Propaganda and Silencing Political Dissent
The outgoing President Obama, who used the Espionage Law more times than all other presidents combined to go after whistleblowers and the media, hurled a final blow at political dissent when he signed the newest version of the National Defense Authorization Act into law (on the Friday before Christmas when people weren’t paying attention). Within the new NDAA is a provision to create and fund a “Global Engagement Center” to counter so-called propaganda. Chris Hedges, who sued President Obama over a previous version of the NDAA and has reported in countries that experienced similar silencing of dissent, and Rick Sterling, an independent journalist, who has been investigating the new NDAA, will explain what is going on, what we can expect and what we can do about it.
Relevant articles and websites:
The NDAA and the Death of the Democratic State by Chris Hedges
Revolt is the Only Barrier to a Fascist Amerca by Chris Hedges
Strategies of Resistance with Michael Gecan
The War Against Alternative Information by Rick Sterling
Chris Hedges, whose column is published weekly on Truthdig, has written 11 books, including the New York Times best-seller “Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt” (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010), “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.
Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries during his work for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
Hedges was part of a New York Times team of reporters awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming him the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011. The press club also granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists.” In 2012 Hedges won the Southern California Journalism Award for the Online Journalist of the Year.
Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and studied classics, including ancient Greek and Latin, at Harvard.
He is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, Princeton University and the University of Toronto. He currently teaches prisoners at a maximum-security prison in New Jersey.
Hedges has a show, “On Contact,” on the RT America network, and interviews from the program frequently appear on Truthdig. Earlier, he had a similar program, “Days of Revolt,” on the TeleSUR network.
Hedges began his career reporting on the Falkland War from Argentina for National Public Radio. He went on to cover the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua for five years, first for The Christian Science Monitor and National Public Radio and later The Dallas Morning News. After six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he was based in Paris as part of the team covering al-Qaida and global terrorism. He left the Times after receiving a formal reprimand from the newspaper for publicly denouncing the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.
In 2012, Hedges successfully sued President Barack Obama in challenging the National Defense Authorization Act, which gives the federal government the authority to indefinitely detain people without habeas corpus. The decision was overturned on appeal, and in 2014 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the ruling, known as Hedges v. Obama.
Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. In 2014 he was ordained as a minister in a ceremony at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J.
Chris Hedges lives in Princeton, N.J., and is married to the Canadian actress Eunice Wong, with whom he has two children. He has two children from a previous marriage.
Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who previously worked 25 years in the high tech and aerospace industry. Over the past five years he has researched and written about local issues such as the political attacks on City College San Francisco and international issues including Russia, the Olympics and especially the war on Syria. He traveled in Syria in Spring 2014 and Fall 2015. Rick grew up in Vancouver Canada but has lived in the East Bay Area for many years. He can be contacted at Rsterling1@gmail.com