Law and Disorder Radio – Occupy Des Moines Arrests – Guantanamo Murder Case: Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

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Occupy Des Moines Arrests

Police abuse of authority including excessive use of force are on the increase as more Occupy encampments around the country are forced to disperse. Last week, 37 demonstrators were arrested in Des Moines, Iowa when 24 state troopers closed in on the Occupy encampment there, arbitrarily enforcing curfew in a local park. Still more people were arrested in the downtown area that same night. While Justin Norman was capturing his friend being pepper-sprayed in the face on video, and then arrested, an officer directed Norman to back off the sidewalk into another area. Justin was then arrested for trespassing and interfering with official acts. The officer grabbed his camera, but other protesters were able to wrestle it away.

Justin Norman:

  • There’s an 11:00 PM curfew at the park that’s normally not enforced. Some of the people said they would walk their dogs in the park after 11:00 and no one cared. The Iowa State Patrol brought out about 24 state troopers.
  • I was down there doing some videotaping. The protesters began to sit as the police approached.
  • The police began to be strangely brutal with some of the protesters.
  • One of the leaders of the chant was asked if would like to be arrested or go. He said he would go. As he was leaving they shoved him on the ground and scraped open his knees.
  • They dragged him off to a police van anyway. Another person was shoved to the ground, the state trooper stepped on his head and struck him the face multiple times.
  • Another guy I believe is a ten-year Air Force veteran. He was refusing to leave the park, arms linked with another protester. In response, one of the state troopers maced him in the face.
  • I was videotaping him from the edge of the sidewalk; the state trooper told me to step back, back into the park. I’m about 20 feet from the trooper and he’s still telling me to move back.
  • He tells me if I don’t continue to move back, I’m going to be charged with interference and trespassing.
  • They arrested me and tried to take my camera. They took the camera and I yelled out to one of my friends and ran up and tore the camera out of the trooper’s hands.
  • I do a demonstration against torture on a regular basis in west Des Moines.
  • People got a bit frightened by the police brutality they witnessed and they decided to apply for a permit in the park. They stayed there for about 3 days; the permit expired in 3 days.
  • Guest – Justin Norman, activist who has filmed police misconduct, including recent raid on the Occupy movement in Des Moines, Iowa.

 Guantanamo Murder Case: Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld

Last week, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) attorney Pardiss Kebriaei present oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of Al-Zahrani v. Rumsfeld. The case is a civil action filed on behalf of two men who died at Guantanamo Bay Prison in June 2006. Their deaths were highly questionable and last year, four soldiers came forward with eyewitness accounts suggesting a cover-up of the cause of the deaths and that they may have killed at a black site in Guantanamo. The military has maintained that the deaths were suicides, having once famously called them “acts of asymmetrical warfare.” Also, CCR attorneys have pointed to other documented examples of deaths and killings covered up by the military in the recent past, including the falsification of records in the death of former football player Pat Tillman and the premeditated murders of Afghan civilians by members of the Army’s Bravo Company. Our own Michael Ratner has recently returned from Norway after meeting with family members of one of the men. Scott Horton article

Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei:

  • This case is on behalf of the families of two of the three who died in June 2006. They were high-profile deaths, the military came out immediately and said they were suicides, that the men had died from creating nooses from bed sheets and hung themselves in their room.
  • Then there were offensive remarks made by government spokespeople; they called them “asymmetric warfare.”
  • They saw this as an attack, the fact that these took their own lives, from having been detained without charge in solitary confinement for 4 years, as an attack on the US government.
  • They were characterized as a good PR move. These were military and Department of State spokespeople.
  • Yasir was 17, he was from Saudi Arabia, he was, like almost everyone there, not charged, held for almost 4 years. He was apparently a long time hunger striker.
  • Along with the torture and solitary confinement they were subjected to in general, they were forced into restraint chairs. Restrained at five points, their forehead, shoulders wrists and ankles, had a tube inserted up their nose and a liter of fluid pumped into their stomachs.
  • In 2008 from Freedom of Information Act litigation, the government was finally compelled to produced its information, investigation into these deaths.  Supporting the claim that the deaths were suicides.
  • Our clients were really disadvantaged to find out what’s really going on. I don’t think they believed these were suicides.
  • The case was dismissed because the case raised special factors of national security and the military and foreign policy that were issues within the realm of political branches and basically not the business of courts to interfere in.
  • It’s not enough to criticize the administrations anymore because the courts are accepting those arguments.
  • If you’re in DC, the district courts and the circuit courts in particular have been accepting those arguments.
  • In 2010, 4 soldiers stationed at Guantanamo at the time came forward with eyewitness accounts–they were actually on duty on the night of the deaths.
  • One of the soldiers came forward with direct evidence of a cover-up of the actual cause the deaths. They were transported to “Camp No,” a secret site within Guantanamo.
  • Hickman reported hearing screams for Camp No. They reported seeing plainclothes officers sometimes going there. It was thought to be a site possibly run by the CIA or used by the CIA or Joint Special Operations Command forces of the military who are again, not accountable.
  • The disdain from the DC Circuit Court for this case and every case coming out of Guantanamo was absolutely evident from the moment I opened my mouth.

Guest – Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei joined the Center Constitutional Rights (CCR) in July 2007. Since then, her work has focused on representing men detained at Guantánamo Bay in their habeas corpus challenges, before international human rights tribunals, in diplomatic advocacy with foreign governments to secure resettlement for men who cannot return home, and in post-release reintegration efforts. Her clients have included men from Yemen, Syria, Algeria, and Afghanistan. Her work includes seeking accountability for torture and arbitrary detention at Guantánamo.