Law and Disorder Radio

Archives for December, 2007

Law and Disorder December 31, 2007

On this last day of 2007, Law and Disorder will look at the stories that have taken civil liberties in this country many steps in the wrong direction. We start with the question of impeachment, what happened, why it stalled, we’ll look at damaging supreme court decisions and draconian legislation that took large bite out of the right to free speech and dissent in this country.


We begin by checking in with John Nirenberg, he’s marching from Boston to Washington DC. His goal, to walk 485 miles to deliver his message of impeachment to Nancy Pelosi. Nirenberg explains to hosts how after reading The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. One slogan from reads. . . “when voting isn’t enough, when letter writing isn’t enough, when signing petitions isn’t enough, when outrage isn’t enough.”

Guest – John Nirenberg former Professor of Organizational Behavior. He started his career as a Social Studies and American History teacher.


Hosts discuss the “magnificent failure on impeachment followed by the continued approval for war funding in Iraq and Afghanistan and connect it with the Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.

Co-host Michael Ratner enumerates several key stories of torture in 2007, including the destruction of the CIA videotapes, the Mahar Arar case, and the confirmation of Attorney General Michael Mukasey who says he’s not certain if water-boarding is torture.

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Law and Disorder hosts then talk about the recent Supreme Court arguments regarding the remaining Guantanamo Bay Cuba detainees and the horrible failure to restore habeas corpus. This case may determine once and for all whether there is a constitutional right to habeas corpus – that is, a fair hearing before a real court – for everyone detained by the U.S. government at Guantánamo.


Increases in surveillance powers were also on the list of wrong-turn stories this year, co-host Heidi Boghosian points out the legislation that extends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In the wake of Congress approving a dramatic expansion of U.S. warrant-less wiretapping powers, the Center for Constitutional Rights has argued that the NSA’s program is unconstitutional and should be struck down. The argument in CCR v. Bush comes after Congress and the Bush administration passed the Protect America Act of 2007 which broadly expands the government’s power to spy on Americans without getting court approval.

Hosts also examine the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Legislation that appears an effort to re-create the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was a standing commission in the fifties and sixties to root out “un-American” ideas among political activists. This, with the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2007 is key to installing the police state apparatus and declaring martial law.


The New Supreme Court: The Trifecta 2007

  • The 5-4 ruling that race cannot be a factor in the assignment of children to public schools. Free speech not an option for students regarding (Bong Hits For Jesus).
  • Campaign Finance Reform – The Supreme Court has thrown out part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that placed restrictions on corporations and unions from buying television ads close to elections
  • The citizens’ ability to challenge government violations of the separation of church and state, Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation 5-4, the Justices ruled that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge the White House program on federal aid to faith-based organizations.
  • On a lighter note, Supreme Court justices overturned a U.S. appeals court ruling that judges cannot hand down a lighter punishment because they disagree with wide disparities for crack and powder cocaine sentences. Blacks account for about 80 percent of the federal crack cocaine convictions.


Michael Ratner’s Acceptance Speech

We end this year-end program with an acceptance speech delivered by co-host, attorney, author and Center for Constitutional Rights President Michael Ratner. Michael received the 2007 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship.

“One of the country’s foremost defenders of human rights and civil liberties, Michael Ratner has led the fight to demand due process for Guantánamo detainees, adequate safeguards against intrusive government surveillance, and an end to torture and extraordinary rendition.”

Law and Disorder December 24, 2007


Bricks in the Wall: How a U.S. Police State Is Being Built

We hear speeches from co-host Michael Steven Smith and Vince Warren Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. They were among the speakers at the Brecht Forum that discussed the near completion since 9/11 of the infrastructure for a police state in the US, including its legal and ideological apparatus.


Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money From Mass Incarceration

Incarcerating 2.3 million people isn’t cheap. Paul Wright unearths astonishing facts on the private prison industry and it needs to maintain occupancy rates to make a profit. Prison Profiteers will tell you where your tax dollars are going as you help to bankroll the biggest prison machine the world has ever seen. Prison Profiteers was also written by Tara Herival, co-editor of Prison Nation.

Guest – Paul Wright. co-author of the recently published Prison Profiteers: Who Makes Money From Mass Incarceration also, the founder and editor of Prison Legal News.


Santa Delivers 37 Thousand Consitutions to Bush

37,000 Americans asked CCR to send a copy of the U.S. Constitution to George W. Bush as an early holiday present in the hope that he might actually read it. Santa made the trip down from the North Pole in his sleigh to try to deliver the law.

Law and Disorder December 17, 2007

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The C.I.A. Destroys Tapes Showing Interrogation

Law and Disorder hosts discuss details of this story. Articles say the CIA has destroyed hundreds of hours of video tapes of the likely 2002 water torture of three men. Although the CIA has not acknowledged that the videos are of water torture. The Justice Department and the Central Intelligence Agency have launched a joint probe into the CIA’s destruction of at least two videotapes documenting prisoner interrogations at a secret CIA prison. House Votes to Outlaw Waterboarding.


Fear of Torture: Tape Destruction or Prosecution? – By Michael Ratner

As we all now know, the CIA has destroyed hundreds of hours of video tapes of the likely 2002 water torture of three men, allegedly involved with al-Qaida, by its agents. Although the CIA has not acknowledged that the videos are of water torture – often known euphemistically as “waterboarding” – a former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, has said that the waterboarding was authorised from the highest levels of the Bush administration. Read More at Just Left.


Excerpt From Michael Ratner’s Acceptance Speech During the Puffin/Nation Awards.

“In accepting this remarkable award I do not stand here alone. I stand with the generations that have gone before—those particularly at the Center for Constitutional Rights that have always been willing to upend the status quo and take personal and political risks. I stand especially on the shoulders of our founders of 40 years ago—William Kunstler, Morton Stavis, Arthur Kinoy, and Ben Smith. Read also Michael Ratner’s article in the Guardian UK

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The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

Hosts examine the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act with former National Lawyers Guild President Peter Erlinder. Peter says the legislation appears an effort to re-create the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which was a standing commission in the fifties and sixties to root out “un-American” ideas among political activists.

  • RADICALIZATION– The term ‘radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically-based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.
  • IDEOLOGICALLY-BASED VIOLENCE– The term ‘ideologically-based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.

Guest –  Peter Erlinder, former National Lawyers Guild president. Hosts discuss with Erlinder, specifics in this “thought crime” legislation that may be interpreted in ways that breach our constitutional rights.


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Torture and the Twilight of Empire; From Algiers to Baghdad

Professor Marnia Lazreg’s new book, links the use of torture to the demise of empire using two examples. France in Algeria and the United States in Iraq. Lazreg also points out how occupying nations justify the use of torture as a regrettable but necessary means of saving Western civilization from those who challenge their rule. She traces back most of the brutal torture techniques as borrowed material from totalitarian movements throughout history. One review writes how Torture and the Twilight of Empire holds disturbing lessons as the War on Terror is carried out.

Guest – Marnia Lazreg is professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her books include The Eloquence of Silence: Algerian Women in Question.

Law and Disorder December 10, 2007


CCR President Michael Ratner Debriefing from Supreme Court Challenges

Last week the Center for Constitutional rights directly challenged the Bush administrations’ use of torture in violation of domestic and international law and the assertion that anyone can be held indefinitely anywhere in the world on the president’s word alone. The case also challenges the 2006 Republican Congress’s attempt to clear the way with its passage of the Military Commissions Act. (Senate Bill 3930)“The precedent set in past Guantanamo Supreme Court cases—that every person detained has the right to a fair hearing, including those jailed at the detention center for almost six years—is a necessity for any country calling itself a nation under law,” CCR President Michael Ratner.This case may determine once and for all whether there is a constitutional right to habeas corpus – that is, a fair hearing before a real court – for everyone detained by the U.S. government at Guantánamo.

Dr. Catherine Wilkerson’s Victory Involving A Police Brutality Case In Michigan.

Earlier this year Law and Disorder covered the case of Dr. Catherine Wilkerson. Police used excessive force when they attacked peaceful protestors who rallied at a University of Michigan event sponsored by the American Movement for Israel. As the senior medical professional on scene, Dr. Catherine Wilkerson took responsibility for the well-being of a middle-aged man who claimed he couldn’t breath and lost consciousness. She exhorted the police to get off of him, and was allowed to check his pulse and breathing.Wilkerson later protested when Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel breached ethical medical practices by forcing ammonia into the man’s nostrils and face. It was at this time that she was physically assaulted and detained by Ann Arbor police.No charges were filed until after Dr. Wilkerson wrote a complaint to authorities about the actions of the police officers. A week since writing the letter, Dr. Wilkerson was charged by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie’s office, at the request of the UM police, with two attempted felonies—one against Officer Warner and one against the EMS personnel. Check out Counter Punch article.

Guest – Dr. Catherine Wilkerson, a physician who practices primary care at a clinic in Ann Arbor that providing care to underserved members of the community.


Bury the Chains -Adam Hochschild

Today we welcome back author and journalist Adam Hochschild to talk with us about his recent book Bury the Chains. The book takes the reader back to the late 18th century when a small group of Englishmen put forward the radical notion that slavery was wrong.They proposed that Enlightenment ideals of equality and liberty should extend to African slaves held in British colonies.

Guest Adam Hochschild

Law and Disorder December 3, 2007

Law and Disorder Updates


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  • United Nations Torture Panel Says Taser Shock Is Torture – Hosts discuss numerous reports of taser-related deaths including the incident in Vancouver, B.C


Palestinian Activist Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Here on Law and Disorder we’ve followed the pivotal moments in the Mohammed Salah case. Earlier this year, Salah was cleared of terrorism charges but recently convicted of lying about his ties to the Palestinian group Hamas. He faces nearly two years in prison. The sentence for a minor charge of obstruction of justice comes as a major setback for prosecutors who have spent a decade investigating charges that could have put Salah behind bars for life.

Recently however Abdelhaleem Ashqar was sentenced to 11 years, 3 months in prison for refusing to testify before a grand jury about activities of Hamas. U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve told Ashqar that regardless of his political beliefs, he had an obligation to follow U.S. law. She said that once he was granted immunity, he could not refuse to testify before the grand jury.

Guest – Michael Deutsch with the People’s Law Office in Chicago.

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Who Killed Che’ ?

We hear the first speech by our own co-host Michael Smith based on his own research into Che Guevara’s life. Michael tells the audience at the Brecht Forum about his travels to Cuba, his research work with co-host Michael Ratner and lays out the case of how Che could have been murdered. This was one of 3 compelling speeches held at the Brecht Forum. Author and historian Jane Franklin and attorney/civil rights activist Len Weinglass also spoke – Law and Disorder will air those speeches in the weeks to come.


Check out recent video at the Culture Project’s A Question of Impeachment.

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