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Law and Disorder September 21, 2009



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United Nations Goldstone Report on Gaza: Operation Cast Lead

Last week, the United Nations commission released a six hundred page report (PDF) that says Israel committed war crimes against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.  South African Judge Richard Goldstone who headed the report also says that Israel committed crimes against humanity during the Operation Cast Lead in late December and January. The report also states that the Palestinians committed war crimes by firing rockets into southern Israel. The report confirms that Israel fired the chemical agent white phosphorous in civilian areas, and intentionally fired high-explosive artillery shells upon hospitals. It also claims that Israel used Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately attacked Palestinian food supplies in Gaza.

Professor Richard Falk:

  • The report is a real milestone in holding the Israeli government accountable at least at the level of affirming facts for its behavior in the occupied territories. A great contribution to the Palestinian Solidarity Movement.
  • I think the report went a little too far in the objective view, while it didn’t treat them equally, the report gave a lot of detail on the rockets that were fired from Gaza, and allowed a certain impression of symmetry to be formed, which I think is very misleading.
  • The rocket fire is a war crime and should be condemned but at the same time, there was a cease fire in 2008 where the rocket fire was reduced virtually to zero. Hamas tried to extend that cease fire, Israel basically broke it and refused to extend it.
  • Reasons why Israel broke cease fire: It occurred near Israeli elections, change in leadership in the US, overcoming the impression of Israeli defeat in the Lebanon conflict of 2006
  • Israel kept pressing for an opportunity to show it is a formidable power that shouldn’t be challenged, and in that sense the message was as much to Iran as the Palestinians.
  • The report discuss in detail the various incidents in factual detail and confirmed what had been alleged earlier. Attacking civilians who are in complete vulnerability.
  • It was the indiscriminant and disproportionate character of the use of force by Israel, that is the focus of the condemnation that is at the core of the report. The report confirms what had been a journalistic consensus.
  • The report gives credibility to universal jurisdiction. Universal jurisdiction initiatives are appropriate given the findings of the report.  The international criminal court may not be available, but there are other possibilities for ending Israeli impunity and one of them is universal jurisdiction. Countries can push for universal jurisdiction in holding certain Israelis accountable.
  • The report will help legitimize the BDS movement. The blockade still in place.

Guest – Professor Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who has been barred entry to Israel. He’s Professor of International Law at Princeton, will be the Council’s special investigator of Israeli behavior in the territories and this has incited furious objections from Yitzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva. Falk replaced South African John Dugard, a veteran anti-apartheid activist.



Capitalism Hits The Fan:  A Jobless Economic Recovery

Nearly a year ago, the US government seized mortgage banks Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, within a week investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt that triggered a global financial panic. In the months that followed financial markets tumbled worldwide.  With trillions vaporized from the world economy, the US is partnering with G20 groups to create global rules that will govern finance. The US economy is just now showing signs of  recovering from one of its deepest economic recession ever.

Rick Wolff:

  • False euphoria about recovery, gamblers come into the market, believing it won’t go lower.
  • Typically however there’s another leg down, we have people investing in a way expecting the market to drop.
  • The whole world went into the toilet (economically) and the Chinese government stock market doubled?
  • The Chinese miracle is based on exports, but in order to have exports, the rest of the world has to be able to buy. The rest of the world has been in the greatest depression at least since the second world war
  • How can the Chinese keep producing if the rest of world in which they sold, can’t buy?
  • My theory is that if the Chinese allow their system to collapse they’d have a domestic impossibility, socially and politically. The Chinese are basically continuing production and storing it. Hold it, and hope against hope, warehouses of toys and everything.  Revealed: The ghost fleet of the recession anchored just east of Singapore
  • Two bubbles, the Chinese bubble and the US treasury bubble.
  • The Federal Reserve prints money, that’s voted on by the Federal Reserve boards. This way they avoid the unpleasantness of having to tax people or borrowing from the private sector
  • One out of 15 people in the US labor force today is unemployed (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Roughly 59 percent of the US is working, every conceivable worker that can be laid off, is being laid off.
  • Is this a real recovery? New businesses? Yes, but workers taking it on the chin.
  • American businesses are discovering everywhere, that the future growth is elsewhere, it’s not in the U.S.
  • The American working class is being pushed down, with the unemployment, the foreclosures.
  • In China and other countries that are desperately poor, there’s a small growing income rich, technical industry, since that’s the only growth anywhere in the world economy, it’s what everyone is excited about, and where everybody is gearing.
  • The Obama Administration ought to question the assumption of focusing all their efforts on restoring credit markets and shoring up banks, bailing out busted insurance companies, etc.
  • Roosevelt hired millions people in the depths of the depression to work on a whole host of projects, Obama hasn’t done a thing about that, nothing.
  • Capitalism Hits the Fan, you can follow how the crisis happened, why it took the forms it did, literally, month by month how it was happening, think about it as a critical analysis, of how we had this crisis, why its not responding to the government, why it is so powerful and global in nature.

Guest – Rick Wolff, Professor of Economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About, Rick takes the reader back to 2005 and step by step reveals how policies, economic structures and wage to profit systems led to a global economic collapse. His books is complimented by the film Capitalism Hits the Fan.


Law and Disorder June 15, 2009

Host Updates:

Segments This Week:


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Disgraceful Coverage: New York Times Article Riddled With Inaccuracy

On May 21, the New York Times newspaper published a front page story, titled 1 in 7 Detainees Rejoined Jihad, Pentagon Finds. Journalist, Elisabeth Bumiller stated from the Pentagon report that 74 prisoners released from Guantanamo had “returned to terrorism.” Many have criticized Bumiller for parroting the Pentagon without investigation or at least being aware of the Seton Hall Law School’s work in challenging the Pentagon’s many recidivism reports. Using the phrase “rejoining jihad” assumes guilt to all former Guantanamo prisoners. The DOD counted Uighers and the Tipton 3, to have returned to the battlefields. The Myth of Return To The Battlefield from Guantanamo

Mark Denbeaux:

  • Pentagon playing with numbers, first they said people (in Guantanamo) returned to the fight who were never in the fight, and then they said they returned to the fight from Guantanamo who were never in Guantanamo and never in the fight.
  • None of the people that the DOD has listed in its 45 times has ever attacked American troops or its American interests or Americans anywhere in the world. With one exception, none of them have left their home country to whom they’ve returned.
  • I was quoted in that article, the reporter called me for 2 days in a row, saying she’s under enormous pressure from her NYTimes editors.
  • Talking with the Public Editor we both agreed comparing Elisabeth Bumiller with Judith Miller wasn’t fair but he said it was reminiscent of the lead up to the Iraq War
  • A disgrace in the coverage of Guantanamo, a grotesque statement that was wrong with huge political consequences and they (NY Times) couldn’t un-ring that bell.
  • There are NY Times reporters immersed in Guantanamo and National Security issues, why did they drop this in the lap of Elisabeth Bumiller? She said (Elisabeth Bumiller) that the Pentagon can’t release information because of politics. I said at least say that politics are involved. She said, I can’t say that.
  • Add to that, that the editors were pushing her to get this story out. (Memorial Day Weekend)
  • I think everyone agrees that the headline was grotesque and everyone noted the story came out on the morning of Cheney’s speech, and he had it at the ready in his speech.
  • I was able with a group of Seton Hall Law students to go through the data the AP produced from a FOIA application.
  • My students discovered that only 4 percent of those in Guantanamo were picked up by US forces, 86 percent were bounties in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • It turned out that if you had 4 or 5 Arabs in a truck that was 20 or 25 thousand US dollars. But for one bounty, it 5 thousand dollars.
  • For that 5 thousand dollar bounty you could feed your village as it said in the (CIA brochure) for a year. . .etc
  • 55 percent of those in Guantanamo were not accused of commiting a hostile act.
  • One of my conservative students asked, Where’s Mr. Big? We’re reading through the lists, he says what about this guy? He turns out to be under US allegation conscripted by the Taliban to be an assistant cook.
  • This person surrendered but considered to be among the 45 percent of GTMO prisoners accused of hostile acts. His hostile act was surrendering to the Northern Alliance.

Guest – Seton Hall Law School Professor Mark Denbeaux gives an accurate reading on the Guantanamo prisoner recidivism rates. Professor Mark Denbeaux, one of Seton Hall’s most senior faculty members, is also the Director of the Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research, which is best known for its dissemination of the internationally recognized series of reports on the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.


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US “Preventive Detention” System In Place

President Obama has held on to the power to allow for a “preventive detention” system that would indefinitely jail terror suspects in the United States without a trial. In a number of Guantanamo habeas corpus cases, the US government’s arguments set up a framework to give the president power to hold terror suspects indefinitely without charge or trial. This is the same broad executive power wielded by the Bush Administration that essentially defines a police state. It would be a total disaster if Congress were to pass a preventive detention regime into law say concerned civil rights lawyers.

David Remes:

  • One of my colleagues called CCR and asked how can we help, and CCR doled out 13 Yemenis to represent at Guantanamo.
  • We represented them since July 2004, along the way we’ve picked Albanians, more Yemenis and a Pakistani.
  • I have my own non-profit human rights litigation firm called Appeal For Justice. I’ve had this up and running since it became clear I could no longer continue at a corporate law firm.
  • I really lost interest in the corporate work that I was doing. I would come back from Guantanamo thinking on the way back, nothing else matters.
  • I am right now at the secure facility at Arlington Virginia. This is a facility that the government set up to hold our interview notes and exhibits that are deemed to be classified information. It’s not a very pleasant place to work.
  • So here are now in June, a year after the Supreme Court said that the men could bring Habeas cases, and they’re still here, five months after the Obama Administration said they would determine case by case who could be released.
  • President Obama has released two men.
  • My client Adnan Latif with severe psychological issues and a variety of neglected medical conditions. He’s tried to commit suicide a number of times that we know about.
  • He’s a very intelligent young man, he writes beautiful poetry. In the last meeting I had with him, but under the table he had chipped off a piece of the formica and started sawing into the vein in his wrist.
  • Then at a certain point he said I have a gift for you. I want something for you to remember me by, and he threw a small cup of his blood at me.
  • Guantanamo prisoner suicides are considered acts of war against the US.
  • I think the idea of preventive detention is an idea that goes too far analytically, because if you can preventively detain people why try them at all.
  • I’m afraid that the Obama Administration may pursue legislation, that would strip jurisdiction and deny the right of Habeas.
  • Forty percent of Guantanamo prisoners are Yemenis. This is diplomatic problem, not a case by case review.

Guest – Attorney David Remes , who represents 16 Guantanamo detainees from Yemen. Remes played a role in a challenge focused around the captives’ detention based on an avenue of appeal that the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) opened. The DTA closed the opportunity for captives who had not yet had writs of habeas corpus filed on their behalf. But the DTA allowed captives to challenge the determinations of their Combatant Status Review Tribunals, that they were properly classified as “enemy combatants”.


Law and Disorder May 4, 2009

Host Updates:

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Unreasonable Intrusions Report

Last month, the Muslim Advocates released a report titled Unreasonable Intrusions: Investigating the Politics, Faith & Finances of Americans Returning Home. The report documents the systematic and widespread practice of federal agents interrogating Americans returning home after overseas travel at our nation’s borders and international airports. Muslim Advocates, a sister group with the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML), which is a group of approximately 500 Muslim lawyers, law students and other legal professionals.

Farhana Khera:

  • These are folks who are returning home from travel and they’re being stopped at borders, land crossings.
  • After showing valid US passports, federal agents are engaging in very invasive questioning and searches of these Americans.
  • Muslim or those Americans who may look Muslim.
  • The questions (from border agents) go into first amendment protected areas. What mosque do you attend? How often do you pray?
  • We want to educate federal policy makers, members of Congress, Homeland Security and the Obama Administration about this practice.
  • Laptops, cameras and phones searched, in some cases asking about people in images, and how they particular individuals.
  • Again, all of this without any evidence or suspicion.
  • Ninth Circuit Decision US v Arnold, pretty much gives blanket authority to federal agents at the border to search laptops and electronic devices of law abiding Americans.
  • We really need some standards in place that address the need of probable cause and reasonable suspicion before seizing personal data.
  • We believe that Americans have the right to enter the country and not be compelled to answer questions, particularly about first amendment protected beliefs.
  • We are giving practical advice in saying that you think this line of questioning is inappropriate. Get badge #’s of officers who have your stuff, then file a complaint.
  • Traveler’s Privacy Protection Act – Proposed Legislation, to be re-introduced.

Guest – Farhana Khera, first Executive Director of Muslim Advocates and the National Association of Muslim Lawyers (NAML). Prior to joining Muslim Advocates and NAML in 2005, Ms. Khera was Counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. In the Senate, she worked for six years directly for Senator Russell D. Feingold (D_WI), the Chairman of the Constitution Subcommittee. Ms. Khera focused substantially on the USA PATRIOT Act, racial and religious profiling, and other civil liberties issues raised by the government’s anti_terrorism policies since September 11, 2001. She was the Senator’s lead staff member in developing anti_racial profiling legislation and organizing subcommittee hearings on racial profiling.


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FBI Exposed: Federal Judge Orders FBI to Provide Full Muslim Surveillance Records

Last week a federal judge ordered the FBI to submit 100 documents detailing the bureau’s surveillance of Muslim leaders and organizations in Southern California and specifically, documents relating to the Council on American_Islamic Relations of Greater Los Angeles and its executive director. The court’s decision came in response to a 2007 lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Southern California that claimed the government’s incomplete and long_delayed response violated the Freedom of Information Act.

An attorney with the ACLU of Southern California says the surveillance records will show how the FBI infiltrated Southern California mosques and invasively monitored members of the Muslim community as if they were criminals.

“Truth can never be redacted. Only full disclosure will satisfy us and alleviate the pervasive fear in our communities and congregations,” said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, who joins us today.

Shakeel Syed:

Guest – Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.


Law and Disorder March 9, 2009


Zionist Critic Joel Kovel: Terminated From Teaching Position At Bard College

Since author and professor Joel Kovel, published, Overcoming Zionism, Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel and Palestine, he has endured accusations of anti-semitism, Michigan Press temporarily suspended distribution of the book – calling it “hate speech” and recently Kovel was terminated from his teaching position as a professor of 21 years at Bard College. Joel Kovel is back with us on Law and Disorder to give us a brief chronology of these controversies and deliberate set backs.

Joel Kovel:

  • I was terminated from an endowed chair (at Bard College) 3 weeks after I published an article critical of Israel and Zionism. Then asked to resign 3 weeks after I published another article critical of Zionism.
  • This is a good example of the kinds of repression that the Zionist lobbies impose upon the people who dissent on the unholy relationship between Israel and the United States.
  • Most campuses in this country are highly Zionist in organization, but Bard is exceptionally so. The president is the conductor of the Jerusalem symphony orchestra. He says he makes 10 trips a year to Israel. He brought the symphony around and played the Israel national anthem and the audience all stood, which I thought was just outrageous.
  • I tried to give a lecture to call attention to that and was shunned.
  • My book Overcoming Zionism did not only focus in on the occupation of Palestine or Israeli abuses but the fundamental structure of the Israeli state which is animated by Zionism which leads to all of the woes and abuses of human rights.
  • Unless you deal at that level and point towards an overcoming and not just Zionism, but the special status and you treat Israel as we treated South Africa for equivalent crimes of Apartheid; namely a systematic racism against an indigenous people.
  • So I started catching hell from the Zionist lobbies. “I’m anti-semitic, full of hate.” They panicked the University of Michigan Press, and they pulled the book.
  • It’s remarkable that Bard College which is very proud of its image of being a bastion of defense of freedom of speech. Not a single peep. So I knew we were in serious straights at that point.
  • I put up an anti-Zionist course last fall, which was evaluated. The evaluation was dripping with innuendo, and references to me losing my grip as a teacher, and was basically the preliminary to my termination at Bard College after 21 years.
  • The alumni has supported me, the faculty not so. This is important because it is now a place that has instilled timidity and even terror amongst the faculty.
  • They’re intimidated and its distressing that you can take people who are sophisticated and ostensibly good values and they will not bring themselves to utter basic criticism of an event that has shocked the world and caused millions to change their view of Israel.
  • Bard is creating a new class of bourgeois who would get the jobs, auto dealerships, burger kings, whatever they’re planning.
  • It’s typical of a liberal institution to use generous impulses and they want to make something good happen, but we also know how many pitfalls there are. Just think of all the universities that were founded by the British and the French to secure their empires. I think it has a lot to do with that.

Guest- Joel Kovel, scholar and an activist. In the former capacity he has published nine books and over a hundred articles and reviews. His books include White Racism, which was nominated for a National Book Award in 1972; A Complete Guide to Therapy; The Age of Desire (in which his work in the psychiatric-psychoanalytic system is detailed); Against the State of Nuclear Terror; In Nicaragua; The Radical Spirit; History and Spirit(1991) – Committee for Open Discussion of Zionism


Office of Legal Counsel Release Secret Memos: First Batch

Last week the Justice Department released internal Bush documents that revealed more legal memos authorizing torture and interrogation outside of the United States. These “police state” memos include the military’s search, detention or trial of civilians in the U.S. without congressional input and a newly disclosed opinion by torture memo author John Yoo who argued that constitutional provisions ensuring free speech and barring warrantless searches could be disregarded by the president in wartime.

Scott Horton:

  • The Bush Administration kept them secret to the very end. The Obama transition team went in to get the memos and were told you can’t have them, you can’t see them.
  • These memos were published because they were sought in litigation. Specifically in the lawsuit – Padilla v Yoo
  • Memorandum Oct 25, 2001 – talks about the ability of the Bush Administration to drop a bomb on my house? Unreasonable search and seizure doesn’t apply if the president engages in domestic military operations. Neither does the First Amendment.
  • It says the Posse Comitatus Act is essentially a dead letter.
  • What they’ve said in this memo is that 200 years of Constitutional history is gone.
  • These memos have an instrumental role. They set the legal policy, that’s in accordance with the Judiciary Act of 1789.
  • There seems to be a vague presumption that all these memorandum are invalid. The OLC will be repudiating these memos and put a priority on publishing them because they welcome public participation in this process.
  • Michael Ratner: Can you really prosecute John Yoo for these torture memos?
  • You look at his public statements of which there are hundreds, he seems to understand that he has an acceptable legal defense, because everything is geared to “that’s my honest opinion and nothing has changed” Is that argument correct? No, it’s not.
  • He says he was asked his opinion, he gave his opinion. I think what we will see is that he was told in meetings in the White House, before he wrote opinions, that a torture program was put in place, pushback was coming from career lawyers saying this is unlawful conduct .. and he was told we need you to protect us from this and write legal memos.
  • Implying, that these memos had an instrumental role to silence critical lawyers and push the torture program, already in motion, forward.
  • If that’s the case, he’s beyond the role of advisor. Mis-stating advice and corrupting the law.. .that is the precedent to be liable for war crimes. The most likely outcome from all of this is a lot of disbarmments

Guest – New York attorney Scott Horton, known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict. Scott is also the contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine

Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri Indicted on Terrorism Charges

Last week, a federal court charged the only enemy combatant with two counts of providing material support to Al Qaeda. This will allow his release from six years of military custody and into the criminal justice system. The ACLU says this is exactly where the case should be to determine whether al-Marri is guilty. Jonathan Hafetz, working as al-Marri’s lead defense counsel says despite the news, he will not drop the habeas corpus challenge in the case.

Michael Ratner Update: Since this interview, Al-Marri’s enemy combatant status was wiped off the books. The Obama Administration in it’s brief, essentially insisted they might well have the right to hold people as enemy combatants. As it now stands, the president has the power to hold a person in the United States as an enemy combatant.

Attorney Jonathan Hafetz:

  • On Feb 27, the US government unsealed an indictment that had just been filed, in the central district of Ilinois, charging Mr. Al-Marri with 2 counts of material support for terrorism.
  • At the same time the government filed a motion in the Supreme Court asking to dismiss Mr. Al-Marri’s appeal claiming it was moot.
  • Michael Ratner: Now this was an appeal that was going to test the power of the president to detain as unlawful enemy combatants, people in the United States?
  • This sweeping power, that the president could seize and militarily detain potentially with life without trial, any individual including a US legal resident and a US citizen, based on the assertion that they were involved in terrorist activities.
  • Since 9/11, this policy is finally being called into account in the Supreme Court. The Obama Administration effectively refused to defend the policy.
  • In their motion paper in the Supreme Court, when they were seeking to have the case thrown out of the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration did not renounce the policy as they are trying to shield this policy of military detention from review but at the same time they’re not renouncing it.
  • We filed an opposition a motion saying that the case is not moot because while the government has charged Mr Al-Marri, it has not renounced its policy or properly detaining US residents or American citizens within the United States.
  • So, the Obama Administration is trying to keep all it’s options open avoiding review of this repugnent and unlawful policy that’s been in place since 9/11.
  • We hope in our opposition that even if the court dismisses the case as moot, it must take one measure which is to effectively overturn the lower court’s decision in upholding the president’s power so that decision (Executive power to detain US enemy combatants) is not on the books.

Guest – ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz with the National Security Project.


Law and Disorder January 19, 2009


Israel in Gaza: “A Time Comes When Silence Is Betrayal” – Michael Ratner’s Recent Post


Boycott, Divest, Sanction – Naomi Klein

Two weeks ago the 15 nation Security Council at the United Nations approved (14 in favor) an immediate cease fire in Gaza and full withdrawal of Israeli forces. The US abstained from the vote. Yet Israeli forces continue to use military force against Hamas and Palestinian women and children.

There are other ways to stop Israel says award_winning journalist and author Naomi Klein. In her recent Nation magazine article Boycott, Divest, Sanction, Naomi lays out measures that could economically slow down Israel. When weaker measures have failed such as protests, petitions and lobbying, Naomi writes that the Boycott Divest Sanction strategy is practical on a country so small and trade dependent. The strategy worked to help end apartheid in South Africa, and may have a real possibility to weaken Israel.

Naomi Klein:

  • These strategies are based on the effective methods used in anti-apartheid movement.
  • Including consumer boycotts and economic sanctions that governments would impose.
  • Israel’s lawlessness has intensified, from the attack on Lebanon to the siege on Gaza,
  • Despite this, there is the opposite of sanctions with Israel right now.
  • For example: Israel was invited as a guest of honor in the Paris book fair.
  • Israel signs free trade agreement with Mercosur.
  • Israel’s trade with Canada increased by 45 percent last year.
  • This has escalated Israel’s lawlessness and its time for a new strategy.
  • The two companies that are currently the focus of the BDS strategy – Motorola and Caterpillar
  • There’s a very well funded and organized anti-boycott movement/pro-Zionist movement that is spreading disinformation
  • They’ve re-framed the academic boycott as a Nazi style boycott of Jews.
  • This anti-boycott campaign is more aggressive than the actual boycott campaign.
  • It also targets companies to boycott who are boycotting Israel
  • End the Israeli Occupation
  • Hang Up On Motorola
  • Why boycott Caterpillar? – CCR
  • Boycotts also target Israeli wine, Israeli fruit, Israel tourism.
  • Israel is being singled out not for tougher treatment but for lenient treatment.
  • The attack on Gaza was pre-planned since last March.
  • What Israel is doing is very similar to what the US is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan; “responding to terrorism.”
  • I’m hearing from my friends and colleagues in Israel that they really want sanctions to come from the outside, because they’ve lost hope for any internal pressure.
  • There is a one sided boycott going on. It’s been going on for 18 months and its this brutal, illegal, embargo on Gaza imposed by the state of Israel and the United States, and Canada, etc.
  • This is depriving Palestinians of food of life saving medicine, of water, of cooking fuel.
  • Its just amazing to me that they would call this international legal boycott that would deprive Tel Aviv of some international symphonies as “one sided.”
  • Regarding doing interviews and writing recent article: It’s always a difficult calculation of – when do you want to leave yourself open to the onslaught of hate and propaganda. . .?
  • Writing this column wasn’t courageous, it was cowardly. I thought about writing this column about five times over the past couple of years. In many ways this is the easiest time to call for a boycott.

Guest – Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and the earlier international best seller, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and the collection Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate.


Adam Shapiro: Israel’s Continued Assault On Gaza

Now into its fourth week, the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip has been called catastrophically misguided by human rights supporters. Thousands have come out to protest the bombardment of the residents in Gaza, where the Palestinian death toll is nearly one thousand and more than 4000 injured. Add to that a media blackout around the world about the real facts on the ground in Gaza as Israeli forces use advanced weaponry such as white phosphorus ammunition in civilian areas.

Adam Shapiro: International Solidarity Movement

  • International Solidarity Movement: brings people around the world to come join the Palestinians in solidarity -using non violent resistance to concretely and strategically oppose what Israel is doing in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.
  • ISM has evolved in Jerusalem as eyewitness and reporting.
  • Some of you may have seen a youtube video that’s making the rounds of Huwaida standing up to Israeli soldiers
  • She is physically standing in front of Israeli soldiers who are pointing to shoot at Palestinian protesters.
  • The Israeli Defense Force talking point of “merely defending themselves”, ignores the last forty years of history of direct occupation of the Gaza Strip.
  • The blockade has led to the impoverishment of the Palestinians, which has led to some of the worst living conditions anywhere on the Earth.
  • 80 percent of Gazans are refugees of Palestine from 1947. Gaza is not their home.
  • Israel’s version of history is saying, “this conflict started when Israel started to fire back.”
  • Among the rocket fire that was occuring prior to the cease fire, most of them fell into empty areas.
  • These Hamas rockets were meant as a political message and not targeting Israeli civilians.
  • Israel’s arguement that it is acting in self defense is “pure fabrication.”
  • There is no mistake that this war was pre-planned and pre-organized.
  • We know that before the Gaza attack, Israeli soldiers trained in mock Gaza urban settings.
  • We also know that Israel prepared its people months in advance for going to war.
  • If you use overwhelming force you can eventually bend the political party to your will.
  • Arab parties are banned from running in the next Israeli election.
  • NY Times printed that 80-90 percent of Israelis support the war in Gaza. Ridiculous when more than 20 percent of Israelis are Arab.

Guest – Adam Shapiro, human rights activist and documentary filmmaker. He was the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), in Palestine, a pro-Palestinian organization, the stated mission of which is to bring civilians from around the world to resist nonviolently the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip. His latest film is the documentary series, “Chronicles of a Refugee.”


Law and Disorder January 12, 2009


Saul Landau – Cuba 50th Anniversary

Then and now, Venezuela and Cuba, 1960_2008

Hosts talk with author and internationally known scholar Saul Landau about his recent article titled Then and Now, Venezuela and Cuba, 1960-2008 and the Cuban 50th Anniversary.
Saul Landau:

  • It’s almost a miracle the revolution in Cuba survived 50 years, considering the United States was determined to destroy it.
  • In light of all that the Cuban revolution emerges as something miraculous.
  • One looks at Cuba today, one finds lots of despair, especially after 3 brutal hurricanes.
  • You see Cubans hanging out in the street in the middle of the work day, drinking beer, not exactly a sign of high spirited socialist morality.
  • Some are plotting to go to Florida, where they still think there’s some paradise waiting for them. Some do succeed, cleaning the toilets at the Miami airport.
  • I kept saying to myself, if someone came over from Europe to the United States in 1862, they would say “Oh, this place had so much promise.”
  • I see the Cuban Revolution as a total success, in the sense it achieved all of its goals and then some.
  • When I first went to Cuba, I was 24 at the time, the kids were running ministries and it was creative anarchy.
  • Pre – Bay of Pigs: Cuba survived so many US based sabotages, terrorist attacks were launched from the United States.
  • Some were assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, some were attempts to burn down Cuban installations.
  • Fidel set out the goals of the Cuban Revolution that were established in the 1860s with the first war of Cuban Independence against Spain.
  • Which meant not taking crap from the United States. However, anyone who defied the United States was removed from office by the Marines, or overthrown by a coup backed by the US.
  • Removed from office in Domican Republican in 1965, Removed from office in Brasil in 1964, Ghiannah, the coup in Chile.
  • Here Fidel stands for Cuban sovereignty which means disobedience.
  • Today Cuba has 70 thousand doctors. 20 thousand in Venezuela, plus Cubans were actors on the world stage.
  • Cuban soldiers helping stop apartheid in Southern Angola in 1986-87, and paved the way for independence in Angola and the release of Nelson Mandela.
  • The Cuban Revolution WAS successful. Now, there are many professionals, such as engineers and doctors working as cab drivers or making pizza. The salary and wage structure are not just.
  • When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Cuban economy tanked and Cubans were on their own. They’ve buying and selling illegally, which in the last 18 years, has had a corrosive effect. Each Cuban has had to have some sort of hustle in order to get along. Cuba must begin to make reforms now.
  • Upsides: They can’t get evicted or homes foreclosed on them/ Access to the best medical care.
  • A gerontocracy has been running Cuba for security reasons and they have to hand the car keys over to their middle aged kids.
  • You have no right to practice opposition politics. Which is a minus. When you have highly educated people without access to the internet, creativity and productivity suffers.
  • Ironically, the US and Cuba military have had good relations.
  • Once the travel ban and embargo is dropped, and a million Americans come pouring in with fat wallets, the state has basically lost control of the economy.
  • If they can’t trust the citizens to back up the system that has given them these rights, the right to housing, jobs, education, medical care etc.
  • The counter-revolution was exported to Florida, (Republican Cubans – Miami) that’s where they are.
  • Obama Administration – look for travel ban lifted for Cuban Americans. For the first time the President of the United States will owe nothing to the Cubans in Miami.
  • Raul Castro has offered a swap of prisoners with new president
  • Monroe Doctrine Funeral : Established 1823, written by John Quincy Adams, essentially saying that European colonial powers should stay out of Latin America

GuestSaul Landau, an internationally known scholar, author, commentator, and filmmaker on foreign and domestic policy issues. Landau’s most widely praised achievements are the over forty films he has produced on social, political and historical issues, and worldwide human rights. Landau has written over ten books, short stories and poems. His films include: Fidel, 1968 /Cuba and Fidel 1974, / The Uncompromising Revolution, 1990. To order films send email to RoundWorldProductions at


RNC 8: Terrorism Charges Filed, Free Speech Chilled

Eight alleged leaders of the Republican National Convention protest organization called the RNC Welcoming Committee have been charged under the 2002 Minnesota Patriot Act with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism. The RNC 8, may each face up to 7 and a half years in prison for their alleged roles in the RNC protest activities. The charges against the RNC 8 follow a year’s worth of investigation by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Department with coordination of state and federal agencies that had infiltrated and collected information on the group.

The RNC 8 are Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald, and Max Spector

According to Bruce Nestor, Minnesota Chapter president of the National Lawyers Guild, police did not find evidence of bomb making materials during the raids only common household items such as paint and computers. The National Lawyers Guild also mentions that police used paid informants that alleged the protesters intended to sabotage airports.

  • RNC Welcoming Committee: anti-authoritarian anarchist group. It is an open, public organization with a website and press releases.
  • Originally charged with conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism.
  • Now, the Ramsey County attorney Susan Gertner in St. Paul Minnesota has added 3 more charges.
  1. Conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism, second degree.
  2. Conspiracy to damage property in furtherance of terrorism.
  3. Conspiracy to damage property criminal charge.
  • With these charges the RNC 8 could get 20 years each under Minnesota patriot act style statute.
  • Includes property damage as an act of terrorism /some plate glass windows broken, some police cars damaged.
  • No property damaged occurred before the RNC 8 were arrested. Evidence Project – National Lawyers Guild

Guest – Gena Berglund with the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Harpers Magazine Panel: Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration

We hear from Elizabeth Holtzman, Author of The Impeachment of George W. Bush. The panelists at the event discussed methods available to a democracy to prosecute high officials in the Bush Administration and responded to Scott Horton’s Harper’s Magazine cover story called “Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration.”

Elizabeth Holtzman:

  • When the president takes the oath of office, treaties are the law of the land.
  • The president is responsible for carrying out the Geneva conventions.
  • The idea to torture in order to get information is not accurate. As a prosecutor, we handle murders, rapes, robberies, everyday in New York City and around this country.
  • We don’t get the information to solve these crimes by beating it out of people, we do it through smart detective work and we do it through careful investigation.
  • The idea that we can handle local crimes without torture or crimes of war is nonsensical .
  • It’s important for us not to get into this trap of the ticking clock. When you’re dealing with a serial rapists or murderer you got a ticking clock too.
  • We manage to deal with that everyday without torturing people in this country.
  • Impeachment: A person can be impeached after he or she has left office.
  • Statute: The Anti-Torture Act, it is a convention against torture making it a US crime. Which makes torture a felony prosecutable in the USA.
  • If death results from torture, there’s a death penalty, which means there is not statute of limitations.
  • Which means that somewhere down the line as long as these people are alive, they can be prosecuted and brought to justice.
  • The War Crimes Act of 1996, which makes it a federal crime to deal in a cruel and inhuman way with detainees. This can be prosecuted in federal courts.
  • So, whether “water boarding” is torture or not, is irrelevant under the War Crimes Act.
  • That’s why Alberto Gonzales, wanted to opt out of the Geneva Conventions with respect to the members of Al-Quaeda.
  • A little problem: The Supreme Court in the summer of 2006 ruled: the Geneva Convention applies to all US detainees. War Crimes Act liability.
  • While passing the Military Commissions Act, they also slipped in that the War Crimes Act would be in effect retroactively.
  • We need to restore the War Crimes Act because it has no statute of limitations. Restore as it was before October 2006, That will allow us no matter what to bring the prosecutions that need to be brought.


Law and Disorder January 5, 2009

Israel Attacks: Discussion with Author Joel Kovel and Guild Attorney Audrey Bomse

Last week Israel launched what has been described as one of the bloodiest attacks on Palestinians in Gaza since 1948. Protesters demonstrated worldwide as Israeli air strikes continued. Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed and thousands injured from the bombing campaign. Targets of the strike include a Hamas building and an Islamic university. Gaza is approximately 146 square miles with a population density of 1.5 million, 2/3 of whom are refugees.  Israel Lets Palestinians Flee; UN Warns of Crisis.

Guest – Author Joel Kovel, politician, academic, and eco-socialist. He has lectured in psychiatry, anthropology, political science and communication studies. He has published many books including the controversial Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine.

Guest – Audrey Bomse, a Lawyers Guild attorney working with the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group. Audrey has used her 25 years of civil rights legal experience to help establish training programs for attorneys representing prisoners in Israeli military courts and to produce ground_breaking public documents, such as a report published in conjunction with the Mandela Institute for Human Rights on the status of Palestinian prisoners. Audrey was also recently detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport for 4 days.

Joel Kovel:

  • The Israeli invasion has been going on for 110 years.
  • People have been mystified because of the power of the propaganda system.
  • Zionism predates it Israel nearly 50 years, and is the driving force to remove non-Jewish from historic Palestine.
  • The logic of the force of Zionism, moves back to the early settlers who were not armed, and relied on devious means and foreign powers. = Terror Strategy
  • Balfour Declaration – To gather patrons for Israel. The US is the mega-patron.
  • In 1937 when there was a great Arab uprising, the Peel Commission decided on partitioning the state into Arab/Muslim and Jewish/Zionist.
  • There was consternation because the Zionists wanted the whole thing. Ben Gurion at the time, said don’t worry, once we get a state, we will continue the process of acquiring the whole thing.
  • Ilan Pappe, author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
  • Unless you see it as a long range project, you’re going to be lost, with the notions of let’s have a cease fire or let the sides get together, negotiate.
  • You can’t conceive that the Israelis will negotiate in good faith once you realize how embedded this drive to eliminate everything non-jewish from Palestine.
  • So eventually, you have a concentration of a million and a half people in this very small part of southwestern Israel.
  • Then you have a democratically elected Hamas, elected because it was militant, it wouldn’t go along.
  • These 1.5 million people are now led by a group of people that can’t be bought off.
  • The U.S. not only provide Israel with the F16s, helicopters and cluster bombs, but also impunity.
  • This impunity includes the media, Hollywood, and universities.
  • A great conservative political philosopher said, “in a society, power consists of the capacity to give names and enforce definitions.”
  • Encouraging, boycott, divestment and sanction. Human Rights organizations release dependence on Israeli based funding. Human Rights groups do not condemn the occupation.
  • The apparatus is woven through the society, not that it can’t be dealt with, but it must be dealt with in the manner of which it exists.

Audrey Bomse:

  • Since the Hamas election in August 2007, there’s been a closure that’s getting tighter, first when Hamas took over,with the support of the quartet, the UN, the US, the EU and Russia.
  • They started cutting travel in and out of Gaza, and cutting the basic necessities out of Gaza.
  • This type of abuse was permitted by the world community.
  • Special Rappateur Richard Falk called the abuse a crime against humanity.
  • I see the cease fire as ending in November, not December. When Israel provoked a Hamas reaction.
  • Israel investigated tunnels out of Gaza during cease fire, killed 6 Hamas militants.
  • Hamas reacted with a flurry of rockets sent in to Israel. By the December 9 cease fire,
  • More rockets came from Gaza and Israel was able to portray itself as the victim.
  • I’m not supporting sending rockets into civilian areas, this is the inevitable situation Gaza is placed in.
  • They have to accept the circumstances or resist in anyway they can, which they do, and Israel uses that as an excuse to escalate, which they’re doing now.
  • I was involved with the Free Gaza Movement on the boat to Gaza, before the recent attacks. We brought in 5 tons of medical supplies and Palestinian doctors.
  • Very limited food, no milk available, there’s just enough food brought in to prevent massive starvation and widespread disease. I want to emphasize that this is a man-made catastrophe, its the consequence of a political policy.

Amnesty International USA: Gaza By The Numbers

Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director with Amnesty International USA of the Middle East has posted a powerful article on the Amnesty International USA blog, where he’s documented the tremendous humanitarian catastrophe that the Israeli blockade has caused for the people in Gaza.

Zahir Janomohamed:

  • Price of food: Palestinian families in Gaza spend 37 percent of their income on food in 2004, in 2007, households spent 62 percent on food.
  • Prices of wheat rose 34 percent in a period of 2 months in 2008.
  • Richard Falk called the Gaza occupation a crime against humanity before the bombings.
  • In my mind the assault on Gaza was going on all of 2007 and 2008. Hospitals don’t have electricity, students dropping out of school because there are no textbooks.
  • For Israel to commit these attacks on this population at this time, it’s like attacking New Orleans during Katrina’s aftermath.
  • Gaza is basically a prison. They eat and move based on factors outside of their control.
  • Amnesty Report of March 2008 – Gaza Strip: A Humanitarian Implosion.
  • International law stipulates that these attacks be done so that civilian targets are severely avoided.
  • This is not possible in Gaza. To my mind, Israel broke the cease fire agreement, in early December, there were tons of supplies headed to Gaza from Libya that were blocked.
  • Number of Israelis killed by rocket fire in 2008 . . 11 , Nearly 400 Palestinians killed in seconds.
  • Israel has sort of carte blanche by the international community. Israel: If you test us, we’ll engage in collective punishment.
  • US supplies bunker buster bombs, approved by Congress in September 2008
  • The US policy on Israel is whatever Israel wants to do it can do.

Guest – Zahir Janmohamed, Advocacy Director with Amnesty International USA of the Middle East. Zahir is also the associate editor of altmuslim since 2004, works as the advocacy director for Middle East Programs at Amnesty International USA, and is the co-founder of the Qunoot Foundation, a Washington DC non-profit that seeks to promote socio-political education within the Muslim community.


Law and Disorder November 24, 2008

Host Updates:

Watch: Michael Ratner – Should High Gov’t Officials Be Investigated and Prosecuted? – Quicktime

Related New:

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Mara Verheyden Hilliard: Inauguration 2009 and the Partnership For Civil Justice

Hosts talk with Mara about criminalizing dissent, surveillance, data mining, fusion centers and the ability to exercise first amendment rights. A recent example were the violations of free speech during the mass arrests of protesters at the 2008 Republican National Convention. The demonizing of protesters and their message in the media will usually allow for the use of military force by police. That combined with intelligence gathering and targeting of lead organizers squelched the voice of dissent in all age groups.

Mara Verheyden Hilliard:

  • A lot of our work is at the intersection of first and fourth amendment rights.
  • PCJ has a class action suit pending from the world bank IMF protest – 8 year drag out tactic.
  • “What they want to do is stage-manage democracy.”
  • Victory: After years of litigation the government has to lift regulations on number of people at the Great Lawn
  • Is it important to say that we don’t want to go back to Jan 19, 2001 just the day before Bush took office- or is there more that we have to do?
  • We think there has to be an audit of every agency’s databases to determine exactly what the databases are.
  • Identify what has been collected, where it has been put, who has access to that information,
  • Then to tell people in the United States individually, what has been collected on them and then to expunge it.
  • For people in their United States, their government collecting information, maintaining information, in these massive database files, that can be used by law enforcement, pulled up in a moment’s notice is really a very dangerous practice.
  • What they’ve done is misuse existing databases and data tools.

Guest – Attorney Mara Verheyden Hilliard co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Legal Defense & Education Fund.


Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law Heidi Boghosian Daniel Gross - Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law

Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law

Law and Disorder hosts welcome back attorney, author and union activist Daniel Gross who has co-written with author, lawyer and historian Staughton Lynd the recently published, Labor Law for the Rank and Filer: Building Solidarity While Staying Clear of the Law.

Daniel Gross:

  • Led movement to unionize baristas at Starbucks
  • Subtitle of the book –“building solidarity while staying clear of the law”
  • We try to show in the book how the law represses and co-ops solidarity amongst rank and file workers.
  • It is the rank and file that transform both work and society.
  • A union is a group of workers standing together to take direct action.
  • We shouldn’t let the government or employer define whether we are a labor union or not.
  • Book chapter – No One Is Illegal – practicing solidarity unionism.
  • The risks are so high for immigrants to come to this country, often you’ll see a tremendous willingness to fight back.
  • In the current economic crisis, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for rank and file upsurges.
  • We will also see repression at this time to avoid a fundamental transformation of society
  • Organize for transformational demands – demands that spark more collective activity and also question the fundamental role of corporations in our lives.
  • In the union solidarity model, workers themselves operate and control there own campaigns.
  • A handful of shop workers on the floor who are challenging the boss, speaking out publically and a resource that other co-workers can go to. That’s a real power on the shop floor.

Guest – Daniel Gross, attorney, author and union activist. Daniel works with Brandworkers International, a New York-based not-for-profit organization powered by a global network of committed individuals, advocates, lawyers, and organizers who believe in holding corporations accountable to workers and communities.


Law and Disorder October 27, 2008


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Stay Issued In Case of Troy Davis

Monday, October 27 was the day set for the execution of Troy Davis. A third stay has been issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. A 3 judge panel ordered attorneys to draft briefs that address whether Troy Davis can meet requirements for a next round of appeals. Attorneys have 15 days to file briefs.

Two weeks ago the Supreme Court refused to hear Troy Davis’ death penalty appeal, despite broad out pouring of support from former President Jimmy Carter, the European Parliament, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to Jessie Jackson Jr. and this list goes on.

Lawyers Launch New Appeal Effort

Guest – Jessie Cohn with the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Amnesty International USA

jon burge apollo beach exit florida Jon Burge - AP photo

Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge Arrested

Former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge was arrested last week near Tampa Florida on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury. The sixty year old retiree was picked up in his Apollo Beach home for allegedly lying about whether he tortured suspects in Chicago decades ago. According to People’s Law Office Attorney Flint Taylor, torture techniques included electric shocks and dry submarino, (suffocating with bags)

Under Seventh Circuit law if there’s a conspiracy to cover up the evidence in a civil case to show fraud then you can bring the case again. The People’s Law Office brought the case in 2005 and the city of Chicago refused to settle the case while pumping hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case. Flint Taylor says the city has spent over the 10 million dollars in aiding the defense of Commander Jon Burge.

Guest – G. Flint Taylor, attorney at the Peoples Law Office.Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern University School of Law and a founding partner of the People’s Law Office.


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Luis Posada Carriles: A Tribunal

We hear the last of the speeches from this tribunal. Brian Becker, Director, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition.

From the New York Daily News: “It took years, but he is finally going to be charged in the U.S. for his crimes – even if only symbolically. It will occur here, in New York, when a tribunal composed of scholars and human rights activists take up the case of international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, a man who is responsible for a long list of murderous attacks.

Posada, though, is a very lucky man. Despite his dark history, Posada remains free to roam Miami’s sunny streets and happily lives at home with his family. His rap sheet is long and deadly.  A convicted terrorist in two countries – he escaped Venezuela and was pardoned in Panama – Posada is considered the mastermind behind the 1976 bombing of Cubana Airlines Fight 455, which killed the 73 passengers on board, including the Cuban national fencing team. He is believed responsible for a string of hotel bombings in Cuba, resulting in the death of Italian tourist Fabio diCelmo. But these are only two examples of his treachery. Posada later boasted about the diCelmo killing in a New York Times interview, which should give everybody a clear idea of what kind of person this man is.

Inexplicably, the Justice Department has refused to classify the former CIA operative as a terrorist. The reason may have to be found in Posada’s long and extensive ties with the CIA and several other nation’s intelligence agencies.”

Law and Disorder September 8, 2008


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Law and Disorder RNC Street Coverage: Audio Document

Heidi Boghosian, Law and Disorder co-host and Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild took to the streets of St. Paul Minnesota with producer Geoff Brady during the Republican National Convention. We bring you the voices and sounds of protesters, demonstrations, and interviews with legal observers, lead activists and lawyers. We begin this audio document with attorney Bruce Nestor, president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Amid this heavily militarized area of St. Paul, Bruce Nestor describes how riot police use minivans as quick, efficient transport and the trapping of protesters on a bridge.

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Just blocks from the Xcel Center, Heidi catches up with local activists and independent journalists who describe first hand accounts of police confrontations. A local journalist named Nick tells of the launching of paint and flash-bang grenades, the arrests and detainment of journalists and unwarranted use of pepper spray and tasers. On 4pm on Tuesday, marchers rally at Mears Park for the scheduled Poor Peoples March. There we spoke with a New York videographer named Dan, he described the pre-convention raids on I-Witness Video and more accounts of excessive police force. Below is a photo of the pre-convention raids from their website.

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National Lawyers Guild attorney Bruce Nestor provides a chronology of events beginning with legal details involving the pre-convention raids on convergence centers. He also analyzes the overall impact of free speech when various factors come together. 1) Demonizing protesters and their message. 2) This allows use of military force by police. 3) Intelligence gathering and targeting lead organizers of alternative press. Combined, these tactics squelch the voice of dissent in all age groups and keep people from exercising their first amendment rights.

Below: Scenes gathered from the streets of St. Paul during the Republican National Convention 2008

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