Law and Disorder Radio – Anti-Zionist Professor Joel Kovel Fired by Bard College – Scott Horton on Bush Administration Legal Memos – Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri Indicted on Terrorism Charges – Hosts: Dalia Hashad, Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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Zionist Critic Joel Kovel: Terminated From Teaching Position At Bard College

Since author and professor Joel Kovel published Overcoming Zionism: Creating a Single Democratic State in Israel and Palestine, he has endured accusations of anti-Semitism. Michigan Press temporarily suspended distribution of the book, calling it “hate speech,” and recently Kovel was terminated from his teaching position as a professor of 21 years at Bard College. Joel Kovel is back with us on Law and Disorder to give us a brief chronology of these controversies and deliberate set backs.


Joel Kovel:

I was terminated from an endowed chair (at Bard College) 3 weeks after I published an article critical of Israel and Zionism. Then asked to resign 3 weeks after I published another article critical of Zionism.

This is a good example of the kinds of repression that the Zionist lobbies impose upon the people who dissent on the unholy relationship between Israel and the United States.

Most campuses in this country are highly Zionist in organization, but Bard is exceptionally so. The president is the conductor of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. He says he makes 10 trips a year to Israel. He brought the symphony around and played the Israeli national anthem and the audience all stood, which I thought was just outrageous.

I tried to give a lecture to call attention to that and was shunned.

My book Overcoming Zionism did not only focus in on the occupation of Palestine or Israeli abuses but the fundamental structure of the Israeli state, which is animated by Zionism, which leads to all of the woes and abuses of human rights.

Unless you deal at that level and point towards an overcoming and not just Zionism, but the special status, and you treat Israel as we treated South Africa for equivalent crimes of Apartheid; namely a systematic racism against an indigenous people.

So I started catching hell from the Zionist lobbies. “I’m anti-Semitic, full of hate.” They panicked the University of Michigan Press, and they pulled the book.

It’s remarkable that Bard College, which is very proud of its image of being a bastion of defense of freedom of speech–not a single peep. So I knew we were in serious straights at that point.

I put up an anti-Zionist course last fall, which was evaluated. The evaluation was dripping with innuendo, and references to me losing my grip as a teacher, and was basically the preliminary to my termination at Bard College after 21 years.

The alumni have supported me, the faculty not so. This is important because it is now a place that has instilled timidity and even terror amongst the faculty.

They’re intimidated and its distressing that you can take people who are sophisticated and ostensibly good values and they will not bring themselves to utter basic criticism of an event that has shocked the world and caused millions to change their view of Israel.

Bard is creating a new class of bourgeois who would get the jobs, auto dealerships, Burger Kings, whatever they’re planning.

It’s typical of a liberal institution to use generous impulses and they want to make something good happen, but we also know how many pitfalls there are. Just think of all the universities that were founded by the British and the French to secure their empires. I think it has a lot to do with that.

Guest – Joel Kovel, scholar and activist. In the former capacity he has published nine books and over a hundred articles and reviews. His books include White Racism, which was nominated for a National Book Award in 1972; A Complete Guide to Therapy; The Age of Desire (in which his work in the psychiatric-psychoanalytic system is detailed); Against the State of Nuclear Terror; In Nicaragua; The Radical Spirit; History and Spirit (1991).

Office of Legal Counsel Release Secret Memos: First Batch

Last week the Justice Department released internal Bush documents that revealed more legal memos authorizing torture and interrogation outside of the United States. These “police state” memos include the military’s search, detention or trial of civilians in the U.S. without congressional input and a newly disclosed opinion by torture memo author John Yoo who argued that constitutional provisions ensuring free speech and barring warrantless searches could be disregarded by the president in wartime.




Scott Horton:

  • The Bush Administration kept them secret to the very end. The Obama transition team went in to get the memos and were told you can’t have them, you can’t see them.
  • These memos were published because they were sought in litigation, specifically in the lawsuit Padilla v Yoo.
  • Memorandum Oct 25, 2001 – talks about the ability of the Bush Administration to drop a bomb on my house? Unreasonable search and seizure doesn’t apply if the president engages in domestic military operations. Neither does the First Amendment.
  • It says the Posse Comitatus Act is essentially a dead letter.
  • What they’ve said in this memo is that 200 years of Constitutional history is gone.
  • These memos have an instrumental role. They set the legal policy, that’s in accordance with the Judiciary Act of 1789.
  • There seems to be a vague presumption that all these memorandum are invalid. The OLC will be repudiating these memos and put a priority on publishing them because they welcome public participation in this process.
  • Michael Ratner: Can you really prosecute John Yoo for these torture memos?
  • You look at his public statements of which there are hundreds, he seems to understand that he has an acceptable legal defense, because everything is geared to “that’s my honest opinion and nothing has changed” Is that argument correct? No, it’s not.
  • He says he was asked his opinion, he gave his opinion. I think what we will see is that he was told in meetings in the White House, before he wrote opinions, that a torture program was put in place, pushback was coming from career lawyers saying this is unlawful conduct, and he was told we need you to protect us from this and write legal memos.
  • Implying, that these memos had an instrumental role to silence critical lawyers and push the torture program, already in motion, forward.
  • If that’s the case, he’s beyond the role of advisor. Mis-stating advice and corrupting the law.. .that is the precedent to be liable for war crimes. The most likely outcome from all of this is a lot of disbarments.

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

Ali Saleh Kahlah al Marri Indicted on Terrorism Charges

Last week, a federal court charged the only enemy combatant with two counts of providing material support to Al Qaeda. This will allow his release from six years of military custody and into the criminal justice system. The ACLU says this is exactly where the case should be to determine whether al-Marri is guilty. Jonathan Hafetz, working as al-Marri’s lead defense counsel says despite the news, he will not drop the habeas corpus challenge in the case.

Michael Ratner Update: Since this interview, Al-Marri’s enemy combatant status was wiped off the books. The Obama Administration, in its brief, essentially insisted they might well have the right to hold people as enemy combatants. As it now stands, the president has the power to hold a person in the United States as an enemy combatant.


Attorney Jonathan Hafetz:

  • On Feb 27, the US government unsealed an indictment that had just been filed, in the central district of Illinois, charging Mr. Al-Marri with 2 counts of material support for terrorism.
  • At the same time the government filed a motion in the Supreme Court asking to dismiss Mr. Al-Marri’s appeal claiming it was moot.
  • Michael Ratner: Now this was an appeal that was going to test the power of the president to detain as unlawful enemy combatants, people in the United States?
  • This sweeping power, that the president could seize and militarily detain potentially with life without trial, any individual including a US legal resident and a US citizen, based on the assertion that they were involved in terrorist activities.
  • Since 9/11, this policy is finally being called into account in the Supreme Court. The Obama Administration effectively refused to defend the policy.
  • In their motion paper in the Supreme Court, when they were seeking to have the case thrown out of the Supreme Court, the Obama Administration did not renounce the policy as they are trying to shield this policy of military detention from review but at the same time they’re not renouncing it.
  • We filed an opposition a motion saying that the case is not moot because while the government has charged Mr Al-Marri, it has not renounced its policy or properly detaining US residents or American citizens within the United States.
  • So, the Obama Administration is trying to keep all its options open avoiding review of this repugnent and unlawful policy that’s been in place since 9/11.
  • We hope in our opposition that even if the court dismisses the case as moot, it must take one measure which is to effectively overturn the lower court’s decision in upholding the president’s power so that decision (executive power to detain US enemy combatants) is not on the books.

Guest – ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz with the National Security Project.