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Law and Disorder January 8, 2017


 

Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st-Century Revolutions 

The Black Panther Party was formed by community college students in Oakland California in 1966, the year after Malcolm X was murdered in New York City. It’s original name was the Black Panther Party For Self Defense.

The Black Panther Party set an example by its community programs and courage in declaring that it would defend itself against police brutality. The Black Panther Party spread westward from California to New York where chapters were organized in Brooklyn and Harlem, where Malcolm X was from. The Panthers frightened America’s elite. J Edgar Hoover and the FBI set out to destroy them and eventually succeeded. A great courtroom battle took place place in New York City shortly after the establishment of the chapters. Twenty one Black Panthers were framed up on baseless conspiracy charges.

They spent two years in prison including one year on trial. The jury was out for only one hour and acquitted them totally of all the baseless charges. The collective story of the New York City black panthers and their trial is told in the newly re-issued book Look For Me In The Whirlwind. The book is edited by Dequi Kioni-sadiki and Matt Meyer. It has a forward by Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown), the former head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee now in prison for life in Georgia and it contains an afterword by Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Guest – Matt Meyer is a New York City–based educator, organizer, and author who serves as War Resisters International Africa Support Network Coordinator, and who represents the International Peace Research Association at the United Nations Economic and Social Council. A former draft registration resister, Meyer’s extensive human rights work has included support for all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, solidarity with Puerto Rico and the Black Liberation Movement, and board membership on the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute.

Guest – déqui kioni-sadiki is the chair of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and was a leader of the Sekou Odinga Defense Committee, which waged a successful campaign for the release of her husband. A tireless coalition-builder and organizer, déqui is a radio producer of the weekly show “Where We Live” on WBAI-Radio, Pacifica; an educator with the NYC Department of Education; and a member of the Jericho Movement to Free All Political Prisoners.

Guest – Sekou Odinga was a member of Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity, a founding member of the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party as well as the Black Panther International Section, and was a member of the NY Panther 21. A citizen of the Republic of New Afrika and combatant of the Black Liberation Army, Sekou was captured in October 1981, mercilessly tortured, and spent the following thirty-three years behind bars—a prisoner of war and political prisoner of the U.S. empire. Since his release in November 2014, he has remained a stalwart fighter for justice and for the release of all political prisoners.

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Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

The spectacle of President Donald Trump and the palace intrigue in the White House has served daily to distract people from the political strategy and accomplishments of the radical right, which is taking over the Republican Party.

Over time, the GOP has been transformed into operation conducting a concerted effort to curb democratic rule in favor of capitalist interests in every branch of government, whatever the consequences. It is marching ever closer to the ultimate goal of reshaping the Constitution to protect monied interests. This gradual take over of a major political party happened steadily, over several decades, and often in plain sight.

Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean exposes the architecture of this change and it’s ultimate aim. She has written that “both my research and my observations as a citizen lead me to believe American democracy is in peril”.

Guest – Professor Nancy MacLean, whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan,named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy.

Law and Disorder January 1, 2018


 

Will the 911 Case Finally Go To Trial?

Sixteen years have passed since the 911 attacks. The truth of who was behind the attacks has come out in a class action lawsuit brought by more than 6500 victims and survivors. The lawsuit alleges that it was elements of the Saudi Arabian government that attacked us on 9/11. The Defendant in the lawsuit is Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabian government hired 15 public relations firms to help them deny responsibility. They hired several Washington white shoe high powered connected law firms. They hid behind the law of sovereign immunity, which had to be overturned by an act of Congress in order for the lawsuit to proceed. They were helped by the US government in the cover-up by the Bush and Obama administrations. But after 16 years the case is now proceeding rapidly through the Federal courts and will either be settled or tried. The object of the lawsuit is to obtain money explained Sharon Pemboli, one of the plaintiffs and leaders of a group of women from New Jersey known as “the Jersey girls” who lobbied to win passage of the law which made the lawsuit possible. She believes that if the Saudi Arabian government is deprived of funds it will not be able to fund Al Qaeda and the extremist Wahhabi clergy responsible for supporting the terrorism of Al Qaeda.

The American public has been led to believe mistakenly that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were behind 911. The attack on Iraq was a war of aggression. At the end of World War II the United States set up the Nuremberg trials to try Nazi war criminals. They wanted to set forth principles that were not merely victor’s justice. At the Nuremberg trials the Germans were found guilty of starting a war of aggression, which was called the greatest of all crimes because it has contained within it all other crimes.

Guest – Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine. He has written an extremely important article in the October issue titled Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 Case Finally Go To Trial? about the class-action law suit brought by the victims of 9/11 against the government of Saudi Arabia.

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U.S. Magdalene Laundries and the Indiana Women’s Prison Researchers

From the 18th to early 20th centuries Catholic institutions known as the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland effectively enslaved unmarried mothers, where infants and mothers were subjected to brutal conditions and died in the hundreds. In 1993, a mass grave containing 155 corpses was uncovered in the convent grounds of one of the laundries. This led to media revelations about the operations of the secretive institutions Investigations into these homes have brought apologies and official compensation by the state of Ireland.

Few realize, however, that these homes also existed in the United States. Reports of the inhumane conditions in these homes has encouraged survivors of U.S. Magdalene Laundries to share their own their experiences. Surprisingly, few religious leaders, journalists and historians have yet to address and speak out about this chapter in our history.

That is, until scholars at the Indiana Women’s Prison began to research Magdalene Laundries, and their impact on girls and young women of all faiths across the United States for over 100 years. They believe that these homes were in effect the first prisons for women in the nation. And their work is being published and helping to spark a national discussion.

In a law review article that they published in the Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences, the researchers note that their discovery of the laundries and their role in confining women is ‘stark evidence of historical amnesia.They say that the laundries played an important role in shaping attitudes toward female sexuality, identity, and societal reintegration.

Guest – Kelsey Kauffman, in 2012 she and two friends started a small college program at the Indiana Women’s Prison that has grown to 14 teachers and 80 students. She has worked as a prison officer and has taught in three prisons. Her research, which has taken her to more than 80 prisons on four continents, focuses primarily on the impact prison employment has on officers.

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Law and Disorder December 25, 2017


 

Chris Hedges – Unspeakable

The year 2017 has seen a qualitative acceleration and consolidation of power by the forces on the right which have been accurately described as a form of fascism. Three significant books were published this year addressing this phenomena, where it came from, and how to fight it. We have interviewed Nancy MacLean on her book Democracy in Chains about the origins and organization of the billionaire forces like the Koch brothers who have orchestrated the takeover of 25 state legislatures and who are attacking every institution of what is left of American democracy. We interviewed John Bellamy Foster on his book Trump in the White House about who supports the Trump agenda and why.

Guest – Chris Hedges, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and journalist. He was also a war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is ‘Death of the Liberal Class (2010). Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. The recent book Unspeakable consists of talks with David Talbot about the most forbidden topics in America. Chris Hedges teachers at two prisons in New Jersey. He was active in the Occupy movement, writes a weekly column for Truthdig and is also the author of American Facism: The Christian Right and the War on America.

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Absolute Madness by Catherine Pelonero

The new book Absolute Madness details the true story of a serial killer in New York whose targets were African American males. A young, white Joseph Christopher struck fear into the residents of Buffalo and New York City in the 1980s. This former Army private, who was dubbed both the .22-Caliber Killer and the Midtown Slasher, murdered at least 17 men in a four-month spree across the state.

Christopher, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, had tried to admit himself to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center in September 1980, but was told he was not a danger to himself or others so could not be admitted. Two weeks later, the killings began.

Noted FBI profiler John Douglas assisted in the investigation that drew national attention and criticism from Jesse Jackson and other civil rights leaders. When the killer was finally found, he seemed on the surface to be an unlikely person to have held New York in such a grip of terror.

But Douglas’s capture would not be the end of the story. Racial discontent heightened during a series of prosecutions and judicial rulings that prompted cries of a double standard within the criminal justice system. Absolute Madness also chronicles one vulnerable man’s descent into madness and how the United States mental health system ignored his many pleas for help.

Guest – Catherine Pelonero, true crime author and commentator. Her book Kitty Genovese: A True Account of a Public Murder and Its Private Consequences was a New York Times bestseller. She is a contributing writer for Investigation Discovery’s CrimeFeed and has appeared on episodes of A Crime to Remember and Fox Files, among others. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a plan to do away with landmark regulations ensuring equal access to the Internet. They pave the way for Internet service companies to charge the public higher rates to see certain content and to even deny access to some websites.

The proposal was made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, an opponent to regulation in general. Pai is the former Associate General Counsel for Verizon Communications, Inc.

The proposal is expected to be approved in mid-December. In his first year Pai, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has already eliminated numerous regulations. The agency has stripped down rules governing TV broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies designed to protect the public interest. In addition to the net neutrality rollback, the chairman announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

In a broad brushstroke, the new proposal repeals rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from slowing down or even stopping the delivery of websites. The Obama rules prevent companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. These former rules were drafted to preserve the principle commonly known as “net neutrality” and to prevent practices that would created tiers of access to the Internet.

The plan to repeal existing rules that were passed in 2015 would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential to modern lives as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service.

Guest – Attorney Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the Government Accountability Project protecting the rights of national security whistleblowers.

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The Sentencing Project

The United States of America imprisons more of its citizens both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. Only China comes close. On any given day 2,300,000 Americans are in jail or prison, 70% of them are non-white.

Former Alabama senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants these numbers to rise. He has instructed federal prosecutors to prosecute people for the most serious possible crime and to demand the longest possible sentence.

In the last 30 years the number of people in jail and in prison have skyrocketed by factor of five. Prosecutors are increasingly demanding life sentences without the possibility of parole. Judges have lost their discretion with the implementation of maximum minimum sentencing. The long-term impact of mass incarceration has been devastating, especially to black communities.

Attorney General Sessions has stated that there is “a dangerous permanent rise”
in violent crime, despite FBI data showing a sharp decline in the last 20 years. He has falsely charged that crime increases have been caused by immigrants and that prosecutorial policy under Obama caused crime to increase.

Guest – Marc Mauer, the Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and a central figure in the justice reform movement. The Sentencing Project is a Washington DC based research and advocacy group working to reduce the use of incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 27, 2017


Defend J20: First Protestors

Last January, at Donald Trump’s Inauguration, over 230 people—some protesters, some not—were trapped and arrested by police. Federal prosecutors charged them with a crime that actually doesn’t exist in DC: “felony rioting.” Armed with secret warrants, prosecutors then probed deeply into the defendants’ personal lives.

Charges were dropped for some arrestees, including journalists and legal observers. Over 200, however, saw their charges increased to felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot, and property-damage crimes related to broken windows. Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors obtained warrants focused on anti-Trump organizers. Warrants sought a list of visitors to a protest-related website and the Facebook friends and related communications of two organizers, the host of a coalition Facebook page, and those who had “liked” that page.

This prosecution follows a change in local law enforcement’s response to protest that we covered years ago on Law and Disorder. The mass arrests and harsh charges are precisely what new DC policies were designed to avoid. A 2002 mass-arrest and subsequent lawsuit by the Partnership for Civil Justice resulted in the District paying over $10 million in settlements and changing its crowd control policies.

Trials for the inauguration protesters begin mid-November and are expected to continue for a year.

Guest – Yael Bromberg,  Yael is a supervising attorney and teaching fellow with the Institute for Public Representation at the Civil Rights Clinic of Georgetown University Law Center. defendj20resistance.org

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October Song: Bolshevik Triump, Communist Tragedy 1917-1924

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917. The revolution changed the course of history and determined world politics internationally and in the United States of America for most of the 20th century, until finally, under the unrelenting onslaught of the west and principally the USA, the revolution was overthrown in 1991 when capitalism was restored to that country.

Before the revolution, Russian was a feudal monarchy, headed up by a czar in a country where most of the population were peasants working the land under near slave-like conditions.

World War I started in 1914 and Russia allied with France and Great Britain against Germany and other countries. It was a war for foreign markets, resources, and colonies. By 1917, 30 million people have been killed. In one week alone 250,000 soldiers died.

The Russian revolution was nearly bloodless and nonviolent. The first thing the revolutionary government did was to end their country’s participation in the war, which ultimately ended the war.

The second thing they did was to redistribute the land to the peasants who worked it. Then they nationalized industry under control of the workers in the plants. Thus, the 1% of the Russian elite were dispossessed and the 99% took control of the institutions of their country and ran them through councils of workers and peasants and soldiers, which had been organized prior to the revolution and which were led by socialists.

The Russian revolution inspired the hopes of humankind throughout the industrial and under-developed colonial world. The peasants were given land, women gained equal rights and the right to vote and to get an abortion. Homosexualty was made legal. Minority rights were guaranteed. Education, the arts, and culture received government support. For a period Russia was the most democratic country on the planet.

We speak today with history professor Paul LeBlanc about the Russian revolution and the lessons it teaches for social change activists in America today.

Guest – Professor Paul LeBlanc is the author of the just published book October Song: Bolshevik Triumph, Communist Tragedy, 1917-1924. He is the author of a number of widely read studies including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience. He teaches at Laroche college in Pittsburgh.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 13, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

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Lessons From The Greensboro Massacre

Thirty eight years ago, on November 3, 1979, 35 heavily armed members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi party drove nine vehicles through the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, and opened fire on a multi-racial group of demonstrators who were gathering at a black housing project in preparation for an anti-Klan march.

Using semi automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols the Nazis and Kukluxers fired 1000 projectiles in 88 seconds killing five march leaders and wounding seven other demonstrators.

Most of the victims were associated with the Communist Workers Party, a multi racial group which had been organizing in the south for workers rights in the cotton mills and against the Ku Klux Klan.

The Greensboro police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were all aware of the planned attack. Four TV stations captured the massacre on video. A reluctant local district Attorney obtained six indictments under pressure from the Greensboro Justice Fund which had been organized by the windows of the victims, and the public outcry. A six-month trial resulted in the acquittal of all six defendants.

Then a reluctant Reagan administration Department of Justice tried nine of the Klansmen and Nazis on civil rights conspiracy charges. After a three-month trial all nine were acquitted.

A year after the massacre a civil rights suit was brought on behalf of the 16 victims. It expose d the depth and contours of official involvement.

After an extraordinary dramatic 10 weeks civil trial a southern jury finally convicted a good number of the actors in the massacre. The verdict was national news.

Guest – Attorney G.Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 40 years.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Anne O’Berry

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined by attorney Anne O’Berry, she’s the Vice President of the Southern Region of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of The Law Only As An Enemy:  The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia. While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.

Anne clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia and taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania.  She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.

In the last 12 years, Anne has served as counsel at a Florida law firm that specializes in class action litigation, particularly in the areas of securities, consumer and economic fraud, as well as some environmental and privacy rights litigation.

Attorney Anne O’Berry:

  • We did a lot of historical research in terms of racism and the law back in pre-civil war Virginia.
  • We focused on Virginia because it was a paradigm for slavery basically in the slave laws that were in place.
  • We wrote an article for publication, it was published in the University of North Carolina law review. The Law Only As An Enemy:’ The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia.
  • Depending on your status, if you were a free white person or a slave, you were treated differently by the law.
  • As an overall theme, depending on the race of the victim was that would effect what your sentence would be.
  • For example, if a black woman was raped, that was not considered a crime.  If you were a black person and you stole something, you would be put to death.
  • It was ironic for the slave owner because if their slave was put to death, they would have to be compensated by the state.
  • If the victim was black, the crime was treated less seriously than if the victim was white.
  • I started out working at a firm in New York, a large prominent, Wall Street type.
  • Among some people I was known as the pro-bono queen.
  • I was there for 2 and a half years and the first pro-bono case was a death penalty case.
  • The court ruled back then (1990s) that it was ok to execute the mentally retarded.
  • I was so moved by that experience that I gave up my cushy job in New York and go do death penalty work full time.
  • I ended up at the Federal Resource Center doing death penalty work in Tallahassee Florida.
  • I worked for the Battered Women’s Clemency Project in Florida.
  • More recently the Supreme Court did rule that it is unconstitutional to execute people who were juveniles at the time of the offense and unconstitutional to execute people who are mentally retarded.
  • I believe in my lifetime we will see the end of the death penalty in this country.
  • It’s just an amazing system that we have where the courts will say – yes you’ve got compelling evidence of innocence but we’re not going to hear your case.
  • I would say what got me through was the victories.
  • Presently,  I’m working with an attorney Jim Green, who’s a prominent civil rights attorney in West Palm Beach,  kind of a legend down here.
  • I also some volunteer work with El Sol. It’s a day laborer center in Jupiter, Florida.

Guest – Anne O’Berry, National Lawyers Guild’s Regional Vice President for the Southern Region and a member of the Guild’s South Florida chapter.  She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and her law degree from New York University Law School in 1986.  While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.  She was a member of the law school’s civil rights clinic and an editor on one of the law school’s journals, and authored a law review article on prisoners’ rights.  During and after law school, she clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia and taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania.  She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida.

Law and Disorder November 6, 2017


 

Special Prosecutor Mueller Indictments

Paul Manafort, who had been Donald Trump’s campaign manager, was indicted last week by special prosecutor Mueller for 12 counts of money laundering involving at least $18 million, setting up a secret overseas bank accounts through which $75 million flowed, lying to federal authorities and operating as an unregistered foreign agent for the president of the Ukraine, tax evasion, and conspiracy. Also indicted was his colleague Rick Gates.

Manafort was a Washington insider. He graduated from Georgetown Law School and went on to work for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. He then became, by his own description, an influence peddler. He was a political adviser to the vicious dictatorships of Marcos in the Philippines and Mobuto in Zaire helping them avoid trouble with the United States. He made millions of dollars advising the elected head of the government of Ukraine before he was overthrown in a coup approved and supported by the United States, in particular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who held that position under the Obama administration before she ran for president.

Along with the indictments, it was disclosed that George Papadopoulos, a former volunteer adviser to Trump during his campaign, had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about having ties with the Russians and was cooperating with the prosecution. He had urged Trump to meet with Russian officials.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

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41s1YjDN5-L Sen. John F. Kennedy, (left), and Allen W. Dulles, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, walks towards newsmen on the lawn of the Democratic presidential candidates in Hyannis Port, MA., home on July 23, 1960. The two men held a news conference after Senator Kennedy was briefed by Dulles on international affairs. (AP Photo/WCC)

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, 54 years ago, was a turning point in American and world history. The official story has been put forward in the Warren Commission Report. It stated that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin and that there was no conspiracy. The official story has been widely debunked: it is not believed by some 60% of the American people.

Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK led to the reopening of the investigation by a Committee of the US House of Representatives. The committee concluded that there was a conspiracy. They passed a law, signed in 1992 by President George HW Bush, which called for the release of all remaining intelligence files on the assassination by October 26, 2017. Last week some of the remaining documents were released. Those documents must be released within six months unless President Trump decides not to. The intelligence agencies have a say in what further documents will be released but it is President Trump’s decision. It is not believed that the release of the documents will contradict the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald was the loan assassin and there was no conspiracy.

James R. Douglas wrote the definitive book on the Kennedy assassination, demonstrating conclusively that was the work of the CIA. Why? Because the intelligence agency wanted to stop Kennedy from withdrawing American troops from the Vietnam war and he wanted and was working towards a peaceful resolution of the cold war with respect to American policy towards both the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Guest – David Talbot, the author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and the acclaimed national bestseller Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones and the features editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Guardian, and other major publications. Talbot lives in San Francisco, California.

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Law and Disorder October 30, 2017


 

 

Cuban US Embassy Sonic Weapons Scare

The Trump administration is considering closing the recently reopened US Embassy in Havana after several unexplained incidents that allegedly hurt American diplomats in Cuba. Some lawmakers are calling for the ouster of all Cuban diplomats from the US in addition to the 15 they’ve kicked out of the country. Its a move that would have significant diplomatic implications.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made these suggestions recently. His comments were the strongest indication yet that the US might mount a major diplomatic response, potentially jeopardizing the historic restart of relations between the Cuba and US governments. The two reopened embassies in Washington and Havana in 2015 after roughly a half-century of estrangement.

Of the 21 medically confirmed US victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions while others have suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are having problems with concentration or common word recall.

Some victims felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, leading investigators to consider the possibility of a sonic attack. Others heard nothing but later developed symptoms.

The US State Department has emphasized that the US still does not know what has occurred. Cuba has denied any involvement and has said that it wants to help the US resolve the matter.

Investigators have explored the possibility of an electromagnetic weapon, or an advanced spying operation gone awry. The US has not ruled out that a third country or even a rogue faction of Cuba’s national security services may be involved.

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years.

Contact the Center for Cuban Studies at 212.242.0559.

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Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce

The great issues of our times are the return of fascism to the United States and Europe, climate change, and the stagnation of the world capitalist economy. These great issues are pressing and interconnected.

We used to think that the experience of World War II guaranteed that no politician would ever advocate the ideas of fascism.

But the election of Donald Trump a year ago has caused a serious reconsideration of fascism and it’s relationship to capitalism and to democracy.

The neoliberals paved the way for Trump. Now he and the forces aligned with him have put our democratic institutions under attack in order to protect the rule of the wealthy. The attacks include the right to vote, labor unions, public education, an independent news media, independent public universities, the privatization of much of traditional governmental functions and making it almost impossible to launch a new political party.

The election of Trump is a political development that for concrete sociological reasons allows us to see it for what it is, as a type of neo-fascism. Only by identifying the phenomena correctly can we effectively fight it.

Jack London wrote a century ago in his famous book The Iron Heel that “There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What is nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I want to say was this: You are in a perilous position.”

Guest – John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

Law and Disorder October 23, 2017


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian Discusses Robert “Sugar Bear” Lark Case
  • Government Targeting Black Resistance Groups

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Victory In Al Shimari v CACI

President Trump told us during the campaign that he was in favor of torture because “it works.“ The Center for Constitutional Rights recently won a significant round in a case against a private military contractor, CACI who had tortured three of its clients at the infamous Abu Graib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

When he was president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner maintained that if the torturers were not  prosecuted, the practice of torture would be repeated. In fact none of the architects were held accountable in court. That is why the this recent procedural victory by CCR, in the case of Al Shimari is so important.

Guest – Attorney Katherine Gallagher is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She works on universal jurisdiction and international criminal law cases involving U.S. and foreign officials and torture and other war crimes, and cases involving private military corporations and torture at Abu Ghraib. Her major cases include Al Shimari v. CACI, the international U.S. torture accountability cases, and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) v. Vatican, seeking accountability for the crimes against humanity of sexual violence by clergy and cover-up.

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International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms: North Korea

Not since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, 55 years ago, has the prospect of nuclear war seemed so frightening. President Donald Trump, who alone can commence a nuclear attack, has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.“ North Korea has a population of 25 million people.

Gabriel Sherman writing recently in the magazine Vanity Fair said that the situation with Trump has gotten so out of control that Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, and his Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack.

Obviously, the solution to winding down the escalating confrontation needs to be one of diplomacy. But when Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the chief diplomat in America, attempted to do just that President Trump said publicly that “you are wasting your time.“

Guest – Peter Weiss, distinguished international lawyer and President Emeritus of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its US affiliate, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. He helped draft their October 10th, 2017 statement North Korea: Solution or Disaster. Peter Weiss was a founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights and its former Vice President.

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Law and Disorder October 16, 2017


Free Speech on College Campuses

Last week an invited lawmaker was shut down form addressing Texas Southern University after protesters stormed the room calling him a racist. House Representative Briscoe Cain was asked to speak to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law by the Federalist Society about the recent legislative special session. But as he uttered a few words, he was shut down by students and then the University’s President claimed it was an unapproved event. It’s ironic that the school is named for the Supreme Court justice known for his exemplary record of protecting First Amendment rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently spoke–uninterrupted–at Georgetown University about free speech on American college campuses. He said, “The right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most of us agree at a given moment in time,” and encouraged students to: “make your voices heard, [and] to defend the rights of others to do the same.” Sessions joins a bipartisan chorus of public officials expressing support for free speech in academic institutions.

This summer, Senators Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell condemned efforts to shut down different viewpoints at schools. And in 2015, Barack Obama more than once defended the importance of free speech on campus. “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” he said at a September 2015 town hall.

The recent Sessions talk comes amid an uptick (1) in efforts to dis-invite controversial speakers of all ideological persuasions, (2) use of bias response teams to monitor unpopular speech, and (3) in unprecedented violence aimed at silencing off-campus speakers.

These are some of the findings from a recent study produced by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The comprehensive survey on students’ attitudes about free speech measured responses to questions about hate speech, guest speakers on campus, self-expression and reactions to expression of other students.

Guest –Will Creeley, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

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Tech Freedom on USA Liberty Act of 2017

Americans whose data is inadvertently swept up while the government monitors foreign intelligence, risk having their information used for non-national-security related purposes.

Two weeks ago draft legislation was introduced to address this, but a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations say it doesn’t go far enough. They are calling on the House to close the so-called “back-door search” loophole by requiring a warrant based on probable cause for any search of information about U.S. citizens and residents.

Similar to the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which ended the practice of bulk surveillance of American citizens under Section 215 of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the current USA Liberty Act of 2017 would overhaul surveillance that is supposed to be limited to targets outside the U.S. but actually affects Americans. Section 702 expires at the end of December, which is why Congress is reassessing the program.

Currently, FISA surveillance is conducted under a warrant issued annually by the FISA court for a list of foreign intelligence targets. But law enforcement can access, and can use, Americans’ communications swept up in FISA surveillance with no warrant at all. This is even though U.S. persons’ communications require constitutional protections not afforded to foreigners.

The USA Liberty Act adds a warrant-like ‘probable cause’ requirement before law enforcement can search the database, but also includes a sweeping, vague exception for “foreign intelligence information” and does not stop law enforcement from using that information for criminal prosecutions. This is a glaring violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Guest – Austin Carson, Executive Director of TechFreedom joins us to talk about this legislation, and the state of surveillance generally. Tech Freedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank launched in 2011 that focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

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