Trump Headlines a Benefit Concert for Imperialism

Historian Vijay Prashad and The Intercept's Peter Maass are this week’s podcast guests. Plus, we hear excerpts from a play by Tina Satter about Reality Winner.

Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept, Getty Images

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Donald Trump received big bipartisan applause at his State of the Union. This week on Intercepted: As Trump openly pushed regime change in Venezuela, Democrats cheered him on. Trump also engaged in red-baiting during his speech by warning of the threat of socialism within the borders of the U.S. Jeremy Scahill talks about how economic sanctions are a mass-killing weapon intentionally aimed at the most vulnerable. Indian historian and journalist Vijay Prashad discusses the state of imperialism in the world, the battle for Venezuela, India’s upcoming election, and the history of U.S. dirty operations across the globe. As right-wing media and politicians have gone berserk over the FBI raid on the home of Trump crony Roger Stone, whistleblower Reality Winner remains behind bars. The Intercept’s Peter Maass discusses the hypocrisy surrounding the two cases and we hear excerpts from the recent play, “Is This a Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription,” created by Tina Satter. The play is based entirely on the verbatim transcript of the FBI interrogation of Winner the day she was arrested. Plus, a sneak peak at the new film Donald Trump’s Day Off.


CBS This Morning: Axios says a White House source leaked President Trump’s private schedule. While the schedule doesn’t show all of Mr. Trump’s meetings, it indicates he has spent about 60 percent of his time in unstructured “executive time.” Axios sources say —

Ben Stein as Economics teacher: Adams?

Student: Here.

BS: Adamle?

Student: Here.

BS: Adamowski?

BS: Adamson?

Student: Here.

BS: Anderson?

Student: Here

Man: Donald Trump. Trump? Trump? Trump?

Student: Um, he’s sick. My best friend sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with a girl who saw him passed out at 31 Flavors last night.

[Changing channels. Chewing noises.]

David Axelrod: The president of the United States gets on television tonight and says the economy is great.

Donald J. Trump: Because you’re fake news. You don’t report it.

[Burp. Changing channels.]

Fox and Friends: — The Union address and the president, I understand, Kellyanne, will have a theme. The theme will be to stop the resistance. Will it resonate?

Kellyanne Conway: Well, he has several themes. But what I would characterize as overall is visionary —

[Music interlude.]

Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted.

[Music interlude.]

JS: I’m Jeremy Scahill, coming to you from the offices of The Intercept in New York City. And this is episode 81 of Intercepted.

DJT: If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way.

JS: It’s always difficult to know where to begin with these Trump States of the Union. I guess we should just jump right in. I mean, one of the moments that I found to be most bizarre through the night was Trump as he praised the record number of women elected to Congress.

DJT: Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this. At exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time before.

JS: The Democratic women — most of whom dressed in all white — began cheering and dancing in the aisles.


JS: Within moments, it seemed like all of Congress was chanting “USA! USA!”

Crowd: USA! USA! USA!


DJT: That’s great, really great and congratulations. That’s great.

JS: It was an astonishing moment as Trump stood there basking in the applause, the chanting, the dancing, and imagining his greatness. With everything we know about Trump, about Donald Trump and women, the whole thing just felt, well, disturbing. Anyway, Trump also drew big bipartisan applause for his Venezuela remarks where he openly threatened regime change. A bunch of Democrats joined in the standing ovation.

DJT: Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela and its new president, Juan Guaido. Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country.

[Crowd boos.]

DJT: America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free.

[Crowd cheers.]

DJT: Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.

[Crowd cheers.]

JS: This is a dangerous statement. It’s akin to the same sentiments that we heard coming out of Germany as Hitler rose to power. It’s indicative of a campaign to malign his political enemies and to do so in the name of defending America. Yes, there are socialist groups and movements in the United States. Yes, there are the Democratic Socialists. Yes, a handful of them have won Congressional seats. But what Trump is doing here is preparing a line of justification for the intensifying of red-baiting and McCarthyism. And it was sickening to watch some Democrats join the Republicans in standing for applause as Trump made these incendiary comments. We are definitely going to return to those remarks and that moment on future episodes of this show.

[“Cops of the World” by Phil Ochs plays.]

JS: That is the late great Phil Ochs with his song “Cops of the World.” And, of course, Donald Trump loves cops. Cops love Donald Trump. But what about the most lethal cops in the world, the ones that Phil Ochs was singing about? The cops who police and brutalize and kill people across the globe? The cops who tell other countries what they can and can’t do and crush those who don’t obey? The cops who punish people for electing the wrong candidate or nationalizing the oil? What about the cops of the U.S. empire?

You see, we’re constantly told how Donald Trump is at war with the deep state, how the CIA and FBI and U.S. military, they’re filled with people secretly, quietly protecting democracy, protecting all of us from the dangers of unhinged Trump. And part of this story of “Trump at war with the intelligence community” makes sense. I mean Trump did compare the CIA to the Nazis.

DJT: I think it’s a disgrace. And I say that and I say that and that’s something that Nazi Germany would’ve done and did do. I think it’s a disgrace.

JS: Trump spends endless “executive time” not reading intelligence reports. He wants cartoons instead of analysis. And he uses phrases like “the intelligence people” when disagreeing with reports he also admits to having not read.

DJT: I don’t have to be told — you know, I’m like a smart person — I don’t have to be told the same thing and the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years. Eight years.

JS: But hit pause on the Trump show for a moment, take a breath and look at the bigger picture. Trump is actually great for the shadow bureaucracy at Langley, the NSA, at the Pentagon. He is good for the “America is the cops of the world” crowd. The unelected power brokers who run the national security establishment have constantly had to fight with elected leaders. They don’t want limits. They don’t want supervision. They don’t want oversight. They want to be left to do what they believe is necessary to protect their version of American national security. Trump is, in many ways, a godsend. He tells them to torture if they have to, kill civilians if you believe it’s necessary. Hell, let’s even consider sending heads of state that the CIA hates to Guantanamo. That’s what John Bolton recently suggested.

John Bolton: Well, I tweeted yesterday. You know, I wish him a long, quiet retirement on a pretty beach far from Venezuela. And the sooner he takes advantage of that, the sooner he’s likely to have a nice, quiet retirement on a pretty beach rather than being in some other beach area like Guantanamo.

JS: For all of the huffing and puffing about Trump being at odds with the CIA or the so-called intelligence community, Trump is actually the very kind of president that the most unsavory forces in the U.S. arsenal love. Why? Because Trump mostly doesn’t care what they do. He certainly isn’t going to talk about shattering the CIA into a million little pieces. He’s not going to support Congress investigating U.S. involvement with coups, dirty tricks, extrajudicial killings. He likes those things. He wants more of that. In many ways, we are in a new golden era for the CIA and black ops war planners.

On the question of Trump’s style versus more traditional adult administrations, journalist Allan Nairn said the following on last week’s Intercepted.

Allan Nairn: Trump versus the establishment: They both agree first that the U.S. has the right to essentially extend the Monroe Doctrine to the entire globe and say the entire globe is the U.S backyard, and that the U.S. has the right to invade anywhere at any time for any reason. And secondly that in doing so, the U.S. has the right to kill civilians in those countries with no repercussions. The only difference they have is a tactical one. The Trump people say go in invade wherever you want, but do it absolutely without restraint. But get it over with quickly.

JS: The CIA and the military, they can wait out any administration that comes to power with an idea about reining them in. They were pretty adept at scaring and managing Barack Obama.

Barack Obama: I also have a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards. And part of my job is to make sure that, for example, at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders —

JS: This national security shadow state can play the game, wax the wheels and get by until another Bush or a Cheney comes along. Trump is certainly an anomaly and an unpredictable one at that. Cheney wanted to micromanage the CIA and U.S. Special Operations Forces. Trump doesn’t know enough about the world or about intelligence or how government functions to do what Cheney did. But the end result is pretty much the same. Cheney empowered these forces through management and constant pressure, including literally going to the CIA to instruct them on how to cook the books on intelligence. Trump empowers these forces through offering them carte blanche power with little to no questioning as long as it doesn’t make him look personally bad. As long as this remains true, Trump can whine about the deep state all he wants. He can even call them Nazis. He can tweet his disagreements with their assessments. But in reality, Donald Trump is generally good for their dirty business.

Margaret Brennan: What would make you use the U.S. military in Venezuela? What’s the national security interest?

DJT: Well, I don’t want to say that but certainly it’s something that’s on the — it’s an option.

JS: And that brings us to Venezuela. The open push for regime change, the recognizing of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the so-called legitimate president, the sanctions aimed at starving the population into submission, all of these are straight out of the CIA playbook of the 1950s and 60s. It was what the U.S. tried to do with the blockade against Cuba over the course of many decades.

Newscaster: Following Premier Castro’s rejection of UN inspections, White House press secretary Pierre Salinger announces resumption of the naval blockade and of aerial surveillance of the missile sites. They’ve been suspended until UN acting-Secretary General U Thant returns from his talks with the Cuban dictator.

JS: What we are seeing right now in Latin America is a modern iteration of the same dirty tactics that the U.S. has historically used against the nations south of the U.S. border. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. The U.S. has tried since the early 2000s to overthrow its socialist government beginning with Hugo Chavez. At the same time, it poured money into right-wing movements and backed open fascists like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. All of this is a modern version of the era of overthrowing leftists who won at the ballot box or by overthrowing U.S.-friendly dictators. And all of the mass murder, the sanctions, the regime changes, the election interference, the covert support for anti-democratic forces determined to be good for so-called free markets is today, as it was in the 1950s, sold in the name of bringing freedom and democracy.

Harry S. Truman: The future of civilization depends on what we do, on what we do now.

John F. Kennedy: If we withdrew from Vietnam, the communists would control Vietnam.

Lyndon B. Johnson: If this little nation goes down the drain and can’t maintain their independence, ask yourself what’s going to happen to all the other little nations —

Richard Nixon: All over the Pacific, in the Mideast, in Europe, in the world, the United States would suffer a blow and peace because we are the great peacekeeping nation in the world today because of our power —

Ronald Reagan: For several years now, under two administrations, the United States has been increasing its defense of freedom in the Caribbean Basin. And I can tell you tonight, democracy is beginning to take root in El Salvador.

George H.W. Bush Sr.: At this moment, U.S. forces, including forces deployed from the United States last night are engaged in action in Panama.

Bill Clinton: Their mission is to attack Iraq’s nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and its military capacity to threaten its neighbors. Their purpose is to protect the national interest of the United States —

George W. Bush: To disarm Iraq, to free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger.

Barack Obama: Last night, on my orders, America’s armed forces began strikes against ISIL targets in Syria.

DJT: My administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.

JS: Powerful Democrats and Republicans alike have sold the notion that economic sanctions are somehow a cleaner way of forcing change than military force. They portray sanctions as targeting the dictators, the oligarchs, the criminally corrupt. But the filthy truth is that not all sanctions are created equal. Yes, there are sanctions that go after individual criminals. But the sanctions we’re talking about on Venezuela right now, they’re not going harm Nicolás Maduro and his inner circle personally. No, these sanctions are aimed at punishing the Venezuelan people by depriving them of food, of medicine, of wages, of their very humanity. The strategy is to use these sanctions as a cudgel against an already suffering people in a campaign to torture them into submission.

Now, don’t take my word for it. The former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela William Brownfield has been aggressively lobbying for more sanctions, saying “perhaps the best solution would be to accelerate the collapse.” He says this while actually openly acknowledging that sanctions will kill innocent people, increase malnutrition and bring “fairly severe punishment” for “millions and millions” of Venezuelans.

William Brownfield: And if we can do something that will bring that end quicker, we probably should do it but we should do it understanding that it’s going to have an impact on millions and millions of people who are already having great difficulty finding enough to eat, getting themselves cured when they get sick, or finding clothes to put on their children before they go off to school. We don’t get to do this and pretend as though it has no impact there. We have to make the hard decision — the desired outcome justifies this fairly severe punishment.

JS: Now, let’s be clear here. This is the former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela speaking at a Washington D.C. think tank, publicly saying that it is worth the price of lives and health and humanity of ordinary Venezuelans in order to overthrow a government the U.S. does not like.

Steve Mnuchin: Today Treasury took action against the Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA to help prevent the further diversion of Venezuela’s assets by former president Maduro.

JS: These sanctions are going to cost Venezuela $11 billion in oil revenue in 2019 alone. That amounts to nearly 95 percent of the money that Venezuela spent on the import of food and other goods last year. This isn’t targeting Maduro. Even the Economist Magazine stated the following about the logic behind the sanctions, and I’m quoting here: “Mr. Guaidó and Mr. Trump are betting that hardship will topple the regime before it starves the Venezuelan people.” That’s not Hugo Chávez speaking from the grave. That’s the Economist Magazine.

So, let’s be clear: this is targeting ordinary people in order to strangle them into bowing down to Washington’s agenda. And Ambassador Brownfield’s sick advocacy of punishing ordinary Venezuelans to impose the U.S. agenda is reminiscent of how Bill Clinton’s secretary of State Madeline Albright defended the murderous sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s.

Reporter: We have heard that a half a million children have died. I mean, that’s not more children that died in Hiroshima. And you know, is the price worth it?

Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice but the price, we think, the price is worth it.

JS: When powerful political leaders in the U.S. want to change governments, the price of killing innocent people is always worth it. It’s the American way. And this is why Trump is being embraced on his Venezuela policy. He is promoting and advancing the bi-partisan politics of empire. It is the same dynamic when the so-called adults on Capitol Hill support giving Trump sweeping surveillance powers or unending funds for an already insane military spending budget. For all the screaming about Trump being a grave threat to democracy, worst president ever, an unhinged maniac, when he boosts the policies of imperialism, he gets to be part of the club of the cops of the world.

[“Cops of the World” by Phil Ochs plays.]

Journalist and Historian Vijay Prashad Discusses Venezuela, Politics in India, and American Empire

JS: Joining me now to discuss the state of imperialism in the world, the situation in Venezuela, the upcoming elections in India and the recent one in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is Vijay Prashad. He is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He’s also a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. That’s a project of the Independent Media Institute. Vijay is the executive director of the Tricontinental Institute for Social Research and the chief editor of LeftWord Books. Vijay is a prolific writer, authoring twenty-five books, including “The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World” and “The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South.”

Vijay Prashad, welcome to Intercepted.

Vijay Prashad: Thank you so much.

JS: You recently wrote that what happened to Chile in 1973 when there was a U.S. initiated coup against the democratically elected leader Salvador Allende that that is precisely what the United States has attempted to do in many countries of the global South and you say the most recent target for the U.S. government and Western big business is Venezuela. What are the parallels that you see between the overthrow of Allende in 1973 and what we’re seeing now with the push to overthrow Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela?

VP: I’m glad we’re starting here, Jeremy, because this is really the most important issue, I think, of our period. Which is, you know, this very extravagant set of claims made by particularly the United States and its closest allies about countries in the global South, whether it’s Iran or Venezuela or a host of other countries. Let’s think about the Chilean example. In 1970, when Salvador Allende was coming close to winning a very legitimate election to come to office, the United States government said we will not tolerate it if people like Allende decide to nationalize, you know, resources. In the case of Chile, it was copper.

Newscaster: American companies dominated the Chilean economy, oil companies, the telephone company and 80 percent of the country’s copper industry, Chile’s biggest source of revenue. Allende’s program called for putting big business in Chilean hands.

VP: And so, they began to plan to in a way, undermine Allende through barricading his economy long before Allende even won the election and after he won the election, they did everything possible to prevent Chile from selling copper outside its boundaries and therefore bankrupting Chile, creating distress within the country, and then winking to the military to take over. And by the way, Chile is not the beginning of this. We saw this in 1953 in Guatemala where the issue was the nationalization of the United Fruit Company.

Newscaster: Thousands of communists and fellow travelers are rounded up in makeshift prisons. For United Fruit, it’s business as usual as all company land seized by the communists is returned.

VP: In Iran, the issue was oil.

Newscaster: One of his rarer appearances, Mohammad Mossadegh, premier of Iran, meets the press to reaffirm his government’s unwillingness to arbitrate with Britain over nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company —

VP: The government of Mohammad Mossadegh nationalized the oil company. This was something seen as totally inappropriate by Western oil companies, the so-called Seven Sisters. And the United States, in alliance with Great Britain, conducted a coup against Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran and against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. I mean, there’s so many examples of precisely this situation. With Venezuela, you know, this is a country that has never been able to diversify its economy. About 98 percent of its external revenues comes from oil and from petroleum products. You know, in the last few years oil prices have collapsed by 50 percent which means that Venezuela’s external revenues have also collapsed by about 50 percent. Rather than help the Venezuelans what we begin to see is the Obama Administration in 2015 declaring Venezuela a national security threat and now, the Trump Administration with the very close help of Mr. Trudeau from Canada trying to essentially overthrow the government of Mr. Nicolás Maduro.

JS: You know, I, of course, agree with your analysis on the U.S. intervention. But we are seeing millions of Venezuelans over the past several years fleeing the country. Yes, the opposition, some elements of the opposition to Maduro, have killed people. At the same time, Maduro controls most of the state mechanisms of organized violence: The police, the military, etcetera. And we have seen real brutality and lethal force used over and over on the opposition. My question for you is, and I, you know, I’ve been hearing this from Venezuelans who say “Look, we are not Trump supporters. But Maduro is running the country into the ground. Yes, we understand sanctions. Everything Vijay is saying we agree with that. At the same time, Maduro has built himself a kleptocracy.” Are you saying that there is no legitimacy whatsoever to any sector of the opposition against Maduro right now?

VP: Well, look let’s put it this way, there are obvious problems. As I said when your revenues declined to almost 50 percent, you’re going to suffer great problems inside the country. You’ve got an economic stranglehold by the sanctions regime and so on. Yes, there are Venezuelans fleeing the country. But, you know, Jeremy, there are 69 million people who have been displaced around the world. And that’s a very conservative figure, largely displaced because of the very structural policies that you know, are disturbing countries. Not only Venezuela but countries across West Africa, in Central Asia. You have wars, you have economic policies that are displacing people. So, of course, there are people moving. Of course, there are people who feel that this government is not representing them but that’s what the political process is about. I mean, are we saying that Nicolás Maduro is a dictator?

Now, in the last election, which the opposition only partly boycotted, he only won 67 percent of the vote. The opposition is politically divided. It’s not able to come together. One section of the opposition has turned to the United States and said essentially give us a hand to use any means to overthrow this guy. Why don’t you build the opposition? On any day in Caracas, Jeremy, you open the newspapers, they’re all deeply critical of the Maduro government. If this is a dictatorship, I don’t understand what freedom, you know, in our limited sense is. You know, he gets hammered on television. He is getting hammered [in] the newspapers. The fact is the opposition is not able to come together. And the deep residues of Chavista loyalty to the Maduro government but also to the institutions of the missions and so on is not to be set aside. In other words, you have this very loyal section of Chavistas who are committed to the Bolivarian Revolution. They understand the problems. They’re willing to fight to defend the government and they come out in large numbers to vote for the government. But yet their large numbers, as I said, amount to 67 percent. There is a political process. Maduro has said “Let’s go back. Let’s have a negotiation. Let’s think about a new election.” The Venezuelan government in this last election last year asked the United Nations to send monitors. Why did the United Nations not send monitors? You know, why is the United States government attempting to cripple the political process in Venezuela to create the preconditions where you can then think there’s nothing else to be done except U.S. intervention to anoint somebody as the president? A deeply undemocratic act.

JS: Also, I wanted to point out, and you’ve been writing about this and offering analysis on it, that at this moment in Latin America you have this rise again of overt authoritarian fascist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil. But you also have a leftist president who came to power in Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador, known by his initials AMLO. And you wrote about López Obrador that he comes to the presidency as a man of the left but the space for maneuvering that he has for a left agenda is minimal. What is your sense of what room to maneuver López Obrador has right now in Mexico?

VP:  You see, Mexico, like Venezuela, like any of these countries, their space for what we call fiscal creativity is almost zero. These countries are reliant upon private banks to raise money. There’s been immense pressure on these countries from the IMF not to run deficits. You know, if you can’t raise enough money from banks to cover your basic running operation of your government, what you’re going to do is you’re going to end up cutting social services. I mean, let’s put this in some context, Jeremy. Oxfam’s recent report showed that last year, 2,230 odd billionaires increased their wealth by 2.5 billion dollars per year and meanwhile the lowest 50 percent of humanity lost 11 percent of its wealth. You see, what we have to remember is the very top people, these 2,000 odd billionaires and their families, no longer pay tax. They have gone on what I consider a tax strike. So, for López Obrador, the government he’s inherited is basically a government which, you know, doesn’t have any ability to provide the good parts of life for people. Which is why he was very eager to take back control of PEMEX which is the Mexican petroleum company. Take back control of it, put some money to invest in it, to revive PEMEX. The moment he made those comments after he won the election he was told directly by banks, by the IMF, and by international oil companies that don’t you dare do that. Don’t you dare try to use public financing to revive PEMEX. The only thing we’re going to allow you to do is to basically sell more parts of PEMEX off to international privately-held, you know, energy companies. So, what’s happening to Venezuela is just a much more vulgar and dangerous portfolio of events than what is happening to Mexico where things are not yet at a boiling point.

JS: Let’s jump to the other side of the globe for a moment. Right now, India is under the control of a far-right extremist. The BJP won the majority in India’s Parliament. Explain for people the impact that the BJP government has had on India.

VP: In 2013 when the last parliamentary elections took place the far-right won 31 percent of the vote. But because of the nature of the Indian Parliamentary system, they got a majority in Parliament. Sixty percent plus of the public did not vote for the BJP or its allies. I think that’s very important to remember. So Modi, you know, attempted to push the country in a rightward direction. But right from the beginning, there was immense resistance against him and interestingly, even on foreign policy. When Modi tried to move into basically the American camp, he was prevented. You know, he was the first Indian Prime Minister to go to Israel.

Narendra Modi: It is my singular honor to be the first-ever Prime Minister of India to undertake this groundbreaking visit to Israel.

VP: But he was forced by the political class and by the Indian foreign ministry to also have continued relations with the Palestinians which he wanted to break. Modi was very eager to join in the American project to isolate Iran. That was prevented not only by the foreign ministry and by the other political parties, but also, of course, by the needs of India which is entirely reliant on import of oil and imports quite a large amount of Iranian oil. So, I want to just say at the same time as Modi is quite a, you know, ruthless nasty piece of work, he was not able to capture fully the institutions of Indian government and the imagination of the Indian people and it’s quite likely, Jeremy, that he is going to lose this election quite badly.

JS: Just last month in January, there were upwards of 200 million workers in India that took part in a two-day strike protesting the government’s labor policies. And then at the same time, over the weekend, you tweeted a photo of a sea of people in red and you wrote the following “My home city of Kolkata bristled today with the energy of the left front with our comrades thronging the brigade ground. There are many photographs of our comrades as they interact with each other, dance with each other from the bus stands and the train stations to the maidan.” What is the left front and how are they challenging the BJP?

VP: Well, let’s begin with the major labor protest.

[Protesters chant.]

VP: I was driving up and down the length of Kerala during those two days of the strike in January. You know, these are workers from not only, you know, where you’d expect them, rail workers, IT workers — the internet workers in Bangalore. It was a range of workers to add up to 200 million and these workers were on strike not for wages. I think that’s very important to recognize. But they were angry with the direction of economic policy. They were angry with the kind of political culture in the country. But before that, last year there was an immense wave of agrarian struggles.

You know, people may not know that in the past 18 years about almost 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide. They’ve committed suicide largely because there is a deep agrarian crisis with no exit that has struck India. Because of the commercialization of agriculture, you’ve had input prices rise — prices of fertilizer, prices of pesticide, prices of seeds — and you’ve had the government cut support prices to buy the goods. That means that the input prices have risen and the buying price has dropped which has left farmers in immense debt and what you’ve seen, which is so tragic, is many of these farmers commit suicide by drinking pesticide, you know, the very thing that has bankrupted them. Well, over the course of these 15 odd years the Kisan Sabha, which is the farmer’s movement in India has been struggling very hard to build the political confidence of farmers. And you saw in Bombay of last year hundreds of thousands of farmers march for over two weeks into the city of Bombay.

News Anchor: The arterial roads of Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), the financial capital, have turned into a sea of red. Today, however, they plan to surround the state assembly to press for their demands of a complete loan waiver, fair pay, and transfer of Adivasi land to farmers who have been tilling it for years.

VP: And force the right-wing state government to accede to the demands. So, what I’m saying is that we move from suicide to the politicization of the agrarian crisis. This had an enormous impact in three state elections last year. And it’s because of this farmer’s protest which has been, you know, organized by the left, by the communists, by the socialists, and other constituents of the Left Front. Because of these farmer’s protest you’ve seen a shift in the political needle away from the BJP. So what we are anticipating — Because the BJP cannot win seats in South India because it’s going to have a hard time in those agrarian states and because it’s going to lose in this very large state of Uttar Pradesh to this new alliance of socialists and oppressed caste parties. Because of that, there is no way BJP is going to get a plurality in the Parliament and I think, in fact, it will it will not be able to form a government in April and May of this coming, this year.

JS: Last month was the anniversary of the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the independence leader in Congo who was the first prime minister of the independent Democratic Republic of Congo.

Patrice Lumumba [translated to English]: We have known mockery, insults, blows from morning to night because we were Negros. We knew that the law was never the same for whites and blacks. Who will forget the firing squads, the brutal arrests of those who refused to bow to the regime of injustice, oppression, and exploitation?

JS: He was assassinated and the United States, we know for a fact, had previously plotted to assassinate him. Just recently there were elections in Congo and you had the election of Felix Tshisekedi. He is now Congo’s fifth president taking over from Joseph Kabila. You recently, with Kambale Musavuli wrote a piece about the legacy of the crisis in Congo and how Patrice Lumumba-inspired youth are trying to break the culture of plunder and corruption that has been foisted upon the political system in Congo. Explain today’s crisis, how it began in Congo, the significance of this new election, and the fact that the so-called opposition in Congo right now is headed by a former ExxonMobil executive.

VP: It’s not just a situation of the Congo. You have to look at this belt that runs through the center of Africa including Zambia, including any country in the center of Africa, and the many of them that are rich in rare earth minerals, in various raw materials from cobalt, which is an essential ingredient in electric batteries, to coltan which is essential for the smartphones, the iPhone and so on. And it’s very important to say that however much there is, you know, kind of this dismay about the Chinese intervention in Africa, that actually most of the companies that are able to work to mine these goods are actually not Chinese. Many of them are Canadian, Canadian firms like Barrick and so on which dominate the mining in these parts of the world. And what you’ve seen is that these mining companies, they pay these countries revenues based on a very deflated price for the goods. Within the Congo, they keep the price low. So they say to the government we’ll give you 20 percent per ton of coltan’s price but the price is, you know, only so many hundred dollars. As soon as it crosses the border the price increases. This is what we call mispricing.

So, places like the Congo have essentially been plundered and stolen from for over a hundred years. They haven’t been able to build up any kind of public finances. They haven’t been able to build up proper institutions to take care of the people of the Congo or of Zambia, wherever.

Every time there is an election, the State Department and, you know, all the Europeans, everybody says, well, you know, they’re moving towards democracy. I mean, if you are a pliant government then your stolen election is validated. If you are not a pliant government, this is coming back to Venezuela, then you’re going to be told your election was fraudulent. So, they have had a fraudulent election after elections and it got to such a point that Joseph Kabila simply refused to have an election. His term ended in 2016. He just refused to allow an election to take place and nobody said peep. There was no, you know, statement about moving American troops into Tanzania. I mean nothing. Why? Because essentially, all the minerals are being looted from that country. So as long as you have a pliant government, and Kabila was pliant, they allowed him to keep going even though his mandate ended in 2016.

You had these massive protest. Yes, Lumumba inspired youth but also, you know, some of them are devout Christian groups and so on out on the street demanding change. The pressure was too high. They allowed an election. They thought that Kabila’s, his successor would come in. And here’s the whole trick of it — What is a democracy? Who can afford to build a political party? Necessarily, you get people from the elite who build the opposition. And here, yes, of course, it’s a ExxonMobil, you know, executive who becomes the face of the opposition.

I mean, there is no real opposition in a country like Congo until it’s built from the grassroots, from these young people and so on. And that is why, Jeremy, I’m sorry to say that, for at least a generation, places like the Congo will not be able to have, you know, robust political movements, movements that will have any kind of impact in the electoral domain.

JS: I also want to remind people of the history of the Congo which was under the brutal reign of Belgian colonialism. And then you had the CIA backed government of Mobutu Sese Seko who ran that country with extreme brutality and kept it open for U.S. president after U.S. president.

News Anchor: VIPs of the Congolese Republic were in their best bib and tucker. It was Independence Day and an honored place was given to those who had helped General Mobutu on his way to the presidency.

JS: You also had Dwight Eisenhower authorizing the CIA to develop a chemical poison that was made to look like toothpaste that they wanted to try to assassinate Patrice Lumumba with. We’ve seen so many of these independence movements or nationalist movements in Africa and Asia, around the global South just be completely obliterated or severely damaged in the ensuing decades of imperialist encroachment around the world.

VP: I mean, every time you look at an African country when a young leader is produced that comes up with an agenda that is not pliant to mining companies, not pliant to the Western capitals, that person is killed almost immediately and I think people need to really reflect on that. Reflect on the assassinations of Houari Boumédiène at the north of the country in Algeria all the way down to Chris Hani at the South.

JS: As we wrap up Vijay, I wanted to get your big picture take on the ascent of Donald Trump to the chamber of ultimate power in the United States at the White House. Set Donald Trump’s rise to power in the context of all of this history that you and I have been discussing.

VP: Well, you know it brings us back to this tax strike that began about 40 years ago. When basically government policy allowed the big elites to no longer pay taxes, corporate tax rates began to fall. You saw government budgets desiccate, municipal budgets basically devolve to nothing. At this point, the kind of liberal consensus, the liberal agenda, was to move in a direction what we call neoliberalism which basically accepted the fact that the rich were not going to pay taxes. They wanted to raise funds by selling off, you know, hard won public assets. They privatized. They opened up parts of human existence that had not been for money and commodified them. This was the way in which the liberals tried to finance this crisis of, you know, government budgets because the rich were not paying taxes. And they were not going to challenge the rich. In fact, they said that’s good. It creates entrepreneurialism. You see jobs trickle down. Essentially, this is the agenda of Tony Blair, of Bill Clinton, and you know around the world they have their cognates.

But by the financial crisis of 2007, the liberals were essentially totally delegitimized. So, when these neo-liberals are delegitimized, from the right appears, people like Donald Trump. But again, this is not a specific American story. This is a global story. The delegitimization of the liberals, whether it’s the Congress Party in India, or it’s you know to some extent, the Workers party in Brazil, the Democratic party in the United States, you get these far-right people show up. And they make strong claims saying that “We’re going to come, we’re going to grab the economy by the throat, we’re going to make it cough out jobs,” and then they make even more dramatic statement saying that the reason you don’t have a job is because the migrants, because these migrants come in and take your jobs. I mean, it’s a classic bait and switch. On the one hand, they quite correctly attack the neo-liberals saying that you’ve basically hollowed out the economy. They attack them saying that you know, you’re not able to provide well-being for the population. Well, that’s true. But then the bait and switch is they turn around and they say the reason why this is happening is because of the migrants.

They, in other words, the Trumps of the world, just like the Clintons of the world, don’t point their fingers at those 2,000, you know, billionaires and so on who are just not paying taxes. Who are not, who are sucking up social wealth and not providing any return to public finances to improve health, to improve education. And, by the way, to create public, you know, institutions that prevent people from desperation like universal health care. This is what public financing should have been. But because the left is weak now, the liberals have been delegitimized, the field is open to the right and not only to the right but these very vicious strongmen. So, my sense is that for some time now, we’re going to have to tolerate this sort of right-wing political presence until we build up the forces of the left to produce a robust critique of the way in which the wealthy have not been contributing at all. I mean, I don’t really want philanthropy. I want them to pay taxes.

JS: Well on that note, we’re going to leave it there. Vijay Prashad, thank you so much for joining us.

VP: Thanks a lot.

JS: Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor, and journalist. He’s a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He’s the executive director of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor at LeftWord Books. You can find him on Twitter @vijayprashad.

[Music interlude.]

Peter Maass Discusses the FBI Interrogation of Reality Winner. We Hear Excerpts From the Play “Is This a Room: Reality Winner Verbatim Transcription”

[Pounding on door.]

Officer: FBI, open the door!

JS: Early in the morning of January 25th, at least a dozen armed FBI agents executed a search warrant on the home of Trump advisor and perennial conservative bloviator Roger Stone. Stone had been indicted by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, charging him with seven counts that included obstruction of justice, making false statements — that is, lying to Congress — and witness tampering — as in, when Stone threatened to kill Randy Credico’s therapy dog. For those wondering, no, Randy did not bring his dog Bianca to our studio when I interviewed him back in December 2017 on this show.

Anyway, Stone was arrested and then taken before a Federal District Court judge, where he quickly posted a $250,000 bond. And just like that, later that same afternoon, Stone was free to go back home.

[Crowds boo.]

Roger Stone: As I have always said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

JS: Stone was free to bemoan his supposedly abhorrent treatment by the FBI on every mainstream news outlet available.

RS on “Liberty File”: They treated me like El Chapo. They used fewer men to take down Pablo Escobar.

RS at press conference: To storm my house with greater force than was used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar.

RS on “Tucker Carlson Tonight”: They’ve just poisoned a potential jury pool by making me look like El Chapo.

JS: Soon enough, a chorus of the usual reactionary suspects echoed Stone’s complaints.

Tucker Carlson: So they can arrest you with overwhelming force and automatic weapons and armored vehicles and stun grenades.

Chris Christie: When I found out that Roger Stone did not have a gun, I think it was over the top for them to do that because otherwise, he’s not a flight risk. How could Roger Stone get out of the country?

JS: Even the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Lindsey Graham, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking to be briefed on the arrest. And Trump weighed in on Twitter writing “Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better.” These protests are just nuts. They are insane. Roger Stone was treated with infinitely more respect and kid gloves than the countless people on the receiving end of FBI raids.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies regularly brutalize poor people, people of color, every day criminal suspects, nonviolent offenders. It happens all the time. They destroy lives in militarized raids. They kill people. They kill peoples’ pets. They ruin people’s homes. They terrorize families. And unlike Roger Stone, the overwhelming majority of these people have never posted videos of themselves with loaded weapons talking about how they are preparing for the next civil war.

RS on Infowars: If there is a coup d’etat, if there is an illegitimate, unconstitutional effort to remove Donald Trump on trumped up charges by biased and partisan prosecutors or an illegitimate takedown by the 25th amendment, there will be a civil war in this country. The Trump constituency has been awakened and they will not be put to sleep. I choose to defend myself and my family. I’m tired of the death threats. I’m tired of the need for personal security. I’m tired of the insults and therefore, I’m going to defend the Constitution and myself.

JS: The right-wing outrage over the raid on Roger Stone is garbage and yes, it’s hypocritical. And Stone continues to walk around in the free world. Let’s juxtapose that with the fate of whistleblower Reality Winner who’s accused of leaking a one-page document on Russian cyber operations allegedly aimed at U.S. voting systems. Winner was a 25-year-old Air Force veteran working as an NSA contractor. She specialized in multiple languages, including Farsi, Pashto, and Dari.

In June of 2017, the FBI executed a search warrant on her home. Winner was suspected of leaking that classified document to my outlet, The Intercept. According to the FBI, she was interrogated in her home for one and a half hours before being arrested. During her interrogation, she was never read her Miranda rights.

We know all this because the FBI audio recorded Winner’s interrogation. There’s a transcript of it. And now, this transcript, verbatim, has been turned into a theatrical play.

The play is called “Is This A Room” and was directed by Tina Satter. It was performed earlier this year at The Kitchen in New York City. We’re going to hear some of that performance. We’re also going to hear from the Intercept’s Peter Maass, about how Winner was never afforded the same liberties as a professional liar like Roger Stone, and how the FBI employs its own deceitful tactics.

[Music interlude.]

Peter Maass: It’s a gross power imbalance when you are forbidden from lying to the government but the government is not forbidden to lie to you. The FBI can tell you, “It’s not a big deal. Let’s just clear this up. You’re a good person” knowing that it is a big deal. That they think you’re a leaker who damaged national security and that you could be in jail for ten years. They’re no telling you that. They’re telling you the exact opposite. Don’t worry about it. We’ll just clear this up and then we’ll be out of here. On the other hand, if you lie to the FBI and say “Oh, I didn’t do it.” And in fact, you did, that’s an additional crime that you’ve committed that they then use against you. And the Reality Winner case is an example of that.

The FBI were staking out her house waiting for her to come back from, as it turned out, she had been grocery shopping. Then she rolls up and then basically, the FBI roll up to her doorstep. This was two agents although they were backed up by about, approximately a dozen others who were on her front porch with her and that’s how it began.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

T.L. Thompson as Special Agent R. Wallace Taylor: Hey, how are you?

Emily Davis acting as Reality Winner: Hey.

WT: How are you?

RW: Pretty good, how you doing?

Pete Simpson as Special Agent Justin C. Garrick: Good. How’s your day today?

RW: Good, just got some groceries.

JG: All right.

WT: Let’s show you who we are.

JG: OK, well the reason we’re here today is that we have a search warrant for your house.


JG: All right. Do you know what this might be about?

RW: I have no idea.

JG: OK, this is about a possible mishandling of classified information.

RW: Oh my goodness. OK.

JG: So, what we’ve got is, again, got a warrant and I’m happy to show it to you. What I’d like to do is sit down, talk to you about it, kind of go over what’s going on, talk to you. Kind of get your side of it and of course, you — completely voluntary to talk to me. We can talk here. Our office is about five minutes away. If you want to, we can talk there. If you’d rather, do either one. Makes no difference to me.

[Music interlude.]

PM: You’re just totally disoriented. You don’t know what’s really happening. These people are here. They have a warrant. They say they just want to talk something over. They say it’s not very serious. Is it serious? You haven’t gone through this before. They have a million times and that’s their advantage.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

WT: Is your dog friendly?

RW: OK, so, she does not like men.

WT: OK. So, that’s a problem.

So, what we might want to do is maybe let you go in there with her. You’re not to touch anything else. You’re not to do anything else.

RW: I can move her straight to the backyard.

WT: Get the dog and bring it out here.

Are we cool?

Cause otherwise, if we’re going to have a problem, we’re not going to do that.

RW: I understand.

WT: OK, house key.

RW: House key.


PM: Put yourself in her shoes or the shoes of anybody who’s never had this experience before. On the one hand, the agents did announce at the beginning “We have a search warrant for your house and this is a matter of possible mishandling of classified information.” On the other hand, she had just returned from grocery shopping and one of the agents says to her “Well, look, let me help you put your groceries in the refrigerator. Where should they go?” And then, the agents also start talking to her about her life.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

JG: It’s alright. Just making sure, checking to make sure there’s nobody else in there or nothing, surprise! Surprise or nothing like that.

RW: Yep, I want to make this as easy for you guys as possible.

JG: OK, likewise, just hopefully explain things and get to, figure this all out and wrap it up.

[Dog barks.]

JG: How long have you had your dog?

RW: Oh, she’s actually a foster. I’m rehabilitating her so that hopefully she can get adopted later on. She’s actually a rescue. I think I got her in March.

JG: OK, how old is she?

RW: Oh, we don’t really know. She’s one of those.

JG: Yeah, one of my dogs was a rescue and when I got him, he wouldn’t, I was the only guy who could touch him. And this was probably like three years, anybody else.

PM: They’re not talking to her about mishandling classified information. They are talking to her literally about her dog.

JG: If you can tell, we’re all dog people.

[Music interlude.]

PM: And you know, step back for a second. This is the FBI going to the house of somebody who they think leaked what they believe or pretend to believe was a very important, national security, top-secret document. And they’re talking about how they’re dog people. And they’re also talking about as well, her workout routine. Reality Winner worked out at a CrossFit gym. She engages in this conversation with them.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

JG: Where do you CrossFit at?

RW: Oh, uh, I’m over at SEC.

JG: I did it for like six months and I hurt myself.

RW: Oh.

JG: Just every single day was just pain.

RW: Yeah.

JG: I don’t know. I guess I’m too old and broken.

RW: I always say I don’t do CrossFit. I do competitive powerlifting and then I do CrossFit when it’s convenient.

JG: So, powerlifting, huh? What’s your preference on? What’s your favorite stuff?

PM: And it goes on to include also where she was based.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

JG: Where all were you with the Air Force?

RW: Just right after training went up to Fort Meade and spent four years there.

JG: That’s a long time in Maryland.

RW: It is and there was no opportunity of leaving.

WT: I could beat you.You  know what my first Air Force assignment was?

RW: What?

WT: Minot, North Dakota.

RW: Oh, nice.

WT: It’s kind of hot up there like this.

PM: This has nothing to do whatsoever with the case at hand. Why are they doing it? When they show up on your doorstep, they’ve done their work. They know who you are. They know what you do, who your friends are. They know what animals you have. They know what your workout routine is. They knew even that she had a pink weapon, color pink.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

WT: Are there any weapons in the car, in the house?

RW: In the house, yes.

WT: What do you have?

RW: I have an AR-15.

WT: Is it pink?

RW: It’s pink. How did you know? I have a Glock 9 under the bed and —

PM: The beginning of the interrogation is not an interrogation. The most important thing for them, I mean, of course, is to search her house and find what they can but they’re really after what you know, and what you did or what you didn’t do. and the best way by far, to get information out of somebody is to establish a rapport with him or her, get them to relax. You don’t want them to be too anxious. Maybe a little bit of fear is okay, but you don’t want them to be so scared that they shut up and say I need to talk to a lawyer. So, you try to get them to be relaxed, to trust you, and also to not feel that this is a life-or-death situation.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

JG: Alrighty. All right. So, um, would you like to talk here or talk at the office?

RW: Let’s go ahead and talk here.


WT: You want to talk here?

RW: Sure.

JG: I’m trying to think if we have any place in the house that we can kind of sit down, that’s private. Is there anything there, anything there in the house that we can sit that’s kind of away.

RW: Away?

JG: How many, how many rooms?

RW: So, it’s a one bedroom. I do have a spare bedroom that I don’t use. It’s empty. I don’t like to go back there.

JG: We can talk back there, if you’re fine going back there, OK?


WT: It’s kind of like the laundry room —

[Music interlude.]

PM: There [are] a dozen FBI agents combing through your house. They have a warrant. They have their vehicles outside. You are in a room that is not comfortable. There’s a door. The door isn’t locked, but you’re not at the door. They are. Do you feel like you can get up and leave? These are two armed FBI agent asking you questions.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

RW: Oh, this room is dirty. I’m so sorry.

JG: No, not a problem.

SAT: That’s fine.

JG: Alrighty. So, again, my name is Justin. You probably don’t really have any idea of who I am. So, Justin Garrick with the FBI. This is Wally. He’s my partner. So, what I want to do is kind of explain that we, you know, do have a search warrant. You’re welcome to see the warrant. You’re welcome to read the warrant and then explain a little bit about it. Now, if you’re willing to talk to me, I’d like to go through just kind of how this started. You know, get your side of it and figure out what’s going on here, okay? That sound, sound good to you?



RW: Yes.

PM: The reason they are allowed to ask these questions without reading somebody their Miranda rights is because these are non-custodial interrogations. Non-custodial mean that the person is free to go. It’s debatable, very debatable.

JG: All this stems from a report that we received that you have mishandled classified information, OK. So, that’s the broad scope of it. My question to you is does that ring any bells to you whatsoever?

RW: It does now. When I started working at Whitelaw I had — Do you know PKI passwords?

JG: Mhm.

RW: I had a printed-out email in my folder and I didn’t have a desk yet. So I took it with me —

PM: When they’re nice, that also kind of reinforces their argument or the government’s argument. That it’s a non-custodial situation because look, the agents aren’t shouting at her. They’re not pointing weapons at her. They’re talking to her about CrossFit. And that way they avoid the Constitutional problem of interrogating somebody without reading them their rights because according to the government it was just a friendly conversation. Nobody was going to be arrested.

[“Is This A Room” clip plays.]

WT: So, as far as you’re aware, you haven’t committed any security violations or anything that you’re aware of other than this PKI —

RW: Other than the PKI thing, no. I mean, I do print out documents at work just because it’s easier for me to translate them by hand, but then I put them in the bin box and then they don’t get mixed up with like my class notes that I take because they are like — I use pretty paper. So, I never take out white paper.

WT: Got it.

RW: Because I know that sounds really dumb but that’s just how I can do it now after that whole PKI thing. I was like no more white paper out of the building.

JG: Okay, so you said you printed out stuff.

RW: Yeah, I printed out stuff.

JG: Is there a — Why’d that come to mind, as far as security?

RW: Um, it just, I guess it always —

PM: The government has pretended that this was a non-custodial interrogation, that Reality Winner whenever she wanted could have just left and theoretically that’s true. But did she feel that she could have left? Would a reasonable person in that situation have felt at liberty to leave? Yes, constitutionally, everybody in that situation because they weren’t under arrest, had the right to leave. But what would an ordinary person think and feel and do? And the fact is Reality Winner’s reaction was the same reaction that most of us would have which is that like “I have to answer these questions. This is serious stuff.” Even though the agents didn’t say you are under arrest, you feel like you are under arrest. You feel like you have to answer questions.

JG: OK, Reality. What if I said that I had the information to suggest that you did print out stuff that was outside of that scope?

RW: OK, I would have to remember.

JG: OK, what if I said you printed out information that was related to reports on —

WT: Reality, we obviously know a lot more than we’re telling you at this point and I think you know a lot more than you’re telling us at this point. I don’t want you to go down the wrong road. I think you need to stop. And think about what you’re saying and what you’re doing. I think it’s, I think it’s an opportunity to maybe tell the truth. Because telling, telling a lie to an FBI agent is not going to be the right thing. You know again, we are here voluntarily. You’re talking voluntarily. I’m not asking you, forcing you to do anything, but think. That’s what I’m asking you to do is to think. So think about what he just asked.

PM: The tactics that they used in that room, were totally deceptive. They were lying because they were saying to her “Look, this isn’t that big of a deal. It’s just a misunderstanding. You know, I’m sure you didn’t intend to do anything wrong. Let’s just clear it up here.” And it downplays the severity of what’s going on. They knew full well, those agents, that if she admitted to leaking this document — it was a top-secret document — she would most likely be charged under the Espionage Act. And that’s something that can basically land you in jail for a sentence of 10 years. They never mentioned that. So, she talks.

RW: There was one I printed out because I wanted to read it.

JG: Which one was that?

RW: It was an NSA Pulse article about —

WT: What’s you do with that article?

RW: I kept it on my desk in the box for three days that has the slats on it by the fridge.

WT: How about any other times?

RW: Any other times?

WT: Did you search for anything on — any other times?

RW: So I did read some of those —

WT: Did you print out any of those articles? Did you ever go searching for them? Ever go digging?

RW: Nothing more than like a ten-minute distraction.

WT: Did you print out any of those articles?

RW: No, the only was the —

JG: And you’re pretty sure it was late April or early March? Think about, try to remember like personal details —

WT: You searched for and printed out a document on the night —

JG: Three and a half, four weeks ago.

RW: Mmm yeah.

JG: You didn’t take it out of the building, give it to anybody else?

RW: No.

JG: Send it? Reality, can you guess how many people might have printed out that document?

RW: No.

JG: It’s not too many. That document has made it outside, OK. Obviously, because we’re here.

RW: Yeah, obviously. Crap.

JG: The most likely candidate by far and away is you. Now, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t think you are, you know, big bad master spy, OK. I don’t. I don’t think that. I think I’ve seen the evidence and it’s compelling. I’m not sure why you did it and I am curious as to that but I think you might have been angry over everything that’s been going on politics-wise. Can’t turn on the TV without getting pissed off or at least I can’t. And I think you might have made a mistake. Now why I’m here and why I want to talk to you is to figure out the why behind this, OK. So, I ask you again. Did you take it out and send it?

RW: I didn’t. I put it in the burn bag. I mean, I’m trying to deploy. I’m not trying to be a whistleblower. That’s crazy.

JG: So, how do you think a document like that would end up getting out?

RW: Let’s, let’s be straight. I mean, there’s little to no security on documents. Nobody pats you down. We talk about it all the time at work because it’s like, you know, oh, we have to show our food like, oh, you eat so healthy all the time every day and people about it at work. And you know, you got a building full of geniuses, right? I guess I’m just talking nervous. But no, I mean no, that is the last thing I would have wanted to do with that, especially with now, with trying to get somewhere else and increase my clearance. It was an article on [blurred out] and it was very sensitive and I thought I would be cool if I had it on my desk for a couple of days.

JG: OK, but you said you remember. You remember putting it in the burn bag, sliding it in there.

RW: Folded in half. I mean, I remember it.

JG: Folded in half?

RW: Yeah, because it didn’t — Yeah, I folded it in half.

JG: OK. What if I told you that that document, folded in half, made its way outside NSA?

RW: I, I don’t know that.

JG: Made its way out in an envelope postmarked Augusta, Georgia. See things are getting a little specific.


JG: Made its way to an online news source that you subscribe to. Getting really specific. So, I’m going to ask you again. What is very, very, very compelling, I’d like to know the reason because I don’t think, I don’t think you make a habit out of this at all, at all. I really do. I think you just messed up. I’m not sure why you did it and I want to hear from you on that. But the what and the how. Would you agree, looks awfully bad?

RW: It looks really bad.

JG: If you’re angry about what’s going on or anything that — Look, you’ve had a good career. You have. If there’s something that just pushed you over the edge on this, now is the perfect time. This is a podium.

WT: You know, like he said I don’t think either one of us think you’re trying to be a Snowden. I think maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you weren’t thinking for a minute. Maybe you got angry like he said. That’s what I’m hoping. If that’s the case then, that makes us feel a little bit better knowing we don’t have a real serious problem here. That’s something that concerns us too. This isn’t an ongoing problem, but we need to figure this out. If it was a mistake, let’s deal with it.

PM: There are lots of maddening aspects to this case. Once she was arrested and was taken before a judge, she was denied bail, a flight risk.

Roger Stone complained mightily, obviously, about you know, the FBI coming to his house in the crack of dawn and rousted him out of bed. He got out on bail immediately, even though his arrest and what the government suspected him of being involved in is trying to rig the election via information that came one way the other from the Russians. Whether or not it’s true or not, I don’t know but that’s what he’s suspected of being involved in.

Then when you look at Reality Winner, what is she accused of doing? And this is to my mind, not the government’s mind, obviously, the craziest most outrageous thing of all. While at this moment the government is trying to figure out how and through whom the Russians might have manipulated the 2016 election, Reality Winner is accused and has pled guilty to leaking a document that showed the Russians were trying to manipulate the election systems in 2016. She was helping shed light on something that Robert Mueller and a lot of the U.S. government is now investigating. She’s the one in jail. The people who are accused — some of whom have pled guilty to being involved in a potential Russian effort to manipulate our elections — they’re the ones who are out free.

[Music interlude.]

JS: That was The Intercept’s Peter Maass, who spoke to our producer Jack D’Isidoro. To read more about the performance of Tina Satter’s “Is This a Room,” visit and check out Alisa Solomon’s review of the play. We’re going to also leave a link to that piece in our episode description.

[Music interlude.]

And that does it for this week’s show. If you are not yet a sustaining member of Intercepted, you can log onto You also can follow us on Twitter. Our handle is @intercepted. 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. Laura Flynn is associate producer. Elise Swain is our assistant producer and graphic designer. Rick Kwan mixed the show. Transcription is done by Nuria Marquez Martinez. Our music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky. Until next week, I’m Jeremy Scahill.

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