Greg Palast is an investigator of corporate fraud and racketeering turned journalist, and a man that members of the 'elite' love to hate. War criminal Tony Blair labeled him a liar, a White House spokesman simply stated "we hate that sonovabitch", but to the rest of us, Palast is one of the most important investigative reporters of our time who deserves our appreciation for his untiring work in exposing the unbelieveable levels of corruption that define modern political and corporate policies.

As part of his investigation into the 2000 US Presidential election, Greg uncovered evidence that Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, and Florida Elections Unit Chief Clay Roberts, along with the ChoicePoint corporation, rigged the ballots in 2000 and that there was widespread election fraud again in 2004.

Palast is the author of New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, as well as Democracy and Regulation: how the public can govern essential services, and Armed Madhouse; undercover dispatches from a dying regime. His documentary films include: Bush Family Fortunes, The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits and Vultures and Vote Rustlers.

His latest book is Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores (2012).

A fascinating conversation with a very rare breed of human being. Don't miss it.

Running Time: 01:47:00

Download: MP3

Here's the transcript

Joe: Hi and welcome to another edition of SOTT Talk Radio. I'm Joe Quinn and with me this week are my co-hosts Niall Bradley and Pierre Lescaudron.

Niall: Hi everyone.

Pierre: Hello everybody.

Joe: This week we are talking with Greg Palast. Greg is an investigator of corporate fraud and racketeering turned journalist and a man that the members of the elite just love to hate. War criminal Tony Blair labelled him a liar. A White House spokesman simply stated "We hate that son of a bitch!" But to the rest of us, Palast is one of the most important investigative reporters of our time who deserves our appreciation for his untiring work in exposing the unbelievable levels of corruption that define modern political and corporate policies. As part of his investigation into the 2000 U.S. Presidential election, Greg uncovered evidence that Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris and Florida elections unit chief Clay Roberts, along with ChoicePoint Corporation rigged the ballots in 2000. He also discovered later that there was also widespread election fraud, again, in the 2004 Presidential election. Greg is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy as well as Democracy and Regulation: How the Public Can Govern Essential Services and Armed Madhouse: Undercover Dispatches from a Dying Regime. His documentary films include The Bush Family Fortune: The Assassination of Hugo Chavez, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits and Vultures and Vote Rustlers. His latest book is Vultures' Picnic: In Pursuit of Petroleum Pigs, Power Pirates and High-Finance Carnivores. So welcome to the show Greg.

Greg: Glad to be with you guys.

Joe: Alrighty. The first thing that kind of comes to mind having watched your documentaries, watched your films and read your books is they kind of go back in time a little bit. It's maybe fair to say that you first came to fame or maybe infamy back in 1997 or '98 when you reported on the Cash-for-questions scandal in the UK.

Greg: Right.

Joe: And this was an event that put a serious dent in the outpouring of collective joy from the British people at the election of war criminal Tony Blair. In your books and in your recent films, you also talk about Piers Morgan, then editor-in-chief of the UK Daily Mirror and the hit pieces he wrote about you in an effort to protect the Blair government. So is it fair to say that's when you first really got in trouble?

Greg: Well, trouble is my business (laughing) as Sam Spade used to say. Before I did this work, I did the investigations of Tony Blair and his corporate buck buddies for the Guardian and Observer and then later BBC. That was actually my first gig as a journalist. Up until that point I'd just been an investigator of corporate criminality and shenanigans, a lot of it for the U.S. Federal government and then later labor unions and others. So I was basically an investigator, but I was finding that the media, especially the American media, was not covering corporate fraud. They were in fact covering up for corporate fraud. And so I decided I'd better become a journalist myself to get these stories out. And it ended up I couldn't get any of this stuff on the air in the U.S., but I sent a couple of quick reports to the Guardian and they said "Hey, this stuff could bring down the government!" So the Guardian invited me to write a column, first the Observer and then do investigative reports. I was actually, believe it or not for those who don't know Greg Palast, I was actually an advisor to Tony Blair when he was in opposition. So I knew his whole crowd. I hung out with Blair and his deputy, John Prescott, kind of useless piece of real estate, nice guy.

Joe: How did you end up as an advisor?

Greg: Well you know Blair had this complete fascination with American experts and consultants. And so he got talked into hiring me. After Thatcher privatized the power companies, and BG and BP and the electric companies in particular, Blair was running on a platform that he was going to put a limit on the power companies, just like Miliband right now talking about putting a cap on the prices of power companies. Well I was one of the internationally recognized experts in that field, so Blair brought me in to advise him how to control the big corporations. But what I realized very quickly in dealing with Mandelson and Blair and their crowd, was that they were also attacking nuclear power, their whole purpose was to get some great PR lines and win votes. And it took me about 12 seconds to realize that these guys were using me to win votes but had no intention, like zero, of putting in any policies to protect the public. In fact, it was clear that they were getting a lot of cash and help from the very industries that they were pretending that they were going to try to control. So you had a con.

You see this again and again. I see this with Barak Obama. I see this with Bush obviously, but Bush was a little more open. I think it's even worse when you get the guys who are pretending to be on your side. "Oh, we're going to take on these big powers". And interestingly even my sister, who was Bill Clinton's expert on minimum wage, was brought in by Blair to "Oh we'll help to cover the plan to raise the minimum wage". What was quickly determined was that he's looking for a way to talk about the minimum wage without actually setting one.

So I looked at Blair as a box of gears with a smile painted on the front. I was actually wrong about that and then once he got into office, I realized that in fact he wasn't just a fake creation of PR firms and polling experts, but rather he was like a fanatic on the order of Ayatollah Khomeini. He was a globalizer. He actually was far more fanatic than Margaret Thatcher about the free market and globalization because she saw it as just one way to bust the unions and all the people that she despised, in other words people not like her, whereas Blair was a believer, because he's not too bright. One little thing I've never really published and made clear knowing Blair; he's actually not a very bright man. And I will say Bill Clinton's a very bright man. Obama is a strangely bright man. George Bush is a bright man, but miss-underestimated. But Blair was kind of a dullard. And so dullards tend to hold on to theories that they don't understand. So they pick up phrases like "globalization", "free markets" and "this is the future" and blah, blah, blah, "third way", but they have no idea what they're talking about because they're not too smart and they get manipulated easily.

So I ended up being hired to set up a fake front. I was hired by the Guardian. They said "Look into this." There had been a lot of stories about Blair and corporate lobbyists, and I was an investigator. I'd never done journalism so I didn't know. I thought "Wow! Okay, let's go!" And the Guardian was shocked and they spent £10,000. They set up a fake front with an operation out of the Cara Hotel in London and I had set myself up. I set up an entire elaborate front to make it look as if I were a consultant for a little-known Texas company called Enron. But Blair and Mandelson knew who Enron was. They were the go-go boys with all the money.

And I set up a deal - and this is important for Americans listening - I set up a deal where I said "Look, you have to tell me if pay money, what do I get? What policies can I buy? And I want to know exactly what I'm buying." And they said "Oh, these lobbyists who were in with Blair and Mandelson like Dolly Draper and others, and real close with Ed Balls were saying "Oh we did this". And I said "No, no, no, don't tell me what you did. These guys are from Enron. These are guys in Texas who just started wearing shoes two years ago. They don't want to hear baloney. I need hard evidence, written proof that you guys have put in the fix. Let's not dance around this." And sure enough, I was getting faxes with the hard, cold, written evidence of fixes by Enron, Tesco and Murdoch. It was insane. And Mandelson was like the ringleader of basically selling off the government.

I was with a confederate of mine, who was helping me set this up, from the same company as Glen Greenwald, Booz Allen Hamilton, was helping me set up the front. And he said "Hey, why are we doing it for the Guardian? Let's just buy a submarine and sell it to the Chinese. We can make millions" (laughing). I was invited into 10 Downing Street.

Joe: Yeah?

Greg: I was invited into 10 Downing Street by Blair's guys. It was a riot. And then we decided we have to just publish.

Joe: Yeah, you've obviously got some serious schmoozing abilities going on there, to get in. Those guys obviously didn't see you coming. They didn't expect that there was any...

Greg: No, because they knew me. I lied and said "Listen." They knew I'd just started writing for the Guardian and I said "Look" - I was like Dolly Draper who was writing for the Evening Standard but in fact he was just placed there to be a corporate stooge and say whatever Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson wanted him to say in the paper - so I said "Look, I'm in the same situation. I've got eight acres on the beach. I've got stables and ponies. The Guardian doesn't pay for that." It was a fraud. I was lying, but (laughing) I was as corrupt as they were, so they talked on tape. I was wired. It was a great time.

Niall: (laughing)

Greg: Unfortunately, what I didn't know is I didn't know how closed the British system was. For example, I got calls from Downing Street inviting me in and they denied it. And I said "Well just ask for the records of the calls from Downing Street. I didn't realize that, unlike the U.S., you can't ask public servants to provide their public records. You can't get away with it in America anymore. They give you all kinds of national security excuses. They'll say "Oh, we can't release that. Al Qaeda will look at our phone bills!" But at the time, in America, I could get a list of phone calls made by the President. But I couldn't get Blair's calls to me. He just denied it. He said I was a liar.

Pierre: You interacted directly with those kinds of elite people. From those years of interaction, what did you conclude about their psychological profile? What are the specifics?

Greg: Well two things. I think that when you see movies like Wall Street and Wolf of Wall Street, things like that, you have the ultra-rich manipulators who are seen as really brilliant people who know that they're doing evil things and they enjoy doing evil things. They're like Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes. In fact some of them are really quite brilliant, really sick, brilliant people. But like Paul "the Vulture" Singer, who's in my latest film Vultures and Vote Rustlers, he's known as the Vulture, is a fabulously brilliant billionaire. I'm not going to take away his brilliance. But none of them actually believe they're doing evil. They believe that as Lloyd Blankfein, who's the head of Goldman Sachs said, "We're doing god's work". They are followers.

Now remember I went to school with these guys. I was a protégé of Milton Friedman, the rightwing dwarf, the evil little rightwing free-marketer (everyone laughing). I was a protégé of Friedman. And I knew a lot of these guys who became the billionaire hedge fund mobsters. And they were all followers of the philosophy of the crypto-fascist philosopher Joseph Schumpeter who believed in something called creative destruction. So they actually believe that even if people suffer and in my film I take you up the Congo River, for BBC actually, for News Night, and you meet kids dying of cholera because the cholera medicine money has been taken by these financiers. They still believe that they are doing god's work, that they are basically creative destruction which means kind of wiping the planet clean of losers and welfare philosophies, etc. and there will be like a new millennium in its place. It's kind of redolent of the Marxist post-proletarian dictatorship paradise except that it's kind of a rightwing, free-market fascist free-for-all that everyone will live a better life.

So you have creative destruction, but I've only seen destruction, never the creation. That's the problem.

Joe: And those guys obviously don't really get down and get their hands dirty or see any of the results of their actions, right? Or they just don't care.

Greg: Rarely. Now actually you just brought up something very fascinating about what they see. For example Paul "the Vulture" Singer, one of the most vicious billionaires on the planet, is the number one funder of gay rights in America.

Niall: Oh!

Greg: He's provided almost all the money for the fight for the right for gay people to be married, because his son's gay. Who by the way people saying he is living in London and wanted to marry a guy. So it's kind of like the lord of the manor, they used to have the rule that the lord of the manor can deflower anyone on his lands.

Joe: Yeah.

Greg: So it's kind of the modern version. You can sleep with whomever you want if you're the lord of the manor. So he was buying new laws. But it's a great cover. What he's found is that he gets tremendous praise from progressives by being for gay marriage. And I want to thank Peter Tatchell for calling this out and attacking some of his fellows in the gay rights movement for taking blood money from people who basically have blood on their hands in Africa. Our rights shouldn't be dependent on someone else's misery and death and disease.

Joe: Suffering, yeah.

Greg: So they see themselves as grand visionaries to which normal laws shouldn't apply because they have a bigger vision than us little, little people can ever understand.

Joe: It's hard to take that in. They're believers, it's almost like a religion or a faith that they have in themselves and their own power. But it's destroying the planet.

Greg: They have great faith in themselves. And you also, and I would agree for one thing. I go out and find their victims. We had one guy. You'll see if you read my book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, I'll give a plug to my not-for-profit foundation which sells this crap. It was a big New York Times bestseller, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, if you go to And it talks about a guy, John Paulson. What he did was he sold Royal Bank of Scotland, through Goldman Sachs. He and Goldman Sachs got together, sold Royal Bank of Scotland, and said "We're going to invest in the California real estate market because we think it's going to recover". But they actually believed it would die. So while they're selling Royal Bank of Scotland all this toxic derivatives, betting on the California real estate market rising, they knew it was going to fall apart. In fact they made sure it did by making sure they loaded up and made sure that people got these terrible what are called sub-prime mortgages where you're rates triple and your mortgage payments triple in a couple of years and there's no way people can survive this.

And so of course the mortgage market collapsed. Royal Bank of Scotland went bankrupt. It was taken over the by the British people. John Paulson personally made $3 billion on that rip-off of the Royal Bank of Scotland and the poor people. So I actually went and met some of the people who lost their homes in this scheme. I don't care about the Royal Bank of Scotland. England, it's about time you guys paid tribute to our corporations in America. So Royal Bank of Scotland was demolished and became a state ward. But I introduced you to people like this guy John Pratt. Mr. Pratt, who lost his home in the eight mile section of Detroit, he had to move to an even worse neighborhood where his 12-year-old son was shot in the head by some gang and he was just trying to play in the back yard. He lost everything he had because his mortgage rates were tripled under these crazy mortgage schemes that Paulson's buddies put together. And Paulson literally pulls $3 billion and is feted as a great progressive. Again, he's for gay marriage rights. You can do anything you want as long as you're for gay marriage, just so you know. You can take a 3-year-old poor kid, chop them in seven pieces and say "I did it because I want to just raise some money for gay rights". Not that I'm against gay rights, it's just a great cover.

Joe: Yeah.

Greg: Amnesty International is one of the greatest protectors of corporate killers on the planet. So there are all kinds of covers. But these guys actually believe their own baloney. So they actually believe they're doing the right thing by clearing out the system of the weaklings, like you and me. But they don't see the effects. They actually were not going to go the eight mile section of Detroit and go to the people left between the bankrupted and busted out houses. They're not going to go to the auto parts plants that have been shut down. They're not going to go to the people who worked for Royal Bank of Scotland and now are unemployed and don't know what to do next. They don't meet those people and they don't care. They go to dinners in which they are lauded as philanthropists because they give one-half of one percent of their money to Amnesty International.

Joe: So it's not a question of them not knowing the results of their actions. It's that they don't care. That's what you're saying.

Greg: They don't care. But again, they often don't see it face-to-face. I'll give you a very interesting example. It might be in Vultures' Picnic, my book about my life in investigative reporting. If you don't like drunkenness, sex and politics, don't read it.

Joe: That's a great book.

Greg: There was a vice president of Exxon Corporation. And remember, this is the month 25 years ago this month that the Exxon Valdez smashed up in Alaska and destroyed a thousand miles of coastline. And what's not known there is that the real culprit there is British Petroleum. You have tankers run around all the time but they don't destroy thousands of miles of beach. You just put rubber around them and then you suck the stuff out, with a rubber suck thing. You put rubber around, suck it up.

Anyway, the rubber and suckers were supposed to be right at Bligh Island. British Petroleum had promised it in writing, under oath, again and again and again. But who's going to look. So they didn't have any of that equipment down there. The ship hit right at Bligh Island. It literally hit where the emergency equipment and ships and crews are supposed to be on standby. It literally hit right there at the emergency oil spill response center! That's where it cracked up!

Joe: Wow.

Greg: But it was all fake, there was nothing there. So the oil just went all over. Now the thing is that this vice president of Exxon, I won't give his name because it's not important and I don't need to embarrass him, but he said before the Exxon Valdez cracked up - I have his internal memos, I was the investigator on the case - before the Exxon Valdez crack up he had actually sent to BP and their partners Exxon, Chevron and some others, but sent to BP executives, to a meeting in Arizona "Look, if a ship runs aground in the sound, you said we'd have this equipment and it isn't there. We're screwed if something goes wrong." This is nine months before the crack up. They turned him down. They said "We're not going to spend tens of millions of dollars crap out in the kind of Arctic waters there among the polar bears and a bunch of natives. Who cares?"

He was so upset because he had been part of that whole crowd that had said "No, we're not going to spend money on this" but he was then assigned to live in Valdez and be in charge. And when he got to Valdez, Alaska, this was before the Exxon hit, he was so upset because he got to meet the people whose lives would be destroyed, which he knew there was going to be a disaster. He was so upset that he actually had a nervous breakdown and had to be led off the docks and hospitalized because it's one thing when it's numbers out there. "Oh, we're not going to put $10 million worth of rubber barriers on the middle of some Indian island in the middle of nowhere! Forget it!" right? But when you go up and you meet the people that you know are about to be destroyed, suddenly things change.

In fact I suggested in Billionaires and Ballot Bandits in my book that maybe if Singer the Vulture, instead of his son marrying a British banker guy, would instead have fallen in love with some Congolese boy with cholera, the situation would be very different.

Niall: Would have been different, huh?

Pierre: In the stories you report there is this recurring theme of greed and money and power. So from your experience, how do these elite people interact with money, with power?

Greg: Well money and power is absolutely everything, because it's also sex. Steve Cohen, this is an interesting one. One of the vultures I talk about. In fact the Securities and Exchange Commission finally came down on this guy and said he couldn't handle other people's money. And they fined him a billion and-a-half dollars for insider trading. He only had $9 billion left, right?

Joe: Poor guy.

Greg: This guy Steve Cohen. And I say why this guy continued to break the law even though he had billions. If he had seven billion, why did he need eight? If he had eight why did he need nine? Go do something, become a painter, form a monastery, and do whatever you want.

Joe: Get a proper job.

Greg: Why get up at five in the morning and work all day manipulating this stuff and trying to hide stuff from the federal regulators? In England you just let them do it. It's not even against the law like half the stuff that they get busted for in the U.S. And I spoke to his ex-wife. Ex-wives are really good because they want revenge and money and more money right? So I spoke to his ex-wife, Cohen's ex-wife. She said that every week he would go home to his mommy and they'd have dinner at his mommy's house every week. And his mommy would say to him "All I know is money makes the monkey jump. Money makes the monkey jump."

Joe: What the hell?

Greg: And so then he would get in the car on his way home and he'd burst into tears because see, no matter how many billions he had, he couldn't make mommy's monkey jump (laughter). It was never enough. So when you look at these guys, in some ways they're big shots and they support Amnesty International and gay rights and they do all this stuff and they think they're great forward thinkers, great at destruction, all this stuff and they're so brilliant. In fact, they just want to make their mommies' monkey jump and they can't. So they're taking billions of dollars and they're sticking it into holes in their soul and it just doesn't fill it up. These people are really seriously, seriously damaged. I know billionaires and most, not all, but most are pretty seriously damaged people. But they're in charge.

Joe: So what are they doing being in charge? How the hell did we get into the position where those kind of people rise to the top?

Greg: Well because it's a psychopathic personality. Think about this. I went to the University of Chicago. Like I said, I went to school with a lot of these guys. And if someone bright knows math and understands finance, there's a lot of things you can do. I'm not saying I'm a man for all seasons, but I went to go work for labor unions and community groups, okay? And I was offered a job at Goldman Sachs and I turned it down because I was a poor kid. I grew up very, very poor in Los Angeles. And I knew that if I took a job for a quarter million a year at the age of 23, I'd be stuck there. Even if I said "Oh, I'll do this for a couple of years and build up some money," you know, no, no, no because I said "No one every escapes from a prison made of gold."

But these guys say "Oh, what do I want to do with myself?" Do I want to come up with a drug that will save people from AIDS? Do I want to write a great novel? What do I want to do? Do I want to become an explorer in the Arctic?" whatever. "No! I want to see if I can take the crap I've learned here and come up with a derivatives product that no one's heard of. I want to see if I can come up with third order derivatives on the changes in weather in Chile." And by the way, there really was a third order derivative of changes in the weather of Chile (laughter) and Royal Bank of Scotland bought it up. And what they found out, it was Chilean dog poop, okay? But they believed.

So they came up with this stuff. And that's what you're using your brain on? And that's what you're maneuvering yourself to do? But then you get lauded. Look, Robert Rubin is lauded as the great genius United States Treasurer.

Niall: Under Clinton.

Greg: Under Clinton. And he de-regulated the banks. He came out of Goldman Sachs, the CEO and then became U.S. Treasury Secretary. Then he leaves the treasury department, has de-regulated the banks so they create this monster called Citi Group. He's made co-chairman. He's paid $110 million and he tells them that they're not taking enough risk. So he de-regulates the market, takes over the bank that's set up by the de-regulation he does. If a republican did that we'd all be screaming, but he's a democrat, so we know he's good because he supports Hilary Clinton. Actually he supported Barak Obama. So he gets this $110 million, bankrupts City Bank. They require four trillion dollars in U.S. guarantees to pull them out of the fire and fifty billion dollars in direct subsidies and he still gives speeches for which he charges two hundred grand a piece, about how brilliant he is. And people still speak about him as brilliant, as opposed to basically an arch criminal who's more dangerous than Al Capone could have ever been.

Niall: Yeah.

Greg: But we laud these people. So when Blankfein, who's head of Goldman Sachs says "We are doing god's work", believe me, there's a lot of clerics who will applaud him because he'll buy a wing for their human rights division, chapel, whatever.

Joe: Getting back to the Blair years and stuff, as a result of you exposing what was going on, which was essentially Blair selling off national energy companies to U.S. companies...

Greg: Right.

Joe: ...with kick-backs.

Greg: A lot of things.

Joe: You were lampooned in the British press by Piers Morgan who was then editor-in-chief of the Mirror. He did that for the Blair government, to protect them.

Greg: Yes. So after I broke the news, including for example the Labor Party had promised to come in and break up the Murdoch media empire. So through a lobbyist called John Mendelsohn, not Mandelson, but Mendelsohn, who worked with Mandelson, they worked a deal where in fact Murdoch would give them favorable news in return for pulling off, backing off breaking up the Murdoch empire. So Piers Morgan and his crowd at the Mirror were quite jealous, like "where's ours?" So they had to show that they were willing to kiss Blair's crown and again, it's more about corporate power than public power. So when I exposed these things, I had audio tapes and everything, Blair called me a liar, the American, this Greg Palast, this American who's a liar. Now he did that on the floor of the House of Commons so I couldn't sue him. I don't believe in suing anyway, but he did it under legislative immunity, Blair. So he called me a liar.

So then they got some other crap on me. Several of the power companies keep files on me. One of them had a big file on my penis, which is more interesting than reality, but I enjoyed reading it (laughter). So they had the entire front page of the Mirror with a picture of me, Greg Palast that said "The Liar!" in four-inch print based on what Blair said and this power company file, so "The Liar!" But that didn't seem to stick. Blair was still in hot water. So they decided that wasn't enough. They had to go out and destroy me.

So I had one of his protégés, who in Vultures' Picnic I called Miss Jamaica because even bad publicity is worth something these days. And a very good looking young woman who was a Blair protégé and she was rising in the party, running for a high party power position because she knew me when I was actually Blair's advisor. So I had helped her in her connection to Blair. I actually introduced her to Blair and Mandelson. And so in gratitude (laughing) she wanted to get a little bit closer to me.

Joe: And go up to her room.

Greg: Right. So she invited me up to her room at the hotel at the Labor Party convention in Blackpool. And I figured well, I'll get two things...

Joe: Tender loving care.

Greg: ...I'd get information. I just thought if I went undercover basically, in both senses of the term.

Niall: In the service of truth.

Greg: But what I didn't know is that she had all these Labor Party ambitions and she was running for a top Labor position. And so she told the Labor Party people she was going to be seeing me. And they flipped out. They said "No you aren't!" So what happened was they set it up. They were waiting for me and the door swings open in the hotel room and there's the clerk and her husband. And I'm thinking "the bitch has a husband" (laughter). I said "oh-oh." And that wouldn't be so bad. I've met some uncomfortable husbands before. That's part of the job of being a journalist. But right behind them was the photographers from the Mirror (laughter). And I'm laughing now. So the next day at the Labor Party conference, the entire first six pages of the Mirror were just "Greg Palast-Sex Maniac" with a picture of the wronged Ms. Jamaica and "He's been stalking me! Oh my god!" Blah, blah, blah.

I have to say I'm laughing now. I almost lost my job at the Guardian because one of the editors was sure I had - see if they said that I had broken into her room to find some stuff, which would have been - I don't break the law, I don't jimmy locks and go into someone's room or something like that. If I had done that, if they had accused me of that, they probably would have gotten away with it. But instead, they decided to set me up with this sex thing.

Niall: Honey trap.

Greg: So that just didn't hold in the end. Unfortunately the investigation, so to speak, wasn't completed, wasn't consummated, so it wasn't as enjoyable as it could have been. But I ended up with them trying to smear me again on the front page of the paper and I had to fight to overcome that. But they kept that up. And right after that, George Bush Sr.'s gold mining company Barrick Gold Mining, he was on the board, sued me for exposing the deaths at the mines they had purchased in Africa.

So they go after me quite a bit, lawsuits, threats and of course I get a lot of death threats, but I haven't had any reason to take them seriously. At least I'm still talking to you, aren't I? Not that I'm inviting anyone to do anything, but I'm actually thinking of putting out a coffee table book of death threats against Greg Palast (laughter). Like a whole list of them. Some of them are pretty interesting.

Joe: So that event with the Mirror and the British media and Blair and stuff, that launched you more or less. It didn't deter you from carrying on.

Greg: No, no, no.

Joe: So from then on you kind of started.

Greg: Yeah, for me it's juice and fuel to be attacked. I will admit that it takes the breath out of you for a few hours, but then it gets you going. Simon Hoggart who just passed away was listening in and he wrote this in the Guardian. He was right next to Piers Morgan and Alistair Campbell, who if you don't know or don't remember if you're American and listening, Alistair Campbell was the PR mouthpiece, the press spokesman for Tony Blair. And after they ran the pictures of me and the chick on the front page of the Mirror, Greg Palast-Sex Maniac, Campbell went to Piers Morgan and said "Thank you for taking care of that for us". He literally said that. And Hoggart had the guts to print that. And so it was basically coordination between the Labor Party and Piers Morgan to smear me with a bunch of lies. And they did it again and again.
Now I could handle it, but your average reporter could not sustain that type of punishment. I've always made sure that I actually am not on someone's payroll so I always have contractual agreements where I'm independent or quasi-independent so that my paycheck and my livelihood isn't dependent on being - if I get smeared I can say "Well if you don't want to stand up with me, I'll see you later". I will say Alan Rusbridger's always stood by my side. So that's been good. When others have wavered, he's been there. And that was very, very good.

Joe: Well Piers Morgan is the quintessential English scumbag as far as I'm concerned. The type of guy he is and he ends up in the U.S.

Greg: Well here's the thing is that he can't come back to the UK because he'd probably be under indictment. He did two things: one, Piers Morgan, I mean it's funny, I do all the investigative reporting but I don't do illegal things like break into people's answering machines or literally illegally wiretap phones. I do record phone conversations. People are always shocked. But I do it in a legal manner. I never actually break into a line. You have to be talking to me, okay?

Niall: Yeah.

Greg: But I've never tapped a phone. And that's exactly what Morgan did. He hacked phones. I know exactly that he hacked answering machines. I know exactly the process he used too. I've never made it public. But Piers Morgan is a criminal. He broke the law. And I say that advisedly. I say that very, very carefully and cautiously and I know that Piers is listening. Everything I say about him or write about him, he carefully tracks. It drives him crazy so Piers, sorry (laughter). I am revealing that this is one that hasn't been made public, but Piers had a system for breaking into people's answering machines, including Paul McCartney's. Just so he can sell his crappy little rag.

Joe: Yeah.

Greg: So that's law-breaking. He also did something else that in the U.S., you would absolutely go to prison for, but it turned out to be considered, for some reason, not a crime a Britain, which is that he as the editor of the Mirror, he knew what his finance guys were going to be promoting the next day so he had a couple of finance guys who would promote small stocks and as soon as they hit the papers, those stocks would rise five, ten, twenty percent. Piers knew because he saw the copy before it went to print what companies they were going to promote. And he would purchase those. Now in the U.S., any reporter or any publisher who has a story - for example, on Enron, if I find out something negative on Enron, my editor looking at that can't say "Ooo, I'm going to short Enron stock because I know it's going to go down tomorrow when I release this report". You do that in the United States, you go to prison. I don't mean you maybe go to prison. Every single reporter, publisher who has ever, ever used information prior to publication, without exception, has gone to prison, without exception. You get caught you go to prison, period. Piers Morgan was caught and they did nothing to him. They said "That was not nice." There was some little committee hearing or something. In the U.S. you'd go to prison. He was given a visa to the U.S. Now you're not allowed to work in the United States and get a visa to move to the U.S. if you have committed any crime, even if you weren't charged. So if you committed a crime that would be a crime in the United States, as this what's called insider trading would be. So he's committed a crime and he lied on his visa because he's supposed to confess to any crimes. You're supposed to say "Here are the crimes I've committed". That's one way to get in.

So Morgan has committed multiple criminal offences that would be criminal in the U.S. and he compounded the crime by lying about it on his visas. He should not be in the U.S. And they took away his show because no one wanted to watch it. But the thing is that to me his biggest crime is not the insider trading, the smearing Greg Palast, fabricating reports, that type of stuff. Those are crimes that they let him get away with. And you have to ask why they let him get away because the crime he committed was the worst in the world for me as a journalist is to use your position as a so-called journalist, not to uncover the misdeeds of the powerful and rich, but to participate in those crimes. That's what he did because by covering up for Blair in the Lobbygate stories I busted, for going after the reporters who were uncovering not just Blair. But remember Blair is just the glove puppet, the fingers. Think of the fingers in that glove, the Murdochs and the power companies and British Petroleum and the rest, which by the way, hasn't ended.

I was just in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan by the Caspian Sea, that's where Tony Blair was, sucking up and cuddling up to murderous oil potentates, thieving criminal oil potentates.

Niall: That's what he's doing at the moment.

Greg: Yeah. That's how he makes his money. I guess that's why he became a catholic. I don't know (laughter). I don't know, is there some special dispensation you get.

Joe: Yeah, from the pope.

Greg: I don't know if they still sell indulgences. I thought they gave up on that. But whatever it is, Blair has been going around fronting for the worst dictatorships on the planet. And he was followed in Kazakhstan by Bill Clinton. But we like Bill Clinton, right (laughter)?

Joe: In your film Vultures and Vote Rustlers, just talking about Azerbaijan...

Niall: You went out there.

Joe: went out there and you were chasing after a story about the Chairman of BP, Lord Browne, giving a bribe of $30 million to the Azari State Oil Company, which is basically the Azari government officials, right, to get drilling rights in the Caspian.

Greg: Yes.

Joe: And this was like a check.

Greg: Actually the check was handed - and by the way I did this for Channel 4 dispatches, the British show, and when the Deep Water Horizon blew out, I got a message, the routes I can't explain, all the way from the Caspian Sea saying "This is not the first blow-out". So I flew to the Caspian Sea. And BP had covered it up that there was a prior blow-out before the Deep Water Horizon. So I flew to the Caspian. And while investigating this, got arrested by the way, by the secret police on what I call the Islamic Republic of BP (laughter). I was arrested and one of the state secret police chiefs actually said to me, very proudly, "BP drives this country", as if I should understand that that's why we do this. "BP drives this country". And he's very proud of that, that they're part of the BP empire. And by the way, you didn't see this in the film, but there was a picture of Thatcher. If you looked in the corner of Lord Browne signing a deal to get the Caspian Sea oil from this nation of Azerbaijan, Lord Browne personally handed a $30 million check to the President of Azerbaijan.

Now I know that because one of the executives at BP who's on camera, Les Abraham, a great guy, who had decided to kind of come in out of the cold and tell his story, he said "Look, Browne gave him this brown briefcase and said hold onto this while I go to the loo and when I'm ready to talk to the President, you hand it back." And he was very proud of the fact that there was 30 million quid in there and the guy thought "Well what is this big pile of cash?" When he looked, he opened the briefcase and the only thing in the entire briefcase was just a check for $30 million. So Browne handed this guy the check and got the Caspian.
Now you will see immediately after when Browne is actually signing the papers with the little dictator there and there's Maggie Thatcher in the corner. The part of the story I didn't tell, but it's in Vultures' Picnic, my book, is that Browne had flown in with the $30 million bribe with Margaret Thatcher. BP had actually given her a plane which they called the Iron Lady, it said "Iron Lady" on the tail (laughing) and she had a hot tub in there and this whole bar behind the hot tub filled with single malt scotches. Well it's her breakfast by the way (laughter).

Niall: My god! Maggie Thatcher in a hot tub - wah!!

Greg: She's got a hot tub and her single malt. She gets off there and she basically comes with Browne holding the bribe money and then gives some little talk to the President and his retinue and then Browne does the deal. Now just so you know, at that time it was not illegal to bribe foreign governments. Browne was actually not breaking a British law, nor was Thatcher, nor was this guy confessing. That's why he could confess, because it was not at that time against the law to bribe. And it was only in the last few years that the European Union requires nations to have an anti-bribery law. But Britain didn't have an anti-bribery law. And if you remember when British Aerospace bribed the Saudi government £200 million, the British government said "You can't touch that, national security". And I thought "Oh, that's the British government. That's how they operate." But then I had the same case, seven American oil companies and BP paid a bribe to the President of Kazakhstan. And how do I know this? BP had a partner in the Caspian Sea who owned 15%, was billed for his 15% of the bribe. He showed me the invoice. BP sent him an invoice for his share of a bribe!

Joe: And they wanted it back?

Greg: Yeah. They said "We had to pay a bribe. Here's your 15%. You have to pay it! It's your share." So they were dividing it up. And so he gave it to me, I have the invoice. And by accident, when the bribe was paid through a guy named Giffen, he'd done it through a transit through a Swiss bank account. The Swiss government has been under pressure by the U.S. government about funny money, so they notified the United States FBI that someone was transferring millions in cash to the President of Kazakhstan. So the FBI, not knowing what was going down, arrested this guy with $10 million in a briefcase at JFK airport when he was about to head back off to the Caspian Sea. They threw him in jail for the night. They arrested him for bribery. He faced 20 years in prison and multi-million dollar fines. And he said "Well, gentlemen, I work for the National Security Agency and the U.S. State Department. This is money from U.S. oil companies but I can't do this without approval of the National Security Agency", right? And so this one guy who was BP's partner and who used to be a key CIA person, that's he got into oil, the CIA guy said "That's guy's just some pipe salesman who's making up a story." The federal judge was allowed under national security laws, to see the national security file. I go to the guy's sentencing because to keep his cover, he'd actually confessed to bribery. And so I went to his sentencing. So he's going to go to jail and everything else, but he's smiling. He's a very wealthy guy. And he is smiling and he stands up. They say "please rise for your sentence" and the judge says "Mr. Giffen, my apologies. The U.S. government owes you an apology and our great thanks. You are a great patriot. Now that I've read the files I realize through your action, you saved the oil in the Caspian Sea for the United States and its businesses." That's what he said.

Joe: Wow.

Greg: And he said "But since you have confessed", the guy was going to go to prison and pay millions in fines, so "because you have confessed, I'm required under law to fine you, to punish you. So your punishment will be a $25 fine" (laughter). So this guy walked out the door. And I've got to tell you from my calculation, and I'm only calculating - he won't say one way or the other - you don't just handle $80 million plus and just turn it over. You take your little bit off the top. From what I could figure, this guy probably pocketed close to $29 million and fined $25. And you know what? I was in Kazakhstan. To even mention this case - remember the guy did confess, so he said he did it, so it's a matter of court record that he did it, so I can say these things, right? But they changed the name of the Prime Minister and President of Kazakhstan at the request of Hilary Clinton. Close your ears if you're a Hilary Clinton lover, a democrat. But Hilary Clinton requested that the Justice Department, in the criminal indictment, remove the name of the President and the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan that took the money, and write in KO1 which is Kazakh official 1 and KO2, Kazakh official 2, therefore their names are not in the actual criminal indictment. They're just numbered. And therefore, because of that, if you mention the case in Kazakhstan, you go to prison for criminal libel because if you say "Well everyone knows that KO2 is President Nazarbayev, you go to prison.

Joe: Oh wow. So this guy gets off. For doing the dirty deal he gets off with a $25 fine. Anybody who mentions the dirty deal goes to prison.

Greg: Goes to prison. And by the way, going to prison would be kind of lucky. There are people whose children have ended up getting hit by buses. There's dozens of journalists in the prisons of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan who supposedly committed suicide. They found them hanging in their cells. One guy supposedly committed suicide, by shooting himself in the head, twice.

Joe: Yeah.

Greg: And I've been there. One thing that people don't know is I actually confronted the President designate about this case. I was whisked down. Just like I was arrested in Azerbaijan, I was kind of like dis-invited to Kazakhstan.

Niall: Pronto.

Greg: But I get away with a lot of stuff because I'm going under for Channel 4 as an American journalist. It's hard for them to go after me. That would create more problems than it would solve. But the problem is that in the U.S. press, you don't get these stories. In the British press you get some of it. But you see what happens in the Guardian when they had Snowden's stuff. They took the Guardian's computers, MI6, put them the parking lot and demanded that Alan Rusbridger smash them with a hammer in the parking lot. And he said "You do realize that we'd be stupid if we kept all of Snowden's material sitting here in computers in our office, right?" But I think Alan misunderstood. They knew that. What they were trying to do was make a lesson out of Rusbridger by humiliating him and destroying the Guardian stuff and causing tremendous legal bills and harassment. It's like okay everyone knows the Guardians going to be bad boys, but we'll always have people like Piers Morgan who will take care of us. The Murdoch empire will take care of us. They're never going to touch this stuff.

And of course in the U.S. forget it. Almost all the revelations about Snowden, etc., even though all this stuff was given to U.S. papers, the only reason why any of it came out in U.S. papers is because the Guardian and der Spiegel put it out so they were embarrassed into putting out a fragment of it, a fragment. But like the stuff I did on the oil, a lot of it I got information out of WikiLeaks. You can't see that in the U.S. press at all. I can't put it in the U.S. press.

Joe: These people are immune to any real prosecution because I was reading a story just a few days ago in the UK Telegraph. The headline reads "Former BP Chief Tony Hayward and Lord Browne Team Up to Drill for Oil off Angola". And this is Tony Hayward who presided over the Deep Water.

Greg: Deep Water Horizon, right.

Joe: And Lord Browne is the $30 million check man and the two of them are still going strong in Angola. They've just moved on.

Greg: And let's not forget that Lord Browne, even though it was small stuff, was criminally liable for a felony count of lying in court because he used BP money to pay for his boyfriend. But the thing is, is that yeah, there's no shame. These guys actually believe that to the extent they were ever caught in anything "oh it was minor". The one thing that Browne got caught for was having a toy boy on the company payroll and lying about it. But the big crimes, like I say, before the Deep Water Horizon blew up, it blew out. It blew out and this is in my film Vultures and Vote Rustlers, I'm going to plug it again, you can get it at

Joe: Yeah.

Greg: Go there. See the trailer Vultures and Vote Rustlers. It's from my not-for-profit foundation. I don't make money off this stuff. It supports investigations. And you can see that 17 months before Deep Water Horizon, they had the same blow out in the Caspian Sea and they completely covered it up. It was the same cause, which is BP uses quick-dry cement which means that they put nitrogen in it and that can fail under high pressures of deep water drilling. It did in the Caspian. They completely covered it up! Completely covered it up! And they got away with it.

People like Hayward and Browne before him, if there were a better world, they wouldn't be drilling off Angola, they'd be breaking rocks on a chain gang. This stuff costs people's lives. People die and then we go to war. But again, they actually think, like in the case of Browne, he really thinks he's been the victim. Hayward thinks that he's the victim. He knew that there was a prior blow-out and yet he kept allowing the use of a cheap process which led to the Deep Water Horizon blow-out. And they're crying about it. In the case of the Exxon Valdez, BP was tremendously responsible in Alaska. They didn't pay a penny. They walked away from it. Their name wasn't on the ship, so even their name escaped the deal.
So yeah, like I say, there is no shame. And then they give a plane to Maggie and fill it with scotch.

Pierre: Greg, however in Valdez, Exxon was condemned. They paid damages and the coast was cleaned. In the Gulf BP was condemned, paid damages and the coast was cleaned. Well, that's the official story, but is it true?

Greg: Yeah, that's the official story. I was just up in Alaska and you'll see in Vultures, but if you go to you'll see pictures of me putting my hand in the oil from the Exxon Valdez. It's still there 25 years later. And in Vultures and Vote Rustlers you will see oil all over the beaches of the Gulf coast, off of Mississippi and Alabama, not that anyone ever goes swimming off the coast of Mississippi or Alabama. It's all pretty well destroyed. Just poor black people go picnicking there. But it's covered with poisonous, dreadful hydrocarbon. You can see the films of this that I have. Because who goes down there and checks? And BP issues press releases. They painted all their petrol stations green. So obviously they're wonderful people. Everything is cleaned up. Mother Nature, in this theory of Exxon and British Petroleum in the Gulf and Alaska, Mother Nature flushed everything clean as if Mother Nature is some type of magic toilet that you just flush it and everything's gone. That's just not what happens and that's not what happened. And that oil is still there in the Gulf. It's still there in Alaska. And Shell oil is still all over the deltas in Nigeria 40 years later.

Niall: In Nigeria.

Greg: After their drilling.

Joe: What kind of effect are these spills and stuff having on the people, for example in Africa and different African countries?

Greg: Cancers, lesions, birth defects, respiratory problems, obviously economic problems because you have massive wildlife kill off which I saw in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. When you talk about poisons that stay in the ground and in your water for decades, it's devastating. And your kids get ill. They die. I was in the worst I've seen actually, Chevron in Ecuador where the Chief Ermenegildo Criollo in the Amazon, for News Night I actually took a dugout log up the Amazon to actually look at what happened. Chevron keeps saying "We're victims of a con. There's no damage in the Amazon" so I went there. It was awful!! These pools I could see the sheens and of course some of these people didn't know, this chief's 2 year old son, he didn't know that when you see shiny water you can't swim in it. And so he jumped in the water, came up vomiting blood and died. And this is oil that was dumped 20 years earlier.

Niall: Halfway up the Amazon.

Greg: Yeah. But who cares? It's in the Amazon.

Niall: Yeah. Mother Nature will take care of it.

Joe: Well Greg, I watched your film just recently, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, and while it's a great film I have to say that it left me feeling sick. But that's actually an endorsement because anything I've ever read or watched that really drove home the truth about the people who basically run the planet has always left me feeling that way. So I'm sure you know that feeling much better than I do given that you're the one digging up the dirt. But I was just wondering if there's one thing amongst all the corrupt practices that you've investigated and exposed, is there one that really sticks in your craw for any particular reason, one that seems particularly egregious?

Greg: Yeah, I would say George Bush Sr. who was on the board of a gold mining company, Barrick before and he got off and his son ran it. And the problem with that is that he was replaced with powerful black democratic officials, Vernon Jordan and Andy Young. And the head of Barrick Gold Mining, a Canadian company, Peter Munk, was so good he bought German politicians and English politicians. He paid millions of dollars to politicians to cover up whatever he did and no paper, except the Guardian, had the guts to report about the people who died at the mines they were buying. There were horrible cases before they bought the mine. They didn't know and they couldn't have bought it unless the mining area in Tanzania was cleared of jewelry miners, small claim holders. So the predecessor company ran bulldozers across the property to clear these people out but 50 people were buried alive from the evidence we have.

By the way that's why I attack Amnesty. Because see they scare everyone. They threaten to sue. They sued me. They sued the Guardian. But I wouldn't back off. I've published this now. And I won't back off. I keep saying "Okay, here it is." But they've been able to get complete silence. The New York Times ran a story about a company but wouldn't name it and wouldn't name George Bush. So they buy a level of protection. They got Amnesty International to back off even though Amnesty gave me the first tip. That's why I'm peeved at them. But I have to say there's been some very good groups also, Friends of the Earth, Corner House in Britain, Amnesty of Canada was very good, wouldn't back down.
But it's amazing that they buy up enough politicians that that's the problem. It's the corporations that get the politicians on both sides. That's why Blair is more dangerous than Thatcher. Thatcher, you know where she's at and you can be for her or against her, vote for her or against her. Blair says one thing and then does the other and that's the most dangerous, when you have Lord Obama who says one thing and does the other, Clinton.

Joe: Right.

Greg: So it's the so-called progressive politicians that are on the take that are the most dangerous of all.

Joe: Is there a solution to the state of the world today and all this stuff that you expose and show about what's going on and corruption in high places? Where do you see it going and is there a solution?

Greg: There is a solution. We've had all kinds of movements that have been very, very effective, from the labor moment, the anti-slavery movement, the environmental movement, the women's movement even now the gay rights movement which has been so successful they kind of have been able to move the billionaires to their side. In other words, as Arthur Kessler said, there's kind of a pendulum of history. So they've got the money, we've got the people. To me, one of the reasons why I switched to journalism kind of late in life is that I'm committed to the idea that you can't act unless you know who's screwing you and how. You can't stop a thief unless you know which pocket they're picking and what they've taken from you.

That's one of the problems. You don't even know the crime's been committed. Someone breaks into your house and steals your stereo and your jewelry or whatever and you know you've been robbed. But these guys steal from you. They steal your health because they're secretly poisoning you. They're stealing the truth. They're stealing your vote. And you don't know it. That is deeply evil. So I believe that the first thing we do is the work you're doing, which is great. You pull down their pants and say "Take a look at that" (laughter). And you turn on the lights and the cockroaches run to the walls. And from that people get angry and that's how movements start. And movements can be successful. But then look, they get bought out. British Petroleum was the great green company and they practically owned half the environmental movement in America. And that's how they got away with Deep Water Horizon.

So we'll keep winning and we'll keep losing and that's kind of the fate of the planet until the toxic garbage finally eliminates the last of our functional DNA (laughter). This back and forth will continue.

Joe: Alright. Well Greg it's been great talking to you and I know you promoted your books and your films, but I just want to give a shout again to everybody. Just go to because you've got so many books and so many videos and films and they're all excellent and everybody should watch them and read the books. And they're very well written. It's not a staid, academic style. It's very humorous, very entertaining, but it gets the message across. Fair play to you Greg you're doing brilliant work.

Greg: Thank you.

Joe: And I hope long may it continue. Just watch out for those real death threats.

Greg: Unfortunately, I'm not getting enough. They aren't throwing the blondes at me as much anymore.

Joe: You figured that one out.

Greg: Because I don't fall for them. But I could use a couple. So I'm offering, if anyone out there wants to entrap me (laughter).

Joe: Give it a try, eh, at least for a bit of entertainment.

Greg: Okay. Catch you guys later.

Niall: Thanks a lot. You've been a great sport. Bye.

Pierre: Thank you. Bye.

Niall: So that was Greg Palast. He's a good investigative journalist.

Joe: He's one of a rare, rare breed. There's the Australian guy.

Niall: Oh yes. He also writes for British papers. John Pilger.

Joe: John Pilger, yeah. But he's not as humorous and doesn't have the out-there kind of attitude. Greg has an attitude there which is I think essential for the kind of work he does.

Niall: Absolutely.

Joe: I don't know how he keeps going even when it's been almost 20 years now that he's been sticking his nose into all of this stuff and seeing it up close and personal. He's not just writing about it from a distance. He's down there in every single country where all of this horrible kind of destruction and death is being wreaked on people, especially in "third world" countries and he's seen it all. And he still has the energy and the drive to talk about it and write about it in a way that's easy to read.

Niall: That people can relate to.

Joe: That people can understand and relate to, yeah.

Niall: He understands. If you watch his videos, even just videos on YouTube where he's being interviewed, he understands what people can take in at any one time. Even when he's getting right down to some very complex issues, he'll break it down for you simply and then say "Look, I've got the documents for a fuller explanation on my website". His videos are made in a very funny way as well. One minute he's in Azerbaijan and he's being arrested and the next he's in Sarajevo connecting some story with a cholera outbreak in the Congo. And you're like "Well how the hell are those things connected?" and he shows you. It's pretty simple. He'll delve in anywhere and show you how simply it's connected.

Joe: I can't think of anybody else in the western world or in the western media, albeit kind of slightly alternative, although he works for the BBC and News Night and the Guardian and stuff, but still it's kind of sidelined. But I can't think of anybody else really, who is doing the kind of work he's doing and getting the kind of exposure he's getting, even though, as he says himself, it doesn't get much exposure particularly in the U.S. He couldn't get a job with any newspaper in the U.S. like he got a job with the Guardian and the Observer who are willing at least to kind of fund him and publish the reports and the videos. But right now, like I said, it's his own non-profit organization that is essentially distributing and marketing this material.

Niall: In order to fund further investigations.

Joe: Yeah, basically. He's not getting money from anybody. And that's the way the world is.

Niall: He's smart. He said it in the course of answering our questions. The important thing is to stay independent.

Joe: Yeah, well you have to, in the same way that we stay independent because once you're beholding to anybody, you take money from any organization.

Niall: Even if you say "Oh no, I will always go for the truth", it starts to work on you.

Joe: Like he said, there are litigation problems as well because if you're associated directly with some kind of third party organization, there are structures on what you can do because they have to protect themselves from any kind of legal - and that's basically gagging the truth. The threat of legal action is very often these days directed at people telling the truth. You get punished these days for telling the truth, so you can't be associated with anybody who has something to lose because they're interested in maintaining their profits and maintaining their reputation, etc. So you just have to have your own reputation, your own independence and do what you can. But that again, comes with a big downside which is that you have a very limited reach because of these big organizations that control the media and control the extent to which people get the truth.

Pierre: I have a question. Greg Palast is still relaying, to some extent by some major media...

Niall: Under contract.

Pierre: ...and usually the way the elites deal with such individuals is by ignoring them, so how do you explain that some major media are still relaying his work?

Joe: Well like we said, it's kind of the Guardian, maybe just the Guardian. He does a little bit for the BBC now and again, but the BBC would kind of select specific leaks.

Niall: I think it's either dropped off or yes, they're very selective but he really only gets two-to-five minute slots. He didn't get, for example, the News Night program, which is a flagship, mainstream BBC program, their flagship reporting program, he was given a five minute slot, "Here's our wacky kind of conspiracy guy."

Joe: They just cut the video of him that he's made, that he's given to them and it'll be just five minutes and it's kind of...

Pierre: On Channel 4.

Joe: On Channel 4 will do it. But Channel 4 kind of has a history of being somewhat independent like the Guardian newspaper. They do their own stuff. There's a show called Dispatches in the UK which is investigative reports. So there's scope there for investigation into corruption, but you never really get anything on the individuals involved. There's never any dirt. If it ever got that far where some big heads would roll, I don't think they'd allow it. The word would come down and say "This can't go". So it's only about general corruption and blaming companies, blaming corporations. "Oh isn't it terrible". But people need to remember that there are always people behind this who are making the decisions. And Greg writes about that in his books, that he's not beholding to anybody in his articles and his books when he publishes them on his own website.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: That's where you get the information on the actual people involved.

Niall: He names names.

Pierre: He does.

Niall: He investigates so many different things. One thing he went deep into was the Koch brothers in the U.S. Now you could say "Okay, the Koch brothers, yes they would be involved in funding rightwing parties and rightwing politicians. So okay, he's allowed to give the scoop on one half of the two-party state system." But no, back in the '90s, maybe more recently, but he's done exposés on the money. The Koch brothers also financed Bill Clinton. I didn't know that. Bill Clinton is purely a product of the rightwing. They created the kind of adjunct to the Democratic Party called the DLC Labor Convention. I can't remember what DLC stands for [Democratic Leadership Council], but they created a sort of pseudo/quasi democrat party, put Clinton in there and got him elected. That was completely a rightwing monetary backed financial operation.

Pierre: Yes, it's the modus operandi of the puppet masters who fund both sides.

Niall: Exactly.

Pierre: So in the end whoever wins they will be a puppet.

Joe: Well a perfect example of that was more recently when we talked about it in previous shows, about the Ukrainian coup where Victoria Nuland was talking in that recorded telephone conversation between her and the ambassador in Ukraine where they were talking about getting Biden in, the Vice President of the U.S. for an atta boy. And for an atta boy means for just push him forward to shake hands.

Niall: Photo op.

Joe: A photo op basically. And so they're behind the scene and although they are government officials, but in the story that Greg told about in Azerbaijan where BP was giving a $30 million check to the Azari government to get rights in the Caspian, Maggie Thatcher was there for an atta boy. She was just there tagging along.

Niall: She was flown in with the hot tub and the private jet.

Joe: Exactly. And that's the role of Presidents and Prime Ministers and stuff is simply to act as a public face for the real power brokers behind the scenes who are corporations and bankers. And nobody knows them so they're no good to be the face of it. You need this public face that everybody talks about that speaks on TV and you pick the right person who has the right image. And they are the people who rubberstamp it for the people.

Pierre: And they're maintaining the illusion of democracy.

Joe: Exactly.

Pierre: They are elected, or so we believe. I enjoyed two things particularly during this discussion with Greg Palast. I liked that by himself he brought up the topic of psychopathy and correlated it with the elites. We primed him a little bit but we were not the first ones to mention...

Niall: Yeah.

Pierre: ...this word. So it was good and I like as well in his conclusions where he basically acknowledged this brilliant truth, putting light on the cockroaches is the way to follow. So altogether it was quite an interesting analysis of what's going on in the world.

Joe: Yeah, there are a couple of quotes I'll just give you from two of his books. One of them is from a book from a few years ago called Armed Madhouse, very appropriate title. He's talking about where he came from and why he is doing what he does today. He said:
"I'm here because my father worked in a furniture store in the barrio in Los Angeles selling pure crap on layaway to Mexicans. Then later on he sold fancier crap to fancier people in Beverly Hills. And he hated furniture. And I hated the undeserving pricks and their trophy wives who bought it. I could smell their cash and the smell of corpses they stole it from. They were all vultures and the rest of us were just food."
And the second one is from his more recent book Vultures' Picnic. He says:
"There's only one story, the story of them versus us. They get homes bigger than Disneyland. We get foreclosure notices. They get private jets to private islands. We get tar balls and lost futures. We pay their gambling debts with our pensions. They get the trophy wife and a tax break. We get sub-primed. They get two candidates on the ballot and we are told to choose. They get the goldmine, we get the shaft."

Niall: He's a classic writer.

Joe: That's an example of the way he writes and all his books are like that, very entertaining.

Niall: But he's also very detail oriented. I saw him being interviewed, I think it was by Alex Jones, and Alex was priming him to "What's your scoop on this issue?" And he said "No, I'm not going to answer because I'm still investigating." And he would not say what he's saying unless it was backed up by facts.

Joe: Absolutely. But that's the way it has to be.

Niall: Yeah. One thing we didn't touch on unfortunately, we didn't have time, but there was a bombshell. It's not a bombshell to people who are generally aware that this is how things work, but it should have been big news. This should have been breaking news globally that the way in which in the '90s things were set up that precipitated the financial crash in 2008. He mentioned Rubins who was the notorious U.S. Treasury Secretary under Clinton who then profited massively when he went and formed Citi Group, the so-called end game memo. Now this is where Greg's schmoozing and contacts...

Joe: Paid off?

Niall: ...paid off big time. He got a memo from Larry Summers, not sent to him by Summers but it was from Summers to the CEO of the big five banks in the U.S. in which they came up with this genius idea. The back story is that they realized by the mid-90s that JP Morgan alone was sitting on $88 trillion of useless derivatives, basically debt on their balance sheets for which there was no real...

Joe: Way to get it back.

Niall: ...nothing attached to it. What was the example he gave? Of something sold in Chile?

Joe: Yeah, betting on the changes in the weather.

Niall: Yeah, the changes in the weather. They were bets that were "surreal" financial assets tied to nothing. Anyway, they had $88 trillion of this by the mid-90s and they realized "well shit, we've got to offload this somehow". Okay, we know how it was offloaded to the U.S. people via the sub-prime mortgages. Let's flog people with loans they won't be able to afford and then turn up the screws. But internationally, they got the WTO, the World Trade Organization then with 155 member states to agree to basically open their financial systems to accept these toxic derivatives to be traded on their own.

Joe: They said "We'll sell them around the world."

Niall: I couldn't believe it! All but one country, only Brazil, refused. Everywhere else was hit with this. It's just one brief memo and they come up with this genius idea and five weeks later or something, it's rubberstamped by the WTO, one of the largest super international organizations based in Switzerland. And 155 member states, countries on the planet, within five weeks are...

Joe: Are snapping it up.

Niall: ...embroiled in this dodgy, dodgy financial scheme.

Joe: Yeah, they're taking a bunch of loans essentially, as in debts that they have given to millions of people around the world that were no good, that weren't going to be paid back. And then they bundled them all together and split them up into different pieces and then say that "these are really good debts" as in "these will be paid back". And they sell them all at a higher price. And everybody says "Oh, I'll buy that!" They'll buy this for someone then they sell it and one bank buys and then sells some to another bank and round and round it goes. And it's like selling a bunch of crap basically, something that is completely worthless, as if it is worth a lot. And everybody's exchanging money on this bundle of crap and eventually somebody's left holding the bundle of crap. In this case a lot of banks were left holding a bunch of crap and then the public had to bail them out. The public had to give money from the public treasury to keep the banks going.

So it's very simple in that kind of way that they were gambling on stuff that someone knew, a lot of them knew, was no good, was a really bad bet and they were taking money off each other and somebody then was left holding the baby type thing and that was it. It was just a pure, pure scheme for as many of them as possible to make as much money as possible. And you can bet your ass they all knew in advance that if and when this goes down, which it will and did obviously, that governments would have to bail them out, that it would be the public. So it was ultimately, if you think about it, it was a scheme crafted to pilfer money from public treasury, from public funds i.e. your tax dollars held by the government, let's say, for the banks to take trillions of that in the end. Out of the countries around the world and the direct result was to deny people access in terms the infrastructure in the country, social welfare payments. That's the result today.

Pierre: And actually, the mortgage debt that will not be paid back mostly generated in the U.S., was sliced and repackaged and relabeled. It was called CDO [collateralized debt obligation]. And CDOs were spread all over the world in banks, as you said, but also individuals purchased those financial products.

Joe: Well yeah, through banks.

Pierre: Companies and states and regions and public organizations.

Joe: Who thought they were going to make some money off it.

Pierre: It was an investment product. It was presented as an investment product generating some interest rates, profit. But in the end you have some individuals who paid three times during this crisis, especially in the U.S. You have people a) lost the house because they couldn't pay the mortgage because of variable interest rates; b) they paid for the bailout; and c) they lost some or all of their savings because their savings had been used to by CDO investments.

Joe: They were screwed in three different ways, yeah to make these people billions of dollars. And billions of dollars they got. Individuals are sitting on billions of dollars now as a direct result of this. But the term "vulture" comes up a lot. We didn't get around to this. In Greg's latest film Vultures and Vote Rustlers and...

Niall: I love the titles he gives his books and videos.

Joe: Yeah, Vultures' Picnic. And the idea of vultures is basically these financial institutions that...

Niall: They call themselves vultures. I didn't know that.

Joe: I know.

Pierre: Paul Singer, vulture numero uno.

Joe: Yeah, well it's a very appropriate term even for them to choose for themselves. But they probably think it's a kind of feather in their cap type of thing, but probably the best way to depict them as vultures, that idea of vulture capitalists or vulture funds, and people probably know this picture, it was from March 1993 a photographer Kevin Carter who was on a trip to Sudan. It was a picture that was used in the media in the Live Aid concerts and stuff and these concerts to raise money for African countries in famine and to forgive third world debt, etc.
This guy Kevin Carter took this picture and it's of a small African boy, maybe only 3 or 4 year old, just bent over and an actual vulture just had landed nearby. It was just staring at him. And this little boy was slumped over on the ground trying to get to a relief station. And actually the guy Kevin Carter who took that, a few months later committed suicide. He won the Pulitzer Prize for that picture and then he committed suicide. And he cited in the suicide note that it was basically because of all the stuff that he had seen, all the death and starvation and torture.

That picture is appropriate for these guys who call themselves vultures and run vulture funds, which is again from Greg's work, these vulture funds are financial institutions. I'm sure they're tied to banks in some way, but they basically come in and they go to banks and different lending institutions, for example, who have debts on their books from third world countries, from African countries for example, who have just been kind of mothballed by them because they don't expect to get them paid back. And they buy them for nothing almost, or for very little, off the banks or the lending institutions. And then they go to the government of the country in question and demand the full amount.

Pierre: And they sue.

Joe: And they sue in courts, and they've sued in British courts, in African countries to get this money from them that they bought, these loan documents that they bought from the banks and lending institutions who had just forgotten about them essentially and weren't acting on them, had mothballed them. And they reignited them or woke them up.

Niall: Well as Greg found out, in one case it was literally mothballed. It was buried in an old filing cabinet or something. I think it was Liberia's debt for $28 million.

Joe: It was forgotten.

Niall: Yeah. And some guy dug it up and sold it to this vulture.

Pierre: But they don't sue for the amount of debt. For the example of Liberia, it was maybe $20 million debt, something like that.

Niall: It was $28 million, yeah.

Pierre: But they sued for $250 or $300 million because they claimed damage, interest rates and these kinds of penalties.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: And the thing is that they're suing, very often, countries that don't have a government or countries that are embroiled in a "civil war" that very often more than likely has been created or funded by western arms dealers, for example, and western governments with interest. And even back to the oil companies, it's this kind of loop of them. These vultures are in there with the banks, the IMF, the oil corporations and they're all just feeding on people essentially. Because it's ordinary people in Africa and other countries around the world, who die, literally starve to death or are poisoned to death as a result of what these people are doing. It's horrible.

Niall: Well Greg has some stomach to actually go to these places, interview for example, the President of Liberia. And we hear from her what we would never hear otherwise. She says plainly to Greg "What is wrong with these people? Have they no conscience?" or something.

Joe: Exactly.

Pierre: She repeats it in the Nobel Prize, 2011. So there are some good Nobel Prizes sometimes.

Niall: She won the Nobel Prize.

Pierre: I was surprised.

Niall: Yeah.

Pierre: If you think about those court cases involving those vulture funds, billions and billions with top attorneys and unlimited resources on one side. On the other side you have countries like Congo and Liberia, whose governments are a) highly corrupted; b) not very structured and c) they don't have much resources. And we know in a court case what really matters is resources. So it's a very unfair legal battle and usually the one who wins those kinds of battles is the one who has the most money, not the one who is right.

Joe: I thought it was an interesting point he brought up that these people he's met, these billionaires are essentially very damaged people. And I can believe that to be true in the sense that at least some of them, the reason they get to be in the positions they're in where they're essentially making decisions that affect millions of people negatively, that they're driven by a kind of childhood trauma or some kind of an upbringing effect that made them the kind of people they are today, where they're driven by some unconscious drive. But that doesn't explain the rest of them or others who really do have to know what they're doing and see the results of what they're doing. Maybe not up close, but they see it. And it just doesn't matter to them. And that is an example of, in those cases you're dealing with a complete lack of conscience, i.e., psychopathy. But of course that kind of culture that is established by such people filters down, as described by Lobaczewski in Political Ponerology, the ponerization process where other people who weren't maybe clinical or born psychopaths are infected with this ideal which is just me, me, me, money, money, money and "I'll forget everything else as long as I'm okay, but screw everybody else."

Niall: Yeah, it's a big indictment on the condition of an overall country that in the case of the Goldman Sachs chief, Blankfein?

Joe: Yes.

Niall: His crimes can be known. He can actually be indicted and it could be Greg Palast or someone else can actually publish a report that hits the mainstream press, everyone is aware of it, and still he is lauded. When he said "I am doing god's work" it's accepted!

Joe: Yeah, they think they're doing god's work and they're creating the planet. And it's a really important thing to keep in mind if you want to talk about it at a top level, the ideology that these people hold to. I think Greg is right in that they look at the world as their playground and that they are creators essentially. They're doing god's work. Probably privately they might think they're some kind of gods themselves in the sense that on this planet they rule supreme and that they can remake the planet in any way they want and that includes getting rid of millions of people. If it furthers their goals, then that's necessary and obviously more people will be born. There's no problem with population on the planet.

Niall: Well he mentioned wiping the planet clean...

Joe: Starting again.

Niall: ...and some vague mention about a new millennium. Who knows how they justify it for themselves.

Pierre: And also he described one important trait of psychopathy. Psychopaths don't see reality objectively. They shape reality or what they perceive from reality according to their wishes, their beliefs. So this notion of good or bad or what is really happening, of consequences of what they do, suffering...

Joe: It's abstract to them, yeah.

Pierre: Abstract and I guess in some cases at least, it's not on their radar to perceive it.

Joe: No.

Pierre: Not part of their reality.

Joe: Well exactly. Their reality of fact or facts or reality for them is what they believe it to be, what they see themselves. And if you take that kind of an idea that has been talked about and testified to in literature on psychopathy that psychopaths that have been studied by Robert Hare, etc., don't know what a fact is essentially. If you take that kind of almost natural, from their point of view, perspective on the world and on reality outside of them and combine that with the power to change countries or affect the lives of millions of people, well then you have a really bad recipe for a real disaster there because as far as they're concerned, there is no suffering. They're simply doing what they feel like doing and what is good for them. And obviously there's a lot of greed. And it's a recipe for disaster.

Pierre: And for them it's...

Joe: It's a recipe for what is happening on the planet today. Where we are today on the planet and the amount of suffering and death and torture and destruction on the planet that has been wreaked on the planet, most specifically in the past 40, 50 years, that's the core cause. That's the origin of it right there.

Pierre: And for them it's not even greed. I think in their minds it's probably survival of the fittest. It's success. It's fair retribution of their excellence. They're not aware of the suffering of others and they're not aware of the greed that is driving them. They're not aware of the subjectivity and the non-objective assessment of reality.

Joe: Yeah. They're machines in a very essential way. And that's the scary part is that you have people controlling this planet who are essentially extremely machine-like. Of course many other people are machine-like, but at least the ordinary people maintain some level of conscience or empathy and normal human feeling. But these people are essentially like robots. And they act extremely charismatic and very normal appearing to the rest of us, but they are, beneath the skin let's say, little more than robots in terms of normal human nature.

Niall: Yeah, they're very highly processed robots. They seem so intelligent. And those of them that go through the proper channels; they've become Friedmanites and "neo-liberal thinkers" and work their way up. They have this enormous grasp of information, but there's something about the way they understand that information. I thought his insights on Blair were interesting. I would have put him actually in the smarter category of psychopaths or very damaged people, but he's saying no.

Joe: I don't think Blair is very smart. If you look at the way he handled the whole Iraq war business. He's made very bad moves on that front, in terms of his own PR, if you know what I mean, because he's roundly hated in the UK, for example.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: Both left and right, or whatever you want to call it, don't think very well of Tony Blair. And everything he does just makes it worse. Any time he appears in the papers or the media, people just love to hate him. So he hasn't been very successful from that perspective. And that's a key indicator I suppose because even with the media there to support him largely, he hasn't been able to do it whereas other people, like Greg was saying, they are able to massage public opinion and get away with it. He talked about that guy John Paulson, who made $4 billion from the derivative scam, he's a philanthropist as well. After making this $4 billion from the sub-prime mortgage crisis, if you can call it that, the scam, he went ahead and gave $15 million to build a children's hospital in Ecuador, for example. So Tony Blair never does anything like that. He doesn't seem to be aware of that. So in that sense I think he's maybe not the brightest despite Alistair Campbell, his worm tongue in the background, doing his best.

Pierre: I wanted to go back to the machine analogy and psychopathy. There are different kinds of machines. Sure psychopaths have this mechanical dimension, no conscience. They are machines from this perspective. Also, but a different kind of machine, you have some useful ones like water distiller, making pure water and you have intrinsically destructive machines, like rocket launchers. And the problem with psychopaths is that they are mechanical and also they are intrinsically destructive because the main driver being maximization of power and money. Ultimately, it's a zero sum game. All the money, all the resources you get for yourself. And you see those billionaires with dozens and dozens of billions, all those resources are taken from somewhere. And that's how you end up with a world, and it's one of the main problems in a very simplistic economical level, you have a world with 0.1% or 1% owning more than 50% of the resources. And on the other side you have more than half the world population, billions of people, who live with less than one dollar a day.

Joe: Well in terms of the robot and machine analogy, yeah a machine isn't neutral. It's a program. It's the software that dictates what it does. And the software in this case, amongst these psychopathic machines, is like you said, software that's designed or directed at dominating and...

Niall: Accumulation.

Joe: ...accumulation of wealth and power and also they seem to have a destructive program going on there as well. It's a hard one. It's a chicken or egg kind of thing. Do they destroy just for the sake of it and then make money off it or is the destruction collateral damage in their goal to enrich themselves. Either way, it has to stop.

Pierre: Well and both are possible. In any case, the fact that some psychopathic individuals enjoy the suffering of others is quite extensively documented, is it Anna Salter and others who describe very precisely how some psychopathic individuals were getting a lot of pleasure from the suffering of others, like sadists basically and some other kinds of mental conditions.

Joe: I think we're probably going to wrap it up at this stage. We're a little bit early but I think we've covered the topic. Greg was a great guest, a great speaker. He knows his stuff. People should check out his books and his videos.

Niall: Yeah.

Joe: And from the point of view of anybody that you know that is maybe on the fence, or maybe partially open to looking at the world in a different way than the mainstream way or just looking at the world at all, rather than their iPhones and their computer screens, his books would be a great introduction for people like that who need a kind of more easy-going, colloquial presentation of the facts, that are also fun, or make it fun to read it. So we recommend his books basically for that. But also for anybody who's interested in any of this because there's a lot of information in there. So it's

Niall: Yeah. Go there. His books are listed. He's still writing articles on a regular basis. But he publishes them for free. In fact he publishes a lot of stuff for free. He's got free excerpts from his books, free clips from his DVDs.

Pierre: The Chavez DVD is offered for free as well, the documentary about Hugo Chavez.

Joe: Yeah, alright folks, thanks for listening. Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks to our chatters and we will see you next week.

Pierre: Have a good one.

Niall: Bye-bye.