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Archive for the 'Torture' Category


Law and Disorder December 11, 2017


CCR: Current Supreme Court Dockets

We are currently living through an attack on every aspect of American democracy. This phenomena predated the Trump presidency and has been qualitatively accelerated by it.

This across-the-board constriction of the power and rule of the American people, to the extent that it had existed, has encompassed the suppression of voting rights; an attack on public education; the growth of enormous income inequality; the unimpeded influence of money in elections; the threat and constriction of the right of women to control their own bodies; the attack on peoples’ rights to build and join effective unions; the refusal to close the offshore prison of Guantánamo and the refusal to prosecute illegal torturers; the attack and net neutrality and access to the internet; the increase by the state of the surveillance of American citizens; the militarization of the police; encouragement of racism; the banning of Muslims; suppression of the right to demonstrate; and the growth in executive authority.

Guest – Attorney Baher Azmy, the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The CCR was founded in 1966 to advance the goals of the civil rights movement. Michael Ratner, our co-host and founder of Law And Disorder Radio, was its president emeritus at the time of his passing in May of last year.

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Lawyers You’ll Like: Alison McCrary

As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series, today we are joined by Alison McCrary. Alison is a social justice attorney, a Catholic nun, president of the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and a Spiritual Advisor on Louisiana’s death row. She is the former Program Director for the Community-Police Mediation at the New Orleans Office of the Independent Police Monitor where she created a national model for improving community-police relationships, taught at the New Orleans Police Academy, and helped develop similar programs in cities across the nation.

As a 2010 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship in New Orleans, Alison challenged and helped reform policing practices and policies to transform relationships between police officers and the bearers of New Orleans’ indigenous cultural traditions. Alison has served as a National Lawyers Guild legal observer trainer and the New Orleans Legal Observer® Program Coordinator.

Before law school, she worked at the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana providing litigation support on death penalty cases and at the United Nations in New York monitoring the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions.

Guest – Attorney Alison McCrary. In New Orleans, Alison worked, clerked, and/or volunteered at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, the Louisiana Voters’ Rights Network, Equity and Inclusion Campaign for the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, Orleans Parish Public Defenders Office, Louisiana’s Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Loyola University’s Community Justice Clinic. Nationally, Alison coordinates and provides legal support for social justice movements such as the School of the Americas Watch. She received her J.D. from Loyola University’s College of Law in New Orleans and her B.A. in English at Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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Law and Disorder October 23, 2017


Updates:

  • Co-host Attorney Heidi Boghosian Discusses Robert “Sugar Bear” Lark Case
  • Government Targeting Black Resistance Groups

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Victory In Al Shimari v CACI

President Trump told us during the campaign that he was in favor of torture because “it works.“ The Center for Constitutional Rights recently won a significant round in a case against a private military contractor, CACI who had tortured three of its clients at the infamous Abu Graib prison in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

When he was president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner maintained that if the torturers were not  prosecuted, the practice of torture would be repeated. In fact none of the architects were held accountable in court. That is why the this recent procedural victory by CCR, in the case of Al Shimari is so important.

Guest – Attorney Katherine Gallagher is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She works on universal jurisdiction and international criminal law cases involving U.S. and foreign officials and torture and other war crimes, and cases involving private military corporations and torture at Abu Ghraib. Her major cases include Al Shimari v. CACI, the international U.S. torture accountability cases, and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) v. Vatican, seeking accountability for the crimes against humanity of sexual violence by clergy and cover-up.

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International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms: North Korea

Not since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, 55 years ago, has the prospect of nuclear war seemed so frightening. President Donald Trump, who alone can commence a nuclear attack, has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.“ North Korea has a population of 25 million people.

Gabriel Sherman writing recently in the magazine Vanity Fair said that the situation with Trump has gotten so out of control that Trump’s Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, and his Secretary of Defense, General Jim Mattis, have discussed ways to stop Trump should he order a nuclear attack.

Obviously, the solution to winding down the escalating confrontation needs to be one of diplomacy. But when Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the chief diplomat in America, attempted to do just that President Trump said publicly that “you are wasting your time.“

Guest – Peter Weiss, distinguished international lawyer and President Emeritus of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its US affiliate, the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy. He helped draft their October 10th, 2017 statement North Korea: Solution or Disaster. Peter Weiss was a founder of the Center for Constitutional Rights and its former Vice President.

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Law and Disorder September 25, 2017


35th Anniversary of Palestinian Mass Slaughter in Lebanon Refugee Camps

This month marks the 35th anniversary of the mass slaughter of civilian Palestinians by Lebanese fascists in their Lebanon refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. The Palestinians who lived in the camps had been driven out of their villages in the Galilee by Israel. They had lived there for hundreds of years until the Zionist colonialists expelled them in 1948. The Israeli Army aided in the 1982 slaughter. The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which preceded the massacre, was given the greenlight by the United States. Up to 1982, the Palestine Liberation Organization, known as the PLO, had its headquarters in Beruit, Lebanon. This Israeli Army invaded Lebanon and succeeded in driving the PLO out. The United States gave written commitments to the PLO about protecting the civilian population in order to secure the PLO’s evacuation from Beruit the month before the slaughter at Sabra and Shatila camps.

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon falsely asserted that there were 2000 terrorists in the camps. US Envoy to Lebanon Morris Draper did not dispute this falsehood. Sharon told Draper that ” We will kill them. They will not be left there. You are not going to save them.” Sharon sent Lebonese fascists into the refugee camps. They silently killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, mostly women and children and old men, using knives and bayonets. The Israeli Army lit up the killing fields with flares. There was such a worldwide outcry that Israel was forced to set up a commission of inquiry. That commission found that Sharon bore “personal responsibility” for the massacre and recommended that he be dismissed from his post as Defense Minister.

The blowback from these events in Lebanon 35 years ago still echo today in the wars America is conducting in Syria and Iraq.

Guest – Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. He is the author of “Under Siege: PLO Decision Making During the 1982 War”. and most recently “Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East.” Professor Khalidi recently had an article on the Sabra and Shatila massacre in The Nation magazine.

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Community Votes

The Queensbridge House public housing project in Long Island City Queens is the largest such complex in the country. With more than 7,000 residents, it’s a community with little faith in civic engagement. Like other public housing communities, and low-income neighborhoods in general, poor people vote at considerably lower rates than wealthier ones. Many feel apathetic, that the system is rigged, and that their votes don’t matter.

One nonprofit in NYC is using innovative partnerships with community-based social service organizations to conduct nonpartisan voter mobilization so more underrepresented citizens participate in our democracy.

Community Votes is trying to change the culture and mindset of large nonprofit social service agencies so they integrate into their day-to-day operations civic engagement activities. These activities include promoting awareness of elections and issues and encouraging voting and other participation in federal, state, and city policy making. A few years ago Community Votes partnered with the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement, a longtime provider of social services in the Queensbridge Houses, to engage in personalized messaging to mobilize voters. The results were a considerably higher rate of voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections.

Guest – Louisa Hackett is the director of Community Votes. Louisa founded Community Votes in 2013. Through her work at Community Resource Exchange providing consulting services to New York City nonprofit organizations, she recognized the assets direct service organizations have to turn more citizens into voters.

 

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Law and Disorder September 18, 2017


 

Anthropomorphic Climate Disruption

Devastation caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma have provided ample opportunity for Democrats to press Republicans on climate change — with the catastrophic storms and wild fire giving tens of millions of Americans an up-front glimpse of the types of devastation we are facing.

Oddly, there’s been little talk in the nation’s capital. Aside from a handful of outliers like Hawaiian Sen. Brian Schatz, leading Democratic politicians have been slow to use the tropical storms to denounce President Donald Trump, who has dismissed climate change as a “hoax.”

That’s a contrast from past storms like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, when Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the disaster a sign that “climate change is a reality.” Even then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, cited the storm and climate change at the time among his reasons for endorsing Barack Obama’s reelection as president.

Democrats appear to be heeding the warnings of Trump appointees like EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who said last week that it’s “very, very insensitive to the people in Florida” to talk about climate change now.

Guest – Eleanor Stein, teaches a course called the Law of Climate Change: Domestic and Transnational at Albany Law School and SUNY Albany, in conjunction with the Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences Department at SUNY. Eleanor Stein is teaching transnational environmental law with a focus on catastrophic climate change. For ten years she served as an Administrative Law Judge at the New York State Public Service Commission in Albany, New York, where she presided over and mediated New York’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding, a collaboration and litigation of over 150 parties, authoring in June 2004 a comprehensive decision recommending a landmark state environmental initiative to combat global warming with incentives for renewable resource-fueled power generation.

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John Brennan Named Distinguished Fellow for Global Security At Fordham Univerity’s Law School

Labor Day brought an unwelcome surprise to students and alumni of what the Jesuits proudly call The Jesuit University in the City of New York. Fordham University’s Law School announced that it had named former CIA Director John Brennan Distinguished Fellow for Global Security.

Brennan was a senior official in the CIA during the Bush -Cheney administration. The official record shows he was knee-deep into their programs of secret offshore prisons, torture, and kidnapping.

In fact, in late November 2008, when President-elect Obama was about to appoint Brennan director of the CIA, a category-five hurricane of protest made that politically impossible. For example, the American Psychological Association publicly appealed to Obama not to appoint Brennan because of his role in torture.

So, instead, Brennan played the role of national security adviser – a role in which Obama and he worked together, meeting every Tuesday to draw up lists of who would be killed the following week by missiles from drones.

By 2008, Congress had become so inured to such things that Brennan sailed through confirmation and became CIA director for Obama’s second term.

That Fordham has succumbed to what Jesuits like Dan Berrigan call the “celebrity virus” is abundantly clear in Brennan’s appointment. Fordham is proud to claim him as a college alumnus. And without a hint of shame, its law school is also proud to give him a prestigious appointment.

Guest – Ray McGovern, an alumnus of Fordham and was a high-ranking CIA analyst for 27 years. His expertise was Russia and he had one on one briefings daily with President George Bush. He broke with the government under George W. Bush over the cooked intelligence used to rationalize America’s illegal war of aggression against Iraq and helped form the organization Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.  His group issued a memorandum to President Obama which demonstrated that the Russians did not hack into the computers of the Democratic Party or Hillary Clinton and did not therefore influence the American election.  http://raymcgovern.com/

Law and Disorder September 11, 2017


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Illegal Preventive War

Sixteen years ago today two hijacked planes flew into the twin towers and another one into the Pentagon. Fifteen of the 19 attackers were Saudi Arabians. They were funded by elements of the Saudi Arabian government. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian fundamentalist from a wealthy Saudi family took responsibility for the attack. He said he did it for three reasons: The American support of Israel against the Palestinians; the presence of US bases near the Saudi Arabian holy cities of Mecca and Medina; and the US economic and trade sanctions against Iraq which killed 600,000 children.

When the attack occurred, the feckless and unpopular George W. Bush had been in office less than a year. He told his national security advisor to figure out a way to blame the attacks on Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. A lie was propounded by Bush , his vice president Dick Cheney, and his secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld that Iraq had contact with Osama bin Laden and that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction. First, Afghanistan was bombed, even though it’s leaders offered to turn over Osama bin Laden. Then an illegal war was launched against Iraq initiated with horrific bombings called “shock and awe.” In the following years 1 million people were killed in that country. Half of the population are refugees or internally displaced.

In the wake of the 911 attacks, the Patriot Act was hastily pushed through Congress bringing an American police state closer into being. The war on terror was declared even though terror is a tactic and war is traditionally had been fought against other countries. This has given it a permanent character. A campaign of fear was whipped up. Torture and kidnapping by the CIA was instituted. Eventually the United States under President Obama was fighting six were simultaneously in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Trump continues this aggression.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, a member of board of directors of Cooperation Jackson, in Jackson Mississippi, editor and contributing columnist for Black Agenda Report, and National Organizer for the Black Alliance for Peace. He recently ran for vice president on the Green party ticket. He is a former board member at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a leader of the United National Anti-war Coalition.

U.S. Antiwar Leaders Call for Actions to Oppose the Escalation of the Afghanistan War During the Week of the 16th Anniversary of the Invasion, October 2 – 8.

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The Bronx 120 and Secor 19

A year ago we reported on the largest gang raid in NY history. It took place, pre-dawn, in the Williamsbridge section of the North Bronx, with 700 law enforcement officers arresting 120 young men  indicted on conspiracy charges using the 1970 RICO Act. In one apartment, more than a dozen police threw flash-bang grenades and broke down the front door with assault weapons aimed at a mother and her two daughters, then forced them to crawl down their hall on all fours toward the officers.

At that time, police held a press conference and characterized the young men as “the epitome of organized crime today.” Cooperating federal agencies included the DEA, the ATF, the US attorney general, and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. Community members question this portrayal, saying the young men were not highly organized gangsters terrorizing a community; they lacked money and weapons and were living at home with their parents.

Critics claim that applying RICO to street gangs has racist implications. Under RICO, individuals can be found guilty by association. Despite gang-related crime accounting for less than 2 percent of city crime, two weeks after the raid, James O’Neill, now NYPD Commissioner, promised more raids.

He came through with that promise this past April. Multiple arrests were made at the Boston Secor Houses in the Bronx, and federal charges were brought against 19 young persons. They have been charged with racketeering conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, robbery conspiracy, extortion, and firearms offenses. We’re joined today by a FAMILY MEMBER of one of the young men arrested.

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Law and Disorder August 28, 2017


 

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

The spectacle of President Donald Trump and the palace intrigue in the White House has served daily to distract people from the political strategy and accomplishments of the radical right, which is taking over the Republican Party.

Over time, the GOP has been transformed into operation conducting a concerted effort to curb democratic rule in favor of capitalist interests in every branch of government, whatever the consequences. It is marching ever closer to the ultimate goal of reshaping the Constitution to protect monied interests. This gradual take over of a major political party happened steadily, over several decades, and often in plain sight.

Duke University Professor Nancy MacLean exposes the architecture of this change and it’s ultimate aim. She has written that “both my research and my observations as a citizen lead me to believe American democracy is in peril”.

Guest – Professor Nancy MacLean, whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and gripping narrative… [and] a feat of American intellectual and political history.” Booklist called it “perhaps the best explanation to date of the roots of the political divide that threatens to irrevocably alter American government.” The author of four other books, including Freedom is Not Enough: The Opening of the American Workplace (2006) called by the Chicago Tribune “contemporary history at its best,” and Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan, named a New York Times “noteworthy” book of 1994, MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy.

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Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

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

Attorney Scott Horton:

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

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

Law and Disorder July 10, 2017


Law and Disorder Outtakes: Disorderly Bloopers

We first began recording Law and Disorder in 2004, the same year the Republican National Convention—and large protests—were held in New York City. When we started, we had four hosts—Dalia Hashad and Michael Ratner along with Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian.

After a few years, Dalia moved to California, leaving us with three hosts. In late spring 2016 we lost Michael Ratner to cancer. Now there are just two of us.

It is our special pleasure to share with listeners our first segment of The Disorderly Bloopers, behind-the-scenes audio outtakes from the first years we were on the air.

Law and Disorder was created during the George W. Bush administration to cover what we thought would be some of the darkest days in the nation’s history. As part of our special summer episode we thought these studio snippets might provide a few minutes of much-needed levity.

It’s important to take a few minutes to laugh at ourselves, and to look back at the hundreds of fun days that we here at Law and Disorder have had over the years.This has also been a trip down memory lane for Heidi and Michael as we hear hilarious interchanges with Dalia and Michael Ratner.

As we covered some of the most serious topics in the news, and amidst the enormous respect we had for all of our guests, the four of us wholeheartedly enjoyed a special relationship, along with our longstanding producer Geoff Brady. It’s a relationship that comes from working closely together and respecting each other as colleagues and friends.

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Hosts Read Some of the Best Courtroom Transcripts

Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
A: No.
Q: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.

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The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession

Hosts alternate in reading part of a chapter on Attorney Charles Garry in the book The Relevant Lawyer: Reimagining the Future of the Legal Profession by Paul A. Haskins. Haskins is senior counsel in the American Bar Association Center for Professional Responsibility and lead counsel for the Standing Committee on Professionalism.

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Law and Disorder July 3, 2017


 

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party Victory

One of the bright and hopeful developments in world politics was the wide support that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labor Party got in that country’s recent elections. Corbyn ran on an unabashedly left platform. His party recruited tens of thousands of young people before and after the election. Although the conservative Government of Prime Minister Teresa May is still in power this is not likely to last long. To speak with us today about these developments in Great Britain and their relevance to the United States where we saw a similar phenomenon with the rise of Bernie Sanders, is Colin Robinson.

Guest – Colin Robinson is from Liverpool England and he lives in New York City. He’s the publisher of OR Books. Colin Robinson worked as a senior editor at Scribner and was previously managing director of Verso Books and publisher of The New Press. Among the authors he has published are Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Mike Davis, Norman Finkelstein, Eduardo Galeano, Eric Hobsbawm, Lewis Lapham, Mike Marqusee, Rigoberta Menchú, Matt Taibbi and Jann Wenner.

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Raymond Nat Turner

Poem: Low Regard

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SCOTUS on CCR CASE

Just a few weeks ago the Supreme Court reversed a federal appeals court ruling that former high-level Bush administration officials may be sued for their roles in the post-9/11 profiling and abuse of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men.

After the 9/11 attacks, hundreds of non-citizens were rounded up solely on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, and immigration status. They were held in extremely restrictive confinement and physically and psychologically abused. The Court held that high-level government officials who implement and create clearly unconstitutional policies alleged to be based on national security are nonetheless shielded from liability.

However, the Court did allow plaintiffs the chance to prove their case against Warden Dennis Hasty, finding that complaint’s allegations, “plausibly show the warden’s deliberate indifference” to the abuse plaintiffs suffered while they were held at the MDC. The claims against the Warden will be sent back to the lower courts for an opportunity to show that prison administrators are not entitled to the same immunity given to high-level officials in this case.

Guest – Senior Managing Attorney Shane Kadilal from the Center for Constitutional Rights. His cases there include challenges to the indefinite detention of men at Guantánamo and domestic immigration sweeps. He has been counsel in major CCR cases challenging the material support statute, the low rate of African-American firefighter hiring in New York City, and the NSA’s warrantless surveillance program.

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Law and Disorder June 12, 2017


FBI Director James Comey Termination Fall Out

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey has many concerned about a possible impending threat to the independence of United States intelligence institutions. Trump’s action represents his most serious violation of political norms to-date. While the president does have the legal authority to fire the FBI director, who serves a 10-year term, it is usually only done under extraordinary circumstances. The administration has said publicly that Comey was fired because he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. But that stands in stark contrast with the fact that in January Trump asked Comey to remain in his post. Perhaps more germane is that the dismissal comes less than two months after Comey announced in March that he has been overseeing an investigation into whether the Trump campaign and Trump’s associates coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

A few days before Comey’s dismissal, Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo of the NY Times reported that Comey: “asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election.” Trump will now be able to appoint a new FBI director who will run the Russia investigation — an investigation that the president has repeatedly complained about. This has drawn comparisons to Richard Nixon’s efforts to cut off Watergate investigations.

Guest – Attorney Mike German a former FBI agent and a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program. His work focuses on law enforcement and intelligence oversight and reform. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Mike served as the policy counsel for national security and privacy for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. A sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforcement, Mr. German served as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations.

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

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

Jim Douglass:

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

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

Law and Disorder May 15, 2017


Silk Road, Kingpin Charge and Ross Ulbricht

In 2015 a jury found that then 29-year-old Ross Ulbricht had created and run an anonymous digital black market for drugs called Silk Road. The case was a high profile one, and Ulbricht had come to be known by some as the face of the Dark Web. He was convicted on seven charges—including a “kingpin” charge—and Judge Katherine Forrest  imposed two life sentences and 40 years without possibility of parole. Prosecutors had not even sought such a long sentence.

In a 2016 appeal, defense attorneys outlined a litany of improprieties and abuses in the investigation and trial. Perhaps most serious was that the court procluded information about two corrupt federal agents investigating Silk Road who are now both serving prison sentences for corruption.

The defense team maintains that the convictions for Ulbricht should be vacated and that a new trial should be ordered or that he receive re-sentencing before a different judge.

A new book by Nick Bilton called  “American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind Silk Road” has received glowing reviews but presents what the Ulbricht family, his legal team, and supporters describe as a fictionalized version of the government’s narrative of the case, It is said that in many instances the author relied on claims that were not charged in trial.

Guest – Ross’s mother, Lyn Ulbricht. Lyn is working to help her son and directs those who want to learn more about her son’s case to the site Free Ross Ulbricht.

 

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Williams v. Pennsylvania: Mumia Abu-Jamal

In  2016 the Supreme Court in Williams v. Pennsylvania held that a prosecutor involved in seeking the death penalty should recuse himself if asked to judge an appeal in the capital case. Two months later, Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an appeal based on that decision, calling into direct question the validity of his criminal conviction, and the denial of his appeals. Ronald Castille, the same prosecutor in the Williams case, was a senior district attorney while Mumia’s case was being tried. He was also the District Attorney of Philadelphia during Mumia’s direct appeals. While serving on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Castille rejected a recusal motion filed by Mumia’s defense.

On April 24, Mumia’s 63rd birthday, his lawyers were back in court arguing that a Motion for Discovery should be granted to determine the particulars of Castille’s personal involvement in Mumia’s prosecution and appeals.

Judge Leon Tucker ruled in favor of Mumia’s demand for discover and for the DA’s files. The records must be turned over to Mumia’s attorneys by May 30, 2017.

Guest – Attorney Judy Ritter, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Defense Clinic at Widener’s Delaware campus. She argued in 2011 before the Third Circuit that the instructions given to the sentencing jurors were unconstitutional. The so-called Mills claim argument succeeded and Mumia, as our listeners know, no longer faces a sentence of death.

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Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted

Capital punishment has made news headlines over the past few months, as the state of Arkansas rushed to execute six men in a span of several days. For many years, the issue of state sanctioned killings has not received much attention. News of exonerations of innocent men and women are rare.

A new book, Anatomy of Innocence: Testimonies of the Wrongfully Convicted, presents the true stories of 15 exonerees who were wrongfully convicted and thrown into the complex criminal justice system before being among the few to be exonerated.

Edited by Leslie Klinger and Laura Caldwell, the book is unusual in that each exoneree is paired with a high-profile mystery and thriller writer (including Lee Child, Sara Paretsky, Laurie King, Brad Parks and others) to present their narratives. Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project and author Scott Turow also provide commentary.

The book also includes a letter from playwright Arthur Miller, believed to be the first and only unpublished piece since his death. Kirkus Reviews called the compilation “a unique collection of 15 wrongful conviction sagas bound to shake faith in the American criminal justice system.”

Guest – Attorney and author Leslie Klinger, co-editor of Anatomy of Innocence and widely considered to be one of the world’s foremost authorities on Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, H. P. Lovecraft, and 19th-century genre fiction.

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