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Archive for the 'Political Prisoner' Category


Law and Disorder December 4, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • Jared Kushner Middle East Policy Advisor

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Free Press: New FCC Rules On Net Neutrality

The Federal Communications Commission recently released a plan to do away with landmark regulations ensuring equal access to the Internet. They pave the way for Internet service companies to charge the public higher rates to see certain content and to even deny access to some websites.

The proposal was made by the FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, an opponent to regulation in general. Pai is the former Associate General Counsel for Verizon Communications, Inc.

The proposal is expected to be approved in mid-December. In his first year Pai, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has already eliminated numerous regulations. The agency has stripped down rules governing TV broadcasters, newspapers and telecom companies designed to protect the public interest. In addition to the net neutrality rollback, the chairman announced a plan to eliminate a rule limiting any corporation from controlling broadcasts that can reach more than 39 percent of American homes.

In a broad brushstroke, the new proposal repeals rules put in place by the Obama administration that prohibit high-speed internet service providers, or I.S.P.s, from slowing down or even stopping the delivery of websites. The Obama rules prevent companies from charging customers extra fees for high-quality streaming and other services. These former rules were drafted to preserve the principle commonly known as “net neutrality” and to prevent practices that would created tiers of access to the Internet.

The plan to repeal existing rules that were passed in 2015 would reverse a hallmark decision by the agency to consider broadband a public utility, as essential to modern lives as phones and electricity. The earlier decision created the legal foundation for the current rules and underscored the importance of high-speed internet service.

Guest – Attorney Gaurav Laroia, Policy Counsel at Free Press. Before joining Free Press, he worked at the Government Accountability Project protecting the rights of national security whistleblowers.

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The Sentencing Project

The United States of America imprisons more of its citizens both in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population than any other country in the world. Only China comes close. On any given day 2,300,000 Americans are in jail or prison, 70% of them are non-white.

Former Alabama senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions wants these numbers to rise. He has instructed federal prosecutors to prosecute people for the most serious possible crime and to demand the longest possible sentence.

In the last 30 years the number of people in jail and in prison have skyrocketed by factor of five. Prosecutors are increasingly demanding life sentences without the possibility of parole. Judges have lost their discretion with the implementation of maximum minimum sentencing. The long-term impact of mass incarceration has been devastating, especially to black communities.

Attorney General Sessions has stated that there is “a dangerous permanent rise”
in violent crime, despite FBI data showing a sharp decline in the last 20 years. He has falsely charged that crime increases have been caused by immigrants and that prosecutorial policy under Obama caused crime to increase.

Guest – Marc Mauer, the Executive Director of the Sentencing Project and a central figure in the justice reform movement. The Sentencing Project is a Washington DC based research and advocacy group working to reduce the use of incarceration in the United States and to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 27, 2017


Defend J20: First Protestors

Last January, at Donald Trump’s Inauguration, over 230 people—some protesters, some not—were trapped and arrested by police. Federal prosecutors charged them with a crime that actually doesn’t exist in DC: “felony rioting.” Armed with secret warrants, prosecutors then probed deeply into the defendants’ personal lives.

Charges were dropped for some arrestees, including journalists and legal observers. Over 200, however, saw their charges increased to felony rioting, felony incitement to riot, conspiracy to riot, and property-damage crimes related to broken windows. Each defendant is facing over 60 years in prison.

Prosecutors obtained warrants focused on anti-Trump organizers. Warrants sought a list of visitors to a protest-related website and the Facebook friends and related communications of two organizers, the host of a coalition Facebook page, and those who had “liked” that page.

This prosecution follows a change in local law enforcement’s response to protest that we covered years ago on Law and Disorder. The mass arrests and harsh charges are precisely what new DC policies were designed to avoid. A 2002 mass-arrest and subsequent lawsuit by the Partnership for Civil Justice resulted in the District paying over $10 million in settlements and changing its crowd control policies.

Trials for the inauguration protesters begin mid-November and are expected to continue for a year.

Guest – Yael Bromberg,  Yael is a supervising attorney and teaching fellow with the Institute for Public Representation at the Civil Rights Clinic of Georgetown University Law Center. defendj20resistance.org

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October Song: Bolshevik Triump, Communist Tragedy 1917-1924

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution of October, 1917. The revolution changed the course of history and determined world politics internationally and in the United States of America for most of the 20th century, until finally, under the unrelenting onslaught of the west and principally the USA, the revolution was overthrown in 1991 when capitalism was restored to that country.

Before the revolution, Russian was a feudal monarchy, headed up by a czar in a country where most of the population were peasants working the land under near slave-like conditions.

World War I started in 1914 and Russia allied with France and Great Britain against Germany and other countries. It was a war for foreign markets, resources, and colonies. By 1917, 30 million people have been killed. In one week alone 250,000 soldiers died.

The Russian revolution was nearly bloodless and nonviolent. The first thing the revolutionary government did was to end their country’s participation in the war, which ultimately ended the war.

The second thing they did was to redistribute the land to the peasants who worked it. Then they nationalized industry under control of the workers in the plants. Thus, the 1% of the Russian elite were dispossessed and the 99% took control of the institutions of their country and ran them through councils of workers and peasants and soldiers, which had been organized prior to the revolution and which were led by socialists.

The Russian revolution inspired the hopes of humankind throughout the industrial and under-developed colonial world. The peasants were given land, women gained equal rights and the right to vote and to get an abortion. Homosexualty was made legal. Minority rights were guaranteed. Education, the arts, and culture received government support. For a period Russia was the most democratic country on the planet.

We speak today with history professor Paul LeBlanc about the Russian revolution and the lessons it teaches for social change activists in America today.

Guest – Professor Paul LeBlanc is the author of the just published book October Song: Bolshevik Triumph, Communist Tragedy, 1917-1924. He is the author of a number of widely read studies including Lenin and the Revolutionary Party and Marx, Lenin, and the Revolutionary Experience. He teaches at Laroche college in Pittsburgh.


Follow Heidi Boghosian on Twitter – @HeidiBoghosian

Law and Disorder November 20, 2017


Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • FDA Approves Digital Pill by Heidi Boghosian

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Release Aging People in Prison Campaign

The number of persons 50 years and older in New York State has risen more than 98% since 2000; it now exceeds 10,000—nearly 20% of the total incarcerated population. This reflects a national crisis in the prison system and the extension of a culture of revenge and punishment into all areas of our society.

The organization Release Aging People in Prison, or RAPP, works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting elderly and infirm people out of prison.

Led by Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who was incarcerated for 33 years in New York before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Many of these human beings have transformed their lives and developed skills and abilities they lacked before incarceration. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. We also support legislation in New York to correct the parole system and increase the number of releases.

Guest – Mujahid Farid co-founded the Prisoners AIDS Counseling and Education program and helped design prison-based sociology and theology courses that allowed others to earn college-credited in prison. He also earned four college degrees and other certifications while incarcerated, including his paralegal certificate, NYS Department of Labor Certificate in Human Development Counseling, and NYC Department of Health Certificate in HIV/AIDS Counseling.

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Guest – David George, Associate Director of RAPP. In the last few years Dave has organized with and on behalf of currently and formerly incarcerated people, including at the Osborne Association and Correctional Association of New York.

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Perpetual Line Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition In America

The presence of surveillance cameras across the United States has enabled targeted facial recognition surveillance at essentially any place and any time. Each day law enforcement puts in place more and more cameras, including CCTV cameras, police body cameras, and cameras on drones and other aircraft. The FBI’s Next Generation Biometric Identification Database and its facial recognition unit, FACE Services, can search for and identify nearly 64 million Americans, either from its own databases or through access to state DMV databases of driving license photos.

It’s likely that government agencies will soon be able to pinpoint your location and even with whom you’ve been, just by typing your name into a computer.

The release of Apple’s IPhone X has drawn scrutiny to this technology. Despite civil liberties and privacy concerns, there are few limits on facial recognition technology. In March 2017 Congress held a hearing to discuss the risks of facial recognition surveillance. There is concern that facial recognition can be used to get around existing legal protections against location tracking, opening the door to unprecedented government monitoring an logging of personal associations, including protected First Amendment-related activities. Knowledge of individual’s political, religious and associational activities could lead the way to bias, persecution and abuse.

As with many technological advances, there are benefits, too. Facial recognition can assist in locating missing persons or for other public safety purposes.

Guest – Clare Garvie, Clare is a Law Fellow at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology. Her research with the Center is on face recognition use by law enforcement and the disparate impact of payday lending on vulnerable communities. She worked on the Center’s 2016 report on facial recognition technology.

Law and Disorder October 23, 2017


Updates:

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

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Victory In Al Shimari v CACI

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

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

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

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International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms: North Korea

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

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder October 2, 2017


Puerto Rico Disaster Recovery, The Jones Act And Federal Aid

The devastation to Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria has been likened to the impact of an atomic bomb, destroying the U.S. territory, and leaving nearly 3.5 million U.S citizens without power, limited access to food and water, and a collapsed infrastructure. Donald Trump was quick to blame the island nation for its problems, even highlighting its financial debt to Wall Street.

Puerto Rico has a history of struggling for federal aid for natural disasters contrasted with those on the mainland. The White House response to much-needed funding post-Maria is to wait for a “full assessment” and “fact-finding” process. Early reinforcements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are appalling, if nonexistent: Diesel fuel for generators is scarce. Towns outside metro areas are unreachable. Hospitals can’t treat patients. Streets are flooded, looting is rampant, highways destroyed. The National Guard, FEMA, Red Cross or federal vehicle have yet to be spotted on the island. None of this is new.

In 1989, when Hurricane Hugo hit South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the USVI, the elder President Bush was criticized for not responding quickly enough. More relief for the Caribbean was added to a bill initially designed to address earthquake damage in California. And when Hurricane Georges pounded Puerto Rico in 1998, it took half a year for the federal government to act on a long-term plan for the island.

A central reason for this is the Jones Act, a century-old shipping law often accused of stifling the Puerto Rican economy. Among other things, the Act requires that domestic shipping be conducted by U.S.-owned, U.S.-made ships staffed by American crews. That means, for example, that all food from the mainland—and Puerto Rico imports 85 percent of what it consumes—must be brought in U.S. ships.

Nydia Velázquez, the Puerto Rico–born congresswoman who represents parts of New York City, says she will ask Congress for a one-year waiver to Jones Act requirements for the territory. That might test Washington’s willingness to change its approach to Puerto Rico and to see if Puerto Ricans’ status as citizens without full rights is really working.

Guest – Carlito Rivera, co-editor of the Old and New website, active with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, and a Former member of the Young Lords. CONTACT: El Maestro – Community Center and Boxing Gym in the Bronx, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Headquarters 646-299-6507.

Since the recording of this interview, President Trump agreed to waive the Jones Act, which will temporarily lift shipping restrictions and allow the people of Puerto Rico to receive necessary aid.

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Burns and Novick: Masters of False Balancing

Ken Burns and Lisa Novick have made an influential documentary called “The Vietnam War” whose 10 episodes have been running on PBS.  Burns said that his film “will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely different way.” Novak said that “we are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy.”

The United States took over the war in 1954 from the defeated French who failed despite massive American support to recolonize Vietnam after World War II. The United States left Vietnam 1975 when they were forced to withdraw troops in the teeth of massive Vietnamese resistance, a huge antiwar movement at home, and the refusal of GIs in Vietnam to continue to fight.

At least 3 million Vietnamese were murdered. 58,200 American soldiers were killed. 19 million gallons of toxic defoliants, 7.5 million tons of bombs, including 400,000 tons of napalm were dropped on the Vietnamese. Without a Navy or Air Force, the Vietnamese resistance lived in tunnels or hid in the jungle.

The CIA’s infamous operative in Vietnam, Colonel Edward Lansdale, who helped install the US supported dictator Diem, quoted Robert Tabors The War of the Flea saying “there is only one means of defeating an insurgent people who will not surrender, and that is extermination. There is only one way to control a territory that harbors resistance, and that is to turn it into a desert.”

The Burns-Novik film’s opening sentence says that the war was started “in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and cold war misunderstandings.” Noam Chomsky, who came to prominence in 1967 as a critic of the war, and who was not interviewed in the film, wrote that the US “went to war in Vietnam for a very good reason. They were afraid Vietnam would be a successful model of independent development and that it would have a virus effect – if that others who may try to follow the same course.”

Guest – Jerry Lembcke, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Holy Cross College.
Professor Lempke is recognized for work on post-Vietnam War American culture, studies of how we continue to process the war through film, literature, folklore, and of course television documentaries. He is the author and editor of many books, most notably his 1998 book “The Spitting Image: Myth, Memory and the Legacy of Vietnam”. He served as a chaplain’s assistant in Vietnam and is a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

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Law and Disorder September 11, 2017


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Illegal Preventive War

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

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

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

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

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

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The Bronx 120 and Secor 19

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

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

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

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

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Law and Disorder August 28, 2017


 

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

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

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

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

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

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lordsofsecrecy report1a

Senate Intelligence Committee Torture Report: Attorney Scott Horton

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

Attorney Scott Horton:

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

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

Law and Disorder August 7, 2017


Update:

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Fair Punishment Project: Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Efforts

Controversial and antiquated civil forfeiture procedures across the nation are causing many, including the country’s poorest, to have assets seized by law enforcement agencies to fill department coffers.

In 2016 the manager of a Burmese Christian Rock Band had just completed a five-month tour across the country, raising over $50K for an orphanage in Thailand and a college in Burma, when police pulled him over for a broken tail light. A routine traffic stop soon turned into a months-long nightmare.

After a drug dog allegedly “alerted” to the car, police searched it, but found no evidence of drugs. They did, however, seize the cash donations as supposed “drug proceeds.” After interrogating the band manager for six hours, the police eventually let him go, but kept the cash. Within a month, the Muskogee County District Attorney filed a civil-forfeiture action to keep the money for good.

In light of Attorney General Session’s announcement that he plans to increase the use of civil forfeiture, we can expect many more cases like this one.

Guest – Josie Duffy Rice is a lawyer and writer in New York. Josie is research director of the Fair Punishment Project.

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Venezuela: Media Distortion And Analysis

The great Latin American historic figure Simon Bolivar, known as the liberator, famously said that “the United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of the liberty.” The current situation in Venezuela seems to be a case and point. That country’s Foreign Minister Samuel Moncada and Carlos Ron, an official at the Venezuelan embassy, have recently accused Florida Senator Marco Rubio and CIA director Mike Pompeo of secretly conspiring to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicholas Monduro.

The United States has a history of causing regime change to governments in Latin America. These include the governments of Guatemala, Brazil, the Dominican Republic , Bolivia, Grenada, Chile, Panama, Argentina, Nicaragua, and Cuba where “regime change” is written into American law. There has recently been a wave of violence in Venezuela including assassinations, violence at demonstrations, and distruction of property.

Guest – Gregory Wilpert has lived in Caracas,Venezuela, and is now based in Quito, Ecuador. He is the author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The History and Policies of the Chavez Government. As a journalist, he is the founder of VenezuelaAnalysis.com. He is married to Carol Delgado Arria, who has served the Venezuelan government as ambassador to Ecuador and consul general in New York. He is currently visiting Caracas and joins us from there.

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Law and Disorder July 17, 2017


 

This is Not Populism : John Bellamy Foster

Is Trump a neofascist? Thoughtful analysts on the left like Cornell West, Noam Chomsky, and Judith Butler think he is. But mainstream liberal commentators refuse to associate the Trump phenomena with fascism. They call him a right wing populist. What is neofascism? Right wing Populism? Does it really matter what Trump is called? The great German playwright and political thinker who lived in Germany during Hitler’s reign, Berthold Brecht, asked in 1935: “How can anyone tell the truth about fascism, unless he’s willing to speak out against capitalism, which brings it fourth?” We speak today with John Bellamy Foster, the editor of the venerable magazine “Monthly Review”. He wrote the lead article in the current June 2017 issue titled “This Is Not Populism.”

Guest – John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

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Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand ms-1.JPG Benjamin Hett

Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand

Author Benjamin Hett outlines the fascinating and tragic story of a young lawyer Hans Litten in his recent book Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand. Before the Nazis rose to power in the early 1930s, they incited calculated violence among the working class in German taverns. Four Nazi stormtroopers were charged with firing randomly into a dance hall where a communist hiking club were holding a party. Three young men were wounded. Hans Litton was the advocate for the 3 men.

Hans Litten called Hitler to the witness stand to show that the Nazi party was a violent party, and by cross examining Hitler he tried to prove that. Litten forced Hitler to contradict himself, reducing him to humiliating rage that revealed his true intention. At that time, Hitler wanted to be a legal party in Germany and of course you couldn’t be a party that was extra-constitutional and legal but at the same time he didn’t want to disappoint the base of his party which was this violent working class aspect. Two years later, the Nazi Party rose to power.

What came after the Reichstag Fire was the arrest of about 5 thousand people across Germany who the Nazis have identified as opponents or potential opponents. Hans Litten was among them and sent to a concentration camp. Author Benjamin Hett describes a powerful narrative of Hans facing torture yet still telling stories and teaching art to other prisoners.

Hans Litten was born in 1903 in Halle in Central Germany, his father was a law professor and Jewish but converted to German evangelical (Lutheran).

Guest – Benjamin Hett, author of Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand. Hett is a former trial lawyer, and now Associate Professor of History at Hunter College.

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Law and Disorder July 3, 2017


 

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party Victory

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

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

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Raymond Nat Turner

Poem: Low Regard

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SCOTUS on CCR CASE

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

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

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

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

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