NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Justice Department Redefines Terrorism by Putting Assata Shakur on FBI List


    Michael Ratner: Upping the reward and renewing interest in Assata Shakur, is aimed at labeling any use of violence with a political character as terrorism - even if the target is not a civilian -   May 10, 2013
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    What a hidden gem - Jack
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

    Transcript

    Justice Department Redefines Terrorism by Putting Assata Shakur on FBI ListPAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner, who now joins us from New York City.

    Michael is president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He's chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. And he's a member of the Real News Network board.

    Thanks very much for joining us again, Michael.

    MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Good to be with you, Paul.

    JAY: So what's on your mind?

    RATNER: What's on my mind is something that happened on May 2, when the United States government, the FBI, put on its Ten Most Wanted list the first woman that's been put on that list. It's the ten most wanted terrorists list. Her name is Assata Shakur. This is a list of ten people who the U.S. wants as terrorists.

    Assata Shakur, who many of your people may not have heard of, is a woman living in Cuba who has been living in Cuba since 1979. She initially was living in the United States. She was convicted of being part of a killing that took place on the New Jersey turnpike of a policeman. She was put into jail for life, as I recall. Eventually there was a jail escape, and she moved to Cuba, where she got political asylum.

    Now, the reason I'm focusing on this case--a couple of reasons. One, it's very old. I mean, this conviction took place or the murder took place 40 years ago. She's been in Cuba since '79. And all of a sudden, on roughly the 40th anniversary, the FBI places her on a terrorist list and puts up billboards over New Jersey saying wanted terrorist Assata Shakur.

    Now, the first thing that strikes me, incredibly, apart from the timing and why, is the use of the word terrorist to describe Assata Shakur. And it's a dangerous tendency. And when I say it's a dangerous tendency, the way the U.S. defines it by statute, the way it's misused, of course, often, but it's defined as someone who uses violence or threatens violence against civilians or civilian population for carrying out political goals. It's the classic sort of definition, UN, etc., with all kinds of bells and whistles, but that's roughly it.

    Assata Shakur, as far as anyone knows, has never used violence against a civilian--never used violence, perhaps, at all, but certainly never against a civilian. And what she was convicted of was being part of a crime in which a policeman was killed. So it's stretching the definition of terrorism into domestic straight criminality.

    And when I hear that, I think about my earliest conversations after 9/11 with people at the Justice Department who were beginning to classify people overseas, you know, engaged, from an argument point of view, with terrorism, from their point of view, and getting special military trials if you're labeled a terrorist, getting taken to Guantanamo. You're labeled a terrorist. And what they said to me, what Ashcroft's Department of Justice said to me at the time--he was attorney general--was we don't just want to do this for overseas terrorists; we want to do this for domestic terrorism; we want to be able to have special trials for domestic terrorists; we don't want to use regular justice system; these people don't deserve constitutional rights.

    So now you see them taking someone like Assata, who they--who I think is wrongfully convicted, was innocent of the crime she was convicted of. But what she was convicted of had nothing to do with terrorism.

    And so it's a terrible tendency. And you see that tendency coming out of the Boston case, where--the Boston Marathon case, where there was all kinds of discussion of let's call this an act of terrorism, let's make them enemy combatants. And so it comes off the back of that.

    But to go back to Assata's case, so here you have Assata Shakur, a member of--.

    JAY: Just before you do, Michael, just before you do, it seems like what the American government is saying is that any act against a soldier, even, or a policeman, any--even an armed member of the state, if it has a political character, then it's terrorism, even though it's not against civilians. It just has to have a political character to it to meet their definition.

    RATNER: I think you can read what they're saying as that kind of statement, Paul, and I think that's very astute, because that's the only thing that makes any sense here. It doesn't even make sense, because their own definition and statute is against civilians. But that does fit with the way they've been looking at acts of war around the world as terrorism. Going after U.S. soldiers, etc., increase--really broadening the definition so that definition has very little meaning.

    So I think that's an incredibly worrisome tendency, because what follows from there is treating domestic criminality as terrorism. And then what's going to follow from there is giving people special trials as they--treating them as enemy combatants, the way they called for such treatment after the Boston Marathon.

    Looking at other aspects of Assata's case, of course she was also given political asylum by the Cuban government. And once you've been given political asylum, the Cuban government has the absolute right to deny any request for Assata or extradition. But, of course, the U.S. is choosing to ignore that.

    A third important part of the case concerns what happened to Assata. The way she was convicted was complete political and legal outrage. She's driving in a car along the New Jersey Turnpike with two--or three other, I think, African Americans. She's stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, and a policeman is killed as a result. How that happened we don't know, although there's no proof that she had a gun. In fact, it appears that she was--not appears; there's forensic evidence saying she was shot in the back. And yet she's convicted of this aiding and abetting a murder of a policeman.

    Now, the first thing that strikes you is there's a thing within the United States that we call driving while black, which is to say that blacks are pulled over all the time for just being in a car. And the New Jersey Turnpike in this period, and still today, is famous for state troopers and others pulling over cars of blacks. So that's what probably--that's what almost surely happened here.

    The other thing we shouldn't forget here is Assata was a real political leader. She was a member of the Black Panther Party, major leader of that, important. And you can look at starting to label people like Assata as terrorists is really going back on the attack of what was really an incredible period of the '60s and '70s when African Americans were very, very active on trying to change their circumstances in the United States. So her case has caused a tremendous outrage, really, within the United States and within the community.

    And the idea that they're trying to get her at this point--. [crosstalk]

    JAY: Why is that? I mean, why on earth would they start doing billboards and making noise about this now?

    RATNER: I'm glad you asked that. I wanted to say, they labeled her a terrorist, but they also doubled the reward for her from $1 million to $2 million. And I'll end with why I think.

    But what that also leads to is she's sitting in Cuba. Six hundred thousand visitors from Miami go to Cuba every year. My old Cuban--you know my old relations to Cubans. And her safety is put in great jeopardy. I mean, she's wanted. It doesn't say dead or alive, but she's wanted as a fugitive from justice. Someone's going to go for the reward, $2 million, go seek her out. Maybe it'll be a gun battle. Maybe they'll kill her. Maybe they'll just try and kidnap her. All kinds of things could happen to Assata because of this being put on the terrorist list and this $2 million bounty for her.

    So the question is why. And, you know, we're all struggling with that. Is the why to label immunity that has resurgent--you know, some resurgence in terms of militancy is to label it as terrorist? Is it to label black activists as terrorists? It's conceivable. Is it really in part of the U.S.-Cuba politics that Cuba is now--you know, a man in prison there is a guy named Alan Gross, who is someone who was alleged to have--alleged to--the Cubans convicted, I think, of bringing in certain kinds of spy equipment to subvert the government. The U.S. wants him back. The Cubans are saying, he's here, he was convicted. There's five or now four people in the United States who were convicted of various crimes, the Cuban Five, now the Cuban Four, convicted of espionage and other crimes in the U.S. Is it part of that? Is it part of--which happened--what's happened right at this moment?

    You know, Cuba is a country that has been put on the terrorist list year after year. That has tremendous implications. There's only six or seven countries in the world on the terrorist list. It cuts off all kinds of financial transactions. It embargoes the country. It allows all kinds of special lawsuits. And every year it comes up: why is Cuba on a terrorist list? There's no terrorism coming out of Cuba.

    And so perhaps in the statement that was issued by the State Department--or by the FBI, actually, that said, we're putting Assata on the Most Wanted Terrosts list because she has made statements that, you know, threaten U.S. people or threaten civilians--there's no evidence of that, not one bit of evidence. Nothing ever happened like that. And, of course, you can make statements. That's not against the law. But she's never said anything that we know of like that at all. So it may be part of the politics of Cuba saying, here's why we're putting them on the terrorist list, 'cause theyr'e housing terrorists. That gives them their argument.

    But, of course, if we're really talking about housing terrorists, you know, this country houses plenty of terrorists from Latin America, Central America, other places in the world, Cuba as well. So if there's a country that ought to be on the terrorist list, apart from, you know, naming the people like Bush and others who bombed the heck out of various countries during their tenure and are droning people to death, we have our own terrorists here who we have housed from around the world.

    But in the end we don't really understand the politics of it, other than--maybe it's domestic politics in some way, but I think it's more related to Cuban politics and American politics. But the effects are dramatic, because Assata, now a person who could at one time walk the streets of Cuba with some freedom, I just don't think can emerge at all. And so it's scary. It's also a labeling of domestic criminality that she was not guilty of, in my belief, labeling it as terrorism. So I'm hopeful that we'll be able to overturn it, but it's a serious moment.

    JAY: Alright. Thanks for joining us, Michael.

    RATNER: Thanks for having me, Paul.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting