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Ralph welcomes Josh Paul, the State Department official who resigned in protest over the Biden Administration’s policy of unconditional arms transfers to Israel in the response to the attacks of October 7th. Then, investigative reporter, James Bamford joins us to discuss his deep dive into how the Israeli government has recruited Americans as foreign agents to troll, dox, and blacklist college students and professors who dare to criticize Israeli policies.
Josh Paul served 11 years in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the US Department of State, before his resignation on October 17, 2023. Mr. Paul previously worked on security sector reform in both Iraq and the West Bank, with additional roles in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, US Army Staff, and as a congressional staffer.
I have spoken with a number of members of Congress in the last few months and—even for those who haven't publicly called for a ceasefire—many are willing to acknowledge behind closed doors that yes, actually, they do believe that Israelis are committing war crimes, but they will not say it publicly. And that just seems to me such a moral abdication of the purposes for which you were elected. If you know something to be a fact, if you know the U.S. to be complicit in facilitating war crimes, but are unwilling to say it because you are afraid of how your donors might react or how your next election might go, why are you even in Congress?
It is interesting that the United States places control of arms transfers and security assistance within the State Department. That is a different model than most of our allies follow… And there is an advantage to putting them in the State Department, so that they can be considered as tools of foreign policy along with other diplomatic tools such as economic assistance, such as of course diplomatic engagement. So there is an advantage there, but of course there is also inherently by doing so a militarization of foreign policy. Particularly when we look at the massive amount of funding that is provided for military assistance. And of course, the way that that providing that assistance then links us to the actions of our partners, whether we want to be complicit in those actions or not.
It's been said that in the last three months, the pro-Palestinian people in the United States have controlled the streets, but the pro-Netanyahu people in the United States have controlled the suites in Congress and the Executive branch.
James Bamford is a best-selling author, Emmy-nominated filmmaker for PBS, award-winning investigative producer for ABC News, and winner of the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his writing in Rolling Stone on the war in Iraq. He is the author of several books, including Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America's Counterintelligence.
I think some of these (American) groups should be arrested for being agents of a foreign government. I mean, if you're an American and you're contributing money and support to a clandestine foreign operation or clandestine foreign agency of a foreign government, then that's pretty much the definition of being an agent of a foreign government.
[People] get put on this blacklist—the Canary Mission list—and their job opportunities are extremely limited. Because if anybody goes for a job and their employer looks on the internet, one of the first things they'll see is that their name is on this blacklist where they're called a variety of names basically for doing something that's basically honorable.
In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis
On Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders forced a vote on Section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act, which, if passed, could have resulted in the United States cutting off military aid to Israel, the Intercept reports. While this attempt failed by a wide margin - 72-11 – it did win the support of Senators Laphonza Butler of California, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, and Peter Welch of Vermont, along with Rand Paul the lone Republican to back the effort. However, as Andrew O’Neil, policy director for Indivisible, put it “It’s frankly historic that this vote took place at all…The number of senators willing to take a vote like this even weeks ago, on the face of it, would have been zero.”
384 leaders from around the globe, led by Representative Ilhan Omar and German politician Sevim Dağdelen, have signed a letter calling for “an immediate, multilateral ceasefire in Israel and Palestine, the release of all the remaining Israeli and international hostages, and the facilitation of humanitarian aid entry into Gaza,” per the Guardian. The letter continues “We further urge our own respective governments and the international community to uphold international law and seek accountability for grave violations of human rights.” Further American signatories include Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, André Carson, Greg Casar, Chuy García, Hank Johnson, Summer Lee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Nydia Velázquez and Bonnie Watson Coleman, who are joined by British progressive icon Jeremy Corbyn and politicians from Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush have issued a statement of support for South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice. The representatives write “We unequivocally join world leaders and international human rights organizations in support of South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice alleging Israel violated the Genocide Convention. There must be an end to the violence—and there must be accountability for the blatant human rights abuses and mass atrocities occurring in the region. The historical significance of a post-apartheid state filing this case must not be lost, and the moral weight of their prerogative cannot be dismissed. The United States has a devastating role in the ongoing violence in Gaza, where already over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed, more than 59,000 injured, and millions have been displaced. We must refuse to be silent as the majority of the world is calling for an end to the violence and mass human suffering, and the need for accountability. As one of the countries that has agreed to the Genocide Convention, the U.S. must stop trying to discredit and undermine this case and the international legal system it claims to support. Our commitment to protecting the human rights of all people must be unconditional. The best time to make a conclusive determination on genocide is when there is still time to stop it, not after. We will continue pushing for a lasting ceasefire, full accountability, and a just and lasting peace for everyone.”
The South African attorney Wikus Van Rensburg has formally delivered a letter to the leadership of the United States outlining that his firm “intend[s] to bring legal proceedings against the U.S. Government based on overwhelming evidence that the [it] has, and is, aiding, abetting and supporting, encouraging or providing material assistance and means to…the Israeli Defense Forces…enabl[ing]...crimes against the Palestinian people.” Legal advocates like Ralph Nader and Bruce Fein have long sounded the alarm that American support for Israel’s actions in Gaza are in breach of international law, but it remains to be seen whether the U.S. will stand trial at the Hague for their support of this genocidal campaign. This from Al-Mayadeen.
Al-Mayadeen also reports “in a rare show of dissent, US federal employees from nearly 22 agencies are planning a walkout to protest the Biden administration's handling of the war on Gaza.” This report attributes organization of this walkout to a group called “Feds United for Peace” and the walkout is “expected to draw participants from key agencies, including the Executive Office of the President, the National Security Agency, and the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs…[along with the] Food and Drug Administration…the National Park Service, the Federal Aviation Administration…and the Environmental Protection Agency.” Axios reports that Congressional Republicans are planning to retaliate against these workers exercising their free speech rights, with Speaker Johnson, saying “Any government worker who walks off the job to protest U.S. support for our ally Israel is ignoring their responsibility and abusing the trust of taxpayers…They deserve to be fired."
The Intercept published an interview with teenage Israelis who are refusing conscription into the IDF. These young “refuseniks,” almost all part of the group Mesarvot – Hebrew for “we refuse” – have been resisting conscription since the large-scale protests against the Netanyahu government last year, when over 230 of them signed a letter stating “The dictatorship that has existed for decades in the territories is now seeping into Israel and against us…This trend did not start now — it is inherent to the regime of occupation and Jewish supremacy. The masks are simply coming off.” However, these courageous young people are facing an increasingly hostile environment in Israel due to their refusal to serve. We offer them our solidarity.
In a massive blow to journalism, the Baltimore Sun has been sold to David Smith, the Baltimore Banner reports. Smith serves as executive chairman of Sinclair Inc., which owns more than 200 television stations nationwide and has been criticized for pushing uniform, Right-wing narratives through these channels. In addition to the Sun, Smith purchased its affiliated papers, including “The Capital and Maryland Gazette newspapers in Annapolis, the Carroll County Times, the Howard County Times and the Towson Times.”
The Lever has dropped a stunning report on “How Boeing Bought Washington,” which lays out the influence network the embattled airline has cultivated in the Beltway. The top-line numbers alone are eye-popping, with Boeing & Spirit AeroSystems spending over $65 million on lobbying and campaign donations over just four years. More insidious however is what they got for this money, namely safety waivers enabling them to keep unsafe planes in the sky. This report also touches on the case of Republican Congressman Ron Estes of Kansas, a top recipient of this campaign cash, who pressured the FAA to reinstate the 737 MAX – and Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, who received nearly $200,000 from the company and then dutifully “pushed through legislation to exempt Boeing’s 737 MAX…from a looming safety deadline that would have required changes in their alerting systems…despite concerns from the families of the passengers who died in the 2018 and 2019 crashes.”
Josh Eidelson, Labor reporter at Bloomberg, is out with two major updates on the United Auto Workers new campaigns. One, Bloomberg reports the union has “signed up more than 30% of workers at a Mercedes plant in Alabama, after hitting the same milestone last month at Volkswagen in Tennessee,” illustrating the durability and success of their union drives at foreign-owned auto plants in the U.S. And two, Bloomberg reports that “Tesla is boosting pay for all US production associates, the latest bump by a non-union automaker following the UAW’s big Detroit wins.” Taken together, one gets the impression that Auto Workers are organized, on the march, and have momentum behind them.
In Guatemala, Bernardo Arevalo of the Semilla Party has finally been sworn in as the president of that country, beating back multiple attempts by the corrupt ruling elites to undermine his ascension down to the moment of his inauguration. Reuters reports “Arevalo's inauguration was thrown into disarray after the Supreme Court allowed opposition lawmakers to maintain their leadership of Congress, and forced members of the president's Semilla party to stand as independents… [sparking] wrangling in Congress…[with] supporters of Arevalo threaten[ing] to storm the building as police in riot gear amassed in the streets.” Arevalo managed to weather the storm however, in part because he was aided by other countries’ leadership. USAID Administrator Samantha Power, opposing the power grab, tweeted “There is no question that Bernardo Arevalo is the President of Guatemala. We call on all sides to remain calm — and for the Guatemalan Congress to uphold the will of the people. The world is watching.” Meanwhile, the presidents and foreign ministers present at the inauguration released a statement forcefully avowing “The will of the Guatemalan people must be respected,” Progressive International’s David Adler reports. Renowned investigative journalist Allan Nairn added, “What is clear…is that even if Arévalo succeeds in taking power as president he will be governing under siege”.
This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard