Skip to main content

tv   Democracy Now  LINKTV  April 26, 2013 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

3:00 pm
04/26/13 04/26/13 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] >> from pacifica, this is "democracy now!" last night we were informed by the fbi the surviving attacker revealed new york city was next on their list of targets. >> they have been asking us about our children, how they lived, what they were interested in. >> could the boston marathon attacks have been prevented? two years ago the fbi focused on a suspect with a far-fetched scheme -- right as it stopped
3:01 pm
tracking the boston marathon bomber. we'll speak with reporter trevor aaronson, author of, "the terror factory: inside the fbi's manufactured war on terrorism." students inchool georgia say they will not accept a prom for whites and a prom for blacks anymore. >> we're all friends. it is not right we cannot go to prom together. >> we have the white prom and integrated prom. >> people are set in their ways. they're not to adamant to change. >> we will speak with two high school students are making history by holding the first integrated prom in their school's history saturday night. then, "the trials of mohammad ali." >> 04/26/13 04/26/13
3:02 pm
[indiscernible] you want me to go somewhere and fight but you won't even stand up for me. years of me and ali's like. >> in a broadcast exclusive, we'll have exurbs from "the trials of muhammed ali." we will look at the fight of his life, not boxing, but his refusal to fight in vietnam. the years of exile that followed and the supreme court's reversal of his conviction for resisting the draft. all of that and more coming up. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. u.s. officials say intelligence indicates the regime of syrian president bashar al-assad has used deadly chemical weapons in its conflict with rebel fighters. the announcement raises the
3:03 pm
prospect of more direct u.s. intervention in syria since president obama has referred to the use of such weapons as a game changer. but the white house says the current information is not conclusive enough to spur action. defense secretary chuck hagel described the findings thursday. >> u.s. intelligence community assesses with some degree of during confidence the syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in syria. specifically, the chemical agent sarin. we still have some uncertainties about what was used, what kind of chemical was used -- who was using it. >> chuck hagel's remarks came a day after he agree but similar claims made by the israeli government about chemical weapons used by the syrian regime. in iraq, some 190 people have died in four days of violence, clashes began tuesday when troops raided a sunni protest encampment. .iolence has erupted elsewhere
3:04 pm
reuter said this week's violence was the most widespread since u.s. combat troops withdrew in december 2011. the u.s.-led war in iraq began under former president george tubby bush, who was honored thursday at the opening of a library and museum in texas that bears his name. protest against his legacy of torture and war have been taking place all week. three people were arrested thursday as hundreds protested near southern methodist university. two of those arrested were papier-mache masks depicting bush and former vice president dick cheney, prompting some to joke the pair had finally been arrested for their crimes. during his tribute to bush at thursday's event, obama did not mention the iraq war once. the new york times has weighed in another aspect of bush's legacy -- the prison at guantanamo bay, cuba. in an editorial, the times board said guantanamo was "essentially
3:05 pm
a political prison." mean law, kenneth wainstein, who was the top national security official at the justice department under bush, told the new york times in exit strategy is needed for the prison. officials now admit 93 of 166 prisoners are participating in a hunger strike at guantanamo, while lawyers for the prisoners say nearly all prisoners are taking part. one attorney said the hunger strikers have despaired as obama has failed to deliver on vows to close the prison. authorities in bangladesh fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters during a massive rally by garment workers following a building collapse, the death toll for which is now nearing 300. hundreds more remain unaccounted for. late thursday, 41 people were rescued alive after being trapped in rubble for nearly two
3:06 pm
days. to see our full coverage of the collapse including interviews with bangladeshi activists and responses by u.s. companies whose clothing was made in the building, you can go to in russia, 38 people including 36 mental health patients were reportedly killed when psychiatric institution burned to the ground. only three people managed to escape. there were reports it took more than an hour for firefighters to reach the site from the nearest station many miles away. president obama spoke at a memorial service thursday for victims of last week's explosion at a fertilizer plant in the town of west, texas. at least 15 people died in the disaster, many of them firefighters and other first responders, and more than 200 people have been wounded. the blast flattened the surrounding area, causing an estimated $100 million in damages. the facility had not been inspected by the occupational safety and health administration since 1985. during his speech, obama praised
3:07 pm
the town of west. >> america needs towns that holds fund-raisers to help folks pay for medical bills. and then takes the time to drop off a home cooked meal because they know a family is under stress. america needs communities where there is always someone to call if your car get stuck or your house gets flooded. we need people who so love their neighbors as themselves they're willing to lay down their lives for them. america needs towns like west. [laughter] the fertilizer plant in west was reportedly storing 1350 times about the ammonium nitrate needed to trigger oversight by the department of homeland security, but had not reported that fact. the congressmember said -- the united nations official is facing calls for his ouster following his comments about the
3:08 pm
role of u.s. policy in the boston marathon bombings. richard falk, u.n. special rapporteur on human rights and the palestinian territories, wrote -- officials in canada and britain as well as u.s. ambassador to the united nations susan rice have called for falk to be fired. officials who questioned the surviving suspect in the bombing say they were motivated at least in part by the u.s. wars in iraq and afghanistan. the suspect, dzhokhar tsarnaev, was badly wounded in an overnight standoff with police last week. he has been moved from a hospital to prison. the newspaper egypt independent,
3:09 pm
known for its in-depth coverage of egypt's revolution and aftermath, is closing. its owner has cited financial issues, but many said the true motive is to quash revolutionary voices. egyptian blogger wrote -- in the final edition, published online, after it was reportedly blocked from going to press, a chief editor wrote -- to see our interview with lina, go to the united nations security council has voted to send peacekeeping troops to mali where french troops are aiding the government in its struggle against militants. the force of roughly 11,000 soldiers and 1400 police officers would deploy july 1.
3:10 pm
venezuelan authorities have arrested a u.s. filmmaker and accused him of fomenting violence on behalf of the u.s. government. president nicolás maduro said he ordered the arrest of 35-year- old timothy tracy on allegations of creating violence in the cities of this country. a friend of tracy's told the associated press he is just a kid with a camera. and joan baez, senior, activist and mother of folk singer joan baez, has died just days after her 100th birthday. known as big joan, she was arrested along with her daughter and dozens of others in 1967 for blocking the entrance to an armed forces induction center in oakland, california. while imprisoned at the santa rita county jail, the mother and daughter received a visit from the rev. dr. martin luther king, jr., who gave a news conference outside the jail praising their act of civil disobedience. appreciation for what
3:11 pm
they're doing for the peace movement and for what they've done for the civil-rights movement, i will take time out of my schedule to come out to see them, to visit them, and let them know they have our absolute support. and i might say that i see these two struggles as one struggle. [applause] there can be no justice without peace, and there can be no peace without justice. >> martin luther king, jr., speaking outside the santa rita county jail january 1968 after visiting with joan baez, her mother, and the peace activist iras and perot, who had all been in prison for protesting the vietnam war. joan baez, sr., died saturday at her home in woodside, california at 100 years old.
3:12 pm
iris and provide a week earlier on april 13 at the age of 90, from a respiratory infection. those are some of the headlines. this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. we begin today with mounting questions over whether u.s. security officials failed to heed warnings that could have foiled the bombing of the boston marathon. this comes as authorities say the surviving suspect behind the bombing, 19-year-old dzhokhar tsarnaev, has confessed to planning further attacks in new york city. speaking thursday, mayor michael bloomberg said the suspect's intended to detonate the rest of their explosives in times square. >> last night we were informed by the fbi that the surviving attacker revealed new york city was next on their list of targets. he told the fbi apparently he and his brother had intended to drive to new york and detonate it national -- additional
3:13 pm
explosives in new york's times square. to nyc police commissioner ray kelly, the two brothers abandoned the plan only when they realized that the car they had hijacked did not have enough gasoline for the trip. in addition to carrying out the boston marathon bombings that left three dead and over 170 wounded, the brothers are also accused of shooting dead an mit campus police officer last thursday before being apprehended. at a news conference on thursday in the russian republic of dagestan, the mother of the suspects, zubeidat tsarnaeva deny they had anything to do with the bombings and blamed the u.s. for robbing her of her children. .> my kids were not involved i would prefer not to live in america.
3:14 pm
why did i even go there? y? i thought america was going to protect us, our kids, it is going to be safe. my kids away from me. only america. >> after news emerged that the older brother, tamerlan tsarnaev, was on the intelligence radar in the u.s., there been mounting calls for federal agencies to reexamine the priorities, particularly a focus on sting operations that critics say constitute entrapment. in an editorial on wednesday, the washington post wrote --
3:15 pm
for more we go to tampa, florida, to talk to trevor aaronson, author of, "the terror factory: inside the fbi's manufactured war on terrorism." he is co-director of the florida center for investigative reporting and a contributing writer at mother jones. his most recent piece is called, "how the fbi in boston may have pursued the wrong terrorist." writes while the fbi -- welcome to "democracy now!" why don't you lay out your point in this article. who was this other person and what happened to the tracking of the boston bombing suspect? thee know in january 2011, fbi in boston investigated to and the suspected to be
3:16 pm
involved in terrorist organizations or somehow sympathetic to them. the first was tamerlan tsarnaev. we know they investigated him, looked at his web traffic and decided he was not a threat. that is where their trail ended. in the same month in january 2011, an fbi informant was a heroin addict and paid thousands of dollars by the fbi came to the bureau and said he knew a man who wanted to commit an act of terrorism and it was ridiculous idea. he wanted to fly remote- controlled airplane into the u.s. capitol building and have laid with grenades and explode or detonated over the dome. it was not bad enough his idea was ridiculous, the man had no capacity to even do it. he had no money or access to explosives. of choosinginstead to pursue tamerlan tsarnaev, chose to start a nine-month sting operation and this other
3:17 pm
man. they gave some $4,000, which used to purchase remote- controlled airplanes, paid for trip from the scout out washington, d.c. or he could launch it, and in the final stage they gave him the explosives he needed. c-4, grenades, and delivered it to him. the fbi and arrested him and charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction. he pled guilty and is serving 17 years in prison. but the evidence in this case clearly showed without the fbi's assistance, without the providing the means and opportunity, he never would have been able to commit his crime. at the same time, the fbi chose not to pursue the person that ultimately detonated bombs at the boston marathon. >> we have seen this over and over. you have looked at it, the tendency of the fbi to use undercover informants who actually become instigators or co-conspirators in a plot to
3:18 pm
snag folks who otherwise would not be able to commit these crimes. >> that is right. since 9/11, there been more than 175 defendants caught in terrorism sting operations. this is due to a very aggressive policy. it is the fbi saying they are trying to prevent the next attack at any cost. they're looking for men they believe will become the terrorists of tomorrow. they look for people who are espousing radical beliefs, said they want to commit some sort of act of violence, then set up three undercover agents and informants posing as a al qaeda operatives, these elaborate sting operations in which they provide everything the target of the sting operation would mean. transportation, could be the guns and weapons. in some cases, even the idea for the terrorist attack. they put it altogether and let the person move ahead with the plot. when they push the button that would detonate the bomb, they
3:19 pm
then arrest them and announced to the public another terror plot foils read it is clear these men never could have committed their crimes were not for the fbi providing the means and opportunities. these are men that are far more aspirational that operational and yet the fbi arrests them and charges them with the fullest extent of the law as it were terrorists. the question i raise my book that came out in january before the boston bombings, what are we missing as a result of pursuing these men of questionable danger? i think with the boston bombing shows is as the fbi has been pursuing these men in sting operations whose danger is questionable, they're missing the real dangers guys such as tamerlan tsarnaev and his brother dzhokhar. >> the fbi has come under criticism after reports emerged that the agency interviewed boston suspect tamerlan tsarnaev in january 2011 and decided not to pursue his case. white house press secretary jay carney defended the fbi's claim
3:20 pm
it did everything it could with the information it had at the time. >> all of these issues are obviously under investigation. what we do know is the fbi took action in response to the notification, investigated the elder brother, and investigated thoroughly and came to the conclusion there was no derogatory information, no indication of terrorist activity or associations either foreign or domestic at that time. >> that was white house press secretary jay carney on wednesday. your response, trevor aaronson? >> i think what this suggests is the fbi is pursuing people for the wrong reasons. the fbi is limited in the law and how can pursue people. it has 72 hours to figure out if there's information that will allow them to establish a predicate to afford an investigation. what is ultimately happening, the fbi is finding people like tsarnaev who may not have direct -- they cannot find direct
3:21 pm
information on their involvement in a crime, the finding loudmouths that say they want to commit an act of terrorism and move ahead with is a lack bursting operations. what we really need to examine here is how the fbi targets and puts on suspicion lists people they suspect might be involved in terrorism. saying you want to commit some act of terrorism, being allowed now is really enough to launch these clever sting operations, get the people committing the , theacts of terrorism really dangerous guys for not being trapped in the sting operations. in a way, they're not dumb enough to go to the local mosque or into the community and talk to an informant about how they want to commit an act of terrorism. the really dangerous guys are not being detected by the fbi. we need to consider how we target the targets and ultimately who wish to be investigating possible terrorism -- terrorist
3:22 pm
operations. >> what have you been able to tell about the information that has come out about this age-old problem of lack of coordination between the fbi and cia, russian intelligence contacting both agencies separately a different times about their concerns about tamerlan tsarnaev, and whether there has been any progress in terms of these agencies being able to coordinate their activities? >> what is interesting in the boston case, the russian government contacted both the cia and fbi and expressed concerns about tamerlan tsarnaev. that was not enough for them to pursue an investigation any more than they did. the nine-month sting operation they did on the man was brought to them through an fbi informant who had a heroin addiction and was working for money for the fbi. i think a possible threat coming from the russian government is much more credible than an informant, yet the fbi chose to follow the informant's tip over the russian government. but as you mentioned, there has
3:23 pm
been -- long been competition between the intelligence agencies in the u.s. the cia does not along with the fbi and vice versa. the fbi does not get along with the nypd intelligence division. that was with that clearly in the 9/11 report or lack of communication really exacerbated the problem of intelligence at that time. while we have seen improvements, this shows those improvements have not been good enough. >> go ahead, we hear you fine. >> those improvements have not been good enough. the problem has been here is a case where both the cia and fbi were looking at the same defendant, both from information from the russian government, and were not communicating at all. this really needs to be addressed. should we have been pursuing someone much more thoroughly who came to our attention to the
3:24 pm
russian government as opposing from an fbi informant who has a financial incentive in finding terrorists? he knows he ended a payday he brings some to the fbi who says he wants to commit some sort of act of terrorism ago i want to turn to the question of informants and now they've been used by intelligence agencies in counter-terrorism work, especially after 9/11. we've been reporting on this for years. i'm going back to 2010 to imam salahuddin muhammad of newburgh, new jersey, or new york, about fbi informants within the muslim community. >> i believe what we're seeing today with the fbi surveillance and the fbi allowing for agent provocateurs to enter into muslim communities is the same thing that happened in the 1960's with a lot of the black nationalist organizations. that is what i see happening today in islamic communities.
3:25 pm
the fbi is sending these agent provocateurs into the community and cultivating and nurturing and actually creating situations that would never have occurred if they did not have their man in there to do that. >> that was imam salahuddin muhammad. trevor aaronson, your final comment? >> it is important to realize since 9/11 we have had an explosion of informants. in the 1960's, there were 1500. today, 15,000. most are targeting muslim communities and many acting as agent provocateurs. their mission is to go into missile -- muslim communities and five people that say they want to commit some sort of active terrorism, even if that no capability of doing so, the putting everything together. getting the idea and saying, i can provide the weapons, the bombs. the fbi provides transportation, weapons and everything they need to move ahead in the tears and
3:26 pm
sting operation. when they arrest them, they announce another terrorism plot foils. here is the fbi keeping the sake, doing their job. the real question we need to ask, have we exaggerated the threat of islamic terrorism in u.s. wallet the same time missing the real threats? issing the nidal hasans, tamerlan tsarnaevs. they said the people who want to commit violence but don't have the means, but the same time missing the really dangerous threats like what we saw in boston. >> trevor aaronson, thank you for being with us, author of, "the terror factory: inside the fbi's manufactured war on terrorism." he is co-director of the florida center for investigative reporting and contributing writer at mother jones. we will have a link to your piece, "how the fbi in boston may have pursued the wrong terrorist." work has wonon's more than two dozen national and regional awards including the molly prize and the data journalism award.
3:27 pm
when we come back, we're going to roll georgia where young black and white women have decided that they are not going to go to segregated proms any longer and having their own prom more night. we will speak with them. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
3:28 pm
>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. we turn now to georgia, where a group of high-school students are making history by challenging the segregation of high school prom. thanks to their efforts, wilcox county high will hold its first ever integrated prom this saturday, nearly 60 years after brown vs. board of education desegregated the nation's school system. the students received support from the naacp and other groups. at a press conference, the president of the naacp's georgia chapter laid blame for
3:29 pm
segregated proms at the feet of parents and school administrators. >> shame on you. shame on any parent who continue to embrace the politics of segregation. when you are the leaders of the county and you allow your community to retreat to the era of segregation, you are the problem because saturday's prom will be the first and wilcox county high's history to bring together students of all backgrounds. in the past, the promise of an organized by private groups and parents behind from have refused to let african-american students attend. local officials say the segregated prom has continued because it is organized privately, out of the school district's control. news of the case spread quickly over social media, feeling support and donations for an integrated prom from as far away as australia and south korea. for more we're joined by two students were helping to organize saturday's integrated prom, mareshia rucker and
3:30 pm
brandon davis. mareshia rucker, tell us how it is possible that the prom has been segregated for all of these years, and what you decided to do about it. >> that is a good question. our school, when the integrated, they never did start to sponsor a school prom. they left it up to the parents to have a prom for their children. that is how it ended up having a wide prom prom prom prom all these years. when we became generous toward year, wef our senior decided we get along with everyone, we do everything together, so there was no reason for us to have a prom that excluded anyone of us. >> brandon, what has been the reactions, first of your fellow students, and then of parents of
3:31 pm
the students to this idea? >> at first we had a whole bunch of students -- you could tell they wanted to support it, but there were too scared to stand out to their parents. as time moves on, we had more and more students change, come help us out, and even more parents. at first it was parents work, it is tradition, keep it this way. after time and the children came, they were supporting their children's memories. >> brandon, did you ever go to the white prom? >> no, ma'am. >> how is it the white parents would not allow black students in? event,e it is a private they have all the power they want and say, hey, none of the black kids can come because it is private. that is protected them against these laws. >> mareshia rucker, the
3:32 pm
homecoming queen this year, the prom queen, she is african- king is and the prom white? homecomingre the king and queen. the king is white and the queen is black. >> so was the queen able to go to the white prom? >> it was actually the homecoming dance that she was not allowed to go to. they also would not let the king and queen take pictures together for our school yearbook. >> i want ask about an article written by the atlanta journal constitution, a city council member in rochelle, georgia. he writes --
3:33 pm
this sounds like an argument for separate but equal. let's get your response. that, thatnse to would be like completely false information. they are saying tradition is the reason that is just their way of a cop out because they don't want to a knowledge that if adults had done what they were supposed to do, then we a students would not be having to do this right now. is so very small minded and racism runs really deep here. no one wants to acknowledge that because they have been living in
3:34 pm
it for so long. the reality is, students not wanting in are not coming up with the idea is, like, false information. he did not tell the truth about that. >> your governor, the georgia governor, republican nathan deal was asked by a group called better georgia to publicly support your integrated prom, some republican and democratic state officials have already done. governor deals spokesman, brian robinson, responded by attacking the group rather than addressing the question. he wrote -- the statement forced governor deal to clarify his position. he later told a reporter at the atlanta journal constitution --
3:35 pm
brendan, your response? first out have to say that what he said, it really shocked me. as me having the military part of a background, i have never heard anyone "commit political suicide" so fast. does he notng that, realize the students who are supporting this and putting this together are 17 and 18 and legal voting age? withally, really dug deep me. >> mareshia rucker, are you excited about the prom to are not? >> yes, i am completely stoked for prompt more night. i don't think i have been this excited and a long, long time. it has been a while.
3:36 pm
>> brandon, have you been surprised by people on the internet offering financial support for your efforts to organize this integrated prom? >> i am amazed and overwhelmed by all of the people in the world who want to help us. it shows how great the world is, even the most of the time we cannot see it. >> thank you both for being with us. in a moment, mareshia rucker, we're going to talk to your mother. we have been speaking to mareshia rucker and brandon davis. as we talk about segregation that continues in the state, i want to go back to 1957 when a group known as a little rock nine integrated little rock central high school in arkansas. this was three years after the supreme court's landmark decision in brown v board of education declaring segregation of public schools unconstitutional. the first time the students tried to attend what had previously been an all white school, the return to what the national guard and the orders of arkansas governor. the second time, the were met by bob of more than one dozen
3:37 pm
people who beat the african- american journalists who were there to cover the story. finally, president dwight eisenhower sent in the army to escort the students to school. the youngest member of the la orrock 9 was carlotta walls lanier who was 14. i interviewed her earlier this month at the national conference for media reform and asked her to describe that historic day december 25, 1957, when the little rock nine finally integrated little rock central high school. >> that was a wonderful day because we had a jeep in front and a jeep and back and we were in station wagons with bayonets and guns and the whole 9 yards. there were there to protect this and see to it that we got in the school. once we got into the school, we all had an individual bodyguard. the troopers were all up and down the hallways. they did not come into the
3:38 pm
classrooms, but they were up and down the hallways. that is how i went to school. 1958.was for 1957- a helicopter was buzzing over the schools and 1200 troopers were on the football field and the grounds and so forth for the first two or three weeks. i don't wish that on any young person, but that is what was necessary for us to get our education. and i'm happy that it took place. >> so they kept out the angry mob of 1000 outside the school, but what about inside? hundreds and hundreds of white students, a sea of white inside the walls of the school? >> right, thousands. there were 2100 students that went to the school. i cannot say they're all against me, because they weren't. but there was a concentrated
3:39 pm
group of people that only came to school to make it miserable for us, at least that is how i viewed it. concerted effort to do that. we were pushed, slammed into lockers, down staircases, you spat, ink in our seats, upon, constant been calling, those sorts of things. >> what gave you the strength? you were 14 years old? >> i knew i was right for it when you know you are right, you just seem to be -- i had faith that i would be protected, that i knew i was doing the right thing. i consider that group of people, especially the name callers and so forth, you know, just a bunch of ignorant people. i was not about to stoop to
3:40 pm
their level. it was their problem. i decided this situation was their problem because we were within the law. we were doing what was right. we had a right to be there. the supreme court decision had given us that right. >> that was carlotta walls lanier, youngest member of the little rock nine, 14 years when she entered a central high. we're going to end this segment back in georgia with toni rucker who has been helping her daughter, mareshia rucker, and other students who have organized the first integrated prom in wilcox county high school in georgia, which will be held tomorrow. carlottato listen to talk about her journey in 1957, tell us very briefly about the journey you and your daughter took to challenge segregation in
3:41 pm
wilcox. >> first of all, i'm so thankful for this carlotta as well as the other eight who integrated. from that they have given the strength to continue to do what we have been doing for the past year now. a trying process, but through it all, these kids have planted their feet and said, we are going to do this. i have to get on board was something that is right, something that is good for the community collectively, and something that unifies us all, showing there is no difference between us. aside from the color of our skin. it has been a fight, but the best fight that i have had in my lifetime, i will say. >> finally, your feelings about your daughter who is sitting next to you? webster has before,
3:42 pm
now created words yet. as a parent, this is one of the most rewarding things that could happen to a parent, to see their child to split all of the morals and values you instill in them from a very young. to display that, to see her be strong and independent and fighting for such a worthy cause, it is an amazing feeling as a parent. so rewarding. >> week thank you both for being with us. any final words as you sit there glowing next to your mother? >> if i had anything to say, it would just be that this has really been amazing and i have become more of of a humble person because of it. i just want people to understand that love has no color. >> mareshia rucker, has your mother giving you a curfew time
3:43 pm
for prom night saturday night? >> well, mom is going to be there, so i guess my curfew is whenever she leaves i better be leaving. >> had a great time. mareshia rucker and toni rucker. when we come back, a new film is out on the homily, premiering tonight at the tribeca film festival. it is about the fight of his life -- you might think it is heavyweight boxing, but it was actually his challenge to the war in vietnam as a muslim man. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
3:44 pm
>> this is "democracy now!,", the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. >> we end today with a new look at the boxing legend muhammad ali. he is considered the greatest boxer in the history of sports. in his prime, he was an outspoken advocate of the black muslim movement and critic of the vietnam war. when he refused to be drafted
3:45 pm
and he filed as a conscientious objector, sentenced to prison and stripped of his heavyweight title. he appealed his case all the way to the supreme court and did not go to prison, but was forced to wait four years before regained his boxing license. in a broadcast exclusive, we bring you excerpts from a new documentary that examines the struggle ali faced in his conversion to islam, his refusal to fight, and years of exile that followed before his eventual return to the ring. the film is called, "the trials of muhammad ali" and has its world premiere tonight in new york city at the tribeca film festival. this is a clip from early in the film, 1964, when the 22-year-old ali preparing for his first heavyweight championship. at that point was still widely known as cassius clay. >> 55,000 people came that night. you should have seen the people.
3:46 pm
one layer, two layers, 10,000 on each layer. four layers and the fifth layer. people are looking down. 55,000 and cleopatra was ringside. i said, come on, sucker. they said, break it up pretty i said, there he is. >> [indiscernible] >> you know that is impossible, i'm the greatest. if you get too smart, i will knock you out. >> cassius clay is training for the sonny liston fight. i wanted him to be a registered muslim read you write a letter saying you believe and put your
3:47 pm
slave name in the letter. names the slave masters and. he wrote a letter and sent it off. they sent back, you'll be called x. he became cassius x. the promoters are trying to get ali to denounce the religion. they told ali, you got to get rid of the muslim coach rich capt. sam, that is me. denounce that religion, or there will be no fight. ali have been training his entire life for the heavyweight championship. it is something to scare a man to death. i said, man, don't believe that. and said it is the white man's guide, money. hold to your belief. >> that is a clip from the new film, "the trials of muhammad ali." that was captain sam who helped bring mohammed ali into the nation of islam, which gave him the name mohammed ali.
3:48 pm
we're joined by the film's director, bill siegel. the film is set to broadcast next spring on pbs's independent we're also joined by gordon quinn, executive producer of, "the trials of muhammad ali ." he spent four decades making documentaries about investigating and critique society by documenting the lives of real people. we welcome you both to "democracy now!" bill, why decided to make this town. >> i think your last redoubt integrated prom coupled with integrating barack high-school shows how far we have come and how far we need to go. mohammed ali was at the cross hairs of the black freedom struggle, anti vietnam war resistance while he was finding himself. to me, it is a journey film i hope says as much about us as it does about him.
3:49 pm
i discovered mohammed ali as a kid growing up in minneapolis, discovered him beyond the ring about 23 years ago as a researcher and a six-hour series. i came out of that long before my co-director "the weather underground" and says some dick someday i want. it is the most valuable fight of his life in terms. >> because there have been so many films made about ali in the past, most focusing on this incredible skills as a boxer, those years in exile from the sport were actually -- he was in the prime of his life at that time. could have been a much greater boxer than even we remember if he had been allowed to continue in the sport at that time. >> a lot of people say we never saw the best ali in the ring,
3:50 pm
but i think it is an opportunity to get the best ali beyond the ring, which, to me, is even more valuable, as much as i love him as a boxer. >> the film opens in a shocking way. explain. >> it was a clip that we came on too late in the editing process. to lake incame on the editing process. when we saw the clip we said, that is the beginning of the film. >> described it. in 1968,d is in london ali is in exile ali is on the sort of imprisoned box, black- and-white tv but early bird satellite, just kind of attacks and for everything he is doing in that moment it is a powerful reminder of perhaps discovery that ali was televised to that time by some in this country.
3:51 pm
>> he says, i don't even want to talk to you. you are a felon. he went on and on. a pawn? >> yes, incredible. a want to go to a clip of a news report from a homily was sentenced to prison and stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to fight in vietnam. >> cassius clay found guilty of violating u.s. selective service laws by refusing to be inducted rid his sentenced to five years in prison and fined $10,000. >> that is an excerpt that came from the documentary "the trials of muhammad ali -- "when we were kings." collapsed, leon pulled his segment out and that became "when we workings." he is another executive producer on the spam. >> gordon, your decision to get involved and to make this film, what it means for you?
3:52 pm
>> there's a personal to mention when ali was fighting with the draft and refusing to go to vietnam and took this moral stance, i was, too. i was a student at university of chicago. there is a rally in the film i went to. he is the only sports figure i have ever cheered for flat out. producers come to us with something, it is not just their next film, it is something they're passionate about. how long has it been? eight years bu. this was the film he had to make. he just had this passion for it. that is what we really care about. we are producer-driven. it is a collaborative atmosphere. there's a team of people around. we want someone who is really not just building their career, but this is the story i have to
3:53 pm
tell. >> let's go to another clip from this film you chose to produce, "the trials of muhammad ali." this is later in the movie after ali has refused to fight and get them. we hear from his former wife, captain sam, and ali himself. as well as his brother. >> somebody were to come out of nowhere and say, you draft dodging nigger go home, he did not like that at all. he taught at and said, you are not out there getting embarrassed. i am getting embarrassed. what would you do if someone did that to you? >> a time when it die, die right now here fighting you. you are my enemy. by enemy is the white people, not the vietcong or japanese. you want even stand up for me in
3:54 pm
america for my religious beliefs and you will need to go somewhere and fight 21 even stand up for me here at home -- and fight when you won't even stand up and fight for me here of home. >> it was the worst years of me and ali's life. >> in islam, we feel like we're being attacked unjustly. we feel like is a trial period for us and we stand on truth and righteousness that god is going to bring us through it. that is the way i saw ali. >> the brother said, i suffered. i felt the way he felt. i shared my brothers pain.
3:55 pm
very much when it comes to this, .e paid the price >> that was mohamed tolley's brother. bill siegel, tells about the supreme court case. >> ali was in exile for 3.5 years. the supreme court officially takes the case. the climax of the film was the process through which they came to a decision. of the interview said he had 1 foot and three toes in prison one of the last minute the justice changed his mind rid i want people to come and
3:56 pm
see the rest of that story. >> it is an amazing story. it is amazing to think these folks have rarely been interviewed. the supreme court justice clerk who originally voted against muhammed ali, 5 to 3 decision, because thurgood marshall had refused -- recused himself because he worked with the naacp. >> it comes up 8-0 in favor of ali. the process through which the change happens to me is an important part of the story. one thing about that last clip, that demonstrates this is not a boxing, but a fight film. you can see ali the fighter. i could walk down the streets of new york with a microphone and say, who has a mohammed ali store did tell? pretty soon there would be a line but it was important for me to extinguish -- sting was this down from others by making it intimate. the people who were there that time. it is a small amount of
3:57 pm
interviewees and i hope the power of the intimacy comes through. >> gordon, in terms of producing the film, any particular difficulties that you did not expect along the process? you've done many over the years. >> it never gets any easier. after we did "hoop dreams" amoroso but, we thought fundraising would be easier. but it has been just as hard right from the start. this, and then ford foundation was a big supporter near the end. but we had some rocky moments over the course were we just did not have the funds. and there are a lot of rights issues. >> it is amazing to see him winning the medal of freedom, mohammad ali, in 2005, by president bush. president bush is sort reaching for his hand but look to me like muhammed ali pulled his hand away. >> i don't to speculate as to what was going through ali's
3:58 pm
mine, but later former president bush kind of stands back in a boxing pose and ali gives him this. >> the sun like you are crazy. on.e knows what is going he is very sharp to this day. fermi, the core of the film is, here is a guy who took a moral stand. it had to do with his religion. america's never understand who -- is never understood with the black muslims are about. that is another dimension of the film that is aterribly exciting. people are just talking about their faith in a way whenever here in america. >> thank you for being with us, bill siegel, directed the new film, "the trials of muhammad ali" that will debut tonight, and gordon quinn is the executive producer. tomorrow, livestreaming at 2:00 are harvard university science center event with no chomsky and
3:59 pm
jeremy scahill. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!]
4:00 pm
>> we all know who chris hedges is, that's why you're here. big draw. i just want to say a few things . i worked at the "l.a. times" for 30 years and -- so i know something about mainstream journalism. and i have a particular respect for chris hedges coming out of that environment, trying to work in these institutions, trying to maintain your integrity and up against everything from insufficientrable arrogance, bureaucracy, and timidity. and tunism. and it's really sort of been interesting to switch rules -- roles and be the editor of truthdig anve


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on