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Law and Disorder August 24, 2015


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Julian Assange And Chelsea Manning Update

Attorney Carey Shenkman joins co-host Heidi Boghosian to discuss the latest developments in Julian Assange’s case. Carey also provides updates on Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Chelsea was accused of having contraband in her cell, that included a copy of the US Senate Torture Report, a Vanity Fair magazine and toothpaste. Manning received 21 days of recreational restrictions limiting access to the gym, library and outdoors. The maximum punishment she could have faced was indefinite solitary confinement.

Guest – Carey Shenkman  is a First Amendment and human rights attorney working for Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). Formerly at CCR, Carey worked on litigation on behalf of the press in the court-martial of whistle-blower Chelsea Manning. Carey holds two degrees in mathematics, and is an alumnus of NYU Law School, where he was an editor on the NYU Law Review. He can be reached on Twitter @CareyShenkman

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Structural Integrity At Question During TransCanada’s Keystone XL Permit Renewal Hearing 

The structural integrity of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline has been called into question. Newly released evidence and testimony points to potentially serious environmental risks.  During a recent permit renewal hearing in that state, evidence submitted by the grassroots citizens group Dakota Rural Action reveals faulty construction that has the potential to cause pitting and ultimately lead to environmental disasters. The newly documented evidence suggests that the risk to water sources and agricultural lands near the proposed oil export pipeline is too high. The current export pipeline stretches across the US-Canada border and runs parallel with the Mississippi River.

Guest – Attorney Robin Martinez of the Dakota Rural Action group is working to stop the permit. Documents he submitted during the legal discovery process reveal that the corrosion occurred on the existing pipeline dangerously close to the Mississippi River near St. Louis.

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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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Law and Disorder August 17, 2015


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Professor Steven Salaita Case Moves Forward In Federal Court: First Amendment and Due Process Violations Upheld

There was a major federal court victory in Illinois on the Professor Steven Salaita case last week. Federal judge Harry Daniel Leinenweber ruled that the university had failed in its attempt to get Salaita thrown out of court. He upheld Salaita’s allegations that his First Amendment rights were violated. He upheld Salaita’s allegations that his due process rights were violated. He upheld his allegations that he had a contract and he said this case has to proceed to discovery and I’m not going to throw it out at this point.  The judge took a very strong position with respect to both the contract and freedom of speech. It looks like the University of Illinois is on a losing path. The day after the decision came down, Chancellor Wise who was one of people responsible for firing Professor Steven Salaita, resigned from her job.

Guest – Maria LaHood, Deputy Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights with expertise in constitutional rights and international human rights. She works to defend the constitutional rights of Palestinian human rights advocates in the United States in cases such as Davis v. Cox, defending Olympia Food Co-op board members for boycotting Israeli goods; Salaita v. Kennedy,representing Steven Salaita, who was terminated from a tenured position for tweets critical of Israel; and CCR v. DOD, seeking U.S. government records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding Israel’s 2010 attack on the flotilla to Gaza. She works closely with Palestine Legal to support students and others whose speech is being suppressed for their Palestine advocacy around the country.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Professor Holly Maguigan

In our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined by Professor Holly Maguigan, Professor of Clinical Law at the New York University School of Law, where she teaches Comparative Criminal Justice Clinic: Focus on Domestic Violence and Evidence. Professor Maguigan is an expert on the criminal trials of battered women. Her research and teaching is interdisciplinary. Professor Maguigan is a member of the Family Violence Prevention Fund’s National Advisory Committee on Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence cases. She serves on the boards of directors of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice. She is a past co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers, the largest membership organization of law professors in the U.S.

Professor Holly Maguigan:

  • I was doing medieval history and I was at Berkeley. It was 1967 and Oakland stopped the draft.
  • I got very interested in the anti-war politics.
  • I hated lawyers. I really hated lawyers. They were boring. They talked about themselves all the time. They only had stories about their cases and how great they were and they would never post bail when people got arrested.
  • The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is where I stayed for 17 years.
  • First I started out as a public defender. I loved being a public defender, it was the beginning and end of everything I hoped it would be.
  • That’s where I met David Rudovsky and David Kairys. They were then defenders while I was a student.
  • After they went out on their own, they kept inviting me to join them. I kept putting it off because I loved being a defender so much.
  • In Philadelphia there was much more actual litigation, not just motion litigation there’s a lot of that here in New York City but actual trials.
  • You had a sense, there was an analysis that people were doing life on the installment plan and you needed to do what you could to kick them loose any particular time.
  • It was a community in its own odd way and I found it difficult to leave it.
  • I was doing major felonies within a couple of years.
  • David Kairys was very focused on constitutional litigation and government misconduct. He did the Camden 28 which was a big draft resistance case.
  • My interest was more into criminal defense.
  • Grand juries (all over the country) convened to investigate the alleged transportation of Patty Hearst by the SLA from California where she had been captured.
  • He was a killer. (Frank Rizzo) There was no question. More people died in police actions before or since.
  • I don’t mean to suggest that all the police started out as homocidal. This was a situation which from the top down came the message if you’re a good cop then you’re going to take people out however you think you need to.
  • I knew about race and class bias in the court room as much as a white woman who was middle class could know.
  • I was just blown away by what happens when you add hatred of women to hatred of black people and hatred of poor people.
  • Judges would go by me in the hall and say Maguigan, ahem, you didn’t give me anything this Christmas, not even one lousy bottle, you’re not getting any assignments.
  • Judges would do things, like open the drawer in their chambers, and there would be wads of bills, and they’d let you know.
  • I developed a specialty on women who kill men.
  • In the early eighties a group in Philadelphia called Women Against Abuse began working and they did advocacy for battered women accused of crime and meant a huge difference.
  • The battered women cases I was working on were quite consuming because people then didn’t know very much in how to try these cases.
  • The judges expected you to plead insanity or guilty. Reasonable doubt was a consideration at sentencing not at trial.
  • There were cases that did require teams. There was no question.
  • I wanted to be in court. I wanted to be in the presence of that conflict between the authorities and regular people.
  • I went to NYU where I taught in the criminal defense clinic for many years.
  • To see students react to the great stories their clients have is just amazing.
  • SALT (Society of American Law Teachers) is about who gets into law school, what they learn and who teaches them. It’s about access to justice. It’s about relating to law school as a place where you train people to do social justice.  SALT’s focus is on students and teaching.
  • Holly Maguigan to be honored by Society of American Law Teachers.

Guest – Professor Holly Maguigan teaches a criminal defense clinic and one in comparative criminal justice as well as a seminar in global public service lawyering and a course in evidence. She is an expert on the criminal trials of battered women. Her research and teaching are interdisciplinary. Of particular importance in her litigation and scholarship are the obstacles to fair trials experienced by people accused of crimes who are not part of the dominant culture. Professor Maguigan is a member of the Family Violence Prevention Fund’s National Advisory Committee on Cultural Considerations in Domestic Violence cases. She serves on the boards of directors of the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice. She is a past co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers, the largest membership organization of law professors in the U.S.

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Law and Disorder August 10, 2015


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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Linda Backiel

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series today we speak with attorney Linda Backiel. She’s a lawyer and poet living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She’s played an instrumental role in defending independentistas in the fight against colonialism in Puerto Rico. As part of that struggle she defended those who were ultimately successful in kicking the military out of Vieques. A small island near Puerto Rico. For 40 years of law practice, she devoted much of her energy to the defense of political prisoners often with her friend and mentor, Lenny Weinglass. A Poem For Lenny Weinglass.

Guest – Attorney Linda Backiel, a criminal defense attorney and poet living and practicing law in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Here is Linda Backiel’s transcript  from the talk she gave at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Act.

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Rubin “Hurricane” Carter 1937-2014

In April of this year, celebrated boxer and prisoner-rights activist Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died at the age of 76. He had become an international symbol of racial injustice after his wrongful murder conviction forced him to spend 19 years in prison. Carter was arrested for a triple murder in his hometown of Patterson, New Jersey. He said he was innocent, was convicted by an all white jury, and sentenced to three consecutive life sentences. In 1976, the New Jersey State Supreme Court overturned his conviction on grounds the authorities withheld material evidence from the defense. But Carter was convicted again in a second trial in 1976. In 1985, that conviction was overturned by a U.S. district court judge, who concluded the state made an unconstitutional appeal to racial prejudice. In 1988, the Passaic, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office dropped all charges against Carter.

Attorney Myron Beldock:

  • He was a defendant in a criminal case in New Jersey involved the triple shooting and three murders of 3 people in the Lafayette bar in Patterson, New Jersey.
  • He and his co-defendant John Artis were represented at the first trial and they lost, (convicted) and Rubin started his campaign to get out of jail and wrote his book the 16th Round.
  • He was charismatic and powerful, a great thinker, very very intellectually strong person as well as being spiritually strong.
  • Almost a typical case, high profile case, where you get people who are vulnerable and easily manipulated because of their need for their own benefits to falsely testify.
  • We set aside the convictions when we learned about the benefits that were given to the witnesses.
  • We went again to trial in 1975. At that time the atmosphere had changed. There was a new prosecutor, they came up with a theory that it was actually a racial revenge killing.
  • Earlier that night, a white former bar owner had shot and killed the black purchaser of the bar from him.
  • That was always known and there was no motives attributed to the killings in the first trial but the second trial really based on speculation and bias, they argued persuasively to the jury that this was a racial revenge killing.
  • Mr. Bellow who was the supposed eye witness who testified, there were two of them in the first trial, was being questioned by me on the stand as to why he recanted his recantation. The prosecutor persuaded him to again tell the story he told at the first trial, identifying Rubin and John and I was trying to establish that they had falsely manipulated him when I was pulled into the chambers along with my co-counsel Louis Steele who represented John Artis and told that if I question him further, the jury would learn that he passed the lie detector test, supporting what he said at the first trial. Supporting his identification (of Rubin Carter)
  • We did have that test. It seemed like that was the result because that’s the way it was written. In fact that was a fraud.
  • The polygraph results were completely opposite of what they were purported to be.
  • The prosecutors in that case, two of them became judges, rewarded for what they did.
  • Rubin was not a popular person, he had been an outspoken civil rights person.  It was a cesspool of rumors without any evidentiary basis.
  • The entire community there almost in Passaic New Jersey treated us like we were the devil.
  • It was the coldest community reception I ever encountered in any place.
  • Rubin would call every year (from Canada) on the anniversary of his release.  He got a group of Canadian do-gooders and free thinkers to join him in fighting to set aside convictions for people who were wrongly convicted in Canada.
  • He would vet the briefs that we sent. He was a very unusual client.
  • Rubin refused to act as a prisoner because he wasn’t anyone who was guilty he said.
  • So, he didn’t eat prison food, he didn’t take prisoner assignments, he didn’t wear prison clothes and somehow or other he was able to pull that off.
  • People think of it as being another time, I’ve been practicing law long enough and I don’t think anything changes.
  • The same kind of bias runs deep throughout the community its just masked somewhat differently.
  • You make your luck in these cases, you have to forge ahead.
  • His insistence on being an innocent person and will not compromise with the system is the kind of inspiration that pushes us on as lawyers.

Guest – Attorney Myron Beldock, graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in 1946, Hamilton College in 1950 and Harvard Law School in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1954 and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York from 1958 to 1960. After several years as an associate with a small New York City firm and as a single practitioner, he brought together two friends and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Elliot Hoffman and Larry Levine, to form Beldock Levine & Hoffman in 1964. He is best described, by his own definition, as an old-time general practitioner. He concentrates on trial and appellate litigation, in state and federal courts, in defense of criminal charges and in pursuing plaintiffs’ civil rights actions based on police and prosecutorial misconduct and employer and governmental discrimination. He regularly consults and defends charges of professional discipline. He represents plaintiffs and defendants in a wide variety of personal and business related matters, working with others in the firm’s various practice areas.

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Law and Disorder July 13, 2015


Updates:

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Steven Salaita Hired by American University of Beirut

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

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

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Greece Economic Crisis 2015 Update

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

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

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Law and Disorder June 8, 2015


Updates:

  • Ireland Same Sex Marriages
  • DOJ Reaches Settlement With Cleveland Over Police Excessive Use Of Force
  • Inquiry to Examine Racial Bias in the San Francisco Police
  • Wyoming Criminalizes Sharing Photos And Citizen Science

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Understanding The Cuban Reality: Michael Ratner

Our own Michael Ratner returns from Cuba and dispatches this update. The United States officially takes Cuba off the terrorist list. Cuba was placed on the terrorist list years ago along with  Iran, Syria and Sudan. Getting to Cuba is easier now that travel restrictions are decreased. Michael explains the importance in how Cuba maintains its fundamental economic rights in a non-capitalist government structure. Cuba also represents solidarity with the oppressed around the world and shares his personal experiences at Revolution Square in the early 70s. As the economic embargo continues to impact many facets of life for the people of Cuba, Michael Ratner points out the specific trade lifted by the Obama Administration were goods going from the United States to Cuba and not Cuba selling to the United States. The goal of every U.S. administration was to choke off and kill the Cuban Revolution. Lastly, Michael asserts that Cuba won’t become a U.S. neo-colony with IMF austerity plans privatizing state run enterprise.

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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US-Cuba Relations: What does “Normalization” Mean?

In December, Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced that the United States and Cuba would restore diplomatic ties and the remaining three of the Cuban Five were freed. This panel, with leading US-Cuba experts,will look at what’s behind the new policy, what it means on a political and economic level as well as for people-to-people relationships, political prisoners in Cuba, and Cuban support in the African Diaspora.

Speaker – Sandra Levinson, founder and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York City and Director of the Center’s Cuban Art Space who has traveled to Cuba more than 300 times, often as consultant to major news organizations. Sponsored by the National Lawyers Guild, NYC and NYU Chapters and International Committee.

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Law and Disorder May 18, 2015


Updates:

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

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May 8 1945 – End of World War II

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

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ECCHR: Bush Torture Team Travel Restriction

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

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

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Law and Disorder May 4, 2015


Updates:

  • Heidi Boghosian:The Committee To Save Mumia Abu-Jamal Places Ad In New York Times – “Mumia Abu-Jamal Is Dying In Prison From Medical Neglect”

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Listen Yankee: Why Cuba Matters

As relations between the United States and Cuba are radically changing, Tom Hayden’s new book Listen Yankee! Why Cuba Matters is especially timely. It offers thoughtful analysis and insights into the efforts of intellectuals, social justice activists and politicians that helped bring about normalization efforts.

Listen Yankee is both a historical account and personal memoir of Hayden as a revolutionary student leader and SDS founder whose own early work to spur poetical change mirrored the transformation going on in Cuba. His book is based in part on conversations with Ricardo Alarcon, one of the leaders of the revolution,. UN representative and a former guest of Law and Disorder.

Guest – Tom Hayden was a leader in the student, antiwar, and civil rights protests in the 1960s. He took up the environmental cause in the 1970s, leading campaigns to shut down nuclear power plants and serving as California’s first solar energy official. He was elected to the California legislature in 1982, serving for eighteen years. He continues to write as an editor for The Nation, and has taught at many campuses from Harvard’s Institute of Politics to UCLA’s labor studies

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Baltimore and the Human Right to Resistance: Rejecting the framework of the Oppressor

Events continue to unfold within Baltimore, Maryland in response to the police murder of Freddie Gray. Today we examine how stereotypes are perpetuated of the rebels in the streets. The mainstream press, pundits and elected officials black and white call them thugs.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka is a human rights activist, organizer, geo-political analyst and editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report. Baraka serves as the Public Intervenor for Human Rights as a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet and coordinates the International Affairs Committee of the Black Left Unity Network. An Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington, D.C., Baraka’s is also a contributor to “Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence” and Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.

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Law and Disorder April 6, 2015


 

Updates:

  • Attorney Heidi Boghosian Tells Of How She And Johanna Fernandez Found Out Mumia Abu-Jamal Was Rushed To Local Health Facility
  • Campaign To Bring Mumia Home
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Hobby Lobby State Religious Freedom Acts
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Palestine Joins The ICC
  • Attorney Michael Ratner: Obama Issues Executive Order On Hackers

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Why The Rise Of Fascism Is Again The Issue

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

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

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Law and Disorder March 16, 2015


Updates:

  • Michael Ratner Updates On Julian Assange Case: You Can’t Just Keep A Case Going In Custody Essentially In The Embassy
  • Julian Assange’s Case Could Go To European Court of Human Rights – Assange Is Being Arbitrarily Detained And Investigation Not Proceeding
  • Eight Million Documents On Wikileaks In Highly Searchable Format
  • Google Turns Over Wikileak Attorney Client Emails to U.S. Government.
  • Federal Judge Denies EPIC’s FOIA Request On Government Surveillance Of Wikileaks Reporters – Denied Under Continuing Investigation Exemption

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Lords of Secrecy:The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare

Nearly half a century ago a majority of Americans were concerned whether their country would go to war. It was a time when national debates and public discussions engaged America’s political consciousness. That’s not the case so much these days says our guest author and attorney Scott Horton. His recently published book Lords of Secrecy:The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Warfare examines how secrecy within the United States government has corrupted fundamental systems of democracy. Scott Horton also surveys the legal authority that the current national security elite have based decisions to torture, wage war and subcontract private soldiers. When operating in secret, mistakes, excesses and crimes committed in the process are often kept quiet.

Attorney Scott Horton:

  • Dick Cheney one of the longest serving secretaries of defense, because he had a peculiar atitude about secrecy. He manipulated the news secrecy all the time to give cover to claims and statements he made that turned out not to be true. These claims very frequently matters of the highest consequence.
  • The entire case to go to war in Iraq which was in fact led by Dick Cheney rested on claims that they had weapons of mass destruction and that they had aligned themselves and were operating with Al-Qaeda that’s how we got the connection to 911. Those claims were very aggressively put forward by Dick Cheney. They turned out to be completely false. He parried any attempts to challenge them by saying all the intelligence we have on that is . . . secret, so I can’t share it with you.
  • Of course, in good time we learned there wasn’t any intelligence or information that supported these claims.
  • The lords of secrecy consist of the higher echelon officers of the national intelligence and security bureaucracy and they’re the people who have under American law, the power to create secrets using the classification authority.
  • I make the case that they use that power very aggressively, very effectively to make themselves the ultimate decision makers on key national security issues and to remove those matters from the democratic, political process.
  • It’s on the lords of secrecy who really influence the final decision when its made by the executive.
  • The lords of secrecy, the people who wield the classification power also are part of a revolving door in Washington. They’re in government service, they leave that, they go to work as directors and senior officers of major contractors.
  • Those contractors hold a half trillion dollars in contract business every year paid for by tax payers and they also make enormous campaign donations.
  • Washington D.C. has emerged as the wealthiest standard metropolitan statistical area in the United States and that’s on the strength of the position of contractors and their ability to suck our treasury dry.
  • What the American people don’t know about, they don’t form opinions about. They don’t conjutate about, they don’t become engaged with. That shows how secrecy and this other stuff are a very potent narcotic against democracy effectively, causing democracy to fade away while the national security elites are at the driver’s wheel making all the key decisions.
  • I think it allows us to make war without going through the constitutional process.
  • It’s really vague on how this go-to-war decision is supposed to be made. There’s the appropriation authority of Congress, there’s the Commander in Chief power of the executive, there’s the power to declare war, and exactly how those rights and powers play out in any given situation really isn’t clear.
  • The bottom line is the US waging war overseas without the people of the United States having taken a decision to do so.
  • My book has gotten much stronger attention in Europe than it has in the United States.
  • A big part of the problem we have is the way national security and particularly intelligence community matters are reported in the United States.
  • One thing I looked at the coverage of the drone war in Pakistan and I found very clearly Americans are actually the most poorly informed community globally on this issue.
  • The media can’t really act without the whistleblower. It really comes down to the whistleblower being the last and best hope.
  • The problem is national security whistleblowers don’t get a fair trial. They wind up being abused, mistreated.
  • Let the Justice Department explain why they decided that Petraeus a slap on the fingers, nothing too serious, while they want to throw the book at Snowden.
  • Let them give the rationale for the distinction between these cases. They’ve never done that.

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

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Venezuela-Elections_ A woman walks past graffiti in Caracas

US Sanctions Against Maduro Government Officials

In its continuation of a decades long overthrow of the Venezuelan government, the United States issued new sanctions against Venezuelan government officials who the United States claims are involved in violating human rights guarantees. President Barack Obama issued an order declaring a national emergency with respect to Venezuela. The order lists certain key Venezuelan officials and said that any financial transactions with those officials are barred. This is typical of what the United States does to officials of government it doesn’t like, whether it was Nicaragua in the ’80s or Cuba since 1959 or 1960. These sanctions must also be seen the light of short-lived 2002 military coup in Venezuela in which the United States was deeply involved. Today we want to talk about the broader context of these actions and why the U.S. is continually trying to destabilize Venezuela.

Mark Weisbrot:

  • It is pretty crazy that they have to declare Venezuela as an extraordinary threat.
  • You don’t see any of the reporters asking the Whitehouse . . . what are you talking about?
  • If you look at the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States for example, that is the alternative to the OAS, that was created a few years ago in response to US unpleasant actions in the hemisphere.
  • Between 2000-2010 the Columbian military over 5700 innocent civilians, murdered them, and the United States just gave them more military aid.
  • I was there during the protest a year ago, and of course it was very different from what I saw . . I was actually kinda shocked. I walked all over and took the metro all over Caracas and the only demonstration you saw were little uprisings in the richest neighborhoods.
  • The people most affected the shortages, the ones that go and have to wait in line, can’t afford to buy anything in the black market.
  • The poor and the working people, they haven’t protest because they mostly support the government.
  • That’s a little bit of a disconnect from what you see in the press.
  • This idea that the protests are related to the shortages doesn’t hold up when you see who’s actually protesting. These people have servants who do their shopping, wait in the lines.
  • Upper middle class, they have servants, they have storage space.
  • These sanctions are probably illegal under International Law.
  • Again, there are things that are questionable, things that I wouldn’t try to defend but to create this picture, a very exaggerated picture that’s created here in the media because the U.S. wants to overthrow the government there I think is very unfortunate.
  • Venezuela has been a target by the United States for a regime change for at least 13 years.
  • A lot of people know if the opposition gets power, its just going to get worse for them.
  • Venezuela is not facing a real balance of payment crisis, where they can’t pay for their import. They just have a dysfunctional exchange rate system and they have a fair amount of sabotage too.

Guest – Mark Weisbrot co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, D.C. to give us an update. He writes a weekly column for The Guardian Unlimited (U.K.), and a regular column on economic and policy issues that is distributed to over 550 newspapers by the Tribune Content Agency.

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Law and Disorder February 16, 2015


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City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan

In early December of 2014, the Supreme court agreed to hear the case City and County of San Francisco v. Sheehan. The case involves San Francisco police officers who reported to a group home to transport Teresa Sheehan, who was known to be mentally ill, to mental health facility. The situation ended with police firing six shots on Sheehan. She survived and filed a lawsuit arguing that officers had a responsibility under federal law to consider her mental disability. The case is not about police criminal liability, this one is about whether police are obligated to take special precautions in using deadly force, and also in entering an individual’s home without a warrant or permission. Read Michael Avery’s observation about details of case.

Attorney Michael Avery:

  • Teresa Sheehan is a woman in her mid-fifties who was living in a group home in San Francisco, a home for people with mental disabilities.
  • Officers came to the house and ended up shooting her five times at point blank range.
  • The case raises some issues for the federal courts in which the lower courts are in disagreement, and the court (Supreme Court) took the case hoping to resolve those disagreements.
  • The police came because the social worker had become concerned with Ms Sheehan, and wanted to send her to a hospital for 72 hours of evaluation and requested the assistance of the police in transporting her to the hospital.
  • Ms. Sheehan on the other hand didn’t want to be taken to the hospital, didn’t want the social worker in her room, did not want the police in her room, she just wanted to be left alone.
  • In the course of asserting her right to be left alone, she threatened the police and the social worker with a knife.
  • The police then ended up breaking through her door. Forcing open her door and when she was standing there with the knife, they tried to pepper spray her. That didn’t seem to have much effect on her and so they shot her five times.
  • Miraculously she survived but now she’s permanently disabled and disfigured. One of the bullets entered the left side of her temple, shattered her eye socket and then exited through her mouth causing serious injuries to her jaw.
  • Officers encounter people with mental disabilities extremely frequently. In large cities and towns in the United States its estimated 1 out every 15 people that the police interact with has some form of mental illness.
  • Officers are trained to try to diffuse the incident, not to threaten the person, to ask open ended questions, to listen to what the person has to say, try to establish some rapport with the person, respect the person’s space and not crowd the person, and at the same allow the incident to go on as long as it has to in order to have a peaceful resolution.
  • Several years ago I wrote an article called Unreasonable Seizures of Unreasonable People making the point that officers ought to be held to standard that requires them to follow their own training.
  • When I saw this case was in the courts, I volunteered to provide some assistance to the lawyers in connection with the brief they were writing.
  • There are two claims in the case. One is a claim under the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which is the part that says government cannot make unreasonable searches of our home or seizures of our person and the other is a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • In effect they discriminated against her on the basis of her disability by not following their training and not making the accommodations that they were trained to make for a mentally ill person.
  • Secondly, the argument is, when they forced open the door to her apartment and entered and used deadly force against her, they were not behaving reasonably and that again is based on the same idea it would have been reasonable to follow their training. Frankly, they just threw their training out the window.
  • Oral argument is scheduled for March 23, 2015.

Guest – Civil rights lawyer Michael Avery,  professor at Suffolk University Law School and former president of the National Lawyers Guild from 2003 to 2006. He’s also worked with the National Police Accountability Project.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: David Kairys

David Kairy began his career at the Philadelphia public defender’s office in the late 1960s. Since then, he’s been a leader in effort to fight discrimination and protect individual rights, now he’s regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent civil rights attorneys. David is a professor at the University of Temple Law School, where he teaches civil rights and constitutional law. He has written several books, including Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer, which was published last year.

David Kairys:

  • We were of a number of young firms dedicated to civil rights and representation of progressive groups.
  • The Camden 28, caught in the act of breaking into a Camden, New Jersey draft board and destroying all of the files. This was a Catholic Left action.
  • FBI had informant in the group, who the FBI was paying on an hourly rate. The informant supplied the means to make the action happen.
  • One hundred FBI agents sat around and waited til they destroyed all the files in the office.  Many of the 28 were priests. There were more than 300 draft board raids during Vietnam.
  • Father Michael Doyle said when your government is napalming children, the place you should be is in jail.
  • Father Doyle and I strategized a way to start talking to the FBI informant Bob Hardy and eventually got an affidavit saying that the FBI manufactured this crime.
  • I filed the affidavit and it was on the front page of the New York Times.

Guest – David Kairys, Professor of Law, the first James E. Beasley Chair (2001-07), and one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers. He authored Philadelphia Freedom, Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer and With Liberty and Justice for Some and co-authored the bestselling progressive critique of the law, The Politics of Law, and authored With Liberty and Justice for Some and over 35 articles and book chapters. His columns have appeared in major periodicals, and he has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine. Kairys’s Public Nuisance Theory.

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