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Archive for the 'NSA Spying' Category


Law and Disorder February 5, 2018


 

Attorney Prevails Against CFAA Charges In Click Fraud Trial 

In a trial that was closely watched by cybersecurity experts, Italian citizen Fabio Gasperini was charged for allegedly violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA. Computer experts claimed it was the first so-called “click fraud” trial and would test the U.S. government’s ability to link individuals to complex cybercrimes.

As covered before on Law and Disorder, the CFAA is an antiquated law passed in 1986 before personal computers and smart devices were omnipresent in all aspects of our lives. It affords law enforcement extremely wide latitude to prosecute virtually any computer-related activity, including violations of Terms of Service agreements. Each offense can bring up to 20 years in prison, and when multiple counts are charged individuals can face decades behind bars.

In 2017 Simone Bertollini became the first known attorney to prevail against CFAA charges. His 34-year-old client, Mr. Gasperini, was found not guilty on several felony counts of wire fraud, computer intrusion and money laundering for which he faced 70 years in prison; he was convicted on only one count of computer intrusion, a misdemeanor, which is current being appealed. Mr. Bertollini disputed prosecutors’ version of events and noted that none of the expert witnesses had ever seen the botnet that Gasperini allegedly used. He also questioned how he could be charged with conspiracy when no conspirators were named or charged. Cross Examination Transcript

Guest – Attorney Simone Bertollini – After graduating from law school in Rome, Italy, Simone moved to the United States where he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree, becoming one of the very few Italian lawyers in New York with full academic qualifications in both Italy and the United States. Simone first came to the United States with an F-1 student Visa to attend law school. After, he started his own legal practice, and obtained E-2 Treaty Investor Visa status. Later, Simone became a Lawful Permanent Resident, and now he is a proud American citizen. In the course of his career, Simone handled hundreds of immigration cases, including removal proceedings and federal appellate matters. Simone has also substantial criminal jury trial experience.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation on NSA Spying Extension

A few weeks ago the U.S. Congress voted to pass a bill extending, for another six years, the NSA’s practice of Internet surveillance. Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called this “a significant blow against the basic human right to read, write, learn, and associate free of government’s prying eyes.” The vote happened without public debate on a matter of great public concern.

The legislation in question allowing warrantless surveillance is Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. The Act is intended to target foreigners abroad. In practice it puts a great deal of our internet activities to government scrutiny, as they pass through key internet checkpoints, and as they are stored by providers like Google and Facebook. The NSA is thus able to gather and store private communications of countless non-suspect Americans.

Guest – Cindy Cohn, Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015 she served as EFF’s Legal Director as well as its General Counsel.  Ms. Cohn first became involved with EFF in 1993, when EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography.

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Law and Disorder January 1, 2018


 

Will the 911 Case Finally Go To Trial?

Sixteen years have passed since the 911 attacks. The truth of who was behind the attacks has come out in a class action lawsuit brought by more than 6500 victims and survivors. The lawsuit alleges that it was elements of the Saudi Arabian government that attacked us on 9/11. The Defendant in the lawsuit is Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Arabian government hired 15 public relations firms to help them deny responsibility. They hired several Washington white shoe high powered connected law firms. They hid behind the law of sovereign immunity, which had to be overturned by an act of Congress in order for the lawsuit to proceed. They were helped by the US government in the cover-up by the Bush and Obama administrations. But after 16 years the case is now proceeding rapidly through the Federal courts and will either be settled or tried. The object of the lawsuit is to obtain money explained Sharon Pemboli, one of the plaintiffs and leaders of a group of women from New Jersey known as “the Jersey girls” who lobbied to win passage of the law which made the lawsuit possible. She believes that if the Saudi Arabian government is deprived of funds it will not be able to fund Al Qaeda and the extremist Wahhabi clergy responsible for supporting the terrorism of Al Qaeda.

The American public has been led to believe mistakenly that Saddam Hussein and Iraq were behind 911. The attack on Iraq was a war of aggression. At the end of World War II the United States set up the Nuremberg trials to try Nazi war criminals. They wanted to set forth principles that were not merely victor’s justice. At the Nuremberg trials the Germans were found guilty of starting a war of aggression, which was called the greatest of all crimes because it has contained within it all other crimes.

Guest – Andrew Cockburn, the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine. He has written an extremely important article in the October issue titled Crime and Punishment: Will the 9/11 Case Finally Go To Trial? about the class-action law suit brought by the victims of 9/11 against the government of Saudi Arabia.

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U.S. Magdalene Laundries and the Indiana Women’s Prison Researchers

From the 18th to early 20th centuries Catholic institutions known as the Magdalene Laundries in Ireland effectively enslaved unmarried mothers, where infants and mothers were subjected to brutal conditions and died in the hundreds. In 1993, a mass grave containing 155 corpses was uncovered in the convent grounds of one of the laundries. This led to media revelations about the operations of the secretive institutions Investigations into these homes have brought apologies and official compensation by the state of Ireland.

Few realize, however, that these homes also existed in the United States. Reports of the inhumane conditions in these homes has encouraged survivors of U.S. Magdalene Laundries to share their own their experiences. Surprisingly, few religious leaders, journalists and historians have yet to address and speak out about this chapter in our history.

That is, until scholars at the Indiana Women’s Prison began to research Magdalene Laundries, and their impact on girls and young women of all faiths across the United States for over 100 years. They believe that these homes were in effect the first prisons for women in the nation. And their work is being published and helping to spark a national discussion.

In a law review article that they published in the Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences, the researchers note that their discovery of the laundries and their role in confining women is ‘stark evidence of historical amnesia.They say that the laundries played an important role in shaping attitudes toward female sexuality, identity, and societal reintegration.

Guest – Kelsey Kauffman, in 2012 she and two friends started a small college program at the Indiana Women’s Prison that has grown to 14 teachers and 80 students. She has worked as a prison officer and has taught in three prisons. Her research, which has taken her to more than 80 prisons on four continents, focuses primarily on the impact prison employment has on officers.

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Law and Disorder December 11, 2017


CCR: Current Supreme Court Dockets

We are currently living through an attack on every aspect of American democracy. This phenomena predated the Trump presidency and has been qualitatively accelerated by it.

This across-the-board constriction of the power and rule of the American people, to the extent that it had existed, has encompassed the suppression of voting rights; an attack on public education; the growth of enormous income inequality; the unimpeded influence of money in elections; the threat and constriction of the right of women to control their own bodies; the attack on peoples’ rights to build and join effective unions; the refusal to close the offshore prison of Guantánamo and the refusal to prosecute illegal torturers; the attack and net neutrality and access to the internet; the increase by the state of the surveillance of American citizens; the militarization of the police; encouragement of racism; the banning of Muslims; suppression of the right to demonstrate; and the growth in executive authority.

Guest – Attorney Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The CCR was founded in 1966 to advance the goals of the civil rights movement. Michael Ratner, our co-host and founder of Law And Disorder Radio, was its president emeritus at the time of his passing in May of last year.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Alison McCrary

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, today we are joined by Alison McCrary. Alison is a social justice attorney, a Catholic nun, president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and a Spiritual Advisor on Louisiana’s death row. She is the former Program Director for the Community-Police Mediation at the New Orleans Office of the Independent Police Monitor where she created a national model for improving community-police relationships, taught at the New Orleans Police Academy, and helped develop similar programs in cities across the nation.

As a 2010 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship in New Orleans, Alison challenged and helped reform policing practices and policies to transform relationships between police officers and the bearers of New Orleans’ indigenous cultural traditions. Alison has served as a National Lawyers Guild legal observer trainer and the New Orleans Legal Observer® Program Coordinator.

Before law school, she worked at the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana providing litigation support on death penalty cases and at the United Nations in New York monitoring the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

Guest – Attorney Alison McCrary. In New Orleans, Alison worked, clerked, and/or volunteered at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Louisiana Voters’ Rights Network, Equity and Inclusion Campaign for the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office, Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Loyola University’s Community Justice Clinic. Nationally, Alison coordinates and provides legal support for social justice movements such as the School of the Americas Watch. She received her J.D. from Loyola University’s College of Law in New Orleans and her B.A. in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a plan to do away with landmark regulations ensuring equal access to the Internet. They pave the way for Internet service companies to charge the public higher rates to see certain content and to even deny access to some websites.

The proposal was made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, an opponent to regulation in general. Pai is the former Associate General Counsel for Verizon Communications, Inc.

The proposal is expected to be approved in mid-December. In his first year Pai, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has already eliminated numerous regulations. The agency has stripped down rules governing TV broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies designed to protect the public interest. In addition to the net neutrality rollback, the chairman announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

In a broad brushstroke, the new proposal repeals rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from slowing down or even stopping the delivery of websites. The Obama rules prevent companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. These former rules were drafted to preserve the principle commonly known as “net neutrality” and to prevent practices that would created tiers of access to the Internet.

The plan to repeal existing rules that were passed in 2015 would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential to modern lives as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service.

Guest – Attorney Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the Government Accountability Project protecting the rights of national security whistleblowers.

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The Sentencing Project

The United States of America imprisons more of its citizens both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. Only China comes close. On any given day 2,300,000 Americans are in jail or prison, 70% of them are non-white.

Former Alabama senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants these numbers to rise. He has instructed federal prosecutors to prosecute people for the most serious possible crime and to demand the longest possible sentence.

In the last 30 years the number of people in jail and in prison have skyrocketed by factor of five. Prosecutors are increasingly demanding life sentences without the possibility of parole. Judges have lost their discretion with the implementation of maximum minimum sentencing. The long-term impact of mass incarceration has been devastating, especially to black communities.

Attorney General Sessions has stated that there is “a dangerous permanent rise”
in violent crime, despite FBI data showing a sharp decline in the last 20 years. He has falsely charged that crime increases have been caused by immigrants and that prosecutorial policy under Obama caused crime to increase.

Guest – Marc Mauer, the Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and a central figure in the justice reform movement. The Sentencing Project is a Washington DC based research and advocacy group working to reduce the use of incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 20, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • FDA Approves Digital Pill by Heidi Boghosian

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Release Aging People in Prison Campaign

The number of persons 50 years and older in New York State has risen more than 98% since 2000; it now exceeds 10,000—nearly 20% of the total incarcerated population. This reflects a national crisis in the prison system and the extension of a culture of revenge and punishment into all areas of our society.

The organization Release Aging People in Prison, or RAPP, works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting elderly and infirm people out of prison.

Led by Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who was incarcerated for 33 years in New York before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Many of these human beings have transformed their lives and developed skills and abilities they lacked before incarceration. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. We also support legislation in New York to correct the parole system and increase the number of releases.

Guest – Mujahid Farid co-founded the Prisoners AIDS Counseling and Education program and helped design prison-based sociology and theology courses that allowed others to earn college-credited in prison. He also earned four college degrees and other certifications while incarcerated, including his paralegal certificate, NYS Department of Labor Certificate in Human Development Counseling, and NYC Department of Health Certificate in HIV/AIDS Counseling.

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Guest – David George, Associate Director of RAPP. In the last few years Dave has organized with and on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated people, including at the Osborne Association and Correctional Association of New York.

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Perpetual Line Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition In America

The presence of surveillance cameras across the United States has enabled targeted facial recognition surveillance at essentially any place and any time. Each day law enforcement puts in place more and more cameras, including CCTV cameras, police body cameras, and cameras on drones and other aircraft. The FBI’s Next Generation Biometric Identification Database and its facial recognition unit, FACE Services, can search for and identify nearly 64 million Americans, either from its own databases or through access to state DMV databases of driving license photos.

It’s likely that government agencies will soon be able to pinpoint your location and even with whom you’ve been, just by typing your name into a computer.

The release of Apple’s IPhone X has drawn scrutiny to this technology. Despite civil liberties and privacy concerns, there are few limits on facial recognition technology. In March 2017 Congress held a hearing to discuss the risks of facial recognition surveillance. There is concern that facial recognition can be used to get around existing legal protections against location tracking, opening the door to unprecedented government monitoring an logging of personal associations, including protected First Amendment-related activities. Knowledge of individual’s political, religious and associational activities could lead the way to bias, persecution and abuse.

As with many technological advances, there are benefits, too. Facial recognition can assist in locating missing persons or for other public safety purposes.

Guest – Clare Garvie, Clare is a Law Fellow at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology. Her research with the Center is on face recognition use by law enforcement and the disparate impact of payday lending on vulnerable communities. She worked on the Center’s 2016 report on facial recognition technology.

Law and Disorder November 6, 2017


 

Special Prosecutor Mueller Indictments

Paul Manafort, who had been Donald Trump’s campaign manager, was indicted last week by special prosecutor Mueller for 12 counts of money laundering involving at least $18 million, setting up a secret overseas bank accounts through which $75 million flowed, lying to federal authorities and operating as an unregistered foreign agent for the president of the Ukraine, tax evasion, and conspiracy. Also indicted was his colleague Rick Gates.

Manafort was a Washington insider. He graduated from Georgetown Law School and went on to work for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. He then became, by his own description, an influence peddler. He was a political adviser to the vicious dictatorships of Marcos in the Philippines and Mobuto in Zaire helping them avoid trouble with the United States. He made millions of dollars advising the elected head of the government of Ukraine before he was overthrown in a coup approved and supported by the United States, in particular Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who held that position under the Obama administration before she ran for president.

Along with the indictments, it was disclosed that George Papadopoulos, a former volunteer adviser to Trump during his campaign, had pled guilty to lying to the FBI about having ties with the Russians and was cooperating with the prosecution. He had urged Trump to meet with Russian officials.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

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41s1YjDN5-L Sen. John F. Kennedy, (left), and Allen W. Dulles, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, walks towards newsmen on the lawn of the Democratic presidential candidates in Hyannis Port, MA., home on July 23, 1960. The two men held a news conference after Senator Kennedy was briefed by Dulles on international affairs. (AP Photo/WCC)

The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government

The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on November 22, 1963, 54 years ago, was a turning point in American and world history. The official story has been put forward in the Warren Commission Report. It stated that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin and that there was no conspiracy. The official story has been widely debunked: it is not believed by some 60% of the American people.

Oliver Stone’s 1991 movie JFK led to the reopening of the investigation by a Committee of the US House of Representatives. The committee concluded that there was a conspiracy. They passed a law, signed in 1992 by President George HW Bush, which called for the release of all remaining intelligence files on the assassination by October 26, 2017. Last week some of the remaining documents were released. Those documents must be released within six months unless President Trump decides not to. The intelligence agencies have a say in what further documents will be released but it is President Trump’s decision. It is not believed that the release of the documents will contradict the official story that Lee Harvey Oswald was the loan assassin and there was no conspiracy.

James R. Douglas wrote the definitive book on the Kennedy assassination, demonstrating conclusively that was the work of the CIA. Why? Because the intelligence agency wanted to stop Kennedy from withdrawing American troops from the Vietnam war and he wanted and was working towards a peaceful resolution of the cold war with respect to American policy towards both the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Guest – David Talbot, the author of the New York Times bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years and the acclaimed national bestseller Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. He is the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones and the features editor at the San Francisco Examiner. He has written for The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Time, The Guardian, and other major publications. Talbot lives in San Francisco, California.

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Law and Disorder October 30, 2017


 

 

Cuban US Embassy Sonic Weapons Scare

The Trump administration is considering closing the recently reopened US Embassy in Havana after several unexplained incidents that allegedly hurt American diplomats in Cuba. Some lawmakers are calling for the ouster of all Cuban diplomats from the US in addition to the 15 they’ve kicked out of the country. Its a move that would have significant diplomatic implications.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made these suggestions recently. His comments were the strongest indication yet that the US might mount a major diplomatic response, potentially jeopardizing the historic restart of relations between the Cuba and US governments. The two reopened embassies in Washington and Havana in 2015 after roughly a half-century of estrangement.

Of the 21 medically confirmed US victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions while others have suffered nausea, headaches and ear-ringing. Some are having problems with concentration or common word recall.

Some victims felt vibrations or heard loud sounds mysteriously audible in only parts of rooms, leading investigators to consider the possibility of a sonic attack. Others heard nothing but later developed symptoms.

The US State Department has emphasized that the US still does not know what has occurred. Cuba has denied any involvement and has said that it wants to help the US resolve the matter.

Investigators have explored the possibility of an electromagnetic weapon, or an advanced spying operation gone awry. The US has not ruled out that a third country or even a rogue faction of Cuba’s national security services may be involved.

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years.

Contact the Center for Cuban Studies at 212.242.0559.

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Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce

The great issues of our times are the return of fascism to the United States and Europe, climate change, and the stagnation of the world capitalist economy. These great issues are pressing and interconnected.

We used to think that the experience of World War II guaranteed that no politician would ever advocate the ideas of fascism.

But the election of Donald Trump a year ago has caused a serious reconsideration of fascism and it’s relationship to capitalism and to democracy.

The neoliberals paved the way for Trump. Now he and the forces aligned with him have put our democratic institutions under attack in order to protect the rule of the wealthy. The attacks include the right to vote, labor unions, public education, an independent news media, independent public universities, the privatization of much of traditional governmental functions and making it almost impossible to launch a new political party.

The election of Trump is a political development that for concrete sociological reasons allows us to see it for what it is, as a type of neo-fascism. Only by identifying the phenomena correctly can we effectively fight it.

Jack London wrote a century ago in his famous book The Iron Heel that “There is a shadow of something colossal and menacing that even now is beginning to fall across the land. Call it the shadow of an oligarchy, if you will; it is the nearest I dare approximate it. What is nature may be I refuse to imagine. But what I want to say was this: You are in a perilous position.”

Guest – John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

Law and Disorder October 16, 2017


Free Speech on College Campuses

Last week an invited lawmaker was shut down form addressing Texas Southern University after protesters stormed the room calling him a racist. House Representative Briscoe Cain was asked to speak to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law by the Federalist Society about the recent legislative special session. But as he uttered a few words, he was shut down by students and then the University’s President claimed it was an unapproved event. It’s ironic that the school is named for the Supreme Court justice known for his exemplary record of protecting First Amendment rights.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also recently spoke–uninterrupted–at Georgetown University about free speech on American college campuses. He said, “The right of free speech does not exist only to protect the ideas upon which most of us agree at a given moment in time,” and encouraged students to: “make your voices heard, [and] to defend the rights of others to do the same.” Sessions joins a bipartisan chorus of public officials expressing support for free speech in academic institutions.

This summer, Senators Bernie Sanders and Mitch McConnell condemned efforts to shut down different viewpoints at schools. And in 2015, Barack Obama more than once defended the importance of free speech on campus. “I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view,” he said at a September 2015 town hall.

The recent Sessions talk comes amid an uptick (1) in efforts to dis-invite controversial speakers of all ideological persuasions, (2) use of bias response teams to monitor unpopular speech, and (3) in unprecedented violence aimed at silencing off-campus speakers.

These are some of the findings from a recent study produced by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The comprehensive survey on students’ attitudes about free speech measured responses to questions about hate speech, guest speakers on campus, self-expression and reactions to expression of other students.

Guest –Will Creeley, Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending liberty, freedom of speech, due process, academic freedom, legal equality, and freedom of conscience on America’s college campuses.

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Tech Freedom on USA Liberty Act of 2017

Americans whose data is inadvertently swept up while the government monitors foreign intelligence, risk having their information used for non-national-security related purposes.

Two weeks ago draft legislation was introduced to address this, but a broad coalition of civil liberties organizations say it doesn’t go far enough. They are calling on the House to close the so-called “back-door search” loophole by requiring a warrant based on probable cause for any search of information about U.S. citizens and residents.

Similar to the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which ended the practice of bulk surveillance of American citizens under Section 215 of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, the current USA Liberty Act of 2017 would overhaul surveillance that is supposed to be limited to targets outside the U.S. but actually affects Americans. Section 702 expires at the end of December, which is why Congress is reassessing the program.

Currently, FISA surveillance is conducted under a warrant issued annually by the FISA court for a list of foreign intelligence targets. But law enforcement can access, and can use, Americans’ communications swept up in FISA surveillance with no warrant at all. This is even though U.S. persons’ communications require constitutional protections not afforded to foreigners.

The USA Liberty Act adds a warrant-like ‘probable cause’ requirement before law enforcement can search the database, but also includes a sweeping, vague exception for “foreign intelligence information” and does not stop law enforcement from using that information for criminal prosecutions. This is a glaring violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Guest – Austin Carson, Executive Director of TechFreedom joins us to talk about this legislation, and the state of surveillance generally. Tech Freedom is a non-profit, non-partisan technology think tank launched in 2011 that focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

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Law and Disorder September 11, 2017


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Illegal Preventive War

Sixteen years ago today two hijacked planes flew into the twin towers and another one into the Pentagon. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi Arabians. They were funded by elements of the Saudi Arabian government. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian fundamentalist from a wealthy Saudi family took responsibility for the attack. He said he did it for three reasons: The American support of Israel against the Palestinians; the presence of US bases near the Saudi Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina; and the US economic and trade sanctions against Iraq which killed 600,000 children.

When the attack occurred, the feckless and unpopular George W. Bush had been in office less than a year. He told his national security advisor to figure out a way to blame the attacks on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. A lie was propounded by Bush , his vice president Dick Cheney, and his secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld that Iraq had contact with Osama bin Laden and that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction. First, Afghanistan was bombed, even though it’s leaders offered to turn over Osama bin Laden. Then an illegal war was launched against Iraq initiated with horrific bombings called “shock and awe.” In the following years 1 million people were killed in that country. Half of the population are refugees or internally displaced.

In the wake of the 911 attacks, the Patriot Act was hastily pushed through Congress bringing an American police state closer into being. The war on terror was declared even though terror is a tactic and war is traditionally had been fought against other countries. This has given it a permanent character. A campaign of fear was whipped up. Torture and kidnapping by the CIA was instituted. Eventually the United States under President Obama was fighting six were simultaneously in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Trump continues this aggression.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, a member of board of directors of Cooperation Jackson, in Jackson Mississippi, editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report, and National Organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace. He recently ran for vice president on the Green party ticket. He is a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a leader of the United National Anti-war Coalition.

U.S. Antiwar Leaders Call for Actions to Oppose the Escalation of the Afghanistan War During the Week of the 16th Anniversary of the Invasion, October 2 – 8.

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The Bronx 120 and Secor 19

A year ago we reported on the largest gang raid in NY history. It took place, pre-dawn, in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx, with 700 law enforcement officers arresting 120 young men  indicted on conspiracy charges using the 1970 RICO Act. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at a mother and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At that time, police held a press conference and characterized the young men as “the epitome of organized crime today.” Cooperating federal agencies included the DEA, the ATF, the US attorney general, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Community members question this portrayal, saying the young men were not highly organized gangsters terrorizing a community; they lacked money and weapons and were living at home with their parents.

Critics claim that applying RICO to street gangs has racist implications. Under RICO, individuals can be found guilty by association. Despite gang-related crime accounting for less than 2 percent of city crime, two weeks after the raid, James O’Neill, now NYPD Commissioner, promised more raids.

He came through with that promise this past April. Multiple arrests were made at the Boston Secor Houses in the Bronx, and federal charges were brought against 19 young persons. They have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, robbery conspiracy, extortion, and firearms offenses. We’re joined today by a FAMILY MEMBER of one of the young men arrested.

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Law and Disorder August 28, 2017


 

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

The spectacle of President Donald Trump and the palace intrigue in the White House has served daily to distract people from the political strategy and accomplishments of the radical right, which is taking over the Republican Party.

Over time, the GOP has been transformed into operation conducting a concerted effort to curb democratic rule in favor of capitalist interests in every branch of government, whatever the consequences. It is marching ever closer to the ultimate goal of reshaping the Constitution to protect monied interests. This gradual take over of a major political party happened steadily, over several decades, and often in plain sight.

Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean exposes the architecture of this change and it’s ultimate aim. She has written that “both my research and my observations as a citizen lead me to believe American democracy is in peril”.

Guest – Professor Nancy MacLean, whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy.

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lordsofsecrecy report1a

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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