Updates – News:
US Mulls Unusual Tactic as Blackwater Charges Loom
Debrief: Vermont Attorney General Candidate Charlotte Dennett
Attorney Charlotte Dennett of Vermont ran for the state attorney general on the platform that if elected she would immediately undertake the prosecution of George W. Bush for the unnecessary deaths of Vermont soldiers in Iraq. Vermont has paid the highest price in deaths per capita in the nation. This strategy is based and outlined in the book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, written by Vincent Bugliosi, former prosecutor and bestselling author. The strategy is to establish jurisdiction in the cases for Attorneys General in each state and also the approximately 900 district attorneys in the counties of those states.
- We weren’t trying Bush on war crimes. What we were proposing was to prosecute Bush under state murder statutes, criminal statutes.
- William Sorrell, current Vermont Attorney General, in his campaign, claimed that it (prosecution) couldn’t happen in Vermont; if you want to prosecute war crimes you have to do it in the Hague.
- Sorrell repeated this message constantly, making it (prosecution) seem impossible to do in Vermont.
- Sorrell would not acknowledge that, if he did acknowledge then we could establish jurisdiction and moved forward.
- Because he refused to acknowledge it made it look hopeless and ridiculous. I’m afraid a lot of Vermonters got that message.
- A friend of mine told me that when asked if the Obama administration will prosecute Bush, our own senator Patrick Leahy, head of the senate judiciary committee said No it can’t be done. Dont’ roll over on thisIf we keep letting this happen then what kind of society are we going to encourage.
Guest – Charlotte Dennett, attorney, and former investigative reporter for 30 years and has been practicing law in Vermont for 11 years. She helped sue one of the worst polluters of the country, including Du Pont.
On War Crimes and Torture: Should High Government Officials Be Investigated and Prosecuted?
We hear an excerpt from a debate between our own Michael Ratner and Stuart Taylor at Georgetown University, moderated by David Vladeck, Professor, Georgetown University Law Center. Stuart Taylor is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute, he’s a columnist for the National Jornal and contributing editor for Newsweek magazine. The event was titled On War Crimes and Torture: Should High Government Officials Be Investigated and Prosecuted? These issues are moving to the forefront in some media as the Bush Administration comes to a close.
Research Professor of Law, Michael Tigar
Michael Tigar is an expert in Constitutional Law and the Supreme Court. He has represented Terry Nichols of the Oklahoma City Bombing, Angela Davis, and Lynne Stewart. Tigar outlines several steps the Obama Administration must do to turn back the major breaches in U.S. civil liberties.
- There is now a systematic breaking down of all barriers against government intrusion into the private lives of people.
- Alien Enemy Combatants: A creation of a new class of people who are thought to be utterly right-less, both as to whether they can be detained, the conditions of their detention, and the manner in which they can be held and interrogated.
- Meanwhile, we have legal fictions such as the Vice President saying he’s neither a member of the executive or legislative branch, and therefore being subject to the rules of both is subject to the rules of neither.
- We have justice system staffed with people whose only qualification is their asserted ideological purity.
- We have two aggressive wars, all done to the tune of the most massive federal debts in history.
- This, accompanied by the largest transfer of wealth from the poor, and working class to the already wealthy, coupled with the dismantling of regulatory barriers of how greed and avarice operate.
- It is the lack of any significant organized resistance from legislators, and with some few bright exceptions, judges and lawyers that define for us the task that lies ahead.
- Eric Holder, a good lawyer, was among the group of people in the Clinton administration that even though they had all the evidence, that they would not prosecute Pinochet.
- National State Secrets: the case of journalist Quentin Reynolds who took a ride on an Air Force jet and it crashed, his widow sued under the federal tort claims act saying that she thought there was negligence. The United States convinced the Supreme Court that to disclose the reasons why that plane crashed might involve state secrets, and that she should not be able to sue.
- Sixty years later the maintenance file on that plane was on unsealed. It turned out that it was a routine maintenance error that caused the crash. Behind the curtain of states secrets is illegality and mendacity.
- How many years did it take to get Pinochet for any kind of proposed criminal accountability? Almost 20, because of states secrets.
- The tort system, that is the way we enforce rules about safe products, it’s the way that we enforce the rules about the toxic substances that poison people, it’s the way that we deal with the kleptocracy that rules wall street.
- It’s so well tested – Marbury v Madison 1803 – Chief Justice Marshall said that he could decide a case was unconstitutional.
Guest – Michael Tigar, a criminal defense attorney who has represented some of the country’s most controversial clients. He is also a member of the Duke University Law School faculty.