Law and Disorder Radio – US Infiltrates Cuba with Fake Social Media Platform – John Brittain on the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

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Cuba-cell-phone-2010-05-14U.S. Agency Infiltrates Cuba with Fake Social Media Platform

Consistent with the NSA’s deceptive strategies in creating fake social networks, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) masterminded the creation of a fake “Cuban Twitter” platform called ZunZuneo, designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba. It was financed through foreign banks and constructed through shell companies. The Associated Press learned that the project lasted more than 2 years and had tens of thousands of followers. The content initially was non-political such as soccer, music and weather, but it was learned that once a critical mass was reached, political content would be introduced to organize “smart mobs” that could trigger a “Cuban Spring.”




Jane Franklin:

  • When Obama speaks about Cuba you have to read between the lines always and be very careful about what you think he’s saying.
  • He said the notion that “the policies we put into place in 1961 would somehow be as effective as they are today in the age of the internet and Google and world travel doesn’t make sense. We recognize that the aims are always going to be the same and what we have to do is continually find new mechanisms and new tools to speak out on behalf of the issues that we care so deeply about.”
  • That’s what he was considering back in November and of course before that there was this plan to use creative and thoughtful methods to infiltrate Cuba and try to create what the Associated Press calls “smart mobs” which could lead to the downfall of the Cuban government.
  • It was called ZunZuneo and was budding in 2009, then it was launched full scale in 2010 with a campaign to use a half a million cell phone numbers that USAID has gotten, and send what they call blasts to those half a million receivers.
  • Those people would be told that they could sign up for this program and get news and so on. News that at first would be trivial, and then gradually more political, according to the documents that the AP has. This would increase until they could develop “smart mobs” – that is street protest that would help lead to the overthrow of the Cuban government.
  • They used foreign countries to disguise where the messages came from. They set up a bank account in the Cayman Islands, which is a tax haven, to use that for money.
  • When there was a concert in Havana in 2009, which is described in the report by the AP, the USAID people blasted the cell phones with questions.
  • One of the questions was, “Do you think the two bands that were not in favor of the Cuban government should be on the stage with the band that’s there today?”
  • If you answered yes, you were what’s called “receptive” to their ideas.
  • A few months later they launched this full scale campaign and eventually they had 60,000 people using their program. That’s not many in the population of Cuba. It was a failure and they closed it down.
  • They were paying tens of thousands of dollars to Cuba Cell, which regulates the cell phones.
  • They get millions of dollars from Congress every year to create such programs and try to overthrow the government of Cuba, which they’re supposed to do according to U.S. law, The Helms-Burton Act requires that.
  • The report says that a researcher from Mobile Accord, which was the main private contractor on the project, was building a mass database about the Cuban subscribers including gender, age, receptiveness and political tendency.

Guest – Jane Franklin is a historian who has written two books about Cuba: Cuban Foreign Relations 1959-1982 (Center for Cuban Studies, New York, 1984) and Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History (Ocean Press, Melbourne, Australia, 1997). She is co-author of Vietnam and America: A Documented History (Grove Press: New York, 1985, enlarged edition 1995). She has also written about the history of Panama in The U.S. Invasion of Panama (South End Press: Boston, 1991). She has published numerous articles, poems and film reviews and has lectured extensively about Cuba, Vietnam, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Panama. She is a frequent radio commentator about Cuba.

nelson1939_jimcrow MLK-and-Johnson

50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction. The Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin. The law also provides the federal government with the powers to enforce desegregation. In a speech on June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy unveiled plans to pursue a comprehensive civil rights bill in Congress, stating, ‘‘this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.”

Professor of Law John Brittain:

  • I do believe Lyndon Johnson deserves credit, although he had such allies as Martin Luther King. They released some of the unacknowledged tapes by President Johnson in his office in talking with Dr. King, both about the 1964 Civil Rights Act as well as the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
  • These acts were a response to conditions on the ground, and the condition was apartheid in the United States, particularly in the South, but as Malcolm X said anything below the Canadian border is South.
  • We’re also celebrating the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer in Mississippi.
  • The demonstrations in the streets no doubt had an effect upon Congress in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act to, shall we say, let some of the steam out of the kettle.
  • LBJ came out of Texas, the only state that came into the union as a slave state and the state that promoted the white primary, that unless you were white you couldn’t vote in the primary.
  • The Missouri Compromise–we’d have slave states and free states. After the Civil War we had a great period of radical Republican Reconstruction in the South to give the black former slaves equal rights, but that died by the 1890s and ushered in a period of what we call Jim Crow.
  • The minute lawyers went to work in representing the poor, they were cut off by restrictions. The War on Poverty and neighborhood legal services were started in 1965-66, but a decade later it was cut off at the knees.
  • Johnson said, when he was first presented with the idea of legal services – hell, I’m not going to pay lawyers to sue the government and win, but he was convinced otherwise.
  • By the time ’65 came around and they created this compromise and started this new federal agency called Legal Services Corporation.
  • Legal Services lawyers couldn’t take criminal cases, abortion cases, agitation for labor rights cases, immigration cases, school desegregation cases.
  • Just last year, 2013, on the eve of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Chief Justice John Roberts and the right wing on the Supreme Court – Shelby County v. Eric Holder
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the same Civil Rights Act of the 1860s. The only difference is they based it on a different constitutional provision, not the 14th Amendment, which gives Congress the right to enforce the Constitution to provide equality for the former slave, now African-American, but instead in 1964, they based it on the commerce clause by saying that any segregation interfered with interstate commerce. The act in essence provided for equal accommodation.
  • It broke the back of Jim Crow segregation when an African-American could go shop, go eat, go live and go play anywhere in America.
  • It would later take the 1968 Fair Housing Act in order to provide equal housing.
  • The 1964 Civil Rights Act gave Congress, gave the Justice Department, the Department of Education too, and others the tools to go in and to stop Jim Crow or “colored only” segregation in our Southern states.
  • That was the same Justice Department that went on to enforce 1964 Civil Rights Act by bringing legal claims against hotels and restaurants, government facilities that continued to bar blacks from equal access.

Guest – Professor John Brittain, professor of law at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. In the past he served as dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston. He was a law professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law for twenty-two years and was the Chief Counsel and Senior Deputy Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, DC, a public interest legal organization started by President John F. Kennedy to enlist private lawyers to take pro bono civil rights cases.