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Law and Disorder August 22, 2016

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The Movement For Black Lives

In response to the ongoing violence by police against Black communities across the United States, more than 50 organizations have come together to express a common vision and agenda for change. The Movement for Black Lives has issued a call to end the war against Black people that includes ending the criminalization, imprisonment and killing, not only of Black individuals, but all oppressed people. Broad areas for reform include economic justice, ending the war on Black people, reparations, invest-divest, community control and political power.

Guest – Donna Murch, Professor of History at Rutgers University and author of Living In The City: Migration, Eduation and the Rise of the Black Panther Party. She also contributed an article to the forthcoming verso press book “False Choice: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton.



U.S. – Saudi Arabia Arms Deal

Last month Congress narrowly approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. They are being used in the Saudi war against Yemen and are dropped on civilians. The bombs are manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, part of the American military Industrial complex. Now a second arms sale, this one involving tanks and armored personnel carriers, is up for Congressional approval.  A number of peace groups including human rights watch have come out against it. Last week a New York Times editorial stated that “Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace. ” The Saudi Arabian Monarchy  has been a long time ally of the United States and provides a significant amount of oil to United States as well as being a major purchaser of American corporate made weapons.  They are used in Yemen and illegal under American law.

Guest – Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS, working as a writer, activist and analyst on Middle East and UN issues. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. In 2001 she helped found and remains active with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She works with many anti-war organizations, and writes and speaks widely across the U.S. and around the world as part of the global peace movement. She has served as an informal adviser to several top UN officials on Middle East and UN democratization issues.


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George W. Bush is now 70 years old and retired on his ranch outside of Crawford Texas.  Many Americans remember him as a clueless figure on the morning of September 11, 2001 reading My Pet Goat to a classroom of children. They think of Bush as a hands-off leader who turned over the reins of power to his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the head of the CIA George Tenet.  But the major decisions after the attacks on September 11, 2001, including the bombing of Afghanistan, the opening of the Guantánamo offshore prison camp, torture, and the introduction of the Patriot Act, and the war on Iraq were made by George W. Bush, who denominated himself as “the decider.” He had “and unnerving level of certitude” –  as Jean Edward Smith, author of the recent expansive biography called “Bush” has written.  Smith writes that Bush “firmly believed that he was the instrument of God’s will.”

Guest – Professor Jean Edward Smith, is ean Edward Smith is the author of twelve books, including highly acclaimed biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall, General Lucius D. Clay, and Ulysses S. Grant (a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist). A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Smith taught at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years before joining the faculty at Marshall University where he was the John Marshall Professor of Political Science.


Law and Disorder June 20, 2016

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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith



Law and Disorder June 6, 2016

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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Jim Lafferty

Periodically we feature a segment on Law and Disorder called Lawyers You’ll Like. Our guest today is attorney Jim Lafferty.  Jim has been a lawyer and movement activist in Detroit, New York City, and Los Angeles since the 1960s when he served as executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and carried out civil rights work in the deep South. He was one of the national leaders of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.  He also headed up the very successful National Lawyers Guild chapter in Los Angeles for 25 years.

Guest – Jim Lafferty, Executive director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show on Pacifica’s KPFK 90. 7 FM.


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American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes

World War II started on September 1, 1939 when fascist Germany attacked its neighbor Czechoslovakia.  By the end of the war six years later some 80 million people had died and the continent lay devastated. The first trials of 22 Nazi leaders, general’s and bankers wer organized by the victorious allies, America, Britain, Russia, France and took place in Nuremberg Germany.  19 were found guilty and executed.  Robert H Jackson, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and Chief Prosecutor for United States and Nuremberg wrote then that “we must not forget that the record on which we judge the defendants today is a record in which we will be judged tomorrow.” A recent article –  Crimes of the War on Terror Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Others Be Jailed? 

Intentional war is the greatest of all crimes because it contains with it all the rest of horrible crimes. The United States of America’s intentional war against Iraq, which was motivated to the public with lies about weapons of mass destruction, and which has since spread to six other countries in the Middle East, has resulted in over 1 million deaths, driven millions more from their homes, and destroyed ancient peoples and their cultures.

The United States helped establish the international principles that guided the prosecution of war crimes when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and its legal system have consistently refused to apply the same principles to our own officials. In her book American Nuremberg, Rebecca Gordon indicts the officials who, in a just society, whould be put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  She acknowledges that the U.S. government is unlikely to do this and proposes an alternative based on the Russell Tribunals held in 1967 exposing American criminality in the war against Vietnam.

Guest – Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco and for the university’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People . Prior to her academic career, Gordon spent a few decades working in a variety of national and international movements for peace and justice. These include the movements for women’s liberation and LGBT rights; movements in solidarity with the struggles of poor people in Central America; the anti-apartheid movement in the United States and South Africa; and movements opposing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.



Law and Disorder May 16, 2016

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Tomas Young’s War

At age 19 Tomas Young joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. For patriotic reasons he wanted to fight in Afghanistan because of that country’s connection to the attack.

He was instead deployed to Iraq, a country that had zero connection to the attacks on September 11, 2001. He was in Iraq but a few days when he was shot in an insurgent ambush while sitting in the back of an open truck driving through an area of unrest in Baghdad.

The first shot severed his spinal cord paralyzing him from the nipples on down. The second shot shattered his knee. He never felt it. Tomas Young lived for nine years with his catastrophic injury. He became a forceful and eloquent spokesman against the war in Iraq.

The movie “body of war” was made about him.  Tomas died of his injuries in 2014 at the age of 34.

Guest – Cathy Smith, a single mother who had cared for her son Tomas and advocated for him.

Guest – Mark Wilkerson spent eight years in the U.S. Army as an AH-1 Cobra & UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with the 3rd Infantry & 101st Airborne Divisions. He was deployed with the 101st to Mogadishu, Somalia, for six months in 1993. Mark has three children, Alex, Nick and Sam. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Melissa. This is his third book. Phil Donahue and the DONAHUE show have been honored with 20 Daytime Emmy Awards, including nine for Outstanding Host and a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Journalism Award.


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Surveillance State and Tor

As computer technology has evolved and communications providers have profited, law enforcement and government intelligence organizations increasingly lobby to mandate that data services be engineered to allow them “back door” access to encrypted data.

Even as expansive anti-terrorism legislation provides more ways for the government to harvest our personal data, calls still continue for regulation of technology to ensure extra access channels. With each high-profile criminal attack, on U.S. soil or elsewhere across the world, government efforts to access personal communications gain momentum.

Years ago, many considered TOR, software that enables anonymous communication, to be equivalent to the Dark Net, the nefarious sites and services accessible on the Tor network that promote/enable illegal activity such as drug and gun marketplaces. After Edward Snowden’s massive data release, however, TOR use in the last year has grown quickly.

Guest – Shari Steele, Executive Director of the Tor Project. As the former director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Shari built it into the nation’s preeminent digital rights organization.




Law and Disorder May 25, 2015

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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Professor Susan Schnall

From 1967 to 1969, during the Vietnam War Lieutenant J.G. Susan Schnall was a Navy nurse stationed at a hospital in Oakland California treating wounded marines. She and other soldiers threw anti-war leaflets out of airplane on to an Army base in California. For this she received a general court martial and was discharged from the Navy in 1969. She’s an expert on the effects of Agent Orange. The chemical used by the United States to commit chemical warfare against the Vietnamese people and their land.

Guest- Susan Schnall, co-coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign, chairing the legislative outreach and science group. She is currently a professor in Health Policy and Planning at NYU and a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and American Public Health Association. In 1969 she was tried and convicted by a general court martial for her anti-war activities while a member of the US Navy.


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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Attorney Jim Lafferty

When the United States government escalated its war in Vietnam in 1965, Detroit Attorney Jim Lafferty who is a leader of the National Lawyers Guild and an attorney representing draft resisters became active in what was unfolded as the mass movement opposing the American war. Jim was one of the five national coordinators of the National Peace Action Coalition and played a central role in the huge anti-war demonstrations in 1967, 1969 and 1971.

Guest – Jim Lafferty, has been a movement lawyer, political organizer, and legal worker for the past 50 years. He served as NLG executive director from 1963 to 1967, during the peak of Guild work in the South. In Detroit, he was a founding partner of Lafferty, Reosti, Jabara, James, Stickgold, Soble and Smith, a law firm which, according to his Red Squad file, represented “every left-wing, civil rights, anti-war, and black nationalist group in Detroit.” Jim is also a strident antiwar activist. He established numerous draft counseling centers in the Midwest, helped organized some of the largest Vietnam War protests, and, when Iraq invasions loomed in both the 90s and the aughts, he coordinated some of the largest anti-war coalitions. Jim has served as the Los Angeles chapter’s Executive Director for over two decades. Most recently, he headed his chapter’s well-publicized support for Occupy LA.


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50 Year Anniversary of the Vietnam War: Doug Rawlings

As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the American war in Vietnam, many believe that the US government is attempting to reshape the historical record, omitting the perspectives of antiwar protesters and of disaffected and nonconforming soldiers and their families. Also missing are the narratives of Southeast Asians who suffered from misguided and disastrous foreign policies.  Veterans for Peace has launched a Full Disclosure campaign calling on Americans to write letters to the soldiers whose names appear on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. They urge everyone with a role in the Vietnam war–be it war resister, combatant, family member, conscientious objector or citizen, to share their memories and perspectives.

Guest – Doug Rawlings, founding member of Veterans For Peace and was an active member in early years of the organization, became Maine chapter president for 5 years, and served as chapter secretary.  He was on the planning committee for the  annual PTSD symposia and, planning committee for the 25th anniversary national convention. Rawlings was drafted in the fall, 1968 and served in Vietnam from July 1969 to August, 1970, 7/15th Artillery.  He was a secondary school teacher for six years and has been teaching at the University of Maine at Farmington for close to thirty years.



Law and Disorder May 11, 2015



  • Heidi Boghosian: Attorneys Make United Nations Urgent Appeal Request For Mumia Abu-Jamal


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FiSaraha International Film Festival

Co-host, attorney Michael Ratner recently attended the 11th FiSaraha International Film Festival in Africa’s Western Sahara Desert. He bring us up to date on the festival and the larger issue of Sahrawi refugee camps in Southwestern Algeria. He also reminds about the anniversary of the United States’ contra torture and murder of Ben Linder in Nicaragua.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.


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ACLU Lawsuit To Make Catholic Groups Provide Abortions To “Illegal” Immigrants

After hearing reports that Catholic bishops are prohibiting Catholic charities from allowing undocumented immigrant teenagers in their care to access contraception and abortion services—even in cases of rape—the ACLU recently filed a lawsuit to obtain federal government records. The group seeks documents related to reproductive healthcare policy for unaccompanied immigrant children in the care of federally funded Catholic agencies, which do not believe in abortion.  Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied minors illegally crossed over from Mexico border in 2014. Approximately one third were young girls, an astonishing 80% of whom were victims of sexual assault.

The government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to care for those children until they can either reunite with a relative or face an immigration hearing. In total the Conference has received $73 million overall from the government—with $10 million allocated for the care of unaccompanied minors in 2013 alone.

The Conference has objected to a regulation proposed by the Obama administration mandating that contractors provide abortions to immigrants who have been raped. In response to the ACLU’s request, the Conference asserts that they are within their rights to exercise religious freedom while taking care of the minors.

Guest – Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.  Brigitte is currently litigating multiple cases, including a challenge to South Dakota’s law that requires women seeking abortion to first visit a crisis pregnancy center before obtaining an abortion, a restriction on Medicaid funding for abortion in Alaska, and a law in Texas that has forced one-third of the abortion providers to close their doors.  Brigitte is also heavily involved in the challenges to the federal contraception benefit, and was one of the coordinators for the amicus briefs in the Supreme Court.  Brigitte is an adjunct assistant professor at New York Law School, and has been an adjunct assistant professor at Hunter College.


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 Proposal To Award Chicago Police Torture Victims Reparations

Victims of police torture under former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge will share $5.5 million, receive an apology and have their story taught in school under a reparations package proposed recently. The proposal is expected to pass when the council votes on it this month.

More than 100 people who accused Burge and officers under his command of torture—from cattle-prod shockings, phone book beatings prods, and suffocation with bags until false confessions were given—over nearly two decades ending in 1991. While some have already settled for thousands or millions of dollars, the remaining dozens can each receive up to $100,000 under the proposed ordinance. More than $100 million has already been paid over the years in court-ordered judgments, settlements and legal fees. Amnesty International USA lauded the proposal, which it said was unlike anything a U.S. municipality has ever introduced.

Besides a provision that calls for teaching the Burge torture cases to 8th and 10th graders in public school history classes, the ordinance includes a formal apology from the City Council, and psychological counseling and other benefits such as free tuition at community colleges. In recognition that the torture, and in many cases wrongful convictions and lengthy prison sentences, has impacted victims and their families, the ordinance extends some benefits to victims’ children or grandchildren.

Burge, 67, was fired from the Chicago Police Department in 1993. He was never criminally charged with torture, but was convicted in 2010 of lying about torture in a civil case and served 4.5 years in federal custody. Still drawing his pension, he was released from a Florida halfway house in February.

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




Law and Disorder April 6, 2015



  • Attorney Heidi Boghosian Tells Of How She And Johanna Fernandez Found Out Mumia Abu-Jamal Was Rushed To Local Health Facility
  • Campaign To Bring Mumia Home
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Hobby Lobby State Religious Freedom Acts
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Palestine Joins The ICC
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Obama Issues Executive Order On Hackers


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Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue

Fascism has taken on many forms through the rise and fall of empires. One aspect of modern day fascism can seen as propaganda, lies and deceit used as political leverage to eventually absorb sovereign states. Our guest John Pilger lays out the swath carved by fascism in the last 70 years in his recent article Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue. Using the word carefully, Pilger describes a new kind of fascism, centered in America but based on the big lie of war and aggression. Pilger documents key events from the Holocaust to Libya to Serbia, to Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan in the 1970s, to Vietnam and up to the current revival of fascism in the heart of Europe. We get a historic perspective from John Pilger, going all the way back to the second world war. If you think the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Libya and now the Ukraine occur by happenstance, you are mistaken says Pilger, an Australian-British journalist based in London. These are part of the American effort to become the global power.

Guest – John Pilger, an Australian-British journalist based in London. John has worked in many facets of journalism, including a correspondent in the Vietnam War, the Middle East Desk for Reuters in London, a documentary film maker, and a producer for the Independent Television Network in London. Pilger is known for his conscience, bravery and acute historical insight.   His articles appear worldwide in newspapers such as the Guardian, the Independent, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times.


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Law and Disorder March 9, 2015



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ISIS and The Anti-War Movement

Last June, the United States sent more military soldiers to Iraq and carried out airstrikes to stop the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant known as ISIS. The US, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad which is also the goal of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. ISIS’s membership may be close to 15 thousand members, half of what the CIA estimates. ISIS is led by a core of people who fought the U.S. in Iraq, fought the Iraq Army back in 2003 and then in 2011 fought in Syria. Last week our own Michael Ratner reported how the U.S. could be given leave to make war everywhere if President Obama’s request for AUMF is granted by a US Congress. What are the demands of the US peace movement?

Attorney Jim Lafferty:

  • It was U.S. military strategy in the Middle East to begin with and past U.S. military action in that part of the world, especially in Iraq that provided the primary catalyst for the growth of ISIS.
  • We destroyed the secular governments in Iraq and Libya that created the political space for ISIS and other right wing forces to grow.
  • ISIS filled the governing vacuum took advantage of these ethnic divisions angered at the U.S. and steadily gained strength thereafter.
  • If you think about it, we spent the last 40 or 50 years destroying leftist and secular, anti-imperialist movements all over that region of the world.
  • Two weeks ago the Pentagon announced their sending 4000 troops with very heavy weaponry to Kuwait.
  • The U.S. Army has already set up a division headquarters in Iraq. A division consists of 20 thousand troops.
  • The people that are having the most success in fighting a Syrian government right now is ISIS.
  • The question is not should they be stopped. The question is what will be effective in stopping them.
  • There is great unity in the anti-war movement. They’ve got unified actions planned for later this month in Washington DC.
  • The anti-war movement is going to be tough for the anti-war movement because the propaganda machine, the mainstream media in this country has done its job in pandering by showing despicable pictures.
  • What we don’t see is Saudi Arabia our staunchest ally, executes 20-25 people by beheading every month.
  • Cindy Sheehan, is setting up a Camp Casey at the Capitol. All the anti-war groups are holding a mass teach in on this very issue we’re talking about now.
  • First of all a nuclear power like Israel getting all exorcised about the fact that somewhere down the road a neighboring country might have the same weapons it has.
  • Pardon me if I can’t get terribly excited about that. We shouldn’t have any country in the world with nuclear weapons.
  • In addition to everything else (Netanyahu) is lying about the threat if it were a threat. To come to the U.S. Congress to give that bloviating speech where he offers nothing new.
  • He offers no alternative to what the administration is trying to do and is apparently making some progress in doing and is hailed as a hero by one side of the aisle is really quite appalling.

Guest- Attorney Jim Lafferty, Executive director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show on Pacifica’s KPFK 90. 7 FM.


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Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary

As president of the Burkino Faso, one of Africa’s poorest countries, Thomas Sankara was often called the African Che Guevara. In 1987, he was assassinated during a military coup that took down his government. However, Sankara’s economic and social policies left an important mark not only on his country but across Africa. Sankara was a Marxist and openly sought independence from France and at the same time he was building a pan-African unity.

Professor Ernest Harsch:

  • He was the president of Burkino Faso from 1983 to 1987, a very short period of time.
  • He was a revolutionary. Everybody acknowledged that at the time especially the French who greatly disliked him.
  • The U.S. wasn’t too happy with him. He wanted to stop in Atlanta to meet with Andrew Young during his visit to the UN General Assembly. They didn’t allow him to make that stop. So he spoke in Harlem instead.
  • It’s a small west African country, not even that many experts on Africa know that much about it. He was in power for about 4 years and he was overthrown by a military coup.
  • I think for people that are interested in progressive change its always useful in seeing how others elsewhere in the world are fighting against oppression, are fighting for their rights and occasionally actually able to make some change.
  • It’s also useful to learn about what kind of leadership can help people do that.
  • He wasn’t a grassroots activist. He came out of the military. He was a captain. He got radicalized in the military and because of the context of his country which was extremely poor and under-developed, backward and subservient to the French who been their formal colonial power, very corrupt both military and civilian politicians over the decades.
  • He’s representing a newer generation where that initial idealism about independence will bring all sorts of changes. He’s speaking to the ills of formally independent countries that are still subservient to their colonial masters and still haven’t found a way to break out of the trap of underdevelopment and external economic domination.
  • He’s speaking to a new generation that still resonates today which is young people who are fed up with the way things are.
  • They’re fed up with the corruption of their leaders whether they’re elected or not elected.
  • You travel through west Africa you see Sankara t-shirts.
  • The first time I met him was in New York. The guy was direct. He listened to what you had to say. He thought about it. I’ve never met anybody who was so quick. I mean he was witty.
  • The other times I met him in Burkina. The first time was a long interview. The other times he didn’t want to be interviewed, he just wanted to talk about politics.
  • Up to that time, nobody hand promoted or named so many women to cabinet position. One of them now is the current minister of justice.
  • They tried to tackle some restrictions on women at the local level. It’s hard they made a small dent in it. They fought against female genital mutilation, the right to divorce by mutual consent.
  • It (the country) was called Upper Volta which was a colonial name. They wanted something African and Burkina Faso, the words are from two local African languages basically means the land of the upright, or the uncorruptible people. The people are known as Burkinabe and Burkinabe comes from a third African language.
  • Before he became president he was briefly a prime minister in a coalition government. His first trip was to Libya.
  • Then he went to the non-alliance summit in New Delhi and gave this very fiery speech basically solidarizing with the Cuban revolution, with the Nicaraguans, with the Western Saharans, with the new Calidonians. He clearly aligned himself with the anti-imperialist, pro-third world, pro-development wing, within the non-alliance movement.
  • The French didn’t like that. So, they told some their people locally, look let’s get rid of this guy.
  • They had an internal coup. He was arrested. He was in prison for a while but they couldn’t sustain that. He was too popular. He became president.
  • He was only 33 when he became president, so this was a youthful leadership.

Guest – Professor Ernest Harsch has taught courses on African development and political instability in the Sahel and is a research scholar affiliated with the University’s Institute of African Studies. He earned his PhD in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York. Throughout a professional career as a journalist, he wrote mainly on international events, with reporting on Asia, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe, but most extensively on Africa.


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Please help support Law and Disorder by clicking on Fractured Atlas graphic. This radio show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can donate as little as 5.00 a month.



Law and Disorder September 22, 2014

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The Legality of War Powers: Michael Ratner

Law and Disorder co-host Michael Ratner explains war powers in the United States and questions the legality of President Barack Obama decision to launch attacks against the Islamic State using the 2001 Authorization To Use Military Force. Michael Ratner and Jules Lobel with the Center for Constitutional Rights have brought a number of cases challenging the decision to go to war including Vietnam, El Salvador and Grenada

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • I’ve spent as a number of us had a lot of our lives trying to restrain U.S. war powers. The U.S. particularly the president or the Congress together going to war around the world.
  • It’s been a task that has been singularly unsuccessful, starting with Vietnam where we brought case after case. Only at the very end of the war really did Congress finally act to restrict the president after there were secret wars carried out in Cambodia, in Laos, not just Vietnam.
  • Right now the president hasn’t asked for any authority from Congress to either bomb targets in Iraq that he claims are Islamic state targets or presumable if they begun it bombing in Syria, again targets he claims that are Islamic state targets. He’s not asked for any authority.
  • He has of course had to use some funding that Congress I think will approve if he asks for more. That is not considered giving authority by Congress, just because they fund a war.
  • Coming out of Vietnam, Congress did sort of a mea culpa. They said well, the president dragged us into this war, we passed this Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was this open ended resolution that said the president could do what ever he wanted in Vietnam. He kept fighting the war based on this broad authorization that Congress gave him over a false incident. . .
  • The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution you could liken to the authority Congress gave the president to go to war in Afghanistan called the Authorization to Use Military Force.
  • (Still back to Vietnam) So Congress passes what’s called The War Powers Resolution. Congress said to itself, we don’t want to be in the situation like Vietnam again.
  • The president, yes is required to go to Congress before he can go to war with any country. The framers were very clear, we don’t want a president making war on his own.
  • You get to Vietnam and Congress says we’re going to make a special statute. You still need a declaration of war or a special passage by Congress of a statute authorizing war before you can make war. But in just in case the president goes in to a country without getting a declaration from us or a statute allowing it we’re going to say he can only stay in that country for 60 days.
  • After 60 days he’s required to pull out all troops from that country.
  • There’s never been any compliance with the War Powers Resolution in the history of our country – where after the 60 day clock, the president has pulled out the troops.
  • I’ve litigated that with El Salvador when the U.S. sent in “advisors” into El Salvador, we’ve litigated it in Grenada and other places.
  • We litigate these on 3 bases. Non compliance of the War Powers Resolution, Secondly non-compliance with the U.S. Constitution which is the Congress has to declare war not the president, and third non-compliance with the U.N. Charter which says there can be no use of force by any member state, unless its self defense or the UN Security Council approves it.
  • The problem here isn’t really a problem of law. The problem here is the problem of having a hegemonic imperialist country that dominates the world through force.
  • So that turns us back to where we are right now.
  • Obama has two justifications – one is the original grant of authority to bomb and go and use force and U.S. troops in Afghanistan called the Authorization to Use Military Force passed shortly after 911 in 2001 which basically said the president could use force to go after the perpetrators of 911, those who harbored them or those who aided and abetted them.
  • In the case of the Islamic State they’re at war with has been denounced by al-Qaeda, so they’re certainly not part of a 911 conspiracy at all.
  • There’s no question that he’s illegally bombing the Islamic State in Iraq, illegally bombing them to the extent he is in Syria.

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.


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The People’s Climate March and the United Nations Climate Summit

We hear the voices from the climate march held in New York City, a large-scale activist event to advocate global action against climate change. The march winded through the streets of New York Sunday, September 21, 2014. Initially called by, the environmental organization founded by writer/activist Bill McKibben, the march has been endorsed by nearly 400 organizations, including many international and national unions, churches, schools and community and environmental justice organizations. The action is intended to coincide with the UN Climate Summit this week as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited leaders of government, the private sector and civil society to arrive at a long term solution for climate change.


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 National Immigration Project

Last month the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and several other groups sued the federal government to challenge its new and unlawful “fast-track” expedited removal policies that are being used against mothers and children detained in Artesia, New Mexico. Artesia is a remote detention center hundreds of miles from the nearest city. Lawyers with the NIP have collected evidence showing the government disregarding and pushing mothers and children through a deportation process making it nearly impossible for them to consult attorneys, prepare claims for asylum or any defenses to deportation. A class action lawsuit was brought by the Northwest Immigration Rights Project challenging the treatment of unaccompanied children in California with the average of 10 years old.

Paromita Shah:

  • Starting in early April the government began to see a surge in arrivals of families – of mothers and children and sometimes children who came by themselves.
  • Predominantly these children and families come from countries Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
  • They fled their home countries for a variety of reasons, mostly to escape what was horrific atrocities they experienced.
  • They went to other countries as well, since other countries have seen a 700 percent increase in asylum claims. Costa Rica and Bolivia.
  • The surge is not new. The surge actually began about 5 years ago when people were reporting an exponential increase of children coming across the border and no one knew what to do about it.
  • From the stories we’ve heard from many of our members they are fleeing horrific atrocities and came to the United States to seek refuge here.
  • The National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU and a number of organizations sued the federal government to challenge its policies that denied a fair deportation process to the families and the children who fled this extreme violence.
  • The primary focus of our argument is that these people weren’t given a chance to apply for asylum.
  • We are violating our laws that relate to asylum, that relate to the convention against torture. These are laws not only in the United States but also international treaties that we’ve signed onto.
  • If you fled a country that abused you and injured you, you would come to the United States border. At that point our laws set up a process called expedited removal. It’s a two stage process.
  • The first step includes an interview with asylum officer to evaluate if you have a credible fear. When I say border that’s at any point of entry in the United States.
  • Anywhere within 100 miles of the border (U.S.) because that’s how we define the border.
  • Two thirds of the population of the United States lives within 100 miles of the border.
  • Artesia New Mexico is a federal holding cell for the 672 people who are now detained there.
  • If you’re a child that doesn’t have an adult with them you’re supposed to be treated differently under this process. They are not as a practice supposed to be put into expedited removal because of their age. You will have a chance to apply for asylum ( which is incredibly difficult) because you apply without an attorney.
  • There are children in New Jersey, Washington state, Texas, L.A., and Florida.
  • Children can’t always talk if they were raped or recruited into a gang or brutalized by a gang.
  • J.E.F.M. v. Holder
  • The irony of this whole process is that Artesia is in New Mexico. The immigration court that’s holding these hearings around Artesia is in Arlington, Virginia.
  • They’re conducting these hearings by video.

Guest – Paromita Shah, associate Director of the National Immigration Project. She specializes in immigration detention and enforcement. She is the contributing author and co-presenter of the Deportation 101 curriculum.



Law and Disorder January 6, 2014

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

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

Ann Jones:

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

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


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The Black Misleadership Class Versus the Movement and its Legacy

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

Glen Ford is the Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


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