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Archives for September, 2011


Law and Disorder September 28, 2011


 

Mother Jones: The Informants

Since 9-11, the FBI now spends more than 3 billion dollars a year on counter-terrorism, the bureau maintains a team of 15 thousand spies in a nationwide network of informants. Many of these informants are tasked with infiltrating Muslims communities in the United States. We’ve discussed in the past, the expanded FBI guidelines plus the broad over reaching powers and underhanded tactics the FBI use when targeting Mosques and Muslim Americans. We talk with investigative reporter, Trevor Aaronson, about his recent article titled “The Informants” in Mother Jones Magazine.  The FBI has built a massive network of spies to prevent another domestic attack. Aaronson asks “are they busting terrorist plots—or leading them?”

Trevor Aaronson:

  • There are as many as 45 thousand hip pockets. A hip pocket is somebody who isn’t on the FBI’s books.
  • Could be a store clerk, – you should go check out this guy. It’s never information that can be used in court or any sort of criminal affidavit.  It’s what the FBI could use to build information and get tips.
  • It’s all part of the FBI’s effort to build a larger network of people, that could provide information to the FBI of potential terrorist threats.
  • Money is the incentive for informants. In the case of the Newburg Four outside of New York City, the informant earned 100 thousand dollars for his role in that case.
  • What the FBI has been particularly fond of is using immigration as a form of leverage.
  • To find people who are trying to get family over from overseas and use that as leverage, saying well, if you work with us as an informant. . .
  • In the 500 defendants we looked at, 49 involved what we considered an agent provocateur, which is an informant which provided the opportunity and/or the means to move forward with a terrorist plot.
  • We were able to identify by name, 13 informants who were these high level operators who moved from case to case, in some cases state to state.
  • When someone pleads guilty a lot of the information about the behavior of the informant and the actions of the FBI never sees the light of day.
  • Domain Management was a program that took crime data and looked for trends.
  • In 2004, the FBI hired a man from the CIA named Phil Mudd to help it transition to an intelligence gathering organization.
  • It started to allow the FBI to create demographic maps of specific cities. The technology that the FBI uses today are small transmitters.  Informants: One thing we did find is that they usually have checkered pasts.
  • They tend to be economically desperate, if not poor. In many cases they’re converts to Islam, with such an elementary understanding of Islam that the informant is able to use that against them.
  • What we tried to do is build a database that we could draw conclusions from.
  • I think at the this point the FBI has gone too far the other way, bringing in people who don’t have the capacity to commit these crimes.
  • The FBI would admit they create a hostile environment for people who would commit terrorism. You engender this fear among the potential terrorist.
  • The problem is that you create fear in the community of people that aren’t terrorists either.

Guest – Trevor Aaronson, an Investigative Reporter and Program fellow at the University of California-Berkeley.

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Fear Inc., The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America

As many suspected, the attacks on September 11, 2001 didn’t drive anti-Muslim sentiment by itself.  There was some help, a lot of help.  In a shocking new report, seven foundations have been part of a 10 year campaign to spread Islamophobia in the United States. The 130 page report by the Center for American Progress titled Fear Inc., The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America (PDF link) names the foundations and key individuals who have promoted Islamophobia from 2001 to 2009. The report mentions that the funds from these foundations such as Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust, Russell Berrie Foundation went to think tanks and grassroots organizations to spread messages of hate and fear as far as they can. The Donor Capital fund was the single biggest contributor donating 18 million out of the 42 million in the 8 year span.

Attorney Wajahat Ali :

  • This is an investigative report, an expose on how 7 funders had given 43 million dollars over 10 years to a small interconnected group of individuals and organizations responsible for mainstreaming fear bigotry and hate against Muslims and Islam in America.
  • What we do for the first time is dissect and expose this network, categorize it, name the names, connect the dots.
  • The network is broken into five categories.
  • There are 7 funders. The next group is what I call the Islamophobia scholars and experts, which is the nerve center of this Islamophobia network. A group of about 5 individuals and organizations that are primarily responsible for creating the manufactured talking points we just heard.
  • Some were mislead by these individuals, within the network who are by the way very successful, by posing as legitimate experts and scholars on Islam.
  • Rush Limbaugh from the hate radio section.
  • Bridget Gabriel said a practicing Muslim can’t be a loyal American.
  • This group is so effective because it is so self reliant and incestuous.
  • Islamophobia is an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility toward Islam and Muslims, that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalization and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political and civic life.
  • The report is intended for a mainstream audience. This report inoculates Americans. Inoculates them from the fear and misinformation. This report has gone viral. It’s all over facebook, its all over twitter.

Guest – Wajahat Ali,  a researcher at the Center for American Progress and a researcher for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Wajahat  is a playwright, essayist, humorist, and Attorney at Law, whose work, “The Domestic Crusaders” is the first major play about Muslim Americans living in a post 9-11 America, and was published by McSweeney’s in 2011.

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Audio Collage – Muslim Surveillance

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Law and Disorder September 19, 2011


 Updates:

Medical Professionals Complicit In US Torture Policy

As many listeners know, health professionals were front and center and complicit in the US policy of torture. The torturers relied heavily on medical opinion. Medical professionals provided sanitizing and rationalization for the infamous torture memos. During water boarding procedures, a doctor would be present.  Psychologists were directly involved in the supervision, design and execution of torture at US military and intelligence facilities. This is a violation of state laws and professional ethics. These “health professionals” that were involved with torture still hold their professional licenses to practice.  Meanwhile a legal battle continues against the Louisiana Psychology Board for refusing to investigate professional misconduct allegations against Dr. Larry James.  He’s a retired US Army Colonel and high ranking adviser on interrogations for the US military in Guantanamo Bay.

We talk more about this case and the breach of ethics in the medical profession since 9/11 with Dr. Stephen Soldz, former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. Stephen is a psychologist, psychoanalyst and public health researcher in Boston, he is also co-author of PHR’s report in Experiments in Torture.

Stephen Soldz :

  • Psychologists played a central role, there were 2 professions, one was lawyers, the other less well known was psychologists.  It turns out that it was psychologists that designed and implemented, the enhanced interrogation torture program, who monitored it, who trained others in it and who researched it and provided all the legal protection.
  • It’s believed that it was psychologist James Mitchell who was present there, who was in charge.
  • There’s the CIA program that was for so called high value detainees in CIA custody in various secret prisons called black sites.  This is where the psychologists were central, they designed the whole thing.
  • There was a black site at Guantanamo where a few people were held at various points.
  • Guantanamo was technically under the military control, not CIA control.
  • The CIA: like I said the psychologists designed this stuff, it was quite brutal. Forcing people to stand, shackling them up, with their arms out, naked in cold air. For 7 days at a time.
  • Being forced to stand day after day is extraordinarily painful. Think about having to do that without using the toilet, with liquid food being forced into you. They at times used small boxes where a person could neither stand or sit.
  • The boxes were banged on at times, they would throw people against walls, with special devices around their neck supposedly to protect them from permanent damage.  There were various slaps that were authorized.
  • The American Psychology Association has an ethics code and its binding on all members.  Not all psychologists are members, but all the states base their own ethics code for licensed psychologists upon that of the APA, some mandate it exactly some adopt their own.
  • The CIA and military insist that the psychologists that do this stuff be licensed by the state.
  • Many of them are APA, so the APA ethics are intimately involved here.
  • The APA equivocated and formed a task force. They said that psychologists had an obligation to keep interrogations, safe legal and effective. This language it turns out was taken from the Bush torture memos at the Justice Department. The task force was dominated by the military.
  • They claim to be resolutely against torture, they make statement after statement. Psychologists shouldn’t be safety officers.
  • In all 3 states, lawyers have joined my colleagues to force the APA board to do their job. The board doesn’t have the leeway to dismiss claims of torture without clearly investigating them.
  • Larry James was a Biscuit 1 and later served at Abu Ghraib after the scandals there, he claims to have been the person who cleaned it up.
  • He admits that he observed abuse by other people and didn’t report it to the commanders.
  • He’s now out of the military and the Dean of the School of Psychology at Wright State University in Ohio.
  • It’s rather sad, instead investigating what did or did not happen, they attack those who raise issues about Colonel James.
  •  Physicians For Human Rights / When Healers Harm

Guest – former President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Stephen Soldz is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and public health researcher in Boston, and was a co-author of PHR’s report Experiments in Torture. He is the Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology (Psychiatry) at Harvard Medical School, and has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston College, and Boston University.

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Guantanamo Bay and Offshore Prisons

The Obama Administration has allowed the Bush policy to continue allowing for the practice of torture, rendition and secret prisons to continue.  We talk about the ongoing practice of torture, secret sites and Guantanamo Bay. There are 3 groups at Guantanamo, the first is 2 dozen that are genuinely Al Qaeda. The second group shouldn’t have been there in first place, around 200 of them will be sent home. The third group are refugees who are from countries with horrible human rights records.

Attorney Vince Warren:

  • What role do the people play in order to stop this? (wars) We are at war to make war is what the public has bought into. By using the war paradigm, the president seized power that belonged to Congress, seized power that belonged to the Courts and seized power that belonged to the people.
  • You can’t be at war with the “concept” of terror.
  • Prior to 9-11 when terrorism would happen. There was an investigation, an indictment, prosecution and if there was a case, they were to be convicted.
  • As of 2011, more people in Guantanamo have died than have been referred for criminal charges.
  • We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that this was a genuine reaction to a tragic event.
  • This aggressive war(s) that are based on lies, without any legitimate security threat, is a crime.
  • The other piece since 9-11 is the interesting double speak.  Torture and aggressive war become justifications since 9-11.
  • The Bush Justice Department said that the law simply does not just apply to the President, when he’s acting as Commander In Chief.  It doesn’t matter if Congress passed a law that we expect the President to be bound, the Justice Department said he could ignore it if it didn’t fit in to what he wanted to do.
  • That led to the Bush lawyers counseling him that he could ignore a law that said torture was illegal or could ignore a law that says the government can’t wiretap without a warrant.
  • President Obama talked very big about ending torture and about ending these policies.
  • What is happening now in the United States is that local police forces, immigration forces, private contractors are colluding and conspiring to infiltrate political movements and largely peaceful political movements.
  • - in order to “uproot the terrorist.”
  • Course there are no terrorists there, what there are are people who have a very vibrant and credible claim.
  • Myself and a number of other human rights people went to a meeting with President Obama in May 2009.  I was shocked at how President Obama completely understood the legal issues we were raising.
  • The very next day he essentially came out with a preventive detention scheme. An indefinite detention scheme in Guantanamo.
  • What really troubled me is that he knows. He knows precisely what the right thing to do is.
  • This thing is not going to fix itself. CCR Facebook – Twitter @theCCR

Guest – Attorney Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights,  a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Vince oversees CCR’s groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work which includes using international and domestic law to hold corporations and government officials accountable for human rights abuses; challenging racial, gender and LGBT injustice; and combating the illegal expansion of U.S. presidential power and policies such as illegal detention at Guantanamo, rendition and torture.

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Law and Disorder September 12, 2011


Updates:

The State of Perpetual War

Since September 11, 2001 the US global war on terror has reached beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.  The US constructed the largest embassy ever in Baghdad to control the resources of Iraq.  Meanwhile strikes against Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, led an air war against Libya without any Congressional authorization continue as pointed out by author Anthony Arnove.  In his article titled  The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Arnove describes US foreign policy of preventive war and how the US continues to  use drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.  Now other countries are adopting the preventive war idea to fight (quote) terrorism. Today, the Obama Adminstration has gone beyond the Bush policies as trillions are spent on perpetual war while schools, health care and social needs crumble.

Anthony Arnove:

  • 911 was seized upon by the Bush Administration as an opportunity.  Condoleezza Rice specifically used the word opportunity to describe the geo-political shifts that she saw occurring in the wake of 9-11.
  • We’ve seen the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Afghanistan, covert operations and Arab bombardment of dozens of countries. There’s an estimate now that this year the US will be operating in 120 countries in some capacity through use of commandos.
  • You’ve seen increased troop levels in Afghanistan so that even with the current so called draw down of the troops in Afghanistan, even with the reductions that are currently being undertaken, we’re still going to be ahead of the number of troops that were in Afghanistan at the end of the Bush Administration.
  • Withdrawal, the word no longer has any meaning. It actually means slight reduction of troops after they’ve been increased.
  • There are 46 thousand active duty troops in Iraq. The claim is that those 46 thousand will leave at the end of 2011 after an agreement reached under pressure from social movements in Iraq.
  • Then you look at the military installations that scatter the country, they’re not going to walk away from that easily.
  • In Afghanistan, they’re literally talking about dates as far as 2024 in terms of troops on the ground involved in a number of capacities.
  • I think Libya is truly an opportunistic action by the United States concerned its losing control in the middle east. You’ve had uprisings and revolutions that have toppled governments aligned with the United States.
  • The US has been so contemptuous of the freedoms of people around the world. So contemptuous of democracy, so contemptuous of people fighting for self determination.
  • So contemptuous of nationalist movements that would have put resources into the control of the people.
  • The actions of the Bush Administration and now Obama have only made us more hated, and made the world more dangerous.
  • They claim they’re making the world more safe, and protecting us. The reality is the opposite.
  • At least Barack Obama will be more responsive to social movements, we’ll be able to pressure him. It is clear that is not the case, there has been a demobilizing of sections of the anti-war movement who define the political horizons as the debate between the Republicans and Democrats.
  • The anti-war movement has been silenced.
  • The people who most vociferously supported invading Iraq, claimed there would be weapons of mass destruction, all of those things we now know to be lies, those people are regularly asked to be commentators on Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Yet the people who got it right, saying this is what will happen if we invade, those people are never heard from.
  • The gap between what the elite are doing and what they are saying, and what is in their interest and the interest of ordinary people has never been wider.
  • On October 6, 2011, a number organizations have called for demonstrations in Washington DC and solidarity actions in other cities.  On October 15 actions have been called for by the United National Anti-War Coalition.  NationalPeaceConference.org

Guest – Editor and writer Anthony Arnove. He is best known for his books on Iraq and the Iraq War. Arnove is the author of the book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, published in hardcover by the New Press and in paperback by Haymarket Books. Arnove toured the country promoting the book in spring 2006 as part of the New Press’ “End the War Tour”.

Arnove is also the editor of Iraq Under Siege, published by South End Press, the co-editor with Howard Zinn of Voices of a People’s History of the United States, published by Seven Stories Press, and the editor of The Essential Noam Chomsky, published by the New Press. He writes frequently for left-wing publications; he is a featured author at ZNet, a columnist for Socialist Worker, and on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.


The Guantanamo Syndrome

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • Pinochet’s Operation Condor was to round up opponents all over the world to torture and imprison them. This is now an American Operation Condor.
  • AUMF and Military Order #1 allow the administration to use drones around the world. This is the key piece of legislation. Out of the AUMF came military order # 1, November 13, 2001. The president can arrest anybody, they can be kept anywhere, American citizen or not.
  • From there flows the Guantanamo Syndrome. Habeas Corpus, a person who’s the prisoner of the executive can go to court and say put the executive on the defensive. Why am I being held? You have to have a legal basis.
  • After many years of litigation representing this incommunicado people at Guantanamo, we ended up representing their parents or relatives, because we couldn’t represent them, the Supreme Court finally said, it’s a Constitutional right to go to court to test your detention. They said that about the people in Guantanamo in particular, they didn’t say that about the people in Baghram or other places.
  • Once we won that right, the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration went into court and completely opposed that right having any meaning.  It is really an unrecognizable world from what we had ten years ago.

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Audio Collage

  • Surveillance State: The 51st State
  • Targeting Muslims Since 9-11

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Law and Disorder September 5, 2011


Updates:

Workers Win Large Settlement at Supplier to Chinese Restaurants After Hard Fought Campaign

A bitterly contested campaign against Pur Pac, a food distribution warehouse giant reached a settlement of 470 thousand dollars for workers who had their wages illegally withheld and more. The workers organized with Focus on the Food chain, Brandworkers and International Workers of the World to challenge sweatshop conditions, wage theft, retaliation and discrimination in the sprawling industrial corridor of food processing and distribution that service New York City markets and restaurants.  Daniel Gross, the executive director of Brandworkers said – quote – The conditions in the sector are deplorable and systemic but, as the Pur Pac workers have shown, positive workplace change can and will be won.”

Attorney Daniel Gross:

  • Pur Pac is typical of an industrial corridor of food processing and distribution warehouses that service a tremendous amount of food to restaurants and supermarkets in New York. Much of what we eat in restaurants is processed in sweatshops.
  • Pur Pac is a distributor of restaurant and food supplies to Chinese Restaurants, cafes and bakeries. They distribute huge quanitities of rice, cooking oil, chopsticks.
  • Sweatshop, tremendous amount of wage theft, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Vicious retaliation for workers who stand up for their rights, exhausting long shifts, very heavy work.
  • We facilitate worker led, comprehensive campaigns. The company used several tactics to avoid accountability here, the main approach that they used is they engaged in sham sales.
  • They would fraudulently transfer assets, rebrand the company. The company was originally called Easy Supply. Easy Supply escaped accountability by purporting to go out of business, now same factory, same trucks, same products was called Sunrise Plus. We caught up with Sunrise Plus and they engaged in another sham sale and that created Pur Pac.
  • We were also able to win a binding code of conduct, which creates very powerful protective mechanisms for collective activity, going forward.
  • We were able to win recognition for the IWW, as exclusive bargaining agent for Pur Pac workers. It was really the biggest victory for Focus On The Food Chain.
  • I was a low wage worker mostly in retail and fast food. I was working at Borders Books and Music and really felt the sting of a multi-national employer which at the time was highly profitable. It didn’t pay a fair wage, offered an insecure and unpredictable schedule.
  • It employed a management force that really showed tremendous disrespect for rank and file workers.
  • We had 44 Starbucks stores that were infested with rats and insects. We did worker-citizen journalism and we got photos and video of these rats and roaches, we inflated a huge, inflatable rat in front of the stores and shared our video and photographic evidence.
  • Starbucks is still engaged in really a scorched Earth effort, complete disrespect for the right to organize and free association.
  • The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the administrative agency charged under federal with administering union management affairs. They have jurisdiction over cases under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Mezonos Maven Bakery is a food production sweatshop. Mezonos Maven was cheating workers out of their wages, disrespecting workers, and the workers came together, they didn’t join a union but they came together with community groups, etc.  Mezonos Maven, started illegally firing workers.
  • When the workers stood up to the most basic worker’s rights, they were subjected to fierce immediate retaliation.

Guest – Attorney Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandworkers, a non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees.

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Federal Judge Rules Former Mayor Daley Can Be Sued For Alleged Torture Cover Up

We continue to bring updates on the ongoing police torture and abuse scandal revolving around former Chicago police commander Jon Burge. Recently, a federal judge has now ruled that former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley can be allowed to be kept in the lawsuit where he is charged with conspiracy to cover up police abuse and torture. As many listeners may know,  Burge has been sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison for obstruction of justice and lying about torturing prisoners to obtain coerced confessions. The People’s Law Office brought the case in 2005 and the city of Chicago refused to settle while pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into the case.

In the beginning of September, attorney Flint Taylor will depose former mayor Richard Daley which will force him to answer questions about the abuse of African Americans under Burge’s command. This case has already cost Chicago taxpayers more than 43 million dollars in settlements and legal fees.  Past shows with Attorney Flint Taylor

Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Daley was the state’s attorney for Cook County for eight years in the 80s during that time he was specifically informed of police torture.
  • Instead of doing anything about it and dealing with the torturers, Jon Burge and company, he continued to encourage it by prosecuting men who had been falsely arrested and charged based on tortured confessions sending as many of them to death row.
  • When he became mayor, he continued to have an active role in the cover up of the torture practice.
  • He had at various times as chief of law enforcement and chief executive of the city of Chicago, the power and obligation to act and if he did, we wouldn’t have had all these men on death row, and in the penitentiary and we wouldn’t have had all these men tortured.
  • We brought it several times in lawsuits starting in 2003. Judges had consistently turned their backs on that claim.
  • The new Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel who has successfully tip toed past this both in his campaign and now as the first 100 days of being mayor had to respond to it.
  • They’ve paid over 13 million dollars to defend these civil cases that we’re in.  We take the mayor at his word, and we hope this leads to settlements and compensation for the men who’ve been tortured.
  • There are six men who have lawsuits in court. Unfortunately because of statute of limitations most torture survivors don’t have lawsuits.
  • There are still 15 men behind bars in Illinois, based on tortured confessions that Jon Burge and the Area 2 torturers coerced from them.  We’re fighting to have them all get new hearings.
  • I don’t know if a Daley denial in some of the actions in this case would tantamount to perjury that Fitzgerald would be interested in.
  • There is a major memoranda that was sent from the police superintendent at that time to Daley, a kind of CYA saying “I’ve been giving this powerful evidence of torture from a doctor over at the county hospital.

Guest – Attorney Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern University School of Law and a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office. More bio

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