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Archive for the 'Iraq War' Category


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.

 

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Law and Disorder March 21, 2015


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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by Jim Douglass

JFK and the Unspeakable is the first book of 3 on the assassinations of the 1960s. Orbis Books has commissioned author James W. Douglass to write about the murders of JFK, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and his  the third will be on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. The heart of JFK the Unthinkable, is not how Kennedy was killed or how Kennedy became a threat to the systemic war machine, but why DID Kennedy die? Author James Douglass says Kennedy knew that he would die and had the guts to stand up to the system and take the hit. This narrative was lost for decades, obscured by disinformation about Kennedy’s character and the conspiracy of his assassination. One review summarizes Douglass’s book in this way : JFK’s belated effort to turn America from an armed culture of victory to a member of an international peaceful world was shot down in Texas for a reason.

Jim Douglass:

  • John F. Kennedy’s experience in WWII:  He was in the South Pacific, he volunteered. He was on that PT boat.
  • What happened on that PT boat, is that it got split into two by a Japanese destroyer. He lost brothers and friends at that time.  An extraordinary experience being adrift on the ocean warning other PT boats. The experience create a distrust in military authority.
  • He said that he wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter to the winds.
  • As Kennedy said to his friends, “they figured me all wrong.”
  • The Unspeakable: the kind of evil and deceit that seems to go beyond the capacity of words to describe. The midst of war and nuclear arms race, the assassinations of Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcom X that the term was used.
  • JFK’s vision is articulated in the address June 10, 1963, arising from the turnaround of the missile crisis and Bay of Pigs. He wanted to move step by step into a disarmed world.
  • Nikita Khrushchev put that speech all over the Soviet Union.  The Cuban Missile Crisis is a deeply misunderstood part of our history, because it’s usually portrayed as Kennedy going to war with Nikita Khrushchev and beating him.
  • The truth was that Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were in over their heads, the US generals wanted nuclear war, because they had more warheads than the Soviets.
  • Nikita Khrushchev: We now have a common enemy from those pushing us toward war.
  • At that point the Cold War turned upside down because Kennedy and Khrushchev became closer to each other than either was toward their own military power system.
  • Vietnam: Kennedy’s military people would not give him an exit policy. He signed the withdrawal order from Vietnam before he was assassinated.
  • His friends said that he had an obsession with death. It was not an obsession but a real assessment that he was going to die. If you try to turn around a national security state that is dominating the world,
  • and you do so as president of the United States, of course you’re going to die. Kennedy knew that.
  • The book is a story on the deliberate destruction of hope, the vision of change, a turning of this country all of which was happening and had to be stopped. US Agencies killed Dr. Martin Luther King – 1999 Verdict
  • We’re in the same scene right now with Petraeus and McChrystal setting up Obama. They were dictating terms to Obama, unlike Kennedy, he did not face them down.
  • We need to get out ahead of Obama so that he can do something.

Guest – James W. Douglassauthor and a longtime peace activist and writer. James and his wife Shelley are co-founders of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, and Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Law and Disorder January 18, 2016


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NYC Teacher Fired For Lessons About The Central Park Five

An English teacher at a New York City high school claims that she was fired because of a lesson on the so-called Central Park Five which school administrators warned her would “rile up” black students. Jeena Lee-Walker recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Dept. of Education and several administrators from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry after being fired for insubordination and poor evaluations. She claims they were the result of her pushing back on topics like the Central Park Five. Lee-Walker,  who graduated from Barnard and has post-graduate degrees from Harvard and Fordham, began working at the school in 2013 and says she was told to be more “balanced” in covering the Central Park Five case in November of that year.

The  lawsuit claims retaliation against her “violated her First Amendment right to discuss the Central Park Five case, and that the firing violated the city’s contract with the teacher’s union because she was not given a required 60 days notice.” As listeners may recall, the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully jailed for the 1989 rape of a Central Park jogger, received a $42 million settlement from NY City. In 2014, they sued the state seeking $52 million in damages for the emotional trauma of being incarcerated for years for a crime they were coerced into confessing to.

Guest – Attorney Ambrose Wotorson, a Brooklyn based attorney who is representing Jeena Lee-Walker in this case. He’s a trial lawyer focusing employment law and business litigation. Twitter account.

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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Middle East Geopolitics

We take a deeper look at Saudi Arabia and its relationship first United States and then to the other countries in the Middle East region.

Guest – Professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian American who grew up in New York City. He teaches at Columbia University where he is the Edward Said Professor of Arab studies and the head of the Middle East Institute.  He is the author of a number of books, most recently “The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle For Statehood. He has written more than 80 scholarly articles on Middle Eastern history and politics as well as op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Nation magazine.

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Law and Disorder October 19, 2015


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Puerto Rico: The Crisis Is About Colonialism, Not Debt

The commonwealth of Puerto Rico is in a social and financial crisis owing some 73 billion dollars to U.S. banks, hedge funds and vulture funds.  The people of Puerto Rico are extraordinarily impoverished particularly the children. Last August the government of Puerto Rico failed to make a 58 million dollar debt payment on what they call a moral obligation bond held by U.S. banks and corporations. The crisis reflects centuries long colonialism and in particular the last centuries of American policies toward Puerto Rico which favored American investments which were then taken out of the island.

Guest – Attorney Linda Backiel, a criminal defense attorney and poet living and practicing law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here is Linda Backiel’s transcript  from the talk she gave at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act.

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US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

Former CIA leaders responsible for allowing torture to become part of the 21st Century landscape are seeking to rehabilitate their sullied reputations with the release of the book, Rebuttal: The CIA Responds to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Study of Its Detention and Interrogation Program. They claim that the primary allegations against them stem from a partisan report issued by Democrats from the Senate Intelligence Committee.  In fact, the Senate Intelligence report on torture enjoyed bipartisan support. But if the public doesn’t carefully read the extensively footnoted Senate Intelligence Committee report it may be easy for many to believe that the CIA officers are victims of a political witch hunt. As well, these officers seem to rely on the erroneous fact that a segment of the population continue to believe that the practice of torture is effective is gleaning information important to national security.

Guest – Raymond L. McGovern retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years.  Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His website writings are posted first on consortiumnews.com, and are usually carried on other websites as well.  He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, The Newshour, CNN, and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray has lectured to a wide variety of audiences here and abroad.   Ray studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees.  He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University.

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Law and Disorder August 3, 2015


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Coalition of Immokalee Workers: A Big Victory For Farm Workers

Co-host attorney Michael Ratner discusses the landmark development for the Fair Food Program plus the work of Jake Ratner and Elena Stein. Ahold USA and the Coalition for Immokalee Workers announced that Ahold has agreed to join the award-winning social responsibility program, bringing worker-certified Fair Food tomatoes to over 50 million new customers a month in nearly 780 new stores in 14 states.

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100th Anniversary of the United States Occupation of Haiti

Co-host attorney Michael Ratner describes key politically historic events in the colonizing of Haiti as July 28, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Suggested reading – The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution

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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Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle In Iraq

Long before the US imposed sanctions in Iraq, and long before the brutal  and unlawful invasion, our government supported a dictatorship and attendant torture and extermination. Individuals engaging in acts of resistance in Iraq faced mass rapes, enslavement and massacres. Missing from our country’s media coverage and political narrative surrounding Iraq are the courageous stories of progressive Iraqi voices.

Activist Ali Issa’s recent book Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle In Iraq goes a long way toward filling this void. An organizer with the War Resisters League, he has assembled a rich account of Iraqi organizers and revolutionaries–their analysis, their political works, their visions, their challenges. This important compendium provides much-needed insight to the committed and just-minded individuals who worked to rebuild society and social institutions amidst disappearances and assassinations.

Guest – Ali Issa is the National Field Organizer for the War Resisters League.  He is author of the forthcoming book Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq. It’s published  by Tadween Publishing and the War Resisters league.

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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.

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Law and Disorder May 11, 2015


 

Updates:

  • 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

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Law and Disorder April 6, 2015


 

Updates:

  • 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 30, 2015


Updates:

  • FBI: If You Give Us Assata Shakur, We’ll Free The Cuban Five
  • Michael Ratner: Massive CIW March St. Petersburg, Florida 2015
  • Alliance For Fair Food

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War Tax Resistance

As April 15 draws near, some Americans engage in the practice of war tax resistance, refusing to pay some or all of their federal income tax. It’s an act of civil disobedience with a proud history in this country. Notable war tax resisters included Henry David Thoreau who refused to pay his poll tax during the Mexican-American war. In the 1960s and 70s, many Vietnam war protesters engaged in the practice, including Norman Mailer, Howard Zinn, James Baldwin and Joan Baez. While individuals refusing to pay war taxes cite the refusal as a moral imperative-even citing international law to bolster this assertion—it’s not surprising that the Internal Revenue Service considers the refusal to pay such taxes as illegal.

Ruth Benn:

  • In war tax resistance we tend to use the War Resisters League chart where your income tax money really goes and the calculations from the War Resisters League over the years have been around 50 percent.
  • About 27 percent is current military so that’s paying for the wars and its buying the weapons for the next wars and all of those things that the Pentagon does.
  • The “past military” is mainly for the debt and then the money that’s set aside for veterans.
  • The nuclear weapons program which they are increasing over the coming 10 years, modernizing weapons and modernizing delivery systems. Obama is increasing that money for the nuclear weapons. That’s in the Department of Energy.
  • We have the Department of Homeland Security. That is a lot of armed people also. The TSA, the militarization of the border. Homeland Security is giving those grants to local communities in the U.S. that are getting these military weapons.
  • We have 500 billion this year for veterans and past military. That’s only going to add up.
  • Basically, (war tax resistance) is similar to conscientious objection in terms of people who refuse to go into the military or refused the draft. So this is a refusal to have my tax dollars drafted. A refusal to pay income taxes that go into this pie of the military budget.
  • There was a particular tax put on people in WW2. A stamp that people had to buy that was on their cars that supported war.
  • (Famous tax resisters) We tend to go back to Henry David Thoreau of course with his one dollar that resulted in on the duty of civil disobedience.
  • I always say going throughout history taxes first tend to be put on people because somebody wants to fight somebody. A government wants to go to war, that’s centuries back.
  • The Vietnam War of course was the biggest time for tax resistance when it really was a strong part of the peace movement.
  • The campaign during Vietnam to resist the telephone tax. A tax that was put on and raised during Vietnam. It was put on to 10 percent just to pay for the wars.
  • People would owe 7.00 dollars in phone tax and some of them had their houses seized, some had their bicycles and cars seized.
  • Within the network of war tax resisters and I hesitate to call it a movement these days, there are people who do a whole range of things. There are people who live on a very low income which is a legal way to do it. The cut off for filing and owing taxes is around 10 thousand dollars for a single person.
  • There are people who are more adept at using credits and deductions to lower their taxable income.
  • I think in ’87 I started very consistently filing and refusing to pay. You get a lot of letters. I have files and files of collection letters, of course they add up interest and penalties.
  • Now I’m self-employed, the IRS can do things like garnish salaries. Over the years I figured out how to live in a way that makes it harder for them to collect. Not that they couldn’t make my life difficult.
  • Mostly the IRS would like to get the money than prosecute people.
  • I got active in the peace movement with the American Friends Service Committee. I’m not a Quaker myself but war tax resistance tends to known pretty well in the Quaker community.
  • Usually you’ve been active (in peace movement) for a while and then you go . . oh, I’m paying for this. I’m paying for what I’m fighting against.
  • nwtrcc.org
  • War Tax Resisters Guide – The Book.

Guest – Ruth Benn, Coordinator of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Along with Ed Hedemann, she co-edited the fourth and fifth editions of the book “War Tax Resistance: A Guide to Withholding Your Support from the Military, published by the War Resisters League.”

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Life After Guantanamo: A Father And Son’s Story

In the weeks after September 11, 2001, the United States gave bundles of cash to Afghan war lords and the Pakistan government to assist in capturing suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. Hundreds of men were turned over to U.S. custody often without evidence. This was an unfortunate starting point of how human lives were destroyed to as some suggest, justify an illegal war launched by the Bush Administration. Center for Constitutional Rights, senior staff attorney Pardiss Kebriaei’s Harper’s Magazine article titled Life After Guantanamo: A Father and Son’s Story traces the human toll of how her clients were wrongly imprisoned. After being picked up in Pakistan, sent back to Afghanistan, detained in Kandahar, Abdul Nasser Khantumani and his son Muhammed were interrogated by the United States and sent to Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:

  • I started in 2007 and it took me year to be able to go down to the base. I went to down in mid 2008, that was the first time I met Muhammad.
  • Muhammed was the son, he was a teenager and he was taken into U.S. custody. By the time I met him, he had been at Guantanamo for 6 years. 6 years without charge.
  • What I say in the piece is he started breaking down, really kind of cracking in 2005.
  • He was saying things like – I don’t care if I’m here another 5 years, another 10 years, I’m never getting out.
  • He’d been held in solitary confinement for 2 years at that point, and there was this additional aspect of the way his relationship with his father was used to traumatize him.
  • They were captured together, transferred to Guantanamo together but then, pretty much held apart in prison.
  • In November of 2008 we met then in December he cut his wrists.
  • He doesn’t call it suicide because he didn’t want to die. He just didn’t know what to do.
  • We filed an emergency motion with the court, asking the court to move him out of solitary to get him close to his father, to do something.
  • The latest hunger strike in 2013, they denied it was happening.
  • Muhammed was young and he was really vocal and loud about his torture. I remember hearing him yell and scream.
  • Abdul Nasser, his pain was quieter. There was a different kind of pain that left a wife behind or children behind. Abdul Nassar thought a lot about the rest of his family.
  • We know that the CIA was paying millions of the dollars to the Pakistani government and Afghani war lords to profile and turn people over, basically sell them into U.S. custody.
  • They came into U.S. hands because they profiled and unilaterally deemed by President Bush and Rumsfeld to be enemy combatants without any real evidence of wrongdoing.
  • We know that happened and its not just groups like CCR saying that.
  • The way that decisions are made and people are transferred (from Guantanamo Bay Prison) is such a lottery.
  • I think Abdul Nassar appeared to be more of a burden frankly to them, because he was older and in ill health. They didn’t take him. They wanted a younger guy who they thought would be easier to resettle.
  • Part of the point of the story was to shed light on just what life is like after Guantanamo.
  • Abdul Nassar has not seen his wife since 2001. He hasn’t seen his other children since 2001. He hasn’t seen Muhammed since that day in 2009.
  • http://ccrjustice.org/reunificationafterguantanamo

Guest – Pardiss Kebriaei, Senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, which she joined in 2007.  Her work focuses on challenging government abuses post-9/11, including in the areas of “targeted killing“ and unjust detentions at Guantanamo and in the federal system.  She is lead counsel for CCR in Al-Aulaqi v. Panetta, which seeks accountability for the killing of three American citizens in U.S. drone strikes in Yemen, and was counsel in Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, which challenged the authorization for the targeting of an American citizen placed on government “kill lists.”  She represents men currently and formerly detained at Guantanamo in their efforts for release and reintegration, and represented the families of two men who died at the base in their lawsuit for accountability, Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld.  She also represents Fahad Hashmi, who pled to material support for terrorism after years in pre-trial solitary confinement and Special Administrative Measures, in his efforts to challenge his continuing solitary confinement in a federal “supermax” prison.

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Law and Disorder March 16, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner Updates On Julian Assange Case: You Can’t Just Keep A Case Going In Custody Essentially In The Embassy
  • Julian Assange’s Case Could Go To European Court of Human Rights – Assange Is Being Arbitrarily Detained And Investigation Not Proceeding
  • Eight Million Documents On Wikileaks In Highly Searchable Format
  • Google Turns Over Wikileak Attorney Client Emails to U.S. Government.
  • Federal Judge Denies EPIC’s FOIA Request On Government Surveillance Of Wikileaks Reporters – Denied Under Continuing Investigation Exemption

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lords odni-1370729182

Lords of Secrecy:The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare

Nearly half a century ago a majority of Americans were concerned whether their country would go to war. It was a time when national debates and public discussions engaged America’s political consciousness. That’s not the case so much these days says our guest author and attorney Scott Horton. His recently published book Lords of Secrecy:The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare examines how secrecy within the United States government has corrupted fundamental systems of democracy. Scott Horton also surveys the legal authority that the current national security elite have based decisions to torture, wage war and subcontract private soldiers. When operating in secret, mistakes, excesses and crimes committed in the process are often kept quiet.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • Dick Cheney one of the longest serving secretaries of defense, because he had a peculiar atitude about secrecy. He manipulated the news secrecy all the time to give cover to claims and statements he made that turned out not to be true. These claims very frequently matters of the highest consequence.
  • The entire case to go to war in Iraq which was in fact led by Dick Cheney rested on claims that they had weapons of mass destruction and that they had aligned themselves and were operating with Al-Qaeda that’s how we got the connection to 911. Those claims were very aggressively put forward by Dick Cheney. They turned out to be completely false. He parried any attempts to challenge them by saying all the intelligence we have on that is . . . secret, so I can’t share it with you.
  • Of course, in good time we learned there wasn’t any intelligence or information that supported these claims.
  • The lords of secrecy consist of the higher echelon officers of the national intelligence and security bureaucracy and they’re the people who have under American law, the power to create secrets using the classification authority.
  • I make the case that they use that power very aggressively, very effectively to make themselves the ultimate decision makers on key national security issues and to remove those matters from the democratic, political process.
  • It’s on the lords of secrecy who really influence the final decision when its made by the executive.
  • The lords of secrecy, the people who wield the classification power also are part of a revolving door in Washington. They’re in government service, they leave that, they go to work as directors and senior officers of major contractors.
  • Those contractors hold a half trillion dollars in contract business every year paid for by tax payers and they also make enormous campaign donations.
  • Washington D.C. has emerged as the wealthiest standard metropolitan statistical area in the United States and that’s on the strength of the position of contractors and their ability to suck our treasury dry.
  • What the American people don’t know about, they don’t form opinions about. They don’t conjutate about, they don’t become engaged with. That shows how secrecy and this other stuff are a very potent narcotic against democracy effectively, causing democracy to fade away while the national security elites are at the driver’s wheel making all the key decisions.
  • I think it allows us to make war without going through the constitutional process.
  • It’s really vague on how this go-to-war decision is supposed to be made. There’s the appropriation authority of Congress, there’s the Commander in Chief power of the executive, there’s the power to declare war, and exactly how those rights and powers play out in any given situation really isn’t clear.
  • The bottom line is the US waging war overseas without the people of the United States having taken a decision to do so.
  • My book has gotten much stronger attention in Europe than it has in the United States.
  • A big part of the problem we have is the way national security and particularly intelligence community matters are reported in the United States.
  • One thing I looked at the coverage of the drone war in Pakistan and I found very clearly Americans are actually the most poorly informed community globally on this issue.
  • The media can’t really act without the whistleblower. It really comes down to the whistleblower being the last and best hope.
  • The problem is national security whistleblowers don’t get a fair trial. They wind up being abused, mistreated.
  • Let the Justice Department explain why they decided that Petraeus a slap on the fingers, nothing too serious, while they want to throw the book at Snowden.
  • Let them give the rationale for the distinction between these cases. They’ve never done that.

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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Venezuela-Elections_ A woman walks past graffiti in Caracas

US Sanctions Against Maduro Government Officials

In its continuation of a decades long overthrow of the Venezuelan government, the United States issued new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials who the United States claims are involved in violating human rights guarantees. President Barack Obama issued an order declaring a national emergency with respect to Venezuela. The order lists certain key Venezuelan officials and said that any financial transactions with those officials are barred. This is typical of what the United States does to officials of government it doesn’t like, whether it was Nicaragua in the ’80s or Cuba since 1959 or 1960. These sanctions must also be seen the light of short-lived 2002 military coup in Venezuela in which the United States was deeply involved. Today we want to talk about the broader context of these actions and why the U.S. is continually trying to destabilize Venezuela.

Mark Weisbrot:

  • It is pretty crazy that they have to declare Venezuela as an extraordinary threat.
  • You don’t see any of the reporters asking the Whitehouse . . . what are you talking about?
  • If you look at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States for example, that is the alternative to the OAS, that was created a few years ago in response to US unpleasant actions in the hemisphere.
  • Between 2000-2010 the Columbian military over 5700 innocent civilians, murdered them, and the United States just gave them more military aid.
  • I was there during the protest a year ago, and of course it was very different from what I saw . . I was actually kinda shocked. I walked all over and took the metro all over Caracas and the only demonstration you saw were little uprisings in the richest neighborhoods.
  • The people most affected the shortages, the ones that go and have to wait in line, can’t afford to buy anything in the black market.
  • The poor and the working people, they haven’t protest because they mostly support the government.
  • That’s a little bit of a disconnect from what you see in the press.
  • This idea that the protests are related to the shortages doesn’t hold up when you see who’s actually protesting. These people have servants who do their shopping, wait in the lines.
  • Upper middle class, they have servants, they have storage space.
  • These sanctions are probably illegal under International Law.
  • Again, there are things that are questionable, things that I wouldn’t try to defend but to create this picture, a very exaggerated picture that’s created here in the media because the U.S. wants to overthrow the government there I think is very unfortunate.
  • Venezuela has been a target by the United States for a regime change for at least 13 years.
  • A lot of people know if the opposition gets power, its just going to get worse for them.
  • Venezuela is not facing a real balance of payment crisis, where they can’t pay for their import. They just have a dysfunctional exchange rate system and they have a fair amount of sabotage too.

Guest – Mark Weisbrot co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. to give us an update. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian Unlimited (U.K.), and a regular column on economic and policy issues that is distributed to over 550 newspapers by the Tribune Content Agency.

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