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Archive for the 'Habeas Corpus' Category


Law and Disorder March 2, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Jury Awards $218.5 Million in Terrorism Case Against Palestinian Groups

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The Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood

The National Football League, Mattel’s Girl Scout Barbie Doll, and even McDonald’s all have something in common. They’ve engaged in highly sophisticated corporate marketing aimed at enticing young children into becoming life-long consumers and brand loyalists. They’re the subjects of the efforts of The Campaign For A Commercial Free Childhood to cease clever marketing that sends the message that purchasing will make children happy. The campaign has a proven track record of educating families and the public about how industry partnerships with schools, nonprofits and trusted institutions such as the Girl Scouts expose young people to inappropriate content with potentially negative consequences.

Josh Golin:

  • Very unfortunately, the Girl Scouts which has been traditionally a wonderful organization providing role models for girls launched a partnership last year with Barbie.
  • This partnership includes a website where girls can play a Barbie game about choosing careers but really all they’re doing is looking at different Barbie outfits and seeing other Barbie dolls that they can buy in the store.
  • There’s even a Barbie patch that Girl Scouts can earn.
  • We thought that this was such a harmful campaign to young girls that the Girls Scouts have traditionally been a refuge from the commercialism that is aimed at kids everywhere and clearly Barbie represents a problematic body type and focus on appearance and fashion and is in some ways the antithesis of what the Girl Scouts have traditionally represented.
  • They get 2 million dollars from Mattel from this partnership.
  • The message to young girls that you have to look like a fashion doll when you’re going out on a hike is unbelievable.
  • On the envelope that the report card came in was ad from McDonald’s saying bring your report card to McDonald’s if you had good grades or had good attendance or even good behavior and you get a free happy meal.
  • We do a lot of work on the area of advertising in schools. It’s really an unfortunate trend. There’s been an increase in it since 2008 when we had the economic downturn and schools are understandably looking for revenue any way they can get it.
  • There has been this increase in marketing to kids in schools and we think that’s particularly harmful to children. Anything advertised in the school comes with the school’s endorsement.
  • One of the things that’s most concerning about what the NFL does is they market Fantasy Football extensively to kids. They even have a curriculum in school to teach kids about Fantasy Football where they could then go online to the kid NFL website and compete for cash prizes.

Guest – Josh Golin, is Associate Director of CCFC and organizes CCFC’s advocacy campaigns and develops its communications strategy. His writings about the commercialization of childhood have appeared in a wide range of publications.

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nantina stencil with atma

Greece Debt Crisis Postponed, Creditors Back Reform Plans

Earlier this year, we reported on the historic election voting in the Greek anti-austerity party of Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipiras. Syriza’s platform is to take back power within the Greek government, to effectuate a program that will call for cancellation of debt, nationalization of the banks, and expropriating closed factories. Greece is a member of the Eurozone, the nations that have joined with a common currency in 1999. Now, after barely a month in office, the Syriza Party led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras has been forced to make compromises on major issues such as labor reforms and agreeing not to undo privatization plans, to name a few. The crisis began when the European Central Bank said it would reject Greek sovereign bonds as collateral which made Greek banks dependent on Emergency Liquidity Assistance. Last week, Syriza entered negotiations with the EU and ECB and secured a four month extension of its financial rescue.

Nantina Vgontzas:

  • Let’s start with December 2009 when the Greek government declared in had sovereign debt of 109 percent, which is something they’ve been covering up the past few years.
  • Goldman Sachs was also involved with helping them to cover up those figures.
  • We should look at the political economy of the Eurozone constructed in the early 2000s. At the same time in Germany you had wage depression, meaning Germans were getting lower wages so that German exports would become more competitive and the European periphery was used as a dumping post. So they were getting more lending from German banks and that’s how you started getting more debts in Greece.
  • The European Union, The European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund which has played its hand since the 70s in imposing discipline on the countries throughout the developing world and Greece was the first so called advanced country that was starting to enter into this regimen of so called structural reforms that were attached to these bailouts that Greece was recieving to deal with the debt issue.
  • Attached to these structural reforms was the termination of collective bargaining agreements, the reduction of minimum wage . . . so you have massive social degradation and at the same time the debt continues to rise.
  • So the debt went from 109 percent of the GDP to 175 percent of the GDP.
  • So Greece is basically getting loans so it can pay interest on interest starting in the early 2020s and Syriza rightfully identified this as an extended pretend strategy.
  • They were the opposition government between 2012 and the end of 2014 and in 2015 they got 35 percent of the vote which wasn’t enough to form a government on its own which is why it had to form a coalition government.
  • Everybody knows that Greece can’t pay off its debt til the early 2020s.
  • I’ve written a piece in the Jacobin saying that I don’t think Eurozone would take any chances on letting Greece leave the Eurozone because of how helpful it has been to German capital. They’re not willing to take the long term risk, they’re not will to take the short term risk of speculative attacks that would occur on the Eurozone.
  • A Greek exit could have produced a domino effect, perhaps Portugal would have left, Italy, you start having big economies like Spain leaving. That kind of domino effect would be unsustainable for the Eurozone to exist.
  • There are ways of dealing with this (Greece leaving the Eurozone) You would have to impose capital controls, you would have to nationalize the banks, which is something that the Syriza leadership said that they wouldn’t do prior to elections. They’re going to have to revisit that strategy. Then you would have to figure out how you would ration food, fuel, pharmaceuticals in order to deal with immediate problems. Then you would have to talk about long term policies that would promote growth.
  • They (Syriza) cannot move to a technocratic approach because then they would lose thier fundamental element as a left party.
  • Half of the police corp (in Greece) support the Golden Dawn. This is something that Syriza has to neutralize while they’re in power.
  • They need to be neutralized by promoting a strategy that’s actually going to reverse austerity.
  • Jacobin Magazine -Nantina Vgontzas /Financial Times – Wolfgang Munchou

Guest – Nantina Vgontzas, a Greek-American PhD student in sociology at NYU focusing on political economy and social movements. She is a member of the UAW Graduate Student Organizing Committee and is involved in the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union reform movement.

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Law and Disorder February 9, 2015


Coming Up Next Week Police Shooting Reaches Supreme Court Exclusive Michael Avery Interview

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1971

On March 8th 1971, a group of anonymous individuals calling themselves the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole thousands of government documents. Among the documents was proof that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, was spying on law abiding citizens. The program is known as COINTELPRO and it was used to monitor, manipulate and disrupt social and political movements in the United States. The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI has been documented recently in a highly acclaimed film titled 1971, directed by Johanna Hamilton.

Johanna Hamilton:

  • I consider myself to have the good fortune to have known Betty Medsger, the author of the Burglary, for many years.
  • She and I had a personal relationship that long predated our professional collaboration.
  • Over time she came to share the outlines of the story with me and it sounded completely remarkable.
  • She introduced me to a few members of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI. The 40th anniversary was approaching.
  • They wanted the story, which was so little known, to have a larger life.
  • To be clear, Betty worked many years on the book. She’s done remarkable and profound research and I joined much later and was the net beneficiary of so much of her research.
  • There were four years where we worked in tandem.
  • When I showed the film to the Citizens Commission, while the credits rolled, Keith (Keith Forsyth – the lock picker) especially, he got up and said, good job.
  • It’s a period of history I’ve been fascinated with since I was a teenager. It was the story of these extraordinary ordinary individuals who had put everything on the line and taken such great personal risk to benefit democracy.
  • They trained themselves for one night of crime. They steal all the documents in the office, leak them to the press. They send them to major newspapers, and to a couple politicians. In the end, the Washington Post is the only newspaper that decides to publish the first stories.
  • Those first stories reveal with out question illegal government spying on citizens who are going about their daily lives and exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • Betty wrote the first stories in the Washington Post and the story fades a little from the headlines. The Pentagon Papers explode 3 or 4 months later. Daniel Ellsberg is on the scene.
  • Then our story picks up again.
  • It seems inconceivable now but Hoover had been director for over 50 years, and that’s no longer possible.
  • Some people who seen the film before say they were really moved by the Church Committee hearings.
  • Attorney David Kairys is a huge figure in Philadelphia and yes back in the day he was contacted by two members of the Citizens Commission. He didn’t know what they had done, but if they got caught, they could call him day or night.
  • We were reaching the tail end, or we thought we were reaching the tail end of the film when the Snowden revelations happened.
  • The Snowden revelations were one thing, absolute bombshell, but prior to that we had a couple of other instances. Back in 2011, September, there were raids all across the country, animal rights activists, environmental groups. One night Brian Williams introduced the news and described these raids and said you know its reminiscent of Hoover back in the 1970s.
  • We had whole scenes cut together with that footage and debated and deliberated on that. In the end erred on the side of excluding it.
  • It’s opening here in New York City and will start rolling out across the country. If you check our website we update the cities that it will show at. It will be on PBS, Independent Lens at the end of May. 1971Film.com

Guest – Johanna Hamilton, director of the film 1971. She also co-produced Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Johanna has produced nonfiction programs for PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, A&E, Discovery Channel, and The Washington Post/Newsweek Productions, including September’s Children, a documentary for PBS exploring how children around the world are affected by terrorism and war.

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Nyle Every-28-hours

Inspiring, and Awakening Political Activism in Youth

Young people across the nation have played a critical role in taking to the streets to protest social inequities, from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City. In a recent article in the journal Socialism and Democracy, “The Roots of Mass Incarceration: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor,” writer, activist and youth pastor Nyle Fort describes how he became politically active and who inspired him. We talk with Nyle about the status of protest in this country, the forces of oppression, how young people are involved and how he helps inspire them.

Nyle Fort:

  • I graduated from Morehouse College and ended up going to seminary. I was already a licensed and ordained preacher but I wasn’t politicized yet.
  • I had already been involved in the community via the church doing speaking engagements with youth and things like that.
  • It wasn’t until I got into Princeton Theological Seminary that I began to get politicized.
  • The way that it happened was I was taking an introductory seminary class called Systematic Theology with a professor Mark Taylor. In that class he actually had Mumia Abu-Jamal call in live from death row.
  • When I heard him speak, I stopped in my seat. This man who I knew nothing of was speaking to me that was moving, not only me but I could tell the entire classroom and doing so by a 6 foot, by 10 foot cell. A cell that he had been in for 30 years, longer than I had been alive.
  • Two weeks later I found myself through Mark Taylor at my first rally December 9, 2011. Two days after Mumia had been released from death row.
  • I read the New Jim Crow very quickly, then Angela Davis’ works. That was really the beginning for me.
  • I entered activism through a prison abolitionist lens, through Mumia.
  • The rally for me was an embodiment of the things Mumia was talking about.
  • I preach. I was at First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens. It’s one of the largest black churches in New Jersey. My style of ministry was evolving as I was being radicalized and politicized.
  • I tried to do a lot of social justice work. We were writing letters to our incarcerated brothers and sisters as forms of religious activism.
  • I discovered a prophetic religious tradition that comes from a black liberation theological perspective.
  • When I was on the bus ride back from Ferguson I was really mad. Mad as hell because I felt there was a relative silence from the church, particularly the black church.
  • I believe in love not as a word but as a work.
  • When I engage with youth, I try to practice a love that is material. I tell young people, I love you more than they hate you.
  • We have to deal the trauma and the pain that we inherit as black people living in the western world and all around the world.
  • Love for me is a critical, not a politic that we can talk about, but a practice we can embody and engage in everyday. That has material life.
  • We’re going to take Cornell West’s worlds seriously that justice is what love looks like in public, then we have to have a love that’s expansive enough to be material and to be felt.
  • Black Lives Matter particularly as a network has articulated a feminist politic, a black feminist politic, a queer politic that is forcing us to live out our intersectionality.
  • What we’re not talking about enough is that’s messy, and its not romantic.
  • I think of oppression as institutionalized lovelessness. Let’s love each other in ways that causes each other to act.
  • Twitter – @nylefort

Guest – Nyle Fort – Nyle is a Master’s of Divinity candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary, a youth pastor, freelance writer, and grassroots community organizer based in Newark, New Jersey. He was very active during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.

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Law and Disorder January 26, 2015


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Blood On Their Hands: The Racist History of Police Unions

The NYPD police officer union’s outrageous assertion that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” in the murder of two NYPD officers, is consistent with the reactionary role of police unions across the country. They came to prominence in the wake of the civil rights movement. Police unions have played a powerful role in resisting all manner police reforms and in defending police officers no matter how outrageous and racist their actions. Attorney Flint Taylor brought an analysis of police unions playing a major role in defending cops throughout the last few decades in his article Blood On Their Hands: The Racist History of Police Unions.

Attorney G. Flint Taylor:

  • I started to look at this because I had been in battle with the union here in Chicago, the Fraternal Order of Police, since I’ve been a lawyer which is almost 45 years.
  • After I saw what was happening in New York, I did some research on New York as well as brought back to memory a lot that had happened here in Chicago.
  • In New York I took it all the way back to Mayor Lindsey when he attempted to deal with and bring about a civilian review agency of the police department.
  • One of the instances (in New York) police showed their displeasure by running through the black community banging on the tops of garbage cans, waving their guns around and Abe Beame had to get a restraining order to stop them.
  • The racism of it all became more apparent under Mayor Dinkins reign in the 90s, when he again revisted the idea of strengthening the civilian review agency.
  • Sometimes you find that the union is to the right of the police hierarchy.
  • When I put together the article and studied New York over the last 50 years and brought together my understanding here in Chicago, is that they’re so fundamentally racist. They don’t even represent all of the cops.
  • They represent the white power structure, the most reactionary aspects of the department.
  • Whenever racism is at the heart of police actions, you’ll find the union shoulder to shoulder defending those actions by those cops.
  • In Chicago it started around the Democratic National Convention in 1968. The murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke, the Black Panther leaders.
  • Of course the FOP became extremely actively involved in defending the indefensible in the Jon Burge police torture cases and has been at the heart of it here in Chicago for 20-30 years in resisting all forms of justice in the Burge torture cases.
  • Right after he (Burge) was fired by the police department in the mid-nineties, the union had the temerity to organize a float to honor Burge and the two other officers who were found to have tortured . . . in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • The union here again is a white officers union – not only that – the white officers union, it represents the racist interests of a certain click of police officers that patrol the communities of color here in Chicago.
  • Until there’s a fundamental change in policing and the justice system, the union is going to have that kind of power and is going to continue to flank on the right, what already a reactionary, military force which is the police department.
  • It’s basically universal maybe more so in the big urban areas.
  • We have to educate our brothers and sisters in the broader labor unions like the SEIU and the unions that support the correctional officers.
  • Police unions reflect police departments, police departments are occupying forces. They were created to put down the working class. They were created to protect the interest of what is now the one percent.
  • So, how could they be part of the movement that deals with workers’ rights and fights against racism when that’s what they’re defending?

Guest – 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 45 years.

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Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine In American Studies

Professor Steven Salaita at age 39 had already written 6 outstanding books. He was a tenured professor at Virginia Tech University. He was offered a job with tenure at the University of Illinois in their American Indian Studies program. He accepted the job, and quit his other job, left his house, his wife did the same, left her job. They were enroute to Illinois for him to start working when he was told by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that he was not going to be hired. He was fired from a tenured job he had been offered at the University of Illinois because of his tweets criticizing Israel’s murderous war on the people of Gaza last summer .

Why? The university was under tremendous pressure as documentary evidence shows by private donors who said, you hire Salaita, we won’t give you money. The university caved. Salaita didn’t get his job. He’s now out of work and he’s about to file or will have filed a lawsuit trying to get his job back and reassert the principles of academic freedom, academic shared government and free speech. We hear a presentation by Steven Salaita titled Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine In American Studies delivered at New York University November 2014.

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Law and Disorder January 19, 2015


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U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

Last year, in a sudden reversal of policy, the United States released the remaining three of the Cuban Five who were imprisoned for arrested in the United States while investigating Cuban exile groups accused of terrorism. The release was part of a prisoner exchange announced on when President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, that has been isolated by a trade embargo for 54 years.

Sandra Levinson:

  • When you’ve lived through 10 or 11 presidents and you’ve seen how bad our policy can be, and also the disappointment that people like me felt, since Obama had been elected, that almost nothing had been done for improving travel for Cuban Americans.
  • The point at which I cried was when he said he was going to open an embassy in Havana, because once you got over the fact, the 3 political prisoners were coming home, that was sheer joy to realize along with the Cubans, they were crying too. They said we’ve finally been recognized as a government.
  • I think it will be great for the Cuban artists.
  • By the second day the people were saying we have to make sure we keep our culture.
  • We have to be sure we keep our country.
  • Cuba needs help with its infrastructure, it doesn’t need McDonald’s
  • We still have the Helms-Burton law. We still have the embargo. I think our next fight is to get rid of the Helms-Burton law because that has done so much to strengthen the embargo.
  • I think the Cubans will attempt to slow the flow of people from the United States to what they can manage.
  • As we all know the infrastructure for tourism is not sufficient to take care of everyone. I’m surprised they didn’t recognize sooner.
  • Clearly its because of US interest that we are doing this. We are not doing this to finally be nice to the Cuban revolution.
  • cubaupdate.org / cubanartspace.net

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

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Electronic Communications Surveillance

In the recent Monthly Review, there’s an article titled Electronics Communications Surveillance written by attorney Lauren Regan. The article enumerates the various laws, acts and court cases that have led up to collecting information on millions of citizens such as phone, internet, and email habits, credit card and bank records. Nearly all of our on line activity is subject to being surveilled by the state. Lauren breaks it down from Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, an extension of the 1968 Federal Wiretap Act, the FISA Act and on to the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The article is grouped into 3 areas,  wiretaps and “electronic eavesdropping,” stored messages, and pen registers and trap-and-trace devices.

Attorney Lauren Regan:

  • The corporations that are engaged in gray intelligence use the term threat assessment.
  • They look at activist communities even individuals and determine what level of threat they pose to the profit making components of their enterprise.
  • I think its important that activists engage in their own threat assessment as well.
  • In the documents (FOIA requests) we learned that the corporations themselves want to maintain clean hands. They don’t want to get caught spying on Mom and Pop holding a banner on a street corner.
  • They devised this scheme where there is this security firm and public relations firm that kind of open up their own shop next door.
  • They’re often former FBI agents for some of these big corporations and industries. They will collect the intelligence and its up to these PR firms to put it into these “terrorist bulletins.”
  • For a long time we knew that corporations often hired by the government itself but also hired by big industry has been going through open source intelligence. So they’ve been monitoring our websites and social media and email lists and press releases and any other public documents they can get their hands on in their 8 hour paid day.
  • They compile all this information into reports and then they sell it to police or other corporations or the government.
  • They call them issue monitoring or trend analysis. In essence it is attempting to both legitimize and make profit of spying on political groups and political activists.
  • In my experience its less important to focus on the name of the corporation because they’re so slippery and constantly changing their names.
  • The animal rights movement has definitely been a significant target for this type of spying.
  • We were working with a number of different organizations who were afraid. Who were thinking of stopping their campaigns, because they were concerned they were going to be put in prison, that they were going to be labeled terrorists.
  • One of the campaigns out of Pennsylvania, consisted of teachers, doctors, people who were once a week going out on street corners and holding a banner opposing fracking and they found themselves in a terrorist bulletin.
  • Especially when you’re talking about giant coal industries, and tar sands industries. These are gazillion dollar corporations. They’re multinational in scope. They’re working together within their industries which means they have more money and resources to put road blocks in front of regular public interest citizens.
  • There are things that you can do to make life more difficult for those that wish to spy upon you.
  • Thor and VPN are ways to use the internet with less ability to be tracked or surveyed.
  • We represent activists for free and we coordinate legal teams around the country to insure that activists have high quality representation, when they choose to risk their liberty for a cause.

GuestLauren Regan, the founder and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), where she serves as our staff attorney as well. Ms. Regan operates a public interest law firm, The Justice Law Group, specializing in constitutional law, civil rights, and criminal defense. She is a founding board member and past president of the Cascadia Wildlands. She also serves as a Lane County Teen Court judge, Oregon State Bar Leadership Fellow, National Lawyers Guild, Eugene co-chair, and volunteers hundreds of hours a year to various progressive causes.

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The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power

The surveillance and torture programs conducted by agents and contractors of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has a long sordid past. One of the first revelations of the CIA’s illegal activities released to the public was released in December 1974 by the New York Times. Details of surveillance, eavesdropping, detention and interrogation shocked readers. It was also became the foundation for deeper research by our next guest John Prados,  a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. He’s the author of the book The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power, where Prados recounts secret operations and how Vice President Richard Cheney played a leading role in intelligence abuses. He joins us today to talk about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report and the deeper connections based on his research.

John Prados:

  • A semi-notorious document that was known as the family jewels – this was a record of CIA abuses of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when they were spying on American citizens. In fact the revelation was so explosive at that time it lead to multiple investigations of the CIA by the Church Committee, the Pike Committee.
  • I think that the CIA has a preoccupation with image. The episode of the “family jewels” is typical because at the time the intelligence agency’s director was Michael Hayden. Hayden, simultaneous with the release of the document gave a speech taking credit for thinking of releasing the “family jewels” themselves.
  • In my book The Family Jewels I have a couple of chapters that documents this kind of activity.
  • We have been waiting 2 years for the appearance of this report.
  • If you look at the website that’s maintained by former director Hayden, and former director Porter Goss and former director George Tenant, you will see that they posted on their website declassified CIA documents, much more lightly redacted that were released as long ago as last summer.
  • These are the first documents I have seen containing direct Whitehouse action and activity on the torture issue.
  • The best piece of this relates to early 2004, where there was the United Nations international day of support for victims of torture. Tenant sends a memo to Condi Rice and requests that the Whitehouse reconfirm Bush Administration support for the torture program.
  • When that was not immediately forthcoming, they did this again.
  • CIASavesLives.com
  • These things were released as part of the argument that was made by former intelligence officials that torture was approved and legal.
  • Not just damage control but the perpetrators, the agency officials responsible for this program,they know its not legal, they know its morally reprehensible. They’re operating under the fig leaf of this presidential authority and this mumbo jumbo Department of Justice legal memo network.
  • If there’s a breath of questioning it all of a sudden, they’re not covered anymore. That’s the reason for the sensitivity and the reason why the CIA suddenly erupted in this effort to reconfirm these authorities.
  • If you delete material from the documents in such a way that the public can’t tell that the material the CIA got was useful, or misleading everybody.
  • The Senate report is so important because it shows on all of these cases, they took the ones twenty ones, the CIA most claims they got information for them. The report shows that in every one of those cases in fact they were getting information without resorting to the torture.
  • I think we have a challenge. I think we need to work to make a wedge for accountability in this country. I do think Americans are shamed and embarrassed by this behavior. This is not what the United States is about.

Guest- John Prados is an author and analyst of national security based in Washington, DC. He is the author of more than twenty books and many articles on topics of current importance, presidential studies, international security; and diplomatic, intelligence, or military history. His current book is The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (University of Texas Press)Newly appearing in paperback are Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. In addition Prados is author of titles on national security, the American presidency, and other subjects including Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and World War II. He is also a noted designer of boardgames on military strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy.

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Law and Disorder January 5, 2015


Updates:

  • Hosts Look Back At Several Legal Cases Of 2014
  • Professor Steven Salaita Case Update
  • Palestinians Join International Criminal Court After UN Rejection
  • Michael Ratner: There Is An Immediate Jurisdiction In The ICC On The Occupied Territories
  • Michael Ratner: Guantanamo Statistics 2015
  • Michael Ratner: Afghanistan War Ends?

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Dissent Under Surveillance: Heidi Boghosian

“Dissent Under Surveillance” was a panel held on November 7th at the Cooper Union in NY. It featured our own Heidi Boghosian, along with panelists Kevin Gosztola, Lisa Lynch, Ryan Shapiro and Carey Shenkman. Carey has been a guest on Law and Disorder. The panel was part of The Clandestine Reading Room, an exploration of leaked and declassified documents shedding light on government surveillance and secrecy in the US.

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How To Read The Senate Report On CIA Torture

We welcome back author and professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Al McCoy who recently published the article titled How to Read The Senate Report On CIA Torture. He calls it the single most important U.S. government document released to date in this still-young 21st century, yet its not without particular failings. McCoy distills the report into several potent areas. Among them, he points out how the report shows the “perpetrators as mendacious careerists willing to twist any truth to win a promotion or secure a lucrative contract.” Another is that the CIA has now been forced to admit that any link between torture and actionable intelligence is “unknowable.”

Professor Al McCoy:

  • The report gives us a graphic record of just how brutal the CIA interrogations were.
  • For years now we’ve been saying enhanced interrogation techniques or the acronym EIT’s or techniques which some consider to be torture, all kinds of twisted euphemisms. Well now, thanks to the senate report on the CIA on interrogation and incarceration everybody, citizen and senator alike, just say torture.
  • Another aspect that emerges from the report is a graphic description inside the worst of the CIA managed prisons, the salt pit in Afghanistan. The cold and eternal darkness, the capricious brutality of the CIA interrogators. The absolute incompetence from the point of modern incarceration of the CIA junior prison managers who were sent out without training to run this prison.
  • Through all of that the salt pit in Afghanistan can join that long lineage of state human cesspits of suffering.
  • Another thing and I think the most important contribution of the senate report is to establish that all the CIA’s claims that brutal coercive interrogation somehow kept us safe, blocked terrorist plots, led us to Osama Bin Laden.
  • No longer can the CIA claim the techniques work.
  • There’s one little detail that doesn’t seem that important analytically that sticks out and becomes absolutely iconic.
  • The iconic part of that report is the fact that the CIA paid 81 million dollars to 2 retired military psychologists who had no training, no language skills, no nothing. These 2 mediocrities are given 81 million dollars to run the CIA psychological and interrogation program.
  • The Senate tells us there’s this female operative that was responsible for one of the biggest bungles of the war on terror. The seizure off the streets of a German national named el Mazri. He was rendered to the salt pit in Afghanistan and for 4 months he suffered the vicissitudes of that horrific prison, that iconic hell hole. Then the CIA figures out, oops. This is a complete mistake. This guy is not in any way a terrorist, and they literally dump him on a mountain top in Albania with a wad of cash and have a nice day.
  • That operative then also claimed in testimony to the CIA inspector general in 2004 who was investigating the abuses inside the agency’s prisons that these techniques were working. The brutal interrogation, the water boarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammad the top al-Qaeda suspect had led the agency to another suspect named Majid Khan.
  • It turned out that Majid Khan was already in CIA custody before the interrogation. Her statement was completely bogus. Who is this person?
  • The CIA drew upon her primarily we believe to make her this fictional female CIA operative in Zero Dark Thirty this hero, whose almost obsessive pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and her participation in torture sessions led the Navy Seals to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
  • Her name is Alfreda Bikowski. She was the one who missed the signals on the 911 plot before it happened.
  • She gave systematic false testimony as I described. She led the CIA on a false goose chase on a supposed terrorist cell in Montana and for all that she’s been promoted to the equivalent of a CIA rank as a one star general.
  • In 2012, this civil servant had bought an 875 thousand dollar house in Virginia, a luxury residence.
  • In short, instead of being reprimanded, demoted, punished for this cacophony of errors, the CIA operative had been rewarded.
  • (the senate report) they don’t really explore the history, they don’t tell us where did this psychological torture come from.
  • Where did this institutional reflex for torture come from? It comes from a 60 year history of the U.S. involvement of torture.
  • The CIA was desperately afraid that the Soviets had somehow cracked the code of human consciousness.
  • The sensory deprivation, the sensory disorientation leads to a very quick breakdown.
  • Torture up to but not death was legal, and that’s what allowed the CIA to do all this.

Guest – Professor Alfred McCoy is the author of two recent books on this subject—Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012) and A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Welcome to Law and Disorder.

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Law and Disorder December 29, 2014


1082119862 Photo by Pete Souza The White House

U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

We’re joined today by attorney Michael Krinsky, a partner in the famous law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman. This the firm that almost has been from the beginning representing the government of Cuba. We speak with Michael about the dramatic reversal of policy and the recognition by the United States of the Cuban government and the eventual establishment of joint embassies. We also speak about the returning to Cuba of the three remaining anti-terrorist Cuban fighters who have been in American prisons for 16 years. Three men of the Cuban Five. That, plus we discuss the changing of the commercial relationships between the United States and Cuba.

Attorney Michael Kinsky:

  • It was an extraordinary moment. Word got around that Raul Castro was going to talk to the Cuban people on television at Noon, so everyone ran to find a television, including me.
  • I think many people expected Obama to take some minor measures to test the waters perhaps to get things moving.
  • Most people were quite surprised about the tone of his speech and what he said.
  • I happen to be at a conference of US and Cuban scholars, which were talking about US-Cuban relations, that’s where I saw President Castro’s speech. The first thing he said of course was the cuban heroes. The 3 of the remaining Cuban Five and the place broke into pandemonium. People jumped up literally hugging each other. People were crying, then they quieted down and they listened to the next thing.
  • And then when he said President Obama and I have agreed to reestablish normal diplomatic relations. There was silence. Then people half a second later absorbed and again there was a tremendous commotion.
  • People felt a sense of triumph. After 55 years of holding despite the Bay of Pigs, despite the economic blockade, despite the special period when the trade with the Soviet Union collapsed, they had held on. In the end, someone put it, the United States came to us.
  • You could see it in the streets, you could see it in the restaurants, you could see it in the offices. People were happy.
  • They were literally smiling for days afterward.
  • The embargo has been in effect for 54 years. It’s as comprehensive an embargo as this country has ever imposed, as any country has every imposed against any country.
  • It’s not simply the US saying we the United States won’t trade with Cuba. A major part of it is extra-territorial reach. The effort for Cuba to make trade with third countries difficult and impossible.
  • They can’t get US parts for their equipment.
  • They can’t use US dollars for international transactions, which is the currency of international trade.
  • Shipping to Cuba is made extremely difficult because of the US law that says if a ship goes to Cuba it can’t come to the United States for six months.
  • Everyone in Cuba lives on a daily basis what they rightfully call a blockade.
  • A blockade implies an effort to interrupt, disrupt trade between Cuba and a third country.
  • There is nothing there about Cuban products being sold in the United States. It’s all one way.
  • Cubans have developed a lot of innovative medical products that doctors are very excited about.
  • There was nothing in the announcements about regular airplane service between the two countries.
  • (Michael Ratner: The president has the authority to license almost everything, every economic transaction with Cuba at this point)?
  • Right export, import, financial transactions, loans, credits, investments, all of these things are within the president’s licensing authority.
  • The United States did not want a left wing socialist revolution to succeed in the Americas.
  • The theme publicly and internally in the US government, until about 1991, 1992 and then there was a shift. Then for the first time, the United States publicly started talking about the goal of US policy including the blockade was to change the internal character of the Cuban system. The Cuban government.
  • Civil liberties, free elections, free speech – those became for the first time the articulated goals of US policy.
  • Guantanamo Bay used to be a Naval Station for coaling, ships operated on coal then. There was a 99 year lease between a captive Cuban government and the United States.
  • I’m trying to find the right balance between a great deal of enthusiasm and not necessarily skepticism, but caution.
  • It was nice to see the State Department make reference to this, the United States has claims for the nationalization the properties of its companies in Cuba in the early days. Cuba has articulated it has much greater claims against the United States for the blockade and for acts of economic sabotage which have died actually over the years.
  • There are claims on both sides that have been articulated in the past.

Guest – Attorney Michael Krinsky, has been practicing law for forty-five years. For three decades, he has led the Firm’s representation of Cuba and other foreign governments, and their agencies and enterprises, as well as the Firm’s practice in the area of U.S. embargoes and export controls. Mr. Krinsky graduated from the University of Chicago’s College in 1965 and its Law School in 1968. After working with the American Civil Liberties Union in Newark, New Jersey, he joined the Firm in 1971.

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NYPD Unions Respond To Police Shootings, Says Protests At Fault

In the wake of the killing of two NYPD officers, a rift has widened amid police unions and the mayor of New York City. The New York City Police Benevolent Association Officers has suggested that the recent demonstrations against police misconduct and police violence have played a role in the execution style murders. To discuss the rhetoric from the police union and the tabloid media, we’re joined by attorney Jonathan Moore.

Attorney Jonathan Moore:

  • It is a critical moment here in New York City and around the country on the issue of dealing with over aggressive policing and the militarization of police, I think they go hand in hand.
  • We’ve been fighting this battle in New York for at least 15 years going back to the killing of Amadu Diallo and litigated the stop and frisk cases until the end of last year in to this year.
  • Police unions have been an absolute impediment to any reform of the police department in the city of New York over the last several years.
  • The union of that police department doesn’t reflect the membership anymore. The police department is close to being majority minority. Patrick Lynch is the vestiges of the old guard who never saw a police officer who did anything wrong.
  • The overwhelming majority of these protests have been peaceful and law abiding. They have not been about calling for the death of police officers. They’ve been about calling for fair bias-free, constitutional policing.
  • To use the death of these two officers as an attempt to stifle what as you say is growing mass movement, that hasn’t been seen in many years, is unfortunate and should be resisted.
  • I’m glad that people are out there, these are important issues.
  • The daily use of excessive force that goes on in many communities is never registered, never gathered by the police department. That’s a problem.
  • The systemic problem is a culture within the New York City police department that has adopted an us against them mentality.
  • There has to be a cultural change within the police department.
  • In 2011, the police department was doing close to 700 thousand stops and frisks a year. The fear was that if you impeded the stop and frisks in the way they were doing it. We of course they were doing it based on race, and the federal court found that.
  • Their alarmist response was if we stop doing stop and frisk, the crime rate will soar.
  • They did 50 thousand stop and frisks this year, that’s down 650 thousand. That’s because they made a change. They stopped imposing quotas on police officers.
  • By the way, on the pace of doing 50 thousand this year, and crime is still going down.
  • What does that tell you. It tells you for all these years, they were unnecessarily harassing and stopping and frisking, young black men and young Hispanic men, mostly in our communities for no good reason.
  • These unions blindly defend officers when they engage in misconduct and that hurts all police officers, all correction officers.
  • In an organization like the NYPD of 35 thousand sworn officers, there are going to be people who don’t do what they should do. They should be rooted out and removed from the police department.

Guest – Attorney Jonathan Moore, is a civil rights lawyer known for his work in the stop and frisk suit against the city and representing 3 of the 5 wrongly convicted men in the Central Park jogger case in 1989. He is now representing the family of Eric Garner, a father of six who died from a police choke hold.

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Law and Disorder December 22, 2014


Updates:

cubanfive3 cubanfive2

New Cuba-U.S.A. Pact And Remaining Cuban Five Prisoners Released

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • We’ve been covering this case for years on here. They were wrongfully convicted. They had been sent into Miami to stop Miami-Cuban terrorism against Cuba.
  • The U.S. in a vindictive prosecution had sentenced them for many years, in fact one of them was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit espionage I think.
  • It’s all part of a larger picture of what’s going on.
  • Cuba in what’s not considered an exchange, of course obviously, released Alan Gross.
  • Obama within limits sounds like he’s going to open relations within a certain way with Cuba and open an embassy in Cuba and Cuba, one in the United States.
  • It’s amazing moment, the revolution took place in 1959, so that’s only 55 years ago approx, the embargo has been in effect since 1961. It’s still in effect of course but this is a really major moment.
  • Attorney Len Weinglass would take 1 or 2 cases at a time, work on them like a dog, whether it was Mumia or in this case the Cuban Five and put every piece, every part of his life into it.

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Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • In the U.S. we continue to see the news portraying the five as spies when like you said they were really here to uncover unlawful activities on the part of the U.S government.
  • They handed over files to the FBI, they were very forthright with the information they gathered.
  • We also know from our interviews with attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and Gloria LaRiva that the U.S. has been paying journalists in Miami to report negatively on the case of the Cuban Five and were doing so at the time of their trial.
  • One of the lawyers we used to interview on this show and a close friend of ours Lenny Weinglass who passed away a couple of years ago was the main lawyer for the Cuban Five. It then became Martin Garbus who carried on the case in an extraordinary way, and I think that all of their work and all of the work of the Committee to Free the Cuban Five has led to result that I think would have been unforeseeable 20 years ago.

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Civil Forfeiture Cases Follow Up

Michael Ratner Commends Dean of Columbia Law School Canceling Exams Allowing Option To Protest

International Criminal Court: Possible Prosecutions From U.S. Torture In Afghanistan

Happy Birthday Chelsea Manning

ECCHR Calls For 13 CIA Agents To Be Extradited To Germany

ECCHR Complaint Against Bush Era Architects Of Torture

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • It’s taking the Senate Report they did on detention and going further and saying now we actually have evidence from one of the branches of government admitting that the CIA engaged in this incredibly awful program of torture.
  • Wolfgang Kaleck says there are about 500 CIA agents that should be quaking in their boots about traveling to Europe.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

Guantanamo suicides, CIA interrogation techniques, CIA ordered physicians who violate the Hippocratic oath, are topics of some recent articles by returning guest attorney Scott Horton. Last month, he was on Democracy Now to debate former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo on the question of declassifying a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report about the agency’s secret detention and interrogation programs. His book Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy will be published January 2015.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • I think the results flow directly from the media coverage (ABC poll on Torture report)
  • Now major publications and broadcasters that hedged using the word torture have stopped doing that. There are only a handful of media sources that won’t do it. NPR being one of them.
  • The media also presents roughly twice as much time devoted to people justifying the use of torture techniques to those criticizing it.
  • Barack Obama who should lead the push back has gone completely silent. It’s beyond silent he talked about “tortured some folks” making it very casual, and then he said the torturers were patriots.
  • I thought it was electrifying reading. 90 percent of it I’ve heard about before and still when you read them in this clinical, plain, highly factual style and things were developed with a continuous flow with lots of background in decision making in Washington at the top and how all this effected what happened on the ground.
  • As a consumer of Congressional reports this probably the single most impressive Congressional oversight report I’ve ever seen.
  • It’s an excellent example of what the oversight committee should be doing all the time.
  • They’re doing this with respect to a program which was essentially or very largely wrapped up by October 2006.
  • We’re talking about 8 1/2 years ago.
  • They’re only able to do this kind of review in any depth when its historical, not when its real time oversight, that’s disappointing.
  • One thing that emerges from looking at these reports and the military reports is that there is a huge black hole which has never been fully developed and explored and that’s JSOC, its the military intelligence side.
  • That escaped review within the DOD process and it escaped review in CIA process and its clear that there’s a huge amount there.
  • I certainly don’t expect prosecutions to emerge for the next couple of years in the United States, but I see a process setting in that may eventually lead to prosecutions.
  • On the one hand we’re seeing a dangerous deterioration in relations with Russia, is an aggressor, which has seized territory in the heart of Europe, is waging a thinly veiled war on one of its neighbors. That is very unnerving to the major NATO powers.
  • On the other hand there’s never been a period in the history of the alliance when there is so much upset at the United States.
  • That’s come largely from the rise of the surveillance state and the role of the NSA.
  • I was looking at this report, and we know that in 2006, there was an internal review that led the CIA to conclude that these interrogation techniques were ineffective and the CIA internally decided to seek a large part of the authority for EIT’s and operation of black sites rescinded.
  • Another thing that’s very important here from this report, it tells us that Michael Hayden, George Tenant, Porter Goss and other very senior people at the CIA repeatedly intervened to block any form of punishment of people who are involved with torture and running the black sites.
  • That’s important because of the legal document Command Responsibility. The law says when command authority makes a decision not to prosecute and immunize people involved with torture and abuse, that results in the culpability of these crimes migrating up the chain of command.
  • I interviewed CIA agents who were involved in this program, and they told me they’ve all been brought out by legal counsels office and told – they may not leave the country.
  • That means you’ve got roughly 150 CIA agents, including many people near the top of the agency who can’t travel right now.
  • Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy

Guest – Scott Horton, human rights lawyer and contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine. Scott’s column – No Comment. He graduated Texas Law School in Austin with a JD and was a partner in a large New York law firm, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. His new book Lords of Secrecy The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy.

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Law and Disorder December 15, 2014


report1a cia-black-sites

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report On CIA’s Detention & Interrogation

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • The Senate Committee on Intelligence started the investigation in 2007 after 92 tapes of water-boarding were destroyed by the CIA.
  • That’s where the investigation began. In 2009, the Senate Committee still controlled by the Democrats spent 4 years going through millions of documents at a high cost to try and come out with a report on the CIA’s role on what they called detention and interrogation program.
  • After 4 years they came out with a 6,700 in 2012 and they decided only to release the executive summary.
  • Obama himself actually supported having more and more redactions.
  • The redactions are stupid. Everybody knows in my field knows that Cobalt refers to what’s called the salt pit in Afghanistan which is a CIA run detention facility north of Kabal, or torture facility.
  • Even if lives were saved its flatly illegal. You can’t kill a millions civilians because you want to save some of your soldiers.
  • In the report they said that the CIA said before 911 that torture doesn’t work, its not effective.
  • What Marnia Lazreg said in her book about torture in Algeria – she said it wasn’t really about information and it was about a macho empire that was in decline.
  • What are you saying here – except this is about torturing Muslims, its about empire, and its about telling the world – you fall into our hands, we’re going to torture you.
  • What they did was on the highest levels of the CIA, they went to places like the New York Times and the Washington Post and they wanted to be identified as a high level official and they leaked the stories of what they were doing in a way that would give them credit for it.
  • I’m not hopeless about prosecutions, maybe not here, but somewhere in the world these people will be held accountable.
  • This is only talking about what the CIA did at 9 dark sites around the world. The point I want to make is that there was torture going on at other places.
  • 700 people went through Guantanamo, that’s the Rumsfeld techniques. Torture at Abu Gharib, torture at other U.S. prisons.
  • We’re talking about a very small subset of U.S. torture.
  • CIA sited Israeli Supreme Court ruling to justify torture. The Israeli ruling is that you can’t use torture except where there’s no other available means to prevent harm to other people.
  • There’s no such thing as a ticking time bomb scenario that allows you to use it (torture)
  • Go to CCRJustice.org, sign the petition

Attorney Michael Smith:

  • The lying was more than I thought. The brutality was more than I thought. The corruption was more than I thought.
  • On the lying, the report says no lives were saved as consequence to this program. We knew about water boarding but we didn’t know about rectal feeding or rectal hydration, where they left one man with a prolapsed rectum which means its hanging out.
  • We didn’t know about killing people by chaining them to the floor in a cold room and dousing them with water.
  • This program was run by 2 amateur psychologists, who didn’t know anything about Arab culture, who didn’t know anything about interrogation.
  • They set up a corporation and the government gave them 81 million of our dollars to run this thing from 2001 to 2007, if you do the numbers these guys probably made 5 million dollars a year, less expenses.
  • This is the most violent country in the world. The CIA is the epitome of this. Torture is illegal under American law, under international law. People who do it should be prosecuted.
  • People who authorize it should be prosecuted, and there’s no talk about that.

Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • My number one take away is something we’ve been covering for years is that no actionable intelligence came out as a result of these heinous practices.
  • What also offends me greatly is hearing George W. Bush’s response that anyone who buys into this report or gives in credence, is somehow unpatriotic which fits into the whole propaganda that we’ve been fed, that questioning anything the government does, is an offense or an affront.
  • These companies are profiting from torture.

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 eric_garner_choke dan-donovan2

Eric Garner’s Public Defender Says Cops and Prosecutors “Are a Team in Every Case”

A recent Vanity Fair article titled Eric Garner’s Public Defender Says Cops and Prosecutors “Are a Team in Every Case” exposes the secrecy and conflicts of interest within investigations of police violence and how seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island. The article was written by attorneys Bina Ahmad, Joseph Doyle, and Michael Rooney public defenders in Staten Island with The Legal Aid Society. We also get a look inside grand jury proceedings and the often bias investigation from district attorney’s offices when looking into police wrongdoing. What steps are needed to structure fair court proceedings in these cases?

Attorney Bina Ahmad:

  • Seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island.
  • They still work there, they still testify in court, swear under oath, they’re telling the truth, they’re still violating our clients rights with impunity left and right, commit violent acts against them.
  • The disparate treatment, of not only of the way our clients of color are treated, in a much more brutal way, but also in the way they’re charged and the plea offers that they’re given is very stark and very discriminatory in my mind.
  • Many of us here at Legal Aid and other criminal defense attorneys around the city   . . . we try to get the personnel records of officers who have been accused of brutality or violating people’s Constitutional rights, and (see) what they’ve been disciplined for within the NYPD.
  • Abuses include – strip searching people on the street, full cavity search for people on routine stops, brutalizing people for not complying with a simple order.
  • A few colleagues of mine had represented him (Eric Garner) in the past. Attorney Joseph Doyle was working to take a case to trial for him. A lot of people knew Eric Garner, and they called him the “gentle giant.” A large man, but known to be gentle and sweet, father of six.
  • When the news came out that he was killed, it was incredibly difficult for us. Not only for us but for our clients.
  • To task a local D.A’s office to prosecute one of their own, a local member of the local police department, particularly in such a small borough, you’re expecting them to prosecute a member of their own member of their team.
  • Every judge knows they have to recuse themselves from a case if they have a relationship with any of the parties involved.
  • With the D.A. they don’t have that obligation. They work on cases together. They prep them for testifying at trial to be a prosecution witness.
  • Choke holds were banned as a practice a while ago as part of police protocol. The fact that a police used one was a violation of police protocol.
  • We are not allowed in the grand jury room for any moment except for if your client chooses to testify. If our client chooses to testify, we can’t protect them at all.
  • They take the stand, they’re cross examined by the D.A. Everything they say can and will be used against them later.
  • The D.A. control everything, the narrative, what evidence is shown, what witness testifies, what questions the witness is asked.
  • It would be up to the grand jury to feel empowered to ask more questions.
  • Any eye witness that would come in as a prosecution witness, where they’re supposed to be getting an indictment on a cop. They’ll be testifying for the prosecution but what we’ve seen in these minutes is the way the district attorney these prosecution witnesses – they’re acting like they’re cross examining them.
  • They’re actually trying to break down their testimony or poke holes in their testimony.
  • They suddenly become a defense attorney when the cop is on the line.

Guest – Attorney Bina Ahmad,  staff attorney in the criminal defense practice department of the Legal Aid Society and National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Foley Square Demonstration: Voices From The Protest

We hear some of the voices of demonstrators assembling at Foley Square during the first protest against the grand jury decision failing to indict those officers responsible for choking Eric Garner to death.

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Law and Disorder December 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Hosts Discuss Mass Demonstrations In Wake Of Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict

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FERGUSONBLOG-NYC2-blog480 images

Mumia Abu Jamal Responds To Grand Jury Not Indicting Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

We talk today about the wide scale pattern of police violence against people of color in the context of the grand jury decision in St. Louis, Missouri to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old African American. The decision sparked more outrage within the community of Ferguson and launched tens of thousands into the streets in cities across the country. The grand jury is comprised of 12 members and 10 out of the 12 would have to agree to indict. The grand jury had a number of choices, such as first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. First degree murder would have required evidence that Wilson set out to kill Brown. Second degree murder charges were possible, but this choice was unlikely if jurors decided that Wilson was negligent when he shot Brown, they could have gone with a charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Mumia Abu Jamal:

  • When you think back through American history, there are actually few periods where you see this range of protest.
  • You’ll see throughout the 20th century protest. Think about April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and you saw protests all across the country over hundred cities.
  • And look what happened a few hours ago, perhaps a greater range of protest in over 170 cities tells you I think better than anything I can say, that things are very bad indeed for the African American community and their expectation of justice in this system.
  • Think about the weather, people coming out in the dire cold, right, to protest at night. That’s not an easy thing, people don’t do that easily and they do it at considerable risk and some danger.
  • That speaks to the depth of the feeling in their hearts that something is broken in the American justice system.
  • The recent midterm election was the lowest turnout since the 1940s. That says something about American discontent with the political system.
  • It actually reminds me about the demonstrations before the 2003 Iraq War, where all around the world in hundreds of countries you saw demonstrations that were unprecedented.
  • People feel that. Now that can dissipate until a new provocation.
  • This is the time where organizers should be on their p’s and q’s and out there taking phone numbers and taking emails and building lists.
  • To stand up at this moment, the first African American president in America’s history and talk about that people need to observe and respect the rule of law is I think frankly absurd.
  • Barack Hussein Obama was born August 4, 1961. In that year there were about 20 states that made it illegal for a white person to marry a black person.
  • People went to jail for what they called interracial fornication.
  • When you talk about the rule of law, you have to talk about the rule of right and the rule of wrong.
  • To quote John Africa, who said just cause its legal don’t make it right.
  • We live in a country that legalized slavery.
  • Many things are done in the name of law, but they’re wrong, they’re simply wrong.
  • I was reading in the USA Today last week, (I’m little behind in my reading) they said 461 people were killed by police in 2013.
  • This is something that’s systemic in the United States, and the people are trying to draw attention and I don’t think its successful, but its a damn good beginning.

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

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carol-thomasSM carole-hinder

Civil Forfeiture: Federal Government Seizes Property Of Business Owners

In May of 2013, two Internal Revenue Service agents seized the checking account of Carole Hinders and the 32 thousand dollar balance. Hinders was accuses of structuring her deposits to be less than 10 thousand dollars to avoid filing required government reports. This is a tactic often used by drug dealers and other criminals to move money around without detection. However, Carl Hinders owns a Mexican restaurant and her business is cash only. She did explain to the IRS agents that she made deposits almost daily to avoid having thousands of cash on hand. Hinders wasn’t charged with a crime, yet the IRS still seized the money. There are many cases of civil forfeiture similar to Carol’s where the property is taken without proper due process and investigation.

Attorney Larry Salzman:

  • Civil forfeiture is a set of laws that allow government agencies to take your property when they suspect its been involved in crime but they don’t need to charge you with any crime to take that property.
  • One of the incredible things about civil forfeiture is that the agencies that seize your money based on a mere suspicion actually get to keep that money to fund their agencies.
  • That’s true in most states and also for the federal law.
  • Every state is engaged in civil forfeiture. Minnesota had a reform. They no longer use strictly civil forfeiture, they’ll only take your property after you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense.
  • The federal government uses it (civil forfeiture) almost every major agency of the federal government, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the DHS, ICE.
  • You can’t have both civil forfeiture and an impartial enforcement of the law if the agencies enforcing that law get the money.
  • In federal cases there’s another lack of due process. The federal agencies seize cash like a bank account, the law doesn’t provide any prompt post seizure hearings. So, there’s no right for you to quickly contest the validity of the seizure. You might wait a hear without your money before you get to see a judge.
  • It’s very hard to get it back because it means mounting a full scale defense in state or federal court against well funded prosecutors.
  • There’s that financial incentive, so the government is doing more and more of these civil forfeitures as their budgets are coming under constraint.
  • If local law enforcement involves themselves in a federal forfeiture action, they’ll get paid a bounty by the feds for their participation. That becomes a very meaningful part of police department budgets.
  • That equitable sharing program has ballooned from nothing to something over 450 million dollars a year given to local police departments.
  • We’re seeing it again with another set of clients. We have 3 brothers who own a convenient store distribution business on Long Island, the IRS again took 446 thousand dollars from them.
  • This is a modest business almost all of that money was money that was owed to vendors for inventory. They grabbed their bank account when it was its fullest basically. The allegation again was structuring.
  • There’s not even a civil forfeiture action that’s been filed, that’s a violation of law in itself the government’s committed.
  • Many of the worst aspects of civil forfeiture were ushered in on the premise that they were needed to combat drug trafficking but now we see civil forfeiture being used to treat legitimate small businesses like criminals, just because they’re making frequent cash deposits.

Guest – Attorney Larry Salzman is with the Institute for Justice. He joined the Institute in April 2011 and litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting individual rights, including free speech, property rights, and economic liberties, in federal and state courts. He is originally from San Diego. His commitment to both entrepreneurship and law is reflected in his career prior to joining IJ.  Larry co-founded an ecommerce company with his family in 2000, while attending law school at night, and returned to the business for several years as CEO upon its sale in 2007. During the interim, he was an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, in Sacramento, California, litigating property rights cases in federal and state courts, and served as a clerk to Judge Bohdan A. Futey on the United States Court of Federal Claims. Larry received his law degree in 2002 from the University of San Diego, where he was Assistant Editor of the San Diego Law Review. He received an undergraduate degree in Finance from Arizona State University in 1993.

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Law and Disorder November 24, 2014


Updates:

  • RE/MAX Cashes In On Israel’s Illegal Settlements – Code Pink Calls For RE/MAX Boycott Campaign
  • US Senate Votes Down USA Freedom Act
  • Michael Ratner: President Obama Doesn’t Need Legislation To Stop The NSA, He Can Simply Direct the NSA Not To Collect Meta-Data

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salaitapstr salaita2

Academic Freedom Case Gains Traction

Since the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Board of Trustees rejected Professor Steven Salaita’s candidacy for a tenured faculty appointment to the American Indian studies program, Salaita has been giving presentations about his case and the importance of academic freedom. Initially we reported here on Law and Disorder that Professor Salaita was un-hired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. Emails within the University revealed under Freedom of Information Act Requests show that it was outside pressure from donors that influenced the University of Illinois Chancellor’s decision to dehire Salaita.

Professor Salaita:

  • My Dad grew up in Jordan, my Mom in Nicaragua. I grew up in West Virginia.
  • I got my undergraduate and Master’s degree from a small regional college in south west Virginia called Radford University and I got my PhD in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma.
  • My interest in Native American studies developed from a Native American novel course I took in college. It generated a profound interest in the histories of settlement and dispossession in North America which struck me as similar in important ways to the forms of dispossession that Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • I submitted my application in October of 2012. I was offered the job in September of 2013. Signed the contract of October of 2013.
  • The contract was countersigned by university officials and it was made formal. At that point it was announced that I had accepted the job.
  • The process was nearly 2 years long from submission of the application to the signing of the contract.
  • Any search process in the humanities or social sciences starts with a search committee of 4-6 people. They’ll look over a candidate’s cover letter. They’ll examine a candidate’s scholarship and they’ll examine that scholarship in detail.
  • Once the search committee has made its selection it has to go to other committees throughout the university.  A committee composed of representatives from the college. In my case the college of liberal arts and sciences.
  • Because I was coming in with tenure I also had to be vetted by external referees, anywhere from 4 to 6. They basically read all of my scholarship. I had to send them all of my books, all of my scholarly articles, my teaching dossier.
  • Given the statements that Israeli leaders have made, “mowing the lawn in Gaza”, “putting the people in Gaza on a diet” and their long standing discourse about demographic threats and a surplus of Palestinians . . . its hard not to think about those statements and debates when Israel carpet bombs an area twice the size of Washington DC land area that’s also home to 1.8 million people – you can’t help but think its a sort of violence informed by something worse than mere military strategy.
  • A right-wing website run by (nominally) Tucker Carlson, the bow-tied gentleman formerly of Crossfire. He’s like he came out of a Republican lab. He wears a bow-tie his name is Tucker.
  • His website the Daily Caller, ended up publishing a standard right wing hit piece. We’ve seen them all. Salaita, his tweets are horrible, blah, blah, blah, and by the way he’s going to start a job at the University of Illinois.
  • Then the local rag in Urbana Champaign, the News Gazette picked up on the Daily Caller story and the controversy gained steam. The next thing I know I’m receiving an unceremonious termination letter from the chancellor.
  • She said she didn’t expect trustee approval so there was no need to show up.
  • They called me uncivil then it morphed into anti-semitic.
  • Uncivil – – It’s a term that’s deeply rooted in colonial violence, that always implies something sinister without ever having to explain its intent or its meaning.
  • It’s a wonderful term for shutting down debate. The entire southern hemisphere was colonized based on notions that they were uncivilized.
  • The support has been phenomenal. Sixteen departments at the University of Illinois have voted no confidence in the chancellor and the board of trustees.
  • I’ve also received support from the Center For Constitutional Rights, the Modern Language Association, a number of trade unions have passed resolutions condemning the university’s decision and demanding my reinstatement.
  • The impulse seems to shut down the debate or discussion before it even begins.
  • First of all we feel that its a matter of great import to the public interest that the university administration has arbitrarily taken an action that has had negative consequences for the reputation of the university and its ability to function normally.
  • As you know the university is undergoing a boycott. It’s normal functions are being disrupted.
  • Support Steven Salaita

Guest – Professor Steven Salaita,  former associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. He is the author of six books and writes frequently about Arab Americans, Palestine, Indigenous Peoples, and decolonization. His current book project is entitled Images of Arabs and Muslims in the Age of Obama.Steven grew up in Bluefield, Virginia, to a mother from Nicaragua (by way of Palestine) and a father from Madaba, Jordan.  Books by Salaita

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torture_doctors coaltiion

Independent Investigation of APA Ties with Torturers Under Bush Administration

The nation’s largest organization of psychologists is set to conduct an independent review into whether it colluded with or supported the government’s use of torture in the interrogation of prisoners during the Bush administration. In 2011 we reported on health professionals being front and center and complicit in the US policy of torture. The torturers relied heavily on medical opinion. Medical professionals provided sanitizing and rationalization for the infamous torture memos. During water boarding procedures, a doctor would be present. Psychologists were directly involved in the supervision, design and execution of torture at US military and intelligence facilities. This is a violation of state laws and professional ethics. These “health professionals” that were involved with torture still hold their professional licenses to practice.

Dr. Stephen Soldz:

  • At this point I think we all know there was a program of torture in the Bush Administration. CIA and the DOD at Guantanamo. Less known was that psychologists were central to it.
  • In the CIA, they designed the torture, they were also essential to the legal protection. The Justice Department torture memos basically said that if a health professional, a psychologist or physician is there and says that the interrogation won’t cause severe and long lasting mental harm, than it isn’t torture even if it causes harm.
  • In other words, their presence was a get out of jail free card.
  • As far as we can see it was central to the Bush Administration’s plans to indemnify themselves while engaging in torture.
  • The American Psychological Association apparently worked with the Bush Administration to provide protection for the psychologists who were involved.
  • The ethics code had been changed in such a way that it allowed psychologists to disobey the ethics code and follow governmental orders.
  • This was actually done before 911 and passed after 911.
  • We have been concerned if they (APA) had been complicit in various ways.       James Risen from the New York Times just published his new book Pay Any Price and one chapter in there provided direct documentary evidence that APA officials were working with the CIA and the Whitehouse to manipulate the ethics code to apparently allow psychologists to participate.
  • Michael Ratner: There was a committee appointed from the APA to look into the APA’s role as I recall . . . Dr Stephen Soldz: . . . to decide on whether psychologists participating in a national security interrogation was ethical – was consistent with the APA’s ethics code.
  • They (APA) were not directly involved as far as we know in torture, they were more involved in doing what the CIA and the White House wanted in terms of manipulating ethical understandings.
  • We, Amnesty and CCR have called for an independent investigation of the APA for a number of years. We’re glad the APA board has recognized the need.
  • They appointed a Chicago attorney who is a specialist in public corruption. We are cautiously optimistic but we have some concerns.
  • Its inappropriate for the APA board to appoint its own investigator of whether the APA did something wrong.
  • The time frame they gave of 5 months is awfully short for an investigation of this magnitude. We’re hopeful that the investigation will be wide ranging and comprehensive which is what is needed.
  • If the accusations in Risen’s book pan out, you have to look at his office (APA CEO) If he knew that means he approved of it. If he didn’t know that means he was incompetent.
  • This has been the issue that has divided the APA in the last decade.
  • What was most needed by the intelligence community was that it was ethical for the psychologist to participate in the interrogation.
  • One of the key people who was in the Bush White House at this time who is implicated is Susan Brandon who is now a top official in Obama’s high value detainee interrogation group.
  • If the Republicans win, torture will probably come back.
  • Since the Nuremberg trials where Nazi doctors were executed for conducting unethical experiments, informed consent has been the backbone of human subjects research.
  • Yet the APA put in this clause – – if laws or institutional regulations (that’s a very broad category institutional regulations) don’t require informed consent and psychologists don’t have to do it.
  • If my drug company says I don’t need informed consent . . .there’s no reason why the APA should get rid of informed consent for anything but the most trivial and harmless research.
  • They’ve never explained where this comes from and its still in effect.
  • Ethicalpsychology.org

Guest - Dr. Stephen Soldz,  psychologist, psychoanalyst, and public health researcher in Boston, and was a co-author of PHR’s report Experiments in Torture. He is the Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology (Psychiatry) at Harvard Medical School, and has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston College, and Boston University.

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