Law and Disorder Radio – Lynne Stewart Compassionate Release Decision – One Nation Under Surveillance – Marjorie Cohn on Compensation for Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Stop and Frisk Victory

Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance













Lynne Stewart: Compassionate Release Decision

Last week Federal District Court Judge Koetl in New York stated he couldn’t consider Lynne Stewart’s request for compassionate release because by law the request needs to come from the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Judge Koetl also pointed out that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t properly consider Lynne’s medical evidence by saying her condition was improving. Meanwhile, Lynne’s doctors have given her a prognosis of 18 to 24 months to live.

Attorney Jill Shellow Levine:

One of the things Judge Koetl’s opinion makes clear is that if the Bureau of Prisons under the statute makes a motion, he will swiftly and compassionately view the motion.

Our application would have required him to think outside the box. I think he’s reluctant to do that at least now.

You can continue your letter writing campaign to the director of the Bureau of Prisons in Washington DC. You can contact your Congress people both on the Senate side and the House side and urge them to get involved and to make known to the director that this is important to them.

Those are probably the things that count the most.

Please call to push for Lynne’s release from prison.

U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director Charles E. Samuels – 202-307-3198 ext. 3

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – 202-514-2001

President Barack Obama – 202-456-1111

Please Write to: Charles E Samuels Jr. / Federal Bureau of Prisons / 320 1st Street Northwest / Washington DC 20534

Guest – Jill Shellow-Levine, Lynne’s attorney and National Lawyers Guild member.


One Nation Under Surveillance Campaign: Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

In the wake of leaks about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program, many ask what legal steps can be taken to stem the pervasive breach of civil liberties. We’ll talk with attorney Carl Messineo from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund about their campaign One Nation Under Surveillance. Years before 9/11 the Partnership was engaged in litigation and advocacy about the ways in which the government and corporations spy on individuals.

Their FOIA request reads in part: “The people of the United States have an urgent need for disclosure of the requested information regarding what appears to be the largest covert surveillance program directed against them in U.S. history. The U.S. government and its agencies that are carrying out these unprecedented surveillance programs are not entitled to hide these programs from the public.”

Attorney Carl Messineo:

  • One Nation Under Surveillance campaign is a composite of multiple programs that the PCJF has undertaken to challenge and to fight against the surveillance state.
  • The program includes public records demands, FOIA requests, lawsuits, litigation as well as campaigning and advocacy.
  • We’ve been looking at the issue of anti-terror authorities and surveillance authorities being misused to target law-abiding people in the United States, in particular those engaged in political activity, well before 9/11.
  • These anti-terror and surveillance authorities, while they were pumped up dramatically after 9/11, were actually being utilized to disrupt, to monitor and surveil peaceful political activists even before that catastrophic event occurred.
  • The monitoring is done at the behest of private corporations and that’s revealed most clearly in the public records disclosure that we have secured as related to the Occupy movement.
  • Those documents reveal corporations working hand in glove with law enforcement to surveil, to counter, to disrupt the political messaging that this grassroots peaceful movement had.
  • This is a movement that came about because of tremendous economic insecurity. People are one pay check away from not being able to meet their basic needs.
  • The Wall Street corporations sit in the command centers of law enforcement, so that they have free access to the same flow of information.
  • What Manning and Snowden have revealed to us is really a clarion call to action.
  • What the NSA does intercept comprehensively–Gmail communications, telephone logs of all of our communications–who is that targeting? It’s targeting the law-abiding person in the United States. Think about it for a second. What competent terrorist is going to be relying on Gmail or Google in order to conspire or plan?
  • The “undernet” is not being captured. The virtual private networks.
  • It completely eliminates the concept of privacy. The privacy implications are staggering. It’s all been done secretly, with secret courts in the United States.
  • Senators who had knowledge of this information and were critical of the programs did not possess the First Amendment right to bring or focus attention to these details by citing specifics because they were under gag orders.
  • We certainly know the surveillance complex is massive. Edward Snowden didn’t access the top secret documents that he did by working at the NSA. He had to work as a private contractor at Booz Allen. There’s a huge profit incentive. The use of permanent war. There must be a declaration of war in order for emergency powers that are ancillary to those powers to come into effect.
  • There needs to be public debate before there is war. But a new concept was developed under the Bush Administration and is perpetuated under the current: the notion that there is a permanent state of undeclared war.
  • Anti-crime and anti-terror authorities have been used by the government as tools.
  • There is a predominant threat of having these tools of social and political control out there and systematically deployed so that the government and the corporations with who they work hand and hand, can anticipate, can know and can suppress and disrupt, democratic action, the lifeblood of a democracy.
  • The government governs only by consent and that’s part of the violation here of all of this secrecy.
  • A new debate is starting across this county about, how do we seize control over these technologies?
  • What we’re doing at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a combination of activism and litigation.
  • The government has operated in secret because it fears the public’s reaction.
  • We have filed public records demands with the NSA, the FBI, the CIA, with other defense and military entities because that’s who is doing this. It’s coming out of the military.
  • Our requests demand disclosure to the public. What are the record keeping systems, what are the safeguards, what are the rules, what are the authorities?

Guest – Attorney Carl Messineo, legal director and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.


Vietnam. 12/2004. Ho Chi Minh. Professor Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong, at Tu Du Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital is pictured with a group of handicapped children, most of them victims of Agent Orange. Photo by Alexis DUCLOS

The Struggle Continues: Seeking Compensation for Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims, 52 Years On

The long term damage left by Agent Orange upon millions of Vietnamese and many thousands of U.S. soldiers has yet to be properly accounted and compensated for. Agent Orange’s long term damage set upon the ecosystems of Vietnam 52 years later includes poisoning of soil and ground water, and near-permanent destruction of mangrove forests. Chemical companies such as Monsanto and Dow have profited from the defoliant chemical and have paid very little to settle veteran’s lawsuits for Agent Orange-related illnesses. Meanwhile, a second and third generation of Vietnamese civilians are seriously affected by Agent Orange exposure.

Attorney Marjorie Cohn:

  • Studies show that between 2.4 million and 4.8 million Vietnamese and tens of thousands of Americans were exposed to Agent Orange during the spraying of Vietnam from 1961 to 1971.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes certain illnesses and diseases as being associated with the use of Agent Orange.
  • During the Nixon Administration there was a promise, in 1973 as part of the peace accords that were signed in Paris. The Nixon administration promised to contribute $3 billion toward reconstruction and healing the wounds of war and that money has not been forthcoming.
  • The chemical companies, Dow and Monsanto, paid a pittance to settle a lawsuit to compensate unintended victims for Agent Orange-related illnesses.
  • The intended victims, the Vietnamese, sued the chemical companies in U.S. Federal Court and were unsuccessful. But the lawsuit spawned other efforts to hold the United States accountable for using these dangerous chemicals.
  • HR 2519, The Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2013, would provide medical and rehabilitative compensation to Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange and medical services for children of U.S. Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese-Americans who have been born with these same diseases and birth defects.
  • It would also remediate or clean up hot spots that have been contaminated by dioxin.
  • Dioxin is the culprit in Agent Orange. Dioxin the most toxic chemical known to science.
  • The US government and the chemical companies did know about its harmful effects and they covered up a report. It wasn’t until the late sixties that they stopped spraying Agent Orange because of the negative publicity.
  • Now it falls to the Peace Accords in 1973.
  • Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. I would urge everyone to make sure your Congress person is a co-sponsor of HR 2519, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2013.
  • Obama, who was 14 at the time of the Vietnam War, has come out with a campaign to which looks to rewrite the history of the Vietnam War in a way that actually lies about what the U.S. did in Vietnam.

Guest – Attorney Marjorie Cohn, professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and on the board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign. Her latest article “The Struggle Continues: Seeking Compensation for Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims, 52 Years On,” details a strategy for compensating victims of Agent Orange.