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Law and Disorder June 20, 2016

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¡Michael Ratner Presente!

We hear excerpts from Michael Ratner’s public memorial held in the Great Hall at Cooper Union in Manhattan, New York.  It would have been Michael’s 73rd birthday on June 13, 2016.

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¡Michael Ratner Presente! was co-sponsored by Cooper Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Democracy Now!, National Lawyers Guild, The Nation Institute, Nation Magazine, Haymarket Books, and Voices of a People’s History of the United States.

Michael Ratner’s Politics – By Michael Smith


Law and Disorder June 6, 2016

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Lawyers You’ll Like : Attorney Jim Lafferty

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Law and Disorder August 4, 2014

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Folk Music, Labor Movements and Radical Politics

Especially in times of revolution or crisis, the role of music has been a defining element in telling the stories of labor movements, against the war in Vietnam and civil rights. Folk musician Eli Smith gave a presentation at the Left Forum this year on satirical songs of the IWW including the work of Joe Hill and many others. The early works of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie are a great place to start along with the lesser known work of John L. Handcox, and the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. It was the first racially integrated union in the South that used indigenous folk music to fight for the rights of sharecroppers.

Guest – Eli Smith, a banjo player, writer, researcher and promoter of folk music living in New York City. Eli is a Smithsonian Folkways recording artist and produces two folk festivals annually, the Brooklyn Folk Festival in the Spring and Washington Square Park Folk Festival in the Fall.  He has appeared as a guest on terrestrial radio stations such as WBAI, WNYC, WKCR and WDST in New York and KPFA, KPFK and KUCI in California. Eli has presented panels and discussions on folk music at the Left Forum conference at Cooper Union and at the Podcamp podcasting conference in New York City. He has performed and recorded with his old time string band The Down Hill Strugglers, Peter Stampfel, John Cohen and Sam Shepard. The Down Hill Strugglers were recently featured on the soundtrack album to the Coen Brothers’ film “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which was produced by T Bone Burnett.


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Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

Terrorization of Dissent: Corporate Repression, Legal Corruption, and the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a collection of essays by lawyers, scholars and activists that includes interviews with those who suffered from the AETA’s conspiracy provisions. Editors Jason Del Gandio and Anthony Nocella have compiled essential information to document how the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is a clear violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, the book documents how corporations and the U.S. Government conspire under this law to prosecute animal rights activists and acts of civil disobedience involving environmental issues under the specter of terrorism. Right now, according to Nocella and Del Gandio, corporate profit determines what can or can’t be done to animals and the environment.

Anthony Nocella:

  • The importance of this act has really shaped how the government looks at one of the larger movements in the United States.
  • The animal advocacy, animal rights, animal liberation movements have been demonized and stigmatized as terrorists, through the media and the government through this particular act.
  • What are the effects of this law? Who influenced this act to be pushed into law? It wasn’t really government.
  • There were main organizations that pushed this law into effect. The Animal Enterprise Protection Coalition, The Animal Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) The Center for Consumer Freedom.
  • Any logical CEO of a corporation will say I don’t want anything to threaten my product.
  • That product in the case of animals is any where from circuses to sea world, to clothing, from leather to fur, to also eating.
  • We can do away with circuses and fur and a lot of different clothing, but one thing we can’t live without is food.
  • We have to look at the real conflict and that’s between food.
  • Do we want people to have a plant based diet or an animal based diet?
  • There are hundreds of billions of dollars protecting that paradigm of people eating meat, fish and chicken.
  • If anyone threatens that industry, under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, you’re deemed a terrorist.
  • To wash away all the rhetoric that is what this law is specifically speaking about. That’s why it was expanded from the Animal Enterprise Protection Act to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • CCR Condemns Terrorism Indictment for Activists Freeing Mink from Fur Farms
  • The point is – regarding the book, law schools, political science departments, think tanks, need a text that comes from a variety of viewpoints specifically looking at the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • I think we have understand the difference between how corporations are influencing laws and literally writing the bills into laws and into effect, while political repression is really law enforcement and senators influencing laws.
  • We’re not criminalizing activists like we did in the 70s and 80s, now we’re labeling them as terrorists.
  • National Weekend of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – Sept 5-6-7, 2014
  • Website – The Institute For Critical Animal Studies

Guest – Anthony Nocella II, Ph.D., an intersectional academic-activist, is Senior Fellow of the Dispute Resolution Institute at the Hamline Law School, co-founder and Director of the Institute for Critical Animal Studies, and editor of the Peace Studies Journal. He has published more than sixteen books including Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004), Call to Compassion: Religious Perspectives on Animal Advocacy (2011), and Defining Critical Animal Studies: An Intersectional Social Justice Approach for Liberation (2014).


Law and Disorder January 7, 2013


  • Chile: 40 Years Later Eight Former Army Lieutenants Charged in the Killing of Communist Performer/Songwriter Victor Jara.
  • Heidi Boghosian and Johanna Fernandez Visit Mumia Abu-Jamal During Holidays
  • Death Penalty States In The United States Update
  • Jeremy Hammond’s Judge Refuses To Recuse Herself :  Contrary to what has been reported on Democracy Now and Law and Disorder, a motion has been filed (not ruled) for the judge to recuse herself.


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FBI Considers The Occupy Movement A Terrorist Threat: The State of Civil Rights and Public Policy

A few weeks ago the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund released secret documents obtained by Freedom of Information Act requests revealing that the Occupy movement was treated as a terrorist threat by the FBI. This is despite agency acknowledgement that the organizers called for peaceful protests.  The documents also show massive resources used to track the Occupy movement, a month prior to the encampment in Zuccotti Park. FBI and counter-terrorism agents in offices across the country, from Anchorage to Jacksonville, to Tampa, Virginia, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Memphis and Denver, coordinated with various local and federal law enforcement, to monitor and collect intelligence on OWS. The documents obtained by the PCJF are heavily redacted and the tip of the ice berg says our guest attorney Mara Verheyden Hilliard. We also talk with Mara about her thoughts on the  state of civil rights for the year moving forward.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard:

  • The Partnership For Civil Justice Fund filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests with federal agencies, as well as with municipalities and police departments around the country.
  • Prior to the FBI materials we have obtained a lot of documents showing the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement as well as local police involvement around the country.
  • It doesn’t come as a shock to people that the FBI has continued unabated its historic role as the secret police in the United States, acting against the social justice movement in the US.
  • The documents also show us this deep and close partnership the FBI and DHS have with Wall Street, and with the banks and businesses in the United States.
  • The documents show the U.S. intelligence agencies and supposedly security agencies really working as the private intelligence arm for private businesses.
  • You have the people in the United States rising up in opposition to an economic devastation caused by the banks and by Wall Street and the U.S. government acting in partnership with the banks and Wall Street against those people.
  • These documents show for example the FBI was communicating with the New York Stock Exchange in August of 2011, a month before the first tent was set up in Zucotti Park.
  • One of the documents we have involves the Domestic Security Alliance Council, where they’re planning on the West Coast port actions of the Occupy movement.
  • The DSAC is a government agency that describes itself as a partnership between the FBI, DHS and the private sector. The Lower Manhattan Security Initiative.
  • It shows that we’re not looking at something anomalous and aberrational, its pulling back the cloak on what the U.S. government, its intelligence agencies and its “terrorism” authorities is really doing and who its partnering with. It’s against the people of the United States and not for the people of the United States.
  • Those people and that movement is then treated by the government as a potential criminal or terrorist threat.
  • It helps understand when the government uses the terms of terrorism so broadly and how it uses the authority and the money that it takes from the people of the United States.
  • If the FBI had materials that showed criminal activity, they would’ve been delighted to produce some and make those public. That’s not an uncommon action by the FBI given its routine willingness over the years to set people up and announce a big terrorism arrest.
  • The sniper reference is a reference in Houston.
  • I think it bares pointing out that this FBI, is President Obama’s FBI.
  • When the feel the power of the people in the streets, the U.S. intelligence agencies and the local law enforcement agencies go into high gear, because it really is the movement of the people that does cause change.
  • At times when it peaks like this, you can really see the truth of their operation.
  • It is illegal to use administrative raids for other pretexts.
  • We’re appealing both redactions as well as scope of production and scope of search.

Guest – Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of the Guild’s national Mass Defense Committee. Co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in Washington, DC, she recently secured $13.7 million for about 700 of the 2000 IMF/World Bank protesters in Becker, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al., while also winning pledges from the District to improve police training about First Amendment issues. She won $8.25 million for approximately 400 class members in Barham, et al. v. Ramsey, et al. (alleging false arrest at the 2002 IMF/World Bank protests). She served as lead counsel in Mills, et al v. District of Columbia (obtaining a ruling that D.C.’s seizure and interrogation police checkpoint program was unconstitutional); in Bolger, et al. v. District of Columbia (involving targeting of political activists and false arrest by law enforcement based on political affiliation); and in National Council of Arab Americans, et al. v. City of New York, et al. (successfully challenging the city’s efforts to discriminatorily restrict mass assembly in Central Park’s Great Lawn stemming from the 2004 RNC protests.)

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Challenging The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012

Last September a federal judge struck down part of the National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama that gave the government power to indefinitely detain anyone, anywhere in the world it considers to substantially support or be in associative force with terrorism. This includes US citizens. Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York had ruled the indefinite detention provision of the National Defense Authorization Act likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens.

Attorney Carl Mayer:

  • Some people call it (NDAA) the Homeland Battlefield Act because it treats the United States as a battlefield and allows the military to exercise power over civilians which is antithetical to our democracy and to our 200 years of Constitutional precedence.
  • In May of 2012, we after a trial before Katherine Forrest who’s a federal judge in the Southern District of New York we achieved a preliminary injunction. That was then appealed but the appeal would stay pending a trial on a permanent injunction and on September 12, 2012, Judge Forrest issued a permanent injunction against the NDAA.
  • The NDAA was stopped between May 16, 2012 and December 12, 2012.
  • However, once that happened, the Obama Administration went into overdrive and immediately appealed that to the Second Circuit and asked for a stay of Judge Forrest’s order pending appeal.
  • That stay lifted Judge Forrest’s injunction unfortunately the NDAA of 2012 now operates.
  • In their papers, the government promised our clients would not be touched under the NDAA and they seemed to imply that no one in their (clients) position would be touched under the NDAA.
  • People can go there and read Judge Forrester’s 112 page opinion and all the documents from the case.
  • What’s at stake is the liberty and the right to free speech of all journalists and all activists and indeed any citizen of the United States of America.
  • Because the military has never had the power to detain civilians.
  • The only exception to that was during World War 2 when Japanese-Americans were interred in prison camps.
  • There’s not right to a trial by jury, there’s no right to an attorney. This an authoritarian measure.
  • I would venture to guess your hosts and co-hosts are on a list somewhere.
  • Chris Hedges for example was a correspondent for several years that covered not only al-Qaeda but 17 other groups that are one the State Department Terrorism List
  • He testified that he had a reasonable fear that the NDAA could put him in jeopardy.
  • You know as attorneys what’s incredible about this law is there’s no definitional section.
  • It doesn’t define what associated forces are. It doesn’t define what substantially supportive means.
  • Chris Hedges was detained by the military for leaving the press pool in Iraq.
  • Now the NDAA allows these detentions “until the end of hostilities.”
  • It really is a heinous statute.
  • We lost the stay but we got an expedited appeal.
  • The briefing is complete and we’re waiting for an oral argument date.
  • The government has two moves, they say whoever brings the suit has no standing, then if it gets past that point they say, sorry the state’s secrets doesn’t allow you to have discovery here.
  • Attorney General Holder stated that Americans are entitled to due process but that doesn’t necessarily means judicial process.
  • It takes the view that “during war time” that the judiciary has no role to play.
  • The NDAA is the culmination of 10 years of anti-civil liberties measures.

Guest – Attorney Carl Mayer runs the Mayer Law Group LLC and is the author of several books including “Shakedown” and “Public Domain, Private Dominion.”   Carl Mayer is a former law professor and served as special counsel to the New York State Attorney General.


Law and Disorder December 31, 2012


  • Khaled El-Masri and the European Court of Human Rights Decision
  • European Court of Human Rights Labels CIA Interrogation Procedures as “Torture”


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Tariq Ali: Turning Points in the History of Imperialism

Today we’re joined by internationally renowned writer and activist Tariq Ali. Tariq is visiting from London where he is editor of the New Left Review.

A writer and filmmaker, Tariq has written more than 2 dozen books on world history and politics, including The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, The Obama Syndrome and On History. We talk specifically about several turning points in global history, the Occupy movement and US elections. .

Tariq Ali:

  • The think the first World War was crucial but it wasn’t the war itself it was the consequences of that war. Here you had huge empires.
  • The Russian revolution challenged capitalism frontally and its leaders said we want Europe to be with us, on our own we can’t do it. We need the Germans, we need a German revolution. That frightened the capitalist class globally.
  • Woodrow Wilson, decided that the time had come to intervene. 22 countries came to intervene.
  • This intervention made it impossible for the early infant Soviet Union to achieve what it wanted to achieve.
  • The Second World War was an effort by the German ruling class to get its share of the world market in countries.
  • The US helped rebuild Japan and Germany. They helped build France and Britain by the Marshal Plan and that has never been done by a big imperial power before.
  • They managed to get the Soviet Union to implode by having an arms race. The Russians fell into their trap and decided to go for the arms race, had they not history might have been different.
  • I hope the Chinese do not fall into the same trap, threatened by Obama’s puny little bases in Australia.
  • People, early settlers in the United States got land totally free and they took it and that created the belief in the American psyche of private property.
  • The Soviet Union imploded because the people lost faith in the system.
  • The entire elite in the United States and Western Europe is wedded to the Washington consensus that emerged after the collapse of communism. The center piece of this consensus was a system which believed in market forces. I refer to it as market fundamentalism.
  • We are confronting the extremism of the center and the result of this is no alternatives exist within mainstream politics. The effect that this is having is hollowing out democracy itself.
  • Occupy: What we need is for these movements to call an assembly nationally and discuss a charter of demands for progressive America which need only be ten demands but something around which people can rally. I think its a movement that should be created bearing what the needs of ordinary people are.
  • In order to understand the laws of motion of capital, you have to read Marx. It’s true capitalism has become much much more complex. Zombie capitalism, or fictitious capitalism, where money is used to make more money.
  • It’s not money that’s creating productive goods.
  • I had written a book on South American because I got very engaged in the Venezuela-Boliverian struggle and got to know Chavez very well.
  • If Americans had access to Cuban medicine, the pharmaceutical companies would collapse, they would never let it happen.

Guest – Tariq Ali, writer, journalist and film-maker, born in Lahore and educated at Oxford University. He writes regularly for a range of publications including The Guardian and The London Review of Books.  He has written more than a dozen books including non-fiction as well as scripts for both stage and screen.


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National Lawyers Guild 75 Years

Hundreds of National Lawyers Guild members and allies gathered to celebrate the organization’s 75th anniversary at the Law for the People convention in Pasadena, California.  We hear excerpts from speeches from the National Lawyers Guild Convention by Attorney Jim Lafferty  The 2012 Law for the People Award was given to Jim Lafferty.

Scholar and activist Angela Davis delivered the keynote address and among the convention honorees will be Margaret Burnham, a professor of civil rights law who, as a young lawyer, helped secure Davis’s 1972 acquittal on high-profile charges.

Founded in 1937, the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar association in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has members in every state.

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


Law and Disorder December 3, 2012


  • Judge Shira Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan To Rule In Stop and Frisk Case
  • NYPD Subpoena Phone Records of Stolen Phones – Amassing Database
  • Julian Assange Book – Cypherpunks
  • Bradley Manning Hearing Update
  • Husband of Jeremy Hammond’s Judge Victim Of Stratfor Email Hack


Who Bombed Judi Bari?

Who Bombed Judi Bari? is a recently released documentary film about the car bombing of labor and environmental organizer Judi Bari. Judi Bari was a natural leader that rallied thousands of activists to camp out and protest the clearcutting of red wood forests during the timber wars in 1990’s. Though Judi was crippled and in chronic pain from the car bomb, she went on to sue the authorities for civil rights violations winning a settlement but eventually died from cancer seven years after the bombing.

Darryl Cherney:

  • Judi Bari was a union organizer and an Earth First organizer, she was the mother of two children, a professional carpenter,  here in the Redwood region of California.
  • That in a way is what made her so dangerous to the status quo because that what we know so well, a world divided and conquered by those that would rather us fight each other than those at the top.
  • Judi Bari was a unifier, she was somebody who brought loggers, timber workers, mill workers, truck drivers together with environmentalists to find our common goals, and to focus attention on the corporate elites who are manipulating all of us.
  • The issues are the same today as they’ve been for the last 6000 years of recorded history.
  • Human beings have been logging the forests since the cedars of Lebanon. Judi was taking on the issue of mowing down ancient Redwood trees that stand 350 feet tall, 15 feet wide, 2000 years in age.
  • A single Redwood can hold 4000 gallons of water. They’re worth 50 thousand dollars a piece.
  • Redwood Summer did emulate Freedom Summers sometimes called Mississippi Summers in the deep South.
  • The point was the same as long as things happened in the deep South without anybody looking, they could continue, Jim Crow would continue.
  • The mowing down of our eco-system which we believe is a civil rights movement as much as a environmental movement because our ability to live on this planet depends on our ecosystem staying intact.
  • We invited college kids as well as anyone who wanted to participate and that’s what Redwood Summer was.
  • We received about 3 dozen death threats mostly by letter, by phone and some in person over a short period of time, about a month and a half, right after we announced Redwood Summer.
  • We decided to get out of rural areas, so we were touring universities, as we were leaving Oakland, where Judi had spent the night heading toward Santa Cruz. Judi ordered me into her car, we drove for a couple of minutes a bomb exploded under her seat.
  • Fracturing her pelvis, causing intestinal damage, pulverizing her lower vertebrae.
  • Instantly within 5 minutes the FBI and Oakland Police showed up.
  • They knew the bomb was a booby trap, designed to only go off in a moving car.
  • They looked at the death threats and immediately dismissed them as irrelevant.
  • Violence is a dominant gene. You can have a thousand peaceful people but one violent person can ruin for everybody else.
  • The FBI and the Oakland Police were eventually found liable for violating the First Amendment of the US Constitution. It wasn’t that they were mistaken, they knew we were innocent.
  • They found the motion trigger that said the bomb could only go off in a moving vehicle.
  • Right to her death, the FBI and the Oakland never asked Judi one question.
  • Judi Bari was a full-time working carpenter. She supervised a construction crew.

Guest – Darryl Cherney, born in New York City where he was a child actor. For 20 years he has been an activist, topical singer -songwriter and organizer in Humboldt County California. He helped spearhead the successful campaign to protect the redwoods, including Headwaters Forests, now a national preserve. As creator and president of Environmentally Sound Promotions, the non-profit organization, he has produced five albums of his original songs dedicated to environmental protection. He also produced Judi Bari?s spoken word CD, Who Bombed Judi Bari?, and the benefit compilation, If a Tree Falls.


Lincoln 2012: Analysis

As many listeners may know the recent film titled Lincoln hit theaters this fall. The film recounts how President Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to pass an amendment to the United States Constitution that would formally abolish slavery in the country. In January of 1865, Lincoln was expecting the Civil War to end within a month but concerned that his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation may be discarded by the courts once the war ends and the 13th Amendment defeated by the returning slave states. In the film, we see Abraham Lincoln working to pass the amendment by the end of January.

Professor Bruce Levine:

  • Its a civil war movie that unlike so many others properly places slavery and the Republican Party’s determination to see slavery die at the center of the story.
  • I think the movie is deficient in a number of ways. The prior course of the war. The growth of anti-slavery sentiment in the Union.
  • It wasn’t Lincoln who came up with the idea of the 13th Amendment.
  • Compromise and political manipulation was not at the heart of the success of Lincoln’s presidency.
  • What we should be recognizing as Lincoln’s greatness is not is ability to bend, but his refusal to do that at most of the important points on which he was challenged.
  • By the end of the civil war closer to 200 thousand black men served either as Union soldiers or sailors.
  • This is somebody who grew during his presidency. He grew intellectually, and he grew politically and morally.
  • Fall of the House of Dixie attempts to tell the story of the American Civil War as a social and political revolution.
  • As slavery began to break down during the course of the US Civil War.

Guest – Professor Bruce Levine, is the James G. Randall Professor of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. A noted scholar of the Civil War, he is author of Half Slave and Half Free: The Roots of Civil War (2nd ed., 2005), Confederate Emancipation: Southern Plans to Free and Arm Slaves during the Civil War (2005), and The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Destruction of Slavery and the Old South during the Civil War (2013). Levine will deliver a lecture on recent trends in Civil War scholarship.


Law and Disorder October 17, 2011



Occupy Wall Street: Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler

There is a North America-wide strategy to take away the right to mass protest. We’ve talked about the book Hell No: Your Right To Dissent in 21 Century America, but today we have both authors of this book in the studio, attorney Magaret Ratner Kunstler and our own co-host Michael Ratner.

In Hell No, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the country’s leading public interest law organization, offers a timely report on government attacks on dissent and protest in the United States, along with a readable and essential guide for activists, teachers, grandmothers, and anyone else who wants to oppose government policies and actions. Hell No explores the current situation of attacks upon and criminalization of dissent and protest, from the surveillance of activists to the disruption of demonstrations, from the labeling of protestors as “terrorists,” to the jailing of those the government claims are giving “material support” to its perceived enemies. Offering detailed, hands-on advice on everything from “Sneak and Peak” searches to “Can the Government Monitor My Text Messages?” and what to do “If an Agent Knocks,” Hell No lays out several key responses that every person should know in order to protect themselves from government surveillance and interference with their rights.
Attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunslter:

  • This is a time that we don’t know the return dates are because they weren’t put throught the system, they were given desk appearance tickets or summons, people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge and elsewhere.
  • Politically what do you make of the fact that they let these people stay in the park? Perhaps Michael they had an opportunity to do something about it if they did something quickly.
  • In Boston, they closed it down much more quickly. Each Lawyers Guild office has a hotline.
  • They (the NYPD) actually led people down to the bridge walkway. There’s a law in New York that says you can’t block roadways, but you can march on sidewalks.
  • They led people down to the roadway, then announced with a bull horn that not everybody could hear of the more than 800 people on the bridge – – you’re now doing something illegally and we’re going to disperse immediately or we’re going to arrest you. Most people were chanting, nobody could hear that announcement.
  • Why do this? There was no place to put these 800 people. To get their names, to get their pedigree information, to do intelligence work.
  • Early on with the RNC arrests, they had a sheet of paper asking what political affiliations they had. We stopped that quickly. The police department in New York City has a tremendous intelligence division.
  • Some people we have no idea why they were arrested.
  • Yesterday morning a young woman was chalking on the sidewalk, “good morning NYPD.” Not only was she arrested, but the people photographing her arrest, were arrested.
  • Much of the planning on how to stop demonstrators, happened after Seattle 1999. At that point there was this training program that began with all of these local police forces across the country and the FBI.  It wasn’t til 9/11 that they were fully funded.
  • When Michael Ratner and I wrote this, we were totally depressed because we thought that demonstrations were over. There were so many ways of preventing demonstrations and people were penned.
  • You can film the police in NYC. The law may be on your side, but the police don’t follow the law.
  • If you’re recording audio, and only one party knows you’re recording, that’s ok in New York.
  • The cop doesn’t have to give you his name, or badge number. If you ask a cop his badge number, he’ll give you the wrong number.
  • I’d like to last through winter, I’m worried about these children.  The demand for justice and equality is the demand basically all over the world.
  • How can we say this is too abstract for us, isn’t this what we all want?

Guest – Magaret Ratner-Kunstler, an attorney in private practice. As education director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, she originated the Movement Support Network and authored “If an Agent Knocks.” Margaret is the President of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, a foundation established in 1995 in the memory of her late husband to combat racism in the criminal justice system.


Law and Disorder September 19, 2011


Medical Professionals Complicit In US Torture Policy

As many listeners know, health professionals were front and center and complicit in the US policy of torture. The torturers relied heavily on medical opinion. Medical professionals provided sanitizing and rationalization for the infamous torture memos. During water boarding procedures, a doctor would be present.  Psychologists were directly involved in the supervision, design and execution of torture at US military and intelligence facilities. This is a violation of state laws and professional ethics. These “health professionals” that were involved with torture still hold their professional licenses to practice.  Meanwhile a legal battle continues against the Louisiana Psychology Board for refusing to investigate professional misconduct allegations against Dr. Larry James.  He’s a retired US Army Colonel and high ranking adviser on interrogations for the US military in Guantanamo Bay.

We talk more about this case and the breach of ethics in the medical profession since 9/11 with Dr. Stephen Soldz, former president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. Stephen is a psychologist, psychoanalyst and public health researcher in Boston, he is also co-author of PHR’s report in Experiments in Torture.

Stephen Soldz :

  • Psychologists played a central role, there were 2 professions, one was lawyers, the other less well known was psychologists.  It turns out that it was psychologists that designed and implemented, the enhanced interrogation torture program, who monitored it, who trained others in it and who researched it and provided all the legal protection.
  • It’s believed that it was psychologist James Mitchell who was present there, who was in charge.
  • There’s the CIA program that was for so called high value detainees in CIA custody in various secret prisons called black sites.  This is where the psychologists were central, they designed the whole thing.
  • There was a black site at Guantanamo where a few people were held at various points.
  • Guantanamo was technically under the military control, not CIA control.
  • The CIA: like I said the psychologists designed this stuff, it was quite brutal. Forcing people to stand, shackling them up, with their arms out, naked in cold air. For 7 days at a time.
  • Being forced to stand day after day is extraordinarily painful. Think about having to do that without using the toilet, with liquid food being forced into you. They at times used small boxes where a person could neither stand or sit.
  • The boxes were banged on at times, they would throw people against walls, with special devices around their neck supposedly to protect them from permanent damage.  There were various slaps that were authorized.
  • The American Psychology Association has an ethics code and its binding on all members.  Not all psychologists are members, but all the states base their own ethics code for licensed psychologists upon that of the APA, some mandate it exactly some adopt their own.
  • The CIA and military insist that the psychologists that do this stuff be licensed by the state.
  • Many of them are APA, so the APA ethics are intimately involved here.
  • The APA equivocated and formed a task force. They said that psychologists had an obligation to keep interrogations, safe legal and effective. This language it turns out was taken from the Bush torture memos at the Justice Department. The task force was dominated by the military.
  • They claim to be resolutely against torture, they make statement after statement. Psychologists shouldn’t be safety officers.
  • In all 3 states, lawyers have joined my colleagues to force the APA board to do their job. The board doesn’t have the leeway to dismiss claims of torture without clearly investigating them.
  • Larry James was a Biscuit 1 and later served at Abu Ghraib after the scandals there, he claims to have been the person who cleaned it up.
  • He admits that he observed abuse by other people and didn’t report it to the commanders.
  • He’s now out of the military and the Dean of the School of Psychology at Wright State University in Ohio.
  • It’s rather sad, instead investigating what did or did not happen, they attack those who raise issues about Colonel James.
  •  Physicians For Human Rights / When Healers Harm

Guest – former President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Stephen Soldz is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and public health researcher in Boston, and was a co-author of PHR’s report Experiments in Torture. He is the Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He was Adjunct Assistant Professor of Psychology (Psychiatry) at Harvard Medical School, and has taught at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston College, and Boston University.


Guantanamo Bay and Offshore Prisons

The Obama Administration has allowed the Bush policy to continue allowing for the practice of torture, rendition and secret prisons to continue.  We talk about the ongoing practice of torture, secret sites and Guantanamo Bay. There are 3 groups at Guantanamo, the first is 2 dozen that are genuinely Al Qaeda. The second group shouldn’t have been there in first place, around 200 of them will be sent home. The third group are refugees who are from countries with horrible human rights records.

Attorney Vince Warren:

  • What role do the people play in order to stop this? (wars) We are at war to make war is what the public has bought into. By using the war paradigm, the president seized power that belonged to Congress, seized power that belonged to the Courts and seized power that belonged to the people.
  • You can’t be at war with the “concept” of terror.
  • Prior to 9-11 when terrorism would happen. There was an investigation, an indictment, prosecution and if there was a case, they were to be convicted.
  • As of 2011, more people in Guantanamo have died than have been referred for criminal charges.
  • We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that this was a genuine reaction to a tragic event.
  • This aggressive war(s) that are based on lies, without any legitimate security threat, is a crime.
  • The other piece since 9-11 is the interesting double speak.  Torture and aggressive war become justifications since 9-11.
  • The Bush Justice Department said that the law simply does not just apply to the President, when he’s acting as Commander In Chief.  It doesn’t matter if Congress passed a law that we expect the President to be bound, the Justice Department said he could ignore it if it didn’t fit in to what he wanted to do.
  • That led to the Bush lawyers counseling him that he could ignore a law that said torture was illegal or could ignore a law that says the government can’t wiretap without a warrant.
  • President Obama talked very big about ending torture and about ending these policies.
  • What is happening now in the United States is that local police forces, immigration forces, private contractors are colluding and conspiring to infiltrate political movements and largely peaceful political movements.
  • – in order to “uproot the terrorist.”
  • Course there are no terrorists there, what there are are people who have a very vibrant and credible claim.
  • Myself and a number of other human rights people went to a meeting with President Obama in May 2009.  I was shocked at how President Obama completely understood the legal issues we were raising.
  • The very next day he essentially came out with a preventive detention scheme. An indefinite detention scheme in Guantanamo.
  • What really troubled me is that he knows. He knows precisely what the right thing to do is.
  • This thing is not going to fix itself. CCR Facebook – Twitter @theCCR

Guest – Attorney Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights,  a national legal and educational organization dedicated to advancing and defending the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Vince oversees CCR’s groundbreaking litigation and advocacy work which includes using international and domestic law to hold corporations and government officials accountable for human rights abuses; challenging racial, gender and LGBT injustice; and combating the illegal expansion of U.S. presidential power and policies such as illegal detention at Guantanamo, rendition and torture.


Law and Disorder September 12, 2011


The State of Perpetual War

Since September 11, 2001 the US global war on terror has reached beyond Afghanistan and Iraq.  The US constructed the largest embassy ever in Baghdad to control the resources of Iraq.  Meanwhile strikes against Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, led an air war against Libya without any Congressional authorization continue as pointed out by author Anthony Arnove.  In his article titled  The 10th Anniversary of 9/11 Arnove describes US foreign policy of preventive war and how the US continues to  use drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.  Now other countries are adopting the preventive war idea to fight (quote) terrorism. Today, the Obama Adminstration has gone beyond the Bush policies as trillions are spent on perpetual war while schools, health care and social needs crumble.

Anthony Arnove:

  • 911 was seized upon by the Bush Administration as an opportunity.  Condoleezza Rice specifically used the word opportunity to describe the geo-political shifts that she saw occurring in the wake of 9-11.
  • We’ve seen the invasion of Iraq, the invasion of Afghanistan, covert operations and Arab bombardment of dozens of countries. There’s an estimate now that this year the US will be operating in 120 countries in some capacity through use of commandos.
  • You’ve seen increased troop levels in Afghanistan so that even with the current so called draw down of the troops in Afghanistan, even with the reductions that are currently being undertaken, we’re still going to be ahead of the number of troops that were in Afghanistan at the end of the Bush Administration.
  • Withdrawal, the word no longer has any meaning. It actually means slight reduction of troops after they’ve been increased.
  • There are 46 thousand active duty troops in Iraq. The claim is that those 46 thousand will leave at the end of 2011 after an agreement reached under pressure from social movements in Iraq.
  • Then you look at the military installations that scatter the country, they’re not going to walk away from that easily.
  • In Afghanistan, they’re literally talking about dates as far as 2024 in terms of troops on the ground involved in a number of capacities.
  • I think Libya is truly an opportunistic action by the United States concerned its losing control in the middle east. You’ve had uprisings and revolutions that have toppled governments aligned with the United States.
  • The US has been so contemptuous of the freedoms of people around the world. So contemptuous of democracy, so contemptuous of people fighting for self determination.
  • So contemptuous of nationalist movements that would have put resources into the control of the people.
  • The actions of the Bush Administration and now Obama have only made us more hated, and made the world more dangerous.
  • They claim they’re making the world more safe, and protecting us. The reality is the opposite.
  • At least Barack Obama will be more responsive to social movements, we’ll be able to pressure him. It is clear that is not the case, there has been a demobilizing of sections of the anti-war movement who define the political horizons as the debate between the Republicans and Democrats.
  • The anti-war movement has been silenced.
  • The people who most vociferously supported invading Iraq, claimed there would be weapons of mass destruction, all of those things we now know to be lies, those people are regularly asked to be commentators on Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Yet the people who got it right, saying this is what will happen if we invade, those people are never heard from.
  • The gap between what the elite are doing and what they are saying, and what is in their interest and the interest of ordinary people has never been wider.
  • On October 6, 2011, a number organizations have called for demonstrations in Washington DC and solidarity actions in other cities.  On October 15 actions have been called for by the United National Anti-War Coalition.

Guest – Editor and writer Anthony Arnove. He is best known for his books on Iraq and the Iraq War. Arnove is the author of the book Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, published in hardcover by the New Press and in paperback by Haymarket Books. Arnove toured the country promoting the book in spring 2006 as part of the New Press’ “End the War Tour”.

Arnove is also the editor of Iraq Under Siege, published by South End Press, the co-editor with Howard Zinn of Voices of a People’s History of the United States, published by Seven Stories Press, and the editor of The Essential Noam Chomsky, published by the New Press. He writes frequently for left-wing publications; he is a featured author at ZNet, a columnist for Socialist Worker, and on the editorial board of the International Socialist Review.

The Guantanamo Syndrome

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • Pinochet’s Operation Condor was to round up opponents all over the world to torture and imprison them. This is now an American Operation Condor.
  • AUMF and Military Order #1 allow the administration to use drones around the world. This is the key piece of legislation. Out of the AUMF came military order # 1, November 13, 2001. The president can arrest anybody, they can be kept anywhere, American citizen or not.
  • From there flows the Guantanamo Syndrome. Habeas Corpus, a person who’s the prisoner of the executive can go to court and say put the executive on the defensive. Why am I being held? You have to have a legal basis.
  • After many years of litigation representing this incommunicado people at Guantanamo, we ended up representing their parents or relatives, because we couldn’t represent them, the Supreme Court finally said, it’s a Constitutional right to go to court to test your detention. They said that about the people in Guantanamo in particular, they didn’t say that about the people in Baghram or other places.
  • Once we won that right, the Bush Administration and the Obama Administration went into court and completely opposed that right having any meaning.  It is really an unrecognizable world from what we had ten years ago.


Audio Collage

  • Surveillance State: The 51st State
  • Targeting Muslims Since 9-11




Law and Disorder May 9, 2011



Guantánamo Leaks Must Be Met By Release of Obama Task Force Assessments

The 759 Guantanamo files that were classified “secret” cover nearly every inmate since the camp opened in 2002. The documents obtained by the New York Times and the Guardian last month, reveal how children, the elderly and mentally ill were wrongfully held. The documents also reveal that many prisoners were sent to Guantanamo for nearly nothing or to be interrogated. What did these documents reveal?

Attorney Shane Kadidal:

  • These stories started on Monday morning, because administration officials gave out a briefing saying that the nickname of Osama’s couriers was given out by one of the detainees.
  • Assuming information taken from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
  • We do know it took eight months from the time they identified this compound to the point they decided to strike at it.  I think its clear, they relied on a whole slew of information from a variety of sources.
  • We already know the true name of the courier, which is more important than a nickname came from agents on the ground and electronic surveillance.
  • 172 detainees, 90 cleared from release, 2/3 of those from Yemen have been indefinitely suspended for repatriation because of the “underwear bomber.”
  • The problem is so much of (media) attention is focused on the ones that will never be released.
  • WikiLeaks – 2400 pages of documents almost all risk assessments of about 740 detainees who’ve been to Guantanamo
  • They represent the Defense Departments best case for detaining someone.
  • You have these long analysis of very shady facts, not detailing where allegations are coming from.
  • If you look at the documents as a whole, it shows that most of the detainees were held on flimsy, unreliable information.
  • The documents show that people were interrogated in GTMO about nothing to do with terrorist attacks in the United States. You had Samuel Hodge interrogated about the inner workings of Al-Jazzera
  • Everyone ended up with the categorization of high or medium risk
  • When you see a leak of this magnitude, the only corrective is to release more information and that’s what we’ve called for at CCR.
  • The government quickly emailed us – They said consistent with the security clearances you signed on for, you have to treat this information as classified (leaked documents) even though its been scattered to the winds on every newspaper on Earth.

Guest – Attorney Shane Kadidal, senior managing attorney of the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York City. He is a graduate of the Yale Law School and a former law clerk to Judge Kermit Lipez of the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In his eight years at the Center, he has worked on a number of significant cases in the wake of 9/11, including the Center’s challenges to the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay (among them torture victim Mohammed al Qahtani and former CIA ghost detainee Majid Khan), which have twice reached the Supreme Court, and several cases arising out of the post-9/11 domestic immigration sweeps.


Green Is The New Red: An Insiders Account of A Social Movement Under Siege

We welcome Will Potter award-winning independent journalist and now the leading authority on “eco-terrorism.” He’s the author of the new book ,Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege, and it reveals a complex environmental movement emerging amid police state pressure. As we’ve reported here on Law and Disorder, environmental activism have been labeled terrorism under certain interpretation of the Patriot Act, essentially criminalizing dissent and chilling free speech in this country at a critical time.  Our guest was an FBI target for merely leafleting against animal testing, and he was threatened to be put on the domestic terrorist watch list if didn’t comply with FBI demands. We talk more about that, the environmentalist movements and his new book.

Will Potter:

  • My background is in mainstream newspapers. As I was working as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, about 9 months after 9/11. I was covering breaking news, blood and guts.
  • I decided to go out leafleting on a campaign I became aware of against a controversial animal testing company.
  • Couple weeks later the FBI knocks on my door telling me I need to become a government informant and help infiltrate animal rights and environmental groups and if I didn’t they’d put me on the domestic terrorist list.
  • It scared the tar out of me. I wish I could say it didn’t.
  • Afterward it really lit a fire under me to figure out what was going on.
  • One of the reasons I started the website was because of this new law being considered called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
  • What I decided to do with the book is tell the personal stories of the people involved.
  • I followed Daniel McGowan a few days before his sentence to how he ended up in this facility, his own journey as an activist. Daniel was convicted of serious crimes, two arsonists that didn’t harm anyone and he was labeled a terrorist.
  • The book looks at the wide range of activity being labeled “eco-terrorism”
  • The FBI has labeled the environmental and animal rights movement the number one domestic terrorism threat.
  • These corporate campaigns were pushed for so long through the courts, politicians, and the press that over time they began to dovetail with government policy.
  • The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is so broad it can even wrap up non-violent civil disobedience as terrorism, only if its directed at what is called animal enterprises.
  • The real power of this is fear.
  • The activists who are really effective and pushing the boundary are the ones being labeled eco-terrorists.
  • I recently wrote about 3 bills that are under consideration for the Huffington Post. What Is Big Ag Trying To Hide.

Guest – Will Potter,  award-winning independent journalist based in Washington, D.C., who focuses on “eco-terrorism,” the animal rights and environmental movements, and civil liberties post-9/11. Will’s work has appeared in publications including the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, and the Vermont Law Review, and he has testified before the U.S. Congress about his reporting. He is the author of Green Is The New Red: An insider’s account of a social movement under siege forthcoming from City Lights Books.

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