2013-05-07 14:35:07

Democracy Now! 2013-05-07 Tuesday

As the United States moves toward increased intervention in Syria, we’re joined by Robert Fisk, the longtime Middle East correspondent of the British newspaper The Independent. Just back from two weeks in Syria reporting around the capital Damascus, Fisk discusses what he calls the "theater of chemical weapons," the latest in Syria’s civil war — a battle he says the Syrian government is winning — as well as his reaction to what he calls President Obama’s "pitiful" backing of the recent Israeli missile strikes. "Don’t ask me if they have used chemical weapons," Fisk says. "It’s conceivable. There really isn’t any proof. What you have got to realize is that this is a propaganda war just as much as it is a savage war, killing many thousands of human beings."

The state of Mississippi is preparing to execute an African-American prisoner tonight, despite an unusual admission from theFBI that its original analysis of the evidence contained errors. Willie Jerome Manning was convicted of murdering Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, two white college students, in 1992. The execution is going ahead after prosecutors and state courts refused to allow new DNA testing that could prove Manning’s innocence. The Justice Department sent a letter saying one analyst’s testimony at trial "exceeded the limits of the science and was, therefore, invalid." Manning’s attorneys argue that no physical evidence ties him to the murders and that testing hair samples and other evidence could identify a different killer. But in a 5-to-4 decision last month, Mississippi’s state supreme court refused to grant a new DNA test, citing what it called "conclusive, overwhelming evidence of guilt." On top of the denied DNA test, Manning’s attorneys say prosecutors relied on two key witnesses whose credibility has since come under question. Concerns have also been raised about alleged racial bias in the selection of the jury that found Manning guilty. "We need someone to step in," says Vanessa Potkin, a senior staff attorney at The Innocence Project. "It is unconscionable that an execution would go forward where there is biological evidence that can cut to the truth and show whether or not he did the crime. What is anybody afraid of?"

A joint investigation by The Washington Monthly and The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute has found over the past five years U.S. border agents have shot across the border at least 10 times, killing a total of six Mexicans on Mexican soil. The killings have gone unpunished after a court ruled the Mexican victims have no standing to sue in U.S. courts since they died on their own soil. Investigative reporter John Carlos Frey writes: "The picture that emerges from this investigation is of an agency operating with thousands of poorly trained rookies and failing to provide the kind of transparency, accountability, and clear rules of engagement that Americans routinely expect of law enforcement agencies." Frey joins us to discuss the shootings, and why he fears that the current immigration consensus in Washington on "border security" could increase Mexico’s civilian toll.

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