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Archive for the 'Military Tribunal' Category


Law and Disorder May 18, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: This Year Marks Three Years Julian Assange In The Ecuador Embassy
  • Michael Ratner: Assange Is In Embassy Pending Extradition to Sweden Regarding Allegations. No Charges. It’s Essentially Indefinite Detention.
  • Michael Ratner: Wikileaks Posts The BND Transcripts (Germany Holding Inquiry Into NSA Spying) and Searchable Database of Sony Hacked Emails
  • Michael Ratner: Julian Assange Has Strong Proportionality Argument That Could Dismiss Allegations From Sweden.
  • Michael Ratner: The British Have Said If Julian Leaves the Embassy He Will Be Arrested.
  • Michael Ratner: CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Leaking to New York Times Journalist

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May 8 1945 – End of World War II

Our own Michael Ratner has been in Europe, specifically in Berlin in his capacity as the President of the European Center for Constitutional Human Rights. May 8 is an important day in Europe, because its the day the Nazis were defeated 70 years ago. Michael Ratner was at a celebration during this historic event. We also hear part of a famous poem titled September 1, 1939. That’s the day the Nazis invaded Poland. It’s the day that WWII started. The Nazis had vowed they were going to destroy Poland and destroy Russia. They threw everything they had into it. 150 divisions moving east toward Russia and W.H. Auden, the great poet was sitting in bar on 52nd Street and he reflected on that historic day.

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ECCHR: Bush Torture Team Travel Restriction

Today we can say with some surety that members of the torture team from Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, the lawyers and scores if not hundreds of CIA agents are unwilling and afraid and fear going to the European Union and countries in Europe. Why? Because they’re are afraid they’ll be subpoenaed and arrested or otherwise forced to testify about what they did when they were part of the torture team. That result is in large part due to an organization in Europe called the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. It along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and others have brought numerous cases throughout Europe to make sure the torture team will be indicted and certainly at a minimum some 12 years later, that they can’t travel to Europe. The ECCHR does other work as well. It litigates and brings cases against corporations involved in labor abuses throughout the world particularly in Pakistan and Bangladesh where sweatshops have killed hundreds of workers.

Guest – Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck, founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. ECCHR is an independent organization that works with lawyers and groups around the world to take legal proceedings against state and non-state actors for their roles in crimes against international law. ECCHR also uses legal instruments to combat inhumane working conditions and other issues in the area of business and human rights. Wolfgang Kaleck has served as General Secretary of the organization since its foundation. Kaleck previously worked as a criminal law attorney at law firm Hummel.Kaleck.Rechtsanwälte, which he co-founded in 1991. Since 1998 he has been an advocate for the Koalition gegen Straflosigkeit (Coalition against Impunity) which fights to hold Argentinian military officials accountable for the murder and disappearance of German citizens during the Argentinian dictatorship. Between 2004 and 2008 he worked with the New York Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to pursue criminal proceedings against members of the US military, including former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

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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 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 9, 2015


Updates:

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ISIS and The Anti-War Movement

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

Attorney Jim Lafferty:

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

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

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Thomas Sankara: An African Revolutionary

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

Professor Ernest Harsch:

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

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

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Law and Disorder December 22, 2014


Updates:

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

Attorney Michael Ratner:

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

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Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

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

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Civil Forfeiture Cases Follow Up

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

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

Happy Birthday Chelsea Manning

ECCHR Calls For 13 CIA Agents To Be Extradited To Germany

ECCHR Complaint Against Bush Era Architects Of Torture

Attorney Michael Ratner:

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

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Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

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

Attorney Scott Horton:

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

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

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Law and Disorder November 24, 2014


Updates:

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

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Academic Freedom Case Gains Traction

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

Professor Salaita:

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

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

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Independent Investigation of APA Ties with Torturers Under Bush Administration

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

Dr. Stephen Soldz:

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

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

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Law and Disorder November 10, 2014


Infogrpahic-Ebola-CDC Yes-Another-Incubation-period-Ebola-Notice

Civil Liberties Infringement In Wake Of Ebola Panic

The Ebola quarantine protocol in the United States is bringing issues of public health and individual constitutional rights to the front. The Center For Disease Control and Prevention has made clear that the Ebola virus doesn’t become contagious until symptoms appear. Even if symptoms are present, transmission of the disease requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood or vomit. Given this, if you are suspected of having the virus but don’t have any symptoms, can the state to issue a mandatory quarantine?

Attorney Donna Lieberman:

  • What we’re seeing is the rush to policies driven instead of by legitimate public health concerns and Ebola is a legitimate serious public health concern, policy driven by fear.
  • This is where civil liberties and good medicine go hand in hand.
  • Good civil liberty policy is policy that respects individual liberty and does not curtail individual liberty unless there’s a real good reason to do so and there’s no way to protect society without doing so.
  • We don’t object to quarantines under all circumstances.
  • There are sometimes when the public health requires that society be protected from individuals who are infectious.
  • If somebody is not infectious does not pose a danger to society by virtue of their physical condition well then, its unacceptable.
  • If they show no signs of infection, that means they’re not contagious, they should not be quarantined, they should simply be monitored.
  • Medical people don’t go and risk their lives to treat people who are facing horrific epidemic and then come to infect their friends.
  • HIV was an epidemic in the United States, the response to Ebola is based on a tiny handful, a tragic handful to be sure, but a tiny handful of cases and is really way out of proportion and there’s this unspoken fear of related to coming from Africa – here, and it feels as there is a racial component, its just a feeling.
  • What’s an appropriate health policy, driven by medicine not by fear?
  • Some of the ACLU affiliates are pursuing FOIA requests to find out what policies are in place.
  • We are pressing for the state of New York to relax its quarantine policies and make it a public health driven policy rather than a fear based policy.

Guest – Attorney Donna Lieberman, has been executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union since December 2001. She has also served as the associate director (1988 – 1993) and founder/director of the NYCLU Reproductive Rights Project (1990 – 2000).  Under Lieberman’s leadership the NYCLU has expanded the scope and depth of its work, supplementing and strengthening the pursuit of litigation with an aggressive legislative advocacy and a field organizing program that works on behalf of civil liberties and civil rights. As a result, the organization is widely recognized as the state’s leading voice for freedom, justice and equality, advocating for those whose rights and liberties have been denied, especially for those most marginalized by society.

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 Cuba In The News, The Cuban Five and Exposing Journalists For Hire

Lately, Cuba and its relationship to the United States has been in the news. The New York Times alone had 4 editorials on Cuba. Several urged the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba which were severed more than 50 years ago. Another urged the prisoner exchange of the Cuban Five now 3, and Alan Gross, the American who has been in a Cuban prison for several years. Last year attorneys with the Partnership for the Civil Justice Fund filed a Freedom of Information Action lawsuit against the U.S. State Department for its refusal to produce responsive materials in its possession about secret payments by the U.S. government to Miami-based journalists who were “reporting” on the Cuban Five case before and during the trial and while the jury deliberated.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard:

  • The Cuban Five, are five Cuban men who came into the United States to basically learn what the terrorists in Miami were planning. Cuba is a country that has been subject to terrorist attacks for decade after decade.
  • There have been bombings, planes shot down. A huge amount of death and destruction but it comes out of the United States from anti-Castro in Miami who are reeking terror on the people of Cuba.
  • The U.S government has never taken action to stop these terror attacks that emanate from their shores. In fact the CIA has had been known to have at least some of these people on their payroll or working with them over the years.
  • Ultimately, they (Cuban Five) uncovered information which was shared with the FBI, from the Cuban government to the FBI. What happened was the terrorists weren’t arrested, these men were arrested.
  • They were charged with espionage offenses, put on trial and found guilty.
  • The issue is . . they were tried in Miami, they were tried in this heated environment, tried in conditions that there was no way they could have gotten a fair trial. An issue that has been repeated over and over again in the years of appeals.
  • What has been uncovered more recently is that the U.S. government had journalists on their payroll who were presenting themselves as independent journalists in Miami who filled the airwaves and newspapers with extremely hostile and inflammatory coverage of Cuba as well as the trial itself.
  • There’s no way this couldn’t have had an impact, on the jury, on the jury pool, on the sitting jury.
  • The U.S. government itself is prohibited by the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 from funding activities to influence and propagandize public opinion.
  • We live in a country where we’re free to be wire-tapped, spied on, to have the FBI infiltrating religious institutions and monitoring peaceful protests.
  • Prisoner exchange: The fact is the Cuban Five were not attempting to undercut or destabilize the U.S. government. They were simply trying to get information about terrorist attacks emanating from the United States, hurting the people of their country. Alan Gross on the other hand was sent as part of a covert U.S. government operation into Cuba multiple times to material, satellites, phones, communication material, in an attempt to destabilize and over throw the Cuban government.
  • We have fought for years with Freedom of Information Act demands and working in partnership with the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five and Gloria LaRiva who has led that organization. She is the key person in the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five that raised this issue, that spent a huge amount of time, going through records, going through the records, audio and visual of the different media, television and radio – and linking these together and doing research into these journalists and establishing what appeared to be this covert operation.
  • Much of that material is up on a website called ReportersForHire.org
  • Because the State Department was clearly holding material within a certain time period and had not searched their records at all for the material we demanded, we filed a lawsuit in Federal court, and that’s a lawsuit we’re still in the process of litigating.
  • The issue of the blockade, which on its face, starving a population to try and force them to change their government is really criminal and a violation of international law.
  • Standing on its own without the U.S. blockade, Cuba would thrive.
  • Cuba is still there and has withstood and been strong through all of this.
  • By lifting the blockade and allowing the U.S. to penetrate into Cuba with American capitalism would be another way of attempting to over throw the government of Cuba.
  • A major major funding stream for these groups and these entities in Miami who are working against the people of Cuba and against the government of Cuba.
  • US Army Col Lawrence Wilkerson Letter To Obama.

Guest – Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of the Guild’s National Mass Defense Committee. co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington, DC, she secured $13.7 million for about 700 of the 2000 IMF/World Bank protesters in Becker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., while also winning pledges from the District to improve police training about First Amendment issues. She won $8.25 million for approximately 400 class members in Barham, et al. v. Ramsey, et al. (alleging false arrest at the 2002 IMF/World Bank protests). She served as lead counsel in Mills, et al v. District of Columbia (obtaining a ruling that D.C.’s seizure and interrogation police checkpoint program was unconstitutional); in Bolger, et al. v. District of Columbia (involving targeting of political activists and false arrest by law enforcement based on political affiliation); and in National Council of Arab Americans, et al. v. City of New York, et al. (successfully challenging the city’s efforts to discriminatorily restrict mass assembly in Central Park’s Great Lawn stemming from the 2004 RNC protests.)

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Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better

In this country there are 2.3 million Americans locked up in prison, and 95 percent of prisoners that are released emerge with very little opportunity to rebuild their lives. Our guest journalist Maya Schenwar has written about the social destruction of the prison industry and the community based initiatives to help former inmates in her book Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better. Locked Down, Locked Out begins by examining the fundamental crisis of how prison breaks apart families and communities. These experiences relay the enormous damage caused by severing millions of people from family and community ties. In exploring alternatives to incarceration Maya suggests ways to provide resolution to victims while repairing communities of color.

Maya Schenwar:

  • It started about ten years ago which was when my sister went to juvenile.
  • I had been corresponding with someone on death row, and I had an inclination to write about this issue at the time was really on the margins of journalism.
  • When my sister went to juvenile detention and I went to visit her I was immediately struck by the fact that this detention center was a jail.
  • Fourteen year olds were being locked up.
  • You’re taking people who have already been traumatized and putting them in the most isolating conditions, separating them from society in this way that can’t help create further trauma.
  • Prison just doesn’t work. About 2/3 of people who are released from prison are re-arrested in 3 years.
  • Instead of talking about the law, we’re going to be talking about the harm that was done to you. A very different thing.
  • There needs to be a victim centric approach, something that takes the victim’s healing into consideration.
  • Sometimes it gets lost in the conversation about mass incarceration that every single person occupying a prison is a human being and therefore has a constellation of connections with people on the outside when they go in.
  • Prison becomes this process of breaking each of those links.
  • When you’re communicating with a person in prison, you can’t call them they have to call you. You have no idea when they’ll be able to call you.
  • Letters become the only reliable form of communication.
  • It comes down to the community level, it comes down to erasing this idea we have that there is a one size fits all solution.
  • So many of those problems stem from things we’re depriving people of in our society like housing, food, shelter. We have to think about providing those things as part of creating a society with less harm and less violence.

Guest – Maya Schenwar, is Truthout’s Editor-in-Chief. Her book, Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn’t Work and How We Can Do Better,  Berrett-Koehler Publishers.  Previously, she was a senior editor and reporter at Truthout, writing on US defense policy, the criminal justice system, campaign politics, and immigration reform. Prior to her work at Truthout, Maya was contributing editor at Punk Planet magazine.

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Law and Disorder October 20, 2014


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian Updates Listeners On The Revictimization Relief Act

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whokilledche che

Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour

Early October marks the 47th anniversary of Ernesto Che Guevarra’s capture and assassination in Bolivia. Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith have authored the book Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. Michael Smith has recently returned from a trip to Buenos Aires to promote the Spanish language version of the book. Michael explains how Che was a threat to the United States by helping Cuba take over their own economy and why its important to set the story straight about Che’s death. Review of Who Killed Che?

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Weekend of Resistance: Ferguson, St. Louis Protests and the National Lawyers Guild

Last weekend, thousands of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri just outside of St. Louis demonstrated during a long planned Weekend of Resistance to the militarized suppression of peaceful demonstrations against the the killings of unarmed black teenagers including Michael Brown two months ago. Demonstrators traveled from cites across the country to participate in protests against police violence – including sit ins and vigil marches. Meanwhile, National Lawyers Guild members have been providing legal support, legal observation and felony representation for people arrested during the weekend. We catch up with St Louis Lawyers Guild member attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke who has been working long hours representing arrested demonstrators. There are 90 municipalities in St. Louis and Maggie also explains the challenges in helping those arrested get processed through a unique court system.

Attorney Maggie Ellinger-Locke:

  • People poured into the streets after the killing of Mike Brown and have pretty much been occupying various locations around the St. Louis area and protesting ever since.
  • We at the National Lawyers Guild have mobilized close to 100 legal observers at this point to come down and do the observing and training people who are local.
  • We’ve also been connecting people who are facing felony charges with representation as well as backing up the Arch City Defenders who are handling the bulk of the ordinance violations and charges.
  • In August there were lots of chemical weapons used, tear gas every night. I was tear gassed multiple times. Other major mobilizations that I’ve been to, they last a couple of days, maybe the duration of a week, but this has been a continued onslaught of less than lethal weapons.
  • There are a lot of difference agencies on the ground for law enforcement. There’s the Missouri Highway Patrol, St. Louis County Police Department, The Sheriff’s Department and of course we have 90 different municipalities in St. Louis County, each with its own police force.
  • This is what it takes to fight back. People are out there every day on the streets.
  • We’ve had NLG members pour in from all over which has really been fun getting to know all these people.
  • Monsanto, which is based in Creve Coeur, Missouri, made a donation recently of a million dollars to various community groups doing work on the ground. On the other hand we’ll have a local pizza company board up and then the owner will train a gun on protesters to intimidate them.
  • The demands have varied depending on the organizations. Indicting Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown is at the top of everyone’s list. In order to achieve that you would have to have demand number 2 met which is that Don McCullough, the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney recuse himself from this case. People think that he’s conflicted in that his father was a white police officer who was shot by an African American man and killed.
  • Another big demand is that the many many municipal charges that people are facing be dropped.
  • In addition we desperately need reform of our municipal court system. The structure is insane.
  • We’re hopeful that if we can demand jury trials for all of those arrested, we may in fact be able to crash the system.
  • We have 40 people now who are facing felonies.
  • The Organization For Black Struggle and  Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Guest – Attorney Maggie Ellinger-LockeNational Lawyers Guild member and activist, and a partner with Ellinger & Assoc., P.C., a Law Firm in O’Fallon, Missouri.

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Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than 4Years

Last week former Chicago police commander Jon Burge who was convicted of lying about torturing more than 100 African-American men at Chicago police stations will be released from the Butner Correctional Institution and reporting to a halfway house in Tampa, Florida. This, as many listeners know is an ongoing story that we’ve been reporting on for many years with Attorney Flint Taylor with the People’s Law Office in Chicago who worked on the case representing some of the torture victims. We talk about why Jon Burge was released and his recent article titled Jon Burge, Torturer of Over 100 Black Men, is Out of Prison After Less Than Four Years. Flint reminds listeners that the total in financial damages to taxpayers from the torture of over 100 black men that Burge oversaw, and the ongoing pension payouts to his collaborating officers, exceeds $120,000,000.

 Attorney Flint Taylor:

  • Burge is a now notorious police torturer here in Chicago. He shot from detective up to commander of a police station based on torturing African-Americans suspects into giving confessions and sending many of them to death row and to life in prison.
  • Ultimately, we were, along with community activists, expose this pattern and practice of 100 cases of police torture.
  • This was by electric shock, by bagging people and other kinds of racist brutality.
  • We exposed it and nothing happened for many years. Ultimately the Feds, indicted Burge, several years ago, not for torture because the statute of limitations had run on that, but rather for perjury and obstruction of justice.
  • He was convicted by a predominantly white jury and ultimately sentenced to 41/2 years in the penitentiary.
  • After 31/2 years, he was permitted to go to a halfway house for 6 months.
  • What’s happening now? What’s happening with regard to the men who are still in the penitentiary, decades later, and there are almost 20 of them, based on tortured confessions.
  • How about the men who testified against Burge, who were his victims?
  • Those men, unlike Burge who gets a pension now, and the Illinois Supreme Court has upheld his right, even as a convicted felon to collect that money. These men get nothing, have nothing.
  • There are as many as 90 of those men on the streets now, with no health care, with no treatment for psychological damage.
  • The majority of city council members support at this point reparations for those men. The reparations for those men would be 20 million dollars.
  • The same amount of the money the city spent to defend Burge in the cases of the exonerated men.
  • We’re now at a sensitive stage, where the mayor, Emanuel has had to come out. He’s no friend to the anti-torture forces, and he’s been asked repeatedly on this.
  • He has played both sides against the middle, its time right now where he’s going to have to fish or cut bait.
  • We had the strong support of Karen Louis who was a wonderful challenger and she has now had to withdraw from the (mayoral) race because of “health issues.” She was a strong supporter of the reparations ordinance.

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 October 6, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Moazzam Begg Freed After Terrorism Charges Dropped
  • Michael Ratner: 149 Inmates In Guantanamo Bay Prison – 79 Approved For Transfer

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Eric Holder, Joseph Biden, Sharon Malone HSBC+BANK_IMG_0315

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Evaluation

Michael Ratner and Heidi Boghosian draw a balance sheet on the record of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

  • Holder approved drone killing of American citizen al-Awlaki without due process.
  • Holder failed to prosecute any of the Bush Administration officials who were openly admitted torturers.
  • Holder abrogated the responsibility in holding corporate criminals accountable. Wall Street.
  • Holder settled with HSBC for 2 billion, the bank was caught laundering money for drug cartels yet no prosecution.
  • With-Holder prosecuted whistleblowers, Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, James Risen, Jeremy Hammond, Fox News Reporter,

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, a nonprofit charitable foundation providing support to the nonviolent movement for social change. Before that she was executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is author of the book “Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance” (City Lights, 2013) as well as several reports on policing and the First Amendment.

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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Academic Freedom & Political Dissent: A Conversation with Katherine Franke and the Community

We continue to report on Professor Steven Salaita’s case and the concerns regarding established principles of academic freedom. We hear a presentation by Katherine Franke, Professor of Law at Columbia University. Listeners may recall that Professor Salaita was unhired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. We reported last month on Law and Disorder that scholars from law schools around the country came out with a letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to unhire Professor Salaita. Katherine Franke discussed Salaita’s case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign late last month.

Speaker – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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Law and Disorder August 25, 2014


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Ali Abunimah On Gaza, His New Book The Battle For Justice in Palestine and Censorship

ElectronicIntifada co-founder Ali Abunimah is the author of new book The Battle For Justice in Palestine. He shares with hosts the recent news of what’s happening in Gaza, the resistance around the world, as well as on campus and in the United States. Ali was scheduled to speak at the Evanston Public Library in early August. The library later sent an email telling him he couldn’t be allowed to speak without an Israeli speaker to ensure balance. Neighbors for Peace an organization of antiwar activists based in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois who initially brought Abunimah to speak suspected the library’s director was pressured to censor the event. The event was canceled the following day and after some activism and demonstration, the presentation was rescheduled. Ali spoke about his recent book The Battle For Justice In Palestine, the event was packed.  Last year at Brooklyn College a similar controversy erupted when Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler we’re scheduled to speak.

Ali Abunimah:

  • The situation has gotten considerably worse (in Gaza) over the past year because of the coup in Egypt.
  • The current regime in Egypt is very closely aligned with Israel. They’ve made it just impossible for 1.8 million people to live in Gaza.
  • The demands from Palestinian civil society is lift the siege, open the crossing, allow farmers to farm, allow fishermen to fish, allow factories to function, allow travelers to travel, students to go to their universities, patients to reach their hospitals, allow medicines to come in, allow books to come in.
  • You mentioned my book The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Well, there’s no way to get that book into Gaza.
  • It’s also a siege on human contact, culture, education and nourishment. They killed now more than 2000 people in Gaza which is 1 out of every 1000 residents in Gaza.
  • Entire families have been wiped out, nobody feels safe. This massacre Israel thought would break people’s will and get them to accept and go back under siege.
  • But Israel won’t (lift the siege) it’s a matter of pride for them, it’s a matter of colonial control.
  • The most frightening statement about where they’re (Israel) going was made more than 10 years ago. I wrote about this recently in an article called The Gaza Massacre Is The Price of Living In A Jewish State.
  • At that time you hearing fantasy about Gaza becoming the new Singapore on the Mediterranean. The Israelis were saying to themselves that Gaza was going to become a giant holding pen for human beings who are not Jewish.
  • If we’re going to wait for government to do the right thing or the UN to get its act together, then we’re doomed.
  • Despite the multiple levels of complicity by this government in this country, and governments in Europe and the Arab world, something is happening.
  • We’re not starting from zero we have a really important and sustained Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement.
  • They’re firing artillery, mortar shells that are designed to be indiscriminate into populated areas of Gaza with the intended consequence of causing widespread destruction.
  • We have to go after the weapons manufacturer, we have to after the people who approve these sales from around the world and its because of public pressure that the UK announced last week that they will suspend armed exports to Israel if significant hostilities resume.
  • Well now they have resumed, let’s see what they do.
  • Look what’s happening just this week, an Israeli cargo ship was prevented from unloading for 4 days in Oakland because solidarity activists and unionized port workers have been working together to prevent that.
  • Israel can only maintain its dominance over Palestinians through brute force and use of violence against Palestinians there, and through attempts to suppress debate, suppress political action on behalf of Palestinians in the United States and around the world.
  • Mainstream media is more closed to Palestinian voices than what I’ve seen in 20 years. I used to get on CNN, I used to get on MSNBC.
  • The librarian let me know that the event was canceled until they could get a pro-Israel speaker.
  • There was such an uproar, it was amazing. They did a U-turn pretty quickly.
  • As Israel and its apologists lobbies lose control of the narrative, lose control of the politics in this country, there is a more blatant resort to outright repression such as what is going on now at the University of Illinois and other institutions around the country.
  • In that chapter I site an organization called the David Project, which is a Zionist group that’s been working for ten years attacking and targeting professors.

Guest – Ali Abunimah a Palestinian American journalist who has been described as “the leading American proponent of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A resident of Chicago who contributes regularly to such publications as The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, he has also served as the Vice-President on the Board of Directors of the Arab American Action Network, is a fellow at the Palestine Center, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

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Top Legal Scholars Decry Chilling Effect of Dehiring Professor Steven Salaita

The University of Illinois has rescinded the job offer of the professor who wrote controversial social media posts about the war in Gaza. Professor Steven Salaita was essentially dehired from the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign because of his statements on social media criticizing Israel’s conduct of military operations in Gaza. This has raised serious concerns under established principles of academic freedom. Those principles are enshrined in Illinois law, in the U.S. Constitution, and in the written principles of the American Association of University Professors. Recently, scholars from law schools at Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley, Georgetown, and other universities have come out with a very strong letter condemning the decision of the University of Illinois to dehire Steven Salaita. Read letter here.

Professor Katherine Franke:

  • Professor Salaita was made a tenured offer of appointment at the University of Illinois in their American Indian studies program last year. He accepted it and negotiated the terms of the offer. Then during the most recent assault on Gaza, he was active on twitter expressing his views on the Middle East and colonialism.
  • The University of Illinois came under a tremendous amount of pressure to revoke the offer of employment to Professor Salaita.
  • The offer wasn’t finalized, there’s usually a rubber stamp process where the department and the head of the university have to take appointment to the Board of Trustees.
  • The chancellor of the university Phyllis Wise informed Professor Salaita that she would not be bringing his appointment to the Board of Trustees and was unwilling to finalize his appointment.
  • He had already resigned his position at Virgina Tech and was getting ready to move. He’s a well known scholar, not only of American Indian studies but of colonialism more generally and has connected up the struggle for sovereignty and analysis of genocide and occupation in the United States to the struggles that the Palestinians have suffered in the Middle East.
  • He certainly didn’t depart from views he expressed before but I think they, in the heat of the moment of this recent assault on Gaza, the university basically buckled and withdrew the offer, and he’s now without a job and an income.
  • It’s because of his speech on the issue of war crimes that may have been committed by Israel in the assault on Gaza.
  • His tweets have been rather even across the board I think in terms of criticizing the critics of Israel when they’ve overstepped but also criticizing Israel itself.
  • He’s a firey guy with strong opinions and rigorous academic critiques of colonialism and colonial violence.
  • I thought it would be useful to add constitutional and legal analysis of the problem, situated historically in threats to free speech on campus. I drafted a letter for Constitutional law professors, not in which they would agree to boycott universities . . . more offering a constitutional analysis of retaliation against unpopular speech.
  • The law in this area has been made by faculty and sometimes students.
  • I brought it back to Urbana-Champaign and their own history of threats to free speech both during the McCarthy period when bills were introduced in Springfield to punish or purge people who had back then what they call Communist sympathies when working in public universities. In 1960, there was a professor in the biology department at Urbana-Champaign that had written and spoke about human sexuality and premarital sex, and had actually endorsed premarital sex.
  • There are a couple of principles that are at stake here, one has to do with the state punishing any citizen for speaking on an unpopular topic and particularly punishing for the viewpoint they take.
  • There’s another faculty member at the University of Illinois Kerry Nelson who has been a rather enthusiastic advocate of Israel’s right to attack Gaza. He said things that are quite inflammatory, he’s not been fired. He’s not been punished for the positions he’s taken on the Middle East.
  • Viewpoint discrimination, that’s the first point. The second point is academic freedom. Universities are the primary bastion of protection. A domain where we protect the pursuit of unpopular ideas, controversial ideas, of ideas that might even be frightening.
  • That is the commitment that we make as part of the academic endeavor. The point of that concept of academic freedom is that we don’t want to have a kind of orthodoxy or an official version of the truth.
  • Dr. Wise comes out of a somewhat corporate background. She, I think is the poster woman if you will for the executive that is now leading universities and thinks of universities as a business.
  • The presidents are making an economic calculation, that they can pay off someone like Salaita and satisfy their donors.
  • We can’t just agree to do nothing which what a boycott is. In a way it’s the easiest thing to do.
  • I would say I have a lot of faith in students.

Guest – Katherine Franke,  Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law; Director, Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University. She was awarded a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship, and is among the nation’s leading scholars in the area of feminism, sexuality and race. In addition to her scholarly writing on sexual harassment, gender equality, sexual rights, and racial history, she writes regularly for a more popular audience in the Gender and Sexuality Law Blog. Franke is also on the Executive Committee for Columbia’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Center for Palestine Studies and teaches at a medium security women’s prison in Manhattan. Her legal career began as a civil rights lawyer, first specializing in HIV discrimination cases and then race and sex cases more generally. In the last 25 years she has authored briefs in cases addressing HIV discrimination, forced sterilization, same-sex sexual harassment, gender stereotyping, and transgender discrimination in the Supreme Court and other lower courts.

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History Of Police Brutality And The Militarization of Local Law Enforcement

In the days since the uproar over the police shooting and killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, state and local law enforcement have been cycling through different approaches demonstrators in Ferguson, Missouri. They rolled out armored vehicles, while police in riot gear deployed tear gas, stun grenades and shotguns. Another decision permitted the Missouri State Highway Patrol to march with protestors. The National Guard was also ordered in.  We examine the history and consequences of militarizing local law enforcement with Baruch College Civil Rights Professor Clarence Taylor.

Professor Clarence Taylor:

  • We can’t talk about a post civil rights era. These issues are still with us today.
  • It’s the people on the ground, who have gone through this, that are fed up.
  • It’s not just arguing for a black face in a high place.
  • There is no requirement of the police of Ferguson to live in that community.
  • Having black officers would change the nature of the investigation.
  • This is something that’s been argued going back in the 1930s and the 1940s and people were organizing against police brutality.
  • We should not take our eyes off the racial component of this.
  • Police brutality would still go on without the militarization of the police.
  • You throw all these new toys at the police department and once you have a big enough hammer, everything looks like a nail.
  • Diversifying police departments is very very important and emphasizing more community policing.

Guest – Professor Clarence Taylor, His research is in modern civil rights, black power movements and African American religion. He’s the author of many books including co-editor of Civil Rights Since 1787: A Reader in the Black Struggle. He’s currently writing a history of police brutality in New York City from the 1930s to the 1960s. In 1991, Clarence received his PhD in American history and began teaching at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. He reworked his dissertation into a book, The Black Churches of Brooklyn from the 19th Century to the Civil Rights Era, and it was published by Columbia University Press in 1994. In 1996, Clarence became a member of the history department and the African-New World Studies Program at Florida International University.
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