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Archives for December, 2010


Law and Disorder December 27, 2010


Updates:

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Economic Recovery? Austerity in the US and Abroad

In our previous interview with Professor of Economics, Rick Wolff, we talked about austerity, that is imposing on society a severe regimen of rising taxes, or cut government spending to please and satisfy creditors.  Massive protests erupt against austerity in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and soon maybe Spain, as governments raise college tuition, taxes, retirement ages plus cutting worker benefits and wages. These austerity measures are about to hit the United States. Veiled in the recent tax deal with the Republicans is a decision Americans will need to make. Higher taxes or cut services? With growing debts made worse by Obama’s tax deal, the US moves quickly toward austerity while the political establishment and the media mostly pretend all is well says Rick Wolff.

Professor Rick Wolff:

  • In order to get anything through, the President had to accomodate the richest people in the United States and the biggest corporations.  I’m going to allow you to pass even more wealth to your children or the people who inherit your estate. Here’s an extra gift, the estate tax.
  • These are the people who did the best over the last 30 years. Wage earners and salary earners went nowhere, but people rich enough to own shares in the stock market made out like bandits.
  • Estate tax, you can earn money for the state to run services we all need by taxing the super-rich so they’re not quite so far ahead. What this last bill does . . rich people in America were already allowed to leave 3.5 million dollars for each person (husband/wife) to their children or anyone else and the federal government wouldn’t touch it.
  • Less than one half percent of Americans who even have this amount of money.
  • This new law raises the amount from 7 million per couple to 10 million per couple. The new tax law also reduces the amount to pay from 45 to 35 percent.  A gift in the millions for the super-rich.
  • Translating into billions of dollars that are now going to be saved by the richest people in the United States.  We’re going to be talking about the difficulties the government has in doing things because it doesn’t have money. The government just gave away the store to richest one half of one percent.
  • What the rich do when they get a break like this, and when you turn to Wall Street, the hottest investments are in other parts of the world. Funding economic development in other parts of the world.
  • Unemployment is as high as it was a year ago. Foreclosures are running at a multi-million dollar clip per year.
  • Last month the Federal Reserve decided to print another 600 million dollars. My view is we’ve got years of unemployment ahead of us, years of a disasterous housing market, very few signs of recovery.
  • The worst has yet to hit. It takes time for states to crumble.
  • The municipal bond market, the debts of cities and towns are going to see significant default.
  • You need organization to act in historic moments that moments where people need action.
  • The flow of jobs from the United States to other parts of the world is continuing. American corporations don’t see the US as a “growth area.” They’re focused elsewhere.
  • We’re becoming a society where large numbers of people are living on the margins. It’s a new experience in this country after a century of being a little different from that.

Guest – Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan.

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Obama2 nelliehesterbailey

Two Year Evaluation of  the Obama Administration

There is a long list of items progressive Americans had hoped to accomplish through the Obama Administration. In our interview with Roger Hodge, author of The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism, Hodge says Obama didn’t fight for anything worth fighting for. With corporate backers such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citi-Group,  the Obama Administration has been severely compromised. These corporations expect something in return. The Obama Administration has been criticized for expanded the wars abroad from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, criticized for continuing the Guantanamo detention policies, the Wall Street bailouts and bargaining with the Healthcare bill as a bailout for insurance companies. In this aftermath of 2010 and we look  back to 2008.

Nellie Hester Bailey:

  • A browner hue of imperialism. The policy of the US government at home and abroad would remain the same. When we look at the platform of then presidential candidate Barack Obama, he made very clear that he was a centrist candidate. In many instances to the right of Hillary Clinton, if one can imagine that.
  • We were never taken in, mesmerized, blinded . . we knew very well who he was.
  • He has proven to be much worse than anticipated. Not for me but for my colleagues who were cautiously optimistic.
  • On January 20th, President Obama is going to deliver his State of the Union Address. Everyone expects this is going to be the prelude for another deadly compromise for the working class.
  • There was a study done in the Guardian newspaper and amazingly African Americans were more optimistic about their economic situation and felt much more secure under Barack Obama’s administration than ever before.  When in fact just the opposite is true.
  • African Americans have lost trillions of dollars in the housing crisis, the mortgage scam.
  • We have to remember it was President Barack Obama that gave the banks a free ride.
  • We have added 9 billion dollars to the deficit with this tax cut deal, that is extending the tax cuts to the 2 percent of the wealthy. We are supposed to believe that he did this for us? The poor and the working class?
  • Unlike the right wing, I believe he will be a one term president.
  • What we need for the working poor and African Americans is the blinders to be pulled off, so people can see what it is that we are dealing with.  When you look at the report from the CDC where have a 50 percent increase in the number of people that are uninsured.
  • The work force is being reduced, we are expected to work longer hours, we are expected to retire later in life, we are being worked to death.  These are the undeniable realities.
  • You can no longer herd the people like sheep into this nightmare of compromise.
  • After 2 years, I think progressives for Obama need to step back and realize their responsibility for building a working class people, multi-racial movement.
  • You have to commit to a movement, you don’t do that as an individual.
  • Open Letter to encourage self-proclaimed left leaders such as Bill Fletcher, Tom Hayden and Barbara Ehrenreich to move from critical support into active opposition of the administrations agenda.
  • I co-host a program with Glen Ford who is the Executive editor of Black Agenda Report.
  • Black Agenda Report, we air on Mondays at 5 PM.

Guest – Nellie Hester Bailey, human rights activist who has worked in peace and justice movements for over forty years. From her early organizing with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee, to tenant rights and anti-war struggles, to advocacy on behalf of women Bailey has been at the forefront of social justice and social change organizing.   Bailey co-founded the Harlem Tenants Council (HTC) in 1994. She currently serves as Director of the tenant led grassroots organization based on the self-determination tradition of radical activism that provides anti-displacement organizing for poor and working class families primarily in Central Harlem

Bailey is co-founder of Blacks in Solidarity Against the War that in 2005 help stage the largest anti-war demonstration in Harlem since the invasion of Iraq.  A founding member of Cuba Solidarity New York,  Bailey traveled to Cuba on three separate occasions.

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Law and Disorder December 20, 2010


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Holder Calls Terrorism Sting Operations ‘Essential’

US Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a 20 minute speech last week at the annual dinner of Muslim Advocates a national legal advocacy and civil rights organization. While speaking to a room of nearly 300 Muslim community leaders, Holder defended the sting operation in the  Oregon bombing case and called it a “successful undercover operation.” The room fell silent. Holder continued by saying if you think its entrapment, you simply don’t have the facts straight.

Farhana Khera president of Muslim Advocates and a previous guest on Law and Disorder, criticized Holder’s comments saying the FBI is getting people involved with terrorism who wouldn’t have otherwise and resources are being diverted that could be used for actual threats.  Holder continued to justify the counter terrorism techniques including sending informers into mosques to find a would-be terrorists and creating elaborate sting operations.

We’ve looked into some of the “undercover operations” and in those cases informants were used, often immigrants offered large sums of money, or plea deals for whatever crime they committed if they agree to work with the FBI. Those cases include the Newburgh Four, the Fort Dix Five and Yassir Aref in Albany. The sting operations create fear among Muslim communities and help prop up the wars raging in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq.

Dalia Hashad:

  • There are 3 things that need to happen for someone to be entrapped by law enforcement.
  • The idea of committing the crime had to come from government agents, not from the person accused of committing the crime. The government agent persuaded the person into committing the crime.
  • The person wasn’t willing to commit the crime before the government agents spoke to them.
  • These cases look the same because the FBI go after the same type of guy.
  • I don’t like to get into the details of these cases because the narrative is controlled by the FBI.
  • Eric Holder had no business being invited and headlining the event.
  • Eric Holder Entraps at Muslim Advocates Dinner
  • The FBI has more than 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which includes more than 10 thousand FBI agents.
  • They partner with other agents, even IRS agents.
  • We basically have law enforcement agents out there spying on people who’ve done nothing wrong.

Zaher Billoo:

  • I went to this dinner thinking, what are people going to be talking about, are people going to be afraid of hate crimes? People were more worried about the FBI’s tactics than anything.
  • The concern is, instead of getting them the help that they need, and preventing an incident and hopefully bettering the community for that, what we’re seeing is the FBI converting them into operational terrorists
  • One of the troubles of the war on terror is that we can’t prove whether its successful or not but we want to continue to spend money on it.
  • This type of incident justifies that type of offense. The counterproductive measure here is that it puts the community on guard.
  • Instead of building relationships with the community they’re trying to work with, they’re burning bridges. This conversation about informants, not knowing who you can trust or who you can candidly speak with, is reminiscent of some of the regimes that people were escaping.
  • It’s nothing new. We continue to fall into these patterns.
  • An important thing for us as activists and advocates for the community is to insure we’re making these parallels and building coalitions based on that.
  • In this last year, people have started to say that it feels as though it’s as bad here as it was a year ago.
  • The anti-Muslim sentiment is stronger now in 2010 than it was in 2001.

Guest –  former Law and Disorder co-host, Dalia Hashad, attorney and independent consultant specializing in human rights and civil rights.  She has run programs at Amnesty International and the ACLU, and she has served as a human rights legal adviser in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. At Amnesty International, Ms. Hashad was the Director of the USA Program, focusing on racial profiling, criminal justice and national security.  She also served as AIUSA’s policy specialist in global identity discrimination, addressing issues of race, sexual orientation, religion and gender.

Guest- Attorney Zahra Billoo, executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area CAIR ( the Council on American-Islamic Relations.)    Zahra started as an intern for a local chapter of the California Faculty Association, a labor union for California State University (CSU) faculty members. Zahra has also worked as Field Organizer for the Service Employees International Union, and was awarded Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship to work with the National Employment Law Project. Zahra graduated Cum Laude from California State University, Long Beach with a B.S. in Human Resources Management and B.A. in Political Science. She completed her law degree at the University of California, Hastings College of Law.

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anjali ft_dix

Entrapped, a documentary film exposing the FBI

We’ve discussed the many cases of FBI entrapment here on the show and we are delighted to have with us Big Noise film maker and producer for Democracy Now, Anjali Kamat. Anjali had recently finished the film titled,  Entrapped, a documentary examing the role of the FBI and government agencies funding and entrapping people by infiltrating specific ethnic and religious communities. She had traveled through Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey interviewing families of those Muslim men arrested on terrorism charges. Recent cases such as the Fort Dix Five, the Newburgh Four and Yassin Aref in Albany are highlighted in the film.

Anjali Kamat:

  • I did the film as a piece of investigating reporting for Democracy Now along with  from Big Noise Films. It’s available at Big Noise Films and Democracy Now DVD
  • We had a screening at a restaurant off of Coney Island Avenue, hosted by the Coney Island Avenue Project.
  • When these cases come about, they’re often talked about as sting operations. The FBI has been doing undercover work and they discovered this terrorist plot.
  • They’re on the evening news, talking about how much safer we all are now as a result of the FBI’s excellent work.
  • When you dig a little deeper you realize it’s not really a sting, in most cases. It can be called entrapment.
  • Informants: In the cases I looked at, there was a Pakistani immigrant and an Egyptian immigrant, they are offered large sums of money, offered at times a plea deal for whatever crime they committed if they agree to work for the FBI.
  • There are 3 cases I looked at, 3 out of dozens of cases. The first case took place in Albany in 2004 that involves a Bangladeshi pizza owner and a Kurdish Imam. They were both convicted and their prison time was reduced from 30 years to 15 years, because the case was very thin and there was an outpouring of community support.
  • The second case is the Ft Dix Case, which took place in Pennsylvania. All five of the men were convicted. They are serving life sentences. Four out of the five men were ethnic Albanians from Macedonia. They were construction workers, their father had a roofing business. The fourth was a Palestinian American. Informant encouraged Palestinian American to download more and more jihadi videos.
  • These videos are key because they are what was shown at the trial to the jury. The third case, the sentencing hasn’t happened yet. The Newburgh four.
  • On the domestic front it allows the government to show its being tough on terror at a time when there is no evidence of where Osama Bin Laden is.  At a time when the democrats seem very weak on a number of fronts.
  • Another use of this is to create fear among Muslim communities. Now there’s a great sense of doubt whenever someone new comes into the community. Could this person be a government informant?
  • It helps justify the wars that are continuing abroad.

Guest – Anjali Kamat,  independent radio and print journalist from south India. She has lived in Egypt and Jordan and reported on movements for justice across the Middle East and South Asia. Her work has appeared in Corpwatch, Left Turn, and Samar magazine, and national newspapers in India and Egypt (The Hindu, Frontline, Outlook, and Al-Ahram Weekly). In addition to producing Democracy Now!, she co-hosts and co-produces a weekly radio show on WBAI called Global Movements Urban Struggles.

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Law and Disorder December 13, 2010


Updates:

  1. Much like the Russian Revolutionaries who opened the books on the Czars’ secret diplomacy and like the Pentagon papers on the Vietnam War, Wikileaks has done a great public service.
  2. US citizens now have access to the truth, that’s the basis of democracy.
  3. Julian Assange denied bail.
  4. Documents show utter duplicity of US government: Hypocritical and lying about fundamentals of democracy.
  5. Amazon / Paypal / Mastercard  quit Wikileaks.
  6. Isolating, labeling, calling terrorists, but there’s a huge groundswell of support for Wikileaks.
  7. Wikileaks have struck a real blow against an imperial government.

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US Congress to Increase Aggression against Venezuela, ALBA Countries

Last week, members of the extreme Latin American right wing held a meeting in Washington with high-level representatives of the US Congress. The event is evidence of an escalation in US aggression toward the region, writes Eva Golinger in her article US Congress to Increase Aggression against Venezuela, ALBA Countries.

The countries in the region include Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua – all members of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and they were the topic of debates in the meetings that centered around 3 main questions.  – and included “debates” centered around three primary questions:

  • Are democracy and human rights in danger under the “21st Century Socialism” of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia?
  • Does the ALBA Alliance of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua constitute a threat to US interests and inter-American security?
  • Is current US policy toward the region equipped to respond to the erosion of democracy and the pernicious influence of such hostile actors as Iran, foreign and domestic terrorist groups, and narcotics traffickers?

US Congress members at the meeting include House Foreign Affairs Committees, including Elliot Engel, New York democrat and current chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Connie Mack, Florida republican and incoming chairman of the same committee; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and many more who met with the extreme Latin American right wing responsible for coup d’état’s terrorism and destabilzation.

Eva concludes in her article that this event is proof following the November 2 elections, that Washington’s policies toward Latin America will be more aggressive in the near future.

Eva Golinger:

  • The meeting took place in the US Capitol Visiting Center on November 17th 2010, and it was titled Danger in the Andes: Threats to Democracy, Human Rights and Inter-American Security.
  • The meeting counted on the participation of several figures, personalities in Latin America from the extreme right.
  • There were some people from Bolivia who attempted to overthrow the Morales administration.
  • One member participating in the meeting at the US Congress in November was involved with directly in an attempt to assassinate the president of Bolivia. Louis Nunez
  • In Latin America there’s been a shift toward more progressive governments and policies, regional integration but at the same time an increased assault on Latin American stability and democracy coming from forces that either held power in prior years or want to take power in the region.
  • We’ve seen five coups in the past ten years. Venezuela in 2002, Haiti in 2004, Bolivia in 2008, Honduras in 2009, and Ecuador this year.
  • Two of those were successful, Haiti and Honduras. All right wing coups backed by the United States.
  • The decision that they (Latin American right wing)  came to at the meeting is that the US isn’t doing enough.
  • The policy toward Cuba is equated directly with Venezuela, and the policy of Venezuela is going to Ecuador and Bolivia because they all form part of this regional block called ALBA.
  • If we have people like Connie Mack running the Subcommittee on Foreign Relations on Latin America who declared in that conference in the Congress last month that  with the new Republican majority they need to take action and confront Hugo Chavez head on.
  • There are right wing governments in Latin America, we’ve got Peru, Columbia and Chile, but they also rejected the coup attempts.
  • Honduras Wikileak memo: The document was an internal memo sent from a US ambassador to the US Secretary of State. It said that the coup that took place June 2009 against President Manuel Zelaya was completely illegal, had no constitutional foundation. It is completely the contrary position the US assumed publicly. The US State Department never declared formally the events as a coup d’état.
  • The basis of my work is to use the US Freedom of Information Act to try to declassify US documents, not obtained illegally. One piece of evidence that was demonstrated irrefutably is the increase in funding coming out using US tax payer dollars to fund organizations and political groups in Latin America that are trying to destabilize democratically elected governments.

Guest – Eva Golinger – winner of the International Award for Journalism in Mexico (2009), named “La Novia de Venezuela” by President Hugo Chávez, is an Attorney and Writer from New York, living in Caracas, Venezuela since 2005 and author of the best-selling books, “The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela” “Bush vs. Chávez: Washington’s War on Venezuela” ,“The Empire’s Web: Encyclopedia of Interventionism and Subversion.”  Since 2003, Eva, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and CUNY Law School in New York, has been investigating, analyzing and writing about US intervention in Venezuela using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain information about the US Government’s efforts to destabilize progressive movements in Latin America.

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Law and Disorder December 6, 2010


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kidnappingInMilan ArmandoSpataro

A Kidnapping In Milan: The CIA On Trial

A Kidnapping In Milan: The CIA On Trial is the title of Steve Hendricks’ new book. It is a fast paced account of the realities of counter terrroism. Hendricks gives the reader a beginning to end view of international Islamist terrorist networks in Europre while examining the questions of justice and the rule of law. He writes in detail on the February 2003 disappearance of the radical imam Abu Omar and how under the leadership of prosecutor Armando Spataro, Omar was kidnapped, and sent to be tortured in Egypt. Hendricks traces Omar’s roots in the jihadist world of the Middle East and his travels to Pakistan, Albania and eventually the rundown fringes of Milan. Rivalries, mistrust and bad communication is chronicled amid the CIA, the FBI and the Italian counter terrorism agencies as operatives snatched Abu Omar from the streets of Italy.

Steve Hendricks:

  • The Italian counterterror police had this imam, Abu Omar under tight surveillance, under suspicion of terrorism. He was one of the ring leaders of a terrorist cell. They were about a month away from arresting him. But one fine day in February 2003, he sets off for his mosque and disappears.
  • The CIA had grabbed him off the street literally at high noon. They roughed him up, gagged him, drove him several hours across northern Italy -sent him to Cairo were for months and months he was savagely tortured.
  • The Muslim Brotherhood, which really might thought of as the godfathers of radical Islam, got its start in Egypt and toehold in Alexandria. Islam is not going to be re-born simply on its goodness, we have to fight for it.
  • The Egyptian authorities cracked down on the radicals and a great number of them fled all over the world, they scattered. Europe was tolerant of foreigners, Italy was one of those countries.
  • Abu Omar was tortured for about a year and then they let him out and said don’t talk about it.
  • Armando Spataro is this charismatic figure. He did his formative work as a magistrate prosecuting terrorists of the left.
  • When the kidnapping in Milan (by the CIA) happened on his watch, he treated it like anything else. He put his foot down on the rule of law.
  • SIM Card – Subscriber Identity Module. It’s not just reading the radio waves, it’s in constant contact with the cell tower back and forth. Most cell companies keep record of those interactions. What these kidnappers sloppily did is use their cellphones like teenagers.
  • The Italian prosecutors were able to find these kidnappers, they were able to track their movements everywhere they went.  Armando Spataro eventually brought charges against 25 CIA agents and one US Air Force Colonel that coordinated the arrival of agents at Aviano Air Base.
  • 23 of the 26 of the accused were convicted of kidnapping. They recieved five to eight years depending upon their degree of involvment.  What moved me to write this book, over everything was outrage over our inhumanity.
  • America has been conducting renditions for about a century.

Guest – Steve Hendricks, a freelance writer living in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Helena, Montana. He is the author, most recently, of A Kidnapping in Milan: The CIA on Trial. His previous book, The Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country, made several best-of-the-year lists in 2006.

GazaInCrisis NoamChomsky

Noam Chomsky – Gaza in Crisis:  Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve chronicled the events of Israeli forces in Gaza and the West Bank. Today we’re delighted to have with us Noam Chomsky, one of the world’s foremost social critics, institute professor emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and author of many books including Failed States and Hegemony or Survival, but we talk with him today about his latest book Gaza in Crisis:  Reflections on Israel’s War Against the Palestinians. Noam Chomsky wrote Gaza In Crisis with Ilan Pappé, professor of history at the University of Exeter in the UK. This book surveys Israel’s recent attacks on Gaza from Operation Cast Lead to the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in a very sobering analysis.

Noam Chomsky:

  • Let’s start with wikileaks. One of the interesting cables from the Tel Aviv embassy and it was to Clinton.
  • It was giving her talking points, about the attack on Gaza, and it tells her Israel had to attack on December 2008 in self defense because Hamas had violated the truce.
  • In December 2008 Hamas called for a renewal of the truce that Israel had broken. Israel considered it and rejected it.  I should say US/Israel because these are joint activities.
  • The fact that this can pass without comment, tells you quite a lot.
  • In the whole wikileaks episode, in my opinion is the remarkable fact is the absolute contempt of democracy that’s revealed by the embassies.
  • The most critical issue is did Israel have any right to use force in the first place? Any right?
  • Why have a border cutting Galilee in half?
  • The only way I know how to proceed is to get the United States to join the rest of the world and stop its rejectionist opposition to the overwhelming international consensus, agree to a two state settlement.
  • The strongest support for Israeli crimes is coming from the business world.
  • The most rabid supporter of Israel in the media is the Wall Street Journal. They’re not part of AIPAC, that’s the business world.
  • US military intelligence are tightly integrated with Israel. Israel destroyed secular Arab nationalism, that’s when US / Israeli relations took off in their current form.
  • It’s about expansion of settlements. Israel already controls 42 percent of the West Bank.
  • The issue is the settlements, they are all illegal.
  • It designed so that there will be no Palestinian self determination.

Guest – Noam Chomsky, n American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics, and a major figure of analytic philosophy. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident and an anarchist, referring to himself as a libertarian socialist. Chomsky is the author of more than 150 books and has received worldwide attention for his views, despite being typically absent from the mainstream media.

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