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Attorney Omar Farah speaks with Michael Ratner about a hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay Prison with more than half of prisoners from Camp 5 and 6f participating. Farah says the hunger strike was triggered by an arbitrary crackdown by the prison administration including cell searches and a search of the prisoner’s Qurans. This is viewed as out right desecration. More than half of the entire prison population has been cleared for release by every prominent national security and law enforcement agency in the US government, that includes the DOD, DHS.
Guest – Omar Farah joined the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012 as a staff attorney in the Guantanamo Global Justice Initiative. Omar was previously in private practice, working mostly in the area of international commercial arbitration. Since 2008, he has represented several prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay in habeas corpus litigation in federal court.
While adviser to the Madrid and Washington Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, author and historian Rashid Khalidi collected documents, memos and meeting minutes as a research foundation for his recently published book Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East. The book focuses on 3 periods of opportunity for the United States to broker peace, one in the late seventies, the early nineties and 2010. This critical analysis addresses the basic distortions in language that has corrupted the peace processes. Rashid Khalidi is an American historian of the Middle East, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, he joins us today to talk about his book and also the ongoing destabilizing hostility in Syria.
- Let me read to you what Orwell says, “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. Bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even by people who should and do know better.”
- The argument I’m making in this book is much of the language used by pundits and politicians about the Middle East and the so called peace process, between the Palestinians and the Israelis is really corrupt language.
- One of the chapters in the book is devoted to the period when I was an adviser to the Palestinian delegation and negotiations from 1991-1993 starting in Madrid and continuing to Washington.
- If you go back to Madrid in October 1991, there were under 200 thousand Israelis living in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. Today, there are nearly 600 thousand of them.
- United States has been responsible for exacerbating the problem in effect by saying the only way to deal with this issue of occupation and settlement is through negotiations mediated by us.
- The United States in the meantime has put its big thumb on the scale in favor of the Israelis preventing a resolution of the problems.
- The first episode I talk about in the book has to do with the follow on to Camp David in the wake of the Lebanon War in 1982 when Israel invaded and 50 thousand Palestinians and Lebanese were killed and wounded.
- I site at great length a now declassified document by a CIA analyst which one of my students actually found.
- The idea of Palestinian self determination doesn’t exist anywhere in the Oslo Accords signed by the PLO and Israel in 1993 and afterward.
- Autonomy and self determination are used by people in American political parlance and Israeli political parlance in ways that do violence to the real meanings of these words.
- Obama fits the pattern of every president since President Carter, with the sole exception of George W. Bush.
- Obama has adopted wholesale and entire Israeli narrative as to the idea that Israel is the victim.
- There is a people in existential danger that’s the Palestinians, the people faced with elimination, extermination, not physically but as a collective.
- Oslo was a terrible deal for the Palestinians. As a result of Palestinian failures since the 90s, a situation has emerged where we have one state and one sovereign body between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
Guest – Professor Rashid Khalidi, is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He received his B.A. from Yale University in 1970, and his D.Phil. from Oxford in 1974. He is editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies, and was President of the Middle East Studies Association, and an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993.
In a recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawyer’s challenge to military spying on peace activists can proceed. This ruling is the first time a court allowed civilians to sue the military for violating their First and Fourth Amendment rights. National Lawyers Guild attorney Larry Hildes brought the lawsuit Panagacos v Towery in 2009 on behalf of a group of Washington state antiwar activists who discovered they were infiltrated for 2 years by John Towery, an employee at a fusion center inside a local Army base. The antiwar activists group Port Militarization Resistance sought to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through civil disobedience. The lawsuit also names, the Army, Navy, Air Force, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies.
Attorney Larry Hildes:
- Brendan Dunn was activist in Olympia, he was arrested in Seattle basically for sitting while anarchist.
- The Olympia Police Department cracked down on the Wobblies and the IWW for having newspaper boxes for which they paid for and took all the papers.
- We got them back, but Brendan got curious about what was going on, did a state public records act request for all emails and all intelligence to the city of Olympia concerning anarchists or the IWW.
- What he got back instead was hundreds and hundreds of pages of what are called “force protection memos” and “threat assessments” from Ft. Lewis about Port Militarization Resistance, a group that he was involved with that did protest against the use of public ports for shipment of Striker Brigade equipment to the occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- He started looking at them and every police department and every military agency from north of Seattle to Portland was on this list. The FBI was on this list, Homeland Security, every branch of the military.
- It was detailed discussions of what PMR was planning, what they were going to do, how to fight it. The author of a lot of this was John Towery.
- PMR looked Towery up on Facebook and there’s a picture on Towery’s FB page of John Jacob who had been coming to PMR meetings for several years. Very closely involved with PMR in fact he ran their list serve on Rise Up.
- So they did some more checking. They looked up his voter registration, they got an address and the address matched John Jacobs.
- He was 20 years older than everyone else. I don’t know how but he blended in. He went to events, he brought his kids. He was very very good at what he did.
- Brendan considered him a close friend. Brendan and another member confronted him at a cafe in Tacoma and he said “yes, I’ve been spying on you. I’m doing it for your own good, there are other spies watching you that mean you much more harm than I do.”
- We do know that the Army at least one more spy. We caught the Coast Guard spy. There were 2 officers from the Tacoma Police Department’s Homeland Security Committee.
- The police would show up at unannounced demonstrations. The MP’s, local police and state patrols would already be there and everyone would be arrested as they were getting out of their cars.
- The Portland Militarization Resistance was a few dozen people. They were very creative, they had figured out a choke point for the military.
- The equipment would go out 3 weeks before the troops. If they couldn’t get the equipment there. They couldn’t send the troops.
- If they couldn’t send the equipment and the troops then no war.
- The succeeded in scaring the heck out of the military by these very peaceful acts of civil disobediance.
- They can’t arrest them before they get to the demonstration or before they even do anything.
- They think dissent against their wars is the enemy which scares me a great deal.
- Where else are they doing this, how much are they doing this?
Guest – Attorney Larry Hildes, an NLG member and one of the attorneys involved in bringing the case Panagacos v Towery.