Oliver Stone 

Oliver Stone is an Oscar-winning director and writer renowned for films likePlatoon , the cult movie Natural Born Killers , and Nixon , which interrogate American culture, history and politics.

He has been described by British film critic Philip French as “one of the few committed men of the left working in mainstream American cinema.”

Stone’s 2012 ten-part documentary series, Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States , and the companion book, co-written with historian Peter Kuznick, examines the rise of the US national security state, which they trace back to the atomic bomb, and the overlooked events that have shaped American history.

Stone joined Empire of Secrets  to discuss the significance of US' reaction to 9/11, how it has led to a bloated, Orwellian security state, and how, historically, its efforts to contain perceived national security threats have resulted in blowback situations.

Jeremy Scahill

Jeremy Scahill is an investigative journalist, the national security correspondent at The Nation magazine, and author of the New York Times2007 best-seller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army .

Scahill’s latest work is the documentary, written with David Riker, Dirty Warsand book, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield .

Released in June, the film, featuring Scahill as narrator and protagonist, captures the dark secrets of the so-called US war on terror. The documentary follows Scahill’s investigation as it spans across Afghanistan, the US, Yemen and Somalia.

Scahill joins Empire with Dirty Wars director, Richard Rowley, to discuss the clandestine nature of post-9/11 US warfare, the rise of the covert  Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces who carry out deadly night raids, and how this insidious war has spread across the globe.

Richard Rowley

Richard Rowley is an American director, cinematographer, and editor, and the co-founder of Big Noise Films.

He has made a number of award-winning documentaries and news stories for networks like Al Jazeera English BBC Democracy Now! , and PBS .

Rowley filmed and directed Dirty Wars , which won the Cinematography Award for US Documentary at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Rowley’s film takes him to the conflict regions of Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and the documentary uncovers the shadowy, dirty war being waged by the US in the name of fighting terrorism.

Rowley joined Empire to discuss how the so-called US war on terror has taken on a dark, secretive, and global dimension since 9/11.

Justin Frank

Justin Frank is a professor of psychoanalysis at George Washington University and author of Obama on the Couch and Bush on the Couch .

Frank has examined Obama’s memoir, speeches, public persona, and other materials to examine who the president is, to decipher what this says about who Obama is and where he is likely to lead the US.

Empire speaks to Frank about the psychology of those who guard secrets, and in view of the NSA leaks, the dynamic between Edward Snowden and those in power.

Dana Priest 

Dana Priest is a leading Washington Post investigative reporter on national security who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for her reporting on America’s overseas counterterrorism operations and the CIA’s network of secret prisons.

Priest is the author of two books, including her most recent work Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State .

In an investigative series for the Washington Post, also titled Top Secret America , Priest and colleague, reporter William M Arkin, expose how national security has mushroomed since 9/11 and the intelligence community has largely become the domain of private contractors.

Priest joined Empire as a guest panelist to discuss whether or not surveillance saves lives, who is watching the watchers, how secrecy has become big business, and why the metadata collected through NSA surveillance may be disastrous in the hands of future administrations.

Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner is the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a non-profit legal and educational organisation committed to defending civil liberties, and an attorney representing Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Ratner is the author of Against War with Iraq (2003), Guantanamo: What the World Should Know (2004), and The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book (2008). In 2006, The National Law Journal named Ratner one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States.

Ratner joined Empire to discuss the lack of mass outrage against the snooping, and how the government’s “sledgehammer” approach towards individuals like Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning is an indication of how nervous it is of revelations that may lead to more democracy.

Evgeny Morozov

Evgeny Morozov is an expert on internet and privacy issues, and author of two books, The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom, and To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism .

Morozov has been a visiting scholar at Stanford University and a Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation.

He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and a columnist for Slate ,The New York Times The Economist The Wall Street Journal Financial Times London Review of Books , and The Times Literary Supplement .

Morozov spoke to Empire about the role of private companies that snoop for the government; how the NSA’s surveillance programmes apply not just to Americans; and why it is so difficult to build accountability into the surveillance operations conducted by private operators.

Tim Shorrock

Tim Shorrock is a Washington-based investigative journalist who covers intelligence and foreign policy. He is the author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Outsourced Intelligence (2008).

Shorrock has been a contributor to The Nation since 1983, and has written for The Daily Beast Mother Jones The Progressive , the think-tank Foreign Policy in Focus , and Asia Times .

Speaking to Empire about the private contractors who spy for the government, Shorrock discussed Shamrock, the murky, moneyed “revolving door” of government intelligence and private contractors, and how our secrets are in the hands of outsourced companies.

Aryeh Neier

Aryeh Neier, a founder of Human Rights Watch and the president emeritus of the Open Society Foundations, is the author of seven books. His most recent work is The International Human Rights Movement: A History (2012).

Neier founded Human Rights Watch in 1978, and previously served as the national executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

He has taught at New York University, Georgetown University Law School, the University of Siena and the Paris School of International Affairs of Sciences Po.

He shared with Empire a historical perspective of who the government was most likely to spy on, as well as the Bush administration’s unilateral decision to engage in surveillance.

Larry Beinhart

Larry Beinhart is an award-winning American author, whose satirical novel American Hero became the Hollywood political satire, Wag The Dog.

The novel was listed by the Christian Science Monitor as one of the 7 Best Modern Political Novels, and by Capital Magazine as one of the 1,000 Great Books of the Millennium.

Beinhart was the Raymond Chandler Fulbright Fellow in Detective and Crime Fiction Writing at Oxford, where he spent two years. He received the Edgar Award for Best First Novel for No One Rides for Free in 1987. His novel Foreign Exchange was listed on The New York Times' Notable Books of Year in 1991 . His screenplays include an adaptation of his own novel, The Librarian.

Beinhart joined the Empire production team, bringing with him insights on how secrecy in the name of national security is an invitation to lie.

Source: Al Jazeera