Law and Disorder Radio – Blair Mountain March Against Mountaintop Removal – Human Rights in Tunisia – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Obama Administration War Powers Resolution – Click Here For Partial Transcript

Read Michael Ratner’s Article: Permanent Gitmo & Permanent War: New National “Defense” Bill

Congress Didn’t Fund This War = Unconstitutional

Juan Cole, War Critic?

Sugar Law Center: Lawsuit Targets Emergency Manager Law

New FBI Guidelines: Planting INFORMANTS With No Criminal Predicate

Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in Twenty-First-Century America

Anything Goes: The FBI Guidelines – Heidi and Michael Ratner Read Excerpts






Blair Mountain March

In protest to stop mountaintop removal mining, hundreds of activists finished a five-day, fifty-mile march earlier this month from Marmet, West Virginia to Blair Mountain in West Virginia. The massive, under-publicized march also marked the historic Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed conflict in US labor history. In 1921, thousands of miners near the area marched to organize non-union coal mines. This demonstration ended in a rally of speakers, musicians, celebrities, union workers and picketing at the top of Blair mountain. The demonstration drew attention to the demands of sustainable job creation in all Appalachian communities, abolishing mountaintop removal, strengthening labor rights and preserving Blair Mountain. As many listeners know, mountaintop removal is a highly destructive extraction coal mining process with usually no environmental remediation.

Attorney Dan Gregor:

  • It is not an exaggeration to say that Big Coal owns southern West Virginia.
  • Logan and Boone Counties where we walked through, big coal has more or less owned the politics, the citizenry, the economy for a century.
  • The Congressional delegation is very sympathetic to what they perceive as coal jobs.
  • During the marches we had 200-250 people at any given time.
  • Putting myself in the best way that I can do legal support, and one of the core logistics organizer of the event, best do organizing support, it put myself in a position where I was knowingly arrestable.
  • It was alternately exciting and freeing and terrifying. It’s a very activist-lawyer, resistance approach.
  • There are locals who don’t understand this doesn’t mean more jobs or it means a fraction of unionized jobs for organized coal workers.
  • The Boone County Sheriff department was somewhat less then helpful. For the most part, the West Virginia State Police were professional and did their jobs carefully. We didn’t see police misconduct, or police brutality as you would see in most mass protest situations.
  • The broader strategy is calling for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining, transitioning to a cleaner economy with wind and solar.
  • One of the reasons you don’t see mountaintops blown up in Tennessee, for example, is that the Congressional delegation there has been resistant to it; in West Virginia, historically it hasn’t.
  • Mountaintop removal coal mining produces very high quality, pure anthracite coal; this is part of Obama’s “Clean Coal” strategy.
  • A great deal of my practice is resistance law, and is assisting resisting communities.
  • I’ve been able to make this a significant focus of my life as an attorney.
  • We can always use more people, more attorneys. It took six months to organize this March on Blair Mountain, no ordinary task for volunteers.

Guest – Dan Gregor, activist attorney whose practice includes protest defense, criminal defense, immigration, and human and civil rights law. This has included assisting and representing activists involved with the annual School of the Americas Watch vigil, the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, people being harassed by Green Scare grand juries, and many other activist causes. Dan is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Hampshire College. He is an active member of the National Lawyers Guild, and former National Vice President of the Guild.

 National Lawyers Guild Report: Human Rights In Tunisia

A wave civil resistance continues throughout the country of Tunisia, sparked by high unemployment, food price inflation, corruption, and lack of freedom of speech. During the country’s civil unrest, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted as president, fleeing to Saudi Arabia after 23 years in power. Now,  human rights violations are being investigated. A group of lawyers from the U.S., U.K. and Turkey have been investigating U.S. and European complicity in human rights abuses committed by the Ben Ali regime. The group has recently issued a warning that the U.S. and other Western governments must respect Tunisian sovereignty and not interfere in that country’s path to democracy. Atlanta attorney and National Lawyers Guild Executive Vice President Azadeh Shahshahani was a member of the delegation and is on a speaking tour.

Azadeh Shahshahani:

  • The Tunisian government passed this law, the 2003 anti-terror act. US State Department very supportive.
  • If you go back to look at the US State Department Human Rights report on this, you can see the human rights violations are documented in the reports.
  • It’s not like the US government didn’t know what was happening in those jails. Particularly the Islamists, after the legislation went into effect, a lot of people were picked up for being a Muslim, for being a devout, perhaps engaging in religious discussions with your friends,
  • A lot of youth were arrested and subjected to torture. Torture seemed to be really systematic, you’re arrested, detained, then tortured and confession is obtained.
  • One family of a young man arrested, the father asked authorities why his son was arrested; he hasn’t done anything. They said, well, he does pray, doesn’t he?
  • That was the sole basis of having been picked up. Arrests: one per day under the auspices of the Tunisian 2003 anti-terror act.
  • Revolution in Saudi Arabia? Michael Ratner: That could the greatest thing that could happen.
  • This “war on terror” provided the Ben Ali regime with an enabling mechanism and justification to continue his repressive tactics.

Guest – Azadeh Shahshahhani, Director of the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU of Georgia. The project is aimed at bringing Georgia and its localities into compliance with international human rights and constitutional standards in treatment of refugee and immigrant communities, including immigrant detainees. To that end, a variety of strategies are employed, including the development of impact litigation, legislative advocacy, providing training to attorneys, human rights documentation and the publishing of reports, public education, and coalition and movement building. The current focus areas of the project include: immigration detention, racial profiling and local enforcement of immigration laws, governmental surveillance, discrimination faced by Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities, immigrant access to higher education, and language access in the court setting.