Two months before the inauguration of Joe Biden, Brianna, Joy Gray, a podcast her pollster and former national press secretary, wrote to her partner, Ridgell, Texas, in Brooklyn, November 18, 2020, Washington, D.C..
Dear Virgil, the indications are very strong that I'll be unable to travel home to record with you in person due to the scourge of viral contagion consuming this land. Unless I should be unable to plead with you again, I feel compelled to record a few impressions of the war engulfing this great nation.
As you know, the left is under siege, though we're growing in numbers and have recently doubled the number of bannermen championing our cause at the nation's capital. Turncoats from within our own party have made progress difficult, even as Representatives Bush and John and Borbon are having their DeCaro types taken on the Hill apostates in government. I tend to attribute their own failures on the frontlines to the populist left agenda. To imagine a seditious legislator for Western Virginia blamed socialism for the party's electoral failures, even as negative political ads more often sought to associate incumbents with affluent Western Representative Nancy Pelosi, Abigail's Bamberger flagrantly defied the rules of war, attacking civilians, bearing the banner of Black Lives Matter, who have taken to the streets to defend the Fourth Amendment rights this country once fought a war to secure.
I have no misgivings about or lack confidence in the cause in which I'm engaged and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how American civilization now leans upon the triumph of the left and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us to the blood and suffering of the revolutions of our forefathers, socialists like Martin Luther King and the boys, Mother Jones and Angela Davis, Paul Robeson and Helen Keller, Eugene Debs and Upton Sinclair. And I am willing, perfectly willing to lay down all my joys in life in service of this movement and repay that debt.
Virgile my commitment to avoid spreading the Karara pox is the place it roots me to my studio apartment and keeps me from our chaos. Kube We once shared a room recording device to make one box. Yet my fervor to take to the streets and defend our comrades on Capitol Hill comes over me like a strong strongman, me irresistible to the battlefield, the memory of all the blissful moments I spent on the campaign, championing a better world, realizing it truly was possible to come crawling over me.
And I feel most deeply grateful to God and you. But although there's much more to do. He's made it this far, if I do not return, my dear Virgil, never forget how much I loved the left, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper the words Bernie would have won. And when the soft breeze, hands or cheek, it shall be my brother. Warm but not contagious. Do not more me day.
Think I am gone and wait for me. For we shall meet again probably in the fall of 2021.
Were Bree's last words the last we ever heard from her after she disappeared, found transcripts from from the war against the Lapps, the great intraparty battle that's ongoing.
A letter from the Democrats civil war embroiling Washington right now, coming on the heels of Nancy Pelosi being elected general of the army of Northern Virginia and Representative Clyburn holding down the fort in South Carolina as our whip once again.
It is a civil war. It is a civil war within a party that simply does not function. And all the coup crap and the Trump refusing to concede all of this stuff is kind of push the civil war stuff out of the picture. But that's. That's going to be the story for a while, I think, I mean, not entirely. AOC just tweeted earlier today, if you say socialism three times in a mirror, a corporate lobbyist backed candidate grows their wings.
I mean, it's a pretty it's still spicy out here, which suggests to me that conversations are being had behind closed doors that are pretty irritating to her. Not to mention that all of the new freshmen on the Hill have these horror stories about being called each other's names. And Corey Bush being called Brianna Taylor because she was wearing Brown a Taylor mask and all this stuff. It feels like the slights, the slings and arrows are unremitting. Yeah, absolutely.
It's going on. It's it's bubbling.
And, you know, when the Democrats you know, when Biden takes office, I think it's going to reach a fever pitch. You know, then again, if Mitch McConnell has 52 seats come January.
Well, that's just going to be the story for the next two years is how we can't do anything because of Mitch McConnell. OK, welcome to Bad Faith. Welcome to bad faith I have for you two bad faiths this week. We never run out of bad faith. We've never there's a lot of them. There's a lot of them. I can't imagine why. All right, hit me.
OK, let's start off with one of the front lines that have emerged in the Democrats civil war student loans.
This has gotten spicy. It's been like almost a week long discourse on the interweb about student loans. Yeah.
And I don't know why I don't know why people are talking about this, because Biden never said he wanted to do any of this crap.
Well well, first, Schumer and Warren collectively are sort of championing the 50 50 thousand dollar cancellation rate. Maybe a couple of weeks ago, Schumer came out with this is something that he could do on day one. And then consequently, earlier this week, Biden was pressed well, not pressed on it, but he was asked a question about it during an interview and he murmured through an answer that indicated that his original plan of canceling ten thousand dollars is still on the table, although there are a ton of caveats, including that it doesn't apply to graduate school loans or trade school loans or private debt, different private school or people for people making over an income threshold.
I mean, in all likelihood, I think the fear is that the Democrats are going to maybe do this and then brag about it and say, we gave you your pound of flesh, leave us alone. And in actuality, it will have helped very few people and have been a real minimalist approach.
So there's two things we're talking about here.
First, there was what Biden actually promised, which was garbage.
It was you will get for every year of national service that you do something like ten thousand dollars of your loans wiped out.
His original plan from the campaign. I don't remember having a national service requirement. Where are you getting that from?
This is from a CNBC article to address such concerns. Joe Biden has proposed creating a program that allows ten thousand dollars of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of national or community service up to five years.
Is that his newest plan that has led all this was this was from the campaign combined. All of the plans from the campaign were garbled. Right? Like they were totally garbled.
So I think we're both I think there was like this is one thing he proposed. I'm sure he proposed something along those lines. I know he had another thing that's like if you have been paying your loans responsibly for 20 years, that will just wipe out the rest of the principal.
Yeah, all kinds of, you know, all kinds of tickety you that.
Well, here's the latest version of it. This is from NPR. And in answer to a question, at a Monday press conference, Biden repeated his support for a provision passed as part of the Heroes Act, which the Democrat controlled the House updated on October 1st. The provision calls for the federal government to pay off up to ten thousand dollars in private non federal student loans for, quote, economically distressed borrowers.
Yeah, that's that article was summarizing the garbled speech we should just put in here, because, honestly, I was struggling to figure out how they took, he said the word economically distressed as part of his, like, mumble. And then the article framed it up like he was trying to make a specific point about economically distressed people. But I think he was just talking. It's not like he's just talking.
The legislation passed by the Democratic House calls for immediate ten thousand dollar forgiveness of student loans, holding people up there in real trouble. They're having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent, those kinds of decisions. It should be done immediately. In addition to that, if you know, I think that everything from community college straight through to doubling Pell Grants, to making sure that we have access to free education for anyone making under one hundred twenty five thousand dollars for four years of college.
And there is a program that exists now under the law that forgives student loans for being able to engage in engaging in public service. I've going to institute that fundamental change in that so it's able to be available to everyone that, in fact, is engaged. It's not being very well managed right now. So I'm going to do all of those things so earlier.
You know, there definitely, I think was one hundred twenty five thousand dollar income threshold on this bad boy before. And that's probably just what he means by economically distressed, like people who aren't making too much, not buying stuff. You know, it's like it's like the it's like the covid relief. Right? Like you could have been making one hundred eighty thousand dollars a year and then gotten fired. But if you can still if you were still above the income threshold, you didn't get any relief.
Right. So those kinds of cutoffs can be messy and not really target who is actually in economic distress.
This is why I'm so confused about the conversation, because at no point did Biden ever intimate that he would use his power as president, his unilateral power as president, which he has to wipe out any student at all, he said in that press conference, was, oh, I support the thing in the Heroes Act. Right.
That will apply to a tiny minority of borrowers and only apply to private loan.
Right. And to be clear, the average American graduate with thirty thousand dollars. Worth of student debt, at least the black women in particular have more student debt than any other group that hasn't stopped in the course of the past year or so. The people are judges of the world from weighing in big time about how this is all a giveaway to rich kids who, of course, don't take out debt at an eight percent interest rate just for fun. We had Nikki Haley weighing in today with the bad faith argument that, quote, Liberals ideas of fairness and relieving student debt is giving graduates of elite institutions a taxpayer funded handout.
What about the sixty four percent of Americans who didn't go to college and who are trying to make ends meet? What about those who worked hard to pay off their loans to white people? Very recently responded, We would love to help those people too. But your party keeps blocking us. This is what can be done via executive action executive order on day one. I'm more than happy to do more if you get out of our way.
Also, something like 10 percent of student debt is private, so the vast majority of borrowers would not be impacted by this Heroes Act provision of if NPR is describing it accurately, to pay off up to 10000 in nonfederal student loans.
So it stinks.
And that's a you know, that's that's a pretty bad faith, I don't know why this conversation started that Biden might wipe out, you know, unilaterally wipe out fifty thousand or one point six trillion in student debt, federal student debt, which he can do with the stroke of a pen, because that's not what the guy does.
That's not him. He doesn't want to do that.
Right. And let's also not forget that he is literally the architect of this crisis, because when you now have federally backed loans that can't be discharged in bankruptcy, that was one of the things that really fueled the rise in college tuition prices. Colleges can charge as much as they want. They know that kids can take out the money and pay and that that is a really sure bet, because at the end of the day, if the kid, the kid can't default, but they can die.
And when they die, having paid off all that debt, the government still pays it. So the question is, why shouldn't the government just go ahead and pay it now? Why does it have to hang over our heads and be the last thing that people see of us after our tombstone?
Also reading the fine print on what the Heroes Act does. This is just a bailout for private student lenders. They would not this would not be using legislation to say that debt is wiped out. No, this would be actually paying the money from public affairs to the left.
Oh, really? As I understand it, yes. I think also the ambiguity around what is actually being offered is purposeful, because during the campaign, during the primaries, the media didn't. Distinguish between the meaningful differences between all these plans and, you know, this came up a little bit in our day in the interview the other day where he was a little like, you know, you know, ha ha ha about me wanting to be clear about the fact that Warren's plan only canceled fifty thousand dollars in business plan canceled at all.
That's a meaningful difference to a lot of voters. And similarly, you know, the media didn't cover the absurdity of Kamala Harris, his plan or the milquetoast nature of Joe Biden's plan. And now they're championing this idea that he's going to do this great day. One thing without looking at the ticky tacky details. And a lot of folks are going to wake up the day after this executive order happens. If it does happen to a party celebrating itself and saying, you know, I did the thing for you, young people go away and stop bothering me.
Don't be ungrateful, Simps. And you're going to look at your student loan balance and it's not going to have changed a damn thing for you.
Yeah, I'm going to I'm going to come right out and say that Joe Biden will not be day one, eliminating a penny in student loan debt, especially because he's especially because, yeah, I would actually be, especially because he's obsessed with going through Congress and doing compromise with Mitch McConnell and Joe Manchin and crap.
Well, what do you make of Chuck Schumer coming out strong on this issue? It doesn't matter. He's not going to have the votes. But what do you think is happening there strategically, too, or. I don't know. I think he's just a sop to the left. That's never going to happen.
But he's not a person that I would characterize as being particularly submissive to the left or sensitive to what the left needs are. So why in this moment do you think he's pushing he's adopting a kind of an outsider status stance, the consummate insider to Joe Biden in this moment, offering, you know, five times what Joe Biden has on the table and being really loud about it.
I mean, I think Schumer does want to placate young people, and I think he's a guy who puts his finger in the air and sees which way the wind is blowing, like, for instance, when he came out for marijuana legalization pretty hard. I don't read that much into it because I don't think what Chuck Schumer says has any impact on what Joe Biden does. So that's why I'll put a chip down right now and say that there's no not going to be a day one elimination of student loan debt from Joe Biden.
Well, another war that's being fought in this intraparty battle and comes along with news about some of Joe Biden's appointments and the choice of Cedric Richmond, who's a representative from Louisiana, from New Orleans to be a kind of a climate liaison, has really ruffled a lot of feathers, including some folks on the civil rights movement has spoken out because he is the fifth largest taker of oil and gas money in the house. His district has seven of the 10 most polluted air tracts in the country.
And at least one New York Times reporter got mad at the Sunrise movement for complaining about this, saying it's not wise to attack Cedric because he's black and that it's somehow optically bad to criticize this man who has a very black district and people who are suffering from environmental terrors in his district because he offers them represent a representational bomb and more more like representational cover for the party. This is a real test because the Sunrise Movement's ability to negotiate with Joe Biden over the unity commission with the Unity Task Force was supposed to be this example for the left of how coming to the table, having a seat at the table was supposed to be meaningful and why we should all vote for Biden and why leverage the leverage concerns that we were raising prior to the election weren't really founded and that we could push him afterward.
And this this is this does not bode well.
No, it does not know what this reminds me of this the other day, this woman from Third Way, you know, which is this quandary of creeps, said that Michele Flournoy, who is considered widely considered to be the front runner for the next defense secretary and you know, she's a defense lobbyist, be billions of dollars lobbying for defense contractors on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton. You know, one of the biggest defense contractors, one biggest war industry, corporations in the country.
You know, how how dare any, you know, white bro? Criticize this person who stands to make history as the first female. Yeah, defense gets the same, you know, the same identity politics fig leaf to its ridiculous.
Did you see, by the way, Comilla was asked about Representative Richmond today on the Hill and how involved in cabinet positions and appointments have you been with President elect Biden there? And have you how do you feel about Representative Cedric Richmond later in Ducks out of it?
It's it's it's classic Carmilla Poise that we all came to know and love during the primary in which netted her such overwhelming support that she had to drop out before her home state.
So the other bad faith I have, it's a bunch of little boldface excerpts from Obama's book, Obama's Memoir of the First. I believe this is about his first term as president. And so it's part one of a two part book. So presumably it's about his first term. Maybe it only goes up in the first few years.
I did not read the book, which just came out, but I've been seeing all of these little quotes and I thought I'd hit you with a few of them.
OK, this is from, uh, this is from an excerpt was published in The Washington Post.
The irony of his presidency, Obama writes, is that he was often misunderstood on foreign policy. He says he was an admirer of President George H.W. Bush. Big thumbs down there who he says adroitly ended the Cold War and definitely managed the 1991 Persian Gulf War on the economy. He says he rejected proposals by some on the left to respond to the Great Recession with sweeping efforts to nationalize the banks and what he called stretching the definition of criminal statutes to prosecute banking executives.
I'm not sure how the statutes definition would be stretched because they did a shitload of legal stuff.
They did it with bad intent.
He worries that such moves would have, quote, required a violence to the social order. So enforcing the law on Wall Street is like that's the equivalent of bringing out the guillotines, man.
Someone with a more revolutionary soul might respond that all of this would have been worth it, Obama writes. But he wasn't willing to take the risk. And that revealed a basic strand of my political character. I was a reformer, conservative in temperament, if not Invision.
Whether I was demonstrating wisdom or weakness would be for others to judge.
I'll I'll weigh in. You want to you want to judge because it's not fair. It's not for him to judge. I will adjudicate this claim.
I would remind listeners that Americans lost 30 percent collectively of their wealth in the housing crisis, and it was particularly acute for the group that arguably put Obama in office. Black Americans lost 40 percent of their collective wealth after already only have 10 cents on the dollar. Karabell pointed this out that this is not a total, just not apology. It's not hooka. Who could know how this buyer turned out?
You know, that's not for me to judge. I don't know if you like. Criticisms of Obama are read in such bad faith, but they're all such in good faith because nine out of ten of us, we're embarrassingly in love with a guy, you know what I mean? This is not this isn't like the way we talk about, let's say, Hillary Clinton or some of these other folks who we never really cared for that much. We're all speaking like unrequited lovers.
We're all speaking with the frustration of someone who once believed and through repeated disrespect, we've been cheated on. We've been tossed aside. We've been done wrong in every conceivable way. We are now seeing with clear eyes who this person really is. So, you know, we don't want to know and believe these things. I think we're being really clear eyed about our our judgments here. And he does not come out well.
No, he doesn't. Also, all of this crap directly led to the election of Donald Trump. So. Right. Imagine saying like, oh, I don't know if I did a good job. You know, I there's no way for me to tell. OK, this is from the same Washington Post article. Obama recounts the difficulty of dealing with Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican, then and now. Obama writes that Biden told him of how McConnell had blocked one of his bills.
What Biden tried to explain the bill's merits. McConnell responded, You must be under the mistaken impression that I care, Obama writes, recounting McConnell shamelessness and dispassionate pursuit of power. Well, that's not for Obama to judge how that worked either. It worked really great.
That's a little hard. It worked incredibly well for Mitch McConnell.
When was this supposed to have happened? Because this is also just like a cellphone. If you consider that at some point, probably pretty early on, he learned that all is all of his efforts at bipartisanship and to grow consensus around issues. We're not going to be met in good faith. And yet he still thought that his Supreme Court appointments were going to go through if he just picked the most moderate and offensive guy. You know, like at what point do we think Obama learned this lesson?
Never was it never learned it just minutes before he wrote this chapter. No, never learned the lesson.
That's not even he's. No, that's not even that excerpt does not suggest he learned a lesson.
It's just him tut tutting Mitch McConnell and his shameless pursuit of power. Yeah, fair enough.
And again, you know, Obama is not qualified to judge, you know, far be it from him to judge how bipartisanship worked out.
But Mitch McConnell, shameless pursuit of power worked and he acquired power and then he exercised it. Here's another quote. This is not an excerpt of the book. This is from an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in Atlantic.
Oh, God, a real a real meeting of stars.
This is the thing that has surprised me the most over the past four years. Donald Trump's character and behavior haven't surprise me. This was all evident before the 2016 election. I did not believe how easily the Republican establishment people who had been in Washington for a long time and had professed a belief in certain institutional values and norms would just cave. Do you think about John McCain? For all my differences with him, you would not have seen him excuse a president cozying up to Vladimir Putin and to see figures in the Republican Party do a complete 180 on everything they claim to believe previously is troubling.
I mean, who can judge that one either? I mean, it's the naiveté like it would be cute on a 13 year old, I would not find a 13 year old talking like this.
Cute. I would find it to. I mean, was there no. Ed, is there no one in his life who could offer what with this with this kind of discourse looks like to an outsider?
It sounds like to an outsider, it sounds like to someone who was hurt by his failure to recognize that this is how the world works earlier, like maybe during his first term, like maybe during his first months, I don't maybe his kids.
I don't know, man, I think the little one, the little one is definitely a socialist. You think so? Yeah, the one who went to Michigan, you think she listens to the show?
Possible, I hope so. OK, so this is OK, this is a Mallea talk to your dad challenge. Yeah, Malia if you're listening and Sasha, I don't want to write Sasha off. It's just, you know, Harvard has a certain indoctrinating effect. Oh, yeah. A few years before she comes out of the haze of that world and her, you know, wealthy Greek heiress boyfriend and all of that and comes back down to earth.
But I have fun.
She comes down and starts a podcast with one of one of the come guys I would love to see.
Here's what I want to see. I want to see an Obama a Hersi podcast, Link-Up or Izra, just like radicalises the bar to the extent that there are not already radicalized.
OK, here's a here's a deranged quote from the Atlantic interview. I guess I'm also surprised by and this is not an original thought on my part, but I think about the classic male hero in American culture.
When you and I were growing up, the John Waynes, the Gary Cooper's, the Jimmy Stewarts, the Clint Eastwood's, for that matter, there was a code. This is something I always emphasize. I may be African-American, but I'm African and American. This is a part of me.
The code of masculinity that I grew up with harkens back to that thirties, to the 30s and 40s. And before that, there's a notion that a man is true to his word. He takes responsibility, doesn't complain that he isn't a bully. In fact, he defends the vulnerable against bullies. And so even if you are someone who's annoyed by weakness and political correctness and wants men to be mad again and is tired about everyone complaining about the patriarchy, I thought the model wouldn't be Richie Rich.
I think that indicates the power of TV in the culture. I want to pause and say that's all Ben Shapiro crap, right?
All this like this gauzy, distorted view of history in masculinity.
I mean, the whole discourse today is about whether or not Harry Styles or what not wearing a dress in Vogue or whatever magazine is going to be the end of American empire. So that would be a bad thing.
You know, and pretending that men dressing like women is not about feminine men is ridiculous because they are overtly celebrating the fact that style is that styles his femininity, masculinity.
You know, also the Jimmy Stewart you grew up in the 70s. You are way better movies to watch. Are you just talking about like watching Mr. Smith goes to Washington?
So did he really say I'm African and American? Yeah, I'm African American. I may be African American, but I'm African and American. You can write a whole dissertation. I'm packing whatever that supposed to mean.
Yeah, that's one of those like Obama of phrases that, you know, it's lyrical enough that you kind of turn your brain off and you're like, yeah, that sounds really profound, but you actually start to look into it.
You're like, wait, what the fuck does I mean?
Like, he ran on the capital, the cultural capital of being African-American, meaning black American. He went and got himself a wife who's a descendant of slaves, identified himself as a person from Chicago, downplayed the fact that he's really, you know, grew up in Hawaii and had this international upbringing I of no shade. I had an international upbringing. And all of those kinds of things doesn't make me any less American. But he specifically capitalized on identity as an African American and wrote In Dreams of My Father or the other one about how he, you know, understood that in America you had to pick a cultural identity.
And he was perceived as African-American and he had all this culture sympatico and identity with black people. And that's why he made his choices, choices. And now suddenly he's not he's going to desegregate African-American and stop identifying with black American culture and say, I'm African and American. American presumptively is white. Here is American white side. And it seems like he likes to pick up these identifiers and then discard them when they're no longer useful in a way that is very Miley Cyrus esque.
No shade to Miley. I'm a fan.
I find the troubling part of that paragraph to be the information that there is an essential sort of masculinity that inheres to being a black man, which is none of the none of his icons that he lists are black John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood.
Have these people are Republican, Ike.
These are Republicans like these are not to my knowledge, I would I would guess that the median black man in the 1970s was not a gigantic John Wayne fan.
Right. Like, at least give me a like a shaft, you know.
But anyway, this is also I mean, you know, if I don't I mean, if you read a little deep into it, it does. I mean, it does sound starts to sound a lot like what white supremacists say. About the the you know, the genetic character of black men being too masculine, look at this.
I understand that this is this is going on the following quote. I understand that there's a sense of probity and honesty, responsibility of homespun values that I admire. That's the Kansas side of me. My grandmother's a stand in for that. The folks we celebrate at Normandy, including my Uncle Charlie, who was a member of one of the unit units that liberated Buchenwald. These were men who, whatever their limits, whatever the constraints in terms of their emotions, because of what they were told and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, like they never bragged, they never cried.
They were strong, you know. You know, they any need bandaids like this. This is straight up like Prager.
You know, this is this is pull up your pants and stop listening to rap music. Shit.
I'm white and Midwestern and that's why I have values because that's where values come from.
Oh, yeah. He also does talk about rap. Also, black people fought in wars like, I'm sorry, we're over represented, and every armed forces since my relatives were my ancestors were in the united colored troops literally fighting for their own literal freedom. My mother just did a deep dive in her ancestry and discovered that her family didn't end up in Ohio due to the Great Migration. It was because there were they were in the army and there was like they were end up stationed there and they were there at the end of the war and just stayed up north like this.
Is this like erasure that maybe, I don't know, Michelle didn't clue him in on and he didn't get from his American side or his African side or another part from this interview, I have to remind myself that if you listen to rap music, it's all about the bling, the women, the money.
A lot of rap videos are using the same measures of what it means to be successful as Donald Trump is. Everything is gold plated that insinuates itself and seeps into the culture a little further down.
America has always had a caste system, rich and poor, not just racially, but economically. But it wasn't in your face most of the time when I was growing up. Then you start seeing lifestyles of the rich and famous, that sense that either you've got it or you're a loser. And Donald Trump epitomizes that cultural movement that is deeply ingrained now in American culture.
So so, first of all, Obama clearly hasn't listened to rap music since nineteen ninety seven. Yeah. He he says he says to his credit, he says that where what does he say.
He says he says in another part of this that he just doesn't follow popular culture. He says OK, because little X and his little like pink bedazzled cowboy outfit is not rapping about gang bangers. Like there is no toxic masculinity. We have openly gay, like rappers and hip hop star. Everybody is like a little lil pump and a little just like the boys are all like gender fluid and queer. And it's like a whole new world.
Like, what is he talking about? People are rapping about their depression and dying their hair blonde.
If you read between the lines here, you don't have to read that far between the lines. He's saying, you know, a working Working-Class black people stop listening to rap. I just do your you know, do your job. Yeah. You know, be a pull up your pants, be a real man. That's what he's saying. It is.
And there will be, I predict, very little, if any blowback to this. Here's my last quote.
This is the fun one that everyone's sharing.
Looking back, it's embarrassing to recognize the degree to which my intellectual curiosity, those first two years of college paralleled the interests of various women. I was attempting to get to know Marx and Marcuse. So I had something to say. The Long-legged socialists who live in my dorm phonon and Gwendolyn Brooks for the Smooth Skin Sociology major who never gave me a second look fuko. And Wolf, for the ethereal bisexual who are mostly black as a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo intellectual is improved, mostly worthless.
I found myself in a series of affectionate but chaste friendships. Oh, tag yourself. I'm a long legged socialist for the long socialist. I'm the etherial bisexual war, mostly black.
You are brilliant. It's a brutal.
This is great. Did he write this as a retied relationships post? Like, if my husband wrote this, I, I'm sorry. I just I feel like it was my responsibility to tell him, sweetie, honey, I love you, but I need I need your editor to have a stronger hand here.
This is not good. It's embarrassing. Yeah.
Did Michelle read this or was it like when I when I tell people I'm dating that I host a podcast, I'm like, oh, that's neat.
Oh, Rock, you're writing a book. That's neat.
He I mean, I, I mean, she was obviously busy on her own book and her own work ethic, even though she's just a measly black American. I had her book out a lot earlier, obviously, than Obama's, which was notoriously late and is now only half out. So I'm sure if he had asked her, she would have been willing and able and free when he she when he's writing the book, she goes to the garage to listen to Khateeb.
He OK, that's those are the scenes from the Civil War.
Let's go to our panel. Let's meet our panelists. She is professor emeritus at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, and a member of the National Advisory Board of Veterans for Peace, Marjorie Cohn.
Glad to be here. He is an activist, businessman and Vermonter, a co-chair of Bernie, 20 20 and eponymous co-founder of Ben and Jerry's, Ben Cohen.
Yo, before we get started. What is both of your involvement in Julian Assange's case?
I have been writing articles, speaking at webinars, helping to establish a state and national committee to to support Julian Assange. And I've been doing this for many years. And so that's my involvement.
I really believed in what Julian was doing. I had an opportunity to visit him when he was stuck in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. I had a fairly long meeting with him. And what struck me about that meeting was that he was saying that he thought that if he could just expose the illegal things that our country was doing in our name and with our money, that the people would put enough pressure on the government to get them to stop doing it.
You know, he was sad to see that that that didn't really happen. And I believe Julian is a hero and he let us know what the government is doing in our name. And it was enlightening. It was horrible things that the government was up to. So I feel like I just can't let him kind of stay in prison. I mean, I think the government is trying to stick him in prison and throw away the key. And and so I decided to form a new organization called the Sergej Defense.
We're working to let the people in the United States know what's going on and know the truth. And that's why I'm that's what I'm doing.
Professor, can you take us back to the beginning and help just briefly summarize how we got to this place, what the what the charges are and what the stakes are of this case? Yes.
Well, it's important to start out by remembering that WikiLeaks was formed during George W. Bush's so-called war on terror, which was used the war on terror, used as an excuse to illegally invade Iraq and Afghanistan and to prosecute a widespread campaign of torture and abuse both at Guantanamo and the CIA black sites. And so Julian formed WikiLeaks to try to expose war crimes and what he is being indicted for, if you strip away all the legal verbiage, is exposing war crimes by the United States, exposing war crimes by U.S. forces and Iraqi forces supported by U.S. forces in Iraq, also war crimes in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo, the torture and abuse of men and boys and perhaps most infamous is the Collateral Murder video, which depicts in 2007 in Baghdad, a U.S. Apache helicopter, army helicopter firing on civilians, killing at least 18 civilians, including two journalists from Reuters, injuring two children.
Eat them all up. Traffic to safety. Come on fire. Right at it keeps you. If you to think of something, we need to move forward now, we just engaged all eight individuals. We have one guy crawling around down there by helicopter, definitely going to go downstairs.
And then if that wasn't bad enough and chuckling about it, you can hear them chuckling. It's really grotesque, but no damage.
And then firing on the people that were rescuing the wounded and then driving U.S. Army Jeep over one of the dead bodies, cutting it in half. And that constitutes three separate war crimes under the Geneva Conventions. And so what Julian is being indicted for is allegedly conspiring with Chelsea Manning, who was an Army intelligence officer in at the time, to take and release classified information, which WikiLeaks then published, as did the The New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, many other other newspapers and media outlets.
And that's why during the Obama administration and Obama, of course, prosecuted more whistleblowers than everyone else before him combined, but refrained from prosecuting Julian Assange because they were worried about what they called the New York Times problem. And that was if they indicted WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, they would also have to go after The New York Times and other outlets that published what WikiLeaks had released.
In twenty eighteen, Assange was indicted under seal by the US Department of Justice under Trump while he was in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. In twenty nineteen, Ecuador revoked his asylum and Assange was arrested by the U.K. He is currently being held in custody by the British government as he awaits a decision on his extradition to the US, where he could face 170 years in prison for 17 charges under the Espionage Act. Professor Cole, could you explain how the Espionage Act is being applied here?
Well, it's it is a completely improper use of the Espionage Act. He has not committed espionage or treason or any other high crime that the Espionage Act was designed for. And by the way, the Espionage Act was also charged against Daniel Ellsberg, who is one of the most famous whistleblowers who gave the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and helped end the Vietnam War. And so Julian is being charged under the Espionage Act, but under a treaty between the U.S. and the U.K. And he is now in prison in London awaiting the decision on extradition.
But the extradition treaty forbids extradition. And Trump is trying to extradite Julian from the U.K. to the U.S., forbids extradition for political offences. And there's nothing more political than revealing war crimes. And espionage is is classically one of the things that that is a political offence. And he is charged under the Espionage Act, the Espionage Act.
This is a real piece of legislation that's over 100 years old. When exactly did the Espionage Act start applying to whistleblowers, people like Ellsberg, people like Chelsea Manning? When did this this this executive interpretation of it start to shift?
It's my understanding that led to the use of the Espionage Act against Daniel Ellsberg was the first time that it was used against whistleblowers and it was actually used during the Obama administration as well against whistleblowers. But as I said, Obama refrained from from charging Julian Assange because he would really be charged for practicing journalism. And that's why the Trump administration added a charge of computer hacking. They're trying to paint him as a hacker. So because of all of the the blowback from charging him as a journalist and by the way, the reason that Trump went after him when Obama, who went after a lot of whistleblowers, refrained from going after Assange, was because as Obama was leaving office, he commuted Chelsea Manning's thirty five year sentence to the seven years she had already served.
And Trump was furious about that. And Trump also did not like the fact that Assange was revealing U.S. secrets, although Trump reveals them all the time himself. And so that's the reason that Jeff Sessions and Pompeo made all these accusations against Assange and then filed this indictment. They're trying to get him extradited to the United States.
I see some national security where. Orders celebrate the charges against the Songe, what should every journalist be concerned with if, let's say, the government's charges, if they were sustained in a court, Assange were convicted, what that precedent would set?
Well, it would set a press. It would it would show journalists from reporting based on classified information, which they are entitled to do, which the big newspapers and media outlets do all the time. And it would chill journalism. It would shield journalists from reporting on national security matters, from receiving classified documents and reporting on them. It would be a dagger straight through the heart of the First Amendment, freedom of the press.
Why is it that there isn't more of a public outrage among the kinds of liberal free speech defenders that you would normally see? The battle lines here seem to be not what you would expect in this kind of scenario.
What are the kind of political reasons behind that? Well, that's a very good question. There has been almost a media blackout on Julian's case, which is really so far the trial of the century at a three week extradition hearing and got almost no coverage in the corporate media. The alternate media certainly did cover it. But I think that some liberals are upset that WikiLeaks published some emails of Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election. But in fact, WikiLeaks did not initially receive those emails.
It was a Freedom of Information Act request by a civil organization. And WikiLeaks didn't do anything other than what other outlets did. But for some reason, he has gotten a bad rap. And there were also some trumped up charge, not charges, but an investigation by the Swedish government and I think the behest of the U.S. government of sexual assault charges against Julian Assange, which have since been dismissed. They weren't charges. Again, the investigation has been ended and and the the accusers have recanted.
And yet that was used to tar Julian Assange in the corporate media. And when you see the coverage of Julian's extradition hearing and his case in the corporate media, they just cover gossipy things. They don't really cover what he's charged with, which is revealing war crimes and the fact that, according to the UN special rapporteur on torture, he was subjected and shows signs of prolonged psychological torture. He spent seven years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy and during that time had some very serious health issues.
But the UK government would not allow him to leave the embassy to go to a hospital and get medical care without arresting him. And so he so now he has some very, very serious health issues which make him susceptible to the Copart virus. And also he has become a suicide risk. And if he was extradited to the United States, he would in all and there was testimony about this at his extradition hearing, he would in all likelihood be sent to a supermax prison where he would be placed in solitary confinement just as Chelsea Manning was, and that constitutes torture.
And so he is he is really in very frail psychological and physical health and should not be locked up by any means and certainly shouldn't be indicted for revealing war crimes because of the 2016 leaks from the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC.
And lately, the Hunter Biden leaks. I see so little take a very expansive view that. Hacked material should not be not only not be reported on by the corporate media, they should be censored, the distribution of it should be censored on social media.
And that, to me, seems very shortsighted. Do you have a view on that?
Well, the logical extension of that view is to chill the rights of journalists, actually, who are surrogates. The media is a surrogate for that, for the public. It's not that they're doing it for themselves, but given our technological age, there is there are going to be hacks and there is going to be there are going to be journalists that are going to use information from those hacks to get the truth out to the American public and indeed to people around the world.
And so by placing limitations and I would say artificial limitations on what journalists can and cannot print, that also is going to have a chilling effect on the First Amendment, freedom of the press and and particularly deny the American people, people around the world information and the truth, which is what we're trying to get at. The Obama DOJ concluded that it could not indict Assange for practicing journalism.
If Assad was so good for Trump, then why did the Trump DOJ conclude otherwise?
I trump I don't begin to understand how Trump's mind works, I don't know that anybody knows how it works, of course, but when he reportedly when he saw everything Obama did, Trump is trying to undo and has been pretty successful at that. But when Trump learned that Obama had pardoned or given a clemency to Chelsea Manning as he left office and sentenced her to time served, she served seven years in prison for revealing war crimes, also some of them in solitary right in solitary confinement, stripped naked for inspection.
She was subject to torture as well. And the U.N. special rapporteur did confirm that. But when Trump saw Chelsea Manning her sentence being shortened, that infuriated him and that started the ball rolling to go after Julian Assange. My understanding. Then Professor Cullen made reference to the physical and psychological pressures Julian Assange is under. Can you speak to what your impressions were when you when you met with him and maybe go into a little bit more of what he's experienced?
You know, when I met with him, he was quite lucid. He was very reasonable, rational, you know, understood what was going on. He was just. I think disheartened that, you know, that that revealing what the government has been trying to hide, revealing government illegal acts so far as to be killing innocent people, it didn't have much of an effect. It seemed like it was the usual news blip, that while this was the biggest news and, you know, look at look at our our American servicemen killing human beings as if it were a video game.
I think he felt like that there was hope that if WikiLeaks could could reveal the truth of what was going on, that we would put a stop to it. You know, we haven't. I think he was also feeling the same thing about the releases regarding what the NSA was doing in terms of compiling information on. All Americans, I believe. Did you get the feeling that he felt any sense of regret or conflict about how it was all panning out?
No, I didn't get the sense that he felt any any regret or or counseling.
Professor Cohen, can you explain to our audience what the course of Assange's extradition hearings has been?
Yes, there were there was three weeks of testimony from experts and journalists and all kinds of witnesses, very powerful testimony about the collateral murder video, the things that the war crimes that he revealed. And one of the things that interesting things that came out at the extradition hearing was in the indictment. The Trump administration is accusing WikiLeaks and Julian Assange of endangering informants, US informants in Iraq and Afghanistan by publishing their names. And in fact, the testimony that came out at the extradition hearing from several witnesses was that Julian Assange rigorously insisted on redacting the names to protect people.
And he was when other when when some of the media outlets wanted to be more lax about it. He insisted on protecting their identities. And in fact, one of the things that we don't hear about is that the revelations by WikiLeaks in the Iraq war logs actually saved lives because when the Iraqi government saw evidence of torture by US forces and the support of of US forces in some of the Iraqi detention centers, they refused Obama's request to give US civilian and military personnel immunity from civil and criminal liability for anything that they might do while they were in Iraq.
And that forced Obama to withdraw our troops from Iraq, most of the troops from Iraq. So the revelations by WikiLeaks did not endanger the informants because of Julian's insistence on redacting out their names. And in fact, the revelations about the Iraq war crimes actually saved lives.
Professor, two questions. One, should Assange win his extradition hearing and not be extradited to the United States, then what would happen to him? What he just be in the U.K.? Would he just stay there? And the second question is in your honest appraisal. Do you think he will prevail in those hearings, the judge who has sustained extradition claims and agreed and extradited people from the UK in 96 percent of the cases is going to make a decision by early January.
And in all likelihood, she actually said at one point there's a high chance he'll be extradited, kind of prejudging the case. Yeah, absolutely right. So if she does make a decision that he should be extradited, that's not the end of it. There will be several levels of appeal within the UK and even an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. Now, if extradition is ultimately denied, then Julian cannot come to the United States, will not be sent to the United States to answer for charges in the indictment and will be set free because he is being held on a bail jumping charge in custody, which is an awfully long time to to be held in custody for a bail jumping charge.
And presumably, if extradition is denied, ultimately, he would be free. Now, if he came to the United States, he could be arrested and indicted because they would be they would have jurisdiction over him. But if not, he would be free.
Do you believe this has been a fair process so far, his extradition hearings?
You know, that's that's a good question there. The defense, the Joleen's lawyers have put on a tremendous case and tremendous testimony by witnesses. The government has put on some evidence, but not nearly as powerful as the evidence by the defense and the fact that the judge would not allow Julian release on bond, given his very frail health and the danger that he would contract the the coronavirus in custody and he would be in grave danger because of his pre-existing conditions, due to the lack of medical care that the UK government allowed him when he was in the Ecuadorian embassy, that that has really endangered his health.
So to that extent, I would say, no, it was not it was not a fair hearing. But I think that some very, very powerful evidence was presented by the defense at that hearing.
I've also read that there are some kind of procedural obstacles that he's faced access to his attorney being put in a glass kind of cage in the back of the courtroom at some distance from his counsel. So they aren't he isn't able to inform him about a point that could be raised in the course of the testimony that if he he has to kind of project out loud and everyone can hear any comments that he wants to make to council, have any objections been raised to to those concerns?
And as is the public at all sympathetic in the UK, at least to those kinds of imbalances, procedural imbalances?
Yes, I'm glad you raised that, Brianna, because his lawyers have made objections at every step. And in fact, they were denied communication with him for a long time, which prevented them from from preparing his defense. And when your client is separated from you, you're not you're not able to confer. And that interferes with the attorney client relationship. And it certainly did have that effect. And when Julian does say something out loud because his attorneys are not sitting right next to him, then the judge admonishes him.
So it's kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't. But yes, that has certainly interfered with his right to a fair extradition hearing.
And can you help us understand the the hacking claims a little bit? Because it's difficult for me to understand. As I understand it, Chelsea Manning offered up the information. This isn't a case where anyone is alleging that Julian Assange broke into anybody's computer systems. So what is what what are the charges being alleged?
They're they're they're trying to paint him as a hacker to get around the allegation, know the attack on journalism.
So they they are accusing him of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to break into a government computer to steal government documents in violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. But Patrick Eller, who is a forensic expert, testified at the extradition hearing that the attempted cracking of the password hash was not technologically possible in 2010, when the conversation between Julian and Chelsea occurred. And even if it was feasible, the purpose would not have been to conceal Chelsea's identity and it would not have given her any increased access to government databases.
And so that testimony really undercuts that charge and the the attempt of the Trump government to paint him as as just a common hacker as opposed to a. Journalist who is doing his job under the freedom of the press. So let's talk domestically. What are the prospects for relief for Julian Assange in the final weeks of the Trump administration? Is a pardon in the works.
I see Trump pardoning a lot of people, including himself, although he can't pardon himself for state prosecutions, only for federal prosecutions under under the Constitution. I think he'll probably pardon his family and people close to him and everybody he can think of. But I doubt that Julian Assange will be on that list. As as I said, from what I can tell, Trump holds a grudge. He is still upset with Obama for existing for being his predecessor and probably for being a much more successful president in many respects than than than Trump.
But I can't imagine that Trump would would back off of Julian Assange, his prosecution. I don't see it. I think there will be a lot of pardons can pardon himself. Who knows? The Supreme Court may ultimately decide that issue. He can't pardon himself for state offenses. You'll pardon people close to him. I doubt that he will pardon.
Julian, what do you make of efforts by folks like Glenn Greenwald, who's gone on Fox News and try to do the thing where he reverse psychology this trump? You know, there's this belief that he watches Fox News and he will do what people say and he actually follows people's advice. And he went on recently to say, oh, it would be very good if Trump would. He would totally on the left. If Trump, you know, pardoned Julian Assange, he could have part of him and Edward Snowden.
And there's widespread support across the political spectrum on both the right and the left for doing both. It would be politically advantageous for the president. The only people who would be angry would be Susan Rice, John Brennan, Jim Comey and James Clapper, because they're the ones who both of them exposed.
Do you think there's any likelihood that those kinds of efforts might be successful?
Well, you know, using reverse psychology on someone who is as erratic as Trump, I'm not sure it works. And again, I'm not a psychologist, but my understanding is that Trump is on a tear against Fox News ever since they called Arizona for Joe Biden. He wants to start a media company to rival Fox News. And that's, I think, what he intended before he was was elected president. Twenty 2016 didn't think he would be elected. And we'll see how that pans out.
He wants a forum to continue to inflame his supporters, and he has a lot of them and he's not going away. It's not going to go quietly. And we will be stuck with him, I'm afraid, for the foreseeable future. He does not like Fox News, and particularly because there are some people on Fox News that have said that Joe Biden won the election. And that infuriates Trump because he's convinced that it was stolen from him with trumped up charges.
Well, maybe Glenn has to go on one America news network to sell this thing.
I agree that the prospects are dim for a pardon by Trump, though I will also say I was surprised by Obama's commutation of Chelsea Manning. So, you know, these things can happen. What about the prospects for the Biden Department of Justice dropping these charges?
That's a good question. Biden has made some disparaging comments about Assange, but on the other hand, he was part of the Obama administration that made the decision not to indict Julian Assange, specifically because of the New York Times problem. And perhaps and I think it is up to us as progressives now that Biden has been elected once he takes office to push him in a progressive direction. And and part of that, I think, would would be to push him to pardon or at least drop the indictment against Julian Assange.
Whether or not we'll be successful, assuming that Julian Assange is extradited to the United States remains to be seen. But our work is just beginning with the election of Joe Biden because he is going to be pushed. Progressives really put him over the top and he needs to he needs to really be pushed because a lot of the instincts that he has and things left over from the Obama administration would be much more moderate and centrist.
A number of prominent Democrats, such as Neera Tanden, Senator Mark Warner, openly celebrated the charges against Assange. And it was, after all, Obama's DOJ that put Chelsea Manning and these other whistleblowers in prison using this expansive view of the Espionage Act.
What can activists do to attempt to push Biden and his DOJ to be more sympathetic to leakers and journalists?
Well, first of all, it's up to us. You, me, Ben, people in the alternative media and in various mediums to educate people about what is really happening, and again, there's been almost a complete blackout in the corporate media about Julians cases. But we're talking more broadly again about whistleblowers. And I think the more education we can provide people, the more tools it will give them to organize and make that one of their important demands of the Biden administration.
And it's going to take pressure. I don't think that Biden is going to do the right thing just based on his instincts as a kind, empathetic man, which he is compared to Trump. I guess pretty much everybody is compared to everyone else. Yes.
Could you please tell us a little bit about about the book, Ben? Sure. It's the book. We Are Millions. It's being published by all our books. All proceeds benefit the Courage Foundation, which has been leading the charge to defend Julian. And it began as an online project. There's and we are millions means that there are literally millions of Assange supporters. And so for this particular project, each person held up a sign talking about why they support Assange and took a photo.
And, you know, there was gobs and gobs of photos because gobs and gobs of people support them. They were also, I think Dan Ellsberg is there, Missier and Pamela Anderson, there's there's quite a few well-known people. Yours truly. Well, are there any who are the more high profile political supporters in the United States of Assange?
Are there many I don't know know I don't have any of the tip of my tongue. Marjorie, do you know any. Well, if there are, we don't hear about them, unfortunately.
Yeah, I know Jeremy Corbyn has been supportive of erm I am I right.
And I, Yanis Varoufakis, a handful of other kind of international folks. But I'm kind of struggling to bring to mind local high profile political supporters, people who are office holders are aspiring office holders.
Well actually Bernie Sanders supported him. I inquired when I was a co-chair of the campaign and I signed on to something and support and I wanted to make sure it was OK with Bernie. And yeah, he he's come out publicly in support of them. And I don't have any other politicians. But of course, Oliver Stone, Alice Walker, Chris Hedges, you know, a lot of people who should be running the country, Noam Chomsky as well.
I mean, we're familiar with them. And in fact, Noam Chomsky, Dan Ellsberg and Alice Walker are co-chairs of a staunch defence of the committee that Ben helped form.
And it looks like a Bernie Elizabeth and Tulsi Gabbard have all made statements opposing Assange, his indictment and Senator Ron Wyden.
And a quick Google reveals. So in terms of pressuring the left or raising the public profile, it might be of interest to continue to encourage those politicians, among others, to speak out more strongly than they've done so already.
Yeah, I mean, it's a clear case of kill the messenger, you know, and I think that there's a difference between whistleblowers and publishers. WikiLeaks is a is a publisher. I mean, I, I support whistleblowers as well, but. There was no law broken. A publisher publishes you've got these other online publishers like Twitter and Facebook publishing outrageous lies. And apparently there's no problem with that. I don't think that you can have freedom of the press and say that, well, it only applies to places that are or used to be print media, you know, places, publications like The New York Times.
I mean, I believe that certainly if The New York Times had printed this information, there'd be no problem.
It's just because somehow or other, the Internet is so new and WikiLeaks is Internet based and they feel like they don't have to treat an Internet publisher like a, shall we say, a legacy publisher.
First thing, WikiLeaks leaks and we said nothing. And that and that distinction is completely arbitrary, that only journalism is only if you're a billion dollar corporation.
Then you can call yourself a journalist. Yeah, and to me, I mean, there's journalism. I mean, I always thought journalists were reporters and then there's publishers. Journalists are reporting the news publishers are publishing the news. I don't know. I it's it's hard to believe that it's illegal to publish information if we honestly mean that we have a free press.
You know, obviously, we want to see more Democrats champion Assange's case on basic First Amendment grounds. I want to see the squad speak out and things like that. My final question to both of you is starting with Ben. What should be the message to Democrats who are mad at WikiLeaks who think Assange cost Hillary the 2016 election, still sore about that to convince them that this prosecution is fundamentally wrong and they should oppose it? Well, first of all, my understanding is that it was kind of buried, but just recently there was the unredacted Mueller report came out where he said that he could not find any proof that that Assange did anything to release documents that were harmful to him.
People need to hear that. But they also need to hear. I think the bigger issue was that Julian did us a favor by revealing what our government is doing in our name and with our money and. If we don't know, if we don't find out what our government is doing in our name and with our money, there's no way that we can hold our government in check, which is, I believe, the function of citizens in a democracy.
If you don't have freedom of the press, there's no way for the citizens to know what the heck the government is doing that they don't want people to find out about. And there's no way to hold them accountable. I mean, it's it begins the path to. Some sort of totalitarian or authoritarian government, but it's certainly not a democratic government, it gets to be more and more democratic in name only. You put that together with the idea that we have a system of legal bribery which finances our elections, that shoots that part of democracy to hell.
And then we say that there's freedom of the press. But if the press wants to publish something that the government doesn't want you to know about. There is no freedom of the press and we either got to stand up for or say we're going to roll over and let them go and do whatever illegal acts they want to do. Yes, I agree with everything that Ben said, and I think that it's really important to make front and center the issue of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks published, and that was evidence of US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo and black sites.
And there is a tendency of people, liberals, people on the left to say, you know, Trump is so bad that Bush wasn't that bad. And we forget, I think that Bush is responsible for starting to illegal wars and responsible for the death deaths of upwards of a million people in Iraq, Afghanistan and US service members as well. And by publishing, by revealing the evidence of US war crimes, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange actually did us a great favor in revealing that information.
And that has to be part and parcel of pushing Joe Biden to, first of all, not swell the defense budget.
It's really not a defense budget. It's a war budget, a military budget, and also pressure him not to invade a number of countries, which Obama was dropping bombs from drones in seven different countries. And and he had a massive program of surveillance and we forget that as well. So I think that by really focusing on the guts of what Julian Assange revealed and WikiLeaks revealed, which is war crimes and linking that to these illegal wars and US imperialism and American exceptionalism all over the world and pushing Biden away from that and pressuring him because he's not going to do it automatically when he's talking about putting Susan Rice in his cabinet and Samantha Power, et cetera, he is going to continue that policy.
And so I think that those two things go hand in glove, and it's up to us as progressives, as the left to make that clear. And it's up to us, the alternative media, to give people the tools and the information they need to organize to that end.
Well, thank you so much both for for joining us. That that is incredibly edifying. You are both very clear communicators and you've really, really helped us to, I think, connect this issue, make this issue connect for a lot more people, especially when the attention is so divided. Right now, you've still got the Georgia runoff elections that will be kind of coinciding with the results, you know, in the UK. And this will help refocus people's attention, I think, in an important way to echo those sentiments.
Bush was worse than Trump.
And where I started to break from the Obama administration was when he not only ratified the domestic spying under Bush, but expanded it and expanded the war on terror under a different name. I hope that in the Abidin administration, liberals find their values and they stand up for human rights. If you consider yourself anti war, anti torture, pro free speech and pro free press, you should be appalled by the Trump administration's persecution of Julian Assange. Ben Cohen, Professor Marjorie Cohn, thank you both so much for joining us.
Thank you. It was a pleasure and an honor to appear with. Been an honor.
I'm sorry. We were in person. We could all add an ice cream party together.
Oh, I. My favorite flavor always will be. I still haven't tried it.
I will swear to you I will come up to Vermont with Brady when this is all over, if you'll have us. All right. I'll definitely.
All right. Listen, I love it. Looking forward to it. Thank you. But this is really, truly great to hear.
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