Sunday, August 21, 2011

Radio highlight

a radio
Each week, Law and Disorder Radio kicks off the week on WBAI and airs around the country throughout the week. The hour long program is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and provides coverage of many topics that are otherwise ignored on the radio. This is an excerpt of last week's program.

Michael Ratner: Heidi when I opened the New York Times blog last week, I was pleased to see
an article called "Courthouse Confidential." And there was our own Heidi Boghosian, sitting in front of a window with all kinds of law books in front of her and talking about a new initiative of the National Lawyers Guild and Heidi Boghosian which is to get lawyers for the people who the US is going after, the government is going after, for Anonymous and LulzSec which has to do with "hackers" or something like that. What's this about, Heidi?

Heidi Boghosian: Well --

Michael Ratner: Great picture and I advise --

Heidi Boghosian: (Laughing) Thanks, Michael.

Michael Ratner: -- everybody to go the New York Times and look for Heidi's picture if you want to see what the hostess of the mostess looks like.

Heidi Boghosian: Aw, gosh. Anyway, this is --

Michael Ratner: Heidi, that was really made up. You don't really think [I think] that?

Heidi Boghosian: No. Okay. Look, when WikiLeaks happened, a lot of activists went on line when PayPal and other banks denied access to money to WikiLeaks, people protested. You know, the way over the centuries people have protested things, in the streets. Now we have the internet. And we have stort of cyber-activism. And what they did was they downloaded software that lets you go to a corporate website and sort of hit it multiple times so what it does is it slows it down. And I think if people go and read some of the comments on the blog, you'll see a little debate going on about whether this constitutes a criminal activity. And the Guild thinks it doesn't.

Michael Ratner: In this case, it was PayPal. And I think it was PayPal because they had cut off, through Mastercard and Visa, the funding of Wikileaks.

Heidi Boghosian: Exactly.

Michael Ratner: And that's a big deal because here you have 95% of the market for donations is controlled between Mastercard and Visa, PayPal is the door, and private companies just decide on their own. Let's remember, there's no criminal indictment of WikiLeaks or Julian Assange at this point.

Heidi Boghosian: Exactly. They -- Corporations made a decision.

Michael Ratner: And they made a decision to just cut them off from any funding. Very dangerous. So what did you do, Heidi, as a result? There were these protests to which the Guild to its great credit and people ought to hear it again, what is it again, what does the Guild think of these kind of --

Heidi Boghosian: The Guild supports -- We are supportive of people's decision to engage in what we call civil disobedience, this being what we see as kind of the new frontier. Since so much of our daily communication, personal business -- and not just financial business, but personal information is floating out on the web. And corporations honestly don't listen to you if you write them a letter or do a little picket somewhere. They're creating laws like the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act to punish people who try to boycott a business.

Michael Ratner: So what did you set up, Heidi?

Heidi Boghosian: We set up a website called And it's for activsts to go to have basically a repository of Know Your Rights information including a lot of information from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, CCR's book is on there and some Know Your Rights --

Michael Ratner: CCR's book is a Know Your Rights type pamphlet.

Heidi Boghosian: It's When An Agent Knocks.

Michael Ratner: The Guild has one that you've been involved with.

Heidi Boghosian: We do. You Have The Right To Remain Silent. And then we have sort of scenarios of what could happen, cautioning of course that this is not a replacement for sound legal advice and so what we've also done is set up a hotline and there's a number to call or an e-mail on the website and we are trying to match individuals with pro bono attorneys around the country so if they've received a subpoena or if they've been arrested in the rash of recent raids that happened a few months ago where the FBI and Dept of Justice went after individuals they think are connected to this. And they face some harsh sentences.

Michael Ratner: This is a serious thing.

Heidi Boghosian: This is serious stuff.

Michael Ratner: And I think what you guys did on the website and what you've said is: 'This is really the equivalent of First Amendment type speech.' So when I came up to the office today to do this recording with you, there's a huge picket going on outside Verizon by CWA. A union picket because of legitimate labor grievances with Verizon. This is no different except on the internet.

Heidi Boghosian: Right.

Michael Ratner: And you've coined a great term for it. What do you call what's going on? We've had the Commmunist Scare --

Heidi Boghosian: The Red scare.

Michael Ranter: The Red scare. We had the environmental --

Heidi Boghosian: Green scare.

Michael Ratner: Now what do we have?

Heidi Boghosian: The nerd scare!

Michael Ratner: Oh my gosh. I hope all the anon people listening don't get offended at the "nerd scare."

Heidi Boghosian: We think it's a high compliment actually.

Michael Ratner: It is. In this day and age, the Nerd Square --

Heidi Boghosian: Nerds are the best.

Michael Ratner: Nerds have replaced the half-back for my football team. Yea! Go Nerds! Anyway, again, the website is . We really want to thank the Guild, Heidi, etc. Anything else you want to add Heidi?

Heidi Boghosian: We'd like to thank the New York Times for their interest in this story.
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