Monday, August 15, 2011

Scott Horton: A Setback For Obama’s War On Whistleblowers; Dennis James and Barbara Harvey: BDS Movement Ignites Amid U.S. Food Co-ops

Law and Disorder Radio (WBAI: New York Public Radio)

A Setback For Obama’s War On Whistleblowers

The Department of Justice’s campaign to stigmatize whistle blowers and force reporters to open up their notebooks under the Espionage Act is failing. Recently, Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in an opinion released a couple weeks ago, said prosecutors could not force author and New York Times reporter to testify about how he learned certain classified information for a book on the Central Intelligence Agency. In another example, a former senior NSA official was charged under the Espionage Act and accused of leaking classified information to a newspaper. He recently walked out of court a free man, sentenced to a year’s probation and community service, after hearing the judge excoriate the government for its handling of the case.

Attorney Scott Horton:

Obama criticized the oppression of whistle blowers on the campaign trail.
He talked about how early in his career he had represented whistle blowers, and they play a part in our society and they need our protection. When confronted now, he shoots back I was talking about whistle blowers in areas other than national security.
There have dozens of whistle blowers in the national security area, but I would say the pattern that unfolds, is there’s an internal investigation, the person is stripped of their security classification, they usually lose their job.
These prosecutions don’t lead to long prison terms.
I think what we see is a turn to the Espionage Act in order to justify far more serious terms and have a 10 or 20 year sentence.
The Espionage Act can be used to justify going after reporters. Access to their internet accounts, phone records, and compelling reporters to give evidence against their sources.
The Drake case and the Sterling case are two most important ones right now. The NSA took the position that Drake was disclosing secrets by revealing all of this.
At least half a dozen senior figures in the Obama Whitehouse provided extremely sensitive and classified information to Bob Woodward for that book. No investigation, no prosecution.
You can open the New York Times and the Washington Post everyday and find some national secret that’s been leaked by a member of the administration to help score a point for the administration. There’s never any investigation.
Nothing is more clear that only political motivations drive these cases. The cases that are most embarrassing are the cases that are most rigorously prosecuted.
The person prosecuted Thomas Drake was a selfless civil servant, spent his entire life serving the government, served in the Air Force, the Navy, the NSA and had sacrificed through his life to advance the interest of government.
He was being prosecuted because of his concern for taxpayers. He saw fraud and waste in contractor management he tried to stop. He went through every proper channel and then when he went to the press, he’s prosecuted for doing that.
The prosecutor William H Welch is the man known for having bungled the prosecution of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. The Washingtonian did a whole career profile on William Welch.
The Obama Administration came in, it made certain promises. You see inside the DOJ, they’ve assigned people to change the policy guidelines. And they have, if you go back and look at the policy guidelines for state secrets invocations and the policy guidelines, they’re there for these whistle blower cases and the guidelines have been changed.
What I hear from lawyers there (DOJ) is that the attitude they have now toward the CIA and the NSA are that these two agencies are their clients. They do the bidding of these agencies, they never question their characterizations or assessments.
I think that’s what we see in the prosecution decisions here. We see senior officials at the CIA and NSA who have been embarrassed by these disclosures and they want to get even with the people who have embarrassed them and the Justice Department is perfectly happy to go out there and do their bidding.

Guest – New York attorney Scott Horton, known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict. Scott is also the contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine.

BDS Movement Ignites Amid U.S. Food Co-ops

An emerging BDS movement is making waves at a Food Coop in Brooklyn, similar to the successful Boycott Divestment Sanction effort last summer in Olympia, Washington. The Olympia movement was pioneered by Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the home city of the Corrie family. The Brooklyn BDS protest is causing backlash amid the Jewish community. Some Jewish leaders opposed to the movement say it reveals antisemitism and that the assumption of Israel’s right to exist isn’t shared.

The boycott, in this case urges people around the world to stop buying products that support Israeli infrastructure such as Loreal, Motorola, Caterpillar, and many more. Sanctions, would target those companies exporting to Israel and applying tariffs or trade barriers. Divest or disinvestment, is the call to divest from companies, institutions and universities that support Israel’s occupation and lobby power.

Attorney Dennis James:

I’m a co-op member and the co-op has been around since the seventies. It’s the oldest and largest food co-op in the United States, it’s got 16 thousand members and a waiting list.
In the past 2 or 3 years, there has been a running dispute reflected in the editors of the Linewaiters Gazette of counter charges and charges regarding the issue of handling Israeli produced goods.
There has developed a movement to try to resolve this. To do it in a democratic way that’s provided for by the procedures of the co-op which was founded in a political sense. It’s had about 11 boycotts.
The proposal made by the proponents of the boycott is that it should be by referendum of all 16 thousand members rather than at a general membership meeting in which 3 or 4 hundred people attend.
Where we are now, slogging our way through the procedures of the co-op is that there has been a meeting specified in the process is a pure discussion of whether or not there should be a referendum.
There’s the Hava products and people are doing research on what particular products there are.
There are certain fresh foods that come in off season. Two principle objectives come up, why Israel? – meaning while there’s this misery around the planet of the Chinese imposing on the Tibetans, Turks imposing on the Kurds and the other one is – it will destroy the co-op.
The elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about and that is US support for everything Israel does, which is not characteristic of almost any other conflict as bad as it might be of majorities vs minorities throughout the world.
We support this, we finance this. We back it up with a guaranteed veto in the U.N. whenever Israel wants it.
There is 81 Congressmen in Israel right now on vacation. Paid for by AIPAC. They give Netanyahu 29 standing ovations, no president gets that. They’re shaking in their boots, whether AIPAC is going to come to their district.
The anti-boycott people (co-op) are saying we’re going to walk out, we’re going to destroy. (the very people who want to prevent the vote – referendum)
They don’t want to debate you, they want to destroy you. They want to shut you down to shut you up.
In Israel: People can lose their tax exempt status if they are of an organization like an NGO that has advocated boycotts of say settlement produced goods as do a number of Israeli NGOs.
They can be fined. There is a number of particular civil sanctions that are available to those who advocate a boycott.

Attorney Barbara Harvey:

The BDS movement really took off after calls went out for a global BDS in 2005 from Palestinian Civil Society.
176 of the major civil society Palestinian organizations issued a joint call for a global BDS. They asked for non-violent economic resistance to occupation.
The U.S. Zion organizations, AIPAC, the Jewish Federation, the JCRC and other Jewish organizations in this country would not have jointly created a six million dollar fund dedicated to defeating the BDS movement in the United States.
Something we should not allow ourselves to be distracted by in my opinion. It is an effort to revive, reenact anti-boycott provisions of an old export administration act. These anti-boycott provisions expired a decade ago, but they were continued by presidential emergency orders including one signed by President Obama.
They intend to prohibit collaboration by U.S. people that includes corporations, with the Arab League Boycott Against Israel. If intended to prevent exporters from cooperating with and supporting the Arab League Boycott. It is not directed against human rights campaigns such as BDSs.
The Olympia Food Co-op is actually an important story. Olympia, Washington is the hometown of Rachel Corrie who was the young Evergreen College student who was bulldozed to her death by the Caterpillar D9 weaponized bulldozer.
(The Olympia Food Co-op) adopted a boycott on the purchase for re-sale all goods from Israel, in accordance with the goals of the BDS movement a year ago. It has been successful, it has been under the gun ever since. The fact is, it hasn’t hurt business and it hasn’t backed off.
This highlights the hysteria fomented by the opponents of the BDS that they’d like us to lose sight of. The majority of American Jews in this country, genuinely want a fair and peaceful resolution of the conflict.
The whole Netanyahu Administration has been a real trauma for American Jews.
TIAA-CREF is a retirement behemoth. It has more than 400 billion dollars assets. The goal is to persuade TIAA-CREF to divest its portfolios from the occupation. / / /

Guest - National Lawyers Guild attorney Dennis James. Dennis has been active in anti-war, civil rights, and social justice issues. He recently traveled to Gaza with a UN delegation in 2009.

Guest - Attorney Barbara Harvey in Detroit who has worked with BDS activists and a former JVP Board Member

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