Tuesday, December 24, 2013

  • Beyond Plan Colombia: Covert CIA Program Reveals Critical U.S. Role in Killings of Rebel Leaders


    A new report has exposed a secret CIA program in Colombia that has helped kill at least two dozen rebel leaders. According to The Washington Post, the program relies on key help from the National Security Agency and is funded through a multibillion-dollar black budget. It began under former President George W. Bush, but continues under President Obama. The program has crippled the FARC rebel group by targeting its leaders using bombs equipped with GPS guidance. Up until 2010, the CIA controlled the encryption keys that allowed the bombs to read GPS data. In one case, in 2008, the United States and Colombia discovered a FARC leader hiding in Ecuador. According to the report, "To conduct an airstrike meant a Colombian pilot flying a Colombian plane would hit the camp using a US-made bomb with a CIA-controlled brain." The attack killed the rebel leader and sparked a major flareup of tensions with Ecuador and Venezuela. The U.S. role in that attack had not previously been reported. We’re joined by the reporter who broke this story, Dana Priest of The Washington Post. Priest is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter whose work focuses on intelligence and counterterrorism.

  • Did Covert U.S. Program Targeting Rebel Leaders Help Undermine Colombia’s Peace Process?


    Continuing our coverage of the startling new report that exposes how a secret CIA program in Colombia is responsible for killing at least two dozen rebel leaders, we’re joined by Mario Murillo, professor and chair of the Department of Radio, Television, Film at Hofstra University and co-director of the Center for Civic Engagement. Murillo has covered Colombia extensively and is the author of the book, "Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest, and Destabilization."

  • Ex-Rebel Leader Faces Ouster as Bogota Mayor After Longtime Advocacy of Reconciliation


    Amidst revelations of a secret CIA program responsible for killing at least two dozen rebel leaders in Colombia, former guerrilla leader Gustavo Petro is facing a campaign for his ouster as mayor of Bogotá. Earlier this month, Colombia’s inspector general announced Petro would have to leave office over the alleged mismanagement of the capital’s rubbish collection service. However supporters say Petro has been the victim of a "right-wing coup," and tens of thousands have taken to the streets to support him. Petro and his supporters are now working to prevent his removal from being carried out. We go to Bogotá, where we are joined by Charlie Roberts, a member of the Colombia Human Rights Committee and board chair of the U.S. Office on Colombia.

  • Mikhail Kalashnikov, Inventor of Eponymous Assault Rifle That Shaped Modern Warfare, Dead at 94


    Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the most popular firearm in the world, died Monday at the age of 94. The Kalashnikov assault rifle became one of the world’s most widely used weapons, with an estimated 100 million guns now spread worldwide. The relative simplicity of the Kalashnikov, or AK-47, made it cheap to produce, as well as reliable and easy to maintain. Kalashnikov designed his first machine gun in 1942 after suffering injuries as a tank commander for the Soviet Union’s Red Army during World War II. But it was only in 1947 after years of modification that the AK-47 was introduced for Soviet military service. In the early 1950s, the Kalashnikov became the standard weapon for Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries. The gun also proved popular with paramilitary groups. Although honored by the state, Kalashnikov made little money from his gun. He was often defensive about criticism that his invention had caused countless deaths around the world. We discuss the significance of the AK-47 and its maker with William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung’s latest book is "Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex."

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    Juan González on How Puerto Rico’s Economic "Death Spiral" is Tied to Legacy of Colonialism
    Could Puerto Rico become America’s Greece? That’s a question many are asking as the island faces a devastating financial crisis and a rapidly crumbling healthcare system. Puerto Rico owes $72 billion in debt. $355 million in debt payments are due December 1, but it increasingly looks like the U.S. territory may default on at least some of the debt. Congress has so far failed to act on an Obama administration proposal that includes extending bankruptcy protection to Puerto Rico and allocating more equitable Medicaid and Medicare...


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