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Law and Disorder February 10, 2014



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Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel: Max Blumenthal

Operation Cast Lead in 2008, is a starting point in the book Goliath: Life and Loathing In Greater Israel where award winning journalist and author Max Blumenthal shows the reader how a right wing government in Israel rose to power.  His book takes hard look at Israeli authoritarian politics through a cross section of interviews from the homes of Palestinian activists to the political leaders behind the organized assault against civil liberties.  Max gives readers a rare look into Israeli society that many will not write about.

Max Blumenthal:

  • The first title was Master Race Democracy.
  • Of course Israel is always portrayed in our media as this plucky little David surrounded by the Arab Goliath. Of course our reality is 180 degrees different.
  • Matzpen warned that this would happen, they took a full page ad in Harretz saying we will become a police state and a nation of murderers.
  • That’s where I come in to show that all of their darkest prophecies have been fulfilled and realized.
  • I take you through Israeli society and through the key institutions of Israeli life to show how its playing out.
  • From my time in Jerusalem where an anti miscegenation movement is burgeoning in the streets of Israel, leading mob attacks on young Palestinian men who are accused of making passes at Jewish women to the convention at the Jerusalem Ramada where key state Rabbis sit on a panel before right-wing settlers, including settler vigilantes leaders of the anti miscegenation movement defend a book, a guide on how and when its permissible to kill non-jews. A guide to genocide which is being distributed in Israeli Army units.
  • Avigdor Lieberman is the man that basically promised to transfer 100s of thousands of Palestinians. He’s a rising force in Israeli society. It’s the youth whose hearts and minds they command.
  • I take you into the Knesset to meet the younger legislators and the rising stars in Lieberman’s party and Netanhayu’s party who are far to the right of Netanyahu. Netanyahu really just commands the hollow center of Israeli politics.
  • Rotem was great because he and other hard core right wingers have this whole philosophy of being dugri or straight. There was nothing I could say to shake him. He looks at me coming in at just another pathetic Jewish liberal who doesn’t really get what it takes to prevent a second holocaust and that’s what he said his goal was.
  • It’s completely different from talking to a Republican in the United States who has to pander to some kind of civil rights sensibility.
  • That’s another thing reviewers missed about my book is that I analyzed these key votes on major anti-democratic laws going back to 2009. Laws like the Nakba Law which basically criminalized observance of Palestine dispossession in 2008. Laws like the Acceptance to Community Law which legitimizes racial and religious discrimination for communities of under 500.
  • These are laws that strip off the veneer of democracy and expose apartheid for what it is.
  • It’s the right-wing that has captured the heart of Israeli society because they have the dynamism, they’re driving the agenda forward. (using a simple mantra – “finish 48″)
  • In 1948 and actually starting in 1947, 750 thousand Palestinian Arabs were expelled to allow the creation of a Jewish state with a Jewish demographic majority, but many stayed behind. 20 percent of the state of Israel is non-Jewish Palestinian.
  • They view Palestinian citizens of Israel increasingly as a fifth column, as a trojan horse for the Arab world, for Arab nationalism and Islamism.
  • In order to become a citizen of Israel you have swear loyalty to the Jewish state and that applies to Palestinians in east Jerusalem.
  • You will meet the people who are trying to push back inside Jewish-Israeli society on the pages of my book because they were my roommates, my friends. They took me to the flashpoints of ethnic cleansing and conflict.
  • I would number 700 or less active left wingers who are actively leveling their bodies against the occupation and apartheid.
  • The writings on the wall for these activists that there is very little room for them left in Israeli society.
  • What they’ve (leftists in Israel) done is call to the outside. They’re calling to us. They organized around the boycott from within committee and they’re signing letters asking performers not to come to Israel. They’re signing letters calling on Americans to boycott their country.
  • That is really where the activism of the radical left wing Israelis is going.
  • The Jewish National Fund is supposed to operate within the Green Line only and is probably the leading Jewish non-profit in the world. It receives the most donations from diaspora Jews in the world.
  • Steven Harper the Prime Minister of Canada recently spoke at one of their banquets. They’ve paid Bill Clinton hundreds of thousands to speak at their banquets.
  • They are also the premier organization linked to the Israeli government involved in ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
  • It’s something we talk about a lot. How Zionism is trying to capture Judaism and change what it means to be a Jew and declare us to be who are not only not Zionists but object to this redefinition of Judaism and cast us out and declare us to be anathema.
  • You can see it in my video Feeling the Hate where I go to the heart of Jerusalem and meet American Jews from around the country and they line up around my camera the night before Barack Obama’s historic address in Cairo.
  • Zionism is attracting those who are magnetized by the kind of bellicose identity that it requires and is repelling anyone who has any liberal sensibility or at least throwing them into a moral crisis.
  • I showed up as # 9 on Simon Weisenthal Center’s list of anti-Israel, anti-semites and they called me an anti-semitic Jew, not even a self-hating Jew but a Jew who hates Jews.
  • I was tied with Alice Walker by the way.
  • They literally count the calorie of each Gaza resident with complex mathematical formulas.
  • Barack Obama has never challenged the idea of holding 1.8 million under siege because they possess the wrong ethnicity.
  • When a situation like this is taking place and expanding as Jeff Halper from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions says into a “global Gaza” where the techniques that have been used to control people in the Gaza Strip are literally being exported because Israel is the only country that has the ability to basically lab test such a regime of domination.
  • That’s very appealing to people in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security, to private prison companies like CCA.
  • Twitter – @maxblumenthal

Guest – Max Blumenthal,  an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. He is a former Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow for The Nation Institute. His book, Republican Gomorrah: Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party, is a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller.



Law and Disorder November 4, 2013



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Pan African Solidarity Hague Campaign to Delegitimize the ICC

In the month June last year, the Pan-African Solidarity Hague Committee delivered a petition to the International Criminal Court at the Hague, Netherlands demanding they prosecute the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and NATO for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Libya, Cote d’lvoire, Haiti and the US. This campaign began in May of 2011 when thousands gathered to protest the US/NATO bombing of Libya, attacks on Zimbabwe and the racist assault against African-Americans in the United States. 16 months after delivering the petition and sending follow up letters, the Pan African Solidarity Hague Committee haven’t received a response.  The organization is now reaching out to National Lawyers Guild members and law students to help expose the International Criminal Court.

Attorney Roger Wareham:

  • The International Criminal Court was established in 2001-2002, supposedly to replace the different ad-hoc international tribunals that had been set up to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • It’s supposed to be even handed, no double standard – everyone is held to the same level of accountability.
  • The membership, you have to sign on to be a part of it. The United States was closely involved in the process of setting up the ICC.
  • The U.S. insisted that it would not be subject to prosecution by the ICC, although under the Security Council of the United Nations could recommend cases for the ICC.
  • Given the plethora of human rights violations and war crimes that have been committed around the world, the only people that the ICC is presently prosecuting are Africans.
  • The only prosecutions have been of Africans.
  • Our involvement in taking it to the ICC was in particular to expose its nature that its really not an international tribunal that would look at the question of war crimes across the board and that its really another instrument in the West’s arsenal of the exploitation of Africa.
  • Ostensibly, dealing with human rights violations, the ICC has zeroed in on Africa.
  • There’s been a response and rebellion among several of the African countries around this clear bias.
  • Three of the five permanent members are not on the ICC, Russia, United States and China.
  • I think what we want to do is we want a single standard or no ICC.
  • Email:

Guest – Attorney Roger Wareham, a member of the December 12th Movement, an organization of African people which organizes in the Black and Latino community around human rights violations, particularly police terror. Wareham is also the International Secretary-General of the International Association Against Torture (AICT), a non-governmental organization that has consultative status before the United Nations.


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Lawyers You’ll Like – Attorney Mel Wulf

We’re joined today by Attorney Mel Wulf, former legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union for 15 years. He was a law partner with former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark during the Kennedy Administration and much more. Wulf was part of some of the greatest contributions to the civil rights movement. He’s now retired after practicing law for 54 years. As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, we talk with Wulf about his work with the ACLU during the early 60s, and also about the forming of the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee.

Attorney Mel Wulf:

  • Phil Agee was a dissident CIA agent who spent decades working against the CIA, published a couple of books.
  • He lost his passport because when the dissidents took over the embassy in Tehran in 1979, the New York Post carried a story accusing Phil of helping the students who’d invaded the embassy to put together all of that written material that had been shredded.
  • It was another New York Post bald faced lie.
  • The State Department, based upon that story revoked his passport.
  • I had represented Phil Agee, I was his principle lawyer for 30 years.
  • Agee was very widely disliked in Washington because he was well known to be a CIA dissident who disclosed the names of many CIA agents.
  • If Snowden went the same route today, he would do even worse in this Supreme Court than I did. That’s why Snowden won’t get his passport, thanks to me.
  • I was for the workers and not for the bosses and I’ve always been for the workers and not for the bosses, which I think is the distinguishing political factor in our world. Which side are you on?
  • I got my Bachelors Degree in ’52 and I had a Navy Commission which I had gotten from the New York State Maritime Academy earlier on.
  • The draft board sent me a 1A notice, I applied to Columbia and when I finished Columbia they sent me another 1A notice because the draft was still on. I spent 2 years in the Navy as a Liuetenant Junior Grade Officer in Southern California.
  • I went to work at the ACLU in 1958 as the assistant legal director, in 1962 I was given the job of the legal director of the ACLU.
  • I had actually been going down to Mississippi from 1961 to 1962, working with then one of the two black lawyers who were practicing in Mississippi.
  • We tried a couple of capitol cases in Mississippi. I continued to argue the systematic exclusion of blacks from the jury.
  • I finally got a case up to the Supreme Court on that issue.
  • Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee: We had several hundred lawyers who went down to Mississippi for periods of a week or two. They were representing people being arrested during the Mississippi summer.
  • Most of the judges allowed these lawyers to make some sort of presentation.

Guest – Attorney Mel Wulf, former legal director with the American Civil Liberties Union for 15 years. He was a law partner with former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark during the Kennedy Administration and much more. Wulf was part of some of the greatest contributions to the civil rights movement. He’s now retired after practicing law for 54 years.



Law and Disorder September 2, 2013



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There Is Power In A Union: Labor Songs

Songs of the American labor movement called for fair wages, dignity and voiced grievances. Classic labor songs such as “Which Side Are You On” or “There Is Power In A Union” affirmed the value of the worker to society and expressed hope in their lyrics. Woody Gutherie, Pete Seeger and Joe Hill  were leaders of the movement, and sang songs with a passion and love for their fellow workers.

Peter Siegel:

  • I’ve been singing these songs all my life. My parents sang these songs. I got a guitar when I was about 13 years old. One of the first songs I learned was Talking Union, along with Bird Dog and Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.
  • In recent years, when the state started cracking down on unions. The reporting that was coming through the media about these things, didn’t really explain what a union was and why there unions in the first place, and what the issues were.
  • I think these songs do a very clear and direct job of explaining that.
  • Many of the issues are still the same as they were when these songs were written. Eli and I talked about and got together and decided to make this album.
  • Martin Luther King Jr., talk about the hottest places in hell being reserved for those in times of crisis do nothing.
  • The Death of Mother Jones: I don’t think Gene Autry had a particular connection to that song, he apparently got the song from OK Records, which was his label.
  • Eli plays the steel guitar on our record and sings it beautifully.

Eli Smith:

  • One over-arching aspect of the songs is they give you a feeling of what its like to have a labor movement.
  • And also now to give people a feeling of what it was like in the past because I think America is an amnesiac society.
  • Most of the songs on our album are from 80 to 100 years ago.
  • Which Side Are You On? It’s a song written by Florence Reece, in a traditional style from the heart of Appalachia, in the coal mining region and we rendered in a way that’s as authentic as we can be to that style.

Guest – Peter Siegel is a musician, a record producer and performance artist who has worked with Doc Watson, Hazel Dickens and Roy Buchanan. He’s produced a number of great albums for Nonesuch, Folkways and Rounder Records in the last 50 years.

Guest – Eli Smith is a banjo player, writer and promoter of folk music,  living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals every year.


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Brandworkers – Focus On The Food Chain

Nearly 35 thousand workers are employed to run New York City’s massive food processing and distribution. The vast majority are immigrant workers from all over the world,  Latin America, the Caribbean, China and Nepal. They depend on this work for their livelihood yet they’re often exploited through wage theft, reckless disregard of health and safety, plus egregious discrimination. We welcome back attorney Daniel Gross, executive director of Brandworkers, a non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees. They’ve had numerous victories including recovering unpaid wages and forcing companies such as Flaum Appetizing into full compliance of workplace protections. The efforts to achieve these victories are based on the labor movement of the late 19th century using direct action and everyday solidarity.

Attorney Daniel Gross:

  • That approach worked for several decades. Labor identified itself with having a seat at the table with government and business and frankly lost its sense of being a fighting movement.
  • As many predicted, that arrangement among labor, capital and government wouldn’t hold.
  • Capital and government understood that it was a temporary sessation of hostility to worker’s right to organize.
  • What we see now is the NLRB system come undone.
  • It’s very easy for an employer with the right union-busting attorney to quite effectively undermine the worker’s right to go through the traditional processes we’ve understood for a while to form a union.
  • This multi-billion dollar global union busting industry which is led by law firms.  
  • These folks wake up every day in the morning and seek to undermine working people coming together to do better at work for their families.
  • 93 out of 100 workers today are not in a labor union traditionally and have very little prospect getting in.
  • Starbucks when I realized the traditional model was ineffective.
  • Our members work as bakers, they process seafood, they drive trucks that deliver all kinds of food and beverages to the grocery stores and restaurants, where we all get our food.
  • Our motto is empowering workers to build and lead their own campaigns for justice at work and in the food system.
  • Most recently, we announced a campaign at the Tom Cat bakery.
  • Workers marched and made declaration of dignity, demanding respect from management and an end to an under-payment scheme and hands off the benefits they’ve accrued.

Jose Romero:

  • Flaum Appetizing was a kosher factory, we were working very long hours without being paid overtime, there were no benefits including no vacations.
  • We decided to unite and came together one day during our break, we all met on the patio and decided we were going to confront the boss altogether.
  • This manager would attack us, and yell, call us cockroaches, would hurry us and call us stupid.

Guest – Attorney Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandworkers, a non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees.

Guest – Juan Romero from Flaum Appetizing who works as a cook on the West side of Manhattan.


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Farm Workers: Coalition of Immokalee Workers

This year’s Labor Day, farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers travel across Florida calling on Publix Supermarkets to join the Fair Food Program. Who are the Coalition of Immokalee workers? They’re a Florida based community organization of mainly immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean including Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants who have been working low wage jobs throughout Florida. The farm workers routinely face a number of different kinds of exploitation, poverty, wage theft, physical and verbal abuse as well as sexual harassment of many women working in the fields. Their campaigns focus on the big corporate buyers of the produce that they pick in an effort to improve wages and working conditions in the fields. They started with Taco Bell and from there launched campaigns with McDonald’s, Burger King, since then 11 other companies are cooperating to improving wages and working conditions in their supply chains.  Last year Trader Joe’s and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers signed an agreement that formalized the ways in which the supermarket chain will support the CIW’s Fair Food Program. Their efforts continue to urge Publix and Wendy’s fast food to join up.

Silvia Perez:

  • My experience as a woman working in the fields, its been very difficult for me, we often do the same work that men do in the industry.
  • We face heat exposure and having to work long hours, under the Florida Sun, and also to over fill our buckets to keep extra tomatoes on top for which we were not paid.
  • For many years before the CIW began its Fair Food Program, farm workers were paid an average of 45 cents per 32 lb bucket.
  • That’s been the same wage that farm workers received in Florida for more than 30 years.
  • There was no guaranteed wage that we would receive in the field, we were paid the bucket rate.
  • While there should be a minimum wage and we should get that guarantee to get paid that minimum wage, often times we didn’t receive it.
  • With our campaign for Fair Food, which brought on board 11 major corporations we developed the Fair Food Program, an initiative which is a partnership between farmers, farmworkers and the major retailers and because of that program things are changing.
  • Our organization is not a union, we are a worker and community based organization that was formed by farm workers themselves.
  • In addition to Wendy’s we’ve asked Publix the largest Florida based corporation to come on board as 11 other companies have. Specifically we ask for 2 things, to pay 1 penny more a pound for the tomatoes that they’re buying to go directly to farm workers, and to respect our rights.

Guest – Silvia Perez with the Coalition Immokalee Workers and also CIW campaign organizer Jake Ratner who will translate.

Guest – Jake Ratner, translater and son of co-host Michael Ratner. Jake traveled and studied in Cuba and Bolivia, South America. He now works with the Coalition of the Immokalee Workers.



Law and Disorder August 26, 2013


Army PFC Bradley Manning Sentenced To 35 Years

Our own Michael Ratner reports back from Fort Meade, Maryland on the day Army PFC Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified information to Wikileaks.  As reported by Michael Ratner, Manning faced a maximum of 90 years in prison after his conviction last month on charges of espionage, theft and fraud.  Now, his sentence goes the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, where he may seek a reduction of his prison term.

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • 35 years is a completely off the wall sentence. First of all he shouldn’t have been prosecuted at all.
  • That’s been the Center for Constitutional Rights position. That’s my position.
  • He’s a whistle-blower, he exposed torture, criminality, killing of civilians.
  • Then, they over prosecute him, charge him with espionage, make whistle-blowers into spies.
  • They charge him with all these years, then people are relieved when gets 35 years.
  • It’s a very long sentence for someone who actually gave us the truth about Iraq, about Iran, about the helicopter video that killed a Reuters journalist, about the diplomatic cables that gave us the secret war in Yemen, the revelations about the corrupt Ben Ali government in Tunisia that helped bring on the Arab Spring.
  • He’s a hero. The people who committed the crime are sadly still in our government enjoying their lives, they’re the ones that ought to be prosecuted.
  • We’re in a time where there is a sledgehammer taken to whistle-blowers.
  • The demand now is that Obama pardon him or give him clemency. That’s from the Bradley Manning Support Committee.
  • Because of Bradley Manning, people like Ed Snowden came forward. They understood that when they see criminality, they’re young people of conscience and they act on it, and we should be very proud of each of these people.

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 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.


Journalist Barrett Brown Faces 105 Years In Prison

Journalist Barrett Brown has spent more than 330 days in pre trial detention and faces charges that add up to a 105 year sentence. What Barrett Brown did was merely take a link from a chat room and copied that link then pasted it to a chat room for a wiki-based crowd source group called Project PM.  The link was to the Stratfor hack information of 5 million emails. He needed help to sift through the data and posted the link that was already publicly out there to the attention of the editorial board of Project PM.  There were unencrypted credit card numbers and validation codes within those emails and the government is claiming that Barrett Brown was engaged in credit card fraud. Why go after Barrett Brown? The backstory begins with the Bank of America being concerned that Wikileaks had specific information. They go to the Department of Justice who lead them to a big law firm in Washington DC, then to a private intelligence firm. Meanwhile, a defense fund for Barrett Brown continues to raise money for his case.

Kevin Gallagher:

  • Barrett Brown is an investigative journalist and freelance writer who has had a career writing for the Huffington Post, the Guardian and many other places.
  • Through his observing the media landscape over the last ten years in America, I think he grew very dissatisfied with things so when this phenomenon called anonymous popped up in 2010, making major news headlines, he attached himself to it.
  • All he was doing was looking at this information leaked by Jeremy Hammond out of Stratfor as part of his journalistic inquiry into the world of private intelligence firms.
  • The fact that they can indict someone on identity theft and credit card fraud just for sharing a link of information. . there’s no allegation that he sought to profit from it.
  • Project PM over its lifespan was a number of different things but that’s what it eventually evolved into.
  • A crowd sourced project with a wiki that was devoted to investigating soley, the state corporate alliance on surveillance. This was known as Team Themis, a consortium of these firms.
  • This all started when Wikileaks said it had information from the Bank of America.
  • Barrett was investigating. There are other journalists who do very good work on this. He was one of the most vocal who was involved in investigating all these relationships between the private intel firms and the DOJ. He was using leaked emails to do so.
  • I think they were very upset to see these things revealed.
  • Barrett recognized that this was a threat and he was looking into it.
  • Before the court right now is a motion for a media gag order which was presented by the prosecution which would silence Barrett and his attorneys from making statements to the media.

Guest – Kevin Gallagher, writer, musician and systems administrator based in western Massachusetts. He graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He’s currently pursuing activism on issues related to digital rights: freedom of information, privacy, and copyright; while also taking an interest in information security. He is the director and founder of Free Barrett Brown, a support network, nonprofit advocacy organization and legal defense fund formed for the purpose of assisting the prominent internet activist and journalist, Barrett Brown, who is the founder of Project PM.


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Native Hawaiian Prisoner Transfer to Arizona Private Prison

Hawaii is know for sending more prisoners across state lines than any other state. According to the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, a disproportionate number of those prisoners are Native Hawaiian inmates.  Because of over crowding, Native Hawaiian inmates are transferred from a Hawaii state prison to a for-profit Corrections Corporation of America prison in Arizona. This particular CCA private prison however was built specifically for Native Hawaiian inmates, yet they’re denied cultural and religious rites. Additional transfer impacts include difficult reentry back into Hawaii, away from family and homeland, and no opportunity for proper atonement.

Attorney Sharla Manley:

  • We’ve been involved in a lawsuit for 2 years concerning the impact of Hawaii’s policy of transferring inmates to the mainland. Native Hawaiians.
  • Native Hawaiians are the indigenous people of the state of Hawaii. They have a similar experience to American Indians on the continent.
  • Our firm focuses on Native Hawaiian rights and the focus on what self determination remains despite the history.
  • Native Hawaiians are disproportionately incarcerated. They are transferred more often than any other racial group.
  • The state of Hawaii creates a menu of prisoners, for private prisons to select.
  • Our focus on the transfer is very narrow, the Native Hawaiian prisoners who still want to adhere to native traditions and practices.
  • In Arizona you don’t have access to cultural teachers and spiritual advisers who could provide the kind of guidance or counseling, really the kind of instruction of passing on a tradition.
  • The Native Hawaiian women were being transferred for a period of time, but there were so many sexual assaults, the state finally brought them back.
  • You’re taking away the men, breaking the cultural transmission because many of these men are fathers, grandfathers. Yes they would be in prison here, but there is a difference when your family can see you on the weekends.
  • In effect, it’s a form of cultural genocide.
  • I’m beside myself as to why this hasn’t been rectified at this point. There’s not even a plan really.
  • This is an issue that is personal for me. I am Native Hawaiian, and know what its like to have someone in your community, in your family to be effected by the criminal justice system.

Guest – Attorney Sharla Manley, with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation.  Sharla Manley joined NHLC as a staff attorney in 2010. Before joining NHLC, Sharla was an associate at an international law firm in Los Angeles in its global litigation department for over three years. In addition to handling commercial litigation matters, she also took pro bono cases, involving voting rights, asylum, and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act. Also, Sharla was an associate at a plaintiff-side class action firm where she primarily handled appeals of wage and hour cases before state appellate courts and the Ninth Circuit.  Before law school, Sharla was a policy analyst on Native Hawaiian rights at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. She focused on water rights and the impact of military activities on cultural resources in Makua Valley.


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Solidarity Sing A Long: Wisconsin Labor Protests Continue

The noontime sing-along has protested Gov. Scott Walker’s policies daily at Wisconsin’s Capitol since March 11, 2011.  However, a new round of arrests began two weeks ago and more than 100 citations have been issued to protesters by Capitol Police.  But this is in addition to nearly 200 citations already since July 2012 when the Department of Administration began enforcing new permitting requirements for gatherings in state facilities. What is the noontime solidarity sing-along protest?

Attorney Jonathan Rosenblum:

  • When you have a new governor who within weeks in office describes his legislation as a bomb,  which was to end collective bargaining for public sector workers.
  • This led to more than a hundred thousand people, multiple times on the square where I’m sitting right now here on Wisconsin Avenue.
  • Beyond the anti-union agenda, this governor has come in with a pedigree from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. He as a legislator in the same building was a member of ALEC, was a proponent of its agenda.
  • His agenda as it moved along, was to remove vast numbers of children from medicaid, of claiming a jobs agenda would bring Wisconsin to the top in the United States, instead it plunged to the bottom.
  • He eliminated funding for high speed trains, instead the trains for Wisconsin are now sitting in Oregon.
  • The main point about this governor is about closing the doors of this government to the public.
  • Even the union legislation that led to the crowds was passed in violation of a Public Meetings Act.
  • Let me take you to March 11, 2011 when it all started. I was standing there with my friend Steve Burns, folks had slept in the capitol for weeks, the anti-union legislation was passed and signed that day and Steve had printed up a few copies of a songbook that had the dome of the capitol opening up with musical notes on the cover of it and 10 tunes, the classics of the civil rights movement.
  • Several of them modified in the great Wobbly tradition.
  • This sing-along has preceded from that day March 11, 2011 without skipping a beat, every single week day since that date. More than 650 consecutive sing-alongs.
  • The sing-along is a joyful conglomeration. It’s reached about 300-400 daily as the crack down has actually caused a surge of concerned citizens to join us.
  • We Don’t Want Your Millions, Mister.
  • A Long Range Acoustic Device is being used. The police have started to use the recordings of Chief Irwin’s declaration of unlawful assembly to blast into the rotunda so nobody misses it.
  • They use the siren that ramps up to 150 db to disable people. They haven’t put it to that level yet.
  • The State Capitol Police are in a bind. They have their orders, most are executing them with a little more zeal than they should. Some of them seem to be maintaining friendships that they had before with the singers.

Guest – Jonathan Rosenblum, contributor, an author, award-winning journalist, and practicing lawyer. His book, Copper Crucible: How the Arizona Miners’ Strike of 1983 Recast Labor-Management Relations in America (Cornell University Press, 1995; Second Edition, 1998) was named as one of Princeton University Library’s “Ten Noteworthy Books in Industrial Relations and Labor Economics” in 1996.



Law and Disorder July 29, 2013



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Lynne Stewart: Continued Support For Compassionate Release From Prison

As many listeners know, political prisoner, attorney, activist and friend attorney Lynne Stewart was denied compassionate release on the grounds that her health is improving. Not only is that untrue, it’s cynical. Cancer has spread to her lungs as Lynne is held in isolation. Her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk of generalized infection. Lynne was convicted on charges related to materially aiding terrorism, related to her representation of Omar Abdel Rahman.  Her original 2 year sentence was increased to 10  years after the government pressured the trial judge to reconsider his sentencing decision.

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

  • U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198  Ext. 3
  • U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001
  • President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111

Guest – Ralph Poynter, Lynne’s husband and an activist.


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Michael Hamlin: Black Workers In Detroit

Last month, our guest,  retired auto worker and activist Dianne Feeley discussed the plans of emergency manager of Detroit, Kevyn Orr that would wipe out the pensions and health benefits of all current and retired city workers. Nine billion in worker benefits are in the cross hairs of this plan that would impoverish 20 thousand retirees on fixed incomes. There are only 10 thousand city employees left in Detroit who’ve had their pay cut by 10 percent, and now their medical care. This has since made international news. Today we look at the history of workers in Detroit from the perspective of black workers and how what’s happening now can fit into the broader pattern of oppression.

Mike Hamlin:

  • Well, I came here from sharecropping country in Mississippi. We landed in a suburb of Detroit that was segregated.
  • My father was run out of Mississippi, just ahead of the sheriff. His sister lived out here. We lived in a project, 2 bedroom apartment. There were 8 of us in this 2 bedroom apartment. The people looked out and cared for each other. My mother was only 15 years older than me, so we grew up together.
  • It was a peaceful community, sometimes interrupted by weekend drinking, arguing and spouse abuse.
  • At that time we were so completely repressed and segregated. Those of us in the south were prepared for that because in the south you had to learn to keep your place.
  • We’d submit and we played the game. Go to school or go to the factory.
  • Most of my friends quit school and went into the factory. My father advised me to do the same but I wouldn’t.
  • The factories at that time were hiring and he eventually got into Ford.
  • Most of the workers there either worked at Ford or Great Lakes Steel.
  • The typical pattern was they moved to the north got a job in the plant, bought a new car, I’m sure that created a lot -of angst.
  • He used to be quite a cotton picker. The Ford job was like play to him. He worked a lot of overtime-kinda typical.
  • The situation with the bankruptcy is kind of a culmination.
  • If you know black history. . . there’s a history of destroying black communities that are prosperous.
  • You look at Tulsa, Rosewood.
  • There has always been bitter hatred in Michigan throughout on part of blacks toward whites.
  • The racial aspect of this bankruptcy should not underplayed or underestimated.
  • People outside of Detroit have been tearing it down since the 50s.
  • There’s joy in Mudville now that Detroit is bankrupt.
  • Quicken Loans gives his employees incentives to move into downtown lofts and apartment complexes.
  • Detroit is going to prosper again.
  • The population is changing. It was 85 percent black. It hasn’t been counted recently.

Guest – Mike Hamlin, co-founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers. For 35 years, Hamlin worked as a social worker and addiction therapist. He is currently a professor of Africana Studies at Wayne State University.

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Remembering Journalist and Author, Henri Alleg

In November of 2007, we were fortunate to interview French-Algerian journalist Henri Alleg. Henri passed away last week. He was 91.  We talked with him about his book, The Question, a moving account of his arrest and torture at the hands of French paratroopers during the Algerian War of Independence. The book became a bestseller and created major public debate in France. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote the preface that remains a relevant commentary on the moral and political effects of torture on the both the victim and perpetrator. The book was eventually banned by the authorities.

Professor Marnia Lazreg:

  • I had worked on the issue of torture during the Algerian War 1954-62.
  • I read Henri Alleg’s The Question. It really struck a chord with me.
  • There were times in my research and writing where I lost complete faith in humanity or the notion of humanism.
  • I lived in the Arab area in the city where I was going to high school and in the mornings I would see hundreds of men in line at the unemployment office.
  • I read The Question and I realized he was speaking to me.
  • He was tortured mercilessly, and he didn’t talk, he didn’t crack.
  • He was the also the first French intellectual who blew the whistle on the hypocrisy of the colonial military establishment which was spreading this news that they were in Algeria to save this country.
  • What Alleg wanted to do was show in a very powerful manner that France had not changed from the Middle Ages.
  • In fact, France was engaging in the same practices 9 years after it fought fascism, Nazism in Europe.
  • He was writing about what happened to him while it was still fresh in his mind.  Memories become jumbled, the suffering is so intense.
  • He was writing on cigarette paper and he had it smuggled out of the prison. It showed something about Alleg’s personality. He was not going to be muzzled, or silenced. He was going to continue to resist.
  • What he said couldn’t be denied because he bore the signs of torture in his own flesh.
  • Sarte asked how could such young men exhibit the same kind of hatred toward the Algerians and those that supported the Algerians.
  • Alleg asked me to have dinner at his home. We had a marvelous dinner. With him I did not have to explain the premises of my views or my opinion.
  • We never met before but I could talk to him and he could understand what I was talking about.
  • We live in an age where humanism is a bad word. Anti-humanism is very well established in academic institutions.
  • To me, Alleg represented perhaps one of the last figures of the humanist era. It was an era also when you had people who fought for what is human. What is worth dying for . . preserving that basic fundamental human dignity which characterizes all human beings regardless of their race, nationality.

Guest -  Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her books include Torture and the Twilight of Empire; From Algiers to Baghdad and The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question.

Past Law and Disorder Interview with Henri Alleg

Past Law and Disorder Interview with Marnia Lazreg


Law and Disorder July 22, 2013


  • Michael Ratner: Bradley Manning’s  Defense Makes Case To Dismiss Aiding The Enemy Charge
  • Freedom of the Press Foundation For Transcripts
  • Update: Judge Upholds Aiding The Enemy Charge in Bradley Manning Trial

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NLG Obtains $1.17M, OPD Reforms for Occupy Oakland Protesters and Journalists

In recent weeks, attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild achieved two significant victories for the rights of protesters faced with police brutality and unlawful repression. The first came when the city of Oakland settled a class action lawsuit for more than 1 million dollars. The second victory occurred in early July when Oakland City Council approved a settlement for 1.17 million in another lawsuit arising from police actions at protests. As part of these settlements, the Oakland Police Department is now legally obligated to follow a crowd control policy. This policy which already existed but lacked enforcement outlines limits on police department officer’s use of force and the ability to make mass arrests in protest situations.

Attorney Rachel Lederman:

  • The first case has to do with the demonstration that had occurred on the day Johannes Mesterly was sentenced for the death of Oscar Grant. That’s the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back as he was restrained facedown on the subway platform.
  • There’s a movie out about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant called Fruitvale Station that I would highly recommend seeing it’s playing all over the country now.
  • The death of Oscar Grant sparked a large number of demonstrations. November 5, 2010 was the date that Mesterly was sentenced and he was given a very minimal sentence of involuntary man slaughter of 2 years, 11 months with time served.
  • There was a demonstration planned for that evening it was actually a very small demonstration. OPD had planned to not allow a march after dark.
  • There was a rally that was permitted in downtown Oakland and then about 200 people started marching in the direction of Fruitvale Bart where the shooting had occurred. As soon as the march started the police began to set up for mass arrest.
  • When a police line would be erected in front of the march people would naturally turn another direction. This went on for a while, where the march was re-routed.
  • Eventually the OPD herded people to a residential area where they didn’t intend to go. The police announced it was a crime scene and began arresting everyone.
  • The Oakland City Police have been under consent decree since January 2003 mandating reform process.
  • We’ve had this crowd control policy in place but basically every single provision of the crowd control policy was violated in the Occupy Oakland incident and the Oscar Grant incident.
  • We brought those cases to try to enforce the crowd control policy. A lot has changed in the last six months.
  • There’s also been a new shake up of command (OCP) there’s a new acting chief.

Guest – Rachel Lederman, a California based National Lawyers Guild attorney who worked on both cases.  Rachel first got involved in police misconduct civil rights cases as a result of her criminal defense work with political demonstrators. In 1989, Dennis Cunningham and Rachel Lederman successfully sued the San Francisco Police to obtain justice for AIDS activists who had been brutalized and unlawfully detained in what became known as the “Castro Sweep”.

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Surveillance Blowback: The Making of the U.S. Surveillance State, 1898-2020

What is the history and context of surveillance in the United States? Last week Scott Horton explained how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court devolved into a panel of judges making decisions in secret that influence federal law. Returning guest Alfred McCoy traces the US surveillance apparatus back to the late 1800s and brings us up to understanding the context of leaked NSA documents by whistle-blower Ed Snowden. In his latest article titled Surveillance Blowback: the Making of the U.S. Surveillance State 1898-2020, Al McCoy,  Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison details the surveillance timeline beginning with the US occupation of the Philipines and makes the connection to US imperialism abroad and apathy at home.

Professor Alfred McCoy:

  • Four years ago I published a book called Policing America’s Empire which started in the Philipines and started the history of US domestic surveillance through what I call surveillance blowback.
  • It’s the trajectory of history that allows you to see this.
  • In the late 19th century America had what I call our first information regime which was really a brilliant synergy of discoveries.
  • Thomas Edison’s quadruplex telegraph, Remington’s typewriter allowed the transmission around the world, across the nation, absolutely accurately at 40 words a minute.
  • The Gamewell Corporation for a half century during the 19th century was the world leader in the development of police telegraph and telephone communication – those police boxes that used to be on the streets of every American city.
  • The Gamewell Corporation had 900 of these boxes in operation and collectively they sent 41 million messages in the year 1900.
  • When we intervened in the Philippines we were suddenly faced with this massive insurgency, this guerrilla underground. We smashed the regular military formations but we couldn’t break the insurgency.
  • The US military in order to pacify that country created the first field intelligence unit in its 100 year history.
  • They appointed an obscure medical doctor Captain Ralph Van Deman to be the head of the division of military information.
  • He decided he would map the entire Filipino political elite.
  • William Howard Taft passed very draconian sedition and libel legislation and created a powerful colonial secret police called the Philipines constabulary. It took about 10 years to accomplish. 1898-1907
  • We had to track down the politicians (Philipines) we had to manipulate them.
  • 10 years after that process, the US joined WWI. April 1917.
  • The United States was the only army on either side of the battlefield that didn’t have an intelligence service with any description.
  • We turn now to Colonel Van Deman who applied his Philippines experience to developing a very elaborate counter-intelligence apparatus inside the United States.
  • Mr and Mrs Van Deman ran a private intelligence service that had Army file clerks and regular FBI liason officers dropping by.
  • And from their home they compiled files on 250 thousand suspected subversives.
  • They divided the world. Basically, North America, Latin America became the purview of the FBI for counter-intelligence the rest of the world became purview of US military intelligence and of course the CIA and then NSA.
  • That division of the word remain in effect until December 2011.
  • 3 million Afghani iris scans and fingerprints are housed in a main frame computer in West Virginia.
  • So, we developed then, this very efficient system of surveillance and digital monitoring overseas.
  • During the war on terror we now know the Bush Administration beginning October 2001 authorized the NSA to start massive capping of all digital communications.
  • In March of this year, it was 97 billion emails that were tapped by the NSA.
  • This began migrating home very very quickly.
  • When Obama came even though he criticized this illegal wiretapping, when he came in, instead of cutting it back like the Republicans did in the 1920s, he decided to build upon it.
  • What he’s building upon it for is to build an architecture for the exercise of global power through a significant edge or advantage for information control and information warfare.
  • Obama wants to cut back on the appropriations for the big behemoths, the heavy tanks, the big ships and he wants to shift us into an agile form of information warfare and global information control.
  • The NSA is spending 1. 6 Billion dollars for the world’s biggest data farm in Bluffdale, Utah.
  • The National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency has a nearly 2 billion dollar headquarters with 16 thousand employees in DC.
  • The Obama Administration has launched a new generation of light low cost, very agile satellites that can be remotely controlled from the ground, serving ground force commanders.
  • The Obama Administration is also building an armada of 99 Global Hawk drones with 24 hour flight capacity. These are surveillance drones with a 100 mile ambit for sucking audio communications.
  • With the combination of drones sucking up the local two way radio – cell phone communication with the tapping of the fiber optic cables within the US by the NSA, and internationally by the Five Eyes Coalition, Canad Australia, New Zealand and Britain, means that the NSA will have a total global surveillance system for the first time in human history.

Guest – Alfred McCoy, Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His recent book, Policing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State (2009), draws together these two strands in his research–covert operations and Philippine political history–to explore the role of police, information, and scandal in the shaping both the modern Philippine state and the U.S. internal security apparatus. In 2011, the Association for Asian Studies awarded Policing America’s Empire the George McT. Kahin Prize, describing the work as “a passionate, elegantly written book.” He’s also the author of  “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation.” Al is also the author of “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror” and “The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.  The first edition of his book, published in 1972 as The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, sparked controversy, but is now regarded as the “classic work” about Asian drug trafficking.



Law and Disorder July 15, 2013


  • Prisoner’s Hunger Strike: Pelican Bay Prison, Guantanamo Bay Prison, Palestinians In Israeli Prisons
  • CCR Lawsuit – Pelican Bay Prisoner Class Action
  • 20 Plus Palestinians On Hunger Strike In Israeli Prisons Demand Better Conditions For Pelican Bay Prisoners
  • Federal Judge Gladys Kessler Says the President Is The One To Stop Force Feeding and Release Cleared Guantanamo Bay Detainees
  • Bradley Manning Trial: Important Proceedings During Defense Case At Ft Meade, Maryland


Domestic-Spying utahnsa

Secret Federal FISA Court Advocate of National Security State

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve discussed the process of the US government expanding its power to get wiretapping permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court or FISA court. This is under a provision called section 215 of the Patriot Act which if listeners might recall was set to expire in 2009. It did not.  We discussed how the FISA court will be accessed by what’s called Lone Wolf Authority or National Security Letter Authority whereby the FBI can write a letter to the court without suspicion of terrorism and get bank, telephone and internet records.

The 11-member FISA Court has been central to allowing a massive surveillance state to exist by granting US agencies such as the NSA access to private telecommunication data. Today, the FISA court essentially operates as an advocate for the national security state. It’s judicial oversight now parallels the Supreme Court. But more troubling,  these FISA Court Justices operate in complete secrecy and base their decisions from hearing only one side the argument, the US government’s.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • The Nixon Administration attempted to use “intelligence gathering” as a justification. Congress reacted to that by saying we’re not going to agree that the government has the right to wiretap people in the United States on the grounds of intelligence gathering. We’re going to require this judicial check, so Congress created this special court the FISA court.
  • The court has been around for a long time, but its become a far more significant entity doing much more work after 9/11.
  • It has 11 judges. The judges are selected by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts.
  • The judges are picked from courts all around the country.
  • It’s not a secret court in that we know that it exists. It IS a secret court in that it operates in secret.
  • Literally, the public doesn’t know what papers are filed with it and doesn’t know about its decision.
  • That’s a highly controversial matter because decisions by federal courts constitute law.
  • This means that this court is manufacturing secret law that the people don’t know about.
  • We don’t know the jurisprudence of this court, we don’t know its decisions, we don’t know the full rationale for all its decisions because most of them have been secret.
  • It is very aggressively expanding the power and authority of the NSA in surveillance areas.
  • This is a court picked by Roberts who share his attitude. Out of 11 judges we have 10 Republican appointees. It’s very well known that Roberts in making appointments here looks very closely to select only judges who reflect his attitudes about the national security state.
  • It is a cherry picked court. A movement conservative perspective which is quite hostile to civil liberties.
  • The court has become an advocate for national intelligence services.
  • It really puts the whole institution of the court under a cloud right now.
  • If you want to disperse that cloud you would make sure those judges are representatives of the country.
  • The legal reasoning and interpretation of statutes that should be there for people to see and know and understand and criticize.
  • Telecoms: Here they are service providers dealing with consumers, lying to their clients and allowing the government free access to all this information.
  • That is a criminal act under various statutes of states including New Jersey and Maine. That have rules that say they may not allow governments, investigators access to this information other than pursuant to a government subpoena or court order.
  • This court is sweeping away core rights and making a joke out of the 4th Amendment.
  • Whistle-blower damage control strategy: A program to deflect attention from the disclosures themselves.
  • There is a move afoot to take this out on the American service providers who cooperate with the NSA, Verizon, AT&T. . .Google and so forth.

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.


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Left Forum 2013: Ron Reosti

Capitalists are not necessary to run firms, nor to run macro-economies and investment says Ron Reosti in his presentation at the Left Forum Panel titled Imagine Living In A Socialist USA, Part 2: Making The American Socialist Revolution.

Speaker – Ron Reosti, his Italian parents imparted to him a working-class identity, a sense of social justice, a belief in the possibility of social change, a commitment to democracy, and a hatred of the undemocratic ruling class. He embraced socialism in his early teens, during the McCarthy era, and has remained committed to that vision. He practices law and is part of the radical community in Detroit.




Law and Disorder May 27, 2013


  • FDNY Lawsuit Update
  • Guatemalan Genocide Verdict Overturned


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We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks -  Michael Ratner

Our own Michael Ratner delivers a critical review of the film documentary “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks” by director Alex Gibney. The annotated transcript, reveals errors, rank speculation and a focus on personality that detracts from the important revelations by Manning and published by WikiLeaks. Bradley Manning’s 12-week trial commences on Monday (3 June) and the film may have been released to take advantage of that date.  Manning may face life in prison and could potentially face the death penalty. Julian Assange remains in the Ecuadorian embassy legitimately fearful that extradition to Sweden is a one way ticket to the US and potential for life in prison.

Attorney Michael Ratner, attorney in the US for Julian Assange and Wikileaks:

  • (The film) does a great disservice to Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.
  • I think it trivializes the incredible courage that both of them had as well as what was revealed by the documents.
  • Julian Assange declined an interview by Alex Gibney and no one currently associated with Wikileaks participated in the film. This may explain in part Gibney’s poor treatment of Julian Assange.
  • What grabs you immediately is the title, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks.” Wikileaks is a publisher. Yet the title implies that the story of Wikileaks is the story of it stealing secrets.
  • That implication plays into the government’s theory that somehow Wikileaks and Julian Assange are co-conspirators with Bradley Manning in taking secrets. The film does so in other places as well.
  • A second criticism is that part of the film focuses on Bradley Manning’s psychological problems and implies that those are the basis for Manning’s revelation of documents.
  • Gibney has said as much in interviews given after the film: “I think it raises big issues about who whistleblowers are, because they are alienated people who don’t get along with people around them, which motivates them to do what they do.”
  • In fact, Manning gave an incredibly moving political explanation for each leak of documents; an explanation not covered in any detail in the film.
  • Third, Gibney claims Wikileaks is dead. Nothing could be more of fable.
  • Since December 2011 Wikileaks has released the SpyFiles, the Stratfor emails dubbed the GIFiles, the Syria Files and in April 2013 both Cablegate and 1.7 million Kissinger Cables in an easily searchable Plus Public Library of US Diplomacy.
  • Fourth, somehow, Gibney claims there are no charges filed against Julian Assange. How does he know that? It’s a secret Grand Jury, and if there’s an indictment, it’s going to be a sealed indictment because an indictment is not made public when a person is not in custody. In fact, there is significant, irrefutable evidence of an on going investigation and its likely there is a sealed indictment.
  • Gibney diminishes the risk to Julian Assange if he were sent to the United States because he wants to claim that Assange is in the embassy to avoid going to Sweden to answer questions about sexual misconduct allegations. But it does not work. Were Sweden to guarantee Assange would not be sent to US he would go there to answer questions.
  • Assange has also offered to answer those questions in the embassy–Sweden has refused. In the end, the problem is the United States–Gibney, in his effort to demean Assange, needs to play down the huge risk he faces in the US.

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 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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Palestinian Prisoners Legal Support: Addameer

On the 17th of April, hundreds of Palestinians filled the streets in the West Bank in protest to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day. Right now there nearly 5000 Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, 14 of them are women. More than half have been convicted, 33 percent have not been sentenced and 3 percent are being held in administrative detention.  235 of Palestinian prisoners are minors ranging in age from 14 to 18.  As many listeners may know, Palestinian activists are often targeted and detained. In prison, tactics are used such as solitary confinement and forbidding family contact.

Attorney Sahar Francis:

  • Currently there are still 4900 Palestinians inside Israeli prisons. Most of them are adults. There are 236 minors under age 18. 14 women and 14 Parliamentarians.
  • The majority of them I would say were arrested because of political activism and being involved in the peaceful struggle, and resistance especially in the last couple of years against the wall, the checkpoints, the settlements, land confiscation, house demolition all these practices of the occupation.
  • Including Jerusalem residents, they would be arrested inside Israel but they could be subjected to 2 different legal systems. The Israeli legal system or the military system that applies just to the Occupied Territories.
  • Settlers are not subjected to the military court system that is imposed on the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
  • It’s violation of International Law to move them to prisons inside Israel.  This is what Israel was doing since 1995.
  • They moved the prisoners from prisons inside the Occupied Territories to prisons inside Israel and this is a violation for the 4th Geneva Convention Act actually.
  • The number of Palestinian prisoners decreased compared to previous years, 2005, 2006.
  • Since 1967 til today more than 750 thousand Palestinians were arrested. It’s almost hitting every Palestinian house. It’s estimated to be about 40 percent of the Palestinian men population that were at least once incarcerated in their life.
  • In the 7 years of Oslo, Israel kept 1500 political prisoners.
  • Now I can say that the majority of the prisoners would be sentenced for periods less than 10 years.
  • There’s around 430 of them sentenced for life.
  • We still have cases of families where they have 4 sons or 5 sons in the same time in prison.
  • In some cases they (the sons) would be distributed in all prisons, in north, south of Israel and the mother would be traveling all the way trying to visit them.
  • The women prisoners number was much higher we used to have 120 female prisoners.
  • Most of them involved in political activism, mainly supporting their brothers or husbands in their political activism or in stop cases involved in trying to stop soldiers.
  • Addamer was established in 1991 by ex Palestinian political prisoners and lawyers who were aiming to give legal support for free to Palestinian prisoners in military court system.
  • Our focus is on political arrests. We have 8 members in Addamer. We are members of the Israeli Bar Association and members of the Palestinian Bar Association.
  • Most of the cases in military court would end in plea bargain without exhausting the system because neither the system or the lawyers don’t have much trust in the system.
  • You could end up being interrogated in the detention centers inside Israel and they will decide whether to transfer the case for the civil prosecution or the military prosecution.
  • You can have a person 90 days before charging them (military system) Civil system it’s 35 days.
  • Law In These Parts – Film Documentary.
  • Regarding torture and terms such as enhanced interrogation techniques : In our place its called moderate physical pressure.
  • We can’t sue them because the prosecutors claim out of necessity we used the torture.
  • Seeing the photos of Abu-Ghraib with this sack on the detainee’s heads, this was used in the Palestinians case since the early years of the occupation.
  • This is the method that was used to prevent them from breathing, from sleeping, and they were tied to these kindergarten small chairs with the sack on their head, with playing music 24 hours a day. Then after in this position for 2 weeks, the interrogator shake you.
  • We’re promoting Boycott Divest and Sanction.

Guest – Sahar Francis, human rights lawyer and director of the Palestinian NGO Addamer.  (Arabic for conscience) Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association is a Palestinian non-governmental, civil institution which focuses on human rights issues. Established in 1992 by a group of activists interested in human rights, the center offers support to Palestinian prisoners, advocates the rights of political prisoners, and works to end torture through monitoring, legal procedures and solidarity campaigns.It’s an organization offering legal services to political prisoners under Israeli occupation and represents prisoners in Israeli military and civil courts.



Law and Disorder May 20, 2013



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Court Upholds Broad Injunction to Remedy FDNY Discrimination

We talk today about recent developments in the New York City Fire Department discrimination case known as the US and Vulcan Society v. City of New York. Last week, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that, in light of the City’s “distressing pattern of limited FDNY minority hiring,” broad relief ordered by the district judge to end discrimination in the FDNY was “entirely warranted.”

This decision includes an independent monitor in order to “oversee the FDNY’s long awaited progress toward ending discrimination.”  The Court also ruled that the plaintiffs’ intentional discrimination claim should proceed to a trial.  The district court had found that the evidence of intentional discrimination was so overwhelming that no trial was necessary. The Court of Appeals also reinstated the plaintiffs’ claim that former FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta is individually liable for intentional discrimination.

Attorney  Dana Lossia:

  • The Vulcan Society which is our client, a fraternity of black fire fighters sued the city of New York and said that the reason why the fire department back in the 60s and 70s was virtually all white was because of the hiring process that the city was using, it was discriminatory, it was unlawful.
  • A federal judge agreed back in 1973 and ordered the city to hire one minority firefighter for every 3 white firefighters that was hired.
  • Decades went on, we get up to the 90s and you look at the FDNY and it’s still 3 percent African American.
  • It instituted the quota that was required for the bare minimum amount of time that was required and then it reverted to the all white club that the fire department has been its entire history in New York City.
  • In a city that is 25 percent African American or more and 25 percent Latino.
  • We made the case that not only was the city using these exams but they were continuing to use them with the knowledge and intent to perpetuate the fire department as it has existed.
  • So that fathers could bring their sons and their nephews into the force and it would stay the way it had always been which is virtually all white, more than 90 percent white.
  • The District Court Judge in Brooklyn agreed with us he said this was clearly intentional discrimination. He issued a remedial order requiring broad oversight  of the FDNY hiring process.
  • The city didn’t like that, they appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals came down with a decision that largely upheld this very broad and deep oversight on everything the city does to hire firefighters.
  • Every other fire department in a big city across the country is more racially diverse than in New York City.
  • Back in the 80s women came into the fire department and face horrible harassment and retaliation.
  • One of the things we learned is that fire fighting is less dangerous than construction work, its far less dangerous job than being a police officer, a roofer.
  • Fire fighters are revered wherever they go and the job is much much more safe than sanitation work.

Guest – Attorney Dana Lossia (Northwestern University, B.A., summa cum laude 2001, Harvard Law School, J.D., 2005) joined Levy Ratner in December 2005. She represents unions in New York and New Jersey in arbitrations, administrative proceedings, NLRB cases and federal and state court litigation. She also represents plaintiffs in complex employment discrimination actions, including a challenge to racially discriminatory hiring practices at the NYC Fire Department. Lossia has also litigated on behalf of tenants in land use and zoning appeals before the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals.



Lawyers You’ll Like: Anne O’Berry 

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined by attorney Anne O’Berry, she’s the Vice President of the Southern Region of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of The Law Only As An Enemy:  The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia. While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights. In the last 12 years, Anne has served as counsel at a Florida law firm that specializes in class action litigation, particularly in the areas of securities, consumer and economic fraud, as well as some environmental and privacy rights litigation.

Attorney Anne O’Berry:

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

Guest – Anne O’Berry, National Lawyers Guild’s Regional Vice President for the Southern Region and a member of the Guild’s South Florida chapter.  She obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 and her law degree from New York University Law School in 1986.  While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights.  She was a member of the law school’s civil rights clinic and an editor on one of the law school’s journals, and authored a law review article on prisoners’ rights.

exhumacion guatemalamap

Guatemalan Ex Dictator Found Guilty of Genocide

After weeks of powerful testimony the trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt and his intelligence chief José Rodríguez Sánchez ended with a guilty conviction on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The verdict marked the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.The government’s lead prosecutor, Orlando López, gave more than two hours of summation based heavily on the Guatemalan military plans, manuals, and operational records entered as evidence. During the months of General Ríos Montt’s rule, the army used a scorched-earth policy to flush out leftist guerrillas fighting in the hills. The villages of the Mayan highlands suffered the worst of the army’s brutality in the early 1980s, during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war.

Kate Doyle:

  • I’m one of a couple of analysts that look at foreign policy in Latin America. My specialty is Central America and Mexico and I’m the director of something called the Evidence Project at the Archive, which is a way of connecting the right to information, right the truth with human rights and justice struggles around the region.
  • We’ve worked very closely with truth commissions, with prosecutors and judges to try to get some of the classified US documents and sometimes even the national documents from their countries in to their hands when they’ve got a human rights investigation underway.
  • The impetus for this case really came from the affected communities themselves that is in this case, the community of the Mayan Ixil.
  • In the Northwestern part of the country, which worked for decades to identify exhumation sites. Sites where they knew there were clandestine mass graves of their own mothers, fathers, children who had massacred during the scorched earth operations of Rios Montt in 1982 and 1983.
  • In March of 1982, Rios Montt headed a trio of military officers that overthrew the previous president. There was a guerrilla armed insurgency underway in Guatemala and had been since the 1960s. Rios Montt decided he was going to launch a series of counterinsurgency operations not only to target the armed insurgents in the highlands but also to destroy or eliminate their social base.
  • That meant going after communities of mostly Mayan peoples that lived in the same area where the insurgents operated. It’s one of the most brutal acts of what used to be called low intensity warfare.
  • The officials that carried out those operations were left to enjoy total impunity after the regime ended some 17 months later.
  • Prosecutors and both the government prosecutors and civil prosecutors who represent the victims who also get to sit at the table ask questions and participate in the investigation pulled together a real interesting case for genocide and crimes against humanity.
  • I’ve been working with those prosecutors for years to help them incorporate both declassified US documents as evidence in the case but also those Guatemalan military archives.
  • Because of the very tight relationship between the United States and the Guatemalan regime of Rios Montt and predecessor regimes, we knew these agencies would have countless records of the operations themselves of the Guatemalan military structure of command and control.
  • Some of the most extraordinary testimony for me came from women because the Guatemalan military like many militaries in these irregular wars used sexual abuse and violation as a part of their counterinsurgency tactics and they actually talk about the destruction of the “semia” the seed.
  • The day the verdict came down, the court that seats about 500 people, was absolutely packed to the gills, so every seat was full. When the mood in the room began to feel tense, because of the intensity of the verdict and what that meant for Guatemala. Everybody began to stand up and sing this beautiful song, this poem that was set to music by a Guatemalan musician, over and over again and brought the tension down slowly slowly, it was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever witnessed in a court room.
  • The Guatemalans were focused on legally convicting the authors of genocide, and they did it.

Guest – Kate Doyle,  a Senior Analyst of U.S. policy in Latin America at the National Security Archive. She directs several major research projects, including the Guatemala Project, which collects declassified U.S. and Guatemalan government documents on the countries’ shared history from 1954, and the Evidence Project, connecting the right to truth and access to information with human rights and justice struggles in Latin America. Since 1992, Doyle has worked with Latin American human rights groups, truth commissions, prosecutors and judges to obtain government files from secret archives that shed light on state violence. She has testified as an expert witness in numerous human rights legal proceedings, including the 2008 trial of former President Alberto Fujimori of Peru for his role in overseeing military death squads; the case before the Spanish National Court on the 1989 assassination of the Jesuit priests in El Salvador; and the 2010 trial of two former policemen in Guatemala for the forced disappearance of labor leader Edgar Fernando García in 1984



Law and Disorder April 22, 2013

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Please Sign Petition To Help Lynne Stewart

Long time literary agent Francis Goldin has for years visited inmates on death row.  She’s recently returned from visiting Lynne Stewart in the Carswell Medical Facility in Texas. She joins hosts to talk about her visit.

Francis Goldin:

  • We were there for 4 days and most of the time we were in the prison with her.
  • If we kissed more than once, or hugged more than once she would be fined.
  • That’s how they become correctional by denying kissing and hugging and loving.
  • We were only there for about 70 hours, we didn’t have enough time to talk.
  • The day we left, all the plans were changed, no more 4 day visits, only Saturday and Sunday. The inmates were heart broken.
  • The breast cancer has moved to her lungs. The reason she has it in her lungs is because they didn’t treat her when they should have.
  • It’s tremendously important to go to and sign on for this release.
  • When you sign on, email every person on your list whether its 10 or 500.
  • It’s really important that we send a million signatures.
  • I visited Maroon for 27 years, every 3 months. I was there for 2 whole days.
  •  Lynne Stewart Compassionate Release Petition
  • Please Also Write to: Charles E Samuels Jr. / Federal Bureau of Prisons /
  • 320 1st Street Northwest / Washington DC 20534

Guest – Francis Goldin, has worked in publishing for 63 years, as an agent and as editor-in-chief of a children’s publishing company; she founded the Frances Goldin Literary Agency and sold her first book in 1977. Authored by Black anthropologist Betty Lou Valentine and titled Hustling and Other Hard Work, the book continued to receive royalties for 32 years. Among her clients are Barbara Kingsolver, who she has represented for all of her 14 books, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dorothy Allison, Frances Fox Piven, Martin Duberman, iconic feminists including Charlotte Bunch and Esther Newton, more.


maroon_the_implacable theresashoatz2

Maroon The Implacable

We welcome back Teresa Shoatz, daughter of political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz who has spent 39 years in the US prison system. As many listeners may know, Russell Shoatz has been held under intense lock down spending no more than one hour a day outside of his cell for the past 21 of those years. He was locked up in 1972 for his activity as a member of the Black Liberation Army.

Meanwhile, Theresa Shoatz is on book tour promoting her father’s book titled Maroon The Implacable. We catch up with her in Chicago while on tour. Maroon The Implacable is the first published collection of his accumulated written works analyzing the prison system, imperialism, the drug war. He also writes with great insight about the Maroon communities throughout America. Newer essays examine current political movements including eco-feminism and matriarchy

Theresa Shoatz:

  • Maroon had been told that he would die at SCI Greene. For him to be free from prison in general, would be when I would say we have won.
  • We’ve been fortunate to have Bret Grote, assistant to the legal team. Dan Kovalic and we just got a major commitment from a big law firm.
  • Maroon has been writing since the eighties. In the nineties, some anarchists took his writings and put them in a zine, and took them throughout the United States and into Canada. They were used for education.
  • So you get Maroon’s span from the eighties, to the present day.
  • His view now on women is so incredible because he stressed how important women are to the movement throughout the sixties and the seventies.
  • At that time he didn’t recognize how important the women were. The women, I would say are really the back bone of any community.
  • On his second escape we was returned to prison an inmate said to him, they had a hell of a manhunt on you, you were chased down like a “Maroon.”
  • He didn’t know anything about the Maroons. He dug in deep about their history and how they came about.
  • The Maroons were slaves who had escaped from plantations, some went deep into the woods and joined with Native Americans and some poor whites who were totally against this slave thing.
  • His digging into the history of the Maroons, he also involved me and my siblings. They were so awesome because they were fighting off attacks, also in the Caribbean areas, even into Mexico.
  • Maroon has endured such torture, just outrageous treatment. Twenty plus years of no-contact visits. The impact of this really does control mindsets.
  • Maroon doesn’t have computers nor has he seen one up close. He does everything long hand, and through snail-mail.
  • Right now, I’m at the University of Texas. I’m presently with the dean and a professor in a writing class.
  • If they haven’t heard of him, they want to know more.
  • We have to step over what this government has thrown at us.
  • They have more a hand on these youth than some these youths own parents.
  • When you can punch right through that wall that’s candy coated reality system that our youth are mixed up in, its not only uplifting for me but for them.

Guest – Theresa Shoatz,  a Philadelphia-based prison justice activist and the daughter of Russell “Maroon” Shoatz.


shadowlives2 hungerstrk

Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women and Children

It’s obvious and yet an unfortunate reality, war, prisoners of war and the prison industrial complex tear apart families. Very seldom are the voices of family members heard that were left behind by the tragedies of war.  In the book Shadow Lives: How the War on Terror in England Became a War on Women and Children, author Victoria Brittain brings the reader close to these individuals who’s lives were capsized by war. They’re usually socially invisible and their civil liberties are often trampled by the state under the guise of the “war on terror.”

Victoria Brittain:

  • I got involved way back when people began disappearing and they were described as the worst of the worst by Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush. Some of those people came from Britain and we didn’t know anything about them.
  • A friend of mine had a project to do verbatim plays about the families, and he asked me to be the person to interview the families to try to find out who these people were and what had brought them together in Guantanamo Bay.
  • I find complete confusion. Nobody in the families knew anything about why their son or their brother had ended up in Guantanamo Bay. In the course of that I got to know some of the families.
  • I was particularly curious about one family that didn’ t want to cooperate in the play which was a Palestinian woman with five children, living alone and not speaking much English.
  • I wrote to her about the play and told her how ashamed I was of my country from the research that I’ve done.
  • We became close friends. Through her and her children, I met other women.
  • Over these past ten years its been a rich experience, and sobering experience about injustice.
  • I think she was suppressing the agony and loneliness and fear that she was in, course she was so desperate to have her children approach something of a normal life.
  • It was only when other people began to come back to Britain from Guantanamo, that we began to get a picture the conditions in which people were.
  • Her husband had gone off to west Africa with 3 or 4 other men to try and start a peanut business. This was his idea as a refugee Palestinian in Britain. He wanted to find a way of making a life for his family.
  • When she found out he was taken from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, she was completely, . . there was no explanation.
  • There was absolutely no recourse for her for a long time.
  • It’s so sad, the Obama administration, he said he was going to close Guantanamo, here we are years down the road, these innocent people are still there and in the last 3 months, these people have become so desperate, because Congress is blocking them from getting out.
  • Again and again, every legal victory from CCR has been overturned by a higher court.
  • For these men, they really feel they’re at the end of the road.
  • The horror of this has been so well laid out by so many lawyers. I find it astounding that there isn’t an uproar in Congress.
  • Thank goodness Sami-Al-Arien is no longer in prison, but he’s under house arrest.
  • Most of their friends turned away from them.
  • He spent about five years in about a dozen maximum security prisons.
  • FreeSamiAlArian
  • The British and American intelligences work so closely together.

Guest – Victoria Brittain has lived and worked as a journalist in Washington, Nairobi, Saigon and London. She worked at the Guardian for 20 years and is the author of Death of Dignity: Angola’s Civil War, and Enemy Combatant.


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