Michael Ratner: Guantanamo Bay Prisoner Exchange
Five Taliban in Exchange for a U.S. Prisoner Held in Afghanistan
149 Detainees Left in Guantanamo Prison – 88 Cleared for Release
Michael Smith Reports on Highlights of the 2014 Left Forum
9/11 Memorial Museum Protests
There were many protests during the official opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum. Muslim communities and other groups have voiced concern about the film in the museum titled The Rise of Al-Qaeda and how it fails to adequately discern between Al-Qaeda and those of the Islamic faith. Meanwhile, the museum’s official response is that the film is objectively telling the story of what happened.
- We came together because of a concern about a video they were showing called The Rise of al-Qaeda. It’s a 7-minute documentary and the concern is about the problematic language that it’s using. It makes it seem as if the acts of 9/11 are equated with Islam.
- Our feeling is that the film needs to be edited and could exacerbate an already anti-Muslim climate.
- Quoting criticism – “The film in its current state presented risks that visitors would assign collective responsibility for September 11th to Islam and all Muslims.”
- There’s a historian, Todd Fine, who says it’s an inconsistent array of terminology that gets carelessly thrown around with little concern for the harmful impact it can have on people.
- The video didn’t do enough to separate al-Qaeda from Islam and from mainstream Islam. It’s reckless.
- Despite the fact that the museum’s own advisory board was instantly concerned when they saw the film, and said it should be reviewed and edited – despite the fact that 400 scholars wrote letters saying it contains problematic and contested terminology that conflates terrorism with Islam – and despite the fact that leaders from so many different interfaith communities have spoken out about this – that the museum continues to stand by its decision not to edit the video is astonishing.
- I was doing a little research on Debra Burlingame, a member of the 9/11 Memorial Museum Board of Directors, and there’s a high number of racist quotes she’s said. “Islam’s a transnational threat.”
- Millions and millions of people will be going to this museum and museums can have a big impact.
- We have to remember that this is in the context not of a society that welcomes and embraces the Muslim community but one that’s surveilling the Muslim community.
- It’s feeding into this notion that all Muslims are responsible for the acts of a few individuals.
- This video also feeds into police surveillance narratives, because what do they say? After 9/11 we have to be more vigilant and that means surveilling an entire community.
- Communities are coming together and speaking out, including about this video.
- We have to change the structures that enable this to happen. The Islamophobes are really problematic and have connections to many institutions.
- We have to make sure our institutions are not fomenting Islamophobia.
- Book – Islamophobia and Israel by Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel
- We wanted to analyze the intersection of Islamophobia and Israeli politics and to look at the way the “war on terror” impacts both. We also wanted to raise an issue that’s basically taboo in the Jewish community, as well as outside the Jewish community.
- We have four different areas that we look at. Our lengthiest section is called “Follow the Money,” where you basically see how connected the Islamophobes are with the right-wing Israeli crowd, the settlement movement and others as well.
- Jews Against Islamophobia / Jews Say No / Jewish Voice for Peace / Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
Guest – Donna Nevel, a community psychologist, educator, and writer whose work is rooted in Participatory Action Research (PAR) and popular education. Co-author with Elly Bulkin of Islamophobia and Israel. She has been involved with a wide range of organizing efforts to challenge segregation and inequality and for further equity and racial justice in public education. She has also been a long-time organizer for Palestinian-Israeli peace and justice and works with groups to challenge Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.
Free Flow of Information Act (Journalist Shield Law)
Current shield laws for journalists in the United States have broad exceptions for national security. This means that a prosecutor can override the law by showing how the information sought would “materially assist” the government in “preventing” or “mitigating” an act of terrorism. Initially, the shield law is set up to provide a confidentiality privilege for journalists so a police officer or FBI agent can’t get information from them, even with a court order, unless there is an unusually strong justification for it. The latest version of the shield law, as of September 2013, has a clause telling judges that it only covers “legitimate news gathering.” This of course makes very easy to declare any kind of news gathering you don’t like as illegitimate, and therefore the sources are not protected. Last month, the House of Representatives voted to approve an amendment to an appropriations bill barring the Justice Department from compelling reporters to testify about confidential sources.
- We are going to get a shield law but it’s going to be one that doesn’t protect any journalists or sources.
- It’s a lot easier for the FBI and the DOJ to just skip the investigation and go straight to the reporters. Why do they have to do any work when they have the journalist getting all the sources for them?
- They subpoenaed records from the Associated Press last summer, they subpoenaed the source for James Risen, who wrote a book, and that actually appeared before the 4th Circuit of Appeals and was turned down by the Supreme Court for review.
- There’s been a push to try and pass a shield law before, but Obama back in 2009 said he wouldn’t let any shield law pass that didn’t have a big national security exemption.
- What happened back in September is that there was a massive compromise with two Senators, Diane Feinstein from California and Dick Durbin from Illinois. They wouldn’t let this law go through unless it contained a big national security exception, meaning any reporter covering national security would have to disclose their sources, and it also had a big exclusion for Wikileaks and other organizations that published leaks.
- There’s actually a balancing test as part of this law that tells judges to consider if a journalist is engaged in “legitimate news gathering.” This is problematic because anyone can be a journalist; this has been the case since the founding of this country.
- They’re trying to put into law the fact that some journalists are legitimate and some are illegitimate.
- The internet has brought this country back to the time of its founding in terms of journalism because when the “press clause” in the First Amendment were passed, anyone could be a journalist.
- The “press clause” was defined as the right to publish.
- I believe we do need shield laws, but not this shield law.
- I think there is a big push by the institutional media to keep journalism as a profession, but that’s not what journalism is. Now with the internet, anyone can publish. As long as anyone has the intention to disseminate information, they should be protected as a journalist.
- When it helps the government, the definition of the media is very broad.
- It’s going to be political suicide if Holder or anyone from the Obama administration pushes to send James Risen to jail.
- The DOJ argued in an affidavit that James Rosen was aiding and abetting his source.
- More and more, we’re seeing this administration trying to frame the news-gatherer and the source not as a journalist and a source but as criminals in a conspiracy.
- I was a radio journalist for 3 years. I used to work at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) where I met Michael Ratner and was involved with Chelsea Manning’s trial.
Guest – Carey Shenkman has worked with several legal teams including Chelsea Manning’s defense, and conducted legal research defining the protection of new media under the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution.