Background Briefing - Monday, November 29, 2010

Today we will deal with the big story in the news, that is the latest Wikileaks data dump of some 250,000 mostly State Department cables that the Italian Foreign Minister is describing as the 9/11 of world diplomacy. We will get a number of perspectives on the release of this trove of secret information beginning with a career State Department Intelligence official who will assess the damage of the leaks from the perspective of one who kept the government secrets. Joining us is Wayne White, a member of the Iraq Study Group and the former Deputy Director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research's Middle East desk and a State Department Representative to NATO.

Then offering the perspective of an investigative journalist who has spent his career trying to pry loose secrets from the government, we are joined by Mark Feldstein, a former investigative correspondent for CNN, ABC and other news outlets who now teaches media and public affairs at George Washington University. We will discuss the value of this latest leaked material to the citizen's right to know what their government is up to and the response to the leaks from the mainstream press who have been scooped by an on-the-run former hacker from Australia, who just promised to go after a major American bank early next year.

Then finally we will be joined by Peter Scheer, the Executive Director of The First Amendment Coalition who will examine the impact of the latest Wikileaks on the troubled relationship between the Press and the Government and argue for the enactment of a Federal shield law to protect journalists and their sources from government retribution, something that the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange might find useful since he has made so many powerful enemies both here and abroad.

Background Briefing - Sunday, November 28, 2010

Today we will look into a number of stories and issues in the news. We will begin in a moment and talk about the tense situation between the two Koreas with Kyung Moon Hwang who is a professor of History at the University of Southern California. Following last Tuesday's artillery barrage on a South Korean island and as the U. S. and South Korea conduct naval exercises, we will assess the apparent change in South Korea attitudes towards the North in the aftermath of this latest incident and try to understand the motives of the secretive regime in the north that is undergoing a dynastic transition.

Then, since there is a widespread assumption that China holds the keys to moderating North Korea's behavior, we will speak with Sue Mi Terry who is a National Intelligence Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations specializing in North Korean issues and North Korean/ Chinese relations. We will also look into leadership succession and North Korea's evolving nuclear strategy.

Then we will cover the elections going on in Haiti today with a former member of the Haitian parliament Guy Metayer who knows a lot of the candidates running for President in a crowded field in a race that has excluded the popular singer Wylef Jean and candidates for the most popular party of the deposed leader Aristide who is in an imposed exile in South Africa.

Then finally we will cover the elections in Egypt today for the parliament with Bruce Rutherford, a professor of Political Science at Colgate University who is a specialist on Egypt. Although it is almost certain that the ruling party of President Hosni Mubarak will win, and there are widespread reports of the media and monitors being denied access to the polls, we will examine the future of the ruling party's grip on a country where the opposition is both stifled and seething.