How Ghost Prisons Work


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from Howstuffworks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. Across this vast gulf of a table, in our brand new VOC heavy studio, is Charles W. Chuck Bryant, right?

Chuck Bryant: We're in people. This is our brand new studio.

Josh Clark: This is our first time recording in it.

Chuck Bryant: And now, we've gotta get used to this weirdness all over again.

Josh Clark: I know. Things just can't be normal, can they?

Chuck Bryant: So now, we're in weird chairs and the table is huge, and Jerri, I can't even talk about Jerri because she's not even in the room with us anymore.

Josh Clark: Wait, Chuck. Did you just pronounce huge without the H, with the H being silent? Did you just say uge?

Chuck Bryant: I've been saying uman being and uge ever since I came back from New York. Uge.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's huge.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, huge.

Josh Clark: And Jerri isn't even in our vision, line of vision, and I hate that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it's odd. Things are odd. There's like a burlap curtain -

Josh Clark: I'm wearing headphones.

Chuck Bryant: - made out of old potato sacks.

Josh Clark: All right, Chuck, let's get this going, all right? Enough griping from us.

Chuck Bryant: I know, seriously.

Josh Clark: Nobody cares.

Chuck Bryant: No one cares.

Josh Clark: I had a great intro to this one -

Chuck Bryant: Let's hear it.

Josh Clark: But I can't remember. Oh, yes, Chuck, you know that there's a lot of finger pointing about how 9/11 was allowed to happen, right?

Chuck Bryant: Is there?

Josh Clark: There has been. I don't know if there is any more, but at first, there was a lot of finger pointing, and a lot of that fell on Clinton.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: Because, you know, Bush is pretty new. He was a newbie still as far as Presidents go, and Clinton had been President for two terms.

Chuck Bryant: Blame it on the previous guy; it's an American tradition.

Josh Clark: It really is, but the thing is, Clinton's administration, Clinton's CIA had passed along a list of high valued targets of people in the Al Qaeda network before the September 11 attacks ever happened, and there was a lot of talk about what to do with this list of people after September 11. Like, say, 11:00 a.m. on September 11, the talk started about what to do with this list, as it became clear that this was Al Qaeda that had carried out this heinous attack, right? One of the things that we did with it, was to publish a deck of cards -

Chuck Bryant: I have that deck.

Josh Clark: Do you really?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, a friend of mine gave me that deck.

Josh Clark: Yes. Do you remember that you could get them at convenience stores, and American public, be on the lookout for these guys, and also enjoy some Texas Hold'em with them as well.

Chuck Bryant: Right. Mine is Camo on the other side.

Josh Clark: Is it really?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: That's appropriate. So there was a lot of talk about what to do with this list of people. We had their names, and in a lot of cases, we knew where they were. One of the ideas that were suggested was to start assassinating all of them. That one was, I think, probably fairly well entertained, but the CIA had been, as far as we know, out of practice with assassinations for a while.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sure they have.

Josh Clark: So instead, we decided to start stepping up a program called Extraordinary Rendition.

Chuck Bryant: Right, which would be a great band name, as soon as I heard it.

Josh Clark: You think everything's a great band name.

Chuck Bryant: Everyone think everything's a good band name, but not me.

Josh Clark: No, okay, you're the exception, right?

Chuck Bryant: I'm the guy who named his band El Cheapo, so surely -

Josh Clark: I know. It's a good one. What was the other one, Designer Kitty, or -

Chuck Bryant: What?

Josh Clark: There was another band name recently that you liked.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I don't know.

Josh Clark: Okay. Well, anyway, this Extraordinary Rendition Program actually dated back to the Bush Sr. presidency. In January 1992, George Herbert Walker Bush signed a presidential finding authorizing Extraordinary Rendition, which basically is kidnapping.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, a finding, we should say, is sort of like an executive order. It's one of those things that a President can just say make it happen.

Josh Clark: But it's pretty much a secret executive order. I mean, its existence can be made public, but its contents aren't. Actually, the executive order that Bush Sr. signed allowing or authorizing Extraordinary Rendition is still classified, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But what we know is that it was used a couple of dozen times, largely in the Clinton era, and for the most part, it was used to go into countries that harbor terrorists, kidnap the terrorists, and then bring them to American courts for trial.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, or other places.

Josh Clark: Well, that kind of stepped up after 2001. After Bush Jr. came into power, the CIA stopped, I guess, wanting to put their faith in American courts and risk the coin toss of an American jury going in favor of a terrorists. So they started using Extraordinary Rendition to third party nations. So now, not only are we kidnapping foreign nationals, we're kidnapping foreign nationals and taking them to other countries that they don't have an affiliation with, so that we can basically outsource torture, interrogation, that kind of thing, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and we should point out at this point that during this kind of rendition, this isn't the kind of rendition you want to hear if you're a detainee because it basically means you don't have a lot of contact with the outside world, as in none. You don't have rights to habeas corpus, you can't call your attorney and say get me out of here on bail, that kind of thing. It's very secret. You're abducted. I think one of the stories you listed was a guy that they set up a fake fundraiser and invited this guy to it in order to capture him.

Josh Clark: Yeah. After 9/11, the world stage turned into this plot exposition montage from a Mission Impossible movie.

Chuck Bryant: Right, or a Simpson's episode.

Josh Clark: Sure, yeah. People just started disappearing actually, and by the very geopolitical definition of disappearing. It was they were kidnapped by a government entity, and kept out of the purview of the courts and stripped of any kind of rights, right? So the problem is, we went from using Extraordinary Rendition on a couple of dozen people throughout the entire '90s, to - by the New York Times estimate, at least 307 between late 2001 and 2005. That's probably a very, very low number, right? So we go from a couple dozen in a decade to 307 and more in about four years, and we don't exactly know where to put these people. The CIA didn't want to bring them to the US because they didn't want them to be prosecuted in American courts. They wanted these people to lose all their rights and to disappear so that they could be kept for as long as the CIA wanted them, right?

Chuck Bryant: Until they found out what they needed.

Josh Clark: So what they did was they set up a network of secret prisons, right, ghost prisons as they're called.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, and they are known as ghost prisoners.

Josh Clark: There you go. End of podcast.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, if only. Human Rights Watch, you've heard of that group. They have a list on the internet about a list of ghost prisoners, suspected ghost prisoners. It's very long, and the CIA is always like, ah, we don't comment on that kind of thing because those lists are probably not accurate. They towed the company line there because the CIA couldn't say, yeah, that list is really accurate, and we do this.

Josh Clark: The CIA for years and year and years, after their cover was blown, would never acknowledge that there were secret prisons, right?

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, but G.W. had to come clean in, what, '06.

Josh Clark: In Atlanta.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, was it in Atlanta?

With Sonny Purdue standing next to him.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah, he acknowledged the existence of secret prisons, and it was probably, after seeing W, it was probably just a snafu or he didn't mean to say it. He was probably tricked into admitting it, but he did, and so it came out that, yes, these do exist, but we don't use them any longer. And then, in January of 2009, Obama, the first thing he does is shuts down the CIA secret prison network, three years after they stopped using it, apparently.

Chuck Bryant: Well, that was on his second full day in office he did that, but ProPublica - you've heard of them too, right?

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: They say that there are dozens of ghost prisoners still unaccounted for. So it's - you know, he says he shut them down, but they say, Pro-Publica, all these human rights groups, say that there are still - they don't know where these dudes are.

Josh Clark: Well, the other possibility is that the secret prisons have been shut down, but those people are dead. That's kind of - that was par for the course in a lot of ways for the CIA's secret prisons. If you have no rights whatsoever, if you die in custody, nobody cares.

Chuck Bryant: Or let's say you -

Josh Clark: I shouldn't say no one cares, there's no accountability for that.

Chuck Bryant: Right, so for instance, let's say you died of asphyxiation because you were held in a shipping container.

Josh Clark: Yeah, have you seen The Road to Guantanamo?

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: It's a, kind of, I guess, dock -

Chuck Bryant: No, I know about it, I just haven't seen it.

Josh Clark: It's worth seeing.

Chuck Bryant: I want to check it out.

Josh Clark: I mean, it's worth seeing, but there's a scene in there that shows these people being rounded up and shipped across Afghanistan in a huge shipping container, and when they open the doors the next day, most of them are dead. It's gross. It's really disturbing.

Chuck Bryant: Well, it's like when you get the pet turtle in the shoebox, you gotta - mom always says, remember the holes in the top, so apparently mom wasn't around to remind them of this.

Josh Clark: No, people weren't thinking like that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and the one dude froze to death?

Josh Clark: Yeah, in the secret prison. I have to say, they had some pretty cool code names. One of the first and one of the largest was code name Salt Pit, and it was in an abandoned brick factory outside of Kabul. A junior CIA officer, who was kind of new on this kind of thing, ordered a detainee stripped naked and chained to the floor. He was left overnight. It can get pretty cold apparently in Kabul, and the guy froze to death. So I mean, it's entirely possible that these two dozen people - and I'm surprised that it's not more, but these two dozen people who are unaccounted for are dead.

Chuck Bryant: Right, that's probably the case. You mentioned the names of - I dug up a couple more, and I would say these are probably Top 10 lists of camps you don't want to go to, but Camp Dark Prison was one .

Josh Clark: That's a bad one.

Chuck Bryant: And my favorite was Camp Bond Steel, S-T-E-E-L.

Josh Clark: Nice, and thank you for spelling it.

Chuck Bryant: Well, it's not steal as in take, it's steel as in this is metal that I will beat you with.

Josh Clark: Right. This is metal that you will live behind for the rest of your life.

Chuck Bryant: Right, Camp Bond Steel.

Josh Clark: If you - well, let's talk about what you lose when you're in a CIA prison, the rights you lose. Traditionally - do you remember a few years ago, the whole, what are the people in Guantanamo Bay? Are they enemy combatants, are they non-combatants, are they terrorists, like, what kind of rights do they have, or do they fall under the Geneva Convention? It was largely decided by the Bush administration that, no, these people didn't have Geneva Convention rights, right? Under the purview of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross is charged with going to visit enemy combatants and prisoners of war on both sides and see how they're treated. With the secret prisons, first of all, no one knew that these people had been kidnapped -

Chuck Bryant: Well, it wouldn't be a very good secret prison if the Red Cross knew about it.

Josh Clark: Exactly, where they were, and yeah, they were denied the Red Cross, even after the Red Cross found out that they were here, and I know you've got this guy here and we want to visit them in the secret prison. We'll be quiet. The CIA is like, no, we're not letting you in. That kind of shook things up. That's a big deal. There's no habeas corpus.

Chuck Bryant: No, and like you mentioned earlier, they would go to countries where they typically might torture people because the US isn't allowed to, obviously, to torture.

Josh Clark: Well, they weren't at the time. This is before we decided, yeah, yeah, we torture.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but outsourced it, like you mentioned. So we would, say, set up in - I think you said the first one was in Thailand? So they were looking around, they're like where would I go if I wanted to set up a secret prison where you might be able to torture somebody, and Thailand was, like, come on over, you can set up shop here. They outsourced it, but from what I read in your article was - you wrote this, right?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: From what I read, the US could say, hey, ask him about the microfilm.

Josh Clark: Right. We would pass along questions or directions, or something like that. The last - I wrote this thing in, I can't remember, sometime in 2007, I think late 2007, and at the time, the last report I'd had of somebody being held in a secret prison was in Africa, I believe.

Chuck Bryant: North Africa, yeah.

Josh Clark: And some Americans and Canadians reported having contact with Americans in these African prisons.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, westerners being held captive secretly, and some guy behind the curtain saying, use the dental drill.

Josh Clark: Exactly.

Chuck Bryant: Is it safe?

Josh Clark: And he sounds like he's from Omaha, and he shouldn't because this is Africa. In other pl aces, other black site host countries -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's what they're called. Just like, the black budgets and black ops, these are black sites.

Josh Clark: Right, or ghost prisons.

Chuck Bryant: So you put black in front of it, and if it's related to the government -

Josh Clark: And then, there's no description, there's just a huge budget on a line item -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, with a Sharpie that has X'd it out.

Josh Clark: That's a secret prison. Some of the other countries are Oserbigan, Oman, Jordan, Morocco, Seria, Egypt, Algeria, all of these places were receiving prisoners. Didn't necessarily have a black site, may have, but then most of the black site host countries were Eastern European, like, Lithuania and Romania.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but once it came out though, they would probably try to shut it down, right, because they didn't want this to get out to the press.

Josh Clark: Well, not only did they not want it to get out to the press, they didn't necessarily want it to get out to the president of that country. In a lot of cases, it was like the CIA, maybe the US Ambassador of that country, and a couple of, say, Bulgaria's secret police high commanders. Those were the only people on the planet who knew that there was a secret prison in Bulgaria or Romania.

Chuck Bryant: What do they get [inaudible].

Josh Clark: I wondered that myself, too. I mean -

Chuck Bryant: It's gotta be money, right?

Josh Clark: Sure. It would have to be because do you really think Bulgarians are quite as amped up about American patriotism as, say, the average American is? I wouldn't think so, and especially a Bulgarian secret police officer. So yeah, I would say money.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, but what I said a second ago is they would close - like, Thailand, when word got out that they were doing this said now we should close this, but it seemed like every time it happened, they would just find a different country and then go set up shop there.

Josh Clark: Right, and with Eastern Europe in particular, it was a little prickly or ticklish because - well, when the Washington Post broke the story, they even said in the article, like, we're not going to reveal the names of the host countries because it's so sensitive. These country's governments are really going to have problems on their hands when it comes out. And indeed, they did, at first, but the reason why is because these were all post soviet-bloc countries that had adopted democracies after the fall of the Soviet Union and were now involved in this horrible secret prison network. You were talking about when word got out. Do you know how word got out?

Chuck Bryant: Well, is this the Thailand one?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: Word got out on what then?

Josh Clark: The existence of the secret prison network.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, period. Yeah, a canary singing, singing like a canary, a stoolpigeon?

Josh Clark: Basically, it was the CIA's fault. They didn't do their legwork. They didn't do their homework.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, with the manifests for the planes?

Josh Clark: Yes, so this is what cracks me up: The CIA -

Chuck Bryant: This is the funny part.

Josh Clark: Is kidnapping people, taking them to a secret prison network that they've set up, and yet, they're honest about flight manifests, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's what I don't get.

Josh Clark: So there was this Swedish TV producer who basically did some hard hitting journalism, I think it was called Cold Facts, was the translation of this Swedish show.

Chuck Bryant: With Sven Svenson.

Josh Clark: We'll call him Sven Svenson; I think that's good. If that's not his name, I'll bet Sven Svenson is better than his real name. So Sven was, I guess, investigating the extradition of two Swedish citizens to Egypt for questioning. They were suspected terrorists. So Sven starts looking into the plane that took them there, and it was a Gulf Stream 5.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they charter these, right?

Josh Clark: Yeah. It was a Gulf Stream 5, and it was registered to a company, Sven found out very quickly, called Premier Executive Transport Services and it was registered in Dedham, Massachusetts. So Sven calls Premier Executive Transport Services, leaves a message, wants to know why they would be transporting suspected terrorists to Egypt, and 15 minutes later gets a call from the Swedish Intelligence Service saying stop asking questions. So Sven starts looking a little further, and apparently, finds out very quickly and in very short order that there are 36 planes chartered by the CIA -

Chuck Bryant: Making odd stops.

Josh Clark: That are all - yeah, making odd stops with the nationalities, of the people on board, and they would go from, say, Afghanistan to Egypt, to Morocco, and then to Guantanamo.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. They're flying from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, but somehow they can't get a direct flight and they stop off at four places along the way.

Josh Clark: Right, and then at each stop, there's somebody whose country of origin is Oman, but they get off in Cuba, you know. So yeah, it's very flimsy. All the companies were dummy corporations that had PO Boxes listed. Yeah, the Swedish Intelligence Service basically tipped this guy off and he blew the whistle. I think 2004 was when it really started rolling. Sven Svenson, RIP.

Chuck Bryant: So these prisons, Josh, we're not saying that these are nice guys that shouldn't be picked on. These are big time. The one in Thailand, I think the first one, their first guest, their first overnight guest was Abu Zubaydah, and he was a top Al Qaeda guy. He was captured in a shootout in Pakistan, was recovering in the hospital, and I think he probably knew what was going on. He's in the hospital saying, I'm still not feeling that great, maybe I should stay here a little longer, and then he recovers and they're like, well, why don't you come stay in our private hotel.

Josh Clark: Was he the one that they kidnapped out of his hospital bed in Somalia?

Chuck Bryant: No, no. They just said he was -

Josh Clark: He was in Pakistan.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he was just recovering after a shootout, and then they brought him to their little secret hotel. You pointed out that he was treated well.

Josh Clark: Well, he was tortured and treated well.

Chuck Bryant: You said they fed him breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and he loved Kit Kats, and they gave him Kit Kats all the time.

Chuck Bryant: Did he?

Josh Clark: I don't know. That's what I read.

Chuck Bryant: Well, it said they fed him - he was treated well because they fed him baked chicken and candy bars, but what if on his little questionnaire, he filled out allergic to chocolate and I hate chicken.

Josh Clark: Maybe that's the torture.

Chuck Bryant: That's entirely possible; I just wanted to bring that up.

Josh Clark: There's also, Chuck, a list on Mother Jones, I think, of music of torture or something like that.

Chuck Bryant: Metallica is high up the list; I know that.

Josh Clark: Metallica, Rick Astley -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, really?

Josh Clark: Yeah, the Barney Song.

Chuck Bryant: Did they Rick Roll their -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: Yeah, the Barney Song at Guantanamo very loudly over, and over, and over again, and the Meow Mix commercial.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Wow. I would do the Cook's Pest Control, here locally.

Josh Clark: Lookie, lookie, lookie, here comes Cookie -

Chuck Bryant: Here comes Cookie.

Josh Clark: Cook's Pest Control.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. The guy I mentioned though, Abu Zubaydah, he was joined shortly thereafter by Khalid Sheikh Mohammad.

Josh Clark: Who's a high value, high, high value target.

Chuck Bryant: So I'm sure when he checked in to the secret hotel, the other guy was like, oh, crap, this is not good.

Josh Clark: What's odd is that it took as many years as it did to start assassinating people. Like, I think it was just in the last couple months that news broke of some programs that the CIA was outsourcing to, like, XE Worldwide Blackwater and other contractors, ex-delforce guys who were going into Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and assassinating Al Qaeda leaders and other terrorist guys, right? So I wonder why we didn't just do that at first, and instead, started - I guess we needed info, intelligence.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah, for sure.

Josh Clark: We had none. So I guess that's probably why they were like, oh, we can't kill them.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, we want them alive.

Josh Clark: We need to know what's going on.

Chuck Bryant: So we can waterboard them.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and then eight years later we'll start assassinating.

Chuck Bryant: And give them Kit Kats, apparently.

Josh Clark: Right. So, oh, latest news on this -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, there's some pretty recent stuff going on.

Josh Clark: Yeah, did you read about the Physicians for Human Rights Report?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: So basically, there were physicians present at a lot of these enhanced interrogations.

Chuck Bryant: And not just in an observational manner, evidently.

Josh Clark: Well, that's what they were supposed to be there for was to basically, like, hey, you just almost drowned, so let me make sure you're still alive, breathing, and in good health, right? That's okay, actually, apparently, as far as the American Medical Association and International Treaties are concerned. You're allowed to do that. You're still fulfilling your purpose as a physician. They took it a step further, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes, they did. They have a report out, Josh, called Experiments in Torture: Evidence of Human Subject Research and Experimentation in the Enhanced Interrogation Program. From what I gather, the long and short of it is, they were gathering information that could later be used to defend in court the torturers. Is that right?

Josh Clark: Um-hum. I think they were quantifying pain thresholds. Like, if you waterboard this guy for this long, he'll experience the pain of 8 on a scale of 10.

Chuck Bryant: Right, so they were kind of writing an outline of what you can do and still get defended in a court of law.

Josh Clark: Right, which transferred their position as physicians to researchers, and it transferred the position of these detainees as patients to test subjects. So they were engaging in human experimentation -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, pretty much.

Josh Clark: And gathering data from torture, which is totally illegal. But isn't everything about the ghost prison network illegal?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: Pretty much everything that took place as far as the CIA was concerned, after 2001, was illegal. It's not like we're little babes in the woods, it's not like the CIA's just been on the up and up since then, but this is recent; this is going on now still, I imagine.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, there was another joint study, a 226-page report published in January of this year, and it's a joint study by - well, there's four different groups. I won't read all of them. All human rights groups, and they said of a particular concern to th e authors - I'm gonna read this verbatim: "Beyond the overall illegality of the entire project conceived and executed by the Bush administration, is the fate of dozens of men held in secret prisons run by the CIA, or transferred to CIA prisons." So they estimate - you said a couple dozen?

Josh Clark: You said a couple dozen, I thought.

Chuck Bryant: Did I? No, they're saying that 94 prisoners had been redacted and had enhanced interrogation techniques to varying degrees performed on 28 of the 94, so this was part of their whole torture memo thing.

Josh Clark: How is it that low? I would think it would be way more than that, you know?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I would too. Well, that's what they found out, so who knows, it may have been more.

Josh Clark: Good times.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It's weird. America in the 21st Century was a weird place. The first decade was odd if you ask me.

Chuck Bryant: But Obama's trying to shut these down, I think has for the most part, trying to clean it up.

Josh Clark: Yeah, we'll see; I don't know.

Chuck Bryant: But I'm not saying that there's not, you know, henky stuff going on there too.

Josh Clark: Definitely not. Again -

Chuck Bryant: I'm not an apologist.

Josh Clark: We're not little babes in the woods.

Chuck Bryant: You got anything else?

Josh Clark: No, I'm good. If you want to learn more, you can read my 2007 article: Was There a Secret CIA Prison Network? Just type in CIA and prison in the handy search bar at Howstuffworks.com, and that takes us, of course, to listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: No, no, Josh.

Josh Clark: Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: We're gonna do just a little quickie New York recap for those of our friends who could not be there.

Josh Clark: Dude, New York was huge.

Chuck Bryant: It was odd, and weird, and surreal, and awesome above all else.

Josh Clark: What were the things I learned about our fans, at least our fans in the Brooklyn area? They are very self-aware and self-conscious people, and that makes them highly relatable to us. The biggest question I got was, "This must be very weird for you, huh?"

Chuck Bryant: I didn't get that much.

Josh Clark: I got it every time, and every time my answer was, yeah, actually, it's really weird.

Chuck Bryant: Maybe that's because you were standing there, like, ah.

Josh Clark: Twitching? Yeah, but I got it a lot. It was nice. I actually found it disarming.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's good. So we - everyone knows we went to New York. We had a few media opportunities, we did a few interviews, but Monday night was when we had our Happy Hour at the knitting factory in Brooklyn.

Josh Clark: With the Onion, which dude, we couldn't have done any of this without the Onion. Thank you to Dan and Joe for putting this stuff together, and just being our buds.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that was a real treat to get to know those guys, for sure.

Josh Clark: Treat.

Chuck Bryant: It was. A sincere sensation; that's what I told [inaudible].

Josh Clark: I know, you sound like my dad. It was a real treat, Josh.

Chuck Bryant: So we have our Happy Hour, we get there, tons of people show up. The fire department comes at one point because there were too many people there, which was so awesome. I was like, is something on fire? They weren't in a hurry; they were just kind of standing around talking to people, trying to gauge the amount of people, I think. So we got to meet people, we got to hang out with people, and drink an adult beverage with people. We got to meet Mark, Australian Waga Waga Mark.

Josh Clark: Yeah, thanks for the Koozie, bud.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. We got to meet a lot of people who - and I remembered a lot of them from listener mail.

Josh Clark: Sock Ninja showed up on Monday.

Chuck Bryant: Sock Ninja, the dude, Chris and wife, whose wife was carjacked. Chris Witt, he was there with his wife, and they were super awesome. They were almost kind of working for us. They were helping with the t-shirts, and taking photographs.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and there was Greg, I believe. He was kind of helping me too. He was helping me move the line along and everything. There were some genuinely cool people here.

Chuck Bryant: Everybody there was super cool.

Josh Clark: Yes, as a matter of fact.

Chuck Bryant: And I need to say a special thanks to the banjo dude. Remember him? The guy with the banjo and his girlfriend, they gave us - well, a lot of people brought gifts, and they brought me this - she made this really neat little egg, where she had made a design of thread that was on the egg. It was really intricate and really cool.

Josh Clark: Very cool.

Chuck Bryant: And they also met my friend Justin and helped him out in some ways. They were very cool kids.

Josh Clark: And I can't remember her name, but there was a fan that both of us met, but I talked to her for a while -

Chuck Bryant: Grundy?

Josh Clark: And she gave us - no, not Grundy, but hey Grundy. She gave us a molecular gastronomy book.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah, yeah, she just wrote in today.

Josh Clark: I can't remember her name, I forgot it, but thank you for it.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that was very awesome.

Josh Clark: So hopefully, possibly, look for a molecular gastronomy podcast in the future.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and I got CD's and -

Josh Clark: Jerk.

Chuck Bryant: A lot of bands were like, hey man, listen to this.

Josh Clark: Yes, and we have to go listen to the Large Hadron podcast.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: I have not yet, but we need to go check them out.

Chuck Bryant: So that was Monday. So then, we had our Wednesday - flash forward to Wednesday, and we had our all-star trivia night at the Bell House in Brooklyn, and this was nuts.

Josh Clark: Yes. We had an all-star team that we cobbled together.

Chuck Bryant: Probably, like, 500 people or so showed up to play trivia.

Josh Clark: Yeah, standing room only, for sure.

Chuck Bryant: It was crazy.

Josh Clark: In this big room. It was a big venue.

Chuck Bryant: It was like a concert venue.

Josh Clark: Yes, I could see Styx playing there, but yeah, it was standing room only. I would say about 500 people, and we cobbled together this really awesome trivia team.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, go ahead and lower the boom there.

Josh Clark: Okay, so we had Jackson Public, who creates this super cool cartoon called The Venture Brothers that you may be familiar with.

Chuck Bryant: He was one of the head writers on The Tick.

Josh Clark: Yes, and he was brought along by our buddy, John Hodgeman.

Chuck Bryant: We can say our buddy.

Josh Clark: Yeah, we can now.

Chuck Bryant: I feel like he's our friend.

Josh Clark: He is. You can feel that way. I'm really glad that John brought Jackson along because he actually saved our butts several times with questions.

Chuck Bryant: In the trivia?

Josh Clark: Yeah. There would have been five or six questions that we wouldn't have gotten had it not been for him.

Chuck Bryant: And he was a very cool guy too.

Josh Clark: Wyatt Cenac from the Daily Show came along, another buddy.

Chuck Bryant: Super cool. We actually had lunch with he and Hodgeman one day.

Josh Clark: Yes. The esteemed Joe Randazzo, the Editor and Chief of the Onion, who again, we couldn't have done any of this without.

Chuck Bryant: Joe was awesome.

Josh Clark: Joe was there just looking pumped because he works out instead of smokes now. He's very intimidating, and then, Ira Glass.

Chuck Bryant: The man that we stare up at in the iTunes rankings every day. Ira Glass was there and -

Josh Clark: On our team. Not there to berate us, he was there on our team.

Chuck Bryant: No, no, he was very cool, and I just need to say that he came up to me afterward and was blown away.

Josh Clark: Do your impression, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I don't want to start impersonating Ira Glass. "Your fans are amazing."

Josh Clark: That was pretty good. That was close.

Chuck Bryant: He was blown away by the enthusiasm of the Stuff You Should Know army, and he doesn't - and Randazzo came up too and he was like, man, Ira doesn't get this sort of rock star thing much. So he was tickled to be there, I think, and have people fawning over him and telling him how much they loved him, which is something he deserves. And Hodgeman, we mentioned John Hodgeman was on our team, and he was one of the funniest, quickest witted, smartest guys I've ever met in my life.

Josh Clark: Agreed. I'm with you 100 percent on that one.

Chuck Bryant: I told my buddy Scotty about that, and he said you're really quick though man. I said, yeah, but -

Josh Clark: Wow, no, dude.

Chuck Bryant: When I quickly make a fart joke, Hodgeman is that quick, but he references an 18th Century poet, and it fits and it's funny.

Josh Clark: Right. It's like a drag racer and a 15-year-old donkey in competition in that one.

Chuck Bryant: Thank you.

Josh Clark: Same here, buddy. I go the 12-year-old donkey thing going on.

Chuck Bryant: All right, so -

Josh Clark: But thanks everybody for coming out.

Chuck Bryant: We had a very good time. Thank you very much everybody who helped with that. It was such a success and we had such a good time, that we're like, why would we spend any more time at the office? Let's go hit other cities, so look for other cities in the very near future. We want to know where we should go next, so if you have a suggestion of what city, where we should go, that kind of thing, you want to play some trivia, let us know. Send us an email to Stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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