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Archives for July, 2014


Law and Disorder July 28, 2014


Updates:

  • Palestine Center For Human Rights: Current War Statistics On Palestinian Death Toll
  • Two Laws Under Geneva Conventions: First All Attacks Have To Distinguish Between Military Objectives and Civilian Objectives. Second: You Can’t Just Kill Civilians Who Aren’t Participating in A War
  • Michael Smith: Cultural Ethnicide – Keep Expanding Until Israel Takes Over
  • Cultural Genocide Case: Illan Pappe – Ethnic Cleansing Of Palestine
  • Naomi Wolf Walks Out of Synagogue When Nothing Is Said About Gaza
  • Demonstrations Against The Murder and Violence Against Palestinians
  • Michael Ratner Admonishes JFRED Jews For Racial and Economic Justice and Other GroupsTo Step Forward
  • Michael Ratner Pulls Apart NY Times Article: Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama

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Michael Ratner Discusses 3 International Crimes That Can Be Attributed To Israel’s Actions Against Palestinians: Genocide, Apartheid and Crimes Against Humanity.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • First International Crime: Genocide – There are two elements,  one is the mental element, what you’re thinking, and the mental element is intent to destroy in whole or in part. Then it defines who you want to destroy. A national group which would be the Palestinians. An ethnical group, which has a common cultural heritage, racial or religious group. Second is physical, it includes killing members of the group, serious body or mental harm to members of the group. Inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
  • A key term when I say in whole or in part is important.
  • It says the perpetrators, the Israelis in this case need not intend  to destroy the entire group.
    Destruction of only part of a group, members living in one region is also genocide. They tried to get rid of all the educated people. They tried to get rid of the leaders. It pretty clearly fits the legal definition. So we have the crime of genocide and genocide of course can be prosecuted in the International Court of Justice.
    That can be prosecuted by states who have their own universal jurisdiction.
    If an Israeli general or politician travels to a country that will actually enforce its genocide laws that person can be prosecuted under the Genocide Convention and the laws that flow from it.
  • Second International Crime: Apartheid – It’s defined as inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.
  • Third International Crime: Crimes Against Humanity – It includes any of the following acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. They include, murder, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, enforced disappearance of persons, the crime of apartheid other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious bodily or mental injury.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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Western Media Coverage of Israel Gaza Violence

Last week we interviewed Phil Weiss of Mondoweiss and talked about the media’s role in reporting facts and detailing the history around the escalating violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military. Specifically in the discussion, Phil believed that what he considered better media analysis of the Middle East situation and some other factors, might prevent a ground assault against Gaza. Michael Ratner and Michael Smith both disagreed with Phil believing that it wasn’t just about media coverage or a little better media coverage but the question of a ground assault went to a much deeper issue. 3 hours later unfortunately Michael Smith and Michael Ratner were proven correct.

Jim Naureckas:

  • I think the first thing you have to say of this issue is that the loss of human life has been overwhelmingly on one side.
  • I think that needs to be clear in the coverage.
  • What you’re getting is a coverage on the whole attempts to that treats both sides evenly as if the trauma is equally split between the two sides.
  • The latest figure is 161 children killed in Gaza.
  • And to treat the worries of Israelis as important or more important than the death of 161 kids I think is revolting.
  • There was a poll a while back showing that when people heard the word “occupied territories” a lot of people think that the Palestinians are occupying Israeli territory because the media so rarely explain what’s going on.
  • They’re not explaining what the situation is between Gaza and Israel and so you get coverage of the rockets as if they are the main problem.
  • It’s really a cockeyed way of viewing the situation I think.
  • We were talking about the headline that was changed in the New York Times after the beach massacre when Israel bombed kids playing soccer on the beach and killed 4 boys.
  • The original headline was “Four Young Boys Killed Playing On Gaza Beach” which I might note leaves out the active subject of that sentence it doesn’t say who killed them.
  • By the time it made it to print, the headline had been changed to “Boys Drawn To Gaza Beach And Into Center of Mideast Strife.”
  • You see the underlying bias in these examples.
  • Another is 13 Israeli soldiers, 70 others killed. A lot of readers are going to read that and when you say 13 soldiers and 70 others, you’re going to read that as 70 other Israelis who weren’t soldiers were killed.
  • On MSNBC there was a contributor, a Palestinian American, Rula Jebreal, who was discussing this case and the coverage in general of MSNBC, and was critical of the amount of air time given to Israeli officials versus the amount of time given to Palestinians to discuss the conflict.
  • After making these criticisms, within hours, she had her contract canceled by MSNBC.
  • She was actually brought back on not as an MSNBC contributor but as a Palestinian journalist to talk to Chris Hayes, and Chris Hayes defended her firing.
  • In this particular conflict 100 U.S. Senators voted to declare their support for Israel with no mention of the Palestinians who are dying.
  • Michael Smith: 100 to zero. What does that say about democracy?
  • I think its safe to say there’s more dissent in U.S. media than in U.S. government about the attack on Gaza.
  • I think that the rise of social media has effected the coverage.
  • When you’re doing a story about people treating war as a spectator sport and don’t mention that people are dying in the war, you are really treating war as a spectator sport.
  • We’re writing about this daily on our blog FAIR.org. You can also hear us talking about these issues on Counterspin.

Guest – Jim Naurekas Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR’s monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren’t: Rush Limbaugh’s Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the ’90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR’s website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR’s program director.

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Law and Disorder July 21, 2014


Updates:

  • Swedish Judge Denies Assange Lawyers Request To Set Aside 2010 Arrest Warrant On Sexual Misconduct Allegations
  • Torture Memo Author John Yoo Awarded Endowed Faculty Chair At University of California Berkeley School Of Law
  • Michael Ratner: The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld

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Israel’s Continued Disproportionate Use Of Force Against Palestinian Civilians

In a slow escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army responded earlier this month by launching “Operation Protective Edge” as Israeli jets dropped hundreds of bombs on the impoverished coastal enclave of nearly 2 million Palestinians. At this time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1400 injured. According to the United Nations, 77 percent of those killed are civilians and yet the massacre sadly continues. The vicious attacks are framed as a mutual conflict or exchange of fire. The reality is that the low quality rockets hitting Israel are not comparable to Israel’s powerful military strikes.

Phil Weiss:

  • In a nutshell I think Israel is trying to destroy the unification agreement between Hamas and Fatah. They don’t want diplomacy they want to end that unification deal.
  • It’s a great danger to Israel that the Palestinians are united, they want them divided.
  • They’ve used any pretext they can in the last month including the horrifying abduction and killing of these Israeli teens on the West Bank. They’ve used any pretext they can to break up, to try to break up that understanding.
  • The goals of a unified Palestinian government are to achieve some type of Palestinian freedom.
  • They would go on to International Criminal Court, International bodies and say hey, this occupation has been going on nearly 50 years . .. are you finally going to give us a state, sovereignty? If we can’t get sovereignty we’ll move to an equal rights struggle. .
  • I think the good thing that they show is there’s no green line. Israel operates with impunity, with complete autonomy all over historic Palestine. Netanyahu has said we’re never giving up the West Bank. It’s sort of an announcement to the world, this is one state.
  • The legal response and the one you demonstrated (Michael Ratner) against Cast Lead was this is Internationa Humanitarian Law and Human Rights law apply here and Israel should be brought up before International bodies for violating those laws.
  • The one form of progress is there’s no ground invasion this time. (this is what he thought at the time)
  • Michael Ratner, you and I have a somewhat different relationship to the mainstream press in that I used to be part of it and now and then I have fantasies of getting back in.
  • With that proviso, I think there has been a little bit of progress in the mainstream so you have on NBC news, you have words opening that report saying these people are trapped, they have no where to go and its a lopsided conflict.  I didn’t hear that around Cast Lead.
  • I’m not trying to defend the mainstream so much to say that I feel that there is some real shift going on.
  • Michael Ratner: Here’s a question about half-full. Do you want me to call the family that lost 17 kids in the same household in Gaza? That’s not half-full. That’s empty.
  • You’re putting me in the position of saying what I’m about to say which is the slaughter of 200 people is different from the slaughter of 500 people.
  • Michael Ratner: We’re still counting Phil.
  • The Jewish American community is highly responsible for this behavior, for this conduct that’s going on there.
  • How useful was that aircraft carrier (Israel) when we were occupying Iraq and we were invading Afghanistan? It wasn’t at all useful to us.
  • I think its a burden (Israel) I think it’s a millstone around our necks because it says the United States stance is slaughtering brown people.
  • You look at J Street, this great liberal Zionist organization. They’re justifying everything Israel is doing now.
  • There’s only a couple of Jewish organizations that stood up and said this is wrong. Jewish Voices For Peace and Jews Say No.
  • I think there’s an implicit understanding around the world now about why these people are firing rockets.
  • One of things you hear in Israel is the existential threat, in that people are delegitimizing us and I think that’s great news.
  • I see more voices talking about this conduct as just beyond the pale. I feel that the world is regarding this as a central human rights issue.

Guest – Philip Weiss,  founder of Mondoweiss, longtime journalist and regular contributor to the Nation and a fellow at the Nation Institute.  Philip is the author of two books a political novel, Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, and American Taboo, an investigative account of a 1976 murder in the Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Tonga.  Weiss is one of the editors of The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict.

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Andrew Kadi:

  • I don’t necessarily know that Israel has any real goals that will benefit Israeli society other than possibly the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza, forcing them to move out.
  • They’re leaving Gazans in deplorable conditions. They have unilaterally absolved themselves of their legal obligation under International law to the population in Gaza and have instead declared something that I think nobody else recognizes that Gaza is somehow a hostile territory or an enemy territory.
  • It’s counter-productive if your belief that the goal or the end goal for the Israeli government is peace.
  • The majority of these rocket attacks are pretty small projectiles as anyone who has seen them knows has no chance of actually injuring anyone or causing damage. Some of them are as small as a Coke can.
  • Hamas has deployed larger rockets in last 4 years that can fire through a building. ‘
  • By and large these attacks are being carried out by other groups round the clock. The ones that Israel is referring to are usually other groups that have nothing to do with Hamas.
  • I would say the rocket attacks are a cry for help from Gaza.
  • In the end, Gazans are isolated, there’s a siege, a blockade that Israel’s carrying out. I think that Gazans don’t want to be subject to it anymore.
  • They want to be able to live like any other population.
  • The American Foreign Services committee published a list of American companies directly involved and complicit in the attacks on Gaza.
  • Those companies include Boeing, Hewlitt Packard, Elbit Systems, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, General Electric, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon.
  • In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel until it complies with the 3 tenets of International law.
  • The end of the occupation, equality for the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the right of refugees to return to their homes.
  • Other companies that folks can boycott, Sodastream, Ahava cosmetics, Strauss Group, Osem – Tribe Hummus, Sibeon Company.

Guest – Andrew Kadi, a human rights activist and digital media specialist currently serving on the Steering Committee of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. He’s contributed to the Guardian’s Comment is Free, The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, Left Turn and other publications.

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Law and Disorder July 14, 2014


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Campaign Demanding Proper Health Care For Incarcerated COINTELPRO Target Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)

A campaign was recently launched demanding immediate health care for political prisoner Imam Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown. Once the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and minister of justice for the Black Panther Party, Al-Amin was one of the original four targets of the FBI’s infamous COINTELPRO. Now 70 years old, he has been held in a federal prison at Florence, Colorado since 2006 where he is serving a life sentence for what many claim was the wrongful conviction in 2002 for shooting two deputy sheriffs. At the time, four leading Muslim organizations – CAIR, the AMC, ISNA and the Muslim American Society – issued a joint statement: “The charges against Imam Jamil are especially troubling because they are inconsistent with what is known of his moral character and past behavior as a Muslim.”

Al-Amin has multiple health issues have rapidly accelerated, including dental problems, a swollen jaw, broken teeth and swollen legs, ankles and feet, and has lost 30 pounds in just a few weeks, likely the result of recently-diagnosed cancer. Recently, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark visited Al-Amin.

Attorney Karima Al-Almin:

  • I met Jamil on July 1st 1967. I had graduated from college and started a job on that day. He walked into the job where I was to see someone who he was staying with.
  • At that time he was under house arrest and he could only stay in the borough of Manhattan, the Bronx and then William Kunstler’s house up there in Westchester county.
  • He invited me to go to lunch. The lunch was with Louis Farrakhan. So I met him on the same day, we joke about that but I married Jamil.
  • In May of 1967 he was elected chairperson of SNCC Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
  • Based on the fact that he didn’t appear for trial in Maryland for inciting to riot charge which was later dismissed, he was put on the 10 most wanted list in May 1970.
  • For 19 months he was being sought and not found but then he was found and capture in October 1971. He was attempting to clean up New York City’s drug problem.
  • There was an H. Rap Brown Anti-Dope Campaign. As a result he was captured in what was labeled as an “armed robbery.” He did go to trial and William Kunstler and Howard Moore defended him.
  • He was given a sentence of 5-15 years. He served 5 years in the New York State prison system and then he got out in 1976.
  • After getting out in October 1976 he can come to Atlanta where I had moved.
  • He spent years, establishing a Muslim community again cleaning up the neighborhood making it safe for families and children.
  • In May of 1999 he was stopped which ended up being an illegal stop outside of Atlanta city limits. He was charged with driving a stolen car which he did not know about.
  • In January of 2000 he was given a date to appear in court on those charges there was a storm and it was postponed. He didn’t know he was supposed to return and a warrant was issued in March 2000. That’s when the incident happened.
  • A Fulton County deputy was killed and one was shot and then we had the trial in 2002. There were so many problems with the trial. There were so many constitutional violations during the trial. As a result he was found guilty in March 2002 and given a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
  • Georgia in 2003 tried to get him transferred and held in a federal facility, but it didn’t come to happen until July 2007. They were moving him based on his popularity.
  • Georgia (the state of) is paying a per diem to the Federal Bureau of Prisons for him to be housed.
  • It goes back to what he thought was a dental problem about a year and a half ago. He developed abscesses. He was unable to get out of bed.
  • A petition has already been sent to President Obama, Eric Holder and Charles Samuels.
  • Call ADMAX – 719-784-9464.
  • Create an email and fax flood. Email FLM/execassistant@bop.gov or use the form at http://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp (location Florence ADMAX USP). Fax 719-784-5290. Jamil Al-Amin, #99974555
  • He dared to step out when he was 23 years old to speak out about injustices and make a difference.

Guest – Attorney Karima Al-Amin is an attorney at law and the wife of political prisoner Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin. In addition to her private practice, Mrs. Al-Amin continues to work with attorneys in appealing her husband’s conviction and in working on his civil lawsuits challenging First Amendment and religious violations. Mrs. Al-Amin is a member of several legal and community organizations, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the Clarkston Business Association, and the Georgia Association of Muslim Lawyers (GAML).

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US Attorney General Ramsey Clark:

  • I met first through FBI memos, a stack that reached floor to ceiling. He had a wonderful talent to irritate the FBI.
  • The country needs that sort of skill. So I got a lot of memos before I even met him.
  • He committed the supreme offense in the hierarchy of offenses of the FBI that is he embarrassed the bureau by making them look foolish cause they couldn’t catch him.
  • The legal staff were cheering him on. He made our day with narrow escapes. After this Congress enacted this absurd statute in his honor that shows he was a productive citizen concerned for our welfare.
  • He’s big strong tall guy and he has to duck under that door on the other side of that glass that you meet him through, he looked smaller.
  • Usually his energy level is very high. His energy level is way down, he looked frail in spite of his large frame.
  • Went back Sunday and his condition was the same, confirmed. He’s got a real health problem that needs to be addressed.
  • I think ideally he’d go to the Mayo Clinic first, get the thorough work up and diagnosis and everything. If its going to be long range treatment get him over to North Carolina.
  • The main thing is he needs the help of caring people from all over the country. We have to organize that to pressure the United States to do the only moral thing.

Guest – Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. The first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a vociferous critic of the Vietnam War and continued on a radical path, defending the underdog, defending the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.

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U.S. Government To Prosecute 67-year-old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh

In the fall of 2013, the Department of Homeland Security arrested Rasmea Odeh, a 67 year old Palestinian American community activitist and teacher in her Chicago home for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court. She was charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh had allegedly failed to disclose her time in an Israeli prison 45 years ago. In 1969 Rasmea Odeh, her father and fiancee were brutally tortured in an Israel relating to a bombing at a Jerusalem supermarket. Israel extracted a confession from Odeh, and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.

Odeh is Associate Director of the Arab American Action Network and leader of that group’s Arab Women’s Committee. The events bring together disenfranchised women, mostly recent immigrants, from Arabic-speaking countries. Odeh is scheduled for trial at a Detroit Federal court in September. If convicted she could be imprisoned, have her citizenship revoked and be deported.  Human rights campaigners in the United States are calling on the Obama administration to drop charges against Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian-American community organizer in Chicago who is accused of lying on a citizenship application two decades ago.

Attorney Michael Deutsch:

  • She was arrested Israel military and secret police in February of 1969. Her family, her father and two sisters were also arrested, taken out of the house in the middle of the night.
  • She was then transported by herself to a prison in Ramallah. On the way she was brutally beaten, when she arrived at the prison she was beaten again to the point where her whole body turned black.
  • She was then transferred to another prison which is called the Russian compound which is in the West Jerusalem.
  • There she was horrifically beaten subject to electronic torture, alligator clips to her breasts and genitals.
  • Prisoners and soldiers came into her room, she was raped repeatedly. She was raped with sticks. She was denied food, denied sleep, this went on for 45 days until she gave in and confessed.
  • Her father was brought in a room with her and they said her father was going to rape her. Her father of course refused and they beat her father to the point of unconsciousness and they dragged him out.
  • She was accused of being involved in two bombings one at a British counsel and one at an Israeli grocery store.
  • When she was brought into an alleged court, which was a military court run by soldiers, she renounced her confession and said that she was innocent. That was ignored and she was convicted of these bombings and being a member of an illegal organization and given a life sentence.
  • Ultimately in 1979, she was traded with 70 other Palestinian prisoners for the return of an Israeli soldier where she was taken to Syria, then Lebanon then to Jordan where she lived til 1994. She obtained a VISA to come to the United States.
  • Basically for almost the following ten years she’s been working as a community activist in Chicago particularly with the Arab-American Action Network.
  • In 2010 there were all these raids by the FBI toward anti-war activists and the executive director of the AAAN. He was subpoenaed to a grand jury after the FBI raided his home and took all his papers.
  • They claim that he was providing material support for the PFLP and as a result the whole AAAN was put under investigation and the grand jury subpoenaed all the documents of the organization.
  • As a result of this investigation into the AAAN, the US attorney in Chicago sent word to Washington that they wanted to get Rasmea’s files from Israel.
  • In a year or two years they got the records or alleged to be her records of arrest, conviction and sentence by the Israeli military court.
  • I don’t believe a conviction or arrest by the IDF and a conviction by an Israeli military tribunal is consistent with International Law, fundamental fairness or due process.
  • One of the things were going to say is that the conviction and arrest can’t be given any kind of credit in a U.S. courtroom because its fundamentally unfair and shouldn’t be considered.
  • The question is whether she answered those questions with an intent to falsely procure her naturalization.
  • I would add the judge in this case has been a fervent supporter of Israel since the 50s.
  • The Israeli tribunals are not only based on torture but illegal occupation. They invade a people’s land and set up these military courts.
  • The question in my mind in Rasmea’s trial is how are they going to keep out the issue of torture? Which is want they’re going to want to do.
  • To support Rasmea Odeh, contact the Arab-American Action Network
  • CCR Statement

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch, after clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970 where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.

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Law and Disorder July 7, 2014


Updates

  • Chilean Court Finds American Journalist Charles Horman Was Murdered With Help of US Government – CCR Case
  • Appeals Court Rules Victims of Torture at Abu Ghraib May Sue Private Military Contractor CACI  Al-Shimari v. CACI
  • Happy Birthday To Julian Assange From Law and Disorder Hosts
  • Hobby Lobby: Continued Attack On Women’s Reproductive Rights
  • The Meaning of the Fourth of July For the Negro By Frederick Douglas

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Federal Court Dismisses All Charges Against Dr. Sami al-Arian

In very good news last week the US Department of Justice dropped all of its criminal charges prosecutions etc of activist and Palestinian professor Sami Al Arian. They’ve been trying to persecute, charge him etc. for over 11 years. The case began in 2003 as a criminal case. Although he was charged with some 14 counts he was convicted of none. Rather than face trial again Al-Arian pled guilty to one count served some time and most of us thought it was over by then. He had an agreement that he couldn’t be further prosecuted, that they wouldn’t go after him any longer but that he could be deported. Unfortunately the Department of Justice had a what you would have to call an Islamophobic vendetta against Sami Al Arian. They went after him again, first with the civil contempt of a grand jury he did time for that and in then something utterly unusual they charged him with criminal contempt. The criminal contempt case was pending for five years finally, last week the Department of Justice, the prosecutors dismissed that case.

 Laila Al-Arian:

  • We’re feeling a sense of relief that this nightmare appears to be coming to an end.
  • We’re happy to hear about the government dismissing the charges against my father.
  • In a way it’s vindication for my father, we said in the very beginning. It’s been 11 years. We said all along this is a political case.
  • If my father truly were a criminal, they would try their utmost to keep him in prison. Not to say political prisoners aren’t often arrested unjustly, tried and imprisoned but we’re hoping that this finally means this saga will end and my father can live as a free man.
  • What preceded it (2003 indictment) was really a decade of harassment. The FBI basically tapping our phone calls, not just my father’s but siblings and I as well. When you think of the Snowden disclosures and the NSA spying on people, for us this is a reality.
  • We had no sense of privacy growing up. Simply because my father was a Palestinian activist who dared to challenged the common narrative that you normally hear in the United States.
  • Because he really dared to offer a different perspective and to try to help people being subjugated and occupied, so because of that he became a target, not only of the FBI but really powerful pro-Israel voices and forces here in the U.S who tried to smear his name for many many years, accused him of being a terrorist.
  • That was part of it, because he was an advocate on Palestinian human rights but also because he was a person who really thought to involve American Muslims politically.
  • A lot of these forces I mentioned after 9-11, they really exploited the atmosphere with fear and hysteria and tried to paint my father as this menacing figure, as a terrorist, and at time when the Bush Administration should have been working with American Muslim leaders and try to build a bridge between east and west. Instead the targeted my father and tried to make an example out of him, to say that if you dare to speak out this is what will happen to you.
  • He ended up being arrested in 2003 and placed in some of the most atrocious and inhumane conditions that even Amnesty International condemned and was held basically for 2 and a half years before he was basically put on trial.
  • The trial lasted for six months, the government spent millions and millions of dollars on the case. They even flew in witnesses from Israel to testify about things my father had nothing to do with.
  • After months of negotiations my father signed a plea agreement to end his case once and for all.  The government ended up violating the key agreement and basically a prosecutor here in Virginia on ended up at bringing him here and trying to basically retry the Florida case despite the agreement and tried to get him to testify in another case against a Muslim think tank in Virginia and when he refused to testify for the violation of the pre-agreement he was held first on civil contempt and then charged criminal contempt.
  • It was very clear that the true intent of this Islamophobic and pro-Israel prosecutor Gordon Kromberg is to retry the Florida case in Virginia, basically pretending it was another case when all of the questions had to do with the Florida case.
  • Then the judge received a couple of motions from my father’s attorneys asking to fully dismiss the case and there were no rulings in the past few years by the judge and finally the government decided to drop the charges.
  • Luckily in the fall of 2008, my father was released on bail. He was released on house arrest.
  • It’s really a testament that there is no case. The think tank that was investigated by Kromberg wasn’t charged for a single crime. They convened one grand jury after another and there were never any charges, any indictment.
  • My father was a professor at the University of South Florida, a professor of computer engineering when he was arrested. It’s a very complicated case, as we mentioned stretches over a decade. It’s a case that actually outlasted the Iraq War.
  • The next step is in the plea agreement my father unfortunately at the time his back was against the wall, he did end up agreeing to deportation, so now we expect that he will be deported. But as a stateless Palestinian, we don’t know where he’ll be deported.
  • My father’s trial attorneys were Bill Moffet and Linda Moreno.

Guest – Laila Al-Arian,  a writer and producer for Al Jazeera English. She helped produce the network’s Palestine Papers special in January 2011, a four-day program on the largest diplomatic leak in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She is the co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians She is the daughter of Professor Sami Al-Arian.

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Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Organized Labor

Last week the United States Supreme Court decided on the case Harris v. Quinn ruling that some government employees didn’t have to pay any fees to the unions representing them. The case was brought by 8 Illinois workers who provided home care to Medicaid recipients. Some of the plaintiffs were mothers who were personal assistants to their disabled children and opposed joining the union.  In a 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito Jr.concluded there was type of government employee called a partial public employee who can opt out of joining a union and not be required to pay union fees.

Labor Attorney Bill Herbert:

  • Harris versus Quinn I what the ramifications of it while the court held that the majority held that a statute in in Illinois that provided for requiring employees in a bargaining unit to pay agency fee to union was unconstitutional and therefore struck down a provision of a contract that require those employees to pay a fee for being represented by the union.
  • These are domestic workers who work for people who are ill and who but also that their salaries and the benefits are paid for by the state.
  • These are public employees defined by state law as public employees but it is a background in the National Labor Relations Act which is the Wagner act which was past in 1935 specifically exempts domestic workers in farmworkers from representational rights. These employees if they were just hired by someone to come to their home would not have any rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • In 1947 Taft-Hartley was passed, Taft-Hartley allows for states to pass laws which are called right to work laws or referred to as right to work laws.
  • A state can prohibit a contract to provide that people who decide not to join the union still have to pay a fee related to the representation.
  • For public employees there was a case decided in 1977 called Abood which came out of Detroit. In 1977 case public employees it was found  constitutional to establish a procedure where people were not members of the public sector union still have to pay a fee for the representational rights that’s negotiations etc. but don’t have to pay for what is sometimes is ideological work which would be in a political activity such as supporting candidates etc. 
  • There was a procedure created where people can object and they can go in and raise issues and seek to have only monies relevant to collective-bargaining be a part of their fee, so that was Abood.
  • The heart of wages and benefits are something that are set by the state. It’s called joint employer relationship.
  • The court in the Harris v. Quinn case ruled that its unconstitutional for these employees to be required to pay a fee for the benefits they received based on the representation provided by the union.
  • It’s interesting to compare this to Citizens United. In Citizens United, shareholders who are opposed to what a corporation may spend in terms of money for political action in terms of supporting candidates, had no say.
  • The Supreme Court found that in Citizens United the First Amendment gives corporations First Amendment rights and the share holders have no say.
  • In this case the Supreme Court held that these employees don’t have to pay anything for being represented by the union in collective bargaining for the state.
  • Domestic workers are usually low wage employees, very high turn over, people who are generally receiving the low end of the pay scale.
  • What we’re looking at is constitutionalizing this concept which was previously statutory in the private sector and making it such that other statues around the country where states have intervened in providing for representational rights for people excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
  • These other statutes may now be challenged based on this ground and in the future it’s based on language of the decision. It’s conceivable that this case could at least the verbiage in the majority decision which Justice Kagan referred to is good to as gratuitous dicta about Abood decision and why was wrongfully decided is something then they come back to be utilized in future cases in future challenges against the requiring union members of bargaining you do not union members to pay a fee.
  • In Illinois and in other states domestic workers have been working in the doing a lot of work towards organizing to provide the collective bargaining but for example in New York they don’t have the right to collectively bargain nor farmworkers in other states both farmworkers and domestic workers have rights to unionize.
  • These kind of this decision where depending on the structure that the state’s designs could be subject to build the other statues they subject to challenge legally.
  • One of the ironies in this case is that one of the reasons why these agency fee arrangements have been states have put them into place is to create stability within bargaining is not having multiple unions trying to come in and and try to organize employees or having conflicts between members who are paying for the services against people who are not paying so the legislatures when they pass in Illinois for example they when they passed the statute were seeking to provide stability  in the workplace.  Most “Right to Work” states are in the South.
  • The current time is being described as the new Gilded Age and new Gilded Age is about wage disparity but is also other things including job security and issues involving the pensions.
  • Tenure is under attack pensions are under attack and now there’s an attack upon the idea of having to pay representative to provide you with with representation. A lot of the initiatives that have been enacted in the 20th century are being stripped away and it’s being tied with basically the new Gilded Age.
  • The good news of the decision was that Abood was not overturned.

Guest – William A. Herbert is a Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, City University of New York and a former Deputy Chair and Counsel to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).  Prior to his tenure at PERB, Bill practiced labor and employment law in federal and state courts, administrative agencies and in arbitration. Bill is one of the editors of the treatise Public Sector Labor and Employment Law, Third Edition and he has written and spoken extensively on public sector labor law and history.

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