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Law and Disorder February 11, 2013


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Senate Votes To Extend Warrantless Wiretaps For Five More Years: No Oversight, No Transparency

Days before 2012 drew to a close, the U.S. Senate voted 73-23 to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for five more years. This is the unconstitutional spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and gives vast unmonitored authority to the National Security Agency to conduct dragnet surveillance of American’s’ international emails and phone calls.

Michelle Richardson:

  • The Senate took up the FISA Reauthorization Bill right at the end of the year and they did consider a handful of very moderate amendments that wouldn’t have actually interfered with the collection of information but would make it more transparent to Congress.
  • In an open and free democracy there should be no secret law.
  • The original FISA was much more targeted. It required a more traditional probable cause, finding an individualized warrant before you could go up and tap a phone.
  • After 911 Congress started systematically lowering the standard for obtaining this information.
  • They made it easier so you could go around the court, and do it administratively.
  • They lowered the standard so there’s no longer a probable cause. The FISA Amendment Act is probably the biggest change in the last decade.
  • You no longer have to name who you’re going to tap, the phone number or stated facility.
  • Instead we’re going to do these programmatic orders so the court is no longer involved in deciding who will be tapped.
  • I’m not going to tap a specific American, but I want information about Yemen.
  • Theoretically this isn’t turned into the United States at any specific person. We think its being used for bulk collection.
  • The way the internet works now, sometimes your communication will travel around the world before landing next door.
  • A lot of times the equipment is intentionally built so the government can tap directly into the system.
  • FISA – Foreign intelligence which includes the undefined national defense of the United States.
  • I think there is reason to believe this is a self correcting situation and that people will start looking at this technology and understand more about what’s out there.

Guest – Michelle Richardson is a Legislative Counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office where she focuses on national security and government transparency issues such as the Patriot Act, FISA, cybersecurity, state secrets and the Freedom of Information Act. Before coming to the ACLU in 2006, Richardson served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee where she specialized in national security, civil rights and constitutional issues for Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers.

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Boycott Divestment Sanction Controversy At Brooklyn College

Last month, a backlash of controversy erupted after the announcement of a student group at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, Students for Justice in Palestine will host two speakers who will discuss their views on the BDS movement. The BDS movement as many listeners may know calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in protest of the government’s oppressive policies toward the Palestinian people. The speakers are Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler. The event was  co-sponsored by numerous student and community groups, as well as Brooklyn College’s political science department.

The backlash included a threat by New York City Council members and Congressman Jerry Nadler to defund Brooklyn College and opinion pieces by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz who called the event a “propaganda hate orgy,” another daily newspaper labeled it “Israel-bashing.

Omar Barghouti:

  • Specifically the BDS call said that Israel and institutions and corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of International Law should be boycotted, divested from and eventually sanctioned in order to achieve the 3 basic rights of the Palestinian people under International Law.
  • Ending the occupation of 1967, which include the illegal colonies, the wall, ending the system of discrimination within Israel itself which meets the UN definition of apartheid, the third is the right of return for refugees which is their basic inalienable right under international law.
  • In order to achieve these 3 basic rights, we absolutely need international solidarity as was done in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, we can’t do it alone.
  • Your tax money is funding Israel occupation and apartheid. You have an obligation to question where your money is going to and how its being used to oppress us.
  • I think that the New York Times editorial supported having a debate at Brooklyn College says it all. We could have never imagined such a thing, a year ago.
  • The government of South Africa’s ruling party the ANC endorsed BDS this last December.
  • Many Jewish groups have joined BDS campaigns and are leading BDS campaigns.
  • Bullying is one thing and response from critics is another. We’re very open to debate but no one would debate us.
  • They’re running scared of debate.
  • Not every event, every talk has to be balanced.
  • The balance is overall. Those accusing this panel of being imbalanced themselves like Dershowitz, always speak solo, unopposed, espousing the most extreme ideas like torture, a war crime.
  • They’re twisting the very definition of academic freedom.
  • Human rights are difficult. If you have a master slave relationship and the slave insists on freedom and nothing less than freedom that upsets the order.
  • Did equality in Alabama delegitamize whites? It delegitamized apartheid in the South.
  • We’re delegitamizing the Israel’s occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian rights. We’re insisting on our rights. We’re not delegitamizing any people.
  • We’re delegitamizing an order that’s illegal by definition. Apartheid is illegal. Occupation is illegal. Building colonies on occupied territories is illegal. Ethnic cleansing is illegal.
  • It’s not a blanket boycott against every company that’s complicit because that wouldn’t work.
  • BDS is about context sensitivity, graduality and sustainability.
  • You’ve got to address the most sinister companies as it were. The most seriously involved in human rights violations and move toward others, to teach others a lesson.
  • There’s a big campaign against soda stream led by an Interfaith coalition because Soda Stream is manufactured in an illegal settlement in the occupied territories.
  • We need coresistance, not coexistance until we end oppression.
  •  / 
  • Dissent and any argument against Israeli policies is almost becoming illegitimate in this country. It’s a new McCarthyism that the Israeli lobby is leading.

Guest – Omar Barghouti, the founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Palestinian Civil Society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Listen to Law and Disorder May 2011 Show with Guest Omar Barghouti



Law and Disorder June 25, 2012


  • Occupy Chicago Tribune Getting Sued Under World Property Intellectual Organization
  • Julian Assange Applies For Political Asylum – Twitter @justleft / @wlcentral



Austerity and Coalition Government in Greece

Last week we discussed the popularity of the Syriza Party, Greece’s skyrocketed unemployment and the huge military contracts Greece is locked into with France and Germany.  In part two of our interview with Greek-American National Lawyers Guild attorney Eric Poulos we discuss the assembling of the coalition government in Greece and the economic implication.

Attorney Eric Poulos:

  • New Democracy and Syriza’s the left wing coalition opposed to the bailout got the most votes. New Democracy got about 2 percent more which is the conservative center right party.
  • Syriza got 27 percent. The Social Democrats did terribly and got only 14 percent.
  • The fascist party the Golden Dawn unfortunately kept the same percentage. The one part that lost a lot of votes was the Communist Party.
  • Almost 40 percent of the voters did not vote. I think people are just worn out.
  • Everybody across the board has taken a 15 percent reduction in pay.
  • New Democracy Party will be appointed Prime Minister.
  • Fifty percent of the cops voted for the fascist party – Golden Dawn
  • Greece is a country that was occupied by Hitler and caused untold loss and devastation.
  • This coalition that ran Syriza is a coalition which is 12 or 13 different groups.
  • The election is incredible in that it changed nothing, it changed everything, because the same parties will be ruling.
  • The people of Greece continue to suffer, it doesn’t create one job. It doesn’t help to pay for one prescription.
  • It’s not just Greece, it’s Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland too.
  • I think the only hope is that they can hook up with other countries with united action to fight against the European Union policies.
  • There has to be an upsurge in the fight against the fascists in Greece.

Guest – Attorney Eric Poulos, writer and National Lawyers Guild member.


Reverend Billy and the Spectra Pipeline Protest Event

The plans to bring a 30 inch gas pipeline through the West Village of Manhattan is on the fast track with the support of Mayor Bloomberg.  Spectra Pipeline is the company that will deliver the high pressure natural gas hydrofracked from the Marcellus Shale deposits. A heavily protested and contentious process itself. According to an expert radioactive waste this natural gas can contain radon 70 times above normal. Radon is a tasteless odorless gas created naturally during radioactive decay of uranium, thorium and radium. The EPA reports radon causes 21 thousand deaths from lung cancer each year. NO PIPELINE AT THE HIGHLINE – JULY 1, 2012 worship service and political rally

Reverend Billy:

  • Our basic mission statement . . .stop shopping children. Our basic mission statement has remain the same over 10 years now.  The project of Guiliani and Bloomberg to turn our great city into a suburb.
  • It was WBAI project, Cornell West, Chris Hedges, we sang and were the house choir. The jury of those great peers found Goldman Sachs guilty of robbing from us and charged them with 87 billion dollars I believe.
  • We sat down and lock arms in the old civil rights position. A nice circle of locked arms.
  • Out of the 15 that got arrested, I was about the 8th to leave the fold. I think that eight of them will be the Blankfein 8.  It’s a lifestyle change, if you’re really gonna go all the way with these . . . we weren’t blocking anybody. . it was symbolic.
  • Those ziplock handcuffs they have, they yank on them. In the precinct house an hour later your hand is purple and I had a numb thumb for six months.
  • Sometimes shopping is a chain store that buys sweat shop goods, and sometimes its our consumption of power. How do we heat? How do we use electricity?
  • That of course is decisive in terms of climate change, which has increasingly become everybody’s politics.
  • We’ve kept fracking out of upstate New York to some degree, but Cuomo is going to let it in to some degree.
  •  They want to come from the Far Rockaways with a pipe called the Constitution and they’re coming under the Hudson River and appearing into the Meat Packing district.
  • It’s mysterious Cheney was able to keep the report of what those chemicals are from the American people.
  • We have a 700 seat house there and we’re going to take the audience over two blocks to where the pipeline is to surface.
  • I don’t think the consumer society makes prosperity.
  • A lot of the communities in our country where people are watching television all day, eating sugar and fat and unable to operate, where the kids go into the pipeline of jail. . .needs the energetic compassion of change.
  • We’re becoming our own third world here, we need to pay attention to our communities. Get those Wall Street companies out of our communities and ask ourselves what do we have that makes value here?  Right under foot, right in my neighborhood.
  • It begins with living on less money, but begins with finding value in what we do with our lives.
  • You go up the counties where Cuomo is exploding their aquifers, this just makes it worse.
  • Some people are going to get a 100 thousand dollar check. It reminds me of the wrong person winning the lottery.
  • NO PIPELINE AT THE HIGHLINE – JULY 1, 2012 worship service and political rally

Guest – Reverend Billy, (Bill Talen) A student of the writers Charles Gaines and Kurt Vonnegut, Talen has staged experimental plays, published essays and poems in Philadelphia, New York and California. At Life On the Water, a theater in San Francisco’s Fort Mason Theater, Talen presented artists such as Spalding Gray, Mabou Mines, David Cale, B. D. Wong, Holly Hughes, William Yellow Robe, the Red Eye Collective, Reno, John Trudeau, and Danny Glover reciting the works of Langston Hughes.  This experience in producing led him to the confessional monologue.  After studying with the cleric Reverend Sidney Lanier, Talen invented “a new kind of American preacher.”  Lanier, the cousin of Tennessee Williams and subject of the work Night of the Iguana, was familiar with the re-staging of biblical narratives


Law and Disorder October 11, 2010

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Lawyers You’ll Like Series: Mara Verheyden Hilliard Part II

Today we’re joined by attorney Mara Verheyden Hilliard co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Legal Defense & Education Fund in the second part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series. Mara and her partner Carl Messineo have worked to defend and advance fundamental civil, constitutional and human rights secured by the U.S. Constitution and under law. We talk about her work, and criminalizing dissent, surveillance, data mining, and FBI harassment. A lot of Mara’s work is at the intersection of first and fourth amendment rights, such as the assault on free speech, assembly and misuse of datamining tools. The Partnership for Civil Justice has many victories, and recently a settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit about the illegality of the arrests of approximately 700 protesters and other persons on Saturday, April 15, 2000 in Washington, D.C.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard:

  • I co-founded the Partnership for Civil Justice in 1994 with Carl Messenio. We decided we wanted to do this work specifically, Constitutional rights, civic justice, public interest litigation.
  • We began this work right after we left law school. We undertook some of the longest running protest cases that we had, in particular, the recently settled class action from the April 2000 mass arrests.
  • I grew up in Washington DC and I spent my childhood going to civil rights demonstrations, anti-war demonstrations, having our house filled demonstrators.  Both of my parents are deeply political people who care very much about civil rights, liberation struggles and womens’ rights.
  • The core of the work we do we recognize as the underlying social justice movement.
  • The municipalities, the governments, they want these cases to go on as long as possible, they want to fight a war of attrition, because they want plaintiffs to feel they have to take toothless settlements.
  • The fact is the law has changed in DC, we’ve changed the way police operate. They can’t use these tactics, these tactics we took apart piece by piece have been removed from the arsenal of the police department in DC.
  • The DC police can’t use the trap and detain tactic, they can’t hold people, they have to release them within 4 hours now. They can’t use the wrist to ankle handcuff mechanism against people anymore.
  • Police need to have their badges plainly available and visible, they can’t come out in riot gear to first amendment assemblies.  Now we’re seeing this effort (FBI) against solidarity activists with the raids and subpoenas. I think it is outrageous, and baseless for the government to be coming in and targeting people for solidarity work.
  • It’s also reflective of the huge security apparatus that was put in place under Bush and is being accelerated under Obama.  Those beliefs, that hope, that thought, that you can  change the direction of the country that you live in, is absolutely true.
  • All you gotta do is look at the past history of the United States, all 150 years.
  • Recognize that it’s no fault to hope and to think that an elected official is going to do it, but historically the elected official has never been the one to do it.

Guest – Constitutional Rights Attorney Mara Verheyden Hilliard co-founder of The Partnership for Civil Justice Legal Defense & Education Fund. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is an activist, Constitutional Rights attorney, and the cofounder of the Partnership for Civil Justice. She is also co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee.


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United States Plays Down UN Report on the Gaza Flotilla Attack

A United Nations fact finding mission into the May 31, 2010 Israeli lethal attacks of ships traveling to Gaza, has reported that Israeli forces violated international law, “including international humanitarian and human rights law.” Eight Turkish activists and one Turkish-American were killed in the raid on board the ships attempting to break the Gaza blockade.  The UN Human Rights Council’s investigation judged Israel’s naval blockade of the Palestinian territory to be “unlawful” because there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza at the time. However, the United States criticized what it termed as the report’s “unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights, the Free Gaza Movement and the National Lawyers Guild responded to the report and the comments made by the United States at the Council

“Unfortunately, the United States used the opportunity of the Human Right Council’s discussion on the flotilla fact-finding mission’s report to promote its political agenda instead of engaging on the issue of legal accountability for Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and the unlawful attack on the Gaza flotilla,” said CCR attorney Katherine Gallagher. “The U.S. must recognize that there can be no peace without justice, and that until it supports accountability for violations of international law–even when violations committed by Israel – instead of a culture of impunity, it lacks the legitimacy necessary to serve as a broker of peace.”

Attorney Katherine Gallagher:

  • There were 6 civilian ships and their goal was to both bring humanitarian aid to Gaza which has been under a Naval blockade by Israel for the last 4 years as well as to challenge the legality.
  • The United Nations back in June 2010 set up a fact finding mission. The 3 commissioners traveled to London, to Geneva, Istanbul and Jordan to interview passengers. They met with legal experts and others to analyze the evidence they heard.
  • The UN fact finding report was submitted last week, 56 detailed pages of what precisely happened that night on those ships on the night of May 31.  It was concluded that the blockade is illegal under international law. It found that the 6 ships traveling to Gaza to break the blockade presented no imminent threat to the Israelis.
  • The 3 commissioners have experience in international law matters. One had been a judge on the international criminal court. Their conclusions are grounded in law and not political conclusions. They were peaceful protesters preparing for an attack on the ship.
  • It’s hard to see what they find as unbalanced. I think the report is carefully written, it’s cautiously written beginning with an analysis of its own mandate. Turkey very much welcomed the report.
  • The bulk of the passengers were detained in Israel, at detention sites that had already been established.
  • Confiscated property consists of cameras, computer chips, video equipment. It contains electronic equipment that provides first hand evidence of the flotilla passengers activities and then the attack on the ship.
  • In the past 4 months Israel has been in possession of that material.

Guest – Katherine Gallagher,  Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she focuses on holding individuals, including US and foreign government officials, and corporations, including private military contractors, accountable for serious human rights violations. Among the cases she is working on are Arar v. Ashcroft, Matar v. Dichter, Saleh v. Titan and Estate of Atban v. Blackwater.


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Post Coup Honduran Human Rights Crisis

A human rights crisis continues to get worse in Honduras, more than a year after the June 28, 2009 military coup. People on the front lines that oppose the regime installed after the coup are beaten and illegally detained by the state. Nectali Rodezno, Co-Coordinator of National Front of Lawyers in Resistance Against the Coup in Honduras is among the lawyers dircectly involved in defending those are being abused and whose lives are on the line everyday. To inform people about the ongoing crisis in Honduras, there will be a speaking tour this fall called JUSTICE IN HONDURAS: Witness for Peace Mid-Atlantic Fall Speakers Tour will be November 1 – 22.

Attorney Pam Spees:

  • From that moment on you began to see alot of repressive tactics immediately after the coup.
  • Immediately, leaders of that resistance were being targeted. There were several key people who were killed in aftermath of the coup. Walter Trochez was a key LGBT activist who was targeted and killed in a very brutal way.  You also saw the targeting of labor leaders. The killing continue even in this new de facto administration.
  • In March you saw the targeting of journalists. In that month alone, 8 journalists were killed.
  • The Honduran judiciary were taking certain steps before the coup to help undermine Zelaya and what he was doing. We’re still learning about how much of this was driven by official US policy.
  • Before the coup we had the financial crisis in the US that was effecting food security which was making it difficult everywhere. Zelaya was trying to buffer the Hondurans against this. One of the things he did was raise the minimum wage. He raised it and tied it to the food index.
  • The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America
  • On June 28, the Honduran resistance has set up its own truth commission, The Alternative Truth Commission. The International Criminal Court is an actor and could investigate and potentially prosecute some of these acts.
  • In the US we have the Alien Tort Statute. It’s a very old law that allows non-citizens to bring suit in US courts for violations of international law.
  • The courage show by all sectors of this resistance is just incredible.

Guest – Pam Spees,  senior staff attorney in the international human rights program at the Center for Constitutional Rights. She has a background in international criminal and human rights law with a gender focus, as well as criminal trial practice.


Law and Disorder April 19, 2010




Israeli Policy and Palestinian Children – Nora Barrows-Friedman

We talk today with the Nora Barrows-Friedman, she is the host of radio show Flashpoints at KPFA in Berkeley California.  Nora spent the last month in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. She’s been investigating stories about the ongoing violations of Palestinian human rights and has been frequently traveling to Palestine since 2004. Today we look specifically at the Israeli policy against children from arresting, detaining, interrogating, torturing, imprisoning and beating children, some as young as 10. Nora says  International laws designed to protect children — including the UN convention on the rights of the child are being circumvented and violated on a daily.

Nora Barrows Friedman:

  • Kids randomly picked off the street, allegedly for throwing stones. The Israeli punishment is 10 years in prison for a child.
  • Israeli military can arrest (Palestinian only) children as young as 12.  Right now there are 300 Palestinian children in Israeli prisons.
  • Hebron is a city where settlers have been given half of the old city, a settlement colony is inside the Palestinian community
  • These two young children were followed and taken into a military center inside the settlement colony.
  • This whole family had been destoryed by these illegal actions against these 2 brothers. The only recourse this family has is to take it to the Israeli military court.  Motive: trying to get Palestinian families to leave.
  • This family lives in an area where settlers have their eye on, seems to be very deliberate.
  • There are hundreds of women in Israeli prisons, there’s a story where a woman gave birth in the prison, and the baby is now a prisoner.

Guest – Nora Barrows Friedman: Senior producer and co-host of KPFA’s Flashpoints.


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Obama’s Plan for Elimination of Nation-Controlled Nuclear Power

Nine nations now have a combined total of more than 22 thousand nuclear weapons. The United States has about 5 thousand nuclear weapons,  500 of them are land based warheads which can fly in three to four minutes after the order is given. President Obama recently hosted a nuclear security summit in DC with more than 45 foreign leaders, he traveled to Prague and signed a treaty that would cut the combined US and Russian stockpile by a third. Meanwhile, the US nuclear stockpiles have been shrinking for the last 40 years. We talk more about the current nuclear disarmament effort with attorney Peter Weiss is Vice-President, former President, of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.

Peter Weiss:

  • Leave the doomsday clock where it is. Reaffirming of the status quo.  The agreement with Russia in reducing the nuclear weapons allowed to each country from 2200 to 1500.  They count all the warheads on a bomber plane as one, instead of 10 or 12 weapons.
  • Jimmy Carter: A single nuclear armed submarine had enough weaponry to destroy every Russian city of 100 thousand or more.
  • Nuclear Posture Review – Zero document / “It’s difficult to operationalize a vision.”
  • Obviously there is a great danger of loose nukes.  No one seems ready to adopt an anti-nuclear convention except the countries that don’t have nuclear weapons.
  • Conference in Riverside Church on May 1, 2010, United For Peace and Justice
  • The anti-nuke movment will be re-energized.
  • The US wants to be the sole repository of weapons grade nuclear material, committment from Chile, and Canada, to ship WGNM to the US.   That’s kind of weird isn’t it?

Guest – Peter Weiss, former Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights and Vice President, of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.


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Why Human Rights are Indispensable to Financial Regulation

Today we speak with Radhika Balakrishnan, Professor of Economics and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College, about her recent article in the Huffington Post titled Why Human Rights are Indispensable to Financial Regulation. Balakrishnan enumerates the global human fallout from the world financial crisis. The World Bank estimates an additional 400 thousand children will die before their fifth birthday, while those responsible for the turmoil are benefiting from bailouts and promotions. She references the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its inclusion of economic and social rights, that is the right to work, to education, to rest, to an adequate standard of living. Dr. Balakrishnan has also outlined steps for meaningful reform that we will also examine today.  She is currently working on a project trying to use human rights norms to evaluate and construct macroeconomic policy.

Radhika Barakrishnan:

  • We pretend there is no criteria regulating (economic policies)  We argue in our piece, that human rights have a way to set up an ethical basis and framework. Most people don’t know that human rights include economic and social rights.
  • In the United States the assumption is you can vote the people in to give you social and economic rights.
  • The idea that the market is this Greek Oracle that we can’t question. . . is a problem.
  • We’re saying there is a form of biased market regulation, where the state has the interest of the financiers and the banks.
  • and not those of the working people and the working class.  One example is the minimum wage.
  • The Federal Reserve has a dual mandate, one is to have price stability, the other is the right to work.
  • In the United States, we have not signed the Convenant on Economic and Human Rights.
  • The Federal Reserve is a government agency and the fact that they act in a cloak of secrecy is a real problem.
  • I think there is a great case to be brought, as far as freedom of information.
  • What kind of financial models are they using to make their decisions? This cloak of secrecy because you independence to make monetary policy?  But independence doesn’t mean secret.
  • Their Board of Governors are from the commercial banks, whose interest will they work for?
  • Bailout Bill – TARP / This went to financial agencies to give them the money. 720 Billion dollars overnighted to the Federal Reserve has not gone out?   The Stimulus Money, for employment creation, though it was used for tax cuts.
  • Congress did not extend unemployment benefits for Spring recess.
  • The United States is coming up for the Universal Periodic Review in the Human Rights Council of Geneva
  • The Center for Women’s Global Leadership

Guest – Radhika Balakrishnan, Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She has a Ph.D. in Economics from Rutgers University. Previously, she was Professor of Economics and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College. She has worked at the Ford Foundation as a program officer in the Asia Regional Program. She is currently the Chair of the Board of the US Human Rights Network and on the Board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. She has published in the field of gender and development.


Law and Disorder January 4, 2010



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Historic International Support: Gaza Freedom March

Hundreds of activists from more than 40 countries staged demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo to protest the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow them to cross the border into Gaza. Our own Michael Ratner and his family are among the 13 hundred solidarity marchers in the Gaza Freedom March. Among the marchers, 300 from the United States, 80  from New York State and 250 marchers from France. Last week organizers said an offer by Egyptian authorities to allow only 100 members of the group into Gaza was not enough.  The Egyptian embassy has stalled the marchers and some were detained by police as crowds outside the embassies grew.

Abdeen Jabara / Dorothy Zellner:

  • This has truly been one of the truly great, historic, international mobilizations of people in solidarity.
  • Thousands upon thousands over the course of months have been working in over 42 countries around the globe.
  • They go to Cairo, Egypt as a transit point to go to Gaza.
  • This effort has heightened the consciousness about the siege on Gaza and exposed the United States, Israel and the Egyptian government to promote the division of the middle east for their own selfish reasons.
  • There is the Gaza Freedom March, then there is Viva Palestina, which is a convoy of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid that actually made it into Gaza several months ago.
  • Viva Palestina is led by George Galloway, former British parliament member, they are stuck in Jordan.
  • The Egyptians initially said the trucks can go through but the people can’t.  This is a massive international effort to prevent the Palestinians from getting the help that they need.
  • The French have been lying down in the streets in front of the French Embassy for 3 days already.
  • The Gaza Freedom March had been working with the Egyptians for months and it was only until the organizers got to Cairo that the Egyptians changed their decision.
  • They said we didn’t come here to create any difficult for the government, we came here to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.
  • The Egyptian government then allowed 100 people to come through to Gaza, and to give them the names in 2 hours. A divide and rule approach, more conflict against the marchers.
  • Congress voted to make Egypt the second largest aid recipient in the world : 1.7 Billion annually.
  • Congress tried to take 100 million dollars away from Egypt because of the “smuggling tunnels to Gaza.” Egypt got the message. Egypt is not a democracy, Mubarak has been in power since 1981. It’s essentially a police state, they more people in their intelligence and police than they have in the Army.
  • Egypt is planning to put in (with the help of the US Army Corp of Engineers)  metal barriers, 50 feet into the ground to prevent tunneling to Gaza. Sixty percent of the Gaza is dependent upon that tunnel trade.
  • This is the largest civilian population of the world that is completely trapped. If you ever go to Gaza, this could be the Riviera of the Mediterenean. This could be an unbelievable place if they would let them live like human beings.
  • The problem is with the campaign finance system and the money that keeps them in office. This is where the problem is.

Guests – Abdeen Jabara and Dorothy Zellner give a broader scope on the Gaza Freedom March and the significance of  demonstrations.  Abdeen Jabara,  civil rights lawyer and former president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.  Dorothy Zellner, civil rights activist with Jews Say No, who has organized groups opposing Israeli violence in the occupied territories.


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Victor Toro: Chilean Socialist Faces US Deportation After 25 Years

Ex-political prisoner and human rights organizer Victor Toro joins us in the studio. Victor is a Bronx community organizer and he was a former leader in the resistance to Chile’s military dictatorship during the 1970s. In July of 2007 Victor was arrested in an immigration sweep by border officials aboard an Amtrak train in Rochester, New York. He was charged for being in the country illegally and has been out on bail since.  Before coming to the United States in 1984, Toro helped found and lead the MIR, or Revolutionary Left Movement. The group opposed the US -sponsored coup against the military dictatorship led by Augusta Pinochet.    The Department of Homeland Security and US Immigration are seeking to deport Toro, the prosecution has filed a 46 page court brief containing information on the MIR, claiming the group attacked government buildings. Meanwhile, a deportation hearing for Victor Toro was adjourned until Jan. 11, 2010. Victor joins us in the studio with his translator Gonzalo Venegas.

Victor Toro:

  • I was arrested by Pinochet’s regime, April 20th, 1974. I was incarcerated for 3 years in different concentration camps in which I was tortured. I was expelled from Chile, and given a document stating never to return. I was expelled to Sweden, and then Cuba.
  • When I was forced to leave Chile, I was officially declared dead by the Pinochet regime.
  • I ended up in Mexico, where I was given transitional asylum, however my safety was at risk in Mexico, because agents of Pinochet were trying to murder me. I left Mexico in 1984, fleeing persecution of Pinochet’s agents.
  • Well, in the South Bronx, I continued doing the work, an extension of the work I had done in Chile in my earlier years. Working in the community and with unions.
  • I’ve worked with undocumented people and immigrants in the United States. In California in 2007, I was engaging in the advocacy work for immigrant rights. On a train back to New York, I was caught in an immigration raid, with bomb sniffing dogs.
  • Initially, I was facing the same case as any undocumented worker in the US. Recently the case took a political turn where the government has presented documents against me.
  • I went from undocumented worker to becoming a terrorist because of my affiliations and work that I did in Chile in the 1970s.
  • I was the leader of the organization MIR, that was building a socialist left movement. MIR resisted Pinochet’s oppressive tactics. MIR was branded a terrorist organization by the US.
  • If you look at Chile’s current president of the senate, and house of representatives, the Navy, it all lead by former members of Pinochet’s political party.
  • Demand asylum for Victor Toro / Friday January 8, 2010 – SEIU 1199 / Martin Luther King Auditorium. 310 West 43rd Street / between 8th and 9th Avenues.
  • Monday January 11, 2010 – Court date 9 AM – / Rally afterward at NOON at 26 Federal Plaza, NY.

Guest – Victor  Toro, a Chilean activist in the Bronx who fought against the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Toro is one of tens of thousands of immigrants who are racially profiled and targeted for deportation unjustly and unfairly.


Law and Disorder August 3, 2009

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David Kairys: Lawyers You’ll Like

David Kairy began his career at the Philadelphia public defender’s office in the late 1960s. Since then, he’s been a leader in effort to fight discrimination and protect individual rights, now he’s regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent civil rights attorneys. David is a professor at the University of Temple Law School, where he teaches civil rights and constitutional law. He has written several books, including Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer, which was published last year.

David Kairys:

  • We were of a number of young firms dedicated to civil rights and representation of progressive groups.
  • The Camden 28, caught in the act of breaking into a Camden, New Jersey draft board and destroying all of the files. This was a Catholic Left action.
  • FBI had informant in the group, who the FBI was paying on an hourly rate. The informant supplied the means to make the action happen.
  • One hundred FBI agents sat around and waited til they destroyed all the files in the office.  Many of the 28 were priests. There were more than 300 draft board raids during Vietnam.
  • Father Michael Doyle said when your government is napalming children, the place you should be is in jail.
  • Father Doyle and I strategized a way to start talking to the FBI informant Bob Hardy and eventually got an affadavit saying that the FBI manufactured this crime.
  • I filed the affidavit and it was on the front page of the New York Times.

Guest – David Kairys, Professor of Law, the first James E. Beasley Chair (2001-07), and one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers. He authored Philadelphia Freedom, Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer and With Liberty and Justice for Some and co-authored the bestselling progressive critique of the law, The Politics of Law, and authored With Liberty and Justice for Some and over 35 articles and book chapters. His columns have appeared in major periodicals, and he has been profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Wall Street Journal, and Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine. Kairys’s Public Nuisance Theory.


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Detroit’s Economic Corrosion

The bankrupt General Motors will use the billions of taxpayer bailout funds to move their productions to Mexico and China.  In one report Mexican workers will be making 3 dollars an hour without benefits.  Meanwhile, the jobless in Detroit rose to 13 percent unemployment. Retired Auto Worker member of local 235,  Dianne Feeley says Detroit is 40 percent unoccupied, homes are looted for furnaces and copper and soon burned to the ground.   Dianne joins us today to give us a sense of the economic corrosion in Detroit.   Dianne Feeley Speaking – Youtube.

Dianne Feeley:

  • In Detroit we were a city of 2.2 million now were about 900,000.
  • Saving Corporations, Sacrificing Workers by Dianne Feeley
  • We need manufacturing to be re-tooled like in WWII. It took 8 months to re-tool those plants.
  • We’re suggesting since the United States, doesn’t have mass transit, that’s something our plants can build.
  • General Motors used to manufacture buses. In addition to green vehicles, there’s the whole range of mass transit.
  • Detroit no longer has any department stores in the city, although we’re 140 square miles.
  • There’s no major grocery store in the city, no wonder fast food is the only thing available for large swaths of the city. Detroit is 85 percent African American.
  • GM has insisted that more auto workers are laid off, and more benefits are cut back.
  • Right before GM went bankrupt, the US Treasury Department demanded the UAW give up the retiree vision benefits and dental benefits.
  • Now, why in an economic downturn are you going after small benefits that retirees have?
  • Out of the price of the car manufactured, auto worker wages represent 8-10 percent of the total cost.
  • At least in other countries when the government gives money to corporations, they don’t lay off workers. In our case, the government has helped GM and Chrysler to lay off workers, that’s what they’re demanding.
  • (Instead of laying off workers) How do we move out of an auto-centric society into a mass transit society?
  • In the last 30 years the unions have taken the position of “how do we make the company profitable” so there’s no concession we can’t make.
  • The media and politicians (esp) have demonized the auto-worker. We’re supposed to be the high paid 73 dollars an hour worker.
  • No one talks about how much CEOs make an hour. We don’t make 73 dollars/hour, that’s a miscalculation.
  • The jobs not only left the US, but they left where there were better labor laws.

Guest – Dianne Feeley,  a retired auto worker who currently serves as an editor of Against the Current, a socialist magazine.  She is an advocate for auto workers and has written recently about the U.S. auto industry, arguing that the government should buy Chrysler and General Motors and turn them into a public trust.


Overcoming Zionism Review by Michael Smith

Joel Kovel, Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel/Palestine (London and Ann Arbor Pluto Press, 2007).

Joel Kovel has given us an impressive and important book. Its first printing sold out without a single review, major or otherwise. Nevertheless word of this extraordinary work is spreading. The taboo in the United States (not Israel) against seriously discussing and criticizing Zionist Israel has been broken with the publication of Jimmy Carter’s bold book labeling the situation in the Occupied Territories “apartheid” and with the exposure by prestigious professors Mearsheimer and Walt – in the London Review of Books after rejection by the Atlantic Monthly – of the power of the Israeli lobby. Kovel, by focusing squarely on how to “overcome” Zionism, takes the discussion exactly where it needs to go from there. He writes beautifully, even poetically, not just on Zionism’s sordid history, but on its ideology, its ethics, and even on the terrible ecological devastation in Israel itself, where every river is polluted, some to lethal levels. And he writes with courage and hope.
Kovel believes that the creation of Israel in l948, as a colony of settlers who established an exclusively Jewish and discriminatory state, has created a multi-faceted disaster – “a dreadful mistake” – that should be undone, with Israel de-Zionized and integrated into the Middle East. His solution is stated in the book’s subtitle and restated in the title of the last chapter: “Palesrael: A Secular and Universal Democracy for Israel/Palestine.” This is an elegant solution, and he lays out an action program to accomplish it.

How did Kovel, a Jew from Brooklyn, the oldest son of Ukrainian immigrants who did well – moving with Joel to “the purgatory of Baldwin, Long Island” – come to this radical critique and equally radical solution? Joel graduated from Yale and became a successful psychiatrist. He taught at medical school before switching careers and taking a social science professorship at Bard, where for a time he held the Alger Hiss chair. He is still there, the only Marxist on the faculty. This book is not going to further his career.
“What kind of Jew am I?” he asks, and answers “a very bad one.” More accurately, he defines himself as what Isaac Deutscher called “a non-Jewish Jew.” Not that he is not spiritual; he writes of reaching for the infinite. But he is not religious. Being part of a sect is too narrowing and confining. He identifies with the Jewish heretics who transcended Jewry, but who are nonetheless part of the Jewish tradition – he lists Spinoza, Marx, Freud, Proust, Einstein, Kafka, Wittgenstein, and Luxemburg – and for whom “the true glory” of being Jewish is to live “on the margin and across boundaries.”
Kovel writes that the ethical reference point for Jews is the tribal unit. Since ancient times they set themselves off as “a people apart,” chosen by Jehovah, with whom they have a covenant. In Kovel’s view, “Zionism’s dynamic was drawn from the most tribal and particularistic stratum of Judaism, and its destiny became the restoration of tribalism in the guise of a modern, highly militarized and aggressive state,” which they implanted in the center if Islam. Herein lies the tragedy.
At the turn of the 20th century, a Zionist conference in Vienna delegated several rabbis to travel to Palestine on a fact-finding mission. The rabbis cabled back, “the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.” Kovel writes incisively of what ensued. The “tremendous struggle” to dislodge Palestine’s inhabitants would involve three great difficulties:

the resistance of those who stood in the way and would have to be displaced; the exigencies of geo-politics; and one’s own inner being, which would have to be retooled from the self-image of an ethical victim to that of a ruthless conqueror. All of these obstacles could be dealt with by signing onto Western imperialism and capitalism.

Jewish suffering and persecution became justification for aggression in asserting the “outlandish claim to a territory controlled 2500 years ago by one’s putative ancestors.”
The Israelis took 78% of the territory in l948 and the remaining 22% in l967. The logic of Zionism – to create an ethnically pure Jewish state – led to organized terrorism; “the essentials had been put in place by the mid-1930s” and the opportunity came in l948. The leaders of Zionism, Chaim Arlosoroff, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and especially David Ben Gurion, quietly articulated the need to drive the Arabs out. South African Prime Minister Henrik Verwoerd said in l96l something the liberals wouldn’t: that the Zionists “took Israel from the Arabs after the Arabs had lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them, Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.” When the smoke lifted in l948, 531 Arab villages had been destroyed, some 750,000 Palestinians driven out. In l948 Menachem Begin (later Prime Minister of Israel) organized the dynamiting of the British headquarters in Jerusalem, killing 88 persons, including 15 Jews. That year also saw the terrorizing of the village of Deir Yassin. With Begin in command, Yitzhak Shamir – who was also to become a PM and whose frankly fascist organization the Stern Gang had actually made overtures to the Nazis to create a Jewish state along totalitarian lines – took part in the operation. The terror at Deir Yassin was a decisive factor in the Arab exodus. The ethnic cleansing had been clearly planned by the Zionist leadership, as Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has documented. Thus the Zionists established Israel with a crime against humanity.
Ariel Sharon, the third Israeli terrorist PM, was actually found guilty by an Israeli court for permitting the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon in l982, where as many as 3000 Palestinian refugees were killed. In l953 Sharon led a cross-border raid on Qibya, Jordan, “in which the community was reduced to rubble, with 45 houses blown up and 69 people killed, the majority women and children.” He repeated his mass murder in Lebanon in 2006, using US-made cluster bombs. It is truly remarkable, as Kovel points out, that a terrorist could ascend to national leadership three times and “scarcely anybody has bothered to ponder its meaning.” Kovel notes the consequent bad conscience of the Israelis and remarks on how their resulting feelings “become projected and turned into the blaming of others” – whether these be expropriated Palestinians or critics of Israel, who are then labeled as antisemites and/or as that curious entity, the “self-hating Jew.”
Israel, as a racist state, discriminates in the critical areas of immigrants, settlements, and land development. Any Jew in the world who can show that his grandmother on his mother’s side was Jewish may obtain automatic citizenship, yet the Arabs expelled in l948 and l967, despite international law and United Nations resolution 194, are not permitted their right to return. 92% of the land in Israel is administered by The Jewish National Fund, which does not allow its use by non-Jews.
Racism is in the nature of a colonial settler state. What is remarkable is the degree to which Zionists deny this. Kovel gives examples of a top Israeli general calling Palestinians “drugged cockroaches in a bottle”; he cites a 2006 poll showing that more than two-thirds of Israelis would refuse to live in the same building as Arabs and that the idea of deporting Arab citizens is popular. Many Jewish soccer fans curse and attack Arab members of their national team.
Kovel writes, reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson, that no state has an absolute right to exist, hence all states are to some degree illegitimate; he adds that states may be relatively or absolutely illegitimate, and that a racist state is illegitimate. Israel, being an exclusively Jewish state, is a racist state. He concludes that “the problem then is with Zionism and the Jewish state as such, and not its illegal occupation of the West Bank.” The point is to change it, “to dissolve the Jewishness of the state. For this, one does not smash or trample Zionism; one overcomes it and frees people from its chains.”
He goes beyond the two-state solution, necessarily, because by steady aggression and aggrandizement the Zionists have whittled the Palestinian territory down to 8% of what it was in l948, leaving the natives with a negligible fragment, without much water, polluted, economically unviable, denuded of its agriculture, isolated by Jewish-only roads, and partly encircled by an obscene wall.
What to do? Speak the truth about Israel. Expose the Zionist lobby. Force it to register as an agent of a foreign government. Bring lawsuits for violations of human rights, as the Center for Constitutional Rights did against an Israeli general for mass killing in a village, or against the US Caterpillar company for making gargantuan bulldozers sold wittingly to the Israeli army for the express purpose of house demolition (one of which, ran over and killed Rachel Corrie, to whom Kovel partly dedicates his book). Place Israel where it belongs, in the company of apartheid South Africa. Cut the threads of Israel’s support system; boycott it academically, economically, and culturally.
Palestinians are the largest and oldest refugee population in the world. Central to the campaign against Zionist Israel is to support their right of return. Zionism can thus be brought down in an entirely peaceful manner. The Right of Return is more basic than liquidating the occupation, which would leave the Zionist state unchanged. The Right of Return would require the end of the occupation as a pre-condition and can directly undo the Jewishness of the state with the returnees having full and equal rights. Even now, counting the occupied territories, the population is roughly 50/50, Jew and Arab.
The new state – “Palesrael” – could reshape itself according to the South African anti-apartheid precepts of recognition and responsibility, which point to a society organized along essentially non-capitalist lines. Kovel knows that this will not come easily and that the outcome will depend partly on unforeseeable convulsions in the outside world. He concludes: “Such is the reality facing dreamers for a better world: a slim chance, and a long haul. As ever, it is the journey that counts, the seeking of good conscience, good will, and good comrades.”
This is a rich, multi-layered book, reflecting the author’s wide reading and travel. Kovel’s background as a psychiatrist is evident in his wise understanding. Judaeophobia in Nazi Germany “draws from a time when Jews were, if not blameless, at least powerless and were made to pay the debts demanded by the anticommunism of the fascist state and by Christendom’s bad conscience.” He calls it “intellectual barbarism” to take current criticism of Israel as “antisemitism,” but he well understands that given a situation of invasion and occupation of another people’s land, it is not surprising to find “the whole spectrum of human responses … ranging from emancipatory and nonviolent expression to crude atavisms including racist belief.”

Israel has become, in Kovel’s view, the most dangerous place on earth for Jews. It now has the largest gap between rich and poor in the whole industrialized world. Forty percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Half of Israeli families cannot meet their monthly bills. Kovel reports that the immediate cause of this has been a fierce neoliberal assault on the poor and the public sector, which has left Israel with “the worst primary and lower secondary education in the Western world.” Socialist ideals lie in ruins. As a result, a serious amount of emigration is taking place, with some 760,000 Israelis living abroad in 2004. Jews leaving Russian prefer, ironically, to go to Germany.
I think that if persons concerned about the problems of Jews and Zionism could have but one book on the subject on their shelf, it should be this one.

Michael Steven Smith

National Lawyers Guild

member, NLG fact-finding committee in Israel/Palestine, 1985

Law and Disorder September 10, 2007


(CCR) attorneys and co-counsel submitted a ground-breaking brief to the Supreme Court in the case that will determine whether detainees at Guantánamo possess the fundamental constitutional rights to due process and habeas corpus.

“These men have been held unlawfully in abusive conditions while the courts and Congress debate whether they should have any rights,” said CCR President Michael Ratner. ” Read more.

Co-hosts Michael Ratner and Michael Smith



Guantanamo Bay Detainees Transfers and Abuse

The US Supreme Court said it would not prevent Ahmed Bel Bacha, an Algerian army veteran detained at Guantanamo Bay from being transferred to his home country. Bel Bacha, who has been held at Guantanamo for five years, had argued he would be tortured if turned over to Algerian officials. He is one of nearly 20 Guantanamo detainees who say they will face abuse if sent back to their country. Human Rights Watch article.


Recently, Isa Al Murbati was returned home after six months in Guantanamo Bay’s Camp Six. He was kept under the most cruel conditions of the prison, they include communication lock downs and sleep deprivation.

Guest – Emi Maclean, staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights.


Flying While Muslim

Lyra Porras Garzon is a documentary filmmaker and creator of the recent film Flying While Muslim. This film explores the personal stories and debates surrounding racial profiling post 9/11 in the United States. As Lyra researched the many personal stories, she unearthed countless reports of racial profiling from detainment in airports to illegal detention of Muslims, Arabs and even South Asians. This, along with the imprisonment of those individuals without access to lawyers or the right to habeas corpus.


Guest – Lyra Porras Garzon


Watch trailor for Flying While Muslim below:


Maze of Injustice


Maze of Injustice – The failure to protect Indigenous Women from sexual violence in the USA
A recent Amnesty International study on the sexual violence against indigenous women in the United States exposes a disturbing trend in human rights abuse. The reasons why indigenous women are at particular risk of sexual violence are complex. According to the report, more than one in three Native American and Alaska Native women are survivors of rape. Most of the abused women have not followed through in their cases to seek justice because of a general inaction within the tribal government authority and its chronic under-resourced law enforcement agencies which should protect indigenous women. As one support worker said, “Women don’t report because it doesn’t make a difference. Why report when you are just going to be re-victimized? Too many times, as the Amnesty Report identifies, those responsible for the violence are able to get away with it.

Guest – Michael Heflin, the Amnesty International USA Campaign Director.
Guest – Juskwa Burnett, counselor for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe in Oklahoma. Juskwa Burnett has a long history of working on domestic abuse and sexual assault of Native women.

Robert R. Bryan

Robert R. Bryan
San Francisco

Robert R. Bryan has specialized in death-penalty litigation for three decades and is lead counsel in various murder cases pending at the federal and state level. He is a member of the bar of California, New York, United States Supreme Court, various federal courts, and was elected a Fellow in the American Board of Criminal Lawyers. Also, he serves on the Steering Committee, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Paris, is active in the National Lawyers Guild, New York, and formerly served as Chair of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Washington, D.C.

In 2003 Mr. Bryan became lead counsel for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the African-American journalist who is Pennsylvania’s death row. They began corresponding nearly two decades ago, but Mr. Bryan was unable to take the case at that time due to other capital-case commitments.

Nr. Bryan has defended many other people against whom the death penalty was sought with the first being an acquittal in the Ammons case in Birming­ham, Alabama when the lawyer was just 26. He represented Jerry D. Bigelow who had spent years on California’s death row before being granted a new trial. Even though the evidence included the client’s 10 confessions to an execution-style murder, a Monterey County jury returned a non-guilty verdict. Another client was Larry Layton, the only person ever charged in the Peoples Temple case which concerned the death of Congress­man Leo Ryan and over 900 people in Jonestown, Guyana, at the direc­tion of Rev. Jim Jones. Mr. Bryan also defended Buddy Cochran who attacked the leadership of the Klu Klux Klan at their national convention in Plains, Georgia, near the home of the then President Jimmy Carter.

For 15 years Mr. Bryan represented Anna Hauptmann, who died at the age of 95 in 1994 in Pennsylvania. She was the widow of Richard Haupt­mann, a German immigrant who was executed in 1936 in New Jersey for the kidnap-murder of Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. The attorney uncovered evi­dence from government files establishing that the authori­ties knowingly prosecuted an innocent person and that the Trial of the Century was the greatest fraud in US legal history. He pursued litigation in New Jersey against the FBI and those who prosecuted the case in an effort to officially right the wrong. His findings are the subject of The Airman and The Carpenter by Ludovic Kennedy (Viking, Penguin), various other books, documentaries, and a movie. A section of Mur­ders Die by Denis Brian (St. Martin’s Press) is an interview with the attorney on the Hauptmann case and the death penalty. Mr. Bryan is intermittently working on a book concerning the case.

Mr. Bryan has also been counsel to members of the American Indian Movement. He won a dismissal of all murder charges again Jimmy Eagle, who was indicted for the June 26, 1975 killing of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota (Leonard Peltier, represented by others, was later convicted). Mr. Bryan represented federally Gladys Bissonette, who was actively involved in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He was also the attorney for the Menominee Warrior Society during its 1975 armed occupation of the abandoned Alexian Brothers’ Novitiate near Gresham, Wisconsin. He successfully demanded that the 65-room mansion, other buildings and its acreage be returned to the Native Americans who had lived on the land long before the white man arrived.

Often Mr. Bryan speaks on the death penalty and other human-rights issues both in the U.S. and Europe. In 2007 he addressed the erd World Congress Against the Death Penalty, Paris. Since 1994 he has been doing legal commentaries for ABC News, San Francisco, and appears on other news outlets.

Mr. Bryan has written articles on the death penalty and human rights, e.g., Taking A Stand, Verdict (Jan. 1998); What Price Justice?, Parliamentary Review (England, Oct. 1997); Waco: Inferno of Rights, San Francisco Attorney (S.F. Bar Assoc., Sept., 1993), Death Penalty Trials: The Inno­cence of Jerry Bigelow and Defense Creativ­ity, Champion (National Assoc. of Crim. Defenders Law., Dec. 1993), Death Penalty Trials: Lawyers Need Help, Forum (Calif. Attys. for Crim. Justice, May-June, 1989), Champion (Aug., 1988); In Trial By Fury: The Lindbergh Case, SF Examiner (Apr. 3, 1996), he discussed the wrongfulness of the death penalty on the 60th anniversary of the execution of Richard Hauptmann in New Jersey for the Lindbergh kidnap-murder. A longer version of the article appears in the book Frontiers of Justice, Volume 1: The Death Penalty (Biddle). He demon­strated that innocent people are unavoidably put to death in any capital punishment system regard­less of precau­tions to ensure fairness, in The Execution of the Innocent: The Tragedy of the Hauptmann-Lindbergh and Bigelow Cases, 18 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 831 (1991). Dedicated Defender, Verdict (July 1998) also contains an interview with the attorney.

A chapter entitled “The Defender” in the book A Punishment In Search Of A Crime by Ian Gray and Moira Stanley (Avon Press) describes Mr. Bryan’s work in fighting capital punishment. His work is featured in Modern Trials by Melvin Belli (West). The lawyer has appeared as an expert witness regarding the minimum stan­dards of attorney compe­tence in capital cases.

The activities and memberships of Mr. Bryan have included: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Steering Committee, Paris; National Lawyers Guild, NY; National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Chair and Board (1985-95), Washington; Chopin Foundation, Board (2004-present); Amnesty International; ACLU; National Coalition Concerned Legal Prof., Board (2000-present); Lycée Fran­­çais La Pérouse, Board (1997-98); No. Calif. Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Board and Chair (1985-92); NY State Defenders Assn.; NY State Assn. of Crim. Defenders Lawyers; Amer. Indians and the Death Penalty, Adv. Council (1985-92); Int’l Soc’ty for Prof. Hyp., Legal Adv. Board; Criminal Trial Law. Assn.; NAACP; Int’l Churchill Soc’ty; Glenn Gould Foundation.

Mr. Bryan is married to Nicole, a French citizen who is actively working on behalf of death-row clients. They live in San Francisco, but also spend time at the family home in France. Their daughter, Auda Mai, is a classical pianist and attends Rugby School, England.


Contact information:

Law Offices of Robert R. Bryan
2088 Union Street, Suite 4
San Francisco, California 94123-4117

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