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Archive for the 'Afghanistan War' Category


Law and Disorder April 7, 2014


Updates:

  • Ruling In Teenager’s Facebook Case
  • Family of Homeless Man Repeatedly Shot By Police Reached $725, 000 Settlement
  • Supreme Court Strikes Down Campaign Contribution Limits
  • Kerry Cancels Visit to PA after Abbas Asks to Join 15 UN Agencies

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The ARNCA Urges US President and Congress To Stop Attacks on Kessab

In the early hours of march 31, 2014 civilians in the ancient Armenian settlement of Kessab and surrounding villages were attacked by forces opposed to the Syrian government crossing the border from Turkey. Kessab is an Armenian-populated town situated in northwestern Syria. The cross border attacks, which included church desecrations, forced immediate civilian evacuation of the area, alarming Armenians around the globe concerned about the safety of their relatives. Considered  safe haven for refugees fleeing nearby war torn cities in recent years, the local Armenian population in Kessab has increased. In response to the recent multi-pronged attack, the Armenian National Committee of America has called on President Obama and Congress to press Turkey to stop facilitation attacks on civilians in Kessab, to investigate Turkey’s reported assistance to foreign fighters associated with the U.S. designated terrorist groups and to direct humanitarian aid to victims in the Armenian settlement.

 Aram Hamparian:

  • Kessab holds tremendous meaning for Armenians around the world. It’s essentially the last Armenian village that remains on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire.  The territory that was emptied of Armenians during the genocide of 1915.
  • A portion of those survivors settled in this village which is right on the Turkish border and for 9 decades they lived in safety but in the shadow of Turkey, until recently when extremist militants invaded the village from Turkey and drove out about 2000 residents who are essentially homeless today.
  • I think that a decision was made in Ankara, Turkey to allow extremists to use their territory to drive the Armenians out of that village. I think there’s an element of intent on the part of the Turkish government, which has been consistently anti-Armenian for more than half a century.
  • Only one person we understand was killed by a sniper as reported by the Washington Post but the overwhelming majority have fled.
  • We’ve worked very hard to encourage the U.S. government to protest not only the attack but also Turkey’s role.
  • Congress didn’t condemn what we thought was the key element Turkey allowing the soldiers to cross this border and make this attack.
  • There are parts of Kessab that are a 100 yards away from a highly militarized, highly monitored border.
  • It’s inconceivable that soldiers would’ve crossed that border had they not been supported by or at the very least ignored by the Turkish government.
  • They simply can’t go home if there is a fear of repetition. If the precedent is set that, well if Turkey did this once and they were not challenged at all and given a free pass.
  • We’re trying to get a message from the Washington to Ankara, saying this is out of bounds.  You have the right to protect your border but you also have to make sure your border isn’t crossed by militants who are doing harm to innocent civilians.
  • President Obama came in to office with a pledge to recognize the genocide.  Soon after he came into office he turned 180 degrees, not only didn’t honor his pledge to recognize the genocide but blocked Congress from doing what he said he would do.
  • Turkey has banned Youtube, Turkey has banned Twitter because its leaders are not happy with what’s being said.
  • Armenian Relief Fund

Guest – Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.

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Max Blumenthal At “Against Israeli Apartheid” in New York City

We hear a speech by award winning journalist, and best selling author Max Blumenthal speaking at the event Against Israeli Apartheid along with Palestinian journalist Ali Abunimah. Max’s new book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel shows the reader how the Netanyahu right wing government is actually moderate compared to most other institutions in Israel. His book takes a hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics from a cross section of interviews, from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault on democratic rights.

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Law and Disorder March 10, 2014


Updates:

 

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NJ Federal Court Dismisses NYPD Spying On Muslims Case

We take a look into the failed lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department’s broad surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. As listeners may know the case Hassan v City of New York brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Muslim Advocates was dismissed last month. Since 2002, the NYPD spied outside its jurisdiction on at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools and two Muslim Student Associations in New Jersey. The monitoring included using racial and ethnic profiling systems, video surveillance, photographing, community mapping and infiltration.

Professor Deepa Kumar:

  • It was very troubling for me too Michael. At Rutgers where I teach, we found out that the NYPD had a safe house just off of our New Brunswick campus.
  • It’s really troubling that student groups on my campus not to mention grade schools and Muslim book stores and community centers have been invaded.
  • It’s created a chilling sentiment among the Muslim community. People self-censor, they’re afraid that what they say will be used against them in entrapment cases.
  • This decision by this judge is completely stunning. The logic that he puts forward and I’m reading from his ten page report. He says “the police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. The motive for the program was not solely apparently to discriminate against Muslims but to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary law abiding Muslims.”
  • If you examine what he says, the notion that there are terrorists in the Muslim community, therefore its alright to go out and spy on them.
  • It’s based on the notion that somehow Islam serves to radicalize Muslim Americans into performing political violence.
  • This program has been active since 2002, but there hasn’t been one terrorism related lead, let alone any kind of conviction.
  • Since the events of 9/11 there have been all sorts of pseudo-scientific attempts to show that somehow the religion Islam creates political violence.
  • If you look at Hamas, the group in Palestine, they’ve gone to the Quran to justify violence as well as to justify cease fire.
  • It’s politics really as the key reason why people turn to violence and so to somehow blame Islam, this is a form of cultural racism.
  • What this means is that the NYPD can go around with impunity and spy on religion minorities, not just in New York City, but in New Jersey, in Connecticut.
  • It sends a green light to other police departments across the country as well as the FBI which has similar programs.
  • He (Judge Martini) justified his ruling referring to a case in the Supreme Court. I think we have a lot of work to do ahead of us in pushing back against this racist logic.
  • Some people claim that there isn’t racism against Muslims because Muslims aren’t a race.
  • There’s tremendous variation between human to human in terms of our genetic make up and 85 percent of this variation occurs within a so called race.
  • Why are we calling it racism? Because its a form of cultural racism, because its based on the premise that Islam somehow creates an ideology, it creates a culture that programs people to act in violent ways.
  • The reason why people turn to violence often is because peaceful movements failed.
  • I’m currently working on a book on the cultural logic of the national security state.
  • If you look the campaigns If You See Something, Say Something. What’s being asked of you is to become an agent of state surveillance.

Guest – Deepa Kumar, an Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University. Her work is driven by an active engagement with the key issues that characterize our era–neoliberalism and imperialism. Her latest book is Islamophobia and The Politics of Empire by Haymarket Books and is in response to the events of 9/11, the Bush administration launched a “war on terror,” ushering in an era of anti-Muslim racism, or Islamophobia.  Her first book, Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization and the UPS Strike (University of Illinois Press, 2007), is about the power of collective struggle in effectively challenging the priorities of neoliberalism.

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Net Neutrality – Time Warner/Comcast Merger

A merger of media cable giants Comcast and Time Warner Cable threatens net neutrality. Comcast intends to take over Time Warner for more than 44 billion dollars in stock. This proposed merger would unite the nation’s largest cable TV and internet service provider with the second largest cable company. If combined, these companies would offer service to two thirds of U.S. households. The deal must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department and the FCC.

Attorney Matt Wood:

  • What we would have here is a 45 billion dollar deal combining the nation’s largest and second largest cable company.
  • They face some competition especially from video from satellite providers.
  • The place where they don’t face competition at all is on the broadband platform.
  • This deal would strengthen them both in their cable TV programming dominance and on the broadband side too.
  • You’d have one company that reaches two thirds of the country and its the only option some people have for advanced communications services, putting video and broadband together.
  • That would give tremendous power of everything we see on both TV and online. Comcast is already a must have for any independent programmer.
  • For even web providers such as Netflix.
  • Even without that horizontal competition today between Comcast and Time Warner cable this is not good news for the American people, for free expression, for lower prices, for anything we care about.
  • Net-neutrality means preventing unreasonable discrimination against content.
  • Verizon went to court and had these net neutrality rules struck down that the FCC put forward.
  • They (Verizon) said they internet is really like a newspaper than it is like a phone system and what that means is that we at Verizon should have editorial discretion over the internet content we transmit.
  • An internet service provider used to be somebody you went to who rode over the top of an open phone system. Right? Back in the dial up days there were a number of internet service providers and you could switch from one to the other.
  • Internet content should not be regulated by the Federal Communications Commission full stop yet the communications network that we all use to get online is something where have to have a public oversight role and a certain degree of universality, affordable and openness.
  • Susan Crawford talks about these issues as well. She said “What the companies want to do is confuse the conversation for the sidewalk.”
  • We need these rules to keep open the sidewalks, to keep open the public spaces and this concept of public communications network that serves everybody.
  • The twin review by the FCC and the Department of Justice might seem cumbersome but they have different mandates.
  • DOJ and the FTC are looking to prevent a decrease in existing competition.
  • The FCC has a broader mandate to make the sure the deal is actually in the public interest.
  • Comcast bought up NBC only 3 years ago. Since then, AT&T tried to acquire T-mobile.
  • Verizon has almost 50 percent of the entire (wireless) industry’s profits.

Guest – Attorney Matt Wood helps shape the policy team’s efforts to protect the open Internet, prevent media concentration, promote affordable broadband deployment and prioritize a revitalized public media. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the public interest law firm Media Access Project and in the communications practice groups of two private law firms in Washington, D.C. Before that, he served as editor-in-chief for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, worked for PBS, and spent time at several professional and college radio and television stations. Matt earned his B.A. in film studies from Columbia University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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Law and Disorder January 13, 2014


Updates:

  • Lynne Stewart Released From Prison, Returns Home
  • Media, Pennsylvania Activists Come Forward
  • White House Report: “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”

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Mumia Abu-Jamal, Heidi Boghosian and Professor Johanna Fernandez

We at Law and Disorder have kept you updated on his case for the 10 years we’ve been broadcasting. It’s our pleasure to welcome Mumia Abu-Jamal as our special guest. Professor Johanna Fernandez joins us as Mumia calls from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania. Johanna is a Professor of History at Baruch College and co-coordinator of the newly launched campaign to bring Mumia home.

Mumia Abu-Jamal:

  • I remember with quite a degree of distinction receiving in the mail, a packet full of xeroxed FBI files.
  • I believe by 1971, I had left the party. I read through files that named names and detailed internal affairs of the Black Panther Party of Philadelphia, the national office, other organizations, activists all through out the city and the region.
  • We lived in communal apartments and houses. We lived together we worked out of the same offices, we spent all day together with each other.
  • To read about lies that were in those files, and the people that you knew for years that were FBI informants, stuff like that, it was absolutely mind blowing.
  • Media, Pennsylvania story: I think they are the linear ancestors of Edward Snowden.
  • These were anti-war people for the most part, living their own lives but willing to make a contribution to the movement, because they were part of the movement.
  • It’s interesting that these file come out now, because for someone who has been reading and writing recently, about the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., people know now that the FBI taped hotel rooms where Martin and Ralph David Abernathy and other civil rights activist were staying.
  • They tried to use those tapes to blackmail Martin King and actually force him into suicide.
  • This was all part of Hoover’s plan to destroy the Black Freedom Movement and any movement that was against what the government was doing.
  • It’s interesting that Law and Disorder is talking about 9/11 when right there in New York you have an estimated 100 cops who used 9/11 to justify scamming the public. Cops, prison guards and a few firefighters.
  • When you think about the ordinary heroes. These are people whose names are not known. Those nameless black mothers, grandmothers, sisters and daughters, they made that movement possible. (Black Freedom Movement)
  • Even if you think of Edward Snowden. He’s an average guy, no college education, he’s like a computer whiz. Now he got a great job and he resolved in his mind, in his heart, in his soul, that he would not be silent about the things he saw and heard.
  • BringMumiaHome.com
  • Law and Disorder Interview – The Framing of Mumia Abu Jamal by J.Patrick O’Connor

Guest – Mumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist from Philadelphia who has been in prison since 1981 and was on death row since 1983 for allegedly shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. After decades of appeals, he left death row in 2012 but is still facing a life sentence. He is known as the “Voice of the Voiceless” for his award-winning reporting on police/state violence brutality and other social and racial epidemics that plague communities of color in Philadelphia and throughout the world.

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Federal Court Allows For DHS Laptop Searches At Border

Each year, thousands of American citizens returning from abroad are subjected to searches of their laptops, cell phones and other personal devices. The Department of Homeland Security claims it has the right to such searches regardless of whether the traveler is suspected of wrongdoing.

A federal court recently dismissed a 2010 lawsuit against the DHS. The ACLU, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, filed the suit on behalf of Pascal Abidor, a dual French-American citizen whose laptop was searched and confiscated at the Canadian border, as well as the National Press Photographers Association and the NACDL. Abidor was traveling from Montreal to NY on Amtrak when his laptop was searched and taken by customs officers. He was questioned, taken off the rain in handcuffs and held in a cell for several hours. When his laptop was returned, many of his files, chats and photos had been searched.

Attorney Brian Hauss:

  • The agent opened Mr Abidor’s laptop and started looking through the files on his desktop.
  • She found a couple pictures that she showed to agents around her. She turned the laptop around to see what he thought about the pictures she identified.
  • One was a picture of a Hamas rally in Israel, and the other picture was of a Hezbollah rally in Lebanon.
  • Mr Abidor explained that these were related to his graduate work in Islamic studies.
  • The agents thought these pictures were suspicious, and they took Mr. Abidor off the train, the train left without him. They put him in handcuffs and placed him in a holding cell where he was forced to wait for several hours.
  • While he was there, the agents interrogated him about his studies, his associations, his interests in Islam, etc.
  • Eventually they decided there was no evidence of wrong doing. They decided to let him go but not before seizing all his electronic devices and specifically detaining his laptop for an indefinite period of time.
  • When they returned his laptop 11 days later he was able to determine from the last open date on his files, that the government had actually inspected his personal photographs a transcript of a chat he had with his girlfriend, copies of his email correspondence, class notes, journal articles, tax returns, his graduate school transcript and even his resume.
  • He decided to come to us and we brought a lawsuit on his behalf challenging this policy.
  • David House is a very talented computer programmer who lives in Cambridge, Massachussetts and he was at one time deeply involved in the Bradley Manning support network.
  • The government figured out that David House was related to Chelsea Manning and they wanted to question him in connection with the Wikileaks investigation.
  • They set up an alert in the data base, known as the Text Database. It let the government know whenever Mr. House was leaving the country.
  • When Mr House returned (from leaving the country) government agents were waiting for him at Chicago O’Hare.
  • They interrogated Mr. House about wikileaks and his political activities and confiscated his laptop and electronic devices.
  • When we brought a lawsuit on Mr. House’s behalf and actually settled with the government, the DHS notes after reviewing all of his materials after going through every file on his laptop . . concluded there was absolutely no evidence to seize these devices. There was strong reason to believe they knew this from the beginning and they knew they couldn’t get a probable cause warrant by a judge.
  • As we understand it, the DHS can put anyone it likes into the Text Database.
  • Our understanding is that from October 1, 2008 to June 2, 2010 more than 6,500 people.
  • What we asked for in our FOIA request was the DHS Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Impact Report on border searches. We ultimately got the report with some redactions pertaining to the government’s legal analysis of why its allowed to engage in suspicionless searches.

Guest – Brian Hauss,  the William J. Brennan Fellow with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. At the ACLU, he has been involved in litigation challenging the federal government’s suspicionless search and seizure of laptops and other electronic devices at the international border. Brian is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School. After graduation from law school, he served as a law clerk to the Honorable Marsha Berzon of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

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Law and Disorder January 6, 2014


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They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars

What are the true costs of war in Afghanistan? Our guest, author Ann Jones has written an impactful book titled They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars, it chronicles a world mostly hidden from the public. Ann Jones has spent nearly a decade working with Afghan civilians and writing about the effects of war on their lives but in the last couple years, she focused on the human toll on and off the battle field as U.S. soldiers return back from war zones with permanent mental damage, missing limbs or as quadruple amputees.

Ann Jones:

  • I live in Norway where peace is taken for granted as it is in Europe.
  • The United States looks crazed, the way we send our forces out all over the world, are always looking for a fight.
  • Any unit of any size has a special unit within it that does mortuary affairs because all combat units are losing soldiers all the time and even soldiers who never leave base may be victims of this war. Suicides for example.
  • The job of the soldiers assigned to mortuary affairs is to protect the other soldiers from knowledge of those deaths.
  • Their job is to go out and retrieve the pieces of soldiers who very often in Afghanistan have literally been blown to pieces and bring those body parts and remains back to the base, to thier little secret part of the base and try to match up and put them in “transfer cases.” – to transfer them home to Dover, Delaware where they are repackaged, gussied up to be put in coffins and sent on for families for burial.
  • Landstuhl Regional Medical Center is very close to Ramstein Air Base in Germany. There are special air ambulance services that go out from there to Africa, to Asia to pick even individual casualties. The individuals are often members of the CIA or private contractors or military special ops people.
  • The suicides have been increasing year by year. Many of those suicides take place in the field. There have been a number that have been documented as a result of hazing and sexual assaults.
  • A great many more take place here at home when soldiers return and find that they can’t live with themselves.
  • I think what’s really troubling now is the number of soldiers and ex soldiers who aren’t really counted in this statistic who are taking their lives under the influence of opiad-pain killers, that have been pushed upon them by big-pharma.
  • They’re shown to be highly addictive, particularly in young people and to be heavily implicated in suicide.
  • The rate at which soldiers under treatment in the V.A. are taking their lives is what should be a national scandal.
  • It’s estimated that 1 in 3 women soldiers have been the victim of sexual assault.
  • Though in fact the number of male soldiers victimized is even greater. The percentage is less but the number is greater because men still represent 85 percent of the personnel in the military.
  • Congress is supposed to vote on military appropriations for 2014 very shortly. Kirsten Gillebrand, the senator from New York is leading the campaign to attach an amendment to that budgetary appropriation that would remove the prosecution, the reporting and the decision about the prosecution and the prosecution itself from the chain of command and place it in the hands of specially trained military and civilian legal units.
  • Who joins? It’s kids, from poor families, from dysfunctional families. Mainly from in the  South and the “rust belt” and urban centers who see very little if any, opportunity for their ambitions and their idealism in their home communities.

Guest – Ann Jones, a journalist, photographer, and the author of ten books of nonfiction. She has written extensively about violence against women. Since 2001, she has worked intermittently as a humanitarian volunteer in conflict and post-conflict countries in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and central and south Asia. From Afghanistan and the Middle East, she has reported on the impact of war upon civilians; and she has embedded with American forces in Afghanistan to report on war’s impact on soldiers. Her articles on these and other matters appear most often in The Nation and online at www.TomDispatch.com. Her work has received generous support from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, where she held the Mildred Londa Weisman Fellowship in 2010-11, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2011-12), and the Fulbright Foundation (2012). She lives in Oslo, Norway, with two conversational cats.

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The Black Misleadership Class Versus the Movement and its Legacy

We go now to hear Glen Ford speaking at the Black Agenda Report 7th anniversary gathering at Harlem’s Riverside Church. The theme of the event was ““The Black Misleadership Class Versus the Movement and its Legacy.”  Ford gives strong criticism of newly elected New Jersey Senator Cory Booker as the essence of Black misleadership, showing the many ties of the current Newark mayor to corporate America.

Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

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Law and Disorder December 9, 2013


Updates:

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Judge Ruling Allows Detroit Bankruptcy To Move Forward

This summer we spoke with retired auto worker and activist Dianne Feeley about the plans to wipe out the pensions and health benefits of all current and retired city workers by emergency manager of Detroit, Kevyn Orr. We also looked at the history of workers in Detroit from the perspective of black workers and the broader pattern of oppression. Last week, a ruling by Judge Stevens W. Rhodes of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court allows the city of Detroit to move forward in the bankruptcy process. The cradle of the American auto industry will now be allowed to pay off debts and restore essential services.

Professor Laura Bartell:

  • It is the first time that a bankruptcy judge that pension obligations constitute contractual obligations that are subject to diminution in bankruptcy.
  • Although its rattled pensioners nationwide, its really not that extraordinary.
  • The healthcare was never protected by the Michigan Constitution. Everyone has always known that healthcare was subject to modification by the city.
  • The cuts in health care are going into effect I believe in February for city employees.
  • When we’re talking about the pensions we’re talking about the retirees both the firefighters and policemen unions retirees.
  • The city maintains that the plans are underfunded by 3.5 billion dollars.
  • The union believes that number is vastly inflated based on projected returns that are too low. Whatever the number is its somewhere between 800 million and 3.5 billion.
  • The policemen and firefighters don’t have the benefit of social security.
  • You’re not talking about a lot of money going to any individual so if you cut the pension to any particular individual its obviously going to be a major cut for that individual.
  • The major problem that Detroit has suffered was a vast decline in population.
  • It used to be a much larger city. It’s footprint is still a very large city but the number of people living in that footprint is much smaller than it used to be.
  • Among that small population there’s an even smaller number of people actually working and paying taxes.
  • So the money coming in to meet the obligations of Detroit has been constantly shrinking.
  • Detroit’s obligation to retirees in terms of pensions and healthcare is up at 38 percent and rising constantly. – and in addition we had severe mismanagement of city government including criminality. I’m sure everyone knows our former mayor is now in prison.
  • My guess is the pensioners will be hit far less severely than the bond holders. Bond holders are making an investment and taking a risk.
  • That’s what bankruptcy is about is all people who have done something to become creditors to the city and they’re not going to get what they deserve.
  • That’s the problem, everybody is deserving, everybody should get paid.
  • The problem is not that the governor has suddenly taken away the democratic rights of Detroit. We’ve had an emergency manager law for many years in the state of Michigan.
  • Detroit is the latest and the biggest to have that happen.
  • The next stage is a presentation of a plan of adjustment which he will present to creditors at the end of this month and file with the court at the beginning of January.

Guest – Professor Laura Bartell, after graduating from Harvard Law School, where she was an officer on the Harvard Law Review, she clerked for Judge Alvin B. Rubin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. She then entered practice in New York where she became a partner in Shearman & Sterling, specializing in bank financing and bankruptcy work. She is a member of the American Law Institute and American Bankruptcy Institute and has published articles on bankruptcy topics, federal court-awarded attorneys’ fees and costs, and the attorney/client privilege and work-product doctrine. She teaches Property, Secured Transactions, Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights and Effective Oral Communication for Lawyers.

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Terrorist Watch Lists and No Fly Lists Cases

How do governments compile lists called no-fly lists of individuals often placed on terrorist watch lists? As we’ve seen, the predictions about individual behavior of Muslims, Communists or Japanese-Americans have often been wildly inaccurate and cause a great deal of harm to these communities. Today to discuss the no-fly list and a recent case proceeding through the courts is returning guest Shane Kadidal senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City.

Attorney Shane Kadidal:

  • There are broad watch lists and there are lists that people are more familiar with in concept and that’s what being litigated out in California, somebody placed on the no-fly list.
  • There are two kinds of no-fly lists, there’s the selectee list where some where on the order of tens of thousands of people are designated for additional security checks when they go through the TSA.
  • Then there’s the smaller list which contains several thousand names that sometimes you hear referred to as the no transport list. That’s people who can’t board a flight under any circumstances.
  • The US shares its list at times with other countries. We don’t know how much sharing exists.
  • The case in California is super interesting because the person who got stopped doesn’t seem like the kind of person that would get stopped except for the fact that she wears a hijab.
  • The Terrorism Screening Center is responsible for putting people on the list.
  • The interesting thing about this case is that daughter that was put on the list was 14, eight or nine years ago and is now a lawyer in Malaysia and was supposed to testify and was told by Malaysian airlines you are on the no-fly list.
  • She’s seeking damages because she couldn’t fly back. This is really the first case to get to trial basically.
  • The ACLU has a challenge to which kind of a pure due process challenge case in a case called Lateef v Holder.
  • You got put on a list and there’s no real process for challenging those facts.
  • If its an accidental match, somebody has the same name as you, or close to you. You can go through this challenge procedure called TRIPP.
  • If you win your challenge, they’ll give you a number that you can enter in when you buy your plane ticket.
  • CCR along with the Clear Clinic at CUNY Law School filed a case at the beginning of October. The gist of it is that people will end up on the no-fly list and if you complaint about it the FBI will say, if you talk to us you can be taken off the list if you agree to work as an informant on the Muslim community.
  • What’s interesting about the couple thousand names (no-fly list) which is much smaller than the number which are on these lists intended to intercept terrorism finance like the list the treasury department maintains like a 500 plus page phone book.
  • You can imagine that there might be some logical rationale behind having a short list of people who get a little scrutiny and hope it has more due process than the selectee list has now.
  • But the fact that there are some people who are not allowed to fly under any circumstances with any level of search scrutiny that doesn’t seem to make any sense and seems to fit very neatly into our complaint.
  • I question if this list can make rational sense.
  • Typically if you’re on the no-fly list you get turned away. Typically you don’t get arrested.
  • OFAC list, is sort of a list of parties you’re not allowed to do business with. It combines not only sanctions directed at whole countries but also the variety of sanctions directed at terrorism finance.
  • This is just like other cases where secrecy is at the core of the defense of the program.

Guest - Shane Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In his eight years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases in the wake of 9/11, including the Center’s challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court, and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps. He is also counsel in CCR’s legal challenges to the “material support” statute (decided by the Supreme Court last term), to the low rates of black firefighter hiring in New York City, and to the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program.

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Law and Disorder December 2, 2013


Updates:

  • Jeremy Hammond Sentenced to 10 Years With 3 Additional Years of Supervised Probation
  • Jeremy Hammond and Barrett Brown Were Outspoken In Exposing Corporate Collusion With The Government In Conducting Intelligence
  • Sarah Kunstler Argument On Behalf Of Jeremy Hammond

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The Cuban Five Case Update: Attorney Martin Garbus

We’re joined today by prominent First Amendment attorney Martin Garbus to get an update on the Cuban Five case. Martin joined the case of the Cuban Five last year and had concentrated his efforts to expose how U.S. government paid journalists in Miami received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the office of Cuba broadcasting to slant the story against the Cuban Five. There’s a lot going on with the case lately such as a habeas corpus appeal, and a NSA / FISA related motion.

Attorney Martin Garbus:

  • In 1996, 4 planes from Cuba shot down Brothers to the Rescue planes that’s a right wing group that operates in Miami and has over the years made intrusions to Cuban air space.
  • After years of negotiations with the Cuban government and the American government where the American government said they would everything they could to stop these flights.
  • Washington intended to do that but by the time it got down to Miami, the orders were ignored.
  • So these planes went up in Feb 1996 and were shot down over Cuban air space.
  • At the trial the jury concluded that the planes were shot down over international waters. They also concluded that the defendants in this case played some kind of role in the shoot down.
  • Both administrations at the time (Bush / Clinton) wanted to be very hard on left wing Cubans or Cuba itself by pressing this prosecution.
  • Although the shoot down was 1996, and the government had all the information it needed, it didn’t arrest these defendants until 2 and half years later.
  • There was a conviction, at first the appellate court set aside the conviction. Lenny Weinglass argued that brilliantly in that a motion for change of venue should’ve been granted.
  • Ultimately, that’s rejected, the Supreme Court denies cert, I get involved in the habaes corpus petition and that’s what we’re talking about now.
  • We’re about to file other papers about NSA surveillance which has been revealed recently arising out of Snowden’s revelations.
  • What I’m now telling you has not yet appeared anywhere else.
  • The defense lawyers in the case, as they prepared the case itself, from the time they were appointed in 1998, to the time of the conviction, and now, Lenny Weinglass leading the defense, – these lawyers traveled back and forth to Cuba.
  • We now understand and this applies to you, this applies to anyone who goes to Cuba.
  • Anytime you go to Cuba, you’re picked up by NSA surveillance.
  • The NSA listening post, the prime one was in Puerto Rico and it was made up largely of US Navy personnel, assigned to the Naval Security Group which is an NSA component.
  • When I got back to the United States (from Cuba) they would continue to monitor me. If I were a defense lawyer, my communications with my client would gathered and sent to the FBI and Department of Justice.
  • That’s the motion we’re about to file in the next 2 weeks.
  • The Solicitor General, on October about 6 weeks ago, admitted there had been surveillance of cases where there had been convictions.
  • Our case presents unique problems, Cuba at that time was designated a terrorist state.
  • I’ve got the details in the way information was intercepted.
  • A large part of the NSA budget last year I think was 52 billion dollars. 25 percent of it is for the CIA.
  • What the CIA was doing under the umbrella of the NSA was exactly what the Church Committee said they couldn’t do.
  • Journalists that worked for the Miami Herald or CBS, or local Spanish stations . . on the government payroll.
  • The stations or newspapers that hired these journalists, didn’t know that they were also getting monies from the government. In 2006, the Miami Herald found out about it.
  • One journalist got 286 thousand dollars.
  • If you look at the Radio Marti stories, and you look at the Miami Herald stories, you have the same sentences, same paragraphs and its clear its coming out of a central cookie cutter.
  • The Radio Marti budget was 15 million dollars a year.

Guest – Attorney Martin Garbus, one of the country’s leading trial lawyers. He has appeared before the United States Supreme Court and the highest state and federal courts in the nation. Time Magazine has named him “legendary . . . one of the best trial lawyers in the country.” He’s also known as the most prominent First Amendment lawyer.

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Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity

The course of events that led to NATO’s intervention in Libya is outlined in our guests Horace Campbell’s recently published book Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya: Lessons for Africa in the Forging of African Unity. He traces the origin of the Libya conflict in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings and argues how NATO is used by the North American and European capitalist class to impose its political will on the rest of the world. It’s a new model, he explains, of bombing campaigns, militias, terrorist campaigns and private contractors. This NATO campaign caused many civilian deaths and destroyed Libya’s infrastructure. We talk about the broader attacks on the African continent and the investigations into the US embassy killings.

Professor Horace Campbell:

  • The revolutionary upheavals that took place in Tunisia and Egypt have had great implication for all societies in this region.
  • Libya which has been underdeveloped politically was a place where the western powers manipulated which was supposed to be an insipient uprising in Benghazi, militarized it and turned it into a base for the destabilization for all of North Africa.
  • Today as we speak they continue to manipulate what is going on in the Libyan society.
  • The book is called Global NATO because the governments of the North Atlantic region, namely the United States and its western European allies to internationalize the basis for military intervention by this NATO.
  • NATO was created by this cold war instrument with a mandate to defend western Europe.
  • NATO is in alliance with the most conservative countries in the Middle East called the Gulf Cooperation Council.
  • We’ve had an attempt by the Wall Street elements to use NATO as an instrument for the United States military management of the international system.
  • Why was NATO intervening? To control the resources of Libya, to destabilize North Africa, to stop the African Union project and to create confusion by supporting the same al-Qaeda elements that they’re supposed to be fighting in the “war on terror.”
  • These are the reasons why the Left and the peace movement should have opposed the NATO intervention.
  • Just like in Syria and Iran, there’s confusion among the Left and progressive forces about what’s going on.
  • We need a resolution with responsibility to protect inside of Libya. To protect from the forces of NATO and to protect the Libyan people from the militias that have been unleashed by al-Qaeda, supported by the CIA and NATO.
  • President Obama exercised intense pressure on the South African presidents and other presidents. I think he telephoned directly for them to vote for this resolution.
  • The matter of Libya is not over.
  • The same NATO that created the problem in Libya, the same United States, France and Britain is now seeking the support of Congress to go into Libya, into the same place that they created the problem.
  • The U.S. designs on the continent of Africa is quite confused at the moment. It’s confused because of the assertiveness of the African Union and the African people.
  • It turns out as we’ve seen in Libya, that it is the United States and the western forces that are supporting jihadists who are called terrorists. We’ve seen in a place like Somalia where the African people themselves through the African Union have been able to bring some stability to Somalia.
  • There’s no military body that monitors the work of private military contractors.
  • Now the peace movement should be calling for a reduction in the military budget.
  • In the case of Libya, General Petraeus was using Benghazi as a base to recruit conservative Islamic fundamentalists from Libya to go to Syria to fight.
  • Here’s a web of conspiracy of military, of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the CIA fomenting instability all across North Africa and the Middle East.
  • There was no consulate in Benghazi, this was a CIA facility that was being used to support al-Qaeda elements.
  • We have a situation in Libya where the country is in complete disarray. There’s no law, there’s no order. The people of Tripoli demonstrated two weeks ago against these militias and 40 people were killed.

Guest – Professor Horace Campbell  is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University. His recent book is Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. He is author of: Rasta and Resistance From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney; Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st Century; and Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics.

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Law and Disorder October 14, 2013


Updates:

  • Lynne Stewart Turns 74
  • Phone Campaign For Lynne Stewart To Be Let Out Of Prison Under Compassionate Release
  • Director of Federal Bureau of Prisons – 202-307-3250
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-353-1555
  • U.S. President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111
  • Che Guevara Anniversary
  • Shocking Statistics On Americans Under 30

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The United States Military Kidnapping In Libya And Failed Kill or?Capture In Somalia

The United States military had gone into 2 parts of Africa. In one case they went into Libya and brazenly seized a man who they claim to be a leader of Al-Qaeda, his name is Abu Anas al-Libi.  He was seized out of Tripoli, Libya. The U.S. also went into Somalia and attacked a house or a compound in apparently an effort to grab or kill  an alleged senior leader of the Somali group al-Shabab. Michael Ratner reports in this update.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • It was shocking news to see that the United States think it can go into sovereign countries and kidnap, kill whoever they want. Did the US have the right to go into Libya at all?
  • Article 24 of the UN Charter says that the territorial integrity of the a country is complete, except of the case of self-defense or authorized by the UN.
  • There was no authority by the UN or international law to go into Libya.
  • Then the question came up – Did Libya consent to it?
  • He’s on some U.S. ship. It’s called the San Antonio.
  • They’re keeping him floating on this ship while they’re going to interrogate him.
  • Its true, Obama when he took office 5 years ago, he banned torture and he said all interrogations had to be done according to the Army Field Manual.
  • Annex M allows 3 kinds of techniques that I think constitute cruel and inhuman, degrading treatment and taken together would constitute torture.

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 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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The United States, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria and Israel Part 2

October 7th of 2013 marked the 12th anniversary since the United States invaded Afghanistan as the war drags into its 13th year. The Afghanistan war and the Iraq war have been estimated to cost tax payers up to 6 trillion dollars. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War – an illegal war launched despite the global protest in the streets.

Phyllis Bennis:

  • On the one hand it was a huge victory for the U.S. and the anti-war mobilization effort, that we managed to prevent what was a very imminent US strike. The British also had their missiles ready to go. They were very close.
  • In combination with the British Parliament decision to say no, led to a huge shift in what the Obama Administration was prepared to do.
  • It turns out they were prepared to go to war without UN permission. They were ready to do without the UN, without NATO, without the Arab League, but not without the Brits.
  • This was a political decision, this wasn’t rooted in concerns about international law or any kind of strategic or military necessity.
  • When it was turned over to Congress, a lot of organizations mobilized and said you know what, we’re not going to let this happen.
  • Members of Congress were reporting that their emails were running 500 to 1, 800 to 1, 1000 to 1 against US military intervention.
  • What we found is that people were not willing to sign on to another war after so many failed wars in the region.
  • You can call it war fatigue but it’s really about learning a lesson, that war is not an answer to these problems.
  • Given that there have been 100 thousand victims in this war (Syria) about a third of them civilians, about 43 percent regime soldiers and militia, about 18 percent rebel soldiers. The rest were civilians.
  • To claim this was all about the humanitarian consequences, simply, that’s not the case.
  • The voices that have been marginalized the most are the original political opposition in Syria, who were incredibly brave and courageous, still out there fighting.
  • The regime in Syria was forced to sign on to the chemical weapons treaty. That’s huge, there are only 7 countries in the world that had not signed that treaty.
  • Israel of course being another one.
  • The number of people killed with chemical weapons in Syria is tiny compared to the number of people killed with conventional weapons.
  • The five wars in Syria, the regional power struggle, the sectarian war, the US-Russian war, the US-Israel vs. Iran war, those are still underway in Syria.
  • President Rouhani, the new president of Iran, was on a major charm offensive.
  • Rouhani has said ” I have the backing of the Supreme Leader in a new approach to our nuclear negotiations.”
  • There are enormous pressures in the U.S from the arms industry, from AIPAC, from hawks in Congress of all sorts.
  • The Palestinians are the ones that will pay the price if there is an agreement between the US and Iran because the US will be determined to give Israel something.
  • Iraq has become as violent as it was in the height of the sectarian wars of 2006 and 2007.
  • Hundreds of people are being killed on a daily basis. It’s a disaster. Much of that is the result of the exploding war in Syria. Syria and Iraq share a long border. It’s a very porous border.
  • The division of Libya into 2 or 3 regions is a very likely possibility.
  • Saul Landau was a giant in our movement, he made one of the first films about Fidel. It was called Fidel it was made in 1960 a year after the revolution.
  • He died about a month ago after a 2 year battle with a very virulent cancer.
  • Saul had been at IPS almost at the beginning. He wrote the book Assassination on Embassy Row that documented with such precision on how Operation Condor had gone forward.

Guest – Phyllis Bennis, directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and UN issues for many years. In 2001 she helped found and remains on the steering committee of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation. She works closely with the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, co-chairs the UN-based International Coordinating Network on Palestine, and since 2002 has played an active role in the growing global peace movement. She continues to serve as an adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.

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Law and Disorder September 16, 2013


Updates:

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Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance Part II

This is part 2 of our interview with our own Heidi Boghosian who wrote the newly published book is titled Spying On Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance and it reveals in detail how the government acquires your information from sources such as telecommunications companies to compile a data base on “persons of interest.” Since ex-CIA staffer Edward Snowden’s release of top secret documents to the Guardian and Washington Post many are now aware of the frequency and scope to which they are being monitored.  What this book has unveiled is how your personal consumer data is being gathered, bundled and sold. The spying, the collecting of phone records, accessing your online activity, all of it is unconstitutional says Heidi Boghosian, co-host of Law and Disorder and the National Lawyers Guild’s Executive Director.

Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • They create dossiers of our spending habits, of our communication habits.
  • The corporations benefit from this which makes them create more equipment for surveillance and almost makes it impossible for the government to perform traditional government functions because they’re so reliant on corporate partners.
  • There’s also a revolving door among CEOs of these big companies and high level positions within government intelligence.
  • The National Lawyers Guild was spied on by the FBI. More than 1000 agents were assigned to us for nearly 3 decades. They rummaged through our members garbage. We had an infiltrator in Washington DC serving as a staff person.
  • They tried to label us (and failed) as a subversive organization.
  • The People’s Law Office had also been monitored for years. Apparently across the street from the office an apartment was taken by the FBI who spied on them for their work representing politically active individuals.
  • With all of this spying, the chilling effect of knowing that you may be spied on, you conversations may be listened to, changes the way you do business.
  • I’ve always been interested in cooperation between municipal public police and private security organizations.
  • We’re seeing an entire industry giving birth to Stratfor and other intelligence organizations that exist just to conduct intelligence be it on activists or critics of corporate or government policies, as well as defense contractors beefing up and creating a whole sector of intelligence.
  • They are in big contracts with the US government.
  • One of the problems constitutionally is they’re not held as private businesses to the same strictures as the US Constitution as we saw recently with the Hemisphere program revelations. We have our government paying AT&T staff to sit next to drug enforcement officers and go through AT&T’s files that go back 26 years. They’re not overseen by a judge.
  • My question is how many more agencies of the government are doing this?
  • They are getting access to this information through what’s called administrative subpoenas.
  • Many mannequins have small cameras embedded in the eyeballs.
  • When you’re spying on the fourth estate as its called which is intended to be a watch dog on government you really get to the heart of what democracy is about.
  • Without a free press, we don’t have any chance of preserving those fundamental freedoms of First Amendment association and the ability to bring our grievances to the government for redress.
  • A student group working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers got suspicious because a new member on their listserve started asking questions and they did some research and found she owned her own private security company, in fact she was spying on them for Burger King.
  • Congress is calling for an investigation for these large data aggragators. Once again, there’s no oversight, there’s no accountability, they go to a variety of sources to gather personal information on us. Some in the public domain, others not.
  • They have vast troves, electronic dossiers on each of us.

Guest – Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the co-host of the weekly civil liberties radio show Law and Disorder on Pacifica’s WBAI in New York and over 40 national affiliates. She received her JD from Temple Law School where she was the editor-in-chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. She also holds an MS from Boston University and a BA from Brown University.
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Syria: U.S. Humanitarian Intervention

What is the difference between an illegal war and humanitarian intervention? At the 2005 United Nations World Summit, government leaders agreed unanimously that “each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”  If a state fails to protect its own citizens from such atrocity as its known, the agreement implies a collective responsibility of humanitarian intervention upon other agencies.  President Obama has threatened to use military force against Syria and recently commented during a speech that “we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus”  The US, however has in the past,  turned a so called blind eye to other alleged chemical weapons attacks in other countries. Why would President Obama now want to go forward with a Navy missile strike in Syria and try to do so without UN Security Council approval?

Ajamu Baracka:

  • There’s no basis in international law that allows the US or any sovereign state to take that kind of unilateral action.
  • This notion of humanitarian intervention and this responsibility to protect, is a particular type of creation that’s been cooked up in the west that has provided some kind of moral justification to engage in unilateral action on behalf of the world community.
  • To circumvent the United Nations and impose their own vision and understanding of international order on any nation they see fit.
  • This is no more than a dressed up, rearticulation of the white man’s burden.
  • This notion that the US and the European, ex-colonial nations, have a right and a responsibility to impose their particular interests and world views on the rest of humanity is a notion that needs to be rejected but its something that many people in the west have embraced.
  • It was the foundation for the NATO intervention of Libya. It has been the justification for intervention in Kosovo.
  • It’s been very skillfully implanted into the minds of many people in this country as a justification for unilateral actions on the part of the US or in conjunction again with European allies.
  • What about the images we were bombarded with, the rows of piled up bodies in Egypt? Why are those lives less important than those who died in Syria?
  • Is it the mode in which they were murdered, gas as opposed to US supplied weapons?
  • I think the US objective is the dismemberment of the Syrian state. They are in almost a win-win situation. Either they affect regime change and allow this motley crew of oppositional forces much aligned with jihadist movements, come to power or they force the state to become a non-functional state.
  • The long term objective is to further isolate Iran, to diminish the power of Russia.
  • Right at the moment when it was clear that the Assad government had turned the tide militarily on the ground, the US decided it was going to intervene to effect the equalization of forces in Syria.
  • The US found itself in a very unique isolated position. Kerry has been given an opportunity to pull back from this ill-advised strike.
  • I think the Obama Administration is one of the most effective weapons ever deployed against the progressive and radical movement here in this country, perhaps in the whole post-war period.
  • He had been the answer to Ronald Reagan, but even a more effective communicator.
  • A more effective demobilzer if you will. (Obama Administration) has demobilized the anti-war movement, it has disarmed radicals, confused traditional liberals.
  • I think we use this last incident to intensify the conversations around exposing the interests of this administration.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, Longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.

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Law and Disorder September 9, 2013


Updates:

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United States Moves To Intervene In Syria Civil War

According to the United Nations, nearly 2 million refugees have fled the civil war and unrest in Syria. Why is the United States moving to intervene? Professor Rashid Khalidi, an historian on the Middle East and the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs joins hosts to discuss the history of the conflict and who stands to gain if the US intervenes.

Professor Rashid Khalidi:

  • This is another case where the United States seems to me at least edging sideways blindly without understanding or thinking, frankly into another regional civil war which has the potential for developing into a regional conflict.
  • We got involved in an Iraqi civil war, we helped create an Iraqi civil war after the occupation of Iraq. We created al-Qaeda and other horrible manifestations as part of the war against the Soviets and then got involved in what is in effect an Afghan civil war.
  • The United States is about to and I hope I’m wrong, put its into a meat grinder and blindly, heedlessly push the button.
  • This is a horrific conflict, with no good guys on either side. You have a horrific regime which very likely used these horrible weapons against the rebels and its own population.
  • You have on the other side people who are not white knights, in fact they just as soon be killing Americans as butchering Shia or cutting the heads off people. Those are the forces that dominate.  Not the opposition to the regime, but the fighting forces.
  • These are people who don’t wish any of us well.
  • The United States is going to war for reasons of imperial overreach, for reasons that have to do with domestic politics.
  • For Iran, the Syrian regime is its most important regional ally.  The Iranians see this as a make or break conflict for their regional influence.
  • At the same time the new Iranian government is clearly interested in cutting a deal with the United States.
  • I think a deal is within reach on nuclear issues and other issues.
  • Israel would probably like to see the Syrian side bleed themselves endlessly.
  • What they’re probably doing is through their supporters in this country, is quietly pushing this president toward an American intervention which is not in the American national interest but in some ways.
  • I was there when he said, ‘I’m not against all wars, I’m against stupid wars.’ This is quintessentially a stupid war.
  • It’s the fifth or the eighth move on each side that has the potential for escalation.
  • There is a consensus of idiocy among the so-called experts.
  • I have to say this, the Israelis encouraged this.
  • It’s a civil war with a lot of bad guys on both sides. That is what we’re about to get directly involved with.
  • Why the United States should be against the Assad regime, its a bad regime, is unclear to me, while its clear to me Israel would like a bunch of tiny, weak, divided, sectarian states such that it could lord over the region completely.
  • Most people in the Arab world have a profound suspicion of the United States, because its joined at the hip with Israel, always, everywhere since time immemorial.
  • On the other hand you have authoritarian regimes, petro-monarchies, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar which are hell bent on imposing their regime on Syria.
  • There are a lot of interests tied up in the United States lording it over everybody and acting as if it has the right and the power to decide everything everywhere. We don’t.

Guest – Professor Rashid Khalidi, is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970, and his D.Phil. from Oxford in 1974.  He is editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was President of the Middle East Studies Association, and an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993.

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Spying_on_Democracy_cover heidi 1a
Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance

Our own Heidi Boghosian has written a powerful book on the history of spying, privacy and how public dissent without surveillance is needed in order for a democracy to thrive. The newly published book is titled Spying On Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance and it reveals in detail how the government acquires your information from sources such as telecommunications companies to compile a data base on “persons of interest.” Since ex-CIA staffer Edward Snowden’s release of top secret documents to the Guardian and Washington Post many are now aware of the frequency and scope to which they are being monitored.  What this book has unveiled is how your personal consumer data is being gathered, bundled and sold. The spying, the collecting of phone records, accessing your online activity, all of it is unconstitutional says Heidi Boghosian, co-host of Law and Disorder and the National Lawyers Guild’s Executive Director.

Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • They create dossiers of our spending habits, of our communication habits.
  • The corporations benefit from this which makes them create more equipment for surveillance and almost makes it impossible for the government to perform traditional government functions because they’re so reliant on corporate partners.
  • There’s also a revolving door among CEOs of these big companies and high level positions within government intelligence.
  • The National Lawyers Guild was spied on by the FBI. More than 1000 agents were assigned to us for nearly 3 decades. They rummaged through our members garbage. We had an infiltrator in Washington DC serving as a staff person.
  • They tried to label us (and failed) as a subversive organization.
  • The People’s Law Office had also been monitored for years. Apparently across the street from the office an apartment was taken by the FBI who spied on them for their work representing politically active individuals.
  • With all of this spying, the chilling effect of knowing that you may be spied on, you conversations may be listened to, changes the way you do business.
  • I’ve always been interested in cooperation between municipal public police and private security organizations.
  • We’re seeing an entire industry giving birth to Stratfor and other intelligence organizations that exist just to conduct intelligence be it on activists or critics of corporate or government policies, as well as defense contractors beefing up and creating a whole sector of intelligence.
  • They are in big contracts with the US government.
  • One of the problems constitutionally is they’re not held as private businesses to the same strictures as the US Constitution as we saw recently with the Hemisphere program revelations. We have our government paying AT&T staff to sit next to drug enforcement officers and go through AT&T’s files that go back 26 years. They’re not overseen by a judge.
  • My question is how many more agencies of the government are doing this?
  • They are getting access to this information through what’s called administrative subpoenas.
  • Many mannequins have small cameras embedded in the eyeballs.
  • When you’re spying on the fourth estate as its called which is intended to be a watch dog on government you really get to the heart of what democracy is about.
  • Without a free press, we don’t have any chance of preserving those fundamental freedoms of First Amendment association and the ability to bring our grievances to the government for redress.
  • A student group working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers got suspicious because a new member on their listserve started asking questions and they did some research and found she owned her own private security company, in fact she was spying on them for Burger King.
  • Congress is calling for an investigation for these large data aggragators. Once again, there’s no oversight, there’s no accountability, they go to a variety of sources to gather personal information on us. Some in the public domain, others not.
  • They have vast troves, electronic dossiers on each of us.

Guest – Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the co-host of the weekly civil liberties radio show Law and Disorder on Pacifica’s WBAI in New York and over 40 national affiliates. She received her JD from Temple Law School where she was the editor-in-chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. She also holds an MS from Boston University and a BA from Brown University.

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Law and Disorder August 5, 2013


PHOTO CREDIT  Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFPFor First Time In Wikileaks Pre-Trial Hearing warcrimesvid

Michael Ratner: Bradley Manning Verdict Update

  • I’ve been doing a lot of media on this lately, doing a lot of debates. I take a firm position. He should never have been tried in the first place.
  • He’s a hero, he’s a whistle-blower. He publicly exposed the truths about the nature of this country particularly its human rights violations, its criminality and its corruption.
  • That constitutes whistle-blowing and whistle-blowing is a legal defense to whatever kinds of crimes the United States wanted to try him. He shouldn’t have prosecuted at all.
  • First we’ve all seen the collateral murder video. The killing of 2 Reuters journalists and I believe 10 civilians shot with a gung-ho blood lust.
  • Those crimes were never really investigated, no one was prosecuted for them and yet it was cold-blooded murder taking place from an Apache helicopter on the streets of Baghdad.
  • Think about what the Iraq war logs revealed. 20 thousand more civilians killed in Iraq then the U.S. said were killed.
  • That fact alone caused the government of Iraq to not sign another Status of Forces agreement with the United States, because it would have given immunity to U.S. troops. Because there was no immunity for U.S. troops, the U.S. said we’re not staying in Iraq. Think about how important that is.
  • Then there was a story last year taken from Wikileaks and Iraq war logs of torture centers run in Iraq in 2003-2004.
  • The only reason we knew about that was because of Bradley Manning.
  • That is a little example of what Bradley Manning has revealed to all of us of the criminality of our own country and information we ought to know and debate.
  • The only reason we consider anything to be positive in this verdict is because Bradley Manning was so overcharged to begin with a ridiculous charge of aiding the enemy that was sustained by a judge with a motion to dismiss and let go til the end until she finally acquitted him of it – that we’re relieved that he wasn’t convicted of it.
  • He was convicted of 20 charges. Six of them were espionage charges each of them carrying 10 years.
  • Six of them were theft of government documents, each of them carrying 10 years.
  • This is the first ever conviction of anyone in the United States who is a whistle-blower, who is a quote leaker for espionage. There is great fear being sown by Obama, Holder and others both in regard to whistle-blowers and to journalists.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael RatnerPresident 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 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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pelican_bay4 Humboldt-protesters-banner-End-Long-Term-Solitary-Confinement-outside-Pelican-Bay-prison-070813-courtesy-PHSS-Humboldt

Pelican Bay Prison Hunger Strike

Last month, prisoners at Pelican Bay Prison went on another hunger strike to protest solitary confinement and security unit conditions. What does solitary confinement mean at Pelican Bay Prison? Well, prisoners spend 22 to 24 hours a day in a cramped, concrete windowless cell. The food is often rotten. Temperatures are extremely hot or cold. Within 15 days, these conditions can cause psychological damage.

Jules Lobel, who represents the prisoners at Pelican Bay in a lawsuit challenging long-term solitary confinement in California prisons says prisoners land in solitary confinement not for crimes they were convicted of, not for any rule violation or violent act while in prison, but based on the slimmest pretext of “affiliation” with a gang.

Attorney Jules Lobel:

  • At any one time around the country there are about 80 thousand people that are in some form of solitary confinement.
  • In California alone there are 4000. What makes California somewhat unusual is there are a large number of prisoners who’ve been in solitary confinement for over a decade and many over 20 years.
  • In Pelican Bay Prison there are over 400 hundred who have been in solitary confinement for over ten years and about 80 for two decades.
  • The conditions they’re place under are draconian.
  • The cells my clients are in, there are no windows. People spend 20 years without seeing trees, birds, the grass.
  • That’s unusual to have a whole prison without any windows.
  • They put in thousands of people in solitary simply for gang affiliation. You don’t have to have committed any crime (disclipinary infraction) in prison.
  • You get a birthday card from a member of a gang.
  • There are things society will look back on, and say how could this have been done in a civilized society. We look back at slavery and segregation now and say that.
  • They say that they will force feed only when the prisoner loses consciousness.
  • These folks are on a no solid food hunger strike and they’ve been willing to take salt tablets, vitamins.
  • We looked at the situation in California as I described and we also knew that 2 years ago hundreds of thousands of prisoners went on hunger strikes in California protesting this and were promised reforms that were never delivered.
  • We decided that the time was right for a class action lawsuit.
  • We brought the lawsuit in May 2012.
  • We claim 2 things. To keep people in these conditions for over a decade is cruel and unusual punishment. It’s a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
  • To keep someone in these conditions because they think they’re gang affiliated is disproportionate.
  • The case only deals with one, and that’s the most notorious, and that’s Pelican Bay Prison.
  • There are a thousand prisoners in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay.
  • They deliberately place this prison where its 7 hours from any nearest major metropolitan area by car.
  • It’s like a gulag there in that they don’t want any media exposure or attention being placed on them.
  • It’s way more costly to put someone in solitary confinement. It’s a waste of tax payer resources.

Guest – Attorney Jules Lobel, has litigated important issues regarding the application of international law in the U.S. courts. In the late 1980’s, he advised the Nicaraguan government on the development of its first democratic constitution, and has also advised the Burundi government on constitutional law issues.  Professor Lobel is editor of a text on civil rights litigation and of a collection of essays on the U.S. Constitution, A Less Than Perfect Union (Monthly Review Press, 1988). He is author of numerous articles on international law, foreign affairs, and the U.S. Constitution in publications including Yale Law Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Cornell Law Review, and Virginia Law Review. He is a member of the American Society of International Law
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Who Will Bell The Cat? . . . Working People : Michael Zweig

2013 Left Forum Presentation by Michael Zweig is Professor of Economics at Stony Brook University and director of the Center for Study of Working Class Life. His most recent books are What’s Class Got to Do with It: American Society in the Twenty-first Century (Cornell University Press, 2004), and The Working Class Majority: America’s Best Kept Secret (Cornell University Press, 2000 – 2nd edition due December, 2011). In 2005-2006, he served as executive producer of Meeting Face to Face: the Iraq – U.S. Labor Solidarity Tour. He wrote, produced, and directed the DVD Why Are We in Afghanistan? in 2009.

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