? Next week, U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning will be released from Fort Leavenworth prison. In an Intercepted exclusive, we will hear Manning in her own voice, describing her imprisonment and why she blew the whistle. Journalist Alexa O’Brien takes us inside the trials and triumphs of the junior soldier who shook the world. The defeat of Marine Le Pen in France’s election was celebrated globally as a rejection of fascism. But who is Emmanuel Macron? French human rights and civil liberties activist Yasser Louati says many of Le Pen’s ideas have long been seeping into the mainstream of French politics. And the exclusive premiere of a brand new track from the hip-hop artists MC Sole and DJ Pain 1.

Male Speaker: Previously on Twin Peaks.

President Donald J. Trump: It’s dead.

Gordon Cole: She’s dead. Wrapped in plastic.

DJT: It’s essentially dead.

Sheriff Harry S. Truman: Laura Palmer.

Special Agent Dale Cooper: Diane, 11:30 AM, February 24th

The Log Lady: You wear shiny objects on your chest.

DJT: Oh, beautiful, just so beautiful.

TLL: Are you proud?

DJT: Well, I was very well known, as you understand, prior to this, but that was a different world. This is something — you are really in your own little world.

TLL: My log has something to tell you. Do you know it?

DJT: He’s a great guy. Good heart. Tough guy, but a good heart. Great heart.

TLL: Do not introduce the log.

DJT: Well, there’s truth to that. There is truth to that.

TLL: Can you hear it?

DJT: You look, there’s a certain openness, but there’s nobody out there. But I’ve never seen anybody out there, actually.

TLL: Do you understand?

DJT: Look, you can figure it out yourself — what the hell is going on.

TLL: Deliver the message.

DJT: Well, everyone thinks that this is very ominous right here. See this? These are phones. These are very, you know, secure phones. But this is a — very ominous looking because of the red button. But it gets you something. You can take it anywhere you want. That’s enough. Thank you very much.

TP: Time for a cuppa joe and a donut. Twin Peaks’ll be right back.

[Music interlude]

Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted. I’m Jeremy Scahill, coming to you from the offices of The Intercept in New York City. And this is episode 14 of Intercepted. On Tuesday night, the FBI Director James Comey was in Los Angeles, and he saw on television screens news that he had just been fired by President Donald Trump. Trump, simultaneous to the news breaking, reportedly sent a letter to the FBI officially informing James Comey that he was no longer — effective immediately — no longer the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And in Trump’s letter to Comey, he said, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

This is sort of an incredible statement in and of itself. It’s as though Comey’s job was to fluff Trump about his alleged nonexistent role in the so-called Russia scandal. Trump is referencing a letter that Jeff Sessions supposedly independently sent to Trump, saying he supports the recommendation of the newly appointed Deputy Attorney General, who wrote a memo justifying why James Comey should be removed from office. And in that memo, which has now been made public by the Trump administration, the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, says that “Director Comey” — he’s referring to James Comey here — “I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes. It is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.” What he’s referring to is James Comey’s public announcement, in the midst of the final stages of the presidential campaign, that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails had been closed with no charges being brought.

Now, of course, Obama was still in power. Loretta Lynch was the Attorney General. Comey said she had a conflict; what he did was proper. The Trump people are now saying, no, that wasn’t, and they cite both Democratic and Republican former attorneys general in supporting this decision. There’s a lot to unpack here. I’m joined by my colleague, and fellow cofounder of The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald, who is with us here in New York for a change.

Glenn Greenwald: It’s my debut appearance inside the Intercepted studios. It’s very exciting.

JS: So now, Glenn, of course, the Democrats all are immediately piling on, and it’s that Comey was getting too close, the noose was tightening around Trump’s neck over the Russia investigation, and that Comey basically needed to be taken out by Trump before the smoking gun was presented to the American public that would impeach and probably imprison Donald Trump. What’s your immediate reaction to this news?

GG: I mean, I’m someone who generally doesn’t find much of what Trump has done to be shocking, given what he said he would do during the campaign and who he revealed himself to be. But this actually is shocking. So, as much as I’d like to, I can’t really blame people for scrambling around for an actual theory. The theory that you just identified, which is that, “oh, he had to sabotage Comey, who was about to find or reveal the smoking gun,” makes no sense to me whatsoever. The premise is that James Comey and only James Comey is aware of this smoking gun, and that as long as you fire him, somehow then you prevent its disclosure. When of course, other people who work with Comey, other people in various departments, would also be aware of this evidence if it existed. And James Comey himself, now that he’s fired, could ensure its disclosure. So, that, I don’t find persuasive. But I also don’t find persuasive the DOJ’s explanation for why they did it; namely, these criticism of Comey, many of which are actually valid — namely, that he took it upon himself to decide that the investigation should end.

JS: Right. And he announced that — what the Trump people are basically saying — well, there’s two main components to this. On the one hand, they’re saying, “you were wrong to announce to the public that we’re closing this investigation into the Hillary Clinton email scandal,” which became just the harping point for Trump in the closing stages.

GG: But it’s a process objection, right? They’re not saying, “You were wrong to close the investigation, although you think that.” They’re saying, “It wasn’t up to you, James Comey. Even if Loretta Lynch couldn’t make it, it was up to somebody else to make it.” So, that’s one objection that is not invalid. And the other one is that when he decided to close the investigation against Hillary Clinton, instead of just saying so, he gave all kinds of opinions about the case that were all very negative to Hillary. And a lot of people think it was wrong for Comey to comment on an investigation that he decided to close. But the thing about it is, even though those criticisms of Comey are valid, the Trump people don’t care about that at all. They loved when he stood up in public and denounced and criticized Clinton once the case was closed, and they don’t care at all about these process objections. So, although I don’t agree with the Democrats that the reason is to prevent Comey from being on the verge of the smoking gun, I also don’t think that the Republican explanations for why this happened are even a small amount valid. And so, it leaves the question, why did this happen and why did it happen now? And I don’t think we know the answer to that yet.

JS: Right. And let’s remember that there definitely — there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s a little bit of fire with some of the people that agree around Trump: Paul Manafort, you have Carter Page. General Flynn is floating out there in the ether and has reportedly been actively seeking immunity. And I think this is an interesting question about where Flynn resides in all of this, because we haven’t heard from him in public. But remember, General Flynn was the first high profile military figure who had served in a very senior position under Obama and was fired by Obama. He was the first to jump onto the Trump train. He did public interviews with him on the road. He bolstered his military credentials. You know, Trump really was kind of taking Flynn’s lead on a lot of what he was saying about American foreign policy and the military. Flynn may be a lot of things, but he is not an imbecile, and he was around for a lot of private stuff that was happening in Trump land leading up to his election and then leading up to inauguration. I’m just curious if part of this is that there actually is a move to take down not Trump, but that there is some action against someone that’s incredibly important to Trump. They’re concerned that Flynn is flipping, that Comey is — seems to be playing too nice with the Democrats and publicly debunking the President’s tweets in front of Congress. Trump’s a spiteful guy. He wants fierce loyalists. But is it your sense that there is no Russia connection to the firing of James Comey?

GG: So, again, I mean, there are clearly serious Russia questions when it comes to people like Paul Manafort, who I think primarily has problems because of his financial dealings and undisclosed lobbying work. Carter Page is just some kind of extraterrestrial troll freak that has little to do with the Trump campaign, except in name only, who probably has all kinds of nefarious implications. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Comey was investigating and making some headway when it comes to people like Manafort, Carter Page, even Roger Stone. Again, though, on the question of was there collusion between the Trump campaign at the highest level, the kind that would get him into serious political trouble and impeach him, and the Russian government, it makes no sense to me whatsoever that if you’re worried that evidence is about to be discovered, that some kind of a smoking gun or something close, that anyone would think that a solution to that would be getting rid of James Comey. He works with dozens of others, investigators, in various agencies, including the Department of Justice, so even if you got rid of him, that evidence isn’t going anywhere. So, that theory just doesn’t seem persuasive to me.

JS: Right. And then there is the fact that much of what we know about Trump’s, you know, recent public history is from his television show, “The Apprentice,” where the whole point of the show was, “You’re fired, you’re fired, you’re fired, you’re fired.” And so, you know, some of that is at play here. But I do wonder if the Trump people think they’re outmaneuvering the Democrats, the lying fake news media, and that there is some intention of creating this kind of chaos right now as kind of their best defense against any number of legitimate issues that are being probed of this administration.

GG: That, I think, makes sense. In other words, if you speak to anybody who’s ever worked with Trump, what they say is he demands this kind of compulsive, unhealthy level of loyalty. Anyone who he thinks is disloyal to him, he fires. So, I think that’s been a big part of what they’ve been doing, is trying to weed out the Sally Yates of the world and people who they think have loyalties elsewhere, and replace them with hardcore Trump loyalists. And I think they seem — James Comey prides himself on not being a loyalist to anybody. And there’s a lot going on at the FBI, and they want someone in there who they trust a lot more than they trust him. That’s what I think makes a lot more sense.

JS: I think it’s clear that in firing James Comey, if it is related to Russia, either Trump has done the most outrageously stupid thing he could have done by not keeping his enemies closer, and — but turning potentially Comey into an unprecedented sort of whistleblower if he comes out publicly. Or Trump is a genius, and there isn’t anything there with him on Russia. And by firing Comey, he’s gonna send the Democrats into a tizzy, the press into a tizzy. And there will be some, you know, pawns that fall on the board as a result of it, but if Trump really know that there’s no “there” there with his Russia, maybe he is smarter than everybody thinks.

GG: Yeah. I mean, if you look at — you know, if you’re Donald Trump, you have to be pretty comfortable about the question of collusion. You have all kinds of people saying — and not Trump loyalist people like James Clapper and even Dianne Feinstein, two weeks ago to Wolf Blitzer — that look, no, they have not seen evidence of collusion. And if there were evidence of collusion — you know, some kind of intercepted telephone call between some Trump spawn and someone in the Kremlin talking about hacking, you can be damn sure that would have leaked by now.

JS: Well, or — you know, but then there’s also the idea that they have a video of Trump with, you know, prostitutes, or the sort of pee video and all of that. I mean, who — I mean, everything is out there.

GG: Right.

JS: The last thing I’ll say as we wrap up here, Glenn, is I continue to just be astonished, even though I shouldn’t, at how willing so many cable news journalists, particularly on MSNBC, but also Democrats, are willing to believe any shit that’s flung against the wall of Trump, that it makes that wall look horrible. They’ll believe it. And I think it’s going to undermine the real issues that are there. I think there is a legitimate investigation that should be happening.

GG: Right. I think we’ve talked about this before, but, you know, it reminds me so much of the Benghazi investigation, where there were serious national security questions about what happened in Benghazi, why they were there, why they ended up killed, that got completely suffocated by the unhinged conspiracy theorizing, and just obsessive fixation the Republicans developed on Benghazi on totally unrelated issues. That, to me, is exactly what is happening when it comes to Russia. All of the legitimate questions that ought to be investigated have been swamped and suffocated, you know, by the Keith Olbermann’s and the Louise Mensch’s of the world, who think that there’s a Putin agent hiding under every corner, and who make all kinds of evidentiary connections — you might want to throw a Rachel Maddow in there too — notwithstanding the fact that there’s no rational basis for doing so. And they look like Glenn Beck in 2010 as they do it, standing at the chalkboard.

JS: Well, Glenn, I do want to also share with our listeners that when we first started The Intercept, you said that you wanted to be paid in rubles. And I appreciate your honesty about who you want your paymasters to be.

GG: And I appreciate that you had in your home this massive vault of rubles from the work that you’ve done over the years that you were able to use to pay me. And I appreciate that as well.

JS: All right. Well, comrade Glenn, I’ll see you at our next summit in Moscow. Glenn Greenwald, thank you for being with us on Intercepted.

GG: Great to be with you.

JS: Glenn, of course, is my fellow cofounder of The Intercept.

[Music interlude]

JS: Next week, on May 17th, Prisoner 89289 is scheduled to walk out of the Leavenworth military prison in Kansas. Back in 2013, that prisoner was handed the longest sentence ever in U.S. history for being a whistleblower. The bulk of that 35-year sentence, that was handed down at the end of a U.S. military court marshal, was commuted by President Barack Obama. The prisoner I’m talking about is U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Now, there’s a lot of talk in the news right now about leaks, and about Julian Assange, and about WikiLeaks. And we hear from Julian Assange. He is able to respond to allegations against him. We hear from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Both of them were on our show last season. But we almost never have heard from Chelsea Manning since she was arrested in 2010 by the U.S. military in Iraq. We have almost never heard her voice.

She was arrested while on active duty in the Army on suspicion that she had been the source for what at the time was the most explosive series of national security leaks in U.S. government history. Chelsea Manning was ultimately charged by the military and presented with an avalanche of allegations, charges, including very serious ones, like aiding the enemy. The documents that she admitted in court to providing to WikiLeaks beginning in 2010 included hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. State Department cables, videos of U.S. military forces bombing or gunning down civilians, war crimes committed by U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. She uncovered covert wars, the U.S. attempt to conceal its role in the bombing of Yemen, beginning in the first year of the Obama administration.

Since 2010, Manning has been held in various prisons and facilities, beginning in Iraq, then Kuwait, then back to the United States. And while she was in the custody of the military before her court marshal, she alleged that she was, at times, abused by her jailers. Some of the worst episodes, she says, occurred when she was held by U.S. Marines in Quantico, Virginia before her trial. When Chelsea Manning was arrested, no recording equipment was allowed in court. Many of the publications that benefited from her whistleblowing, they put it on the front pages of their newspapers — they barely covered her trial. The narrative about who Chelsea Manning was and who she is has been largely set by the military, by the government, and also by cable news. Coverage of her has not, for the most part, focused on what she or why she did it. But rather, what is presented is this sort of despicable fixation on the fact that Chelsea Manning is transitioning from living as a man to living as a woman.

Bill O’Reilly: You know this guy Bradley Manning?

Fox News: Yes.

BOR: Yeah. He’s now Chelsea Manning.

FN: Oh, really?

FN: This isn’t really justice. It’s therapy.

FN: Traitor! He’s a — plus he gave up —

BR: He’s a traitor.

Andrew Levy: Correction: it was Chelsea Manning, not Bradley Manning, who did that.

Fox News Red Eye: Oh, yes. He has changed, or she has changed.

FNRE: Oh, that’s right. Yes.

FNRE: Mm-hmm.

FNRE: Well done, Andy.

AL: Thank you.

FNRE: Yes. How are you treatments going, by the way?

AL: They’re not as quick as I would like.

FNRE: All right. When can we start calling you Andrea?

FN: The Associated Press, NBC, and The New York Times agreeing to call Manning “she.” But he’s not a she.

FN: Technically, on just definitional grounds, technically, it’s a he.

JS: We recently obtained several hours of secretly recorded audio from the court-martial of Chelsea Manning. Now, there have been a couple of other leaks of audio from those proceedings, but most of what you’re going to hear today from her has never before been broadcast. To discuss all of this, to discuss Chelsea Manning, her whistleblowing, her trial, and her treatment at the hands of her jailers, we’re joined now by the researcher, and writer, Alexa O’Brien. She was the most dogged journalist covering the Manning trial, and because of her and her work, much of what we do know about what happened in those proceedings is because she was there. At times, actually, Alexa slept in her car outside of Fort Meade as she worked around the clock covering this trial. Alexa O’Brien, welcome to Intercepted.

Alexa O’Brien: Thank you for having me.

JS: How did Chelsea Manning describe her treatment at Quantico?

AO: There were several different episodes at Quantico. She — what I’ve heard from, you know, being in the courtroom and listening to her discuss it, she just discussed the sort of play-by-play of how she sort of tried to reason with the military brig that she was in in Quantico, Virginia, and the way in which they reacted to her.

Chelsea Manning: I tried to feel as much like I wasn’t trapped in, like, a cage or a cell. I tried to feel like I wasn’t trapped in there, that I still know where I am, I know my environment. And I would just try to stay active. And I’d try to keep from falling asleep because they — that was a rule. You were not allowed to sleep, or look like even the appearance of sleep was considered sleeping, so you couldn’t close your eyes or anything like that, so —

AO: Well, legally, she was unlawfully punished before her pre-trial. She only got 112 days’ sentencing credit for it, but, you know, legally, her treatment was extreme. She was not officially legally in stat — I’m sorry, solitary confinement, but one could look at her conditions and consider them solitary confinement. She was segregated from the rest of the population. What was weird about her circumstance is that she was placed in a temporary facility, a Marine Corps facility. She was a U.S. Army Private. She was a long-term pre-trial. You know, she was up for charges on espionage. She wasn’t getting out of pre-trial confinement. And she was also known to be gay. And then also, there was — at that time, the military knew that she had gender dysphoria, so, you know — gender identity issues. I think her treatment was unfair.

At the same time, though, looking at it from a sort of structural managerial point of view, I think that the military — it was also a bit of a clash of cultures. You know, they’re a very fraternal sort of organization, and even from the testimony of people, you know, they wanted her to talk. And she wasn’t talking. And I think that they resented that. Because she’s a soldier, she should tell them what happened, you know? And her lawyer told her to keep her mouth shut. So, what’s interesting about how Manning describes it is that she’s actually very respectful of her chain of command, her current chain of command. And she’s not a rabble-rouser or a provocateur. She’s actually somebody who really cared about the mission and wants to get along with people. So, she wasn’t exactly sitting in the courtroom saying like, “Aw, I’m a victim.” She was just sort of reciting what had happened and her treatment.

Judge: What about service discrediting? Do you think that the — your conduct in giving the video to WikiLeaks was service discrediting?

CM: Yes, your honor.

Judge: Why?

CM: Well, for the service discrediting, it’s about public perception of the military and services, and our ability to — and their trust and their perception that we can safeguard our sensitive information for their protection. So, by not abiding by those — by the system, it undermines our service, your honor, and their perception of how we operate now.

Judge: Okay. So basically, if I’m understanding what you’re understanding correctly, is, you know, people — the military would hope that people have confidence in the system and the people in it to follow the rules, and basically, if you don’t have any rules or people weren’t following the rules — I mean, if there’s more than one person that’s doing what you’re doing, then the whole system crashes.

CM: Yes, your honor.

JS: Now, when Julian Assange or WikiLeaks discuss this case, they still refer to Chelsea Manning as the alleged source of the — a variety of documents. The most public and perhaps the one that made the biggest splash initially was the “Collateral Murder” video that depicted a U.S. helicopter gunship gunning down some Iraqi civilians and also media workers from the Reuters news agency.

“Collateral Murder” Audio

Male Speaker: Haven’t seen anything since then.

Male Speaker: Just fucking – once you get on, just open up.

Male Speaker: I am.

Male Speaker: You’re clear.

Male Speaker: All right. I’m firing?

Male Speaker: Line here, stay in line now.

Male Speaker: Let me know when you have them.

Male Speaker: Let’s shoot. Light ‘em all up.

Male Speaker: 002, traffic 260 –

Male Speaker: Come on, fire! [Gunshots]

Male Speaker: Roger. [Gunshots]

JS: What’s your understanding of the origin of this story? Like, how did that video end up broadcast to the world? What do we know from Chelsea Manning’s own telling of the story and from your journalism? Like, how did we get to — from the point where WikiLeaks puts out this video, or the State Department cables, or the Iraq War logs, or the Afghan War logs, to Chelsea Manning being arrested by the military?

AO: The first time that Chelsea Manning saw that video, she was actually watching a couple people in her intelligence shop discussing the video. They had found it on a shared drive from the previous, you know, group of folks that had been in Iraq before them. And she was sort of being instructed on it. But they didn’t really talk about standard operating procedures or the rules of warfare with regards to it. They were really just sort of talking about it in a general way. So, what Manning did, according to what we know from the court record, she looked at it, and at first, she said that she really was numb, but she started to do research on it, and she realized that this was actually video that Reuters had been trying to obtain regarding two of their employees, because two Reuters employees were killed in this incident.

So, she really did her homework. You know, when she gave that to WikiLeaks, she also gave them the rules for engagement for that time period. I’m not sure if I remember if they were classified or unclassified, but, you know, this is not somebody who was willy-nilly, just like, you know, like an anarchist just, like, throwing stuff around.

JS: So, that — the video comes out and of course is covered across the globe by media outlets around the world. And it really was — I think for many people, it was the first time they heard of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in terms of how much media attention it got. What happened after that video was released in Manning’s life and time in Iraq?

AO: I think that’s really when Manning probably started to — and I hate to use this term, but started to sort of unravel a bit. Unravel in the sense of, like, the way that sometimes it’s good to unravel, you know? Meaning to say that she realized sort of the impact that it had, to some degree, and obviously, she was undergoing a confrontation within herself at the time around her gender identity issues, according to the court-martial. And it coincided maybe with her understanding of the sort of greater truth of who she was as a soldier in Iraq. You know, that kind of Catch-22 scenario of Manning. April 5, 2010 is when WikiLeaks published that. She was arrested in May. May 20th, I think, is when she was arrested, so a month later. So, this is really when sort of like the climax of her leaking, you know, in Iraq. Around the same time, she’s — when WikiLeaks is publishing this video, she’s— in April, she is actually uploading Granai airstrike stuff — pictures, encrypted video. So, she was really sort of in full bloom at that point.

JS: You know, it’s interesting, because I’ve, like yourself, I’ve followed these events very carefully and closely. And, you know, you, to this moment, including probably most prominently in recent times, when it became clear that Obama was gonna commute a large chunk of the 35-year prison sentence —

President Barack Obama: With respect to Chelsea Manning, I looked at the particulars of this case, the same way I have the other commutations and pardons that I’ve done. And I felt that in light of all the circumstances, that commuting her sentence was entirely appropriate.

JS: You then had this parade of people on cable news saying Chelsea Manning is a traitor.

Andrea Tantaros: She is the greatest — one of the biggest and greatest traitors in United States history, and probably — and some countries would be subjected to a firing squad. Instead, we’re paying for a gender selection surgery. That’s all I’m gonna say.

JS: Yes, it caused problems diplomatically for the U.S. and its allies, and it sounds like she herself acknowledged that in the trial. But it also revealed for the American people some of the inner workings of what their government does in their name around the world. I can understand why she would say it was the one that she was most concerned about, but if you can’t prove that she — I don’t mean you, but if these people can’t prove that actual damage was done in that way, and you can prove that necessary facts were brought to light, I think it makes it a much more complicated case than, “Oh, this person is a traitor.” You could make an argument that that is in a democratic spirit of a free society that’s obsessed with secrecy and over-classification. But what do you say to people that use that term to describe Chelsea Manning, saying, “She’s a traitor”?

AO: The first thing I say is like, I appreciate that you’re angry. You know, Manning, it was a soldier, and there is an importance to unit cohesiveness, and there is a kind of fraternal order to the military. I’m not against the fraternal order to the military. And to tell you the truth, I also think people are entitled to their opinion. You know, if you take provocative acts like this, there are consequences, you know. We live in a society, there’s a thing called social consensus, blah, blah, blah, blah. Legally, though, she’s not a traitor. You know, democracies love to have traitor trials. You know, like, you can — back to ancient Athens. So, like, I don’t think that it’s atypical to have these kinds of things. At the same time, though, trials are really important, because that is where the boundaries are. You know, for me, it’s funny, like people oftentimes say, “Oh, you’re a Manning supporter.” And yes, I — Manning earned my respect because she deserved it, through the court-martial process. Anybody under that kind of circumstance who handles themselves with such dignity, has respect for the proceeding, isn’t sitting there like talking to every media outlet, is really focusing on that important institution and the judicial kind of component of society. Yeah, I support her. I support that she has a fair trial.

JS: When you say legally, she’s not a traitor, what do you mean?

AO: She was acquitted of aiding the enemy. The government went to court.

JS: Oh, really? Because I don’t think any of the people that were commenting on the day Obama made his announcement are aware of that.

AO: Yeah.

JS: I mean, really — I mean, I watched the coverage.

AO: I know. I know.

JS: Wall-to-wall, and it’s incredible. It’s stated as fact. You know, she was — you know, there are people that all say, “Well, she was convicted of treason and aiding the enemy.” I mean, but —

AO: She wasn’t, and it was a big deal that she was acquitted, because it really would have actually threatened every U.S. citizen — really, any person in the world. Because aiding the enemy is an any-person’s offense. So, essentially, what that means is that anybody could be charged under — in a military tribunal for aiding the enemy.

JS: I want to cut to the — a question that I think is — we’ll hear in her own words when she gets out. But what’s your understanding of what was going on in her head at the time, and what her motive was for doing this, for leaking all of this?

AO: My personal observation as a, you know, human being sort of looking at another person, listening to how they describe their experiences in the courtroom and what other people say, is Manning was very young. You have to also remember that. And she was highly intelligent, to some degree, meaning to say she had a sort of passionate intensity about life. She also had a really difficult upbringing. And I realize that that’s — I’m not painting her out as a victim. I’m just saying that she was in the middle of processing all the kinds of stuff. I don’t remember — I don’t know if you remember when you were, you know, in your early 20s, but life is pretty intense when you’re at that age, and you’re like, you know, thinking about the world, and everything is learning how to negotiate in the adult world and blah, blah, blah, blah. Her first deployment. Then she’s also, you know, sort of struggling with — she joined the military.

Interestingly enough, they found in her dorm, it’s called a CHU in Iraq, her Compartmentalized Housing Unit — this scholarly treatise written by an Air Force psychiatrist about the fact that — it’s called “Flight Into Hypermasculinity,” where it talks about there’s a higher proportion of people who are assigned men but identify as women in the military than there is in the general population. A lot of times, they join the military to try to rid themselves of these feelings. I think what I’m trying to say is that you can’t divorce the political/moral/ethical thing from the interpersonal. She also was tasked to learn about — she’s a young intelligence analyst, so she’s being told to read the State Department cables, and do this and that. And you’re talking about a very earnest person who might be very literal in their thinking, who cares about the mission. And her coworkers said that about her. She really cared about the mission. Perfectionist.

So, like, you’re putting together a young person who has a certain level of experience in how the world works. You know, in reality, she sees all this sort of devastation and pain and suffering. Someone who’s probably experienced to some degree what it feels like to be on the receiving end of, you know, pain and suffering; being gay in Oklahoma, no offense to anybody from Oklahoma, but, you know, being trans and not being able to admit it. So, there’s all these things going on. And she begins to sort of go toward releasing it, because ultimately, Manning believed that if the public knew — it’s not that she was a pacifist. She says she’s not a pacifist. But that they would have a better sense of what was going on, and be able to make better policies.

CM: After the release, I was concerned about the impact of the video and how it would be perceived by the general public. I hoped that the video would be — I hoped that the public would be as alarmed as me about the conduct of the air — aerial weapons team crewmembers. I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan are targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather, people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.

JS: At what point does the former hacker turned FBI informant Adrian Lamo come on the scene?

AO: He comes on the scene on May 25th, a couple days before she’s arrested. When Manning saw that Lamo had made a public statement about WikiLeaks — so at this point, you know, WikiLeaks has published “Collateral Murder.” They started to talk because they’re — Lamo had certain sort of sexual identity things that he had talked about, and Manning is trying to relate to people, you know. Lonely in Iraq, dealing with a lot of — you know, under a lot of pressure. And what ended up happening was that discussion, Lamo had presented himself as a journalist and a preacher even at one point, so there were all these, like, notions of, like, protection, source protection.

JS: And how were they communicating?

AO: They were communicating over AOL chat or IRC chat. I forget which mechanism. Anyway, within like, the day that Manning contacted Lamo, before any statement was made regarding any leaks, Lamo had already contacted a friend in Army counterintelligence. So, you know, Manning was essentially done at that point. And of course, in the course of revealing all this stuff, what happened with Manning is — and what put her in a really vulnerable position, she was wide open when the Army arrested her. You know, she had no access to explain her narrative, what was really going on. And she had put out all this personal stuff in this chat log, so it just — it didn’t look good.

JS: At that point, did the Army — was Manning already under suspicion of being behind this —

AO: No.

JS: Before she started talking with Adrian Lamo?

AO: To my understanding: No. No, she wasn’t. And I only say that because maybe there’s classified material that I haven’t seen. No, and I really think this is what really did her in.

JS: So, what were the circumstances when she was arrested?

AO: So, you know, obviously, the U.S. Army counterintelligence and CID, which is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Army, they were, like, you know, busy trying to figure out who this person is, where she was stationed, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t that hard because of the identifying information she gave to Lamo. So, she was arrested, and because of Adrian Lamo’s representations to the media that she had leaked top-secret information, which she absolutely had not, she was put into pre-trial confinement and brought to Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. And, you know, when she was there, she was originally put with other soldiers, but she was placed in administrative segregation when she told them that she was gay.

David Coombs: Now, on June 30, 2010, do you recall losing control of yourself on that day, to the point that medical doctors, medical health professionals, had to intervene?

CM: Very limited memory of that very day. I just remember being told about that, mostly.

DC: Do you recall yelling uncontrollably, screaming, shaking, babbling, banging your head against your cell, and mumbling?

CM: Those details, no, but I knew that I had just fallen apart. I mean, I — everything’s foggy and hazy from that time period, sir.

AO: Even Quantico. I mean, we could talk about, oh, Manning was segregated because the Army wanted to break her down. I think there was an element of also homophobia going on there too. So, she was placed in administrative segregation in this case, and, you know, her hours were switched. She was — she started to deteriorate. She had no access to her lawyer. She started to mentally have a breakdown.

DC: And do you recall, during this time, making a noose out of bed sheets?

CM: Vaguely. I mean, I just — I remember — I mean, I don’t remember that particular — I remember being taken out and them finding that. I just remember my stuff being all over the place. After they started doing the shakedowns, I stopped. I stopped making my bed and things, you know, because it was getting — they were just carrying up all my stuff all the time anyway. So, I don’t recall making it, but I remember thinking, you know, I’m gonna die inside here, you know, in this cage, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen. But I mean, I thought I was gonna die in that cage. And that’s how I saw it, as like an animal cage.

AO: And so, she had one suicide attempt in Camp Arifjan, which, even when was brought later to Quantico, the brig psychiatrists themselves said that she wasn’t suicidal anymore. But the Army kept her on this prevention of injury, sort of as a justification for, you know, her treatment. So, she’s in Camp Arifjan, and she starts to have a mental breakdown. You know, she’s facing these like really serious charges, blah, blah, blah, blah. They keep her there for — oh, god, July. So, she’s there between May — late May to July, she’s at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait. Then they bring her to Quantico. Her testimony about Quan — the move, how she was transported, you know, in shackles and — she was actually really grateful to be in the United States. She said in her court marshal that she wasn’t sure if they were gonna send her to Guantanamo Bay. So, she was definitely worried about that kind of stuff.

JS: Wow.

DC: And how were you feeling at that point when you knew that you were going to be going to the States?

CM: I felt a lot better. I mean, I didn’t think I was gonna set foot on American soil for a long time, so — I was elated. I mean, as silly as it sounds, it felt a lot better, you know, knowing that. So, I — and it was great to be in familiar surroundings, on American soil, BWI.

JS: What was it like covering that trial? What was it like in the courtroom?

AO: What was going on in the courtroom, I think people let go of this because Manning was a low-level, you know — so, some people looked at it as like a troubled character, not very hip, slick, and cool, kind of left themselves wide open. I mean, Manning was everybody’s pawn, you know? It’s like, Snowden can’t come to the United States and have a trial because Manning’s treatment. It’s like, nobody gives a shit if she’s actually being treated well or not. It’s like, it sounds good. It’s great propaganda. I thought also, it wasn’t just about Manning. It’s about us. You know, this is our country. This is an important — an important trial. We need to know what’s going on here. I understand people are angry and everyone’s freaking out, and people are using Manning, and — including WikiLeaks and all — everybody, you know? Like, fundamentally, though, like what the hell happened? You know? Let’s find that out.

One of the things — it’s not just about Manning personally. When they were discussing the legal interpretation of aiding the enemy, which hadn’t been really done since the Civil War, the U.S. Civil War era in the late 1800s, there are consequences for prosecuting a soldier with aiding the enemy that will affect everyone in society. You are setting a precedent for prosecuting someone under, if there is a certain standard, you know, threshold standard of evidence for publishing information that a terrorist organization — you know, if they’re able to obtain any intelligence. And intelligence is an interesting legal concept. It means anything that’s useful and true. And, you know, that — well, that — it doesn’t even apply just to classified information, that you can bring someone into a court of law and accuse them of aiding the enemy.

JS: I don’t think a lot of people know the story of how we ended up even having transcripts of the proceedings against Chelsea Manning. Start from the beginning about what — sort of the first moment you realized something’s rotten in Denmark here.

AO: The information, much of it was published on the Internet, although it was still legally classified. So, there were large portions that were central to her — elements of her criminal charges that the public could not impeach with their own analysis. The unfortunate thing about that is that the government was in complete control of the message coming out of Fort Meade. You know, if you were a member of the press at Fort Meade, you were essentially escorted by security at all times. It’s almost, it was almost better to go as a member of the public because you didn’t have, like, military guards around you. And, you know, they wanted to portray — their sort of narrative was like, “embittered homosexual angry at Army.” Like, that was, like, the Manning message. And there was a more important story that needed to be told. So, the secrecy impeded public understanding.

And then you had the sort of competing interests of, you know, capitalist media, and just, also just — we don’t even need to use the word ‘capitalism.’ We could just use people looking for money, property, prestige, you know? Where they’re trying to like, get the, you know, gotcha story. And in all of that, public deliberation about this important court marshal was sort of getting lost.

JS: We only have heard Manning’s voice in very small snippets that were leaked out of the proceedings. But having been there for all of this, when she finally did speak and described why she did what she did, what was your big takeaway from her own words?

AO: I say this so repeatedly, I sometimes feel like people don’t think I can have like, original thinking, or like, think beyond one thought. But she’s incredibly earnest. Yeah, Manning was a humanist, you know, and that’s a really fancy sort of word for like, she didn’t want to hurt anybody. I think that she — first of all, she’s more of a soldier than I think people realize. When they hear her voice talk, you know, she’s been in the military a very long time, even if it’s in a prison. And she’s said publicly that she’s not a pacifist, you know. She’s — she didn’t join the military because she was a pacifist. She is a thoughtful person. She’s very meticulous in her thinking. She talked about how much she respected her chain of command. She even talked about how much she liked the Marine at Quantico who was playing mind games with her, her counselor, telling her or asking her, you know, “why are you still on suicide, you know, risk — or sorry, prevention of injury watch?” When that counselor knew that he was the one who was putting her on it because the psychiatrist was saying, “Take her off.” She talked about what a great Marine he was.

Manning — and I think defense sort of represented it this way. Manning was good to everybody. She got mistreated because of her, you know — what people thought of her. But she was the type of person who was always concerned about other people. And that’s the kind of person I saw on the stand.

JS: On reflection, what do you think we, as a society, should learn from the whole thing? What Chelsea Manning did, what happened in her trial, the sentence she received, and then this 11th hour commutation of most of the sentence by Obama?

AO: Mercy is not — mercy and earnestness are not the way of the weak. You know, I think there’s a lot of strength in mercy. There’s a lot of strength in trusting that if you are able to look at a situation clearly without hysteria, or that — you know, you’re gonna show you’re a weak person, and I don’t think that’s true. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in mercy and fair sentences, first of all. And then also, on a kind of personal — the big takeaway for me is that: Manning played a really earnest case in a military court-martial, and she’s out of prison. And I think that that’s like — I think moral tales are really important. Maybe they’re not true. But they’re really important for liberal democracies because they sort of like, set the bar for how we’re supposed to treat each other. So, I think the fact that Manning was an earnest character and that she played a really tight case — that she didn’t sort of propagandize herself to the media, that she sort of respected the institutions of society, was the counterbalance to the unilateralism of leaking. Trials are important. Fair trials are even more important to liberal democracies. So, the takeaway is that the good person who is virtuous won. And I think that’s an important concept in sort of justice. It may not always be the truth, but it feels good when it actually happens.

JS: Hm. Well, Alexa O’Brien, I’ve always admired the work that you’ve done, and I often publicly cite your work because I think it was so — it was like a classroom, I think, for a lot of people, to see how a human being covers something so complicated as this. So, I just wanted to thank you in person for that, and also thank you for joining us.

AO: Thank you.

JS: Alexa O’Brien is an independent researcher and writer focusing on national security and law enforcement. When we come back, we’re gonna go to France. There’s a great celebration that the fascist candidate, Marine Le Pen, was defeated last week in that country’s presidential election. But who is the victor, Emmanuel Macron? Stay with us.

[Music interlude]

JS: And we are back here on Intercepted. Emmanuel Macron’s defeat of Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election on Sunday is being portrayed as a triumph of sane people over far-right extremism, proof that the wave of so-called nationalist populism in the West can be stopped. Le Pen would not replicate the great Trump shocker. In France, the narrative goes, the reasonable candidate won, unlike in the U.S.

Reporter: Well, French voters dealt a massive repudiation, not just to Marine Le Pen, but to the anti-immigrant, anti-European politics that she represents. Looks like that populist wave that had washed across the U.S. and Britain has crashed here tonight on French shores.

JS: But that’s a radically oversimplified narrative. Who actually is Emmanuel Macron, and what does his win actually mean? He billed himself as a business-minded centrist, a political outsider, neither right nor left. But the situation in France is far more complex than Macron’s campaign. He won a lesser of two evils election that many French people didn’t even turn out for. The anti-immigrant, Islamophobic vitriol of Marine Le Pen that aided Macron’s victory because it was so public and because it was so vile. But many of the underlying sentiments that Le Pen bombastically advocated — they’ve already been on a steady rise in the mainstream of French politics: The building up of a surveillance state. The targeting of Muslims. The militarization of law enforcement. In that regard, France is not so different from the United States.

To discuss all of this, we go now to Paris, where we’re joined by Yasser Louati. He is a French human rights and civil liberties activist. And his work lately has focused around national security policies, Islamophobia, and social justice for minorities in France. Yasser, welcome to Intercepted.

Yasser Louati: Thank you for having me, Jeremy.

JS: So, what’s your analysis of what happened in this election, and who Macron is and what he represents?

YL: Well, actually, the rise of Emmanuel Macron was a clear indication that there is a political vacuum in France. That a person can go from being a completely unknown to everybody in the country to becoming president within 18 months signals that it was just a way for him to navigate through the failures of our system, the weaknesses of the existing politicians in power. And as for him being described as neither a left or right, to my humble analysis, to me, that’s just a very sane capitalist approach, because the choices are there. It is either fascism on the one hand, and if you want to do a bit better, you choose Emmanuel Macron, who’s going to lock you into the proletarian of the digital age.

JS: Loosely speaking, in the United States, part of the argument that supporters of Hillary Clinton were making to the anti-war, pro-civil liberties, anti-neoliberal economics left was, we have to stop Trump from taking power, so even if you don’t like Hillary, you should vote for her so that we don’t get Trump. Was that part of the sentiment in France as well?

YL: Yes, definitely. It is not a coincidence that 14 million people decided to abstain from voting. You know, it makes you feel that, you know, the oligarchs in any country want to make sure that there is a rise of the far-right in order to hold you hostage and tell you, well, you have no other choice. It’s either us or the evil candidate from the far-right. Well, the Americans chose Donald Trump, and we saw — and we are seeing the results on a daily basis. But in France, the victory of Emmanuel Macron tastes very bitter, because the whole country was deprived of a sane political campaign. What’s happening in France is similar to what’s happening in many Western so-called liberal democracies, is that the political system has completely failed, and that we are always engaging to holding people hostages, to leave them with no other choice. And that’s what makes Marine Le Pen now a person you cannot ignore, and that she’s here to stay, and her ideas are here to stay.

JS: You know, it’s interesting, because former U.S. president Barack Obama recorded a video.

BO: I’m not planning to get involved in many elections now that I don’t have to run for office again. But the French election is very important to the future of France and the values that we care so much about. Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know that I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En Marche! Vive la France!

JS: Obama has only said a handful of things about President Donald Trump, and has largely been either on vacation or staying quiet. What was your analysis of Obama’s video advocating for Macron?

YL: To be honest, I didn’t like it at all. It was interference from a former American president. It was not welcome. I do not know under what title, under what merit he thinks he can intervene in this election, and if, you know, his voice would somehow help Emmanuel Macron, especially when we know the legacy of Barack Obama in terms of militarization of the police in America, with the mass surveillance, the explosion in drone attacks around the world, and of course, the empowering of the military industrial complex. So, if a person like Barack Obama, who was held as a symbol of progress in the U.S., thinks, you know, he can send a positive message here in France, for me, it wasn’t welcome, and generally speaking, in France, it did not weigh that much. You know, we spoke about it here and there, but it did not get that much attention.

JS: One of the main points of emphasis in the global news media about Marine Le Pen was this issue of her anti-immigration stance, her racism, the Islamophobia of her party. And of course, that is also some of the focus on Donald Trump in the United States. Break down for us what France was already like before you were facing the possibility of Marine Le Pen on issues of xenophobia, anti-immigrant movements or sentiment, and Islamophobia.

YL: Laws began being passed specifically targeting Muslims. For example, in 1987, there was the first review of the citizenship code, because it was a few years after the second generation of French Muslims marched and demanded equality. Then we had the 2004 law excluding Muslim girls wearing a headscarf from public schools, and then the law was extended to their mothers, should they want to attend school fieldtrips. And then it was extended to prevent Muslim nannies from working from home. You can’t even work in France if you’re wearing a headscarf as a Muslim woman, etc. All of that was adopted under a mainstream right party. The law on surveillance — we had had the criminalization of the BDS movement, the criminalization of social movements, the militarization of the police, the attempt to even change the French Constitution in order to strip from their citizenship; people who are convicted of acts of terror, meaning that if a person is charged with terrorism and convicted: He loses his citizenship.

We can make a very simple comparison with historic terrorist groups. When terrorism was white in the 1950s, nobody spoke about revoking their citizenship, even if they had attempted to overthrow the president, Charles de Gaulle. Nobody tried to remove — to revoke the citizenship of the far-left white terrorists in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and the list goes on. But the day terrorism went from white to brown, then it became a question of identity. And that’s why the supporters of Marine Le Pen are an indication that it’s not a question of the far-right rising. No, it’s a question of the growing adhering to far-right ideas from, again, the whole political spectrum in France.

JS: Now, you know, of course, when you look at someone like Marine Le Pen, it’s almost like a sickening cartoon version of a political figure, in the sense that she is so overt about her agenda of hatred. But now that we have the reality of Emmanuel Macron, what do you see as the dangers that his ascent to power represents?

YL: The deep divide along racial and social lines in France, and the fact that the racist rhetoric has been so normalized in France and so acceptable within the political elite, or within mainstream media, that it will take beyond human courage to go against that. The other danger is that he will inherit a police state that has been passed in the 30 years. All of them greatly expanding the powers of the executive, weakening our justice system, and instead, at least from learning the lesson of mass surveillance and being, you know, spied on by their own allies, France passes this law to put on surveillance the whole country. All your digital information is gathered in one single file held by the government that the government itself can share with the whole of the European Union and Interpol. That’s a very dangerous step, yet that’s where we are.

And of course, the current state of emergency. The figures are staggering. 4,200 raids have been carried. Only six inquiries on terror-related charges have been launched so far. And you have, for example, a state official saying that we have been targeting visibly practicing Muslims. And this is when racism comes in handy to pass repressive measures. And to implement totalitarian regimes, you begin by scapegoating minorities and holding them as that extraordinary enemy requiring extraordinary powers. But after passing all these laws on the back of the ethnic neighborhoods that we call the banlieue here in France, on the back of Muslims in the so-called war against terror, these measures have been extended to our anarchist friends, to the union leaders, to environmentalists. And that has been so normal that we have held several elections, and with a state of emergency, and nobody is asking the question, what are we doing? It’s been over a year-and-a-half. The state of emergency has failed. It did not prevent any terrorist attack. And at the same time, we are implementing what we call a totalitarian state.

JS: Now, in the United States, of course, we have — there’s a lot of racial profiling, and also profiling of Muslims, particularly in the case of our airports. And of course, Donald Trump, you know, is still continuing to try to push through his Muslim ban. You know, he’s had to revise it, and he’s battling our courts right now in the United States. But, you know, we’ve published secret U.S. government documents showing that Muslims are targeted in disproportionate numbers in the terror watchlisting system in the United States. Is that the situation in France as well for Muslims?

YL: The racial profiling thing, in our case in France, is directly inherited from France’s colonial past. You know, I know the U.S. — I went to school in the U.S., so I’m quite familiar with the romantic view people have of France and you know, hugs and you know, perfume, etc. But the reality is that France is a colonial republic. And the current republic we live under, called the Fifth Republic, had its constitution adopted in 1958 in the midst of the bloody repression of the liberation movements in the colonies, which means that our institutions today work according to a colonial model. So, it is no coincidence that if you are a black or an Arab person in France, you are 20 times more likely of being racially profiled by the police. If you are a Muslim person in France, you are four times less likely of receiving a positive answer to your job application.

So, there are deep roots for racism in France. It is structural. And the reason why Emmanuel Macron will not be capable of tackling these issues today, because he has not been as ambitious as to push for a new constitution, a post-colonial, a post-racial constitution that will recognize once and for all that France is not a white-only country. And it has a huge debt to the black and brown and Muslims who not only freed it from the Nazis while its white elite was collaborating with Hitler and sending the Jews to the death camps, but also rebuilt the country after the Second World War. The people who were brought to France from the former colonies were brought here to work and rebuild the country. So, I hope you see the extent of the problem, and that its different manifestations, be it the fear-mongering to justify security measures, the constant singling out of communities: They all go back to a colonial republic.

JS: All right. Yasser Louati, it was really a pleasure to speak with you. Thank you very much for joining us on Intercepted.

YL: Thank you for having me.

JS: Yasser Louati is a French human rights and civil liberties activist. He spoke to us from Paris.

[Music interlude]

JS: To end today’s show, we are honored to have the exclusive premiere of a new song by the hip-hop artists MC Sole and DJ Pain 1. They have a new album that’s gonna be coming out a bit down the road. Their last album, which really is an incredible political underground hip-hop album, was called “Nihilismo”. They also did the title track for the documentary about drone whistleblowers, called “National Bird.” And here is MC Sole and DJ Pain 1 with their new track, “Wrong Side of the Law.”

[MC Sole and DJ Pain 1, “Wrong Side of the Law”]

DJ Pain One.

What you think this is?

A cop in every phone

Everything you need

delivered to your home

No secret societies, they’re moving out in the open

We conspire privately and out in the open

I try to cope, the weed slows me down

Breathe when I can, everything is faster now

We’ve come a long way from stealing frontiers

And Sitting on front lawns drinking cold beer out a lawn chair

Feeling lawless, we know they apply to

Everyone it takes to build that wall inside you

There’s a border guard in my head

And he’s telling me to stay on the side of the fence that’s safe

I don’t feel so safe yet

And staying in my lane is some privileged shit

On the wrong side of the law

Black at night

Black bloc in day

Son of a cleric who denounces the crimes of the USA

Trans in the winning fist fight where the rapist doesn’t get away

We gon’ ride like doom horses on chariots

I speak with the clearness

Scared shitless yet fearless ‘cause there is no way out

except through the perils

Don’t hate me, hate the game I play

It’s an MMORPG I can’t log out

A first-person shooter

Where the rules in favor of a computer

Don’t want me to die, but won’t let me live either

They want us poppin’ pills, staying peaceful

My brain and my gut is all I got

And I’m still too young to fuck all that up


Wake up surrounds

Forced on the line

Pick in hand

in an enemy mine

If we break the chain that contains the power that can’t

From the powers that be,

from the people who won’t

huddled by a monitor watching it pass you by

The wrong side of the law, the other side of the riot line

Who believes them when they speak in the name of God?

The same ones who would kill us off in a flood

Hard to separate the drowned from the survivors

Who’s thriving from who was enslaved

Who sharpens the ax and who swings the blade

Ye who yields the power of the state

Murderers in various shades

Don’t be complicit, find your accomplices

Listen to the beasts hear betting to better slit it

Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau saw it coming

I’m not 100 miles and running

.1 acres and standing

Armed if I have to

Hegel said it

As soon as you assert a right

You ain’t got it

So don’t talk to me about your rights

Talk to me about dos and don’ts

Cans and cants

Who will fight

And who will watch it all happen

In sheer horro

We’re not in Kansas no more

We’re beyond the pale

Tiny hands that carry the nuclear suitcase

Will make us all equal when they eliminate the human race

JS: MC Sole and DJ Pain 1, performing “Wrong Side of the Law.” Many thanks to them for their work, their words, and to DJ Pain 1 for his beats. We’re gonna post links to both of their webpages on our site. We encourage you to check out their work.

And finally, just a heads up. On Thursday, June 8th, I’m gonna be emceeing a really exciting day of debate, speaking, analyzing, a little bit of music here and there, at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn. You can check out information about the whole lineup there and get info on how to get your tickets at

[Music interlude]

JS: That does it for the season two premiere of Intercepted. Join us on Twitter, where our handle is @Intercepted. Let us know who you would like to hear on this season of the show, and also be sure to check out all of the journalism at Intercepted is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. We’re distributed by Panoply. Our producer is Jack D’Isidoro, and our executive producer is Leital Molad. Rick Kwan mixed the show. We had production assistance from Elise Swain. Our music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky. Until next week, I’m Jeremy Scahill.

DJT: How am I doing? Am I doing okay? I’m president. Hey, I’m president! Could you believe it, right?

Bernie Sanders: All right, the president has just said it. That’s great!

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