On tonight’s Thursday Night Special, we air a very special edition of Truthdig Radio, which will examine both the IRS and AP scandals plaguing the Obama administration, as well as the controversial subject of drones, and the media reaction to Jason Collins’ coming out as the first openly gay pro-athlete. Here’s just a sampling of what’s to come:
“We are now in the last moments of an effort to, in essence, effectively extinguish press freedom,” Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges told “Democracy Now!” in a conversation Wednesday about revelations of the Justice Department’s seizure of work, home and cellphone records of up to 100 reporters and editors at The Associated Press.
Knowing that the United States and the world are on a course toward instability and chaos ensured by irreversible climate change and economic deterioration, the Obama administration and those who expect to inherit its role and powers “want the mechanisms by which they can criminalize any form of dissent,” Hedges continued. The attack on the press, which the AP phone records scandal exposes, is “an excuse to ferret out and destroy legitimate movements that challenge centers of power” by scaring potential whistle-blowers and dissidents into silence.
Hedges has devoted the last few years of his career to championing people who become enemies of the state for opposing its abuse of power. Those people include the accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, whom he recently interviewed in Assange’s de facto prison in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, and Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther who was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer under fishy legal proceedings and is currently serving a life term in prison. In the persecution endured by those figures, Hedges sees the future of anyone who effectively opposes government and corporate power.
Also, a veteran Air Force drone pilot has opened up about his unsettling experiences killing alleged militants and probable civilians from an air-conditioned trailer in the American West.
Brandon Bryant, 27, operated drones for several years. He now lives in Montana where he sleeps on the couches of friends and acquaintances while attending college. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
In an interview aired Friday on NPR, Bryant described what happened after he was ordered to strike a group of insurgents who had not attacked American soldiers.
“We fired the missile, and 1.2 seconds after the missile fires, it sonic booms,” Bryant said. “And so the sonic boom gets there before the missile does. And the guy in the rear hears this, and he runs forward to the two guys in the front, and then the missile hits. And after the smoke clears, there’s a crater there. You can see body parts of the people.
“But the guy who was running from rear to the front, his left leg had been taken off above the knee, and I watched him bleed out,” Bryant continued. “The blood rapidly cooled to become the same color as the ground, because we were watching this in infrared. Then I eventually watched the guy become the same color as the ground that he died on.”
“I’m a 34-year old NBA center. I’m Black. And I’m Gay.” With those courageous words, longtime NBA player Jason Collins made history Monday by coming out as the first openly gay athlete in major professional sports.
Nancy Watzman, John Villasenor, Tony Jovenitti, Chris Hedges, Julian Assange
Producer: Joshua Scheer
Host: Peter Scheer
Production Assistant/Editor: Brittany Knotts
Engineer: Stan Misraje