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Law and Disorder November 20, 2017

Law and Disorder Editorials:

  • FDA Approves Digital Pill by Heidi Boghosian


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.


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.



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 February 27, 2017

My Friend Cayla And Other Toys That Spy

Several consumer advocates are urging retailers including and Walmart to stop selling a doll that can eavesdrop on children and families.

The groups are calling on the retailers to discontinue sales of the doll called My Friend Cayla after filing a complaint in late 2016 with the Federal Trade Commission. The complaint alleges that Cayla and another toy, the I-Que Robot, which isn’t sold in the U.S., can transmit recordings to Nuance Communications, a speech-to-text software company that contracts with military and law enforcement agencies, among others.

The doll, made by interactive toy maker Genesis, are wireless-enabled devices that advocates say can open the door to hackers, and other privacy violations.

In a letter to Amazon’s CEO, Josh Golin, of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, wrote “My Friend Cayla poses significant security risks that could place children in physical danger…A stranger or potential predator within a 50-foot range can easily establish a Bluetooth connection with the doll, eavesdrop on the child, and even converse with the child through the doll.”

A similar letter, also signed by the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Privacy Information Center was sent to Walmart, Target, and Toys ‘R’ Us. Toys R Us said the doll is no longer for sale at its stores or through its website.

Guest – Josh Golin, Josh started at CCFC as an intern in 2003 and has been with the organization in a variety of capacities ever since. Most recently, he served as CCFC’s Associate Director organizing CCFC’s advocacy campaigns and developing its communications strategy. His writings about the commercialization of childhood have appeared in a wide range of outlets. He and his wife Jennifer are doing their best to raise their daughter, Clara, commercial-free.


Dakota Access Pipeline Dispatch #10

In early February, under orders from President Donald Trump, the Army Corp of Engineers approved and easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri River near North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Standing Rock and neighboring tribes are trying to halt the project in court and pipeline opponents have embarked on a so called last stand, holding protests and actions across the nation. Authorities had set a deadline of February 22, 2017 for the protesters to clean up and return home. At the main encampment, trucks are hauling away garbage and abandoned goods. Some protesters are relocating to higher ground nearby on the reservation. In preparation for the evacuation dozens of North Dakota police and National Park Service rangers had surrounded the camp.

Water Protectors Legal Collective – NLG

Guest – National Lawyers Guild Attorney Jeff Haas, recently returned from living at the North Dakota encampment with thousands of Native Americans and climate change activists who gathered in solidarity with the Standing Rock Indian tribe in North Dakota to protest the pipeline construction. Jeff Haas was a founding partner of the Peoples Law Office in Chicago. He victoriously represented the family of Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago Black Panther Party and proved that Hampton was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department. He’s also author of the book The Assassination of Fred Hampton.

Sacred Stone Camp Legal Defense – Lawyers wanting to support the Sacred Stone Camp, contact Attorney Robin Martinez –


Law and Disorder January 19, 2015

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U.S. Cuban Foreign Policy Changes Strategy: Normalizing Relations

Last year, in a sudden reversal of policy, the United States released the remaining three of the Cuban Five who were imprisoned for arrested in the United States while investigating Cuban exile groups accused of terrorism. The release was part of a prisoner exchange announced on when President Barack Obama ordered the restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba, that has been isolated by a trade embargo for 54 years.

Sandra Levinson:

  • When you’ve lived through 10 or 11 presidents and you’ve seen how bad our policy can be, and also the disappointment that people like me felt, since Obama had been elected, that almost nothing had been done for improving travel for Cuban Americans.
  • The point at which I cried was when he said he was going to open an embassy in Havana, because once you got over the fact, the 3 political prisoners were coming home, that was sheer joy to realize along with the Cubans, they were crying too. They said we’ve finally been recognized as a government.
  • I think it will be great for the Cuban artists.
  • By the second day the people were saying we have to make sure we keep our culture.
  • We have to be sure we keep our country.
  • Cuba needs help with its infrastructure, it doesn’t need McDonald’s
  • We still have the Helms-Burton law. We still have the embargo. I think our next fight is to get rid of the Helms-Burton law because that has done so much to strengthen the embargo.
  • I think the Cubans will attempt to slow the flow of people from the United States to what they can manage.
  • As we all know the infrastructure for tourism is not sufficient to take care of everyone. I’m surprised they didn’t recognize sooner.
  • Clearly its because of US interest that we are doing this. We are not doing this to finally be nice to the Cuban revolution.
  • /

Guest – Sandra Levinson, President and Executive Director of the Center for Cuban Studies. She was one of the Center’s founders in 1972. In 1991 Levinson spearheaded a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department which resulted in legalizing the importation of original Cuban art.  She is currently directing works at the Cuban Art Space, which she founded in 1999, to properly house and archive the thousands of posters, photographs and artworks which the Center has collected in the past 42 years


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Electronic Communications Surveillance

In the recent Monthly Review, there’s an article titled Electronics Communications Surveillance written by attorney Lauren Regan. The article enumerates the various laws, acts and court cases that have led up to collecting information on millions of citizens such as phone, internet, and email habits, credit card and bank records. Nearly all of our on line activity is subject to being surveilled by the state. Lauren breaks it down from Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, an extension of the 1968 Federal Wiretap Act, the FISA Act and on to the USA Patriot Act in 2001. The article is grouped into 3 areas,  wiretaps and “electronic eavesdropping,” stored messages, and pen registers and trap-and-trace devices.

Attorney Lauren Regan:

  • The corporations that are engaged in gray intelligence use the term threat assessment.
  • They look at activist communities even individuals and determine what level of threat they pose to the profit making components of their enterprise.
  • I think its important that activists engage in their own threat assessment as well.
  • In the documents (FOIA requests) we learned that the corporations themselves want to maintain clean hands. They don’t want to get caught spying on Mom and Pop holding a banner on a street corner.
  • They devised this scheme where there is this security firm and public relations firm that kind of open up their own shop next door.
  • They’re often former FBI agents for some of these big corporations and industries. They will collect the intelligence and its up to these PR firms to put it into these “terrorist bulletins.”
  • For a long time we knew that corporations often hired by the government itself but also hired by big industry has been going through open source intelligence. So they’ve been monitoring our websites and social media and email lists and press releases and any other public documents they can get their hands on in their 8 hour paid day.
  • They compile all this information into reports and then they sell it to police or other corporations or the government.
  • They call them issue monitoring or trend analysis. In essence it is attempting to both legitimize and make profit of spying on political groups and political activists.
  • In my experience its less important to focus on the name of the corporation because they’re so slippery and constantly changing their names.
  • The animal rights movement has definitely been a significant target for this type of spying.
  • We were working with a number of different organizations who were afraid. Who were thinking of stopping their campaigns, because they were concerned they were going to be put in prison, that they were going to be labeled terrorists.
  • One of the campaigns out of Pennsylvania, consisted of teachers, doctors, people who were once a week going out on street corners and holding a banner opposing fracking and they found themselves in a terrorist bulletin.
  • Especially when you’re talking about giant coal industries, and tar sands industries. These are gazillion dollar corporations. They’re multinational in scope. They’re working together within their industries which means they have more money and resources to put road blocks in front of regular public interest citizens.
  • There are things that you can do to make life more difficult for those that wish to spy upon you.
  • Thor and VPN are ways to use the internet with less ability to be tracked or surveyed.
  • We represent activists for free and we coordinate legal teams around the country to insure that activists have high quality representation, when they choose to risk their liberty for a cause.

GuestLauren Regan, the founder and executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), where she serves as our staff attorney as well. Ms. Regan operates a public interest law firm, The Justice Law Group, specializing in constitutional law, civil rights, and criminal defense. She is a founding board member and past president of the Cascadia Wildlands. She also serves as a Lane County Teen Court judge, Oregon State Bar Leadership Fellow, National Lawyers Guild, Eugene co-chair, and volunteers hundreds of hours a year to various progressive causes.


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The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power

The surveillance and torture programs conducted by agents and contractors of the United States Central Intelligence Agency has a long sordid past. One of the first revelations of the CIA’s illegal activities released to the public was released in December 1974 by the New York Times. Details of surveillance, eavesdropping, detention and interrogation shocked readers. It was also became the foundation for deeper research by our next guest John Prados,  a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC. He’s the author of the book The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy and Presidential Power, where Prados recounts secret operations and how Vice President Richard Cheney played a leading role in intelligence abuses. He joins us today to talk about the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report and the deeper connections based on his research.

John Prados:

  • A semi-notorious document that was known as the family jewels – this was a record of CIA abuses of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, when they were spying on American citizens. In fact the revelation was so explosive at that time it lead to multiple investigations of the CIA by the Church Committee, the Pike Committee.
  • I think that the CIA has a preoccupation with image. The episode of the “family jewels” is typical because at the time the intelligence agency’s director was Michael Hayden. Hayden, simultaneous with the release of the document gave a speech taking credit for thinking of releasing the “family jewels” themselves.
  • In my book The Family Jewels I have a couple of chapters that documents this kind of activity.
  • We have been waiting 2 years for the appearance of this report.
  • If you look at the website that’s maintained by former director Hayden, and former director Porter Goss and former director George Tenant, you will see that they posted on their website declassified CIA documents, much more lightly redacted that were released as long ago as last summer.
  • These are the first documents I have seen containing direct Whitehouse action and activity on the torture issue.
  • The best piece of this relates to early 2004, where there was the United Nations international day of support for victims of torture. Tenant sends a memo to Condi Rice and requests that the Whitehouse reconfirm Bush Administration support for the torture program.
  • When that was not immediately forthcoming, they did this again.
  • These things were released as part of the argument that was made by former intelligence officials that torture was approved and legal.
  • Not just damage control but the perpetrators, the agency officials responsible for this program,they know its not legal, they know its morally reprehensible. They’re operating under the fig leaf of this presidential authority and this mumbo jumbo Department of Justice legal memo network.
  • If there’s a breath of questioning it all of a sudden, they’re not covered anymore. That’s the reason for the sensitivity and the reason why the CIA suddenly erupted in this effort to reconfirm these authorities.
  • If you delete material from the documents in such a way that the public can’t tell that the material the CIA got was useful, or misleading everybody.
  • The Senate report is so important because it shows on all of these cases, they took the ones twenty ones, the CIA most claims they got information for them. The report shows that in every one of those cases in fact they were getting information without resorting to the torture.
  • I think we have a challenge. I think we need to work to make a wedge for accountability in this country. I do think Americans are shamed and embarrassed by this behavior. This is not what the United States is about.

Guest- John Prados is an author and analyst of national security based in Washington, DC. He is the author of more than twenty books and many articles on topics of current importance, presidential studies, international security; and diplomatic, intelligence, or military history. His current book is The Family Jewels: The CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power (University of Texas Press)Newly appearing in paperback are Islands of Destiny: The Solomons Campaign and the Eclipse of the Rising Sun. In addition Prados is author of titles on national security, the American presidency, and other subjects including Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and World War II. He is also a noted designer of boardgames on military strategy, intelligence, and diplomacy.


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Law and Disorder January 22, 2014



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Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA-Frances Goldin, Michael and Debby Smith

Our own co-host Michael Smith, his wife Debby and Frances Goldin have assembled and edited an anthology of powerful essays titled Imagine Living In A Socialist USA. Prominent thinkers, activists and artists have given their perspective of what the United States would look like through the lens of a socialist society. This new work is an important contribution to what we hope will be a broader movement. It includes an indictment of capitalism, an alternative U.S.A. and how to get there.

Frances Goldin:

  • It was my brainchild because I wanted to accomplish 3 things before I joined by ancestors. One is everyone who lived in Cooper Square who had been fighting Robert Moses and saving their old tenements since 1959 its been a tremendous long struggle.
  • This is the only community land trust in the Northeast. The only one.
  • The next one is that I was really distressed at the direction our country was moving. Here I am 89 years old and all of a sudden North Carolina says that we’re going back to the old days where you had to bring in your right arm and read the Constitution without missing a word in order to vote. That plus spying on every American and continuing the wars.
  • It was just breaking my heart. I was very distressed that everybody thought that socialism was a dirty word, it was an undemocratic terrible way of life and they just didn’t have a clue as to what it really meant.
  • I thought it would be a great idea to pull together some of the greatest minds in the country and let them talk about health, education, welfare, homosexuality, every subject that effects American’s lives and explain how it would be different under socialism if it were democratically done, which is the only way it should be done.
  • Within one year, 31 leading brains in the United States for no charge, they did it free, wrote their essays on each one of these subjects. The book is in my hand, its finished and its beautiful and it makes me so happy. That’s my second accomplishment.
  • The third one is to see one of the leading intellectuals in the world free, forever free. Mumia Abu-Jamal.
  • I couldn’t do it alone, it was a great plan and so I leaned on to dear friends, Debby and Michael Smith.
  • I had to force Harper Collins into this, they really didn’t want to do it.
  • We were very lucky to hire an incredibly good editor, whose livelihood was editing for magazines and newspapers. If a sentence was too long, he cut it into 2 or 3 sentences.
  • Right now, the word socialism, people think of dictatorship, they think terrible things, they think undemocratic.
  • This is a simple instruction about how it would effect us with regard to health, education, housing, welfare, all of those subjects which make it so difficult for all of us to live.
  • It can’t be a dirty word, it happens to be the most democratic way of governing possible.
  • Get the workers to run the company. It’s happening in Spain, with dozens of corporations that have become worker owned.
  • It’s going to be the workers dividing the profits among themselves.
  • It will only happen when the workers are angry enough and informed enough to know that they can run the show.
  • Every penny of the royalties will go to free Mumia Abu-Jamal
  • We are not earning one dime from this book. It was a labor of love. It was a labor of activism.
  • It was a labor to change the world and make it a better place.

Guest – Frances Goldin is the President & Principal of Frances Goldin Literary Agency.  Frances has worked in publishing for 63 years, as an agent and as editor-in-chief of a children’s publishing company; she founded the Frances Goldin Literary Agency and sold her first book in 1977. Authored by Black anthropologist Betty Lou Valentine and titled Hustling and Other Hard Work, the book continued to receive royalties for 32 years. One of the agency’s strengths is that many of its books continue to earn royalties long after publication. Reflecting Goldin’s radical politics, the Agency concentrates on literary fiction and serious, controversial, progressive non-fiction.

Attorney Michael Smith:

  • I don’t think its a dirty word, because people see what’s going on under capitalism and they don’t like it. The economic situation in this country ain’t gonna change, its only going to get worse.
  • Frances is quite an influential literary agent in this country.
  • What’s your definition of socialism? I said a democratic economy and political system, both where people from the bottom up control how we make a living, and how we live.
  • We’re having a book launch on January 27. It’s at 126 Crosby Street in SOHO at the book store called Housing Works.
  • In order to achieve the kind of socialism we’re talking about and that’s socialism from the bottom up you need a broad democratic movement of people.
  • All the left wing parties, all the movement groups, we gotta get together around a common program.
  • One of the chapters that I really like, and this isn’t to flatter you Michael Ratner, but you wrote a chapter on what I would do if I was US Attorney General.
  • Paul LeBlanc writes his chapter about the 3rd American revolution. Diane Feeley writes about that in her chapter. She’s an auto worker retired from Detroit.
  • Michael Zweig, the great sociologist, we reprint his speech from Occupy Wall Street where he talks about the 1 percent, the ruling class.
  • He says actually its 1/10 of 1 percent. Those are the people who are the top of the economy and different organizations in this country. He said, you gotta be very careful, because these people will kill ya.
  • In the second part of the book, we emphasize use your imagination. How do we organize the economy democratically?
  • How do you organize a corporation democratically? Rick Wolff wrote that chapter.
  • There are 31 chapters in the book. The last chapter suggests itself. How do we do it?
  • We’re not against leadership, we’re against undemocratic leadership but you need people who’ve had some experience and who can draw the lessons of the past.

Guest – Attorney Michael Smith is co-host of Law and Disorder, and a New York  City attorney and author.  His most recent book, written with Michael Ratner , is Who Killed Che? How The CIA Got Away With Murder. He is on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the Brecht Forum. He was educated at the University of Wisconsin in the 1960s, where he learned social history from the great teacher Harvey Goldberg. He has testified on Palestinian rights before committees of the US Congress and the United Nations.

Guest – Debby Smith is a long time socialist since going to college in Boston during the radical sixties. Debby worked full-time for the anti-Vietnam War movement, the Kent State Legal Defense Fund and in the feminist, union and socialist movements. She is also the wife of Michael Smith and participates in the anti-capitalist and pro-democracy movements that are growing rapidly in the United States and worldwide.



Law and Disorder November 18, 2013



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Local Police Departments and Mass Surveillance Technology

As technology becomes more available to local police departments, mass surveillance, data collection and retention are now rapidly expanding. There are third parties involved profiting from collecting data and selling it back to various agencies and governments down the line. There are many concerns including the reasonable expectation of privacy in public and the build up of individual digital dossiers. We’re joined today by Assistant Professor Law Stephen Rushin at the University of Illinois College of Law. In his recently published paper The Legislative Response to Mass Police Surveillance, Rushin discusses the rise of expanding advanced police surveillance and public privacy.

Attorney Stephen Rushin:

  • Traditionally law enforcement have utilized a bunch of different technological replacements for traditional behavior.
  • Law enforcement in the past might have tried to say, isolate individuals that were speeding. Before the advent of radar, the ability to measure this in a technological way, they had ways of simply following people.
  • So, once law enforcement had the ability to monitor speed electronically, that was a means of dramatically improving the efficiency on an otherwise lawful police activity.
  • Initially these technological innovations seem to be a relative good thing but in recent years there’s been a movement in local law enforcement to utilize extreme data retention with things like Automatic License Plate Readers, security cameras with facial recognition.
  • These tools allow law enforcement to monitor an entire community in a relatively invasive way without invading any legally protected areas of privacy.
  • Local law enforcement is trying to share this data across jurisdictional lines.
  • We have 18 thousand different local police departments.
  • Once that data gets shared, its essentially out in the open.
  • These private automatic license plate readers are put up all across the country to monitor the whereabouts of cars.
  • Whenever someone is driving in public, you don’t expectation of privacy in your movements.
  • What’s interesting is these private third parties are working with law enforcement and sharing that data.
  • We are actually just starting to learn the dangers of big data collection by the state.
  • If I collect years of data from automatic license plate readers, I’d have a pretty good digital dossier of where one individual person has been over the last two years.
  • I know stuff about where that person goes during the day. I know about potentially their political affiliation.
  • If you allow local law enforcement to collect copious amounts of data on an individuals’ whereabouts, then you potentially allow them to know a lot about their citizens.
  • We need to distinguish between observational comparison and what I call indiscriminate data collection.
  • The proposal I make is that we need to be concerned about the length of time local law enforcement retain data.
  • The ACLU is doing terrific work, surveying police departments to see what kind of data they’re collecting via surveillance.
  • There’s a lot of questions about how ALPR work has effected minority groups especially Muslims in the UK.
  • Evidence has emerged that authorities used ALPR to surveil Muslims in the UK.
  • Social Science Research Center

Guest – Attorney Stephen Rushin, research focuses on criminal law, criminal procedure, and policing. His ongoing research uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the Justice Department’s implementation of structural reform litigation in American police departments. He has previously published articles on advanced surveillance technologies, police interrogation procedures, juvenile justice policy, and federal sentencing laws. Rushin holds a J.D. from Berkeley Law, where he served on the law review. He received a B.A. in government from the University of Texas, where he graduated with high honors. Rushin is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at Berkeley.


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

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

Jim Douglass:

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

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


Law and Disorder September 16, 2013



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Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance Part II

This is part 2 of our interview with our own Heidi Boghosian who wrote the newly published book is titled Spying On Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power, and Public Resistance and it reveals in detail how the government acquires your information from sources such as telecommunications companies to compile a data base on “persons of interest.” Since ex-CIA staffer Edward Snowden’s release of top secret documents to the Guardian and Washington Post many are now aware of the frequency and scope to which they are being monitored.  What this book has unveiled is how your personal consumer data is being gathered, bundled and sold. The spying, the collecting of phone records, accessing your online activity, all of it is unconstitutional says Heidi Boghosian, co-host of Law and Disorder and the National Lawyers Guild’s Executive Director.

Attorney Heidi Boghosian:

  • They create dossiers of our spending habits, of our communication habits.
  • The corporations benefit from this which makes them create more equipment for surveillance and almost makes it impossible for the government to perform traditional government functions because they’re so reliant on corporate partners.
  • There’s also a revolving door among CEOs of these big companies and high level positions within government intelligence.
  • The National Lawyers Guild was spied on by the FBI. More than 1000 agents were assigned to us for nearly 3 decades. They rummaged through our members garbage. We had an infiltrator in Washington DC serving as a staff person.
  • They tried to label us (and failed) as a subversive organization.
  • The People’s Law Office had also been monitored for years. Apparently across the street from the office an apartment was taken by the FBI who spied on them for their work representing politically active individuals.
  • With all of this spying, the chilling effect of knowing that you may be spied on, you conversations may be listened to, changes the way you do business.
  • I’ve always been interested in cooperation between municipal public police and private security organizations.
  • We’re seeing an entire industry giving birth to Stratfor and other intelligence organizations that exist just to conduct intelligence be it on activists or critics of corporate or government policies, as well as defense contractors beefing up and creating a whole sector of intelligence.
  • They are in big contracts with the US government.
  • One of the problems constitutionally is they’re not held as private businesses to the same strictures as the US Constitution as we saw recently with the Hemisphere program revelations. We have our government paying AT&T staff to sit next to drug enforcement officers and go through AT&T’s files that go back 26 years. They’re not overseen by a judge.
  • My question is how many more agencies of the government are doing this?
  • They are getting access to this information through what’s called administrative subpoenas.
  • Many mannequins have small cameras embedded in the eyeballs.
  • When you’re spying on the fourth estate as its called which is intended to be a watch dog on government you really get to the heart of what democracy is about.
  • Without a free press, we don’t have any chance of preserving those fundamental freedoms of First Amendment association and the ability to bring our grievances to the government for redress.
  • A student group working with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers got suspicious because a new member on their listserve started asking questions and they did some research and found she owned her own private security company, in fact she was spying on them for Burger King.
  • Congress is calling for an investigation for these large data aggragators. Once again, there’s no oversight, there’s no accountability, they go to a variety of sources to gather personal information on us. Some in the public domain, others not.
  • They have vast troves, electronic dossiers on each of us.

Guest – Heidi Boghosian,  executive director of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the co-host of the weekly civil liberties radio show Law and Disorder on Pacifica’s WBAI in New York and over 40 national affiliates. She received her JD from Temple Law School where she was the editor-in-chief of the Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review. She also holds an MS from Boston University and a BA from Brown University.

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Syria: U.S. Humanitarian Intervention

What is the difference between an illegal war and humanitarian intervention? At the 2005 United Nations World Summit, government leaders agreed unanimously that “each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”  If a state fails to protect its own citizens from such atrocity as its known, the agreement implies a collective responsibility of humanitarian intervention upon other agencies.  President Obama has threatened to use military force against Syria and recently commented during a speech that “we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus”  The US, however has in the past,  turned a so called blind eye to other alleged chemical weapons attacks in other countries. Why would President Obama now want to go forward with a Navy missile strike in Syria and try to do so without UN Security Council approval?

Ajamu Baracka:

  • There’s no basis in international law that allows the US or any sovereign state to take that kind of unilateral action.
  • This notion of humanitarian intervention and this responsibility to protect, is a particular type of creation that’s been cooked up in the west that has provided some kind of moral justification to engage in unilateral action on behalf of the world community.
  • To circumvent the United Nations and impose their own vision and understanding of international order on any nation they see fit.
  • This is no more than a dressed up, rearticulation of the white man’s burden.
  • This notion that the US and the European, ex-colonial nations, have a right and a responsibility to impose their particular interests and world views on the rest of humanity is a notion that needs to be rejected but its something that many people in the west have embraced.
  • It was the foundation for the NATO intervention of Libya. It has been the justification for intervention in Kosovo.
  • It’s been very skillfully implanted into the minds of many people in this country as a justification for unilateral actions on the part of the US or in conjunction again with European allies.
  • What about the images we were bombarded with, the rows of piled up bodies in Egypt? Why are those lives less important than those who died in Syria?
  • Is it the mode in which they were murdered, gas as opposed to US supplied weapons?
  • I think the US objective is the dismemberment of the Syrian state. They are in almost a win-win situation. Either they affect regime change and allow this motley crew of oppositional forces much aligned with jihadist movements, come to power or they force the state to become a non-functional state.
  • The long term objective is to further isolate Iran, to diminish the power of Russia.
  • Right at the moment when it was clear that the Assad government had turned the tide militarily on the ground, the US decided it was going to intervene to effect the equalization of forces in Syria.
  • The US found itself in a very unique isolated position. Kerry has been given an opportunity to pull back from this ill-advised strike.
  • I think the Obama Administration is one of the most effective weapons ever deployed against the progressive and radical movement here in this country, perhaps in the whole post-war period.
  • He had been the answer to Ronald Reagan, but even a more effective communicator.
  • A more effective demobilzer if you will. (Obama Administration) has demobilized the anti-war movement, it has disarmed radicals, confused traditional liberals.
  • I think we use this last incident to intensify the conversations around exposing the interests of this administration.

Guest – Ajamu Baraka, Longtime activist, veteran of Black Liberation Movement, Human Rights defender, Former founding director of US Human Rights Network, currently Public Intervenon for Human Rights with Green Shadow Cabinet, member of Coordinating Committee of Black Left Unity Network and Associate Fellow at IPS.


Law and Disorder June 24, 2013

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Historic Vigil And Compassionate Release For Lynne Stewart

It’s been seven weeks since Warden Jody Upton of FMC Carswell approved Compassionate Release for Lynne Stewart. This decision was based on the medical findings of Stage 4 cancer that spread Lynne’s scapula, lymph nodes and lungs. A massive vigil was held last week for Lynne at Federal Bureau of Prisons Headquarters in Washington DC. We’re joined today by former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark who is helping to get Lynne Stewart released from prison.

Attorney Ramsey Clark:

  • The matter is now on the desk of the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it’s been there for about five or six weeks which is intolerably long because everyday counts.
  • Lynne is in physical desperate condition, her cancer is spreading. She has appointments at Sloan Kettering when she gets out that may extend her life.
  • It’s slipping away while the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons who seems to be opposed of Compassionate Release or any broad application of it, sits on her application.
  • Charles Samuels, seemed to have isolated himself from this issue. Any letters to Director Samuels would be helpful and important.
  • He’s being bombarded but for some reason, he’s holding out because he wants an interpretation of the compassionate release statute that would enable the release of only those who are going to die in the very near future, have no hope of living longer.
  • Right now we have an urgent human matter, a very wonderful human being, mother and grandmother is dying in prison. 
  • Please Write to: Charles E Samuels Jr. / Federal Bureau of Prisons / 320 1st Street Northwest / Washington DC 20534

Guest – Attorney Ramsey Clark was the former Attorney General of the United States, under President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first Attorney General at the Justice Department to call for the elimination of the death penalty and all electronic surveillance. After he left the Johnson administration, he became a important critic of the Vietnam War and continued defending the rights of people worldwide, from Palestinians to Iraqis, to anyone who found themselves at the repressive end of government action.

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Whistleblower Cases Update

Attorney Michael Ratner:

  • June 19th Anniversaries: Execution of the Rosenbergs. Julian Assange 1 year at the Ecuadorian embassy.
  • Snowden, we don’t know where he is, massive revelations.
  • The question you should be asking, is Dick Cheney a traitor? Is George Bush a traitor? Aren’t those the real traitors, the real people to be held accountable.
  • We should look at what they told us. Ed Snowden told about a massive domestic surveillance operation.
  • Their job is to tell the American people what they’re doing so we can debate it and discuss it and not put forward basically false stories of who they’ve purportedly stopped.
  • This is about knowing where everyone of us is all the time.
  • Freedom of the Press Foundation – Bradley Manning
  • This is really a war on whistle-blowers and really a war on the United States trying to keep control on all of the information it can and control the internet from the top down.

Richard Falk, U.N. Rapporteur on Palestinian Rights, Calls for Close of UN Watch


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Lakota Indians To File UN Genocide Charges Against US, South Dakota

There was a time in the mid 1800s when the territory of Lakota Indians reached 90 million acres, now they’re separated into tribal councils and relegated to reservations. Their children are seized and put into foster homes of white families. During Republican administrations, more than 700 Lakota children are taken annually by a private corporation called the South Dakota Children’s Home Services. In April, a grassroots movement led by Lakota grandmothers touring the country built support for a formal UN complaint of genocide against the United States government and constituent states.

Attorney Daniel Sheehan:

  • There’s basically a decade involved here during which the state of South Dakota engaged in a systematic program of the removal of Lakota children from their parents, from their extended families and from their entire tribe.
  • Some 740 Lakota children a year during that period were taken from their families and tribes.
  • Over half of them were never returned. 80-90 percent of those children were placed in white foster care.
  • This is clear violation of the Indian Child Welfare Act which was the piece of legislation that mandated that if an Indian child were taken from the child’s parents they were required to be placed with Native American people.
  • This is has been absolutely openly defied by the state of South Dakota.
  • There has been an official notice of intent to file the complaint with the United Nations.
  • We need to understand that there has been a longstanding policy in the Republican Party. When the Republican Party comes into power in Washington DC where they engage in this process to try and assimilate the native tribes.
  • They’re constantly trying to eliminate the ownership of land and integrate them into society, basically to eliminate their culture.
  • That was why the US Congress back in 1978 made the move to establish the American Indian Policy Review Commission and the Indian Child Welfare Act to stop the states from engaging in that type of activity of assimilation.
  • What we’ve seen by William Janklow, a former South Dakota congressman, governor, and attorney general, is the process to attempt to take as many of the children away as they could possibly do and place them in huge group homes such as South Dakota Children Homes Services Inc.
  • There is a subtext to this issue. We’ve discovered that during the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2009 there was systematic program of funneling federal funds into South Dakota to finance the seizure of these children and a substantial portion of that money from the Federal Government was transferred to the pharmaceutical corporations, who were in fact administering involuntarily to these children, pharmaceutical drugs Zoloft, and other psychoactive drugs to control their moods and attitudes.
  • They refuse to give information about who the children are, where they’ve been taken, where they’ve been placed, some of them have been taken out of the state, we traced a number of them to Utah.

Guest – Daniel Sheehan is the lead attorney and general counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project (LPLP). Currently, LPLP is working in South Dakota to stop violations of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and rescue Lakota children from an abusive state care system. Award-winning journalist Laura Sullivan has just completed a hard-hitting investigative series on the situation in Lakota Country airing now on NPR. To learn more about Daniel Sheehan’s work with Lakota Indians, visit the Lakota People’s Law Project website. Sheehan traced the institutionalization of state kidnapping of Native children back to the late William Janklow, a former South Dakota congressman, governor, and attorney general notorious for his role in what the the Lakota refer to as the “Reign of Terror” on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the years following the American Indian Movement-led occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. According to Sheehan, members of the George W. Bush administration tipped off Janklow on a Texas strategy to grab millions of dollars in federal subsidies by administering a psychological test devised by the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical corporation to children taken into protective custody. Replicating the strategy, South Dakota developed a mental health test failed by 98% of Native children, who then become “special needs” cases under federal law, with the state receiving up to $79,000 for each Indian child and the child being placed involuntarily on psychoactive drugs.


Law and Disorder January 14, 2013


  • Guantanamo Bay Prison 11th Anniversary
  • Abu Ghraib Settlement: Defense Contractor Engility Holdings Pays $5M To Iraqi Torture Detainees
  • Stop and Frisk Lawyers Praise Decision Finding NYPD Stops Unconstitutional
  • Bradley Manning Case: Judge Gives 112 Days of Sentence If Convicted
  • Law and Disorder Tip of the Hat: New Yorkers Respond to Hateful Subway Ads & Declare Them War Propaganda
  • In Memory of Adnan Latif, A Cleared Guantanamo Detainee Who Was Found Dead In His Cell


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Obama to Nominate John Brennan, ‘Kill List’ Architect, as New CIA Chief

As many listeners know, President Barack Obama has nominated John Brennan as director of the CIA. Brennan is currently Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. In this capacity Brennan meets with the president daily and is governed the administration’s program of extrajudicial assassinations known as the “kill list.”

In 2011 and 2012, Brennan used his position to “re-organize” the process by which people outside of war zones were put on the list of drone targets.  Basically, this “reorganization” gave the White House the power to secretly determine who would die in the US assassination program overseas.

We welcome back retired CIA officer, Ray McGovern, now a political activist. McGovern was a federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years.  Ray McGovern’s article on Consortium News: The Grilling That Brennan Deserves.

Ray McGovern:

  • After 9-11, the acceptance of things like torture has become even more widespread.
  • I spent a little time in Germany and I know about Gestapo tactics, and it seem to me that enhanced interrogation techniques sounded very familiar, and indeed its right out of the Gestapo lexicon.
  • The immediate post World War II experience was very vivid.
  • Obama is very fastidious in looking over this “kill list.” He’s got his own priest.
  • It did me great good to know there were a handful at least of Fordham students that stood with their back to Brennan and protested vigorously against not being the commencement speaker but awarded the Doctorate of Humane Letters.
  • He openly advocated kidnapping, the euphemism there is extraordinary rendition.
  • There are black prisons all over Europe and Asia where these people were kept and tortured.
  • He was an open advocate of at least the kidnapping and he was there. He was at the right hand of George Tenet so to speak.
  • I have good information that Brennan was among those in the White House basement supervising the demonstration of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that Condeleeza Rice arranged for all the personages there.
  • It’s all a master weaving, webbing of deceit and John Brennan is at the bottom of it.
  • He was a classis example of a failed analyst. Why did he get where he is?
  • He made an important friend George Tenet.
  • Is Brennan suggesting that Muslims are hard wired to want to knock down planes over Detroit.
  • I have very good information in that report that Brennan is the prime mover in all these abuses.
  • It’s not about success, it’s about principle here.
  • I like Dr. King’s motto, there is such a thing is too late. Sometimes you really have to put your body into it.
  • Unless we act, nothing will be achieved.
  • There are 2 CIAs. The one that Truman set up to give him honest answers to what’s going on in the world.
  • To speak without fear or favor, to tell ’em the truth. That’s the one I worked in. That’s the one I could with career protection knock noses out of joint in the Pentagon and the State Department. I could do that.

Guest – Raymond L. McGovern retired CIA officer turned political activist. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents in the past 27 years.  Ray’s opinion pieces have appeared in many leading newspapers here and abroad.  His website writings are posted first on, and are usually carried on other websites as well.  He has debated at the Oxford Forum and appeared on Charlie Rose, The Newshour, CNN, and numerous other TV & radio programs and documentaries. Ray has lectured to a wide variety of audiences here and abroad.   Ray studied theology and philosophy (as well as his major, Russian) at Fordham University, from which he holds two degrees.  He also holds a Certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University.

A Catholic, Mr. McGovern has been worshipping for over a decade with the ecumenical Church of the Saviour and teaching at its Servant Leadership School.  He was co-director of the school from 1998 to 2004.  Ray came from his native New York to Washington in the early Sixties as an Army infantry/intelligence officer and then served as a CIA analyst from the administration of  John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985.


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 24, 2012



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Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart – December 2012 Update

Criminal defense attorney, political prisoner and good friend, Lynne Stewart continues to inspire  people around her while serving a 10 year sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Fort Worth Texas.  As many listeners know, Lynne was convicted on charges related to materially aiding terrorism, related to her representation of Omar Abdel Rahman.  Her original 2 year sentence was increased to 10  years after the government pressured the trial judge to reconsider his sentencing decision.

Co-host Michael Smith reads a few paragraphs from a recent letter by Lynne.  Lynne Stewart turned 73 this past October, she’s a breast cancer survivor and has recently come out of surgery.  She says she’s feeling better and ready to take on the next step in her case.

“I am now beginning my fourth (4th) year of imprisonment.  It does not get better and I have to gut check myself regularly to be certain that I am resisting the pervasive institutionalization that takes place.  A certain degree of reclusiveness  with the help of good books, interesting people to correspond with, writing on topics of public interest, seems to work for me.  Of course I still am working with any woman who needs help but I know that my sometimes truth-telling self is not what folks here want to hear.  I do try to give folks whatever comfort I can.  An old timer here, 18 years in, has begun an initiative to mobilize for prison reform by getting people on the outside to sign off on her well written petition to the White House.  She is straight out of the courage and style of the old southern civil rights struggle but has now dedicated herself to this.  The demands are modest. I have placed her petition on this, my website.  Please sign on.”

Guest – Ralph Poynter, activist and Lynne’s partner. Please write to Lynne Stewart: #53504-054 / Federal Medical Center, Carswell / PO Box 27137 / Ft. Worth, TX 76127


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Michael Ratner Speech On Bradley Manning in Washington DC.

We hear a speech by our own Michael Ratner delivered at the Bradley Manning support event.  Michael Ratner, President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.  Attorney David Coombs also speaks about the case of his client, Bradley Manning. He is preceded by Emma Cape of the Bradley Manning Support Network.  The event was held at All Souls Church Unitarian in Washington DC, December 2012.



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