Michael Smith and Heidi Boghosian Discuss May Day Events
Michael Smith Reads a May Day Letter from Lynne Stewart
Retired Chemistry Professor Tried for Jury Tampering Represents Self and Wins
Federal Lawsuit Filed Against NYPD for Improper Use of Barricades
Four City Council Members File Suit Against NYPD for Police Abuse
In a recent interview on CBS, former head of the CIA’s clandestine service Jose Rodriguez discussed the destruction of 92 tapes in which terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding and other forms of torture. Rodriguez told CBS that he destroyed the tapes to protect the people who worked for him at various black sites. But critics say Rodriguez is afraid of criminal prosecution because those tapes contained compelling evidence of criminality and are a threat to Rodriguez and those who approved the use of torture. Rodriguez, a thirty-year veteran of the CIA who spent most of his career in Latin America, supports the idea that torture works to get information.
- We know the government, in response to FOIA requests and litigation requests, has released photographs and tapes repeatedly in the past, and always obscures the faces involved, so of course the identities are not released.
- Obama announced in his speech from Kabul that al-Qaeda’s been defeated. It’s a faint shadow of what it was before.
- The tapes contained evidence of crimes; they showed waterboarding and other torture techniques. They documented those techniques, and that presented a risk to Jose Rodriguez and to the the people up above Rodriguez who are responsible for putting through torture policy.
- George Tenet was involved, Bybee, a judge in the Ninth Circuit in Las Vegas, John Yoo who is a professor at the University of California, Steven Bradbury who is now a partner in a law firm in Washington DC, and then it went to the White House where it went to the National Security Council.
- The trail consistently leads straight into the office of former Vice President Dick Cheney. He was the key mover for the introduction of torture policy.
- Domestically, we have an anti-torture statute that includes for conspiracy to torture; both of those things were violated. They apply outside of the United States, so they would have applied to the conduct of a CIA agent operating in Poland or Thailand for instance.
- Jose Rodriguez: He’s trying to make money, he’s selling a book, what you saw was a 36-minute advertisement for his book, published by an affiliate of CBS.
- Beyond that I’d say he’s trying to build sympathy and beat back calls for his own prosecution.
- I think this was an ill-advised strategy and I think he confessed to criminal conduct in the course of this interview.
- At one point they claimed that they were able to track down and pick up Jose Padilla through the use of waterboarding, which is very interesting because Padilla was arrested and in custody before the first case of waterboarding was applied.
- Mitt Romney has been out there punching away constantly on the advocacy of torture and the response from the Obama campaign has been silence. Silence.
- Jose Rodriguez came across to me as something of a psychopath.
Guest – New York attorney Scott Horton. Scott is known for his work in human rights law and the law of armed conflict. Scott is also a contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine.
Common Cause Files IRS Whistleblower Complaint Against ALEC
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, is a tax-exempt charity that spends millions of dollars annually to lobby for hundreds of bills in state legislatures around the United States. It came to the attention of the public for having drafted and advocated for passage of the so-called Stand Your Ground legislation after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February. The watchdog group Common Cause has asked the IRS to review ALEC’s status, claiming that ALEC is “a corporate lobby masquerading as a charity,” and that contributors should not be allowed to claim the gifts as charitable contributions.
- ALEC describes itself as nonpartisan, although the majority are members of the Republican Party.
- It’s concerning from a tax perspective. ALEC is operating as 501c non-profit, which means it’s a charity.
- Therefore corporations who are members of ALEC are allowed to take a tax deduction when they contribute up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- If Visa, Verizon or Amazon were lobbying, those contributions would not be tax deductible, they would be subject to tax, but they do the same lobbying through ALEC.
- All of those contributions are subsidized by us, the taxpayer. And that’s wrong.
- We shouldn’t be subsidizing the activities of any corporation.
- Until recently ALEC operated 9 task forces; they were forced to close one 2 weeks ago.
- Stand Your Ground bill–drafted by the NRA, lobbied by them and presented to legislators in Florida 2005.
- The NRA took it to ALEC, who they’re a member of; Walmart chaired the task force. Walmart the largest retailer of weapons in the United States.
- The Stand Your Ground bill is now law in 20 states.
- ALEC organizes around these 9 task forces. They have bills that really cover almost every policy area.
- Other areas include rolling back environmental protection; they have a commerce task force, which produces a lot of anti-union bills, “right to work” legislation.
- Corporations will use the state essentially to lobby on their behalf.
- Common Cause has a very good picture of what ALEC has been doing in the last 2 years and this formed the basis of this massive IRS submission.
- One set of documents are these scorecards which they send to their corporate members, where they celebrate the success that they have. Some of the early scorecards, they mapped out the complete picture of the United States and where all of their model bills have been introduced.
- A source provided us with emails going between ALEC and state legislators. We were very grateful to be represented pro-bono by one of the country’s leading whistle-blower firms, Phillips and Cohen.
- Voter ID laws have been increasingly connected to ALEC.
- We believe the bigger fraud is disenfranchising millions of predominantly African-American, elderly or young student voters. After 2009 when ALEC took it up, voter ID bills have been introduced in 34 states.
- ALEC has an ability to take a law, not always a new law, and sell it to their almost 2,000 state legislator members.
- ALEC has about a third of all state legislators in the entire country as members.
- There was a fracking bill, and it was sponsored by Exxon Mobile.
Guest – Nick Surgey conducted the research helping to expose the American Legislative Exchange Council. Nick joined Common Cause in March 2011 as a Legal Associate. He formerly worked at the British Refugee Council in Leeds, England, where he advocated on behalf of asylum seekers. He has also worked at an immigration law firm, as an elected student union officer and as a paid campaigner. Nick holds an undergraduate degree in history and politics and a post-graduate diploma in law.