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Archive for the 'Surveillance' Category


Law and Disorder September 26, 2016


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Zachary Sklar: Snowden

National Security Director James Clapper was questioned by Congress. The media was there. He looked at the camera, right in our eyes. The question was: Does the NSA spy on Americans?  He Answered “not wittingly”. This was a lie. The NSA was spying on every computer keystroke and telephone conversation made by every American. Edward Snowden blew the whistle on this totalitarian practice that turned democracy upside down. Instead of the government serving the people the government was spying on the people it should serve.  He has been indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act and is presently living in Russia, stripped of his passport, unable to come home where he faces decades in prison or worse. Oscar-winning film director Oliver Stone’s just released movie tells Edward Snowden’s story.

Guest – Zachary Sklar is a screenwriter, journalist, author, and editor. He is best known as co-writer (with Oliver Stone) of the Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film JFK. Sklar has edited numerous non-fiction books about U.S. intelligence, including the number-one-bestselling On the Trail of the Assassins by Jim Garrison, from which the film JFK was adapted; Profits of War: Inside the Secret U.S.-Israeli Arms Network by former Israeli intelligence operative Ari Ben-Menashe; and Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA by former CIA case officer Ralph McGehee.

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Dakota Pipeline Protests: Legal Update

With winter settling in in North Dakota the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has been temporarily halted pending governmental reconsiderederation. Representatives of over 100 Native American tribes and several thousand supporters Are camped near the Missouri River, which the pipeline, if it breaks after it is constructed under the river, would pollute ruining the drinking water up to 20 million people who depend on it. The DAPL Company and its parent Texas company have secured some 3 1/2 billion dollars in financing from Goldman Sachs, UPS, the Chase Manhattan Bank, and other banks. The financing may not be forthcoming if the project is stalled too long. In the meantime camp protesters, who call themselves “water protectors ”  are preparing to stay through the upcoming predictably severe North Dakota winter.

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

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Encrypted Client Communications

As the general public becomes increasingly aware of the value of using open source encrypted communications, several groups of professionals may be among the first to regularly use it in their work. Members of the press already provide open source whistleblower submission systems, such as Secure Drop, to protect the anonymity of anonymous sources. But how do attorneys protect their privileged client communications? Jonathan Stribling-Uss founded Constitutional Communications to teach attorneys, activists and others to use open source encryption for all their communications. The group is aptly named given that “Our current system of Internet communication is not constitutional, especially with respect to attorney/client communications,” according to Stribling-Uss who is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild. The group has already provided intensive training sessions on digital security domestically and internationally for nearly 300 civil society leaders from dozens of countries.

Guest – Attorney Jonathan Stribling-Uss, director of Constitutional Communications, a nonprofit organization that specializes in information security for professionals and civil society organizations. He has led trainings and accredited CLEs (Continuing Legal Education) for hundreds of attorneys and law students on cybersecurity, professional ethics, international law, and attorney-client communications with the NYCLA (New York County) Bar Association, Law For Black Lives, and the Continuing Legal Resource Network at CUNY (City University Of New York). He has also trained journalists, foundations, activists, and technologists from more then 40 countries at the Center for Constitutional Rights, Thoughtworks global corporation, the International Development Exchange, the Legal Clinics of the CUNY School of Law, and The Florestan Fernandes National School in Brazil.

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Law and Disorder September 19, 2016


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Attorney Jeff Haas: Bakken Pipeline Construction Temporarily Halted

Last week the US government announced that the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River in North Dakota near Sioux Indian lands had been voluntarily suspended. In a joint statement the Department of the Interior, which interacts with Native Americans, the Department of Justice,and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had granted the permit for construction, announced that a reconsideration of the process whereby the US government receives input from  Native Americans was under examination.  So, the fight about water and human rights continues.

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

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

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U. S. Commission on Civil Rights: Peaceful Coexistence

Recently the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report called “Peaceful Coexistence:  Reconciling Non-discrimination Principles With Civil Rights  “.
The report discusses how religion is used to deny others’ equality.  The commission’s chairman Martin Castro wrote that the phrases “religious liberty”  and “religious freedom ” are code words hypocritically employed to support discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, and Christian supremacy.

Guest – Columbia Law Professor Attorney Katherine Franke about the commission’s findings and recommendations and the objections to the reports conclusions. Katherine Franke is the chair of the board of the Center for Constitutional  Rights.  She is the Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, and also the Faculty Director of the Public Rights/Private Conscience Project, a think tank that brings legal academic expertise to bear on the multiple contexts in which religious liberty rights are in tension with other fundamental rights to equality and liberty. Her book is titled “Wedlocked:  The Perils of Marriage Equality”.

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Ray McGovern: Surveillance, Terrorism, CIA, Manufactured War

Fifteen years have passed since the criminal attack on September 11, 2001.  Today we’ll take a look at some critical changes this country has undergone since. Believing he was doing God’s will, President George W. Bush ordered airstrikes against Afghanistan and then, with intelligence cooked up to fit the plan, brought shock and awe to the people of Iraq,  killing and and displacing more than 1 million people.  The authorization to use military force that he procured from a frightened Congress is still used as a rationale for overseas war. Obama is the only president in American history that has fought  wars for the entire eight years of his presidency. Currently the United States is at war in seven different countries.  At home, draconian legislation such as Patriot Act was quickly passed even though it wasn’t read by most members of Congress. The surveillance budget of the CIA and the NSA tripled. Every keystroke we make on our computers and every phone call we make, are spied on by our own government. We live in a culture of manufactured fear of terrorism, even though more people were killed by toddlers with pistols then terrorists.

Guest – Ray MacGovern, former senior CIA analyst, who was for 27 years an analyst with the CIA giving the first President George Bush his daily intelligence briefing.  He is the cofounder of Veteran Intelligent Professionals for Sanity.  Ray McGovern works for Tell the World, the publishing an arm of the Ecumenical Church of the Savior in the Inner City of Washington DC.

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Law and Disorder August 22, 2016


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The Movement For Black Lives

In response to the ongoing violence by police against Black communities across the United States, more than 50 organizations have come together to express a common vision and agenda for change. The Movement for Black Lives has issued a call to end the war against Black people that includes ending the criminalization, imprisonment and killing, not only of Black individuals, but all oppressed people. Broad areas for reform include economic justice, ending the war on Black people, reparations, invest-divest, community control and political power.

Guest – Donna Murch, Professor of History at Rutgers University and author of Living In The City: Migration, Eduation and the Rise of the Black Panther Party. She also contributed an article to the forthcoming verso press book “False Choice: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton.

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U.S. – Saudi Arabia Arms Deal

Last month Congress narrowly approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia. They are being used in the Saudi war against Yemen and are dropped on civilians. The bombs are manufactured by the General Dynamics Corporation, part of the American military Industrial complex. Now a second arms sale, this one involving tanks and armored personnel carriers, is up for Congressional approval.  A number of peace groups including human rights watch have come out against it. Last week a New York Times editorial stated that “Congress should put the arms sales on hold and President Obama should quietly inform Riyadh that the United States will withdraw crucial assistance if the Saudis do not stop targeting civilians and agree to negotiate peace. ” The Saudi Arabian Monarchy  has been a long time ally of the United States and provides a significant amount of oil to United States as well as being a major purchaser of American corporate made weapons.  They are used in Yemen and illegal under American law.

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

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Bush

George W. Bush is now 70 years old and retired on his ranch outside of Crawford Texas.  Many Americans remember him as a clueless figure on the morning of September 11, 2001 reading My Pet Goat to a classroom of children. They think of Bush as a hands-off leader who turned over the reins of power to his Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the head of the CIA George Tenet.  But the major decisions after the attacks on September 11, 2001, including the bombing of Afghanistan, the opening of the Guantánamo offshore prison camp, torture, and the introduction of the Patriot Act, and the war on Iraq were made by George W. Bush, who denominated himself as “the decider.” He had “and unnerving level of certitude” –  as Jean Edward Smith, author of the recent expansive biography called “Bush” has written.  Smith writes that Bush “firmly believed that he was the instrument of God’s will.”

Guest – Professor Jean Edward Smith, is ean Edward Smith is the author of twelve books, including highly acclaimed biographies of Chief Justice John Marshall, General Lucius D. Clay, and Ulysses S. Grant (a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist). A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Smith taught at the University of Toronto for thirty-five years before joining the faculty at Marshall University where he was the John Marshall Professor of Political Science.

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Law and Disorder August 8, 2016


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Civil Disobedience Ordinance and Home Rule In Grant Township, PA

In what is perhaps the nation’s first law that legalizes direct action, Grant Township in Indiana County PA, passed an ordinance permitting nonviolent direct aimed at stopping local frack wastewater injection wells.  Pennsylvania General Energy Company has sued the Township to overturn a local democratically-enacted law that prohibits injection wells. In 2013, residents in Grant Township learned that PGE was applying for permits that would legalize the injection well. Despite hearings, public comments, and permit appeals demonstrating widespread residents opposition to the project, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit to PGE. In response, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, Grant Township Supervisors passed an ordinance the next year establishing rights to clean air and water, and the right to local community self-government.

If a court fails to uphold citizens’ right to stop corporate activities threatening the community’s well-being, the ordinance provides that, “any natural person may then enforce the rights and prohibitions of the charter through direct action.” It also says that any nonviolent direct action to enforce their Charter is protected from any legal actions brought by private or public entities.

Guest – Chad Nicholson, the statewide Pennsylvania Organizer for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). The work keeps him on the road constantly, working with communities facing industrial threats in all corners of the Keystone State. Recent work has, included CELDF’s role in defending two communities in federal court (including Grant Township) facing toxic injection wells; multiple communities pursuing Home Rule campaigns to increase community control over harmful corporate projects; and work with dozens of other communities fighting harms that range from corporate herbicide spraying to factory farms to sewage sludge spreading to fracking to massive energy corridors.  With colleague Ben Price, Chad has co-authored the Pennsylvania Community Rights Cookbook, a 700-page volume on the history of people’s movements, and the tragic rise of corporate power, in Pennsylvania. The Cookbook serves as the curriculum for 2-day Community Rights Workshops, which have graduated hundreds of PA residents who are asserting their community’s rights over corporate control.

Chad began rights-based organizing in Spokane, WA, in 2009, coordinating Envision Spokane’s first campaign attempting to amend the city’s Home Rule charter to recognize expanded rights for residents on issues that ranged from healthcare, affordable housing, worker protections on the job, and environmental rights.

Guest – Stacy Long,  lives in East Run, Pennsylvania with her husband, Mark.  Two male kittens will be joining them in mere days.  A graphic designer by trade, she’s also president of the East Run Hellbenders Society and is a board member of the PA Community Rights Network.  She currently serves as  vice-chair on the board of supervisors in Grant Township. She likes to make and eat soup and she likes flying around on broomsticks.”

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Voting Restrictions Overturned In North Carolina By Federal Court

The great Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s gave rise to the 1967 Voting Rights Act. It protected black citizens. Many of them were poor, when they sought to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Last month the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated voting restrictions in North Carolina that were described as targeting African Americans with almost surgical precision. In June of 2013, the Supreme Court removed a part of the Voting Rights Act ruling that states with the longest histories of voting discrimination no longer needed to approve their voting changes with the federal government. Within a month of that decision North Carolina passed the country’s most restrictive voting laws. Those restrictions were recently overturned in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14 amendment.

Guest – Julie Ebenstein, staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Julie is actively involved in litigating voting rights matters around the country, with cases in Kansas (challenging the state dual registration system), Iowa (challenging the state’s felon disenfranchisement laws), North Carolina (challenging cutbacks to early voting and the elimination of same-day registration) and Ferguson, Missouri (challenging at-large school board elections).

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Successful Defense Against Entrapment Case In Canada

A Canadian couple who faced life in prison for hiding what they believed were pressure cooker bombs outside British Columbia legislative building in 2013 were freed last month after a judge ruled they were entrapped by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody were the victims of an elaborate police sting. Justice Catherine Bruce of the Supreme Court of British Columbia found that the police had initiated the terrorist plot and coerced the couple.

Guest – Attorney Marilyn Sandford about the case and the involvement of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Marilyn Sandford works in private practice in Victoria, BC. She represents clients facing criminal charges and advancing civil constitutional claims.

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Law and Disorder July 25, 2016


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The End of the Republic and the Delusion of Empire

Are we approaching “peak America”, where the Republic has failed, and the Empire which put paid to it cannot be achieved? For the first time, the goal of socialism has been raised in the presidential primaries, backed by tens of millions of voters. Not since the New Deal, nearly a century ago, have class relations come into sharper confrontation. The U.S. presidential elections are everything abnormal with both major parties arousing popular revulsion. Not since World War II have the US and Russia drawn closer to the possibility of mutual annihilation through nuclear war due to US empire building. Who rules America and who sets the military agenda in the most contentious regions of the Middle East is in open dispute.

Guest – 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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Black Lives Matter, the Left Movements and Law Enforcement

In the last two weeks the police have killed 41 people.  Five police were killed in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge by two military veterans.  BLM, a non-violent nationwide group seeking to abolish police abuse has been attacked by the police and politicians
as facilitating terrorism.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.  He is a human rights defender whose experience spans three decades of domestic and international education and activism, Ajamu Baraka is a veteran grassroots organizer whose roots are in the Black Liberation Movement and anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity struggles. Black Agenda Report

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Journalist Arun Gupta At the Republican National Convention

The goings on in Cleveland, Ohio at the RNC with the delegates, media and the protesters is something truly to behold. We catch up with Arun Gupta to get his impressions on what its like to be in Cleveland during the notorious Republican National Convention.

Guest – Arun Gupta, founding editor of the Indypendent magazine and was a founding editor of the Occupy Wall Street Journal. He is working on a book about the decline of the American empire.

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Legal Defense Action At the Republican National Convention 2016

As we record today, the Republican National Convention is winding down. There’s been an overwhelming police presence there. (Police on horses, police on bicycles, police on foot, police in trucks. 1900 police are living on the campus of Case Western Reserve. The militarized police were supplied with Army surplus weapons, even artillery.

Guest – Kris Hermes is a Bay Area–based activist who has worked for nearly thirty years on social justice issues. Organizing with ACT UP Philadelphia in the late 1990s spurred his interest in legal support work and led to his co-founding and years-long involvement with R2K Legal. Since 2000, Hermes has been an active, award-winning legal worker-member of the National Lawyers Guild and has been a part of numerous law collectives and legal support efforts over the years. In this capacity, he has organized dozens of press conference and spoken at numerous community meetings, political conferences, book fairs, and other similar events across the U.S. Hermes has written extensively in his professional career as a media worker and as a legal activist.

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Law and Disorder July 18, 2016



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Russia, the United States and NATO Summit Trip Debrief

Noam Chomsky has recently written with alarm about the two threats facing humanity – climate change and nuclear war.   The likelihood of a nuclear war has increased he wrote because of NATO military buildup and expansion east to the Russian border thus breaking a promise the U S made to Russia when East and West Germany were unified.  Moreover under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton the U S spent 5 billion dollars in successfully overthrowing the democratically elected government of the Ukraine, a country bordering Russia on its south western frontier. The Center for Citizen Initiatives

Guest – Ann Wright, has just returned from Russia.  Wright was in the US army for 25 years and then in the diplomatic corp.  Ann Wright grew up in Bentonville, Arkansas, and attended the University of Arkansas, where she received a master’s and a law degree. She also has a master’s degree in national security affairs from the U.S. Naval War College. After college, she spent thirteen years in the U.S. Army and sixteen additional years in the Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel. She is airborne-qualified.

In 1987, Col.Wright joined the Foreign Service and served as U.S. Deputy Ambassador in Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan, and Mongolia. She received the State Department’s Award for Heroism for her actions during the evacuation of 2,500 people from the civil war in Sierra Leone, at the time the largest evacuation since Saigon. She was on the first State Department team to go to Afghanistan and helped reopen the Embassy there in December 2001. Her other overseas assignments include Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, Micronesia, and Nicaragua. On March 19, 2003, the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Ann Wright cabled a letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell, stating that without the authorization of the UN Security Council, the invasion and occupation of a Muslim, Arab, oil-rich country would be a violation of international law. Voices of Conscience.

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The Chilcot Report

Great Britain has just released the Chilcot report.  It exposes the role of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in taking his country into the war against Iraq, joining the US in illegally overthrowing Saddam Hussein and beginning a war that has been ongoing since 2004, destroying that country and destabilizing the Middle East leading to wars. In Libya, Syria and Yemen.  The Chilcot Report reinforces the observation of Robert Breedlove, the head of MI 5, the British CIA, after a visit to the USA, before the war began, that the USA was dishonesty manufacturing “intelligence ” and that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and was of no danger.

Guest – Professor Robin Andersen, teaches communications at Fordham University in New York and writes for Fairness and Accuracy In Media, FAIR, the media watchdog group.

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Roger Wareham: Systemic Police Violence Against Black Communities

New York’s attorney general Eric Schneiderman is investigating an off-duty NYPD officer’s fatal shooting of  37-year old Delrawn Small in Brooklyn, after he and his girlfriend and 3 children celebrated the Fourth of July holiday. Shortly after midnight Small and an undercover officer, driving his personal vehicle, were involved in a traffic dispute.The officer shot three times with his service weapon, killing Small. Authorities justified the attack by claiming Small had punched Isaacs in the face. But surveillance footage later released showed that the police had lied about the incident and show that Small was shot within one second after approaching Isaac’s unmarked car.

Zaquanna Albert, Small’s girlfriend, witnessed the attack from the car, along with their 4-month-old child. On Monday, the NYPD announced that it had stripped Isaacs of his gun. He has been placed on modified duty and will, for now, be restricted to desk work.

Guest – Attorney Roger Wareham who is representing Delrawn Small. A longtime human rights attorney, Roger has represented many Black political prisoners in federal lawsuits across the country, and was co-counsel in representing three of the young men wrongfully convicted in the Central Park Jogger case.

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Law and Disorder July 11, 2016


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Non-indictment of Hillary Clinton

FBI Director James Comey announced at a press conference last week that the FBI had concluded its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of her personal email account for State Department business and that he would recommend no criminal charges against her. Comey said that Clinton’s use of a private email address and server while she was  Secretary of State was “extremely careless.” The investigation found that she had sent eight top secret documents through a hackable email account and that it was possible hostile foreign governments could’ve gained access. Since the announcment the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairperson Jason Chaffetz has called for an investigation to whether Clinton lied to Congress. In order to warrant a criminal indictment there had to be evidence that Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information.

Guest – Attorney Carey Shenkman, who primarily represent journalists, publishers, and filmmakers at risk of censorship or political persecution. He focuses on First Amendment, international law (particularly freedom of expression and right to protest), journalist and source protection, extradition. Carey had worked for Michael Ratner and now represents Julian Assange.

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Chelsea Manning Alleged Suicide Attempt Update

Lawyers acting for imprisoned Chelsea Manning, the Army soldier who as a truth teller passed evidence of US war crimes on to Wikileaks have expressed fury at the military authorities handling of her medical status amid a swirl of media speculation that she had attempted suicide. Manning who is serving a 35 year sentence for leaking secret diplomatic cables and other official documents has been cut off from contact with her lawyers and all other outside connections for more than 36 hours causing alarm among those closest to her. The sudden severing of contact follows a rash of media reports based on unconfirmed rumors about her medical condition. The Army is refusing to give details about what has happened. Persistent inquiries by the Guardian has produced only a statement from the Dept of Defense that stated the soldier was taken to the hospital in the early hours of Tuesday last week and now he’s been returned to Levenworth Prison.

Guest – Alexa O’Brien researches and writes about national security and capital crimes. Her work has been published in VICE News, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Guardian UK, Salon, The Daily Beast, and featured on the BBC, PBS Frontline, On The Media, Democracy Now!, and Public Radio International. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in the UK and listed in The Verge 50. ChelseaManning.org

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Federal Circuit Court: Criminal Defendants No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy On Personal Home Computers

Most of us assume that what we write on our own computers, in our own homes, is completely private. But a recent federal court decision held that criminal defendants have no reasonable expectation of privacy on their personal, home computers. And the government doesn’t need a warrant to hack into an individual’s computer.

In 2014, the FBI hacked–taking over and operating– a child pornography website called Playpen, for two weeks after a Virginia court issued a warrant to do so. Agents used software that bypassed Playpen users’ anonymity, enabling them to be tracked digitally. More than 135 people faced charges.

As courts are grappling to apply traditional rules of criminal procedure and constitutional law in these cases, several bad decisions are being made. At the forefront of educating the public about our digital rights is the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in this case.

Guest – Sophia Cope, Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Previously, she worked at the Newspaper Association of America on freedom of the press and digital media issues, with a focus on protecting journalists’  confidential sources.

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Law and Disorder June 27, 2016


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NYPD Seizes Millions In Civil Forfeiture

Antiquated civil forfeiture procedures in NYC are causing many, including the city’s poorest, to have assets seized by the NYPD to fill the City’s coffers.

Elected officials are finally calling for the city to reexamine the mechanism that fills the city’s coffers with millions of dollars annually. In what many call a gross violation of civil liberties,the  Office of Management and Budget report revealed that the NYPD seized over $5 million dollars through an opaque but common process of civil forfeiture in 2013. That doesn’t even count more than $8 million in cash and property that’s considered “unclaimed.”

Since the administrative code governing forfeiture was written in 1881, several court rulings have modified the procedure. In 1972, the civil rights case of McClendon v. Rosetti established that the city had not been providing due process to predominantly poor and minority New Yorkers when pursuing civil forfeiture. The ruling called the 1881 admin code “unconstitutional” and asked for a lower court to lay out new procedures for the NYPD property clerk. In 1974, the lower court laid out those procedures, making clear that the property clerk must prove that the property was somehow connected to the alleged criminal activity.

Yet forty years later, property clerks still enforce the law arbitrarily. The federal monitor designated by the court’s decision in 1974 has expired, leaving no independent body with oversight over how the NYPD pursues civil forfeiture.

Guest – Attorney Molly Kovel, Legal Director of the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders. Her practice includes a wide variety of direct legal services and affirmative impact litigation—including representing plaintiffs in Ligon v. City of New York, one of three federal class actions against the NYPD challenging unconstitutional stop and frisk practices. She has represented clients in a wide variety of civil venues in matters related to the collateral consequences of arrests and prosecutions. She has also advised hundreds of clients about the employment and licensing consequences of their criminal records, as well as assisting them in applying for Certificates of Rehabilitation and correcting criminal record errors. She trains criminal defense attorneys, social service providers and community members in these matters.
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Anti-BDS Legislation In New York State

We recently discussed how Israel advocacy groups and state law makers who support them have introduced anti-BDS legislation in up to 21 across the United States of America, including the US Congress. Today we look closely at New York State.

The New York legislature has tried in the past year, without success, to pass laws protecting Israel against the boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement–or BDS–for its illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

In an unconstitutional move, given that the government may not penalize individuals or entities on the basis of free expression, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently issued an executive order directing all agencies under his jurisdiction to cease in dealing with companies and organizations that support BDS. The order calls for Cuomo’s commissioner to compile a list of institutions and companies that support a boycott of Israel. The list will be publicly posted.

Several organizations, including the National Lawyers Guild, Palestine Legal and CCR wrote in a legal memorandum critical of the anti-BDS bills pending in the New York legislature. More than 100 churches, human rights groups and legal organizations signed a letter to the New York legislature opposing the legislation, saying “it would chill and deter constitutionally protected speech by intimidating people from engaging in political actions for fear of being blacklisted.”

Guest – Dima Khalidi, founder and Director of Palestine Legal 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 the repression of Palestine advocates.

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Rasmea Odeh Case Update

Over 100 people gathered in Detroit to support Rasmea Odeh as she, her attorneys, and the prosecution appeared before Judge Gershwin Drain for a status conference last week.
Lead attorney Michael Deutsch announced that a tentative date for a new trial has been set for January 10, 2017.

Rasmea was convicted in 2014 of a politically-motivated immigration charge, and sentenced to 18 months in prison and deportation last year. In February of this year, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case back to Judge Drain, saying he had wrongfully barred the testimony of a torture expert that was critical to Rasmea’s defense. At the trial, Rasmea was not allowed to tell the entire story of Israel forcing her to falsely confess to alleged bombings in 1969, when she endured over three weeks of sexual, physical and psychological torture by the Israeli military.

Last week, the government called for a “Daubert Hearing,” to challenge the validity and admissibility of expert testimony (in this case, Fabri’s), and also requested to examine Rasmea with its own expert. If the hearing is granted by Judge Drain, it will happen on November 29 of this year, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Two other positive developments occurred. Deutsch asked to have Rasmea’s “burdensome reporting requirements” to probation authorities reduced from once a week to once a month. Judge Drain did not object, commenting that his earlier concerns about her being a flight risk “have been alleviated.” He also suggested he would be willing to ease travel restrictions and allow Rasmea to occasionally travel within the U.S. The government wants to speak to the probationary authorities before agreeing to the end of the travel ban.

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

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Why Does The IRS Need Guns?

There is a growing arsenal at paper pushing federal agencies with firearm and arrest authority that have expanded their arsenal since 2006, including the Small Business Administration, Social Security Administration, NOAA, the Education Department, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Smithsonian Institute.

Special agents at the IRS, for example, have AR-15 military style rifles and nearly 4,000 Dept. of Veterans Affairs personnel are armed.

Recently, the group American Transparency released an oversight report on the federal government’s purchase of guns, ammunition, and military-type equipment. More than $335 million was spent by agencies we traditionally think of as administrative or regulatory, such as the U.S. Mint or the Smithsonian Institution.

Guest – Adam Andrzejewski, in 2007, he founded For The Good of Illinois to educate, engage and empower citizens to demand transparency and accountability. He also founded the transparency website, www.openthebooks.com, and launched it by posting the salaries and pensions of all 1 million Illinois public employees (2011). Today, OpenTheBooks.com is the world’s largest private repository of public spending with 2.6 billion individually captured transactions from the federal government, 48/50 states and 36,000 local units of government across America. Read – Why Does The IRS Need Guns?

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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 June 6, 2016


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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Jim Lafferty

Periodically we feature a segment on Law and Disorder called Lawyers You’ll Like. Our guest today is attorney Jim Lafferty.  Jim has been a lawyer and movement activist in Detroit, New York City, and Los Angeles since the 1960s when he served as executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and carried out civil rights work in the deep South. He was one of the national leaders of the anti-war movement during the Vietnam War.  He also headed up the very successful National Lawyers Guild chapter in Los Angeles for 25 years.

Guest – Jim Lafferty, Executive director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show on Pacifica’s KPFK 90. 7 FM.

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American Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for Post-9/11 War Crimes

World War II started on September 1, 1939 when fascist Germany attacked its neighbor Czechoslovakia.  By the end of the war six years later some 80 million people had died and the continent lay devastated. The first trials of 22 Nazi leaders, general’s and bankers wer organized by the victorious allies, America, Britain, Russia, France and took place in Nuremberg Germany.  19 were found guilty and executed.  Robert H Jackson, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court and Chief Prosecutor for United States and Nuremberg wrote then that “we must not forget that the record on which we judge the defendants today is a record in which we will be judged tomorrow.” A recent article –  Crimes of the War on Terror Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Others Be Jailed? 

Intentional war is the greatest of all crimes because it contains with it all the rest of horrible crimes. The United States of America’s intentional war against Iraq, which was motivated to the public with lies about weapons of mass destruction, and which has since spread to six other countries in the Middle East, has resulted in over 1 million deaths, driven millions more from their homes, and destroyed ancient peoples and their cultures.

The United States helped establish the international principles that guided the prosecution of war crimes when Nazi officials were held accountable for their crimes against humanity. But the American government and its legal system have consistently refused to apply the same principles to our own officials. In her book American Nuremberg, Rebecca Gordon indicts the officials who, in a just society, whould be put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  She acknowledges that the U.S. government is unlikely to do this and proposes an alternative based on the Russell Tribunals held in 1967 exposing American criminality in the war against Vietnam.

Guest – Rebecca Gordon received her B.A. from Reed College and her M.Div. and Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from Graduate Theological Union. She teaches in the Philosophy department at the University of San Francisco and for the university’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good. Previous publications include Letters From Nicaragua and Cruel and Usual: How Welfare “Reform” Punishes Poor People . Prior to her academic career, Gordon spent a few decades working in a variety of national and international movements for peace and justice. These include the movements for women’s liberation and LGBT rights; movements in solidarity with the struggles of poor people in Central America; the anti-apartheid movement in the United States and South Africa; and movements opposing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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