The Ayahuasca Brouhaha

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An account of a relatively recent experience of the Amazonian psychedelic/entheogen/ecodelic ayahuasca, also known in Colombia as yagé.

In this podcast, I provide a basic introduction to what ayahuasca is, for those to whom it’s new; I try my best to recount the visions it brought to me; to make sense of how to think of them; and to some small extent to make sense of it in its European and South American contexts. I come clean that I don’t think one is experiencing a simple hallucination, but that something is superintending the trip; while leaving open the possibility I’m wrong about that. And I admit I failed to convey things in the podcast. Enjoy.

Untitled design



9/11 in the Time of Trump, part one

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Download and stream the podcast here.

Sources, notes, and selected salient references:

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General: A Review of the FBI’s Handling of Intelligence Information Related to the September 11 Attacks (unclassified edition). Completed November 2004, published June 2006.

Contains the following references:

  • “pls hold off on the CIR…” p. 240
  • an account of the Islamabad source’s identification of Khallad bin Attash in January 2001, pp. 262-278.
  • Corsi’s inability to recall becoming aware of identification of Khallad bin Attash, p.296.
  • “We question the amount of time that elapsed between [Gillespie’s] assignment and her discovery of the important information.” p. 360.

U.S. Congress, Report of the Joint Inquiry into the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.

Contains the following references:

  • CIA officer read March 5th cable about travel of al-Hazmi and a companion to Los Angeles “with interest”, p.147, p.199 of PDF.
  • CIA rejected a request from foreign authorities to become involved in search for al-Mihdhar, p. 147.
  • NSA reported information from San Diego to Yemen calls to CIA and FBI, p. 157, p. 209 of PDF.

The 9/11 Commission Report. W.W. Norton, 2004.

Contains the following references:

  • Richard Blee told his superiors that surveillance of Kuala Lumpur meeting went on past 8th January, p. 354.
  • Sherry Sabol’s denial she gave the advice Dina Corsi represented her as giving, that a criminal agent could not participate in an interview of al-Mihdhar, p. 538, endnote 81.

United States v. Zacarias Mouassaoui,

  • Defence Exhibit 939, “Substitution for the Testimony of John”
  • Defence Exhibit 682 [Corsi’s email to Bongardt saying FBI criminal agents may not be present at an interview of al-Mihdhar, Bongardt’s email saying, given there is no FISA, the “wall” does not apply.]

Guantanamo Detainee Assessment of Hambali, which calls Khalid Sheikh Mohammed by his detainee number K10024, and refers to his attendance at the Kuala Lumpur meeting in January 2000, with al-Mihdhar and al-Hazmi, on p.8.

George Tenet, At the Center of the Storm. HarperCollins, 2007. (Refers to Richard Blee’s comment that “They’re coming here”, p. 158)

Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots: How CIA and FBI officials helped enable 9/11 and evaded government investigations. TrineDay, 2011. (Book Depository [does not reflect subsequently changed subtitle] / TrineDay)

Lawrence Wright, “The Agent”. The New Yorker, 10 July, 2006. (An account of Ali Soufan’s requests for information to the CIA about a meeting of bin Laden associates in southeast Asia.)

David E. Kaplan and Kevin Whitelaw, “Pieces of the 9/11 Puzzle”, US News and World Report, March 7, 2004. (Contains NSA claim that neither contents of physics of the San Diego to Yemen hub calls suggested U.S. link.)

Who is Rich Blee? Podcast on Alec Station (source of the clips of Mark Rossini on Margaret Gillespie and Richard Clarke on arresting the alleged hijackers).

People Who Poo Podcast #3 Shaman Eric and Cecile: music used in my podcast recorded at the end of this podcast.

Was the 2014 Ottawa attack state-managed terrorism? An interview with Graeme MacQueen

This is an in-depth interview about the October 22nd, 2014, Ottawa shootings with Graeme MacQueen, who has written a report giving considerable circumstantial evidence for the possibility that the attack was carried out under the ultimate direction of the Canadian security state, with likely American co-operation.

We talk about the attack itself; its links with an attack in Quebec two days previously; the documented record of entrapment of Muslims by law enforcement in North America; problems with the evidence the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have offered to support their account of events, particularly how the attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, obtained the equipment needed for the attack; whether his shooting dead was justified; and about the extremely troubling so-called intelligence warnings in advance of the attack.

I was drawn to the topic in part because of an Irish angle. Kevin Vickers, who was sergeant-at-arms in the Federal House of Commons, where the attack ended, shot dead Zehaf-Bibeau, and was rewarded shortly after with the role of Canadian ambassador to Ireland, which he is to this day. The question why the provincial sergeant-at-arms at the British Columbia Legislature received a warning that week about a possible attack, while Vickers, in the federal parliament, seemingly did not, is only one of many troubling questions about that day.

Graeme MacQueen was born in Nova Scotia. He has a Ph. D. in Buddhist Studies from Harvard, and was an academic at McMaster University, where he was founding director of the Centre for Peace Studies. He was previously an editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies, and in 2014 he published The 2001 Anthrax Deception, subtitled The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy. Denis Halliday, who was Assistant Secretary General at the United Nations 1994-1998, said about that study: “This deeply troubling book should be read by thinking Americans, and even more so by the majority that do not.”

In 2015, MacQueen published a short report, The October 22, 2014 Ottawa Shootings: Why Canadians Need a Public Inquiry.

Show notes:

The October 22, 2014 Ottawa Shootings: Why Canadians Need a Public Inquiry: PDF / Amazon CanadaAmazon UK / Amazon US.

RCMP entrapped B.C. terror suspects. CBC News, YouTube, July 29, 2016. Regarding the case of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody.

Ottawa shooter’s chilling video. CBC’s The National, YouTube, March 6, 2015. Zehaf-Bibeau’s martyrdom video released at time of discussion of Anti-terrorism Act.

Independent Investigation into the Death of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. Ontario Provincial Police, not dated, published 2015. MacQueen’s primary reference in assessing the justification given for the death of Zehaf-Bibeau.

Security Panel: Attack in Ottawa. CBC’s The National, YouTube, October 22, 2014. Adrienne Arsenault’s comments on security force’s war-gaming a scenario very similar to the two attacks begins at 1.38.

Canadian authorities overheard plans for ‘potential ISIS-inspired knife-and-gun attacks’: NBC. National Post, October 8, 2014. The earliest of the “intelligence warnings” cited by MacQueen. The reference to the possibility of an attack on a shopping mall is of interest, given the reports of shooting at Ottawa’s Rideau Centre later on October 22, which is covered in MacQueen’s report, but went unmentioned in the podcast

Politicians knew about ‘heightened’ Ottawa security concerns ‘for at least a few days’: B.C. legislative clerk. National Post, October 22, 2014. Article includes reference to sergeant-at-arms’ comments on co-operation among with his role in Canadian legislatures.

We need a public inquiry into the 2014 Ottawa shootings. The Hamilton Spectator, October 21, 2016. MacQueen’s article on the second anniversary of the shootings, including “Jessica’s” comment at the end of the piece.

How the Pentagon and the CIA write Hollywood scripts: an interview with Tom Secker

Here is a link to my recent interview with Tom Secker.

I talk to Tom Secker about his book National Security Cinema, co-written with Matthew Alford. Using the US Freedom of Information Act, and journalistic and academic sources, as well as analysis of script changes, Tom and Matthew have greatly increased our knowledge of the US Department of Defense’s and the CIA’s use of hardware and expertise as an enticement to film producers and directors to remove elements of their scripts critical of or simply inconvenient for the defence and intelligence establishments; affecting, to that extent, how cinema-goers see the world.

Show notes:

The book under discussion, National Security Cinema: Amazon UK / Amazon USA

US Air Force Entertainment Liaison Office / US Marine Corps Entertainment Liaison Office / CIA Entertainment Liaison Office

Tom Secker’s website on intelligence agencies and popular culture:

His podcast ClandesTime:

Chase Brandon’s website, CIA ELO, 1996-2007.

Rules of Engagement Wikipedia page.

Transformers Wikipedia page.

Argo Wikipedia page.

What I have, and haven’t, learned from podcasting

Sometimes, the way I am currently doing journalism, podcasting, can get me down. The very fact I am writing now is a sign I’m taking a brief time-out.

But I am fundamentally grateful for the opportunities podcasting has given me and the challenges I envisage. I am also grateful for what I have learned, and — trickiest of all — what it has shown me I haven’t yet learned.

The impulse to start was as follows: they can’t stop me! I had had a number of pitches to newspaper editors turned down, and it would have been easy to get discouraged. “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money,” said Dr Johnson, but there are no such strictures on podcasting. This fundamental posture, of being responsible for everything you do can be not just a hard lesson, but properly exhilarating.

So early last year I made a documentary podcast about how Vladimir Putin came to power. Made means researched, wrote, recorded and edited. The research alone was quite daunting, and it was occasionally dispiriting to read yet another new and crucial Russian name. But I also remember repeatedly sitting down at my desk, and not getting up until 90 minutes later, knowing that while the progress could not always be measured, I was moving closer to publication.

Since then, I have been interviewing people, which has been a joy. There are plenty of people with, not just interesting, but vital stories and insights (such as Guido Preparata, Emma Blake Corrigan, and Tim Coles), who are not properly being listened to. Here is some wise advice from Shimeka Williams (published in Gary Leland’s book 100 Great Podcasting Tips from 100 Great Podcasters): “If you perceive that attracting guests will be a problem, then it will be. However, if you are always on the lookout for potential guests, then you will find them everywhere.”

Lots of motivational books tell us not to be afraid to approach people with an idea or proposal. All I would add is that from my experience potential interviewees are generous, happy to talk, and easy to get in touch with: if in doubt, send an email.

After some time, I was feeling a little unrewarded. Of course, producing fascinating material (I think so anyway) was rewarding. But I am neither getting a huge audience, nor raking it in. I hope that doesn’t sound like a simple whinge: it just felt like there was a disparity between the effort I put in and the life-progress I want to make. And again I am actually extremely grateful, because a number of people have been extremely generous in becoming my Patreon donors. It has been a lesson in the wisdom of asking for help. My Patreon donors, a small number of people letting me know they care (and giving me a few bob!) have been a huge source of hope. Thank you all again! The intelligent advice, praise and dispraise of all listeners who have been in touch has been equally important.

I have to be honest and say that the donors so far are all people I know. And it is still a puzzle to me, whether my podcasting will make the difference I wish it to make. The questions come thick and fast: Is the material too boring?Am I too boring? Do people want this kind of interview in the first place?What about the fact that the technical side is not my strong point? Am I a good enough marketer? Am I doing too much research?

I haven’t got answers for all these questions. Sometimes I wish I had my own total obsessions, but then I remember the privilege of sharing in someone else’s, what George Steiner called “the privilege of carrying the mail”. I know I need to keep an eye out for people who I can work with in future. I look forward to getting other editorial perspectives. I am pretty sure I could make my life easier when it comes to technology, but at the moment it feels like I can’t even afford to ask what I should do. It can feel like doing intense research for a podcast in which I won’t be saying much is madness. But it does mean I can ask the right questions, and it’s also just me.

Just me! Really I would have been glad to have a title for the podcast other than The Rory O’Connor Podcast. Theoretically, it would be best to have a focus, a clear market. (People have agreed with me about this: but on the other hand: The Tim Ferriss Show.) Being amusing on Twitter seems to be a passport to popularity, but I just don’t care.

And I can’t help being interested in topics from diverse experiences of life. And I intend to throw a few curveballs in terms of topics and interviewees in 2018. If all that works against me, at least I will have been true to myself.

So I take heart from Christopher Gronlund’s words (also in Leland’s book): “Do the podcast you’d still do if only 10 people listened. That’s the show that’s in your heart.” Really it never occurred to me to do anything else! Call it the square-peg feeling. I want to report that for the first time in years, I have the feeling that I know what I’m doing. And that is invaluable, so I will keep going for a while yet.

That feeling, which probably not everyone needs in their work, but everyone needs in life, encourages me to have faith in the project. Learning as I go. Really, it’s the same feeling as knowing I would finish that first podcast.

Fire and Fury: an interview with Tim Coles on the North Korean crisis and US policy in east Asia.

Here is a link to my interview with Tim Coles, about the North Korean crisis and US policy in east Asia. I will embed it as soon as Podomatic get back to me about how to do that.

In this episode, Tim Coles is my guest to discuss the latest events in the North Korean crisis and strategic interests of the countries immersed in the crisis, especially the United States, and the US’s broader involvement in east Asia. Topics discussed include: having a book title in common with Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump White House; the actual state of North Korean nuclear weapons and missile development; American strategic assessments of North Korean goals; the ambiguity in American policy regarding North Korea; ‘full spectrum dominance’ as part of a war economy; the ‘Asia pivot’ as part of US policy regarding east Asia; THAAD and other ‘missile defence’ systems as offensive weapons; Chinese strategic goals; the humanitarian effect of economic sanctions; de-escalation as a state-led part of peace; citizen-led paths to peace; and the risk of an accidental war.

Tim Coles is the author of Fire and Fury, whose subtitle is How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia, published by Clairview Books in December 2017. He is a founder and director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research, whose website is In the past two years, he has written a series of timely books about geopolitical and economic matters, published by Clairview, namely Britain’s Secret Wars, The Great Brexit Swindle, President Trump Inc., he edited Voices for Peace.

Show notes:

T. J. Coles, Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risk Nuclear War in Asia (Clairview Books, 2017). (Clairview / Amazon UK / Amazon USA / Book Depository.)

New York Times, “How U.S. Intelligence Agencies Underestimated North Korea” (6 January, 2018).

Asahi Shimbun, “North Korea said to be testing anthrax-tipped ballistic missiles” (20 December, 2017).

Daily Telegraph, Exclusive: US making plans for ‘bloody nose’ attack on North Korea” (20 December, 2017).

National Security Strategy of the United States of America (December 2017).


Emma Blake Corrigan on physical literacy for children


Emma Blake Corrigan is co-founder of Simple Physical Literacy, and she teaches children physical literacy, and especially trains adults in how to teach it. The website is The course is intended especially for children aged 6 to 9. Her briefest definition of physical literacy is joy in movement, and we discuss its importance to children for making friends, being in a classroom, and for other types of learning.

Why is the $ King? And why do we pay interest? An interview with Guido Preparata

This podcast interview with Guido Preparata is about two broad topics: first, how the United States maintains its central role in the global economy through the power of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Second, about a fresh, unfamiliar take on money as we know it today, how money might be reformed, and its effect on economic production.

In between we take in: the bubble economy; the slump of the past ten years; why American prepotence is probably stable; why the high priests of economics are at ease with Bitcoin; how Marx got the origin of exploitation wrong; the work of the monetary reformer Silvio Gesell; and many other topics.

Guido Preparata is an economist by training, with a PhD in political economy from UCLA. In the 1990s he worked at the Italian central bank, the Bank of Italy. From 2000 to 2008 he taught political economy at the University of Washington, and during that time wrote two books: Conjuring Hitler and The Ideology of Tyranny. Since 2012, he’s been Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences at the Pontifical Georgian University in Rome, and recently was the editor of and a substantial contributor to the book New Directions for Catholic Social and Political Research, published in 2016.


Show notes:

Guido Preparata’s website.

Guido Preparata, Domenico d’Amico, Evelyn Ysais, “The Political Economy of Hyper-Modernity: a tale of America’s hegemonic exigencies through the Undulations of the U.S. Balance of Payments.” The essay referred to for the first part of the podcast. Link to Guido Preparata’s website, containing instructions for obtaining a copy.

Guido Preparata, “On the Art of Innuendo: J.M. Keynes’ plagiarism of Silvio Gesell’s monetary economics.” This essay is referred to in the podcast, in explaining how Gesell’s economics were both used and mocked by Keynes.

Ken Rogoff, The Curse of Cash. Guido Preparata refers to this book in explaining bankers’ ease with cryptocurrency. Amazon USA / Book Depository.