Sunday, January 15, 2012

Greg Palast Interview

Que Caiga exclusive! Well, everything on Que Caiga is exclusive, but this is special: CENSORED interview with investigative-journalist rabble rouser Greg Palast! The local Albuquerque Weekly Alibi refused to print this interview, saying Palast's statements were "unverified." Well, he's only the most famous investigative journalist on the planet, but, you know, I guess the Alibi knows best. I will post the audio of the entire extended interview soon—Palast was gracious enough to talk to me for over 40 minutes, and this is just a small sample of what he had to say. Enjoi!

Most mass-media outlets might be confused, but Greg Palast knows what the Occupy Wall Street movement is about.
During an appearance at UNM’s Continuing Education Center on Thursday, Dec. 1, Palast spun globe-spanning tales of corporate greed involving US corporations’ oily tentacles slithering into every corner of the world, from Ecuador to Azerbaijan. Each tale wrapped up with the refrain “And that’s why we occupy.”
Palast, a former FBI investigator and current investigative reporter who works for the BBC and the Guardian newspaper, took time off from hunting down classified documents to give an interview to the Alibi on such cheerful topics as a Chevron oil spill in the Amazon that’s causing lieukemia among members of the Cofan tribe.

“Boy, I’m sounding really serious today,” Palast told the Alibi. “I’m usually funnier than that.”

Alibi: You mentioned in your speech at the Continuing Ed Center that you could write a whole book on New Mexico.

Palast: Oh yeah... I worked for the Attorney General here. I was brought in to investigate—Well, I did a couple different investigations here.
One was for the Attorney General, where I was investigating PNM. I was investigating their takeover of the gas company, and what I found was basically a wonderful cabal of politicians, oil interests, grain interest, gas interests, cattle interests. And of course the power companies. All kind of based out of the R.O. Anderson foundation. The 1% of New Mexico. And basically they were skinning the people alive, the public alive.

But then my information was not welcome so I was asked to leave the state. And I did.
And then I came back to do an investigation for BBC television. Two related things: the theft of the 2004 election. And very little attention was paid to New Mexico. And in fact, George Bush lost New Mexico. The election was stolen. And here’s the weird-ass twist: the election was stolen for George Bush by Democrats.
You had your little Secretary of State Vigil-Giron, a corrupt little character, who was very interested in lining her pockets to sell voting machines.
And there’s another issue. Another corrupt little scamp named Richardson. And Richardson was very interested in bending the system to make sure that progressive Democrats didn’t throw him out on his ass. So he was very interested in suppressing the progressive vote including, for example, a lot of Native American women.
I also investigated the firing of prosecutor David Iglesias and was able to trace back—I was the first reporter to figure out that Karl Rove was using his influence to get rid of prosecutors. The main thing I found out was why, and Iglesias agrees with me on why.
He said he didn’t understand why he was getting the heave-ho until he started reading my investigative material and he put it all together. Iglesias was removed because he refused to bring fake charges of vote fraud against legitimate voters. The whole idea was to scare away Democratic poor voters by saying ‘We could easily arrest you for voter fraud,’ to create this scare, and he wouldn’t do it, and so he was fired...
I have other stories of New Mexico. It never ends.

Alibi: When you’re telling me this stuff, I’m thinking about, like, how can I print this? We’ll get sued by everybody in the state.

Palast: Number one, what you could do, is you quote me. In fact, I actually had that—Truthout was about to print an article of mine. They said ‘Are we gonna get sued by this billionaire, Singer?’ I said, ‘Yeah, you could always get sued.’ These are just terrible, nasty people...
Remember, I’m reporting for BBC Television, which has the highest journalistic standards in the world, like nothing that’s in the United States. We do not have, in Britain, we do not have First Amendment protection of the press. There’s no freedom of the press. It’s not in the British constitution whatsoever. In fact, it’s even worse.
And so, when we report a story, we gotta make sure that we are rock solid. Rock solid on our evidence and our backup. So when we talked about Rove and Iglesias, believe me, we backed it up.

Alibi: But do you end up getting sued ever? Or frequently?

Palast: Oh yeah. Of course. Because billionaires can sue you and they don’t care if they win or lose. They just know that they’re costing you money... My paper, the Guardian, was sued by George Bush’s gold-mining company. And I bet you didn’t even know George Bush had a gold-mining company.

Alibi: The other side of the coin of them suing you, it seems to me, is that a lot of the stuff you say just sounds so crazy that people won’t believe it.

Palast: Keep in mind, it’s only incredible in the United States, because we get fed bullshit! Ok? We get fed a whole crock of shit. We get fed the corporate pablum.
You know what? You talk about what’s incredible! You know what’s incredible? That there are miracle microbes that ate up all the oil in the Gulf from the BP spill. That was on fuckin’ National Petroleum Radio, ok? Right?
And people just say ‘oh yeah, yeah, that’s on (NPR’s) Science Friday! It’s Science!’ It’s not science! It’s fuckin’ bullshit propaganda, a complete fuckin’ lie, and people swallow it! But see, that’s acceptable, right?
So the truth—the truth—sounds extraodinary, because we’re fed so much shit and lies and baloney!

Alibi: So then, what do we do about all of this?

Palast: Well, that’s why I write books... Go to, take the first chapter, get the excerpt, pass it around. Take the information, pass it around.
You know, I’m the reporter that broke the story about Katherine Harris and Jeb Bush removed thousands of voters from the voter rolls of Florida. Black voters, calling them felons, and their only crime was voting while black. That was the theft of the election. Not one American television station would cover that story. Not one American news reporter would cover that story. Bob Herbert, a black columnist, put it in his column. And Salon, on the internet put it on—they said ‘ooooh, it’s an internet story,’ like that’s something fuckin’ evil, right?
And now, the Times story refers to the ‘illegal felon purge.’ They never ran the the fucking story in the fucking first place, ok? That’s a problem.
So there you go. So what do we do? We read the book. But I put the material out through the internet. I put it out in the book. I put it out wherever the hell I could put it out, including in music. Actually, KUNM created a techno dance track with my information on that story that went around.

Alibi: Ok so, say we all have this information. Everyone’s fully aware that Chevron poisoned the indigenous peoples of Ecuador. What can we do with that information?

Palast: Do I look like your priest? I don’t know. I mean, I’m just a reporter. People are always asking me ‘what do we do?’
Um, well, kill the rich. I think it would be a good idea, I think we should just kill the rich. There’s 99 of us, there’s one of them, the numbers are with us, man. We should just kill ‘em. I think we kill every fuckin’ one of them.
Now, there’s some good ones, but it’s not worth saving, you know. Like, if we got rid of the really bad ones, I’d give up the iPad, ok? I think we should kill ‘em.

Greg Palast’s new book, Vulture’s Picnic, is available at any bookseller worth their salt. There’s also a comic-book version (in collaboration with celebrated illustrator Darick Robertson) in the works.

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