Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for April, 2007

Law and Disorder April 30, 2007

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Heidi Boghosian Returns From Cuba

Co-host Michael Smith talks with our own Heidi Boghosian about her recent trip to Cuba and involvement with the defense of the Cuban Five. Heidi will be writing about her meetings with those in Cuba also working on the defense and support of the Cuban Five. An effort to counter the media blackout on this important story. Michael and Heidi also mention the recent news about the release of alleged terrorist Posada Carriles.

Cuban Five background: Five courageous men who uncovered information about plans by anti-Cuban terrorists to commit acts of violence against that island nation. After the Cuban government turned over voluminous documentation of such plans, the five were indicted and tried in Miami on unfounded charges of conspiracy to commit espionage all without one page of evidence to corroborate such charges. The Cuban Five have been imprisoned for 8 years in maximum security facilities spread out across the United States. They’re in such remote locations that even visits from their attorneys are difficult.


The Iroquois Confederacy

In the National Lawyers Guild quarterly magazine, Guild member Cynthia Feathers and her sister Susan, put together a collaborative work describing how the system of the Great Law within the Iroquois Confederacy is a blueprint of the current two houses of US government. The Feathers sisters describe that between 1000 and 1450, the Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, and Seneca Nations came together to become the Iroquois Confederacy, and in the early 18th century they were joined by the Tuscaroras.

If the two houses agreed, the Onondaga would implement the unanimous decision, unless they disagreed with the decision and referred the matter back to the Council. Sound familiar? By 1988, the 100th U.S. Congress passed a concurrent resolution acknowledging the contribution of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy to the development of the U.S. government.

Guest – Robert Odawi Porter, Professor of Law at Syracuse University and director of the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance & Citizenship.

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The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden in America.

Here on Law and Disorder we have focused a lot of attention to civil liberties and human rights. Today we’re going to look at pending ecological catastrophe from over-fishing. We have with us author and professor Bruce Franklin, author of many books including The Most Important Fish in the Sea: Menhaden in America. In this Island Press publication, Franklin details how critical this fish is to the survival marine ecosystems.

The Menhaden, a tiny silvery fish is the basic link in the web of food chains for many other fish, mammals and seabirds. The Menhaden also filter the waters of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, playing an essential dual role in marine ecology perhaps unmatched anywhere on the planet. As their numbers have plummeted from overfishing, their disappearance has caused toxic algae blooms and dead zones that have begun to choke our bays and seas.

Guest – Author H.Bruce Franklin tells us about how the Omega Protein Company is over-fishing this important fish.


Statement by former GITMO Prisoner Bisher Al Rawi

Sunday April 1st: I am delighted to be back home in England, with my
family. After over four years in Guantánamo Bay, my nightmare is finally at
an end.

As happy as I am to be home though, leaving my best friend Jamil El-Banna
behind in Guantánamo Bay makes my freedom bittersweet. Jamil was arrested
with me in the Gambia on exactly the same unfounded allegations, yet he is
still a prisoner. He is the father of five young children, the eldest of
whom is ten. He has never seen his youngest daughter who is nearly five
years old. He too should be released and reunited with his family.

I also feel great sorrow for the other nine British residents who remain
prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. Some are now on hunger strike protesting
against their extended solitary confinement. The extreme isolation they are
going through is one of the most profoundly difficult things to endure. I
know that all too well.

The hopelessness you feel in Guantánamo can hardly be described. You are
asked the same questions hundreds of times. Allegations are made against
you that are laughably untrue, but you have no chance to prove them wrong.
There is no trial, no fair legal process. I was alleged to have
participated in terrorist training in Bosnia and Afghanistan. I’ve never
been to Bosnia and the only time I visited Afghanistan was thanks to the
hospitality of the CIA in an underground prison – the Dark Prison – outside

But now, finally, I am back home.

I want to thank everyone who campaigned tirelessly for both me and Jamil
during this long saga of misery, suffering and injustice, a saga in which
Jamil still finds himself enmeshed. My overwhelming feelings of gratitude
and thanks extend to an extremely large number of people. I would love to
mention them all by name, but that would make this statement among the
longest on the record. However, there are individuals whose names are
imprinted in my mind and heart whom I cannot but mention today.

I would like to start with thanking my family, who have suffered greatly
with me throughout. The late Mark Jennings, a person whom I wished very
much to meet and thank in person but it was not to be, and his wife Celia
to whom I extend my hand in friendship for a lifetime. My British lawyer
Gareth Peirce whom I consider to be the best in her field, together with
Irene Nembhard and all those at Birnberg Peirce who were on this case
helping us from day one. My American lawyer Brent Mickum who got on this
case very early on, despite the overwhelming difficulties, restrictions and
complexities imposed by the American regime. Clive Stafford Smith and
Zachary Katznelson whose visits to Guantánamo were a lifeline for me and
meant so much, and of course all those with them at Reprieve. My MP Edward
Davey, who took on what seemed to be an impossible mission, facing high
walls of bureaucracy and doors that refused to be opened. It was a task
very few people would have volunteered to take on. Sarah Teather, my best
friend Jamil’s MP, who is continuing to push for Jamil’s release and his
long-overdue reunion with his wife and children. Victoria Brittain, a name
I will always remember and to whom both Jamil and I feel extremely

I would like to thank Amnesty International and all those there whose good
work through out the world is a blooming flower of hope. I sincerely
believe that without Amnesty’s immediate intervention in our case during
those extremely difficult first days after our arrest in The Gambia, we
probably would have been goners. I have to also thank all the other
humanitarian groups who have stood up against the injustices in Guantánamo
Bay and other places, who have kept the pressure on the U.S. government,
and helped as much as possible under these difficult circumstances. All the
good people in this country and elsewhere who have supported us in various
ways, including the many many who have written letters to both me and Jamil
in support and solidarity. Among these, I should mention especially the
young boys and girls whose words were most heart-warming – and whose
hand-writing was much nicer and more legible than mine! My friends in the
UK of all backgrounds who have tolerated me and my many shortcomings for
years, starting from a long time before Guantánamo Bay, and whose memories
I had on replay throughout my imprisonment. My friends at Guantánamo Bay
who were my family, and meant everything to me, in that strange and wearied

I couldn’t but feel happiness, though together with a great deal of
embarrassment, when I read my name in debate transcripts and speeches in
Parliament. I thank the MPs for their interest and concern in what took
place and continues to take place in Guantánamo Bay. Staying on the
political side but a bit further away from home, I would like to thank the
European Parliament for keeping things a bit more sane than would have

I want to thank the officials at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.,
who worked extremely hard to secure my release, together with all the
extremely nice and welcoming guys who brought me back home aboard the
really lavish flight (no expense spared). You made me feel comfortable and
welcomed. I thank you for that.

Finally I would like to express my gratitude to the media. This experience
made me understand better your role in making the wheel of life turn.
Please don’t make me bite my tongue!

I ask that you please allow me some time with my family to come to terms
with the horrific experience I have had. But, I hope everyone who believes
in justice and the rule of law will join with me to work for the release of
Jamil and the other British residents. They have been unjustly imprisoned
for over 4 years without charge or trial. They too should come home.

Thank you.

Law and Disorder April 23, 2007


Why Did Pulitzer Ignore Juan Gonzalez’s Reporting on Air Quality at Ground Zero?

Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith commend the valuable investigative journalism by columnist and Democracy Now cohost, Juan Gonzalez. Gonzalez had written extensively about the air quality at Ground Zero after September 11th. Read more here. Here is an archive of Juan Gonzalez’s columns.

Co-hosts also discuss Supreme Court partial birth abortion ruling (PDF) and Michael Ratner‘s trip to Paris and the follow up on the case brought against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Germany.



Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act

A coalition of groups including criminal justice, drug treatment, health organizations are seeking to repeal the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act. It’s a 1998 law that delays or denies federal financial aid to people convicted of state or federal drug offenses. Since the law took effect in 2000, 200 thousand students have been denied financial aid. According to the Department of Education, that’s one in every 400 students rejected who apply for federal aid.
As a result, these young students, having already been punished for their offenses are now dropping out of school or reducing courses. Today, there are more than 300 organizations working to overturn this law.

Guest – David Borden, Executive Director of the Drug Reform Coordination Network. David’s been very active lately in lobbying to repeal the Drug Provision of the Higher Education Act (also known as the “Aid Elimination Penalty)


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Amnesty Report on Guantanamo Bay Prison Conditions

Earlier this month, Amnesty International released a report detailing the horrid prisoner conditions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The report includes descriptions such as extreme isolation, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement 22 hours a day, and 24 hour lighting. Eighty per cent of the approximately 385 men currently held at Guantánamo are in isolation. Amnesty International also reports that the cells have no windows to the outside or access to natural light or fresh air.

Amnesty International is also calling on the government to allow independent health care professionals into Guantánamo to examine detainees in private and to allow visits by independent human right organizations and UN human rights experts.

Co-host and Amnesty International Director of the USA program, Dalia Hashad reads an excerpt from Bisher al-Rawi’s moving letter to free Guantanamo prisoners.

Guest – Shane Kadidal, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.


Law and Disorder April 16, 2007


Communication Lockdown – Communication Management Units

The Justice department has quietly opened a new section of a prison that detains mostly Arab muslims with a strict lock down on communication to the outside world. The Communications Management Unit or CMU is located in Terre Haute, Indiana.  All communication with the outside is strictly monitored at the medium-security facility.

In April of last year, the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, part of the Department of Justice, proposed a set of strict new regulations and, as required, there was a period of public comment. Human rights and civil liberties groups voiced strong concerns about the constitutionality of the proposed program.

The program originally proposed was said to be applicable only to terrorists and terrorist-related criminals. The American Civil Liberties Union, however, along with a coalition of other civil liberties groups, objected to the language of the regulation as too broad, and potentially applicable to non-terrorists and even to those not convicted of a crime but merely being held as “witnesses, detainees, or otherwise.”

Guest -Howard Kieffer, a defense lawyer and Executive Director of the Federal Defense Associates.



Co-Host, Dalia Hashad Speaks About The CMU At The Left Forum 2007

The panel was titled, Bush and Company’s War on Civil Liberties and What It Means for Our Future. Here Dalia describes aspects of the communicaton lockdowns at the CMU. The CMU is a secretive new prison program segregating “high-security-risk” Muslim and Middle Eastern prisoners, tightly restricting communications with the outside world.



Newark Public School District Holds Graduation at Baptist Church – NJACLU Sues

The ACLU of NJ is suing the Newark public school district for holding graduation ceremonies in a Baptist church. One plaintiff in the case, he’s a Muslim student, says he’s not going to enter into the building because of the religious images. Forced to choose between entering the Baptist church or missing graduation, he missed his graduation. When the ACLU of NJ threatened to sue the Newark school district previously for this same issue, they promised to move the graduation ceremony. The New Jersey ACLU says the case is a living example of why the New Jersey Constitution makes it clear that the government should neither favor nor discriminate against religious practice.

Guest – Ed Barocas, Legal Director of the New Jersey ACLU and lead attorney on the case.

Guest – Rob Boston, Assistant Director of Communications for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.


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Hi-Tech Surveillance, Eroding Civil Liberties and Dissent – Michael Steven Smith

We hear an excerpt from a speech delivered by co-host Michael Smith at the Left Forum 2007. The panel was titled, Bush and Company’s War on Civil Liberties and What It Means for Our Future. In his speech, Michael Smith describes the wider picture of how hi-tech surveillance together with eroding civil liberties and police spying has seriously affected dissent.

Law and Disorder April 9, 2007



  • US Supreme Court Rejects Appeal (6-3 vote) From Guantanamo Detainees
  • Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith discuss the recent ruling by the Supreme Court to reject appeal from Guantanamo detainees who are challenging their five-year long confinement. Once again, Habeas Court is at stake. Michael Ratner says “If we had Habeas Corpus hearings, Guantanamo would be cleaned out in 24 hours.” Both co-hosts discuss what’s at stake as the US Supreme Court rolls back some 800 years, a fundamental pillar of justice. Habeas Corpus.


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Red Light For Stop Light Systems

Surveillance Creep: Across the United States, from Minnesota to Texas, a host of cities have installed automated systems to catch vehicles that run red lights. A photo is taken of the speeding car’s license plate and a citation is sent to the owner. Owners can contest it by showing that the car title had been transferred or by telling people the name of the person driving at the time. In Minneapolis, the police who manage the program said it issued 26,000 tickets in six months and reduced accidents by 16 percent at the intersections where cameras were posted.

But cities are finding problems with some of these devices. Lubbock, Texas for example has delayed installation of red light cameras after the discovery of shorter timed yellow lights. Also in Iowa. Residents felt this was an attempt to get more money…short yellows assure a steady flow of red light camera ticket revenue. And in Minneapolis, the program has reached its own red light. In mid-March the ACLU scored a victory in court, when a judge found the automated system, called Photo Cop, illegal. Photo Cop ticketed vehicle owners, not the drivers, which uniformity of Minnesota laws governing moving violations.

Guest – Howard Bass, a Burnsville attorney, he argued the case for the ACLU of Minnesota.



Courts Relax Laws That Protect Expression of Free Speech From Police Spying

Unrestrained police surveillance has crept back into the lives of civilians at an alarming rate. Normally held in check by court settlements or consent decrees, city officials and courts are increasingly diluting the power of such agreements. A consent decree will help restrain overreaching law enforcement and permit the exercise of free speech.

In New York City, since 1986 police must follow consent decree guidelines when investigating individuals engaging in First Amendment activities. We may not have had these guidelines were it not for a lawsuit brought by Barbara Handschu Known as the Handschu Settlement, it was agreed to in 1980 by a plaintiff class numbering in the millions and the New York City Police Department.

Twenty-two years after the settlement was signed, the NYPD asked to modify it, saying it was too restrictive, and would inhibit terrorism investigation. U.S. District Court Judge Charles Haight agreed with the NYPD.and relaxed the guidelines.

And what’s happening in NY is also happening around the country.

Take Chicago for example. .In 2001 the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stripped Chicago’s consent decree. It was signed 25 years ago. Now, city officials say it impedes investigations of gang activity. No longer are police deterred from spying on, or disrupting the constitutionally protected activities of political groups.

Historically, court settlements and consent decrees have held in check unfettered police abuse of First Amendment freedoms. But under the Bush administration, attorneys general have actually marginalized these important decrees. We’ve watched the Justice Department LIFT existing decrees, preferring to enter into less formal understandings with police. In so doing, the judicial branch of our government acts as a national conspirator with local police departments in violating our collective civil rights.

Guest – Paul Chevigny, law professor at New York University and one of the lawyers involved in NY’s historic Handschu lawsuit.


Law and Disorder April 2, 2007



  • Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Dalia Hashad discuss the key elements of the David Hicks military tribunal. They describe how two of the three lawyers representing were dismissed by the judge leaving attorney Major Michael Mori as counsel. David Hicks has become the first Guantanamo prisoner to plead guilty under the Military Commissions Act passed last year.
  • Hosts describe the plea deal that was made with military prosecutors and Hick’s role training with the Taliban under the Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence ISI.


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An International Witchhunt: Police Spy on Protestors Before RNC Convention in New York City

A national and international effort was launched by police and intelligence to spy on protesters before the Republican National Convention in 2004. According to the New York Times, teams of undercover officers were sent across the US, Canada and Europe to spy on groups and individuals planning to take part in the protests in New York. Specially trained officers part of the “RNC Intelligence Squad,” posed as activists as they targeted anti-war organizations, environmentalists and artists.

Guest – Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU


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Disorder in the Court: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History

Co-host Michael Ratner, reads from Disorder in the Court: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History These are what people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had to keep a straight face while these exchanges took place. Get ready to laugh.


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2006 Study Shows Half A Million People Stopped on New York City Streets

Last year New York City police stopped more than 500 thousand people on city streets. 2006 statistics show a near doubling in the average number of arrests as a result.

Of those stopped last year a disproportionate 55 percent were black and 30 percent were Hispanic. As mentioned here at length on previous Law and Disorder programs, the NYPD continues to build a database on each street stop. A database with information most likely shared with intelligence agencies around the world.



  • Click here to read the NYCLU’s letter and the NYPD order (PDF).
  • Click here to read the NYCLU’s palm card “What to Do If You’re Stopped by the Police”.

Guest – New York civil liberties Executive Director Donna Lieberman.

Guest – Deborah Small, Executive Director of Break the Chains, an organization that seeks to build a national movement within communities of color against punitive drug policies.

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