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Law and Disorder May 15, 2017


Silk Road, Kingpin Charge and Ross Ulbricht

In 2015 a jury found that then 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht had created and run an anonymous digital black market for drugs called Silk Road. The case was a high profile one, and Ulbricht had come to be known by some as the face of the Dark Web. He was convicted on seven charges—including a “kingpin” charge—and Judge Katherine Forrest  imposed two life sentences and 40 years without possibility of parole. Prosecutors had not even sought such a long sentence.

In a 2016 appeal, defense attorneys outlined a litany of improprieties and abuses in the investigation and trial. Perhaps most serious was that the court procluded information about two corrupt federal agents investigating Silk Road who are now both serving prison sentences for corruption.

The defense team maintains that the convictions for Ulbricht should be vacated and that a new trial should be ordered or that he receive re-sentencing before a different judge.

A new book by Nick Bilton called  “American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind Silk Road” has received glowing reviews but presents what the Ulbricht family, his legal team, and supporters describe as a fictionalized version of the government’s narrative of the case, It is said that in many instances the author relied on claims that were not charged in trial.

Guest – Ross’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht. Lyn is working to help her son and directs those who want to learn more about her son’s case to the site Free Ross Ulbricht.

 

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Williams v. Pennsylvania: Mumia Abu-Jamal

In  2016 the Supreme Court in Williams v. Pennsylvania held that a prosecutor involved in seeking the death penalty should recuse himself if asked to judge an appeal in the capital case. Two months later, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an appeal based on that decision, calling into direct question the validity of his criminal conviction, and the denial of his appeals. Ronald Castille, the same prosecutor in the Williams case, was a senior district attorney while Mumia’s case was being tried. He was also the District Attorney of Philadelphia during Mumia’s direct appeals. While serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Castille rejected a recusal motion filed by Mumia’s defense.

On April 24, Mumia’s 63rd birthday, his lawyers were back in court arguing that a Motion for Discovery should be granted to determine the particulars of Castille’s personal involvement in Mumia’s prosecution and appeals.

Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia’s demand for discover and for the DA’s files. The records must be turned over to Mumia’s attorneys by May 30, 2017.

Guest – Attorney Judy Ritter, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener’s Delaware campus. She argued in 2011 before the Third Circuit that the instructions given to the sentencing jurors were unconstitutional. The so-called Mills claim argument succeeded and Mumia, as our listeners know, no longer faces a sentence of death.

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Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Capital punishment has made news headlines over the past few months, as the state of Arkansas rushed to execute six men in a span of several days. For many years, the issue of state sanctioned killings has not received much attention. News of exonerations of innocent men and women are rare.

A new book, Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted, presents the true stories of 15 exonerees who were wrongfully convicted and thrown into the complex criminal justice system before being among the few to be exonerated.

Edited by Leslie Klinger and Laura Caldwell, the book is unusual in that each exoneree is paired with a high-profile mystery and thriller writer (including Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie King, Brad Parks and others) to present their narratives. Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project and author Scott Turow also provide commentary.

The book also includes a letter from playwright Arthur Miller, believed to be the first and only unpublished piece since his death. Kirkus Reviews called the compilation “a unique collection of 15 wrongful conviction sagas bound to shake faith in the American criminal justice system.”

Guest – Attorney and author Leslie Klinger, co-editor of Anatomy of Innocence and widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft, and 19th-century genre fiction.

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Law and Disorder April 17, 2017


Update:

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US Bombs Syria

Donald Trump made two important promises during his presidential campaign: he vowed to not get involved in the Syrian Civil War where jihadist groups have been trying to overthrow the government of Assad for six years and the second promise he made during his campaign was to better relations with Russia which is a supporter of Assad and a strategic ally. Syria borders Russia to the south and has a warm water Mediterranean port.

Both these promises were broken on April 4, 2017 when President Trump illegally ordered the bombing by 54 Tomahawk missiles of the Shayrat Air Base in eastern Syria. The missile strike violated the United Nations charter, the convention against the use of chemical warfare, and United States law called the War Powers Act, not to mention Article 2 of the US Constitution. In support of his unilateral decision to bomb a sovereign nation with whom the United States is not at war,  President Trump claimed that he was motivated by learning of the horrible death of several children in the farm village of Khan Shaykhun.  The children died of an alleged poison gas attack which Trump claimed was carried out by the Assad government, which denies the charge. Without an impartial objective investigation required by The Chemical Weapons Convention,without going to the United Nations Security Council, and without any evidence, President Trump claimed that sarin, a poisonous nerve gas, was used by the Assad government.

Trump’s former critics who sprung to his defense included Hillary Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer, and Republican leaders John McCain and Lindsey Graham, the entire mass media including the New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC, and CNN.  Television reporter Brian Wilson use the word “beautiful” three times to describe the tomahawk missile explosions. Why did Trump reversed his position of not getting involved in the Syrian civil war? Why did he all the sudden take on Russia, to whom he had pledged better relations?

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

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A Chicago Cop is Accused of Framing 51 People For Murder

Fifty years ago the great comedian Lenny Bruce used to crack that “Chicago is so corrupt it’s thrilling.” It has become known as “the conviction capital of the USA.” Today retired Chicago detective is accused of framing at least 51 people for murder, most of them from Humboldt Park in Chicago, a working class predominately Puerto Rican neighborhood. He was on the force from the 1980s through the early 2000’s. Guevara’s alleged misconduct sent 48 men and one woman to be sentenced to a total of more than 2300 years in prison. Three were acquitted. Five received life sentences. Three were sentenced to death, but spared when in 2003 Governor George Ryan, disturbed by a rash of wrongful convictions, commuted all of the death sentences to life in prison or less. Two men died behind bars.The initial work in uncovering Guevara’s misconduct fell by default to a group of women, mostly working class mothers, aunts, and sisters with limited English and limited familiarity with the law.

As investigative reporter Melissa Segura has written in BuzzFeed, “armed with nothing more than dining room tables full of transcripts, police  reports, and post it notes, marking the cracks in cases against their love ones, together they identified patterns running through Guevara’s cases.” They achieved some victories.  They gave information to civil rights attorneys at the Loevy and Loevy Chicago law firm which helped free Juan Johnson who later went on to receive a record $21 million and a judgment against the city of Chicago because of Guevara’s misconduct. So far six men have had their convictions overturned, 12 others have been released, 29 say they were framed remade in prison. Detective Guevara’s Witnesses by Melissa Segura

Guest – Attorney Tara Thompson is the founder of the Exoneration Project at Loevy and Loevy. Following law school Tara worked as an associate in Mayer Brown’s Chicago office, where she represented clients in a variety of litigation matters, including a significant commitment to pro bono representation. She left Mayer Brown in 2006 to clerk for Judge Elaine Bucklo of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. After completing her clerkship, she joined Loevy & Loevy in 2007.

Guest – Attorney Anand Swaminathan, is litigating the civil damage cases arising from the work of Guevara’s frame ups and which have demonstrated a pattern and practice of police misconduct. Since joining the firm, Anand has worked on a broad range of constitutional and civil rights cases, including wrongful convictions, the denial of medical care to inmates and detainees in jails and prisons, and retaliation for exercising free speech rights. Anand also works extensively on False Claims Act litigation, in which he represents whistle-blowers alleging military and other government contractor fraud, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, construction/contractor (MBE/DBE) fraud, bid-rigging, and tax fraud. Anand also represents whistleblowers in financial fraud cases under the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, and in complex fraud cases under other federal and state statutes.

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Carl Messineo Consent Decrees and Policing in the U.S.

During the Obama administration, the Justice Department has sought to reform police practices considered discriminatory by using a statutory tool little known by the public and even less well understood. So-called “consent decrees” were established after the Los Angeles Rodney King riots, and allow the Department’s Civil Rights Division to sue local police forces that have been found to have “a pattern and practice” of using excessive force or violating individuals’ rights.

The DOJ launches an investigation into a police department’s operations, frequently after a high-profile incident – such as the 2014 shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Laquan McDonald in Chicago. If the feds find that the departments operate with an ongoing pattern of abuse, they sue, in essence forcing the law enforcement groups to settle the cases and undergo a change to their culture to a degree deemed sufficient by the court and the DOJ.

Some of the more recent agreements, like those with the Baltimore and Ferguson Police Departments, are better known to the public, but others are not and many haven’t yet seen a resolution. Out of 19 investigations carried out since 2010, six are considered “ongoing.”

Jeff Sessions said in 2008 that “One of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power is the issuance of expansive court decrees. Consent decrees have a profound effect on our legal system as they constitute an end run around the democratic process.” The new Attorney General has threatened to do away with them.

Guest – Attorney Carl Messineo, co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, a nonprofit progressive legal organization based in Washington DC. The organization focuses on cases regarding free speech and dissent, domestic spying and surveillance, police misconduct, government transparency, and educating the public about their rights. In the “Founders Message,” the organization states, “As we look to the future, the Partnership will continue to be at the forefront of legal struggle, using the law to defend and create room for the peoples’ movement for progressive social change.”

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Law and Disorder April 3, 2017


Trial Judge Rules Against 69 Year Old Palestinian Activist Rasmea Odeh

In 1969, when she was a 21 year old college student in Ramallah in the Israeli occupied territories on the West Bank,  Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian woman, was arrested for killing two Israeli University students with a bomb placed in a supermarket.  She confessed to the crime and served 10 years in prison, getting out in a prisoner swap. She came to United States 20 years ago, obtained citizenship, and settled in Chicago as a community organizer of immigrant Arab women.  Odeh was criminally charged two years ago by the federal government with “unlawful procurement of naturalization.” In her application, she omitted mention of the crime for which she was convicted in Israel. In her defense, she said that she could not remember, that she had post traumatic stress disorder as a result of being tortured in jail for 25 days and forced to sign a false confession. Her expert witness was not allowed to testify as to the PSTD and the torture.  The trial judge’s ruling on this was overturned by a Federal Court of Appeals. Last week she agreed to a plea arrangement where she would be stripped of her citizenship and deported rather than face a 5 to 7 year prison sentence and indefinite detention by ICE. She is 69 years old and does not know where she will be sent inasmuch as she cannot go home.

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch  had represented Rasmea Odeh. He is a partner at the Peoples Law Office in Chicago and a former legal director at the  Center for Constitutional Rights. After clerking for United States Court of Appeals Judge Otto Kerner, Mr. Deutsch went into private practice, joining People’s Law Office in 1970 where he has represented political activists and victims of police and government civil rights violations. His advocacy has taken him all around the world, including to hearings in the United Nations. He has tried many civil and criminal cases in federal and state courts, and has written and argued numerous appeals, including several in the United States Supreme Court.

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New York City Titanpointe National Security Agency Protest

There is a massive 550 foot tall gray granite and cement NSA spying hub hidden in plain sight in a windowless skyscraper in downtown Manhattan. At noon on April 15 an action is planned by a group called the Quiet American. It is an arts and politics journal based in Ridgewood, Queens, New York. They will perform a rite of exorcism on the building in order to, as their press release states, “to metaphysically purge the edifice of the data it hoards and to invoke a less maniacal version of citizen-government relations.”

The building is located at 33 Thomas Street where the action will take place. It is a windowless monolith that people say is “creepy as hell” and “a monument to the bottomless fear that locks us in permanent war”. The building was designed to withstand a nuclear assault and sustain its employees working there for two weeks.

Guest –  Eli Smith, a musician and activist from Brooklyn, who has helped organize the event. Eli Smith is also a folklorist and music producer who organizes the annual “Brooklyn Folk Festival”, a huge weekend music gathering now in its ninth year, and coming up at the end of April.

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Lawsuit Forces EPA Head To Release More Emails Exposing Fossil Fuel Ties

Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, was recently sued by the Center for Media and Democracy to force the release of emails exposing ties with fossil fuel backers and the Oklahoma Office of Attorney General.

The suit, filed on behalf of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), seeks an emergency injunction to prevent Pruitt from destroying any documents relevant to the group’s open records requests before his confirmation hearing. Since 2015, CMD filed seven records requests with Pruitt’s office seeking communications with Koch Industries and other coal, oil, and gas corporations as well as the corporate-funded Republican Attorney General’s Association.

Pruitt has yet to turn over a single document, despite acknowledging that his office has 3,000 emails and other documents relevant to CMD’s initial request. The Oklahoma Open Records Act provides that “the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government . . . so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”

The act also mandates that a public body “must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records.” With Pruitt seeking confirmation to become EPA administrator, these public records are essential for the U.S. Senate to do its job.

“There is no valid legal justification for the emails we received last night not being released prior to Pruitt’s confirmation vote other than to evade public scrutiny,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel for CMD. “There are hundreds of emails between the AG’s office, Devon Energy, and other polluters that Senators should have been permitted to review prior to their vote to assess Pruitt’s ties to the fossil fuel industry.”

Guest – Arn Pearson, General Counsel and Policy Advisor from the Center for Media and Democracy. He previously served as the Vice President for Policy and Litigation at Common Cause. Arn has worked for more than 20 years developing federal and state policy and legal strategies around campaign finance reform, government ethics, corporate accountability, and tax reform.

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Law and Disorder March 27, 2017


Updates:

  • Michael Smith : Supreme Court Justice Nominee Neil Gorsuch
  • NY Governor Cuomo Proposes Visitation Reduction For Inmates At Max Security Prisons
  • Call Governor Cuomo 518-474-8390 / Contact Information Link

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The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate’

We are in the midst of what has been referred to as “Russia-gate”. The Democrats with their neoconservative allies and most of the major media are alleging, with no proof, that President Trump has been in collusion with Russia and specifically that Russia helped tilt the election in his favor.  Mainstream journalist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has for example compared the alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic Party emails to be another Pearl Harbor or 911.  This hysteria is extraordinarily dangerous inasmuch as Trump may be put into a position in confronting Russia, the other major nuclear power in the world.

Guest – Robert Parry is a Washington DC investigative journalist and co-founder of Consortium News.  He has covered Washington for nearly 4 decades. One of the many important stories he broke was on the Iran-Contra scandal. His latest book is America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama.

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Electronic Devices Seized And Data Requested From Inauguration Arrestees

At the Trump inauguration protests earlier this year over 200 people were mass-arrested and charged under the Felony Riot Act, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Those picked up in the sweep — including journalists, medics and legal observers — had their phones, cameras and other personal belongings confiscated as evidence. Law enforcement is compelling Apple, Facebook and Google to hand over the personal information of many of those arrested. The tech giants appear to be complying, or are willing to comply with these data-mining requests. Several of the persons arrested have been contacted by Facebook and Apple and notified that their personal information has been requested by the United States Attorney’s Office. An Apple customer notice to one noted that: “Apple will be producing the requested data in a timely manner as required by the legal process.” An NLG attorney representing several of the protesters, Mark Goldstone, has said that one of his clients will fight vigorously to prevent the data from being handed over as the phone was not even present at the demonstration.

Cellebrite-Mobile Forensics

Guest –  Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Stephanie is a long-time indigent criminal defense trial attorney and immigration defense activist who graduated from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 2004. Before coming to EFF, she worked as a Deputy Federal Defender for two years at the Federal Defender’s Office of San Diego trying federal felony cases ranging from illegal entry into the US to drug and alien smuggling.  Then she spent the next decade working at the San Francisco Public Defender’s office trying dozens of cases ranging from robbery to attempted murder. She continues to speak truth to power by protecting individual privacy rights from government overreach as part of the Civil Liberties Team at the EFF.

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Law and Disorder March 20, 2017


Update:

  • Michael Smith Attends Lynne Stewart’s Wake In New York City

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Law and Disorder co-hosts look at the seeds of fascism within the Trump Administration and Attorney Michael Smith references excerpts of the recent article A Short History of the Trump Family by Simon Blumenthal, including the below paragraph.

“Reckoning with Trump means descending into the place that made him. What he represents, above all, is the triumph of an underworld of predators, hustlers, mobsters, clubhouse politicians and tabloid sleaze that festered in a corner of New York City, a vindication of his mentor, the Mafia lawyer Roy Cohn, a figure unknown to the vast majority of enthusiasts who jammed Trump’s rallies and hailed him as the authentic voice of the people.”

October 2006: If It’s Not Facism, What Is It? Who Benefits & Why Now?

There appears to be a major transformation in progress. Bourgeois democracy, however limited and constricted it has been, is being revamped. The separation of powers, first enunciated by the founders, hardly exists any more. The Executive branch has overpowered Congress and the Judiciary. Neither the corporate media, the two party system, nor the unions provide much of a countervailing force. With the defeat of the Soviet Union and the “Socialist Block” imperialism has launched wars to consolidate capitalism and oil control in Yugoslavia, Afganistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Panelists: Mark Crispin Miller, Heidi Boghosian, Bertell Ollman, Moderated by Michael Steven Smith.
The standard of living for the American working class and middle class is being rolled back quickly; only profit margins of the large corporations and the top one per cent are expanding. Democracy is not an abstraction, but a tool and an aspect of the class struggle. Thus we are experiencing a consolidational of wealth and power that is historically qualitatively transformative. Understanding what is going on is the first step in fighting it. We hear an excerpt from Bertel Ollman , professor of politics at NYU, and has written and edited over a dozen books, including Alienation: Marx’s Conception of Man in Capitalist Society, Social and Sexual Revolution: Essays on Marx and Reich, Dialectical Investigations, How to Take an Exam and Remake the World, and most recently Dance of the Dialectic: Steps in Marx’s Method.

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Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue

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

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

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Law and Disorder March 13, 2017


Hosts Mourn The Passing Of Friend And Colleague Lynne Stewart

Attorneys Heidi Boghosian and Michael Smith remember the courageous people’s lawyer Lynne Stewart.

We listen back to a past interview with Lynne Stewart February 4, 2008.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Hears Lynne Stewart’s Arguments

Law and Disorder hosts welcome back civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart. Lynne Stewart has been free on bail pending appeal since federal judge John Koeltl gave her a 28 month sentence in October 2006. As you may recall Lynne Stewart was initially facing up to 30 years after being found guilty of conspiring to aid terrorists. She was convicted of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman who is serving a life sentence on terror-related charges.

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve followed Lynne Stewart’s case as it contains key breaches of civil liberties such as government eavesdropping into attorney/ client conversations.

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Recognizing 50 Years of The Center For Constitutional Rights And Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner co-founded Law and Disorder Radio radio 13 years ago.  He died last May in New York City of complications after cancer surgery at age 73.  At the time, he was the President of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Some years ago he helped form it’s European counterpart, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. Last year was the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

The held a commemorative conference in Berlin last December on the 50th anniversary of the CCR and honored it’s president, Michael Ratner.  Michael Smith, the co-host along with Heidi Boghosian of Law and Disorder Radiospoke at the conference about Michael Ratner and the four founders of the CCR. He was joined in his presentation by attorney Margaret Ratner Kunstler, a key figure in the early days of the CCR. Today we bring you excerpts from this presentation.

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Law and Disorder February 20, 2017


 

The Deep State: The Fall Of The Constitution And The Rise Of The Shadow Government

A century ago, Ferdinand Lundberg wrote the classic book “America’s 60 Families” describing them, their interconnections and the powerful role they played in American governance.  This was in 1965 when the great sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote “The Power Elite” and then William Domhoff wrote “Who Rules America?” Now, Mike Lofgren has made a significant contribution in describing the workings of the American ruling elite with his book The Deep State: The Fall Of The Constitution And The Rise Of The Shadow Government.

Guest – Mike Lofgren worked in Congress for 28 years, 16 of them as a senior analyst at the House and Senate Budget Committees.  He held a top security clearance. He now represents no political party, no business interest, and no ideology. His previous book The Party Is Over was a New York Times bestseller.

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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

As director of the CIA, from 1952 until Kennedy fired him, Allen Dulles has been said to exemplify unbridled authority at the height of the Cold War. Under his leadership the CIA became a lawless force domestically and internationally that engaged, with impunity, in covert acts such as the assassination of foreign leaders including Patrice Lumubo in the Congo and overthrowing the government led by Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala.

As an attorney for the law firm Sullivan and Cromwell in the 1930s, Dulles protected and promoted Nazi-controlled cartels. He wielded his influence in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II and then in the CIA to shield former Nazis from prosecution for war crimes in the ’40s and ’50s. David Talbot writes in book The Devil’s Chessboard, ” over the final months of the JFK presidency, a clear consensus took shape within the American “deep state” Kennedy was a national security threat. For the good of the country he must be removed and Dulles was the only man with the stature, connections and decisive will to make something of this enormity happen. so he could enlist them to fight communists. In addition to assisting with the assassination of Congo leader Patrice Lumumba, he organized the Bay of Pigs invasion and tried repeatedly to murder Fidel Castro.

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 December 19, 2016


US Intelligence Vets Dispute Russia Hacking Claims

The major media has been filled daily with stories about how Russia and its Chief of State Vladimir Putin sought to and did influence the American election in favor of Donald Trump.  It is alleged by the CIA and other American intelligence agencies, the Russians hacked into the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee and of Hillary Rodham Clinton.  This conclusion, it is reported, is based on “overwhelming circumstantial evidence.”  American public opinion is been shaped to support aggression against Russia. Despite a promise made to Russia that they would not do it, the promise was broken and NATO now has troops and weapons on the Russian border where military exercises have been carried out. Tensions have been a ratcheted up to an extreme level not known since the heights of the Cold War.

Guest – Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst who briefed President George Bush daily. 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.  Last week 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. They asserted that information that came out about the corruption of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party was leaked by an insider, not hacked.

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Civil Justice And The Trump Administration

Donald Trump has been critical of the U.S. intelligence community, both as a presidential candidate and as president-elect. He recently said he does not need to receive the presidential intelligence briefing every day, suggesting that such briefings are repetitive and that he is content to rely on those around him on matters of intelligence and national security. Trump’s infrequent briefings to-date are a departure from every modern president except Richard Nixon, who was so skeptical of intelligence agencies that he refused to accept briefings offered by President Johnson, even returning unopened envelopes containing classified material to the CIA.

In Washington DC, the public interest organization the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has a new message on its website. It reads, in part: “At the PCJF, we stand with all those who are taking those steps forward – steps together – to face down what is coming, to protect those who are most vulnerable, and to make it clear that the people themselves are the force to be reckoned with.”

The PCJF has litigated First Amendment and other cases of constitutional import that have helped preserve and even expand the protections afforded individuals in different jurisdictions.

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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2016 Political Prisoner Pardons 

President of United States under the constitution has the authority to pardon or grant clemency to people after their conviction or even before. This does not include people convicted in state courts, only federal court.  Although the United States denies it, it holds many people as political prisoners.

1. Leonard Peltier – We urge President Obama to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier on humanitarian grounds and in the interest of justice. Peltier was a leader of the American Indian movement in the 1970s. At a confrontation at wounded knee South Dakota between AIM and the FBI two FBI agents were killed.  The FBI had worked with a corrupt tribal leadership to suppress the American Indian movement. At his trial, the prosecution withheld evidence including potential key ballistic evidence. Leonard has served 40 years in prison and is not eligible for hid parole hearing until 2024. His son recently died and he was not allowed to go to the funeral. He is in very poor shape and his health is deteriorating.  Please sign a petition to President Obama at this site.

2. Ethel Rosenberg was electrocuted at Sing Sing prison in 1953 after being convicted of being an atomic bomb spy and part of a ring that gave the secret of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.  At that time the government knew she was not a spy. She left two boys ages six and 10.  There was no secret to the atomic bomb, it was a matter of industrial capacity. The famous Rosenberg case was used to stir up the stereo against Russia. A huge body of evidence demonstrates that Ethel Rosenberg was innocent.   Donald Trumps mentor, friend, and attorney Roy Cohn was one of the prosecutors who ruthlessly attacked Ethel and colluded with the judge to have her executed. Listeners can call the Whitehouse at 202-456-1111 or visit this website – Exonerate Ethel, Our Mother

3. Army Sergeant Chelsea Manning has been in Fort Leavenworth prison for six years now, a record for whistleblowers. He was convicted of leaking what has become known as the Iraqi war logs to WikiLeaks, which published them showing the truth about US war crimes in Iraq. Chelsea is a transgendered person whose confinement in an all male prison at Fort Leavenworth has been unusually harsh. This included 11 months of solitary confinement. She has twice attempted suicide. Her sentence is 35 years, the longest ever given to a whistleblower. She has already served more time in prison that any individual in US history who has disclosed information in the public interest. Write or call the Whitehouse.

4. Oscar Lopez, a Puerto Rican political prisoner has served 30 years in prison, convicted of seditious conspiracy – a thought crime involving no actual act – because of his commitment to the independence of Puerto Rico. He was not accused or convicted of causing harm or taking a life. He was sentenced to 70 years and is one of the longest held political prisoners in the world.  Oscar served in Vietnam, Was a wooded a bronze star, and came home to Chicago where he became a talented community organizer. He served 12 years in isolation in a Supermax prison. He comes up for parole when he will be 83 years old. A petition asking President Obama to commute Oscar’s sentence can be found at: Oscar’s Story Here  boricuahumanrights.org

5. Edward Snowden blew the whistle about the USA’s illegal global master valence system. This scandalized the American government and caused it to partially rein in its surveillance for the first time in four decades. This would not have happened but for Snowdens courageous act,  a public service as former Attorney General Eric Holder has admitted. Snowden is facing charges under the espionage act, a world war one law that put another great American hero Eugene Debs in prison for making a speech in opposition to the war.  Snowden should be honored for his action, not forced into exile in Russia. The entire establishment favors prosecuting him. President Obama has wrongly stated that he can’t do anything to help Snowden until he has returned to this country and gone on trial.  A petition urging the president to pardon Snowden can be found here:  pardonsnowden.org

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Law and Disorder December 12, 2016


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DAPL Pipeline Dispatch # 9

The Standing Rock Sioux Indian tribe of North Dakota and their many allies won a tremendous victory on December 4 2016.  They got the oil pipeline stopped, at least for now. It was being built by the Energy Transfer Partners through their sacred lands, without their consultation, in violation of the Treaty of Fort Laramie, and it was planned to be constructed beneath the Missouri River. A Department of the Army announcement stated that it would seek an alternative route for the 1100 mile $3.7 billion project. A break in the pipeline would’ve polluted the drinking water for up to 15 million people. What accounted for this historic victory? What social forces were involved? What is the legal and financial status of the project?

Water Protectors Legal Collective – NLG

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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Professor WatchList

In the weeks following the presidential election we’ve heard rumblings in the news about a variety of watch lists. Recently a student organization called Turning Point launched a website called Professor Watchlist. It publishes the names, locations and alleged offenses of liberal academics, with the mission to “expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” Offenses may include: using swear words or asserting that racism exists. Members of the public are invited to submit tips.

Guest – Rebecca Schuman, a columnist for Slate and author of Schadenfreude, A Love Story and Kafka and Wittgenstein. Her recent article in Slate, Oh Good, A Professor Watch List, outlines a number of concerns about this development.

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Poet Raymond Nat Turner Black Listed

We welcome back to Law and Disorder political poet . Turner is the poet in residence of the internet site and radio show Black Agenda Report. He and others have come under attack by an outfit called PropOrNot, a shabby group that created a blacklist that include more than “200 outlets, from the right-wing Drudge Report and Russian government-funded Russia Today, to Wikileaks and an array of marginal conspiracy and far-right sites. The blacklist also includes some of the flagship publications of the progressive left, including Truthdig, Counterpunch, Truthout, Naked Capitalism, and the Black Agenda Report, a leftist African-American opinion hub that is critical of the liberal black political establishment.”

Guest – Raymond Nat Turner, currently Poet-in-Residence at Black Agenda Report, Turner has been the opening act for such people as James Baldwin, Cynthia McKinney, radical sportswriter Dave Zirin and Congresswoman Barbara Lee after her lone vote against attacking Afghanistan.

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Law and Disorder December 5, 2016


Update:

  • Hosts Remember Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro

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Remembering Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

When the American supported military dictator of Cuba Fulgencio Batista fled Cuba in January 1959 and the revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro marched into Havana they passed three laws.  The first lowered the age so that Fidel could be prime minister. He was 33 years old.  The second made Che Guevara a citizen of Cuba, he was Argentinian.  And the third was the great agrarian reform law. It took land from the large plantations, owned mostly by American corporations, and distributed it to the people who worked it. The Cuban government had a right to do this under international law. They offered compensation.

The Cuban government said they would reimburse the mostly American corporate land owners the amount that they listed as the value of the land for tax purposes. The corporations would not agree. Instead the American owned oil refinery refused to refine oil.  This would have shut down the Cuban economy. The Cubans responded by nationalizing the oil refinery. Then they nationalized the telephone company, the nickel mines, the automobile assembly plant and so on. The Cuban state took control of their own economy. This became what is known as the historic Cuban socialist revolution. United States policy from that day till now has been to overthrow this revolution and reinstall capitalism.  For 47 years Fidel Castro led the Cuban government in its resistance to American counterrevolutionary activity.

Guest – James Cockcroft, a retired professor and lifelong supporter of the Cuban revolution. A bilingual award-winning author of more than 50 books on Latin America, US hidden history, culture, migration, and human rights,  including most recently “Cuba In My Blood. ”  He has traveled to Cuba many times, has been active in Cuba solidarity work, and has called Fidel Castro a personal friend.  A bilingual poet, three-time Fulbright Scholar, and Honorary Editor of Latin American Perspectives, he serves on the Coordinadora Internacional de Redes en Defensa de la Humanidad, the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban Five, and civil society’s Benito Juárez Tribunal (vice-president, 2005) that judged U.S. terrorism against Cuba and International Tribunal of Trade Union Freedom (2009-10) that judged Mexico for its violations of labor and human rights. A Canadian immigrant, he is a member of the UNESCO-sponsored World Council of the José Martí World Solidarity Project, la Table de Concertation de Solidarité Québec-Cuba, la Société Bolivarienne du Québec, la Base de Paix Montréal, le Comité Fabio Di Celmo pour les 5, and the Canada-Cuba Literary Alliance.

Guest – Ike Nahem – A longtime anti-war, socialist, and labor activist Ike Nahem is the coordinator of Cuba Solidarity New York and a founder of the July 26 Coalition. Nahem is an Amtrak Locomotive Engineer and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a division of the Teamsters Union. He participated in a panel on Latin American politics at the 2011 Left Forum.

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Dakota Access Pipeline: Dispatch #8: UPDATE-Army Will Not Grant Easement For DAPL Crossing

At the time of our weekly dispatch from Standing Rock North Dakota, at least two major developments were unfolding: (1) Governor Jack Dalrymple had recently enacted an emergency evacuation order, citing public safety due to the frigid weather and (2) as many as 2,000 veterans are planning to gather there next week to serve as “human shields” for protesters who have for months clashed with the police over the pipeline construction.

The evacuation order was issued to the hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters camping on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ land near the Missouri River. It was given as a winter storm left least a half foot of snow throughout the central part of the state. It followed an order by the corps that the land will be closed to the public earlier this week. Law enforcement officials have said they would begin blocking supplies, including food, from entering the main protest camp.

The order means that emergency services will not be made available to people at the camp except on a case-by-case basis. The order will remain until he rescinds it.

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II called the order “a menacing action meant to cause fear and is a blatant attempt by the state and local officials to usurp and circumvent federal authority.” The Veterans effort is planned as a nonviolent intervention to defend demonstrators from what the group calls “assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force.”

Water Protectors Legal Collective – NLG

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –  robin.martinez@martinezlaw.net

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