2012-04-04 13:14:03

Democracy Now! Wednesday, April 4, 2012

As Mitt Romney sweeps Tuesday’s primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C., we go to Madison to speak with The Nation’s John Nichols. He notes Romney has steered further toward the right wing as his campaign progresses. In Wisconsin, Romney channeled the anti-union policies of embattled Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. "In many cases, though he didn’t appear for photographs with Scott Walker, Mitt Romney was sounding like Scott Walker as he attacked 'big union bosses' and talked about how he wanted to take away labor rights if he’s elected president," Nichols says. He also discusses Romney’s support for the controversial budget plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), which passed the House last week and includes deep cuts to domestic programs.

On the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., we look at his history of activism in Wisconsin, a state that has been central to the history of labor organizing, and beyond. Near the end of his life, King was helping to organize members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), which was founded in Wisconsin in 1932. King argued that labor rights were human rights and civil rights, a message that resonated in Wisconsin during last year’s protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers, as well as slash their pay and benefits. "This is not just a battle about economics. It’s not just a battle about wages, benefits and pensions,” says John Nichols, political correspondent for The Nation. "It’s also a battle about that right to organize, that right of individuals who, in and of themselves, may not have immense power but, when they come together, have the potential to challenge the most powerful political and economic figures in the country. Dr. King preached that as a gospel."

Today marks the 44th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. At the time, his every move was being tracked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We speak with journalist Tim Weiner author of, “Enemies: A History of the FBI,” about the fanatical zeal with which the agency pursued the civil rights leader and peace activist. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover saw King as a Communist. He ordered agents to wiretap and spy on his hotel rooms and his private home. Weiner describes how the FBI also pushed newspapers to publish sordid details about King’s relations with women other than his wife just before he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

More than 70,000 pages of recently declassified documents about the history and practices of the FBI form the foundation of a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner titled, "Enemies: A History of the FBI." The book exposes how FBI directors, U.S. presidents and attorneys general have exercised their powers — both inside and outside the law — in the name of national security. Weiner explores how the FBI, since its formation over a century ago, has dealt with terrorists, spies and anyone else deemed subversive. He focuses in part on FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and argues, “no un-elected person, nobody who is not president, will ever have that kind of power again.” Weiner notes presidents from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Richard Nixon found Hoover invaluable. “Information is power ... Hoover brought them secret information. That’s power squared,” Weiner says.

The American Civil Liberties Union has released new records showing the FBI’s San Francisco division collected information on Muslim religious activities protected by the Constitution. The FBI is banned by law from keeping records on people’s religious practices unless there is a clear law enforcement purpose. But the ACLU said documents show the FBI violated that law by using so-called "community outreach" to procure and store information about religious beliefs, practices and otherwise innocent activities of Muslim community members. This is just the latest revelation in a long-string of surveillance tactics used by the FBI and other agencies to monitor Muslims post-9/11. The ACLU is now calling on the Inspector General to launch an investigation into the violation of the Privacy Act. We speak with Mike German, the ACLU’s National Security Policy counsel. From 1988 to 2004 he served as an FBI agent specializing in domestic counterterrorism.

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