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Law and Disorder January 26, 2015


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Blood On Their Hands: The Racist History of Police Unions

The NYPD police officer union’s outrageous assertion that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” in the murder of two NYPD officers, is consistent with the reactionary role of police unions across the country. They came to prominence in the wake of the civil rights movement. Police unions have played a powerful role in resisting all manner police reforms and in defending police officers no matter how outrageous and racist their actions. Attorney Flint Taylor brought an analysis of police unions playing a major role in defending cops throughout the last few decades in his article Blood On Their Hands: The Racist History of Police Unions.

Attorney G. Flint Taylor:

  • I started to look at this because I had been in battle with the union here in Chicago, the Fraternal Order of Police, since I’ve been a lawyer which is almost 45 years.
  • After I saw what was happening in New York, I did some research on New York as well as brought back to memory a lot that had happened here in Chicago.
  • In New York I took it all the way back to Mayor Lindsey when he attempted to deal with and bring about a civilian review agency of the police department.
  • One of the instances (in New York) police showed their displeasure by running through the black community banging on the tops of garbage cans, waving their guns around and Abe Beame had to get a restraining order to stop them.
  • The racism of it all became more apparent under Mayor Dinkins reign in the 90s, when he again revisted the idea of strengthening the civilian review agency.
  • Sometimes you find that the union is to the right of the police hierarchy.
  • When I put together the article and studied New York over the last 50 years and brought together my understanding here in Chicago, is that they’re so fundamentally racist. They don’t even represent all of the cops.
  • They represent the white power structure, the most reactionary aspects of the department.
  • Whenever racism is at the heart of police actions, you’ll find the union shoulder to shoulder defending those actions by those cops.
  • In Chicago it started around the Democratic National Convention in 1968. The murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clarke, the Black Panther leaders.
  • Of course the FOP became extremely actively involved in defending the indefensible in the Jon Burge police torture cases and has been at the heart of it here in Chicago for 20-30 years in resisting all forms of justice in the Burge torture cases.
  • Right after he (Burge) was fired by the police department in the mid-nineties, the union had the temerity to organize a float to honor Burge and the two other officers who were found to have tortured . . . in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
  • The union here again is a white officers union – not only that – the white officers union, it represents the racist interests of a certain click of police officers that patrol the communities of color here in Chicago.
  • Until there’s a fundamental change in policing and the justice system, the union is going to have that kind of power and is going to continue to flank on the right, what already a reactionary, military force which is the police department.
  • It’s basically universal maybe more so in the big urban areas.
  • We have to educate our brothers and sisters in the broader labor unions like the SEIU and the unions that support the correctional officers.
  • Police unions reflect police departments, police departments are occupying forces. They were created to put down the working class. They were created to protect the interest of what is now the one percent.
  • So, how could they be part of the movement that deals with workers’ rights and fights against racism when that’s what they’re defending?

Guest – G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a  founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for more than 45 years.

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Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine In American Studies

Professor Steven Salaita at age 39 had already written 6 outstanding books. He was a tenured professor at Virginia Tech University. He was offered a job with tenure at the University of Illinois in their American Indian Studies program. He accepted the job, and quit his other job, left his house, his wife did the same, left her job. They were enroute to Illinois for him to start working when he was told by Chancellor Phyllis Wise that he was not going to be hired. He was fired from a tenured job he had been offered at the University of Illinois because of his tweets criticizing Israel’s murderous war on the people of Gaza last summer .

Why? The university was under tremendous pressure as documentary evidence shows by private donors who said, you hire Salaita, we won’t give you money. The university caved. Salaita didn’t get his job. He’s now out of work and he’s about to file or will have filed a lawsuit trying to get his job back and reassert the principles of academic freedom, academic shared government and free speech. We hear a presentation by Steven Salaita titled Inter-Nationalism: Encountering Palestine In American Studies delivered at New York University November 2014.

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Law and Disorder January 19, 2015


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U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

Last year, in a sudden reversal of policy, the United States released the remaining three of the Cuban Five who were imprisoned for arrested in the United States while investigating Cuban exile groups accused of terrorism. The release was part of a prisoner exchange announced on when President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, that has been isolated by a trade embargo for 54 years.

Sandra Levinson:

  • When you’ve lived through 10 or 11 presidents and you’ve seen how bad our policy can be, and also the disappointment that people like me felt, since Obama had been elected, that almost nothing had been done for improving travel for Cuban Americans.
  • The point at which I cried was when he said he was going to open an embassy in Havana, because once you got over the fact, the 3 political prisoners were coming home, that was sheer joy to realize along with the Cubans, they were crying too. They said we’ve finally been recognized as a government.
  • I think it will be great for the Cuban artists.
  • By the second day the people were saying we have to make sure we keep our culture.
  • We have to be sure we keep our country.
  • Cuba needs help with its infrastructure, it doesn’t need McDonald’s
  • We still have the Helms-Burton law. We still have the embargo. I think our next fight is to get rid of the Helms-Burton law because that has done so much to strengthen the embargo.
  • I think the Cubans will attempt to slow the flow of people from the United States to what they can manage.
  • As we all know the infrastructure for tourism is not sufficient to take care of everyone. I’m surprised they didn’t recognize sooner.
  • Clearly its because of US interest that we are doing this. We are not doing this to finally be nice to the Cuban revolution.
  • cubaupdate.org / cubanartspace.net

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

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Electronic Communications Surveillance

In the recent Monthly Review, there’s an article titled Electronics Communications Surveillance written by attorney Lauren Regan. The article enumerates the various laws, acts and court cases that have led up to collecting information on millions of citizens such as phone, internet, and email habits, credit card and bank records. Nearly all of our on line activity is subject to being surveilled by the state. Lauren breaks it down from Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, an extension of the 1968 Federal Wiretap Act, the FISA Act and on to the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The article is grouped into 3 areas,  wiretaps and “electronic eavesdropping,” stored messages, and pen registers and trap-and-trace devices.

Attorney Lauren Regan:

  • The corporations that are engaged in gray intelligence use the term threat assessment.
  • They look at activist communities even individuals and determine what level of threat they pose to the profit making components of their enterprise.
  • I think its important that activists engage in their own threat assessment as well.
  • In the documents (FOIA requests) we learned that the corporations themselves want to maintain clean hands. They don’t want to get caught spying on Mom and Pop holding a banner on a street corner.
  • They devised this scheme where there is this security firm and public relations firm that kind of open up their own shop next door.
  • They’re often former FBI agents for some of these big corporations and industries. They will collect the intelligence and its up to these PR firms to put it into these “terrorist bulletins.”
  • For a long time we knew that corporations often hired by the government itself but also hired by big industry has been going through open source intelligence. So they’ve been monitoring our websites and social media and email lists and press releases and any other public documents they can get their hands on in their 8 hour paid day.
  • They compile all this information into reports and then they sell it to police or other corporations or the government.
  • They call them issue monitoring or trend analysis. In essence it is attempting to both legitimize and make profit of spying on political groups and political activists.
  • In my experience its less important to focus on the name of the corporation because they’re so slippery and constantly changing their names.
  • The animal rights movement has definitely been a significant target for this type of spying.
  • We were working with a number of different organizations who were afraid. Who were thinking of stopping their campaigns, because they were concerned they were going to be put in prison, that they were going to be labeled terrorists.
  • One of the campaigns out of Pennsylvania, consisted of teachers, doctors, people who were once a week going out on street corners and holding a banner opposing fracking and they found themselves in a terrorist bulletin.
  • Especially when you’re talking about giant coal industries, and tar sands industries. These are gazillion dollar corporations. They’re multinational in scope. They’re working together within their industries which means they have more money and resources to put road blocks in front of regular public interest citizens.
  • There are things that you can do to make life more difficult for those that wish to spy upon you.
  • Thor and VPN are ways to use the internet with less ability to be tracked or surveyed.
  • We represent activists for free and we coordinate legal teams around the country to insure that activists have high quality representation, when they choose to risk their liberty for a cause.

GuestLauren Regan, the founder and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), where she serves as our staff attorney as well. Ms. Regan operates a public interest law firm, The Justice Law Group, specializing in constitutional law, civil rights, and criminal defense. She is a founding board member and past president of the Cascadia Wildlands. She also serves as a Lane County Teen Court judge, Oregon State Bar Leadership Fellow, National Lawyers Guild, Eugene co-chair, and volunteers hundreds of hours a year to various progressive causes.

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The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power

The surveillance and torture programs conducted by agents and contractors of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has a long sordid past. One of the first revelations of the CIA’s illegal activities released to the public was released in December 1974 by the New York Times. Details of surveillance, eavesdropping, detention and interrogation shocked readers. It was also became the foundation for deeper research by our next guest John Prados,  a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. He’s the author of the book The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power, where Prados recounts secret operations and how Vice President Richard Cheney played a leading role in intelligence abuses. He joins us today to talk about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report and the deeper connections based on his research.

John Prados:

  • A semi-notorious document that was known as the family jewels – this was a record of CIA abuses of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when they were spying on American citizens. In fact the revelation was so explosive at that time it lead to multiple investigations of the CIA by the Church Committee, the Pike Committee.
  • I think that the CIA has a preoccupation with image. The episode of the “family jewels” is typical because at the time the intelligence agency’s director was Michael Hayden. Hayden, simultaneous with the release of the document gave a speech taking credit for thinking of releasing the “family jewels” themselves.
  • In my book The Family Jewels I have a couple of chapters that documents this kind of activity.
  • We have been waiting 2 years for the appearance of this report.
  • If you look at the website that’s maintained by former director Hayden, and former director Porter Goss and former director George Tenant, you will see that they posted on their website declassified CIA documents, much more lightly redacted that were released as long ago as last summer.
  • These are the first documents I have seen containing direct Whitehouse action and activity on the torture issue.
  • The best piece of this relates to early 2004, where there was the United Nations international day of support for victims of torture. Tenant sends a memo to Condi Rice and requests that the Whitehouse reconfirm Bush Administration support for the torture program.
  • When that was not immediately forthcoming, they did this again.
  • CIASavesLives.com
  • These things were released as part of the argument that was made by former intelligence officials that torture was approved and legal.
  • Not just damage control but the perpetrators, the agency officials responsible for this program,they know its not legal, they know its morally reprehensible. They’re operating under the fig leaf of this presidential authority and this mumbo jumbo Department of Justice legal memo network.
  • If there’s a breath of questioning it all of a sudden, they’re not covered anymore. That’s the reason for the sensitivity and the reason why the CIA suddenly erupted in this effort to reconfirm these authorities.
  • If you delete material from the documents in such a way that the public can’t tell that the material the CIA got was useful, or misleading everybody.
  • The Senate report is so important because it shows on all of these cases, they took the ones twenty ones, the CIA most claims they got information for them. The report shows that in every one of those cases in fact they were getting information without resorting to the torture.
  • I think we have a challenge. I think we need to work to make a wedge for accountability in this country. I do think Americans are shamed and embarrassed by this behavior. This is not what the United States is about.

Guest- John Prados is an author and analyst of national security based in Washington, DC. He is the author of more than twenty books and many articles on topics of current importance, presidential studies, international security; and diplomatic, intelligence, or military history. His current book is The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (University of Texas Press)Newly appearing in paperback are Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. In addition Prados is author of titles on national security, the American presidency, and other subjects including Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and World War II. He is also a noted designer of boardgames on military strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy.

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Law and Disorder January 12, 2015


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Prison State of America: Chris Hedges, Earl Amin, Amos Caley

Today we hear from 3 extraordinary people that will move you to anger, tears and outrage. Chris Hedges is an award winning journalist and former New York Times Middle East bureau chief . His recent article is Prison State of America outlines in detail how prison workers are gouged by corporate run private prisons. Earl Amin is a former Black Panther who was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery and served 35 years which is the longest sentence in the state of New Jersey.  Amos Caley is with the Interfaith Prison Coalition and a graduate student in the School of Social Work and is with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, that exposes the abusive practice of solitary confinement in New Jersey prisons

Chris Hedges:

  • What we’ve seen in the last few years is a steady assault, economic assault against prisoners and their families.
  • Your minimum wage is about $1.30 a day. 8 hours of work, you’re doing prison labor, you work for the state. You’re paid a 1.30.
  • They pay you for 5 days a week. That’s about 28 dollars a month.
  • Deodorant, stamps, toothpaste, all of this stuff has risen by in many cases over 100 percent.
  • Wages in the society at large have remained stagnant and in real terms declined and yet the commissary items have gone through the roof.
  • The standard footwear are Reeboks, which cost 45.00. If you don’t have 45.00, they will sell you these sneakers with cardboard soles. The first time you go out in the yard, they’re shredded.
  • If you don’t have any money, the prison system has thoughtfully provided a loan system so you can go into debt peonage.
  • We have seen private corporations take over the phone system.
  • We have seen the removal of other items like thermals. They used to give two blankets, now they give one.
  • They’ve also privatized the system where you put money on a prisoners account. Jpay. Again charging draconian fees.
  • Remember, we’re talking about very very poor families.
  • What we’re seeing now is larger and larger numbers of people within the system who are not only broken, because most families don’t have the resources to send money in those incarcerated, because most of the incarcerated were the primary wage earner, people are going into debt.
  • You have a 10 thousand dollar fine imposed on you when you’re sentenced. You’re earning 28 dollars a month, you have no outside resources.
  • 25 years later, this is an actual case, you still owe 4 thousand dollars.
  • People are finishing prison in debt. The very forces of predatory capitalism that are destroying working men and women outside the walls of prison, are running rampant inside the walls of prison.
  • That is a kind of window of what’s going to happen to rest of us.
  • Much of the military equipment is produced by federal prisoners – Kevlar jackets, body armor, canteens, etc

Guest – Chris Hedges, Pulitzer-Prize winning author and journalist. He was also a war correspondent, specializing in American and Middle Eastern politics and societies. His most recent book is ‘Death of the Liberal Class (2010). Hedges is also known as the best-selling author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

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Earl Amin:

  • In 1967, I was drafted right out of high school into the Army.
  • I met this white kid from Boston and he said Earl let’s go into town tonight which is Augusta, they some bad cats out there, I want you to meet them.
  • I thought he was talking about Motown, Temptations, I never thought he’d talk about the Black Panthers. I went out there and heard these guys talking about the government.
  • Later on I was transferred to Fort Dix, New Jersey – went to Central Park with my sister, Angela Davis was speaking. I had on my Army uniform. She said brother are you in the Army, I said yea. You been to the South? She said you don’t need to be this army you need to be in our army.
  • I went AWOL that day. I joined the panthers that day until the FBI caught up with me six months later and charged me with being AWOL and sent me to Fort Leavenworth.
  • I stayed there about nine months and they released me, went back to being a panther again, came home.
  • Later on I was involved with something called Operation Breadbasket out of Chicago. We was out there feeding the poor people. I was out there when Fred Hampton was killed.
  • I got arrested for guns. I went back to prison for a few months and came out.
  • Then I got arrested for conspiracy to commit bank robbery, just talking about it. I was given a life sentence.
  • I went to New Jersey State prison, Trenton.
  • I started doing a lot of para-legal work and helping a lot of other people get out of prison.
  • One judge told me if I was sentencing you today, I would give you 3 years.
  • I was the first person in the history of the state to be sentenced to life for a robbery charge.
  • Being 65, I took a job as a construction worker working 2 days a week, barely enough.
  • I was listening to POP, Peoples Organization for Progress, with Larry Ham.
  • For years and years I’ve earned a dollar thirty a day.
  • That’s one of the problems, I’m comin home. I can’t get social security cause I ain’t paid nothing into social security.
  • I can’t get a job because of my age, so what am I supposed to do?
  • If you didn’t work, you didn’t get no toothpaste, you didn’t get no coffee.
  • I personally, filed my own divorce.
  • Rubin Hurricane Carter was my hero. Rubin resisted everything.

Guest – Earl Amin, a former Black Panther who was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.  Earl has been released from prison after 35 years.

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Amos Caley – Interfaith Prison Coalition

  • We’re realizing that talk is cheap. Looking at people who are most affected, and what they’re doing in terms of mobilizing themselves around this, is really a key to creating a sustained grassroots effort against the (predatory capitalist) system.
  • We really have to organize around the demands of the families and the victims.
  • That’s what the Interfaith Prison Coalition is about.
  • One of things we’re doing is mounting a campaign to make it so that prisoners are paid minimum wage.
  • We’re talking about a minimum wage for service workers on the outside, which will have a huge impact.

Guest – Amos Caley, a graduate student in the School of Social Work and is with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, that exposes the abusive practice of solitary confinement in New Jersey prisons.

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Please help support Law and Disorder by clicking on Fractured Atlas graphic (link is fixed). This radio show is now a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Law and Disorder must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. You can donate as little as 5.00 a month.

 

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Law and Disorder January 5, 2015


Updates:

  • Hosts Look Back At Several Legal Cases Of 2014
  • Professor Steven Salaita Case Update
  • Palestinians Join International Criminal Court After UN Rejection
  • Michael Ratner: There Is An Immediate Jurisdiction In The ICC On The Occupied Territories
  • Michael Ratner: Guantanamo Statistics 2015
  • Michael Ratner: Afghanistan War Ends?

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Dissent Under Surveillance: Heidi Boghosian

“Dissent Under Surveillance” was a panel held on November 7th at the Cooper Union in NY. It featured our own Heidi Boghosian, along with panelists Kevin Gosztola, Lisa Lynch, Ryan Shapiro and Carey Shenkman. Carey has been a guest on Law and Disorder. The panel was part of The Clandestine Reading Room, an exploration of leaked and declassified documents shedding light on government surveillance and secrecy in the US.

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How To Read The Senate Report On CIA Torture

We welcome back author and professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Al McCoy who recently published the article titled How to Read The Senate Report On CIA Torture. He calls it the single most important U.S. government document released to date in this still-young 21st century, yet its not without particular failings. McCoy distills the report into several potent areas. Among them, he points out how the report shows the “perpetrators as mendacious careerists willing to twist any truth to win a promotion or secure a lucrative contract.” Another is that the CIA has now been forced to admit that any link between torture and actionable intelligence is “unknowable.”

Professor Al McCoy:

  • The report gives us a graphic record of just how brutal the CIA interrogations were.
  • For years now we’ve been saying enhanced interrogation techniques or the acronym EIT’s or techniques which some consider to be torture, all kinds of twisted euphemisms. Well now, thanks to the senate report on the CIA on interrogation and incarceration everybody, citizen and senator alike, just say torture.
  • Another aspect that emerges from the report is a graphic description inside the worst of the CIA managed prisons, the salt pit in Afghanistan. The cold and eternal darkness, the capricious brutality of the CIA interrogators. The absolute incompetence from the point of modern incarceration of the CIA junior prison managers who were sent out without training to run this prison.
  • Through all of that the salt pit in Afghanistan can join that long lineage of state human cesspits of suffering.
  • Another thing and I think the most important contribution of the senate report is to establish that all the CIA’s claims that brutal coercive interrogation somehow kept us safe, blocked terrorist plots, led us to Osama Bin Laden.
  • No longer can the CIA claim the techniques work.
  • There’s one little detail that doesn’t seem that important analytically that sticks out and becomes absolutely iconic.
  • The iconic part of that report is the fact that the CIA paid 81 million dollars to 2 retired military psychologists who had no training, no language skills, no nothing. These 2 mediocrities are given 81 million dollars to run the CIA psychological and interrogation program.
  • The Senate tells us there’s this female operative that was responsible for one of the biggest bungles of the war on terror. The seizure off the streets of a German national named el Mazri. He was rendered to the salt pit in Afghanistan and for 4 months he suffered the vicissitudes of that horrific prison, that iconic hell hole. Then the CIA figures out, oops. This is a complete mistake. This guy is not in any way a terrorist, and they literally dump him on a mountain top in Albania with a wad of cash and have a nice day.
  • That operative then also claimed in testimony to the CIA inspector general in 2004 who was investigating the abuses inside the agency’s prisons that these techniques were working. The brutal interrogation, the water boarding of Khalid Sheik Mohammad the top al-Qaeda suspect had led the agency to another suspect named Majid Khan.
  • It turned out that Majid Khan was already in CIA custody before the interrogation. Her statement was completely bogus. Who is this person?
  • The CIA drew upon her primarily we believe to make her this fictional female CIA operative in Zero Dark Thirty this hero, whose almost obsessive pursuit of Osama Bin Laden and her participation in torture sessions led the Navy Seals to kill Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan.
  • Her name is Alfreda Bikowski. She was the one who missed the signals on the 911 plot before it happened.
  • She gave systematic false testimony as I described. She led the CIA on a false goose chase on a supposed terrorist cell in Montana and for all that she’s been promoted to the equivalent of a CIA rank as a one star general.
  • In 2012, this civil servant had bought an 875 thousand dollar house in Virginia, a luxury residence.
  • In short, instead of being reprimanded, demoted, punished for this cacophony of errors, the CIA operative had been rewarded.
  • (the senate report) they don’t really explore the history, they don’t tell us where did this psychological torture come from.
  • Where did this institutional reflex for torture come from? It comes from a 60 year history of the U.S. involvement of torture.
  • The CIA was desperately afraid that the Soviets had somehow cracked the code of human consciousness.
  • The sensory deprivation, the sensory disorientation leads to a very quick breakdown.
  • Torture up to but not death was legal, and that’s what allowed the CIA to do all this.

Guest – Professor Alfred McCoy is the author of two recent books on this subject—Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation (University of Wisconsin Press, 2012) and A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror. Welcome to Law and Disorder.

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Law and Disorder December 22, 2014


Updates:

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

Attorney Michael Ratner:

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

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Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

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

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Civil Forfeiture Cases Follow Up

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

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

Happy Birthday Chelsea Manning

ECCHR Calls For 13 CIA Agents To Be Extradited To Germany

ECCHR Complaint Against Bush Era Architects Of Torture

Attorney Michael Ratner:

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

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Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

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

Attorney Scott Horton:

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

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

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Law and Disorder December 15, 2014


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The Senate Intelligence Committee’s Report On CIA’s Detention & Interrogation

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • The Senate Committee on Intelligence started the investigation in 2007 after 92 tapes of water-boarding were destroyed by the CIA.
  • That’s where the investigation began. In 2009, the Senate Committee still controlled by the Democrats spent 4 years going through millions of documents at a high cost to try and come out with a report on the CIA’s role on what they called detention and interrogation program.
  • After 4 years they came out with a 6,700 in 2012 and they decided only to release the executive summary.
  • Obama himself actually supported having more and more redactions.
  • The redactions are stupid. Everybody knows in my field knows that Cobalt refers to what’s called the salt pit in Afghanistan which is a CIA run detention facility north of Kabal, or torture facility.
  • Even if lives were saved its flatly illegal. You can’t kill a millions civilians because you want to save some of your soldiers.
  • In the report they said that the CIA said before 911 that torture doesn’t work, its not effective.
  • What Marnia Lazreg said in her book about torture in Algeria – she said it wasn’t really about information and it was about a macho empire that was in decline.
  • What are you saying here – except this is about torturing Muslims, its about empire, and its about telling the world – you fall into our hands, we’re going to torture you.
  • What they did was on the highest levels of the CIA, they went to places like the New York Times and the Washington Post and they wanted to be identified as a high level official and they leaked the stories of what they were doing in a way that would give them credit for it.
  • I’m not hopeless about prosecutions, maybe not here, but somewhere in the world these people will be held accountable.
  • This is only talking about what the CIA did at 9 dark sites around the world. The point I want to make is that there was torture going on at other places.
  • 700 people went through Guantanamo, that’s the Rumsfeld techniques. Torture at Abu Gharib, torture at other U.S. prisons.
  • We’re talking about a very small subset of U.S. torture.
  • CIA sited Israeli Supreme Court ruling to justify torture. The Israeli ruling is that you can’t use torture except where there’s no other available means to prevent harm to other people.
  • There’s no such thing as a ticking time bomb scenario that allows you to use it (torture)
  • Go to CCRJustice.org, sign the petition

Attorney Michael Smith:

  • The lying was more than I thought. The brutality was more than I thought. The corruption was more than I thought.
  • On the lying, the report says no lives were saved as consequence to this program. We knew about water boarding but we didn’t know about rectal feeding or rectal hydration, where they left one man with a prolapsed rectum which means its hanging out.
  • We didn’t know about killing people by chaining them to the floor in a cold room and dousing them with water.
  • This program was run by 2 amateur psychologists, who didn’t know anything about Arab culture, who didn’t know anything about interrogation.
  • They set up a corporation and the government gave them 81 million of our dollars to run this thing from 2001 to 2007, if you do the numbers these guys probably made 5 million dollars a year, less expenses.
  • This is the most violent country in the world. The CIA is the epitome of this. Torture is illegal under American law, under international law. People who do it should be prosecuted.
  • People who authorize it should be prosecuted, and there’s no talk about that.

Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • My number one take away is something we’ve been covering for years is that no actionable intelligence came out as a result of these heinous practices.
  • What also offends me greatly is hearing George W. Bush’s response that anyone who buys into this report or gives in credence, is somehow unpatriotic which fits into the whole propaganda that we’ve been fed, that questioning anything the government does, is an offense or an affront.
  • These companies are profiting from torture.

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Eric Garner’s Public Defender Says Cops and Prosecutors “Are a Team in Every Case”

A recent Vanity Fair article titled Eric Garner’s Public Defender Says Cops and Prosecutors “Are a Team in Every Case” exposes the secrecy and conflicts of interest within investigations of police violence and how seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island. The article was written by attorneys Bina Ahmad, Joseph Doyle, and Michael Rooney public defenders in Staten Island with The Legal Aid Society. We also get a look inside grand jury proceedings and the often bias investigation from district attorney’s offices when looking into police wrongdoing. What steps are needed to structure fair court proceedings in these cases?

Attorney Bina Ahmad:

  • Seven of the ten most-sued police officers of the 35,000-member New York Police Department happen to be in Staten Island.
  • They still work there, they still testify in court, swear under oath, they’re telling the truth, they’re still violating our clients rights with impunity left and right, commit violent acts against them.
  • The disparate treatment, of not only of the way our clients of color are treated, in a much more brutal way, but also in the way they’re charged and the plea offers that they’re given is very stark and very discriminatory in my mind.
  • Many of us here at Legal Aid and other criminal defense attorneys around the city   . . . we try to get the personnel records of officers who have been accused of brutality or violating people’s Constitutional rights, and (see) what they’ve been disciplined for within the NYPD.
  • Abuses include – strip searching people on the street, full cavity search for people on routine stops, brutalizing people for not complying with a simple order.
  • A few colleagues of mine had represented him (Eric Garner) in the past. Attorney Joseph Doyle was working to take a case to trial for him. A lot of people knew Eric Garner, and they called him the “gentle giant.” A large man, but known to be gentle and sweet, father of six.
  • When the news came out that he was killed, it was incredibly difficult for us. Not only for us but for our clients.
  • To task a local D.A’s office to prosecute one of their own, a local member of the local police department, particularly in such a small borough, you’re expecting them to prosecute a member of their own member of their team.
  • Every judge knows they have to recuse themselves from a case if they have a relationship with any of the parties involved.
  • With the D.A. they don’t have that obligation. They work on cases together. They prep them for testifying at trial to be a prosecution witness.
  • Choke holds were banned as a practice a while ago as part of police protocol. The fact that a police used one was a violation of police protocol.
  • We are not allowed in the grand jury room for any moment except for if your client chooses to testify. If our client chooses to testify, we can’t protect them at all.
  • They take the stand, they’re cross examined by the D.A. Everything they say can and will be used against them later.
  • The D.A. control everything, the narrative, what evidence is shown, what witness testifies, what questions the witness is asked.
  • It would be up to the grand jury to feel empowered to ask more questions.
  • Any eye witness that would come in as a prosecution witness, where they’re supposed to be getting an indictment on a cop. They’ll be testifying for the prosecution but what we’ve seen in these minutes is the way the district attorney these prosecution witnesses – they’re acting like they’re cross examining them.
  • They’re actually trying to break down their testimony or poke holes in their testimony.
  • They suddenly become a defense attorney when the cop is on the line.

Guest – Attorney Bina Ahmad,  staff attorney in the criminal defense practice department of the Legal Aid Society and National Vice President of the National Lawyers Guild.

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Foley Square Demonstration: Voices From The Protest

We hear some of the voices of demonstrators assembling at Foley Square during the first protest against the grand jury decision failing to indict those officers responsible for choking Eric Garner to death.

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Law and Disorder December 1, 2014


Updates:

  • Hosts Discuss Mass Demonstrations In Wake Of Ferguson Grand Jury Verdict

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Mumia Abu Jamal Responds To Grand Jury Not Indicting Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson

We talk today about the wide scale pattern of police violence against people of color in the context of the grand jury decision in St. Louis, Missouri to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old African American. The decision sparked more outrage within the community of Ferguson and launched tens of thousands into the streets in cities across the country. The grand jury is comprised of 12 members and 10 out of the 12 would have to agree to indict. The grand jury had a number of choices, such as first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter. First degree murder would have required evidence that Wilson set out to kill Brown. Second degree murder charges were possible, but this choice was unlikely if jurors decided that Wilson was negligent when he shot Brown, they could have gone with a charge of voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Mumia Abu Jamal:

  • When you think back through American history, there are actually few periods where you see this range of protest.
  • You’ll see throughout the 20th century protest. Think about April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and you saw protests all across the country over hundred cities.
  • And look what happened a few hours ago, perhaps a greater range of protest in over 170 cities tells you I think better than anything I can say, that things are very bad indeed for the African American community and their expectation of justice in this system.
  • Think about the weather, people coming out in the dire cold, right, to protest at night. That’s not an easy thing, people don’t do that easily and they do it at considerable risk and some danger.
  • That speaks to the depth of the feeling in their hearts that something is broken in the American justice system.
  • The recent midterm election was the lowest turnout since the 1940s. That says something about American discontent with the political system.
  • It actually reminds me about the demonstrations before the 2003 Iraq War, where all around the world in hundreds of countries you saw demonstrations that were unprecedented.
  • People feel that. Now that can dissipate until a new provocation.
  • This is the time where organizers should be on their p’s and q’s and out there taking phone numbers and taking emails and building lists.
  • To stand up at this moment, the first African American president in America’s history and talk about that people need to observe and respect the rule of law is I think frankly absurd.
  • Barack Hussein Obama was born August 4, 1961. In that year there were about 20 states that made it illegal for a white person to marry a black person.
  • People went to jail for what they called interracial fornication.
  • When you talk about the rule of law, you have to talk about the rule of right and the rule of wrong.
  • To quote John Africa, who said just cause its legal don’t make it right.
  • We live in a country that legalized slavery.
  • Many things are done in the name of law, but they’re wrong, they’re simply wrong.
  • I was reading in the USA Today last week, (I’m little behind in my reading) they said 461 people were killed by police in 2013.
  • This is something that’s systemic in the United States, and the people are trying to draw attention and I don’t think its successful, but its a damn good beginning.

Guest – Mumia Abu-Jamal is a renowned journalist from Philadelphia who has been in prison since 1981 and was on death row since 1983 for allegedly shooting Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. After decades of appeals, he left death row in 2012 but is still facing a life sentence. He is known as the “Voice of the Voiceless” for his award-winning reporting on police/state violence brutality and other social and racial epidemics that plague communities of color in Philadelphia and throughout the world.

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Civil Forfeiture: Federal Government Seizes Property Of Business Owners

In May of 2013, two Internal Revenue Service agents seized the checking account of Carole Hinders and the 32 thousand dollar balance. Hinders was accuses of structuring her deposits to be less than 10 thousand dollars to avoid filing required government reports. This is a tactic often used by drug dealers and other criminals to move money around without detection. However, Carl Hinders owns a Mexican restaurant and her business is cash only. She did explain to the IRS agents that she made deposits almost daily to avoid having thousands of cash on hand. Hinders wasn’t charged with a crime, yet the IRS still seized the money. There are many cases of civil forfeiture similar to Carol’s where the property is taken without proper due process and investigation.

Attorney Larry Salzman:

  • Civil forfeiture is a set of laws that allow government agencies to take your property when they suspect its been involved in crime but they don’t need to charge you with any crime to take that property.
  • One of the incredible things about civil forfeiture is that the agencies that seize your money based on a mere suspicion actually get to keep that money to fund their agencies.
  • That’s true in most states and also for the federal law.
  • Every state is engaged in civil forfeiture. Minnesota had a reform. They no longer use strictly civil forfeiture, they’ll only take your property after you’ve been convicted of a criminal offense.
  • The federal government uses it (civil forfeiture) almost every major agency of the federal government, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the IRS, the DHS, ICE.
  • You can’t have both civil forfeiture and an impartial enforcement of the law if the agencies enforcing that law get the money.
  • In federal cases there’s another lack of due process. The federal agencies seize cash like a bank account, the law doesn’t provide any prompt post seizure hearings. So, there’s no right for you to quickly contest the validity of the seizure. You might wait a hear without your money before you get to see a judge.
  • It’s very hard to get it back because it means mounting a full scale defense in state or federal court against well funded prosecutors.
  • There’s that financial incentive, so the government is doing more and more of these civil forfeitures as their budgets are coming under constraint.
  • If local law enforcement involves themselves in a federal forfeiture action, they’ll get paid a bounty by the feds for their participation. That becomes a very meaningful part of police department budgets.
  • That equitable sharing program has ballooned from nothing to something over 450 million dollars a year given to local police departments.
  • We’re seeing it again with another set of clients. We have 3 brothers who own a convenient store distribution business on Long Island, the IRS again took 446 thousand dollars from them.
  • This is a modest business almost all of that money was money that was owed to vendors for inventory. They grabbed their bank account when it was its fullest basically. The allegation again was structuring.
  • There’s not even a civil forfeiture action that’s been filed, that’s a violation of law in itself the government’s committed.
  • Many of the worst aspects of civil forfeiture were ushered in on the premise that they were needed to combat drug trafficking but now we see civil forfeiture being used to treat legitimate small businesses like criminals, just because they’re making frequent cash deposits.

Guest – Attorney Larry Salzman is with the Institute for Justice. He joined the Institute in April 2011 and litigates cutting-edge constitutional cases protecting individual rights, including free speech, property rights, and economic liberties, in federal and state courts. He is originally from San Diego. His commitment to both entrepreneurship and law is reflected in his career prior to joining IJ.  Larry co-founded an ecommerce company with his family in 2000, while attending law school at night, and returned to the business for several years as CEO upon its sale in 2007. During the interim, he was an attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation, in Sacramento, California, litigating property rights cases in federal and state courts, and served as a clerk to Judge Bohdan A. Futey on the United States Court of Federal Claims. Larry received his law degree in 2002 from the University of San Diego, where he was Assistant Editor of the San Diego Law Review. He received an undergraduate degree in Finance from Arizona State University in 1993.

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Law and Disorder November 17, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: U.S. President Barack Obama To Seek Additional War Powers From Congress

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ICC Says Gaza Still Occupied, Israel May Have Committed War Crimes, But Court Refuses To Hear

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • When I’m in Berlin I see there’s a ICC decision by the prosecutor.
  • People probably remember the attack on the Gaza flotilla, particularly the Mavi Marmara. One of 8 boats that were sent from Europe and other places, Turkey, to try and break the blockade that Israel had imposed on Gaza.
  • Israel has been blockading Gaza forever essentially but it put in a very serious naval blockade in 2009 and no boats from the Mediterranean could approach within 20 miles of what Israel called its blockade.
  • The Gaza Flotilla was established in 2010 to try and break the blockade it had 8 ships, one was named the Rachel Corrie.
  • They were at least 80 miles away from Gaza, hadn’t even got into the blockaded territory when the Israeli commandos, the IDF made a raid on those boats.
  • Particularly on the Mavimarmara which was a Turkish boat – the fact that the boat was registered in Comoros gave the ICC jurisdiction over the raid.
  • People may recall the raid. Israeli commandos shimmied down on ropes from helicopters on to the Mavimarmara and they killed 9 people. A tenth died later.
  • Ultimately, Comoros made a complaint to the ICC that – Israel attacked this flotilla even outside the 20 mile blockade zone, they committed war crimes. War crimes in that they were attacking civilian boats. War crimes in that they were killing civilians.
  • Here I am sitting in Berlin thinking about the 76 anniversary of Kristallnacht, the tearing down of that wall, Raji Sourani from Gaza not being able to get in, and this ICC decision comes down.
  • The ICC prosecutor says there’s a reasonable basis that war crimes were committed by the IDF in their attack on the Gaza Flotilla.
  • The next sentence said as part of that finding Gaza was an occupied territory of Israel. That’s of great significance because when you’re an occupying force the laws of war apply. If you commit war crimes, if you kill people – civilians or intentionally targeting them or attack civilian objects.
  • The third sentence is while we find that there was a reasonable basis that the IDF committed war crimes and that Israel continues to occupy Gaza despite its claim in 2005 that it left Gaza we are not going to take jurisdiction and further investigate the case, because the crimes were not essentially severe enough, big enough, enough of them . . . and therefore we’re not going to take this case.
  • To look at them in an isolated way and not part of a stream of war crimes Israel has been committing since 1948 is outrageous.
  • The Situation on Registered Vessels of the Union of the Comoros, the Hellenic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia

Law and Disorder Co-host Attorney Michael Ratner,  President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit human rights litigation organization based in New York City and president of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) based in Berlin. Ratner and CCR are currently the attorneys in the United States for publishers Julian Assange and Wikileaks. He was co-counsel in representing the Guantanamo Bay detainees in the United States Supreme Court, where, in June 2004, the court decided his clients have the right to test the legality of their detentions in court. Ratner is also a past president of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of numerous books and articles, including the books Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book, Against War with Iraq and Guantanamo: What the World Should Know, as well as a textbook on international human rights.

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U.S. Government Finds 67-year-old Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh Guilty

Earlier this summer we reported on Rasmea Odeh’s case. She’s a 67 year-old Palestinian American, community activist and teacher. In the fall of 2013, she was arrested by Department of Homeland Security for failing to disclose a 1969 conviction in an Israeli military court and charged with unlawful procurement of naturalization. Odeh, her father and fiancee were brutally tortured in an Israeli prison in 1969, which was related to a bombing in a Jerusalem supermarket. Israelis extracted a confession from Odeh and she spent 10 years in an Israeli prison where she was tortured and sexually assaulted.

Last week, Rasmea Odeh was found guilty of one count of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization. For over a year, Rasmea, her supporters, and her legal team have been battling this unjust government prosecution, saying from the start that the immigration charge was nothing but a pretext to attack this icon of the Palestine liberation movement. And although there is real anger and disappointment in the jury’s verdict, it was known as early as October 27th that she would not get a full and fair trial, because Judge Gershwin Drain made it nearly impossible for her defense.

 Attorney Michael Deutsch:

  • This case emanates from the FBI and the US Attorney in Chicago investigating the work of the Arab American Action Network and other people who were doing Palestine solidarity work in the Chicago area and throughout the Midwest.
  • They were bringing speakers here from Palestine to educate people
  • As a result of that work they were targeted by the FBI. Ultimately in September of 2010, the homes 7 activists were invaded. All their political material was taken. There was a Grand Jury that convened and 23 activists were subpoenaed and they also sought the records of the Arab American Action Network.
  • The U.S. Attorney of Chicago sent a request to Washington to look into the records of Odeh in Israel.
  • After several years, the Israelis came up with documents that showed she was arrested in 1969, put on trial by a military tribunal in the Occupied Territories.
  • . . found guilty, horrifically tortured, confessed as did her co-defendants, sentenced to life in prison, put in an Israeli prison, tried to escape in 1975, caught in a tunnel, trying to get out.
  • As a result of this they looked at her Naturalization application and saw that she said no as to whether she had ever been arrested, convicted or in prison and the commenced a criminal investigation and indicted her 9 years after she had gotten her citizenship. Months before a statute of limitations would have run on this charge.
  • We put forward a multi-level defense. One, we said that anything that was produced by the military court, the military judicial system was illegitimate, illegal – you’re tried by soldiers posing as judges. We said that she had been horrifically tortured and we had someone evaluate her over many days and hours, this woman who is one of the leading experts on torture said she (Rasmea) still suffers from PTSD.
  • That would have caused her when she filled out the application to cognitively block what had happened to her 40 years prior in Israel and therefore she wasn’t intentionally lying.
  • The judge refused all our motions, all our defense. He wouldn’t let her (Rasmea) testify about her torture, about her condition, or her innocence. All that was blocked by motions of the government.
  • We went to trial basically with our hands tied behind our backs.
  • What was a shock to me was the judge locked her up, pending sentencing. Now she sits in a county jail in Port Huron, Michigan for five months before the sentencing and obviously if the judge is not going to give her bail pending sentencing, he’s not going to give her bail pending appeal.
  • Judge Gershwin Drain who is African American who at first was kind of sympathetic and supportive and initially said we were allowed to put on our PTSD expert and put on a PTSD defense. Then all of a sudden the government put a move to reconsider, he changed his mind and basically gutted our trial.
  • We know of efforts all over the country to suppress student activity (around issues of Israel – Palestine)
  • We have to convince the judge to let her out on an appeal bond. Even after all that if she’s sentenced, she’s going to go to prison and then when she’s done with her prison sentence, they’re going to put in her into immigration prison and they’re going to deport her.

Guest – Attorney Michael Deutsch, 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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Food Chains Documentary Film Opens Nationwide This Week

The documentary film Food Chains opens nationwide in the United States this month. The film brings you into the world of a Florida farmworker led effort to hold responsible the 4 trillion dollar global supermarket industry. The CIW is doing so through the Fair Food program. That’s the program which partners growers and retailers to improve working conditions for farm laborers in the United States. For years, farmworkers often endure abuse, wage theft, and have been beaten and sexually harassed. Food Chains’ producers include Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser.  Find out about screenings and action to take at www.ciw-online.org

Saturday November 22 – 1:00pm: Screening of Food Chains & Post-film Panel CIW-Quad Cinema (34 W 13th St)  Food Chains also playing on Sat. Nov 22 at 7:45pm

Protest & March to Wendy’s Meet at Union Square Wendy’s (20 E. 14th St) Facebook

Guest – Gerardo  Reyes Chavez, has worked in the fields since age 11, first as a farmer in Zacatecas, Mexico, and then in the fields of Florida picking oranges, tomatoes, and watermelons. He joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida-based human rights organization, shortly after his arrival in the United States in 2000, when his fellow farm worker roommates, who had previously escaped a violent slavery operation hidden in the swamp south of Immokalee, Florida, invited him to come to the CIW’s Wednesday evening community meetings.

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Law and Disorder November 3, 2014


Updates

  • Michael Ratner Reports On An Important Break In The Julian Assange Case
  • Michael Ratner: Longest Case Of Pre-Trial Investigation In Swedish History In Which The Prosecutor Has Simply Sat On Her Hands.
  • Michael Ratner: What Sweden Did Here Is Divert Attention From The Underlying Problem
  • Michael Smith: United Nations And The Cuban Embargo Vote 2014
  • Michael Ratner: Israeli Business Men Are All Over Cuba

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Blackwater Guards Found Guilty in 2007 Baghdad Killings

Since 2003, private military contractors have been awarded millions of dollars each year by the U.S. Government in contracts. Many of the military contractor personnel have engaged in atrocious war crimes with zero accountability. Last week a federal jury convicted 4 former Blackwater private security contractors on manslaughter charges and 1 for manslaughter and murder of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad on September 16, 2007. The men were prosecuted under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, a law that allows the U.S. courts to hear cases against contractors to the U.S. Department of Defense for crimes committed overseas. The men were originally hired as private security guards for U.S government employees. Lawyers for Blackwater, now known as Academi LLC argued that the men were simply returning fire to protect themselves.Several civil cases filed by victims injured in the shootings were settled in 2010.

Attorney Susan Burke:

  • I think the verdict sends a very loud and large message to the globe that the American judicial system can operate properly.
  • That American juries understand when they see war crimes, they understand when they hear about a massacre.
  • We began working before the Abu-Ghraib photos were leaked. It began when Bob Woodward wrote a story for the Washington Post that revealed that the Bush Administration had decided to use torture as an instrument in the war.
  • We viewed this outsourcing as a potential weak flank in a sense in order to use legal mechanisms, lawsuits in order to prevent this country from departing with its values.
  • We were putting the evidence together before the photos leaked and suddenly we had a lot more evidence to sue the 2 government contractors L3 and CACI that were involved in the Abu-Ghraib torture.
  • The Blackwater case fits into that rubrick where we brought several different law suits along with the Center for Constitutional Rights. We brought the seven law suits for the victims of the Nisour Square massacre as well as for many other victims.
  • If you think about we’re going to the home turf of the wrong doers. The corporations are based in Virginia actually, and so we sued them in their home turf.
  • There’s one (civil) case remaining that’s now being handled by Baher Azmy at CCR and they just got a win from the Fourth Circuit – again getting permission for the case to proceed.
  • The vast majority of victims have settled with L3 paying 5.25 million.
  • Blackwater is a mercenary company that basically earned over a billion dollars from the State Department.
  • They were not at Abu Ghraib rather they were providing security for all of the diplomats and other Americans in Iraq.
  • At the time they were owned by Erik Prince, operated without any oversight from the State Department and they were involved with a significant number of instances were unnecessary and excessive force was used.
  • Erik Prince ended up entering into a settlement and all of those folks obtained compensation.
  • Prince then sold the company, retained a revenue stream but the company became Academi.
  • As a nation we continue to use these mercenaries and we continue to lack any regulation or oversight.       Unfortunately, things didn’t change under the Obama Administration and under Secretary Clinton at the State Department
  • What’s happened is there’s this terrible pattern where these companies have a lot of political influence and they continue to get enormous contracts and the State Department continues to outsource security without have a vibrant, or robust oversight function.
  • Blackwater vehicles rolled into Nisour Square and they began to open fire with heavy automatic weaponry and they simply began to spray indiscriminatly. They began to shoot all over Nisour Square killing people nearby and injuring people as they fled. No provocation, no real reason they began shooting.
  • One of the Blackwater men, a man named Jeremy Ridgeway actually stepped and told the truth early on, pled guilty and explained how this was in fact just indiscriminate shooting for no reason.
  • In order to properly handle these matters I ended up creating my own firm.

Guest – Attorney Susan Burke, represented plaintiffs in those civil cases and she joins us today to talk about criminal case, the sentence and the supporting evidence.

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Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues

A powerful analysis on the use of drones for targeted assassination by the Obama Administration is explored in Professor Marjorie Cohn’s newly published book titled Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. It’s a collection of various disciplines including sociologists, legal scholars, and human rights activists that examine aspects of the U.S. policy of targeted killings with drones and other methods. The book documents civilian casualties, and discuses the first U.S. targeted killing lawsuit by the lawyer who brought the case.

Attorney Marjorie Cohn:

  • Drones have become the Obama Administration’s preferred weapon of choice.
  • We rarely see images of the victims of drone strikes the overwhelming majority of whom are civilians.
  • We don’t hear their stories because the media sanitizes their stories.
  • We really don’t have a sense of the devastation that is reeked by drones.
  • I thought it was important to put together a collection of different aspects of this drone policy. Is it legal? Is it moral? What are the political ramifications? Does it make us safer? Does it make us less safe?
  • That Authorization for the Use of Military Force was very limited, it was only limited to groups and countries that supported the 911 attacks and Congress specifically rejected the Bush Administrations request for open ended military authority to deter and preempt any future acts of terrorism against the United States – and yet the Obama Administration has been relying on this as its legal authority.
  • Targeted extrajudicial killings off the battle field are illegal.
  • Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Occupied Territories wrote a very and interesting and provocative chapter called Why Drones Are More Dangerous Than Nuclear Weapons.
  • Medea Benjamin talked about stories of victims in Pakistan and Yemen and the tolls drones take on communities. The horror, the terror that children are sleeping with drones hovering overhead.
  • Pardiss Kebriaei with the Center for Constitutional Rights that handled the first targeted killing case in the United States writes a chapter.
  • Tom Hayden writes the conclusion about stopping the drones.
  • Phyllis Bennis from the Institute of Policy Studies talks about the assassination as essential to the U.S. war strategy due to the militarization of our foreign policy.
  • John Quigley from Ohio State University talks about the blowback from drones and how they actually make us less safe because when people see their families blown up, they resent the United States even more.
  • He talks about the history of U.S. foreign policy and the resentment its caused in those countries against the United States.
  • He (Barack Obama) has even expanded the use of drones in Iraq and Syria. He’s also using piloted aircraft. He’s also using the AUMF which does not apply at all.
  • This ISIS and Khorasan, the current groups doing horrible things over there are not covered by the Authorization for the Use Of Military Force.
  • He’s actually acting beyond what Congress has authorized to say nothing of it violating the U.N. charter.
  • Only 4 percent of victims in Pakistan were members or even associated with Al-Qaeda which means the overwhelming number of 2400 who have been killed in Pakistan by drone strikes are civilians.
  • The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires the FAA to integrate into U.S. airspace by September of 2015 to legalize commercial drones and some government agencies to use small drones. This is very very worrisome because of the privacy considerations primarily.
  • There are two different drone strikes the U.S. carries out. One is called personality strikes, where they target suspected bad guys. They call them militants. That could mean anything.
  • No due process, just take em out.
  • The other type of attack is called signature strikes. That is a strike that is carried out in an area of suspicious activity. If you’re a male between the ages of 16-65 in a area of suspicious activity than you’re fair game, even though the Obama Administration doesn’t know your identity.
  • First, there must be a legal basis for using lethal force, whether it is against a senior operational leader of a terrorist organization or the forces that organization is using or intends to use to conduct terrorist attacks.
  • Second, the United States will use lethal force only against a target that poses a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons. It is simply not the case that all terrorists pose a continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons; if a terrorist does not pose such a threat, the United States will not use lethal force.
  • Third, the following criteria must be met before lethal action may be taken:
  • Near certainty that the terrorist target is present;
  • Near certainty that non-combatants will not be injured or killed;
  • An assessment that capture is not feasible at the time of the operation;
  • An assessment that the relevant governmental authorities in the country where action is contemplated cannot or will not effectively address the threat to U.S. persons; andAn assessment that no other reasonable alternatives exist to effectively address the threat to U.S. persons.
  • Finally, whenever the United States uses force in foreign territories, international legal principles, including respect for sovereignty and the law of armed conflict, impose important constraints on the ability of the United States to act unilaterally – and on the way in which the United States can use force. The United States respects national sovereignty and international law.

Guest – Attorney Marjorie Cohn  former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures throughout the world on international human rights and U.S. foreign policy. A news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, she also provides legal and political commentary on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, Air America and Pacifica Radio.   In addition, Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. Her latest book, The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, was published in January 2011 by NYU Press.

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Law and Disorder October 27, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Obama Could Allow “Torture Light” Interpretation of U.N. Treaty on Torture
  • Michael Smith Returns From Argentina Book Tour, Describes How U.S Attempts To Destabilize Argentina Economy

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The Revictimization Relief Act (Muzzle Mumia)

Last Thursday, the Pennsylvania State Senate in a bi-partisan 37-11 vote, approved The Revictimization Release Act. This last minute controversial law was ignited by Mumia Abu Jamal’s commencement address delivered at Goddard College in Vermont. The law would grant crime victims or prosecutors acting on their behalf to file a civil action against an offender to seek injunctive relief to stop offenders or former inmates from engaging in conduct that would cause “temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” to the victim.

Mumia Abu Jamal is 60 years old. He’s in the general population at Mahanoy State Correctional Institution in Frackville. He has also given speeches at Evergreen State College in Washington and Antioch College in Ohio.

Attorney Bret Grote:

  • The Muzzle Mumia Law as it was called by the Harrisburg Patriot provides a cause of action for a victim of a personal injury crime to sue an offender in state court in Pennsylvania if that offender engages in conduct that “perpetuates” the effect of that crime on the victim. Later on in the statutes, that conduct is defined as including conduct that a temporary or permanent states of mental anguish.
  • It also provides for the district attorney where the conviction was secured or the state’s attorney general to essentially act as the private attorney for the victim in order to bring this suit.
  • It also does encompass not only speech about the crime whether its somebody like Mumia or Lorenzo Johnson or countless others who speak out about being framed up in Pennsylvania, but it doesn’t even make any exceptions for legal proceedings – and obviously people appealing criminal convictions can cause anguish to others.
  • There are standards and no definitions for the conduct that is at issue except in relation to its impact on the victim and to provide some context as I’m sure your listeners know why it was written this way is they needed to write a statute that would sweep so broadly so as to encompass things like Mumia giving a commencement address at Goddard College, which was used as a pretext for whipping up this frenzy at the state legislature.
  • It is a prior restraint on the freedom of speech but its written so broadly that Maureen Faulkner or the district attorney could conceivably go into court under this law.
  • The House Judiciary committee in discussing this law when it was introduced in committee raised the issue of would this allow a court to enjoin what they called third party vessels.
  • It could be Prison Radio, or it could be an individual who is authorized to speak to the media, or make a public statement.
  • It was passed 197-0 in the House Legislature, and 37-11 in the Senate.
  • It just shows you what takes precedence over any kind of adherence of the Constitution of the state or the United States, more than any law is allegiance to power amongst the political class, Pennsylvania politicians, attorney generals, district attorneys, are no strangers to Constitutional violations, its a normative practice for them.
  • Right now, I’m representing Mumia in this and Prison Radio and Robert Holbrook who is a juvenile lifer and Human Rights Coalition member and activist and writer.
  • Its unconstitutional under traditional over breadth analysis, it penalized lawful speech and its void for vagueness.
  • There is probably nothing that would be more traumatizing for an actual victim of a crime then to have to go through this process that they’ve laid out in the Revictimization Release Act.
  • They explicitly and exclusively focused on Mumia.
  • This legislation was introduced by a former member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mike Verib, who was a former Philadelphia police officer now a state legislator. In the context of Mumia’s case they have been leading a lynch mob literally in the streets to snuff out his voice.
  • For decades the judge that presided over his trial was a Fraternal Order of Police member. They finance and vet the campaigns of every Supreme Court Justice in the state of Pennsylvania, the same with people running for office as governors.
  • Mumia is being used in this context to reestablish the narrative, the Fraternal Order of Police, the police, their political counterparts are righteous protectors of public safety and that they’re beyond question and beyond reproach in trying to reset the propaganda line that has been dislodged in the wake of the rebellions in Ferguson, Illinois.

Guest – Pennsylvania attorney Brete Grote,  a member of the Russell Maroon Shoatz legal team and cofounder and legal director of the Abolitionist Law Center. Bret has worked with the Human Rights Coalition since 2007 as an investigator, organizer, and researcher. He was the Isabel and Alger Hiss Racial Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012. He graduated from the University of Pitt Law School in May 2013 and was recognized as the school’s Distinguished Public Interest Scholar.

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Richard Falk: The Palestinian Future After Gaza

We hear a presentation by Richard Falk titled The Palestinian Future After Gaza. Richard Falk was presenting at the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture, co-sponsored by Columbia’s Heyman Center for the Humanities. It’s given once a year in honor of the public intellectual and literary critic, Edward W. Said, who taught in the English & Comparative Literature Department at Columbia from 1963 until 2003

Richard Falk is Albert G. Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton where he was a member of the faculty for 40 years. Since 2002 he has been associated with Global & International Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara as a research professor.

He was Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the UN Human Rights Council since 2008, and served on a panel of experts appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly, 2008-2009. He is Chair of the Board of Directors, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an NGO located in Santa Barbara.

He is also a member of the editorial board of several journals and magazines, including the American Journal of International Law, Third World Quarterly, Globalizations, The Nation, and The Progressive. Formerly, he was for many years North American Director of the World Order Models Project.

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