Swearingen, Wesley – Illegal FBI Break-Ins, Told By a Former Agent

FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose

Agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation have a history of illegal break-ins to homes and offices and conducting wiretaps without a search warrant. In the years when J. Edgar Hoover was the Director of the F.B.I., these warrantless break-ins came to be known as “black-bag jobs”. This archive edition of Radio Curious is a December 1995 interview with Wesley Swearingen a former F.B.I. agent, who in 1995 wrote “FBI Secrets: An Agent’s Expose.”  His book describes some of the “black-bag” warrantless searches in which he was involved and his opinion of those activities. He ends his book by saying that the Hoover era will continue to haunt the F.B.I. because Hoover knowingly undermined the United States Constitution. When I spoke with Wesley Swearingen, I asked him what he meant by that.

Wesley Swearingen recommends “Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover,” by Anthony Summers.

Originally Broadcast: December 20, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


Jonathan Harr – Toxic Water, A Book

A Civil Action

Woburn, MA, is a small, blue-collar community just north and west of Boston. In the 1970s, some children in Woburn, MA, became sick and died from childhood leukemia. Some adults in that town developed rare forms of cancer. All of these people live very close to each other. Their illnesses were traced to two contaminated water wells that provided the water to their homes for drinking and bathing. As a result, one of the most complicated personal injury lawsuits was tried in the US Federal District Court in Boston. In this program of Radio Curious, I spoke with author Jonathan Harr, who wrote “A Civil Action,” the horrendous story of the people who became sick and the subsequent trial.

Jonathan Harr recommends any books by Charles Dickens.

Originally Broadcast: November 22, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


John Muir & Lee Stetson – An Early American Conservationist

The Wild Muir

One of the greatest early conservationists of America was a Scottish immigrant named John Muir who, as a young boy, went first to Wisconsin and then later, as a young man in the 1860s, moved onward to California. A friend of President Theodore Roosevelt, he successfully sought to preserve the spectacular Yosemite Valley and the Sierra Nevada range; it was joy in his lifetime. Yet the loss of the equally spectacular Hetch Hetch Valley to a dam to provide water for San Francisco was his greatest sorrow. John Muir founded the Sierra Club and is credited with founding the National Park System in the United States.

I visited with John Muir in the person of Lee Stetson in the studios of Radio Curious in October of 1995 and discussed his life and observations.

We begin with his comments on the effect that extinction of so many species during and since his lifetime has had on the Earth’s remaining species.

The book that Lee Stetson recommends is his own, “The Wild Muir,” by Lee Stetson

The book that John Muir recommends is “Sixty Miles From Contentment,” by M.H. Dunlop.

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.


Shefa Gold – Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a time for reflection and renewal, a time to look inward to oneself and outward to one’s community. At the time this program was recorded, in September 1995, Rabbi Shefa Gold was a rabbinical student in her last year of a six-year study program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadephia, Pennsylvania, where she is studying to become a rabbi. As part of her life, she travels to many communities in the US and other parts of the world to help Jewish communities celebrate the holidays.

Shefa Gold recommends Translation of the Psalms, by Steven Mitchell.

Originally Broadcast: September 25, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


Dr. Ron Epstein – Genetically Modified Food

Genetically engineered food products are an issue that concerns many. In more recent years, Mendocino County has gone so far as to pass a resolution legally prohibiting their growth in the county. My guest in this program, recorded in the late summer of 1995, is Ron Epstein, a philosophy professor at both the Buddhist University in Talmage, CA and San Francisco State University. He has given considerable consideration to the problems of genetic engineering of the plants and vegetables that we eat.

Dr. Ron Epstein recommends “Algeny,” by Jeremy Rifkin.

Originally Broadcast: September 18, 1995

Click here to begin listening.

Dr. Seyom Brown – Clinton’s Foreign Policy

New Forces, Old Forces and the Future of World Politics

The relationship of the US to Russia and the other members of the former Soviet Union is a major issue in the world today.The Clinton administration claimed one of its best foreign policy achievements was the way it handled the Russian situation and the disbanding of the former Soviet Union.Dr. Seyom Brown has, for the past 40 years, studied that relationship, as a foreign policy analyst, advisor and author.He is currently a Professor of International Relations and the former Chairman of the Department of Politics at Brandeis University, near Boston, MA.Our discussion about Clinton’s foreign policy resulted in this two-part program.

Originally Broadcast: August 28, 1995 & September 11, 1995

Click here to begin listening to Part One.

Click here to begin listening to Part Two.


Dewey Crockett – Living Language Fossil

Tangier Island is a remote community in North America in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Located twelve miles across the water from Crissfield, Maryland, the closest larger community, Tangier Island for a long time was isolated and insular. Some have called it a language fossil because many people speak with an accent close to that of Elizabethan England. Dewey Crockett was born and grew up on the island. In 1995, when this program was recorded, he was a social studies teacher, a Methodist minister, the Mayor, and the undertaker for Tangier Island. I spoke with Dewey Crockett about Tangier Island, its history, and some of the issues of the time.

Dewey Crockett recommends “The Parson of the Island,” by Adam Wallace.

Originally Broadcast: August 7, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


Corporal Gabriel West & Sgt. Hugh Griffin – The First English Settlement in the New World

Please join me as we go back in history to the year 1584, to the East Coast of what is now the United States. In that year, Queen Elizabeth the First, then the Queen of England, sent Sir Walter Raleigh in command of three seafaring expeditions to what they called the New World. These expeditions landed on the central coast of what is now North Carolina and became the first English settlements in North America. They called the region Virginia, in honor of Elizabeth the First, the maiden Queen of England. The Cultural Resources Division of the North Carolina Division of History has recreated a model of the seafarers’ ship, called Elizabeth the Second, which carried these small groups of soldiers across the ocean in 1585. In-character actors, talking as real people living in 1585, are on site near Roanoke, North Carolina. I first spoke with a man who called himself Sgt. Hugh Griffin. He claimed to be in charge of the small outpost, one of several they established on their arrival a few days before.

Originally Broadcast: July 1, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


Rodolfo Gomez – A Walk in the Costa Rican Rain Forest

On the eastern slope of the Continental Divide, about an hour’s drive east of San Jose, Costa Rica, is the Rain Forest Aerial Tram, a tramway that travels through, above and below the rain forest canopy. The rain forest canopy is home to more diverse forms of flora and fauna than anywhere else in the known universe. Rodolfo Gomez, trained as an architect, has found his calling as a tour guide in Central America and specifically Costa Rica. My daughter Molly and I met with Rodolfo in the rain forest, near the aerial tram and recorded this program in April of 1995.

Originally Broadcast: June 20, 1995

Click here to begin listening.


Dr. Donald Perry – A Ride Through a Rain Forest in Costa Rica

Life Above the Jungle Floor

In the middle of the Costa Rican rain forest, about an hour west of San Jose, Costa Rica, on the east side of the continental divide, you can find the Rain Forest Aerial Tram located on a private rain forest reserve. It’s a series of small, open-air cars that hold about five people each held together by a three kilometers long cable. The tramcars carry visitors through, above and below this portion of the Central American rainforest canopy. The Rain Forest Aerial Tram was the brainchild of Dr. Donald Perry, a biologist trained at the University of California at Los Angeles, who, beginning in 1970, has specialized in the study of the flora and fauna of the Central American Rainforest. In April of 1995, I visited the Rain Forest Aerial Tram with Dr. Perry.

Dr. Donald Perry recommends “Life Above the Jungle Floor,” by Dr. David Perry.

Originally Broadcast: April 1, 1995

Click here to begin listening.