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Law and Disorder February 9, 2015


Coming Up Next Week Police Shooting Reaches Supreme Court Exclusive Michael Avery Interview

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1971

On March 8th 1971, a group of anonymous individuals calling themselves the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI, broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pennsylvania. They stole thousands of government documents. Among the documents was proof that the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover, was spying on law abiding citizens. The program is known as COINTELPRO and it was used to monitor, manipulate and disrupt social and political movements in the United States. The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI has been documented recently in a highly acclaimed film titled 1971, directed by Johanna Hamilton.

Johanna Hamilton:

  • I consider myself to have the good fortune to have known Betty Medsger, the author of the Burglary, for many years.
  • She and I had a personal relationship that long predated our professional collaboration.
  • Over time she came to share the outlines of the story with me and it sounded completely remarkable.
  • She introduced me to a few members of the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI. The 40th anniversary was approaching.
  • They wanted the story, which was so little known, to have a larger life.
  • To be clear, Betty worked many years on the book. She’s done remarkable and profound research and I joined much later and was the net beneficiary of so much of her research.
  • There were four years where we worked in tandem.
  • When I showed the film to the Citizens Commission, while the credits rolled, Keith (Keith Forsyth – the lock picker) especially, he got up and said, good job.
  • It’s a period of history I’ve been fascinated with since I was a teenager. It was the story of these extraordinary ordinary individuals who had put everything on the line and taken such great personal risk to benefit democracy.
  • They trained themselves for one night of crime. They steal all the documents in the office, leak them to the press. They send them to major newspapers, and to a couple politicians. In the end, the Washington Post is the only newspaper that decides to publish the first stories.
  • Those first stories reveal with out question illegal government spying on citizens who are going about their daily lives and exercising their First Amendment rights.
  • Betty wrote the first stories in the Washington Post and the story fades a little from the headlines. The Pentagon Papers explode 3 or 4 months later. Daniel Ellsberg is on the scene.
  • Then our story picks up again.
  • It seems inconceivable now but Hoover had been director for over 50 years, and that’s no longer possible.
  • Some people who seen the film before say they were really moved by the Church Committee hearings.
  • Attorney David Kairys is a huge figure in Philadelphia and yes back in the day he was contacted by two members of the Citizens Commission. He didn’t know what they had done, but if they got caught, they could call him day or night.
  • We were reaching the tail end, or we thought we were reaching the tail end of the film when the Snowden revelations happened.
  • The Snowden revelations were one thing, absolute bombshell, but prior to that we had a couple of other instances. Back in 2011, September, there were raids all across the country, animal rights activists, environmental groups. One night Brian Williams introduced the news and described these raids and said you know its reminiscent of Hoover back in the 1970s.
  • We had whole scenes cut together with that footage and debated and deliberated on that. In the end erred on the side of excluding it.
  • It’s opening here in New York City and will start rolling out across the country. If you check our website we update the cities that it will show at. It will be on PBS, Independent Lens at the end of May. 1971Film.com

Guest – Johanna Hamilton, director of the film 1971. She also co-produced Pray the Devil Back to Hell, which won Best Documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008 and was shortlisted for an Academy Award. Johanna has produced nonfiction programs for PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, A&E, Discovery Channel, and The Washington Post/Newsweek Productions, including September’s Children, a documentary for PBS exploring how children around the world are affected by terrorism and war.

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Nyle Every-28-hours

Inspiring, and Awakening Political Activism in Youth

Young people across the nation have played a critical role in taking to the streets to protest social inequities, from Ferguson, Missouri to New York City. In a recent article in the journal Socialism and Democracy, “The Roots of Mass Incarceration: Locking Up Black Dissidents and Punishing the Poor,” writer, activist and youth pastor Nyle Fort describes how he became politically active and who inspired him. We talk with Nyle about the status of protest in this country, the forces of oppression, how young people are involved and how he helps inspire them.

Nyle Fort:

  • I graduated from Morehouse College and ended up going to seminary. I was already a licensed and ordained preacher but I wasn’t politicized yet.
  • I had already been involved in the community via the church doing speaking engagements with youth and things like that.
  • It wasn’t until I got into Princeton Theological Seminary that I began to get politicized.
  • The way that it happened was I was taking an introductory seminary class called Systematic Theology with a professor Mark Taylor. In that class he actually had Mumia Abu-Jamal call in live from death row.
  • When I heard him speak, I stopped in my seat. This man who I knew nothing of was speaking to me that was moving, not only me but I could tell the entire classroom and doing so by a 6 foot, by 10 foot cell. A cell that he had been in for 30 years, longer than I had been alive.
  • Two weeks later I found myself through Mark Taylor at my first rally December 9, 2011. Two days after Mumia had been released from death row.
  • I read the New Jim Crow very quickly, then Angela Davis’ works. That was really the beginning for me.
  • I entered activism through a prison abolitionist lens, through Mumia.
  • The rally for me was an embodiment of the things Mumia was talking about.
  • I preach. I was at First Baptist Church in Lincoln Gardens. It’s one of the largest black churches in New Jersey. My style of ministry was evolving as I was being radicalized and politicized.
  • I tried to do a lot of social justice work. We were writing letters to our incarcerated brothers and sisters as forms of religious activism.
  • I discovered a prophetic religious tradition that comes from a black liberation theological perspective.
  • When I was on the bus ride back from Ferguson I was really mad. Mad as hell because I felt there was a relative silence from the church, particularly the black church.
  • I believe in love not as a word but as a work.
  • When I engage with youth, I try to practice a love that is material. I tell young people, I love you more than they hate you.
  • We have to deal the trauma and the pain that we inherit as black people living in the western world and all around the world.
  • Love for me is a critical, not a politic that we can talk about, but a practice we can embody and engage in everyday. That has material life.
  • We’re going to take Cornell West’s worlds seriously that justice is what love looks like in public, then we have to have a love that’s expansive enough to be material and to be felt.
  • Black Lives Matter particularly as a network has articulated a feminist politic, a black feminist politic, a queer politic that is forcing us to live out our intersectionality.
  • What we’re not talking about enough is that’s messy, and its not romantic.
  • I think of oppression as institutionalized lovelessness. Let’s love each other in ways that causes each other to act.
  • Twitter – @nylefort

Guest – Nyle Fort – Nyle is a Master’s of Divinity candidate at Princeton Theological Seminary, a youth pastor, freelance writer, and grassroots community organizer based in Newark, New Jersey. He was very active during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City.

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Please help support Law and Disorder by clicking on Fractured Atlas graphic. 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 February 2, 2015


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Special on Mass Incarceration : Socialism and Democracy – Lessons from Attica: From Prisoner Rebellion to Mass Incarceration and Back

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s observed that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” Our guest Dr. Heather Ann Thompson reports in her recent article Lessons from Attica: From Prisoner Rebellion to Mass Incarceration and Back, that according to the Prison Policy Initiative, by 2011 the United States was confining “more than 2.4 million people in 1719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3283 local jails, and 79 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson:

  • Its important to really examine the broader history of prisons and criminal justice because trying to explain how we became the world’s outlier with so many incarcerated and such a hugely disproportionate number being persons of color, we have a lot to explain.
  • Something very clearly happened after the 1960s to our criminal justice system, even more specifically after 1971. Clearly it had a lot to do with the rebellions of that period.
  • Sorting all that out is what I’ve been doing for the last decade.
  • Just like had happened after the civil war, sort of the first great moment of civil rights unrest in this country when we had 4 million newly freed African Americans demanding a real voice in our society, and meaningful equality.
  • The response of that society, in that case, in the South, was to change all the laws. To all of a sudden criminalize black spaces in new ways and almost overnight southern prison institutions not only exploded in population but they went from being all white to all black.
  • You fast forward to the 1960s and I think something similar happened.
  • Many northern politicians begin to conflate urban protest and unrest, the slow pace of the equality and gains with crime, and began a war on crime in 1964 with Lyndon Johnson before there was immediately impressive rise in crime.
  • We need to know much more about the people that were inside the prison walls.
  • What happened in the American prison system that we see today, what seems to be the ultimate control, the ultimate punitive penal state.
  • One of the long standing lawyers in this case Elizabeth Fink fought this battle on behalf of the Attica brothers for decades and decades. These are the people who are the real repository of that history.
  • My role as a scholar, what I tried to do was rescue for the American public, some of those hidden histories. You had a 4 day congregating thousands, 1300 men inside of a penal institution that were willing to stand together and black, Puerto Rican, white and say to the state, we’re willing to negotiate with you logically and in good faith to try to improve the conditions under which we live.
  • What made it so really remarkable was the world’s attention was focused on it. Everybody was watching Attica.
  • But ultimately, New York state was unwilling to give in on the most important demand which was amnesty.
  • Amnesty for which once they surrendered, they would not be charged for any riot-related crimes that the state would alleged they’d committed and an assurance that they would not have reprisals.
  • They – state troopers- retook the prison in an utter brutal fashion. They mowed down people first with tear gas then guns, handguns, deer slugs, shot guns, killing scores of people, wounding scores of people.
  • Then, realizing the blood bath, officials stood outside and told the world, that the prisoners are the ones that killed the hostages, and from then on tried to control the story, cover up what really happened, that began the 40 year saga of trying to tell the truth of what happened at Attica.
  • Had I not met people like Elizabeth Fink who could help me understand this story and had I not spent ten years digging in every knook and cranny to try to uncover the story, this would have been a difficult story to tell because the state has gone to enormous lengths to keep a lid on it.

Guest – Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, is a native Detroiter currently  on faculty in the Departments of African American Studies and History at Temple University. In 2015 she will be joining the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Thompson has just completed the first comprehensive history of the Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its legacy for Pantheon Books.

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Professor Sues University of Illinois Over Firing for “Uncivil” Gaza Tweets

We bring you to a press conference held in New York City last week at the Center for Constitutional Rights. The Center is representing Professor Steven Salaita along with the Chicago civil rights law firm of Loevy & Loevy. Salaita was hired and then discharged before he could even start his job last summer at the University of Illinois. He was hired by the American Indian Studies program after a thorough vetting. After Israel attacked Gaza where some 2000 people were killed including 500 children. Salaita tweeted several what were termed “uncivil” messages on his twitter account. This was brought to the attention of Zionist donors to the University of Illinois who then pressured Chancellor Phyllis Wise to rescind the hiring. Professor Salaita’s case is probable the most important case in 50 years, not since the 60s when the Supreme Court overturned the non-communist loyalty oath has an issue of this importance arisen. Some 6000 professors have vowed to boycott the University of Illinois.

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Greece’s Left-Wing Coalition Wins Majority

Last week in a historic election, the Greek people voted in the anti-austerity party of Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipiras winning a 149 seats of the 300 seat Parliament. In the previous 8 years, the Greek people have demonstrated massively, occupied government buildings and have gone on more than 30 general strikes. Now they’ve formed a party to take back power in government to effectuate a program that will call for cancellation of debt, nationalization of the banks, and expropriating closed factories. Will their attempt to alleviate much of the misery of the Greek population succeed? We’ll see.

Dan Georgakas:

  • Austerity in Greece means 26 percent unemployment for at least 3 years, 60 percent unemployment for people under 30 which has caused 200 thousand college graduates to leave the country in the last 2 years.
  • Greece had the lowest pensions in the EU.
  • Wages which were the lowest in Europe were cut about a third.
  • Prices in Greece are about the same in the EU elsewhere.
  • 300 thousand businesses failed as of 2013.
  • What austerity does, having taken away people’s money is raise the property tax and raise the gas and electric taxes.
  • It’s a pretty desperate situation, food lines, there’s been a mass movement from the bottom.
  • There are a lot of small left wing parties in Greece.
  • What Syriza did was put together a coalition of left parties. That was very difficult to do because within the coalition there are Trotskyists, there are Euro-communists, environmentalists, anarcho-syndicalists and so getting to all those people into one room and agreeing on a program is not a very easy thing to do.
  • But Syriza itself isn’t there for a traditional party. It is a coalition of parties that probably will transform in time perhaps into a coherent party.
  • I would say that if anything characterizes the profile of Syriza its very anti-Stalinist. It wants to go from the base up and talks a lot about horizontalism.
  • It’s quite a weak economy and say it will take decades to repair.
  • In the minds of the leadership is capitalism and prosperity are incompatible.
  • The steps they want to take are very modest, beginning with changing some of the cuts they made in the past, and beginning to deal with the corruption and tremendous waste of money.
  • Same day he was inaugurated, he (Alexis Tsipras) went to Kaisariani where 300 Greeks were massacred by the Nazis as they were departing Athens. Most of the people massacred were communists or resistance fighters. Going there after being sworn as prime minister and laying a rose on the graves, he really served notice on the Germans that the days of us kowtowing and being bullied by you are really over and don’t you dare call us pigs anymore.
  • People who contact me say that people are euphoric in Athens.
  • We realize that the loans to Greece are really self serving. For instance, Goldman Sachs, arranged for Greece to enter the Eurozone in the first place by totally fraudulent cash arrangement.
  • They loaned Greece money at a special rate so Greece could pay off its debt to look like it was solvent and then issued new bonds at even higher rates.
  • pressproject.gr

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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Please help support Law and Disorder by clicking on Fractured Atlas graphic. 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 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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Please help support Law and Disorder by clicking on Fractured Atlas graphic. 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 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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Please help support Law and Disorder, the 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.

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Law and Disorder August 4, 2014


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Folk Music, Labor Movements and Radical Politics

Especially in times of revolution or crisis, the role of music has been a defining element in telling the stories of labor movements, against the war in Vietnam and civil rights. Folk musician Eli Smith gave a presentation at the Left Forum this year on satirical songs of the IWW including the work of Joe Hill and many others. The early works of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie are a great place to start along with the lesser known work of John L. Handcox, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It was the first racially integrated union in the South that used indigenous folk music to fight for the rights of sharecroppers.

Guest – Eli Smith, a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.  He has appeared as a guest on terrestrial radio stations such as WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California. Eli has presented panels and discussions on folk music at the Left Forum conference at Cooper Union and at the Podcamp podcasting conference in New York City. He has performed and recorded with his old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers, Peter Stampfel, John Cohen and Sam Shepard. The Down Hill Strugglers were recently featured on the soundtrack album to the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which was produced by T Bone Burnett.

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Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a collection of essays by lawyers, scholars and activists that includes interviews with those who suffered from the AETA’s conspiracy provisions. Editors Jason Del Gandio and Anthony Nocella have compiled essential information to document how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the book documents how corporations and the U.S. Government conspire under this law to prosecute animal rights activists and acts of civil disobedience involving environmental issues under the specter of terrorism. Right now, according to Nocella and Del Gandio, corporate profit determines what can or can’t be done to animals and the environment.

Anthony Nocella:

  • The importance of this act has really shaped how the government looks at one of the larger movements in the United States.
  • The animal advocacy, animal rights, animal liberation movements have been demonized and stigmatized as terrorists, through the media and the government through this particular act.
  • What are the effects of this law? Who influenced this act to be pushed into law? It wasn’t really government.
  • There were main organizations that pushed this law into effect. The Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, The Animal Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) The Center for Consumer Freedom.
  • Any logical CEO of a corporation will say I don’t want anything to threaten my product.
  • That product in the case of animals is any where from circuses to sea world, to clothing, from leather to fur, to also eating.
  • We can do away with circuses and fur and a lot of different clothing, but one thing we can’t live without is food.
  • We have to look at the real conflict and that’s between food.
  • Do we want people to have a plant based diet or an animal based diet?
  • There are hundreds of billions of dollars protecting that paradigm of people eating meat, fish and chicken.
  • If anyone threatens that industry, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you’re deemed a terrorist.
  • To wash away all the rhetoric that is what this law is specifically speaking about. That’s why it was expanded from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • CCR Condemns Terrorism Indictment for Activists Freeing Mink from Fur Farms
  • The point is – regarding the book, law schools, political science departments, think tanks, need a text that comes from a variety of viewpoints specifically looking at the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • I think we have understand the difference between how corporations are influencing laws and literally writing the bills into laws and into effect, while political repression is really law enforcement and senators influencing laws.
  • We’re not criminalizing activists like we did in the 70s and 80s, now we’re labeling them as terrorists.
  • National Weekend of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Sept 5-6-7, 2014
  • Website – The Institute For Critical Animal Studies

Guest – Anthony Nocella II, Ph.D., an intersectional academic-activist, is Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and editor of the Peace Studies Journal. He has published more than sixteen books including Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy (2011), and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (2014).

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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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Law and Disorder June 9, 2014


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Exchange
  • Five Taliban In Exchange For A U.S. Prisoner Held In Afghanistan
  • 149 Detainees Left In Guantanamo Prison – 88 Cleared For Release
  • Michael Smith Reports Back On Highlights At the 2014 Left Forum

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9/11 Memorial Museum Protests

There were many protests during the official opening of the 911 Memorial Museum. Muslim communities and other groups have voiced concern about the film in the musuem titled  “The Rise of Al-Qaeda” and how it fails to adequately discern between Al-Qaeda and those of the Islamic faith. Meanwhile, the museum’s official response is that the film is objectively telling the story of what happened.

Donna Nevel:

  • We came together because of a concern about a video they were showing called The Rise of al-Qaeda. It’s a 7 minute documentary and the concern is about the problematic language that its using. It makes it seem as if the acts of 9-11 are equated with Islam.
  • Our feeling is that the film needs to be edited and could exacerbate an already anti-Muslim climate.
  • Quoting criticism – The film in its current state presented risks that visitors would assign collective responsibility for September 11th to Islam and all Muslims.
  • There’s a historian Todd Fine who says its an inconsistent array of terminology that gets carelessly thrown around with little concern for the harmful impact it can have on people.
  • The video didn’t do enough to separate al-Qaeda from Islam and from mainstream Islam. It’s reckless.
  • Despite the fact that the own museum’s own advisory board was instantly concerned when they saw the film and said it should be reviewed and edited – despite the fact that 400 scholars wrote letters saying it contains problematic and contested terminology that conflates terrorism with Islam – and despite the fact that leaders from so many different inter-faith communities have spoken out about this – that the museum continues to stand by its decision not to edit the video – is astonishing.
  • I was doing a little research on her (Debra Burlingame-on 911 Memorial Museum Board of Directors) and there’s a high number of racist quotes she’s said. “Islam’s a transnational threat.”
  • Millions and millions of people will be going to this museum and museums can have a big impact.
  • We have to remember that this is in the context not of a society that welcomes and embraces the Muslim community but one that’s surveilling the Muslim community.
  • It’s feeding into this notion that all Muslims are responsible for the acts of a few individuals.
  • This video also feeds into police surveillance because what do they say? After 911 we have to be more vigilant and that means surveilling an entire community.
  • Communities are coming together and speaking out, including about this video.
  • We have to change the structures that enable this to happen. The Islamophobes are really problematic and have connections to some of the institutions.
  • We have to make sure our institutions are fomenting Islamophobia.
  • Book – Islamophobia and Israel by Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel
  • We wanted to analyze the intersection of Islamophobia and Israeli politics and to look at the way the “war on terror” impacts both. Also to raise an issue that’s basically taboo in the Jewish community as well as outside the Jewish community.
  • We have 4 different areas that we look at. Our lengthiest area is “follow the money” where you basically see how connected the Islamophobes are with right-wing Israel crowd, the settlement movement and others as well.
  • Jews Against Islamophobia / Jews Say No / Jewish Voices For Peace / Jews For Racial and Economic Justice
  • Contact Donna Nevel – denevel(at)gmail(dot).com

Guest – Donna Nevel, a community psychologist, educator, and writer whose work is rooted in Participatory Action Research (PAR) and popular education. Co-author with Elly Bulkin of Islamophobia and Israel.  She has been involved with a wide range of organizing efforts to challenge segregation and inequality and further equity and racial justice in public education. She has also been a long-time organizer for Palestinian-Israeli peace and justice and works with groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

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Free Flow of Information Act (Journalist Shield Law)

Current shield laws for journalists in the United States have broad exceptions for national security. This means that a prosecutor can override the law by showing how the information sought would “materially assist” the government in “preventing” or “mitigating” an act of terrorism. Initially, the shield law is set up to provide a confidentiality privilege for journalists so a police officer or FBI agent can’t get that information even with a court order unless there is an unusually strong justification for it. The latest version of the shield law as of September 2013 has a clause telling judges that it only covers legitimate news gathering. This of course makes very easy to declare any kind of news gathering you don’t like as illegitimate, and therefore the sources are not protected. Last month, the House of Representatives voted to approve an amendment to an appropriations bill barring the Justice Department from compelling reporters to testify about confidential sources.

Carey Shenkman:

  • We are going to get a shield law but its going to be one that doesn’t protect any journalists or sources.
  • It’s a lot easier for the FBI and the DOJ to just skip the investigation and go straight to the reporters. Why do they have to any work when they have the journalist getting all the sources for them.
  • They subpoenaed records from the Associated Press last summer, they subpoenaed the source for James Risen who wrote a book and that actually appeared before the 4th Circuit of Appeals and was turned down by the Supreme Court for review.
  • There’s been a push to try and pass a shield law before but Obama back in 2009 said he wouldn’t let any shield law pass that didn’t have a big national security exemption.
  • What happened back in September is that there was a massive compromise with 2 Senators, Diane Feinstein from California and Dick Durbin from Illinois. They wouldn’t let this law go through unless it contained a big national security exception. Meaning any reporter covering national security would have to disclose their sources, and second it had a big exclusion for wikileaks and other organizations that published leaks.
  • There’s actually a balancing test as part of this law that tells judges to consider if a journalist is engaged in legitimate news gathering. This is problematic because anyone can be a journalist, this has been the case since the founding of this country.
  • They’re trying to put into law the fact that some journalists are legitimate and some are illegitimate.
  • The internet has brought this country back to the time of its founding in terms of journalism because when the “press clause” in the First Amendment were passed, anyone could be a journalist.
  • The “press clause” was defined as the right to publish.
  • I believe we do need shield laws, but not this shield law.
  • I think there is a big push by the institutional media to keep journalism as a profession, but that’s not what journalism is. Now with the internet, anyone can publish. As long as anyone as the intention to disseminate information, they should be protected as a journalist.
  • When it helps the government the definition of the media is very broad.
  • It’s going to be political suicide if Holder or anyone from the Obama administration pushes to send James Risen to jail.
  • The DOJ argued in an affidavit that James Rosen was aiding and abetting his source.
  • More and more, we’re seeing this administration trying to frame the news gatherer and the source, not as a journalist and a source but as criminals in a conspiracy.
  • I was a radio journalist for 3 years. I used to work at the Center for Constitutional Rights where I met Michael Ratner and was involved with Chelsea Manning’s trial.

Guest – Carey Shenkman, has worked with several legal teams including Chelsea Manning’s defense, and legal research defining  the protection of new media under the Bill of Rights and The U.S. Constitution.  

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Law and Disorder May 26, 2014


Updates:

  • NSA Collecting MetaData And Content On Five Countries
  • Julian Assange-Glenn Greenwald Twitter Storm
  • Host Discussion On NSA Ubiquitous Data Collecting

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The United States vs. Private Chelsea Manning

Last year our own Michael Ratner made many trips to Fort Meade to attend the very secretive Private Chelsea Manning trials. Michael had also explained in past shows about how he heard Chelsea testify as to why he released each set of documents such as the Iraq war logs, the Afghanistan war logs, State Department cables and more.  She said her decision to release the documents were done as an act of conscience. Our guest Wikileaks activist and artist Clark Stoeckley was also at this historic trial. His recent graphic novel titled The United States vs. Private Chelsea Manning is a collection of his vivid sketches from inside the court room.  He joins us to talk about his work as an activist and his experiences producing the book. Welcome to Law and Disorder.

Clark Stoeckley:

  • As I understand the transcripts are still under seal.
  • Those sketches took a little bit longer, ones that where full court room where I drew a lot of people.
  • I would work in pencil and draw as quickly as I could everything that I saw in the court room and then I would come back and fill it in with color and hard outlines.
  • What she was doing was offering up 20 years of her life, accepting full responsibility and that takes a lot of courage and bravery to do that –  being the smallest person in the court room and being noble about it.
  • Unfortunately the media wasn’t there to catch the pre-trial. They only showed up on the first day and then the sentencing and the verdict.
  • I remember how the court room fell to a complete silence when that video came on and the tears, and the blank stares on the prosecutions’ faces.
  • I’m looking through the book right now, I see you, you’re in the picture there Michael Ratner, in the background sitting behind Chelsea.
  • 35 years was the sentence and that’s going to be appealed. As I understand the appeal will start as early as December.
  • They didn’t like that we’re holding vigils every week and holding large protests there. They shut down the road and they had to re-route traffic. It was the largest protest Ft. Meade had every seen.
  • Just a heads up to anyone who wants to correspond with Chelsea, you know have to use the name Chelsea when addressing envelopes. http://www.chelseamanning.org/
  • I just started putting them in libraries today.
  • CHELSEA E. MANNING     89289 / 1300 NORTH WAREHOUSE ROAD / FORT LEAVENWORTH, KANSAS 66027-2304

Guest – Clark Stoeckley,  is an artist and author of the book The United States v. Private Chelsea Manning. He’s also the owner of truck with the WikiLeaks logo emblazoned on it. Stoeckley’s vivid sketches from inside the court and beyond, together with carefully selected transcripts of the proceedings, trace the arguments as they move back and forth between the defense and the prosecution.

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Net Neutrality – The Time Warner/Comcast Merger and New Rules Proposed By The FCC

In our last interview with attorney Matt Wood, policy director at Free Press, we talked about the 45 billion dollar Comcast -Time Warner merger and its implications to net neutrality. This proposed merger would unite the nation’s largest cable TV and internet service provider with the second largest cable company. If combined, these companies would offer service to two thirds of U.S. households. We get an update on the merger and we also discuss the new rules proposed by the FCC about net neutrality.  Net neutrality essentially means preventing unreasonable discrimination against content on the internet. The Free Press maintains that the new FCC rules would kill rather than protect net neutrality and allow rampant discrimination online.

Attorney Matt Wood:

  • What the court said was that you can’t treat broadband providers as common carriers – not as some insurmountable conclusion but simply based on the way the FCC has decided to treat them up to this point.
  • So the FCC up to this point has tried to deregulate and yet tried to maintain some of the protections we all need from our communications.
  • Though its in the FCC’s discretion according to the majority and according to the DC circuit, what the courts have said, the FCC has made this decision in the past. They still haven’t reversed it, they still want to say that broadband is not a common carrier service and therefore the FCC can’t adopt common carrier or common carrier like obligations for broadband.
  • There’s obviously a grave concern to government secrecy and censorship especially when it comes to whistle-blowers and the kind of information that Edward Snowden brought to all of us.
  • If you used the phone to commit a crime whether that is wire fraud or you’re talking to your co-conspirators about how to conduct the crime. It is not the telephone company’s place and either say you can or can’t make that call.
  • Net neutrality is a way of insuring that the carrier of our speech (that’s typically a private company) doesn’t have a role or not in deciding whether that speech goes through.
  • If and when the government steps in and says hey we want to tap that line because we’re actually conducting an investigation or if and when there’s a punishment for the activity that you used the phone to plan that’s obviously a very important legal debate.
  • Net neutrality is not a way for the government to control our speech. It is a way to insure that our cable and phone companies do not control our speech.
  • The FCC in its current mode is basically saying well even if we’re required to allow these two tiers or multiple tiers of service, we can still step in and protect you and provide a basic level of service.
  • This isn’t just about big internet companies on one side and big telephone and cable companies on the other side, its about that we all use the internet especially in a cloud based system. We’re using it not just to watch movies which is an important cultural activity but to back up our files, to send educational videos.
  • What the cable and telephone companies want to do is charge you extra to reach their customers and they want to charge in both directions.
  • If you want to reach them at all Netflix or Google, Law and Disorder, you also have to pay us now.
  • Its no secret that FCC Chairman Wheeler headed not just one but two telecommunication lobbies.
  • The FCC has this proceeding that it will be running over the summer. What Chairman Wheeler has proposed we think is not good enough but its not a done deal either so the FCC will take comments not only from companies and groups like ours but members of the public.

Guest – Attorney Matt Wood helps shape the policy team’s efforts to protect the open Internet, prevent media concentration, promote affordable broadband deployment and prioritize a revitalized public media. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the public interest law firm Media Access Project and in the communications practice groups of two private law firms in Washington, D.C. Before that, he served as editor-in-chief for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, worked for PBS, and spent time at several professional and college radio and television stations. Matt earned his B.A. in film studies from Columbia University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.
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Law and Disorder April 21, 2014


Updates:

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U.S. Agency Infiltrates Cuba With Fake Twitter Account

Consistent with the NSA’s deceptive strategies in creating fake social networks, the U.S. Agency for International Development masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter: The communications network was designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba. It was financed through foreign banks and constructed through shell companies. The Associated Press learned that the project lasted more than 2 years and had tens of thousands of followers. The content initially was non political such as soccer, music and weather, but it was learned that once a critical mass was reached, political content would be introduced to organize “smart mobs” that could trigger a Cuban Spring.

Jane Franklin:

  • When Obama speaks about Cuba you have to read between the lines always and be very careful about what you think he’s saying.
  • He said the notion that “the policies we put into place in 1961 would somehow be as effective as they are today in the age of the internet and google and world travel doesn’t make sense.
  • We recognize that the aims are always going to be the same and what we have to do is continually find new mechanisms and new tools to speak out on behalf of the issues that we care so deeply about.”
  • That’s what he was considering back in November and of course before that this plan to use creative and thoughtful methods to infiltrate Cuba and try to create what the Associated Press calls “smart mobs” which could lead to the downfall of the Cuban government.
  • It was called ZunZuneo and was budding in 2009, then it was launched full scale in 2010 with a campaign to use a half a million cell phone numbers that U.S. aids have gotten and sent what they call blasts to those half a million receivers.
  • Those people would be told that they could sign up for this program and get news and so on. News that at first would be trivial, and then gradually according to the documents that the AP has – this would increase until they could develop smart mobs – that is street protest that would help lead to the overthrow of the Cuban government.
  • They used foreign countries to disguise where the messages came from. They set up a bank account in the Cayman Islands which is a tax haven to use that for money.
  • When there was a concert in Havana in 2009 which is described in the report by the AP and the US Aid people blasted the cell phones with questions.
  • One of the questions was do you think the two bands that were not in favor of the Cuban government should be on the stage with the band that’s there today?
  • If you answered yes, you were what’s called “receptive” to their ideas.
  • A few months later they launched this full scale campaign and eventually they had 60 thousand receivers using their program. That’s not many in the population of Cuba. It was a failure and they closed it down.
  • They were paying tens of thousands to Cuba Cell, which regulates the cell phones.
  • They get millions of dollars from Congress every year to create such programs and try to overthrow the government of Cuba which they’re supposed to do according to U.S. law The Helms-Burton Act requires that.
  • It (the report) says that a researcher from Mobile Accord which was the main private contractor was building a mass database about the Cuban subscribers including gender, age, receptiveness and political tendency.

Guest – Jane Franklin is a historian, she has written two books about Cuba: Cuban Foreign Relations 1959-1982 (Center for Cuban Studies, New York, 1984) and Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History (Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia, 1997). She is co-author of Vietnam and America: A Documented History (Grove Press: New York, 1985, enlarged edition 1995). Her chronology of the history of Panama is in The U.S. Invasion of Panama (South End Press: Boston, 1991). She has published numerous articles, poems and film reviews and has lectured extensively about Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. She is a frequent radio commentator about Cuba.
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50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act prohibits prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation.  In a speech on June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy unveiled plans to pursue a comprehensive civil rights bill in Congress, stating, ‘‘this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

Professor of Law John Brittain:

  • Yes, I do believe Lyndon Johnson deserves credit, although he had such allies like Martin Luther King. They released some of the unacknowledged tapes by President Johnson in his office in talking with Dr. King both about the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as he went on to usher in the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
  • These acts were a response to a condition on the ground, and the condition was apartheid in the United States, in particularly in the South, but as Malcolm X said anything below the Canadian – US border was the South.
  • We’re also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer in Mississippi.
  • The demonstrations in the streets no doubt had an effect upon the Congress in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act to shall we say, let some of the steam out of the kettle.
  • He (LBJ) came out of the Lone Star state, the only state that came into the union as a slave state and the state that promoted the white primary, that unless you were white you couldn’t vote in the primary.
  • The Missouri Compromise we’d have slave states and free states. After the civil war we’d have a great period of radical Republican reconstruction in the South to give the black former slave equal rights but that died by the 1890s and ushered in a period what we call Jim Crow.
  • Coming up to that point in the 1960s and with the riots, to his credit LBJ, notwithstanding that dark cloud over his head, that war in Vietnam which Dr. King called immoral, unjust and illegal and took a lot of criticism for daring to talk about international affairs and indeed talk about a war.
  • The minute lawyers went to work in representing the poor, they were cut off by restrictions. The war on poverty and neighborhood legal services was started in 1965-66 but a decade later it was cut off at the knees.
  • Johnson said when he was first presented with the idea of legal services – hell I’m not going to pay lawyers to sue the government and win but he was convinced otherwise.
  • By the time 65 came around and they created this compromise and started this new federal agency funding called Legal Services corporation to take the political veto out of governors but they had to agree to restriction.
  • Legal Services lawyers couldn’t take criminal cases, abortion cases, agitation for labor rights cases, immigration cases, school desegregation cases.
  • Just last year 2013, on the eve of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts and the right wing on the Supreme Court – Shelby County v Eric Holder
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the same Civil Rights Act of the 1860s. The only difference is they based on a different constitutional provision, not the 14th Amendment which gives Congress the right to enforce the Constitution to provide equality for the former slave, now African American, but instead in 1964, they based it on commerce clause by saying that any segregation interfered with interstate commerce. The act in essence provided for equal accommodation.
  • It broke the back of Jim Crow segregation where an African American could go shop, go eat, go live and go play and go to any access in parts of America.
  • It would later take the 1968 Fair Housing Act in order to provide equal housing.
  • The 1964 Civil Rights Act gave Congress, gave the Justice Department, the Department of Education too, and others the tools to go in and to stop Jim Crow or “colored only” segregation in our mainly southern states.
  • That was the same Justice Department that went on to enforce 1964 Civil Rights Act by bringing legal claims against hotels and restaurants, government facilities that continued to bar blacks from equal access.
  • Kennedy said where are the lawyers? By current tort terms, he falsely imprisoned them in the White House and told them they couldn’t leave until they created an organization and out of that grew the Lawyers Committee and immediately they went down to Jackson, Mississippi and created the Jackson Litigation Office.
  • I happen to come along in 1969 fresh out of law school to become one of the lawyers in the Jackson litigation and throughout the history of the lawyers committee. The only national legal organization dedicated to equality for African Americans and other people of color have gone on to litigate in education, in voting, in housing and employment discrimination as well as criminal justice.

Guest – Professor John Brittain, tenured professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. In the past he served as dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, was a veteran law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law for twenty-two years and was the Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC, a public interest legal organization started by President John F. Kennedy to enlist private lawyers to take pro bono cases in civil rights.
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Law and Disorder March 31, 2014


Updates:

  • President Barack Obama Lies About NSA Bulk Collection and Retention of Personal Metadata.
  • Der Spiegel Reports on U.S. Spies On Huawei Telecommunications in China
  • New York Times Reports That U.S. Spying on China Is In Retaliation From China Spying
  • Michael Ratner: New York Times Spin Is Ridiculous In Justifying Spying

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Anti-government protests in Venezuela ukraine2

Obama’s Ukrainian Power Grab, Sanctions and the Boomerang Effect

The unfolding of the US-EU-Russian conflict over the Ukraine will have far reaching consequences and will ultimately define the global configuration of power. While the Western power grab was largely ignored, the US-EU propaganda machine kicked into gear, focusing on Russia’s defensive action in the autonomous region of Crimea. The citizens of Crimea organized a self-defense militia and pressured the Putin administration to help protect them from armed incursions by the NATO backed coup regime in Kiev. We’re joined today by returning guest Professor James Petras who has written several articles on the crisis in the Ukraine. He identifies it as the most recent cycle of US empire-building in a 3 phase system including Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Professor James Petras:

  • The U.S. according to UN Sub-secretary of Foreign Affairs stated it very clearly. We’ve poured 5 billion dollars into the Ukraine building up organizations and politicians who are favorable to NATO and the European Union and hostile to Russia and eager to oust it from the bases in the Black Sea.
  • I think it was a long term project in building client organizations there, mainly in terms of electoral politics in the beginning.
  • So you have a target of a vassal state building and encircling Russia in line with what happened through the Baltics through central Europe and into the soft underbelly of Russia.
  • At the same time this is going on Russia is cooperating with the U.S. in many spheres including the over-flight caper in Libya, supporting the sanctions in Iran,
  • You have on one hand Washington aggressively encircling Russia, Russia essentially cooperating with the U.S. to gain good merit points, hopefully to get accepted in the G8.
  • Two thirds of the so called Ukraine Army decide to stay in Crimea as an annex state of Russia. This is a fact that tells you something about the hostility they feel to the people that grabbed power in Kiev.
  • The Russian threat that’s been manufactured has to do with the fact that in southern Ukraine there have been massive demonstrations against the coup makers.
  • What they’re doing is reenforcing repressive authority against the internal opposition which is hostile to the coup.
  • The internal opposition now doesn’t want to join Crimea but do want a federal structure in which they elect their own governors and legislators and not be forced to accept oligarchs in line with the EU policies.
  • I think its clear its to encircle Russia and return Russia to the status of the 1990s.
  • With the rise of Putin you have a semblance of a state once more. You have a political economic order which is functioning which has raised living standards which allows Russia to play a modicum of political role in world politics in particular the border area.
  • Venezuela: Democratic protesters don’t burn down 500 businesses and installations administering social welfare programs.
  • Democratic protesters don’t assassinate 7 national guard and policemen trying to maintain order.
  • Democratic protesters don’t blow up electrical grids and light up the national forests in a 360 degree circumference.
  • Kerry is lying, the U.S. is supporting violent terrorists. Those people that are engaged in this activity are engaged in trying to overthrow the government by force and violence. They resorted to this because they lost the last 10 elections in Venezuela including a resounding defeat this last December.
  • They’re going for a civilian based terrorist operation which they (U.S.) will hope will precipitate a military coup.
  • The New York Times is a propaganda organ for the U.S. government whenever there is a serious conflict particularly from a left wing or progressive government.
  • The New York Times has not shown any of the charred buildings that the so called democratic protesters have burned down.
  • They haven’t shown the experimental school that was blown up in Tachira, Venezuela.
  • Let’s be clear Michael, the targets of the terrorists, not a single U.S. business has been effected. Not a single major bank has been effected.
  • This is profoundly a class war directed against anti-imperialist communities.
  • China holds 3 trillion dollars in U.S. treasury notes. All the major 500 U.S. corporations are involved with China. It’s very much linked into the production chain of goods that go from Asia to China to the U.S. Walmarts, etc.
  • On the other hand Washington is very concerned with not being able to compete with China in world markets.
  • The Chinese have displaced the U.S. in Latin America, in the Asian field.

Guest - Professor James Petras, author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet.

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Mock.Checkpoint.WSU michigan-mock-eviction-notice

Boycott Divestment Sanction Awareness Gains Traction On University Campuses

Members of the group Students for Justice in Palestine at Northeastern University in Boston were disciplined and banned from serving on the inaugural board of the new organization plus their members must attend a university-sanctioned “training.” This is one of 50 cases of repression the SJP has documented across the country in universities since 2013. As the SJP gains momentum, it faces aggressive campaigns to shield Israel from public scrutiny. The repression campaigns are driven by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America, StandWithUs, the Amcha Initiative, American for Peace and Tolerance and the Bradneis Center.  Recently the Northeastern University School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild had publicly declared support for the Northeastern chapter of the SJP and formally opposes the administration’s decision to suspend the group and sanction its members.

Attorney Dima Khalidi:

  • We started Palestine Legal Support a little over a year ago.
  • The major backlash has been on campuses because that’s where the activism is most vigorous and spirited.
  • What we’re seeing is a lot of effort by students, even academics to raise awareness about the Israel – Palestine issue.
  • There’s also a lot of movement around Boycott, Divestment Sanction. The BDS movement is really growing and I think that’s been the case since 2008-2009 with Operation Cast Lead.
  • We’re seeing students doing a lot of awareness raising, unique and creative things.
  • We’re seeing things like mock walls to illustrate what the apartheid wall is doing.
  • We’re seeing things like mock eviction notices being distributed in dorms to illustrate the way Israel demolishes Palestinian civilian homes.
  • We’ve working with Northeastern students since last year. This year when students, some affiliated with SJP distributed mock eviction notices under dorm room doors, the university, right away, suspended the entire group.
  • The reaction is typical but its unique in the type of pressure that’s been put on this university.
  • The reaction was disproportionate and inappropriate.
  • They sent university police to student’s homes, they interrogated a couple of students. They filed disciplinary charges against 2 students for allegedly allowing students to enter the dorms.
  • Title IV of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin and color by educational institutions.
  • This has been used by Jewish groups to allege that universities are discriminating Jewish students by tolerating a hostile anti semitic environment.
  • Accusations of anti semitism underlie this backlash. We saw this with mock eviction notices in several places, at Florida Atlantic University last year. The ADL accused the SJP of targeting Jewish students with these notices saying they only put them under Jewish student’s doors.
  • The same accusations at Rutgers, that Jewish students were targeted.
  • The burden has fallen on those advocating for Palestinian rights.
  • What sustains us is really the activists themselves who are really inspirational in their dedication to this issue.
  • There are number of student groups that are trying to pass divestment actions at their schools and there’s a sustained attack and we know that Netanyahu himself has said this is a prime threat to the state of Israel.

Guest – Attorney Dima Khalidi, founder and Director of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS), and Cooperating Counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).  Her work includes providing legal advice to activists, engaging in advocacy to protect their rights to speak out for Palestinian rights, and educating activists and the public about their rights.

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