From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State in a Post 9/11 World – Bard College – Speech Notes – PDF


2015 Bard College Speech Notes

9/11 paradigm shifting – constant – what needs

Empire war race capitalism rampant inequality

No matter the topic its always been about fighting against the US —

Of course wikileaks snowden Gitmo Torture–prosecutions


Seeing human rights in a context

new paradigm since 9/11—I guess as barely lip service much harder climate

Aumf war

Drones jsoc



Wikileaks Snowden

Kid under god Vietnam Israel

History began Columbia buildings

Vietnam southern movement

CCR why I went

attica surveillance human rights womens movement

International liberation apartheid

76 carter and what did we get

Themes war surveillance race prisons torture


From Guantanamo to Wikileaks: Taking on the State in a Post 9/11 World

Dark and hope choices

When I spoke to __ about this talk, I was told—do something about law—and how you used law to do this work—taking on the state—(on what issues)

Not initially done that even though most of my political life has been spent challenging the state thru law—and doing that at and with CCR

Always with the understanding that law is an adjunct or at least legal suits are–adjuncts to grassroots movements for social change—and difficult to take on the state or the issues we have without being part of that movement—

That is why I went to CCR

Issues imperialism vn race what went with I

King 1967 speech still cld  add

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world: My own Government, I can not be Silent.”

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality [applause], and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. [sustained applause] So such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counterrevolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.”

And  so ccr arose out of the movement to end jim crow in the south of the 50’s and 60’s defending that movement and asserting the illegality of jim crow

Likewise in the 70’s with the anti-war movement—not just defending its activists but of course arguing the illegality of that war

Similarly in the 70s defending the Puerto Rican independence movement—defending its activists and but also testifying at the UN decolonization committee and articulating the legal reasons Puerto Rico shd be independent


And womens right to choose

And prisons

And in the 80’s Central America getting at the murders violations and illegal funding of those wars

Go on and on issue after issue

Often we lost but often we won—

Sometimes regarding defendants; sometimes on the issues

Nothing easy but of course the most success with questions of race gender depending and sometimes free speech—

not effect ness underlying nature of this country—hegemonic voracious laws for others not for us like green washing in Israel while occupies

Rarely–even before 9/11 with questions concerning national security especially war or accountability for war crimes etc

See that recently even tho little or no success in our national sec cases—gitmo torture rendition drones  slowing war still victories in stop and frisk and fire dept

Also notice this about work of US lawyers—no real challenge to economic inequality–those are not rights  traditionally recognized in our constitution; not taught; not considered something for the courts; social ??and political rights not economic rights sure ameliorative litigation legal services etc

But like with the imperial nature of this country — cant with law take on the economic rampant capitalist structure—and so we have

As occupy wall street has told us huge income and wealth inequality in this country punishing inequality those will need to be won only in the streets

And that brings me to why initially I did not have a legal focus—post 9/11 on the issues 9/11 engendered—law has been mostly a colossal failure—and not just a failure but eviscerated even the lip service played to legal protections—such as no torture, trial before imprisonment —indef detention; prohibitions on use of force to settle disputes—in other words war; rendition and on and on–

This is Despite the treaties declarations and institutions–set up post ww2 to insure not again; a few UN charter prohibition on force; borders; Geneva 48 war crimes; ICC—torturers to justice—universal jurisdiction—human rights commissions

Long history magna carta 1215 nuremberg lieber code UN univ declaration torn to shreds not put back easily cracked plate major country

Condemnation  especially US and those violators like Israel it protects a very dark time on that level

Very dark—

Will talk because of how far we have come from ideals; how dangerous made the world

Three or four examples not just US

War—vn til today—

Forever detention




“This is / particular America / where we ride on other people’s labor / other people’s history: patria libre / when this indigenous sky grows / mountains real as anywhere; how do you say / venceremos / in West Shokan?” (“West Shokan, New York”)