Law and Disorder Radio – Senate Votes to Extend Warrantless Wiretaps for Five More Years – Omar Barghouti on Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Controversy at Brooklyn College – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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 Senate Votes to Extend Warrantless Wiretaps for Five More Years: No Oversight, No Transparency

Days before 2012 drew to a close, the U.S. Senate voted 73-23 to reauthorize the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for five more years. This is the unconstitutional spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and gives vast unmonitored authority to the National Security Agency to conduct dragnet surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls.

Michelle Richardson:

  • The Senate took up the FISA Reauthorization Bill right at the end of the year and they did consider a handful of very moderate amendments that wouldn’t have actually interfered with the collection of information but would make it more transparent to Congress.
  • In an open and free democracy there should be no secret law.
  • The original FISA was much more targeted. It required a more traditional probable cause, finding an individualized warrant before you could go up and tap a phone.
  • After 9/11 Congress started systematically lowering the standard for obtaining this information.
  • They made it easier so you could go around the court, and do it administratively.
  • They lowered the standard so there’s no longer a probable cause. The FISA Amendment Act is probably the biggest change in the last decade.
  • You no longer have to name who you’re going to tap, the phone number or stated facility.
  • Instead we’re going to do these programmatic orders so the court is no longer involved in deciding who will be tapped.
  • I’m not going to tap a specific American, but I want information about Yemen.
  • Theoretically this isn’t targeted at any specific person. We think its being used for bulk collection.
  • The way the internet works now, sometimes your communication will travel around the world before landing next door.
  • A lot of times the equipment is intentionally built so the government can tap directly into the system.
  • FISA – Foreign intelligence which includes the undefined national defense of the United States.
  • I think there is reason to believe this is a self-correcting situation and that people will start looking at this technology and understand more about what’s out there.

Guest – Michelle Richardson is Legislative Counsel with the ACLU Washington Legislative Office where she focuses on national security and government transparency issues such as the Patriot Act, FISA, cybersecurity, state secrets and the Freedom of Information Act. Before coming to the ACLU in 2006, Richardson served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee where she specialized in national security, civil rights and constitutional issues for Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers.

 Boycott Divestment Sanction Controversy at Brooklyn College

Last month, a backlash of controversy erupted after the announcement that a student group at CUNY’s Brooklyn College, Students for Justice in Palestine, will host two speakers who will discuss their views on the BDS movement. The BDS movement calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel in protest of the government’s oppressive policies toward the Palestinian people. The speakers are Palestinian BDS advocate Omar Barghouti and University of California Berkeley philosopher and BDS supporter Judith Butler. The event was co-sponsored by numerous student and community groups, as well as Brooklyn College’s political science department.

The backlash included a threat by New York City Council members and Congressman Jerry Nadler to defund Brooklyn College and opinion pieces by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz who called the event a “propaganda hate orgy.” Another daily newspaper labeled it “Israel-bashing.”

Omar Barghouti:

  • Specifically the BDS call said that Israel and institutions and corporations that are complicit in Israel’s violations of International Law should be boycotted, divested from and eventually sanctioned in order to achieve the three basic rights of the Palestinian people under International Law: ending the occupation of 1967, which include the illegal colonies and the wall; ending the system of discrimination within Israel itself which meets the UN definition of apartheid; the right of return for refugees, which is their basic inalienable right under international law.
  • In order to achieve these three basic rights, we absolutely need international solidarity as was done in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. We can’t do it alone.
  • Your tax money is funding Israeli occupation and apartheid. You have an obligation to question where your money is going to and how it’s being used to oppress us.
  • I think that the New York Times editorial supporting having a debate at Brooklyn College says it all. We could have never imagined such a thing, a year ago.
  • The government of South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, endorsed BDS this last December.
  • Many Jewish groups have joined BDS campaigns and are leading BDS campaigns.
  • Bullying is one thing and response from critics is another. We’re very open to debate but no one would debate us.
  • They’re running scared of debate.
  • Not every event, every talk has to be balanced.
  • The balance is overall. Those accusing this panel of being imbalanced, like Dershowitz, always speak solo, unopposed, espousing the most extreme ideas like torture, a war crime.
  • They’re twisting the very definition of academic freedom.
  • Human rights are difficult. If you have a master/slave relationship and the slave insists on freedom and nothing less than freedom, that upsets the order.
  • Did equality in Alabama delegitimize whites? It delegitimized apartheid in the South.
  • We’re delegitimizing Israel’s occupation, apartheid and denial of Palestinian rights. We’re insisting on our rights. We’re not delegitimizing any people.
  • We’re delegitimizing an order that’s illegal by definition. Apartheid is illegal. Occupation is illegal. Building colonies on occupied territories is illegal. Ethnic cleansing is illegal.
  • It’s not a blanket boycott against every company that’s complicit because that wouldn’t work.
  • BDS is about context sensitivity, graduality and sustainability.
  • You’ve got to address the most sinister companies, as it were, the most seriously involved in human rights violations, and then move toward others, to teach others a lesson.
  • There’s a big campaign against SodaStream, led by an interfaith coalition, because SodaStream is manufactured in an illegal settlement in the occupied territories.
  • We need co-resistance, not coexistence, until we end oppression.
  • /
  • Dissent and any argument against Israeli policies is almost becoming illegitimate in this country. It’s a new McCarthyism that the Israeli lobby is leading.

Guest – Omar Barghouti, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the Palestinian civil society Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Listen to Law and Disorder May 2011 Show with Guest Omar Barghouti