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Archive for the 'Prosecution of the Bush Administration' Category


Law and Disorder June 20, 2016


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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith

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Law and Disorder May 16, 2016


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Tomas Young’s War

At age 19 Tomas Young joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. For patriotic reasons he wanted to fight in Afghanistan because of that country’s connection to the attack.

He was instead deployed to Iraq, a country that had zero connection to the attacks on September 11, 2001. He was in Iraq but a few days when he was shot in an insurgent ambush while sitting in the back of an open truck driving through an area of unrest in Baghdad.

The first shot severed his spinal cord paralyzing him from the nipples on down. The second shot shattered his knee. He never felt it. Tomas Young lived for nine years with his catastrophic injury. He became a forceful and eloquent spokesman against the war in Iraq.

The movie “body of war” was made about him.  Tomas died of his injuries in 2014 at the age of 34.

Guest – Cathy Smith, a single mother who had cared for her son Tomas and advocated for him.

Guest – Mark Wilkerson spent eight years in the U.S. Army as an AH-1 Cobra & UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with the 3rd Infantry & 101st Airborne Divisions. He was deployed with the 101st to Mogadishu, Somalia, for six months in 1993. Mark has three children, Alex, Nick and Sam. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife Melissa. This is his third book. Phil Donahue and the DONAHUE show have been honored with 20 Daytime Emmy Awards, including nine for Outstanding Host and a George Foster Peabody Broadcasting Journalism Award.

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Surveillance State and Tor

As computer technology has evolved and communications providers have profited, law enforcement and government intelligence organizations increasingly lobby to mandate that data services be engineered to allow them “back door” access to encrypted data.

Even as expansive anti-terrorism legislation provides more ways for the government to harvest our personal data, calls still continue for regulation of technology to ensure extra access channels. With each high-profile criminal attack, on U.S. soil or elsewhere across the world, government efforts to access personal communications gain momentum.

Years ago, many considered TOR, software that enables anonymous communication, to be equivalent to the Dark Net, the nefarious sites and services accessible on the Tor network that promote/enable illegal activity such as drug and gun marketplaces. After Edward Snowden’s massive data release, however, TOR use in the last year has grown quickly.

Guest – Shari Steele, Executive Director of the Tor Project. As the former director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Shari built it into the nation’s preeminent digital rights organization.

 

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Law and Disorder March 21, 2015


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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by Jim Douglass

JFK and the Unspeakable is the first book of 3 on the assassinations of the 1960s. Orbis Books has commissioned author James W. Douglass to write about the murders of JFK, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, and his  the third will be on the assassination of Bobby Kennedy. The heart of JFK the Unthinkable, is not how Kennedy was killed or how Kennedy became a threat to the systemic war machine, but why DID Kennedy die? Author James Douglass says Kennedy knew that he would die and had the guts to stand up to the system and take the hit. This narrative was lost for decades, obscured by disinformation about Kennedy’s character and the conspiracy of his assassination. One review summarizes Douglass’s book in this way : JFK’s belated effort to turn America from an armed culture of victory to a member of an international peaceful world was shot down in Texas for a reason.

Jim Douglass:

  • John F. Kennedy’s experience in WWII:  He was in the South Pacific, he volunteered. He was on that PT boat.
  • What happened on that PT boat, is that it got split into two by a Japanese destroyer. He lost brothers and friends at that time.  An extraordinary experience being adrift on the ocean warning other PT boats. The experience create a distrust in military authority.
  • He said that he wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter to the winds.
  • As Kennedy said to his friends, “they figured me all wrong.”
  • The Unspeakable: the kind of evil and deceit that seems to go beyond the capacity of words to describe. The midst of war and nuclear arms race, the assassinations of Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcom X that the term was used.
  • JFK’s vision is articulated in the address June 10, 1963, arising from the turnaround of the missile crisis and Bay of Pigs. He wanted to move step by step into a disarmed world.
  • Nikita Khrushchev put that speech all over the Soviet Union.  The Cuban Missile Crisis is a deeply misunderstood part of our history, because it’s usually portrayed as Kennedy going to war with Nikita Khrushchev and beating him.
  • The truth was that Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev were in over their heads, the US generals wanted nuclear war, because they had more warheads than the Soviets.
  • Nikita Khrushchev: We now have a common enemy from those pushing us toward war.
  • At that point the Cold War turned upside down because Kennedy and Khrushchev became closer to each other than either was toward their own military power system.
  • Vietnam: Kennedy’s military people would not give him an exit policy. He signed the withdrawal order from Vietnam before he was assassinated.
  • His friends said that he had an obsession with death. It was not an obsession but a real assessment that he was going to die. If you try to turn around a national security state that is dominating the world,
  • and you do so as president of the United States, of course you’re going to die. Kennedy knew that.
  • The book is a story on the deliberate destruction of hope, the vision of change, a turning of this country all of which was happening and had to be stopped. US Agencies killed Dr. Martin Luther King – 1999 Verdict
  • We’re in the same scene right now with Petraeus and McChrystal setting up Obama. They were dictating terms to Obama, unlike Kennedy, he did not face them down.
  • We need to get out ahead of Obama so that he can do something.

Guest – James W. Douglassauthor and a longtime peace activist and writer. James and his wife Shelley are co-founders of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, Washington, and Mary’s House, a Catholic Worker house of hospitality in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Law and Disorder January 18, 2016


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NYC Teacher Fired For Lessons About The Central Park Five

An English teacher at a New York City high school claims that she was fired because of a lesson on the so-called Central Park Five which school administrators warned her would “rile up” black students. Jeena Lee-Walker recently filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Dept. of Education and several administrators from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry after being fired for insubordination and poor evaluations. She claims they were the result of her pushing back on topics like the Central Park Five. Lee-Walker,  who graduated from Barnard and has post-graduate degrees from Harvard and Fordham, began working at the school in 2013 and says she was told to be more “balanced” in covering the Central Park Five case in November of that year.

The  lawsuit claims retaliation against her “violated her First Amendment right to discuss the Central Park Five case, and that the firing violated the city’s contract with the teacher’s union because she was not given a required 60 days notice.” As listeners may recall, the Central Park Five, who were wrongfully jailed for the 1989 rape of a Central Park jogger, received a $42 million settlement from NY City. In 2014, they sued the state seeking $52 million in damages for the emotional trauma of being incarcerated for years for a crime they were coerced into confessing to.

Guest – Attorney Ambrose Wotorson, a Brooklyn based attorney who is representing Jeena Lee-Walker in this case. He’s a trial lawyer focusing employment law and business litigation. Twitter account.

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Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror

Retired Florida U. S. Senator Bob Graham was the head of the US Senate intelligence committee and also  the chairman of the 9/11 commission of inquiry. He is the leading person trying to get President Obama to release to the public the suppressed 28 pages of the 911 report which have been hidden. Senator Graham contends that the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom who were Saudi Arabians,  could not have pulled off the operation alone and that in fact they were part of a support network involving the Saudi Arabian monarchy and government which helped plan, pay for and execute the complicated 911 plot which, says Senator Graham, would have otherwise been impossible to accomplish. Senator Graham has written the book Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror. It provides a candid insight to the workings of the US in Saudi relations and their implications on US foreign-policy making as it pertains to the middle east and bags tension, contemporary geopolitics.

Guest – Senator Bob Graham, is the former two–term governor of Florida and served for 18 years  in the United States Senate. This is combined with 12 years in the Florida  legislature for a total of 38 years of public service. As Governor and Senator,  Bob Graham was a centrist, committed to bringing his colleagues together behind  programs that served the broadest public interest. He was recognized by the  people of Florida when he received an 83% approval ranking as he concluded  eight years as Governor. Bob Graham retired from public service in January  2005, following his Presidential campaign in 2004.

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Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism and Middle East Geopolitics

We take a deeper look at Saudi Arabia and its relationship first United States and then to the other countries in the Middle East region.

Guest – Professor Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian American who grew up in New York City. He teaches at Columbia University where he is the Edward Said Professor of Arab studies and the head of the Middle East Institute.  He is the author of a number of books, most recently “The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle For Statehood. He has written more than 80 scholarly articles on Middle Eastern history and politics as well as op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Nation magazine.

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Law and Disorder July 13, 2015


Updates:

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Steven Salaita Hired by American University of Beirut

In what we can view as a major victory for supporters of Palestinian human rights fired Professor Steven Salaita has been hired at the American University in Beirut in the American Studies Department. The American Association of University Professors calls Steven Salaita’s firing one of the significant violations of academic freedom in this decade. Nationwide over 5000 academics pledged to boycott the university resulting in the cancellation of dozens of scheduled talks and conferences at the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois’ action was part of a broader campus crackdown on Palestinian human rights activism that threatens both the foundational role of the university as a place of critical thinking and debate and the ability to advocate for Palestinian rights.

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

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Greece Economic Crisis 2015 Update

Earlier this year we spoke with regular columnist for the National Herald Dan Georgakas about the historic election as the people of Greece voted in the anti-austerity party of Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipiras winning a 149 seats of the 300 seat Parliament. Today, the economic and political state in Greece is in a tremendous state of flux.  Will Greece leave the EU and the Eurozone? Will its debt be written down and restructured?

Guest – Dan Georgakas, regular columnist for the National Herald, the leading Greek American weekly newspapero co-author of Detroit: I Do Mind Dying and coeditor of Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW.  He was a frequent contributor to now defunct Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora and the Journal of Modern Hellenism. Dan has taught at NYU, CUNY, Van Arsdale Labor College, Columbia University and University of Oklahoma.

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Law and Disorder June 15, 2015


 Updates

  • Michael Ratner Update: Iraqi Woman Sues Bush Administration for Illegal Iraq War
  • Remembering Ronnie Gilbert from The Weavers

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The Campaign To Free Oscar Lopez Riviera

There’s been a long struggle by Puerto Ricans here in the United States for the independence of their native land Puerto Rico. Oscar Lopez Riviera was one of these people. He was framed up on the political charge of seditious conspiracy and has been in prison since the 1980s. All his co-defendants in the original trial have now been freed but he remains locked up and there is a campaign going on in the United States right now to free Oscar Lopez Riviera.

Guest – Attorney Jan Susler joined People’s Law Office in 1982 after working for six years as a Clinical Law Professor at the legal clinic at Southern Illinois University’s School of Law, Prison Legal Aid. At the People’s Law Office she continued her litigation and advocacy work on prisoners’ rights issues and also took on representing people wrongfully imprisoned, falsely arrested, strip searched, or subjected to excessive force by police officers.

Her long history of work on behalf of political prisoners and prisoners’ rights includes litigation, advocacy and educational work around federal and state control unit prisons in the U.S. Her work with the Puerto Rican Independence Movement and with progressive movements challenging U.S. foreign and domestic policies has been a constant throughout her 36 years as a lawyer. She was an adjunct professor of criminal justice at Northeastern Illinois University, and taught constitutional law at the University of Puerto Rico.  For over three decades she has represented Puerto Rican political prisoners, and she served as lead counsel in the efforts culminating in the 1999 presidential commutation of their sentences. She continues to represent those who remain imprisoned.
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Genocide In The Middle East, The Ottoman Empire, Iraq and Sudan

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve discussed genocide. Genocide of course, we’ve most recently discussed with our co-host whose family was effected by the Armenian genocide, we’ve discussed that genocide. We’ve also discussed the question of whether what has happened to Palestinians the Middle East also constitutes as genocide.

Guest – Hannibal Travis teaches and conducts research in the fields of cyberlaw, intellectual property, antitrust, international and comparative law, and human rights. He joined FIU after several years practicing intellectual property and Internet law at O’Melveny & Myers in San Francisco, California, and at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York. He has also served as Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Villanova University, and a Visiting Fellow at Oxford. He graduated summa cum laude in philosophy from Washington University, where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he served as a member of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology and the Harvard Human Rights Journal, and as a teaching assistant in Harvard College. After law school, Professor Travis clerked for the United States District Court in Los Angeles, California. Professor Travis has published articles on copyright, trademark, and antitrust law in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Hofstra Law Review, the Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA, Notre Dame Law Review, Pepperdine Law Review, University of Miami Law Review, Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, and Yale Journal of Law and Technology.

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Law and Disorder May 18, 2015


Updates:

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

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May 8 1945 – End of World War II

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

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ECCHR: Bush Torture Team Travel Restriction

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

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

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Law and Disorder 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 October 6, 2014


Updates:

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

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Evaluation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder July 7, 2014


Updates

  • Chilean Court Finds American Journalist Charles Horman Was Murdered With Help of US Government – CCR Case
  • Appeals Court Rules Victims of Torture at Abu Ghraib May Sue Private Military Contractor CACI  Al-Shimari v. CACI
  • Happy Birthday To Julian Assange From Law and Disorder Hosts
  • Hobby Lobby: Continued Attack On Women’s Reproductive Rights
  • The Meaning of the Fourth of July For the Negro By Frederick Douglas

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Federal Court Dismisses All Charges Against Dr. Sami al-Arian

In very good news last week the US Department of Justice dropped all of its criminal charges prosecutions etc of activist and Palestinian professor Sami Al Arian. They’ve been trying to persecute, charge him etc. for over 11 years. The case began in 2003 as a criminal case. Although he was charged with some 14 counts he was convicted of none. Rather than face trial again Al-Arian pled guilty to one count served some time and most of us thought it was over by then. He had an agreement that he couldn’t be further prosecuted, that they wouldn’t go after him any longer but that he could be deported. Unfortunately the Department of Justice had a what you would have to call an Islamophobic vendetta against Sami Al Arian. They went after him again, first with the civil contempt of a grand jury he did time for that and in then something utterly unusual they charged him with criminal contempt. The criminal contempt case was pending for five years finally, last week the Department of Justice, the prosecutors dismissed that case.

 Laila Al-Arian:

  • We’re feeling a sense of relief that this nightmare appears to be coming to an end.
  • We’re happy to hear about the government dismissing the charges against my father.
  • In a way it’s vindication for my father, we said in the very beginning. It’s been 11 years. We said all along this is a political case.
  • If my father truly were a criminal, they would try their utmost to keep him in prison. Not to say political prisoners aren’t often arrested unjustly, tried and imprisoned but we’re hoping that this finally means this saga will end and my father can live as a free man.
  • What preceded it (2003 indictment) was really a decade of harassment. The FBI basically tapping our phone calls, not just my father’s but siblings and I as well. When you think of the Snowden disclosures and the NSA spying on people, for us this is a reality.
  • We had no sense of privacy growing up. Simply because my father was a Palestinian activist who dared to challenged the common narrative that you normally hear in the United States.
  • Because he really dared to offer a different perspective and to try to help people being subjugated and occupied, so because of that he became a target, not only of the FBI but really powerful pro-Israel voices and forces here in the U.S who tried to smear his name for many many years, accused him of being a terrorist.
  • That was part of it, because he was an advocate on Palestinian human rights but also because he was a person who really thought to involve American Muslims politically.
  • A lot of these forces I mentioned after 9-11, they really exploited the atmosphere with fear and hysteria and tried to paint my father as this menacing figure, as a terrorist, and at time when the Bush Administration should have been working with American Muslim leaders and try to build a bridge between east and west. Instead the targeted my father and tried to make an example out of him, to say that if you dare to speak out this is what will happen to you.
  • He ended up being arrested in 2003 and placed in some of the most atrocious and inhumane conditions that even Amnesty International condemned and was held basically for 2 and a half years before he was basically put on trial.
  • The trial lasted for six months, the government spent millions and millions of dollars on the case. They even flew in witnesses from Israel to testify about things my father had nothing to do with.
  • After months of negotiations my father signed a plea agreement to end his case once and for all.  The government ended up violating the key agreement and basically a prosecutor here in Virginia on ended up at bringing him here and trying to basically retry the Florida case despite the agreement and tried to get him to testify in another case against a Muslim think tank in Virginia and when he refused to testify for the violation of the pre-agreement he was held first on civil contempt and then charged criminal contempt.
  • It was very clear that the true intent of this Islamophobic and pro-Israel prosecutor Gordon Kromberg is to retry the Florida case in Virginia, basically pretending it was another case when all of the questions had to do with the Florida case.
  • Then the judge received a couple of motions from my father’s attorneys asking to fully dismiss the case and there were no rulings in the past few years by the judge and finally the government decided to drop the charges.
  • Luckily in the fall of 2008, my father was released on bail. He was released on house arrest.
  • It’s really a testament that there is no case. The think tank that was investigated by Kromberg wasn’t charged for a single crime. They convened one grand jury after another and there were never any charges, any indictment.
  • My father was a professor at the University of South Florida, a professor of computer engineering when he was arrested. It’s a very complicated case, as we mentioned stretches over a decade. It’s a case that actually outlasted the Iraq War.
  • The next step is in the plea agreement my father unfortunately at the time his back was against the wall, he did end up agreeing to deportation, so now we expect that he will be deported. But as a stateless Palestinian, we don’t know where he’ll be deported.
  • My father’s trial attorneys were Bill Moffet and Linda Moreno.

Guest – Laila Al-Arian,  a writer and producer for Al Jazeera English. She helped produce the network’s Palestine Papers special in January 2011, a four-day program on the largest diplomatic leak in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She is the co-author of Collateral Damage: America’s War Against Iraqi Civilians She is the daughter of Professor Sami Al-Arian.

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Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Organized Labor

Last week the United States Supreme Court decided on the case Harris v. Quinn ruling that some government employees didn’t have to pay any fees to the unions representing them. The case was brought by 8 Illinois workers who provided home care to Medicaid recipients. Some of the plaintiffs were mothers who were personal assistants to their disabled children and opposed joining the union.  In a 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito Jr.concluded there was type of government employee called a partial public employee who can opt out of joining a union and not be required to pay union fees.

Labor Attorney Bill Herbert:

  • Harris versus Quinn I what the ramifications of it while the court held that the majority held that a statute in in Illinois that provided for requiring employees in a bargaining unit to pay agency fee to union was unconstitutional and therefore struck down a provision of a contract that require those employees to pay a fee for being represented by the union.
  • These are domestic workers who work for people who are ill and who but also that their salaries and the benefits are paid for by the state.
  • These are public employees defined by state law as public employees but it is a background in the National Labor Relations Act which is the Wagner act which was past in 1935 specifically exempts domestic workers in farmworkers from representational rights. These employees if they were just hired by someone to come to their home would not have any rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • In 1947 Taft-Hartley was passed, Taft-Hartley allows for states to pass laws which are called right to work laws or referred to as right to work laws.
  • A state can prohibit a contract to provide that people who decide not to join the union still have to pay a fee related to the representation.
  • For public employees there was a case decided in 1977 called Abood which came out of Detroit. In 1977 case public employees it was found  constitutional to establish a procedure where people were not members of the public sector union still have to pay a fee for the representational rights that’s negotiations etc. but don’t have to pay for what is sometimes is ideological work which would be in a political activity such as supporting candidates etc. 
  • There was a procedure created where people can object and they can go in and raise issues and seek to have only monies relevant to collective-bargaining be a part of their fee, so that was Abood.
  • The heart of wages and benefits are something that are set by the state. It’s called joint employer relationship.
  • The court in the Harris v. Quinn case ruled that its unconstitutional for these employees to be required to pay a fee for the benefits they received based on the representation provided by the union.
  • It’s interesting to compare this to Citizens United. In Citizens United, shareholders who are opposed to what a corporation may spend in terms of money for political action in terms of supporting candidates, had no say.
  • The Supreme Court found that in Citizens United the First Amendment gives corporations First Amendment rights and the share holders have no say.
  • In this case the Supreme Court held that these employees don’t have to pay anything for being represented by the union in collective bargaining for the state.
  • Domestic workers are usually low wage employees, very high turn over, people who are generally receiving the low end of the pay scale.
  • What we’re looking at is constitutionalizing this concept which was previously statutory in the private sector and making it such that other statues around the country where states have intervened in providing for representational rights for people excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
  • These other statutes may now be challenged based on this ground and in the future it’s based on language of the decision. It’s conceivable that this case could at least the verbiage in the majority decision which Justice Kagan referred to is good to as gratuitous dicta about Abood decision and why was wrongfully decided is something then they come back to be utilized in future cases in future challenges against the requiring union members of bargaining you do not union members to pay a fee.
  • In Illinois and in other states domestic workers have been working in the doing a lot of work towards organizing to provide the collective bargaining but for example in New York they don’t have the right to collectively bargain nor farmworkers in other states both farmworkers and domestic workers have rights to unionize.
  • These kind of this decision where depending on the structure that the state’s designs could be subject to build the other statues they subject to challenge legally.
  • One of the ironies in this case is that one of the reasons why these agency fee arrangements have been states have put them into place is to create stability within bargaining is not having multiple unions trying to come in and and try to organize employees or having conflicts between members who are paying for the services against people who are not paying so the legislatures when they pass in Illinois for example they when they passed the statute were seeking to provide stability  in the workplace.  Most “Right to Work” states are in the South.
  • The current time is being described as the new Gilded Age and new Gilded Age is about wage disparity but is also other things including job security and issues involving the pensions.
  • Tenure is under attack pensions are under attack and now there’s an attack upon the idea of having to pay representative to provide you with with representation. A lot of the initiatives that have been enacted in the 20th century are being stripped away and it’s being tied with basically the new Gilded Age.
  • The good news of the decision was that Abood was not overturned.

Guest – William A. Herbert is a Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, City University of New York and a former Deputy Chair and Counsel to the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB).  Prior to his tenure at PERB, Bill practiced labor and employment law in federal and state courts, administrative agencies and in arbitration. Bill is one of the editors of the treatise Public Sector Labor and Employment Law, Third Edition and he has written and spoken extensively on public sector labor law and history.

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