blog

July 2, 2018

In Upholding Muslim Ban, the Supreme Court Ignored International Law

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Trump v. Hawaii, affirming Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, allows the United States to act in flagrant violation of international law.

Under the guise of deferring to the president on matters of national security, the 5-4 majority disregarded a litany of Trump’s anti-Muslim statements and held that the ban does not violate the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which forbids the government from preferring one religion over another. Neither the majority nor the dissenting opinions even mentions the US’s legal obligations under international human rights law.Read more

June 29, 2018

North Korea Agreed to Denuclearize, but When Will the US?

A powerful economic incentive continues to drive the nuclear arms race. After the Singapore Summit, the stock values of all major defense contractors — including Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics — declined.

Given his allegiance to boosting corporate profits, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump is counterbalancing the effects of the Singapore Summit’s steps toward denuclearization with a Nuclear Posture Review that steers the US toward developing leaner and meaner nukes and lowers the threshold for using them.

The United States has allocated $1.7 trillion to streamline our nuclear arsenal, despite having agreed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 to work toward nuclear disarmament.Read more

June 12, 2018

Dissecting Trump’s Efforts to Place Himself Above the Law

“Nobody is above the law,” Donald Trump declared during the 2016 campaign. But as special counsel Robert Mueller zeroes in on him, the president is carving out an exemption for himself. Trump and his attorneys are claiming absolute power for the president.

Trump’s attorney and mouthpiece Rudy Giuliani told HuffPost that Trump could not be indicted even if he “shot” former FBI director James Comey in the Oval Office.

A confidential January 29, 2018, memo written by Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow contends that Trump essentially is above the law. As the French King Louis XIV said, “L’etat c’est moi” (I am the state). All political power resides in the king. Trump’s attorneys are arguing that the president is immunized against legal consequences for his actions.Read more

June 5, 2018

In Unanimous Vote, House Says No Legal Right to Attack Iran

In a little noticed but potentially monumental development, the House of Representatives voted unanimously for an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 (H.R. 5515) that says no statute authorizes the use of military force against Iran.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), states, “It is the sense of Congress that the use of the Armed Forces against Iran is not authorized by this Act or any other Act.”

A bipartisan majority of the House adopted the National Defense Authorization Act on May 24, with a vote of 351-66. The bill now moves to the Senate.

If the Senate version ultimately includes the Ellison amendment as well, Congress would send a clear message to Donald Trump that he has no statutory authority to militarily attack Iran.Read more

May 30, 2018

How Do You Get Off the US “Kill List”?

After the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration created a secret “kill list” to step up the targeting of alleged terrorists for assassination. The criteria for inclusion on the list have apparently morphed over three presidential administrations, yet they remain elusive.

Last year, two journalists filed a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump and other high government officials, asking to be removed from the kill list until they have a meaningful opportunity to challenge their inclusion. Both men claim to have no association with al-Qaeda or the Taliban, to have no connection to the 9/11 attacks, and to pose no threat to the United States, its citizens, residents or national security.Read more

May 17, 2018

Senate Confirms Gina Haspel, Despite Her Facilitation of Torture

The Senate voted 55-45 to confirm Gina Haspel as CIA director on May 17, despite the fact that her facilitation of torture should disqualify her from assuming the role.

In her testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 9, Haspel insisted that the CIA’s interrogation program during the Bush administration was legal. Haspel, a 33-year CIA veteran, argued that it could not be determined whether torture was effective to gain intelligence. She refused to state categorically that torture is immoral. And she never condemned the torture program in which she participated.Read more

May 14, 2018

Will Congress Authorize Indefinite Detention of Americans?

Under the guise of exercising supervisory power over the president’s ability to use military force, Congress is considering writing Donald Trump a blank check to indefinitely detain US citizens with no criminal charges. Alarmingly, this legislation could permit the president to lock up Americans who dissent against US military policy.

The bill that risks conveying this power to the president is the broad new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), S.J.Res.59, that is pending in Congress. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and Democratic committee member Tim Kaine (Virginia) introduced the bipartisan bill on April 16, and it has four additional co-sponsors.Read more

May 6, 2018

Trump Disregards Caravan Migrants’ Legal Right to Apply for Asylum

The 300 asylum seekers who arrived at the US border on April 29 after a month-long, 2,000-mile journey have another grueling struggle ahead of them, according to the immigration attorneys who are donating their time to represent them.

More than three-quarters of asylum claims from Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans between 2012 and 2017 were denied, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University, and this year’s caravan of asylum seekers are facing a climate made even more hostile by the xenophobic Trump administration.

Once the asylum applicants — who traveled in a caravan to the Tijuana-San Ysidro border from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — establish that they face a credible fear of persecution in their home countries, their ordeals are just beginning.

Colleen Flynn, an immigration attorney with the National Lawyers Guild’s Los Angeles chapter, told Truthout that because of retaliation by the Trump administration, even those who establish “credible fear” could face years of detention.Read more

April 30, 2018

Protests Force Starbucks to Ditch ADL From Leading Anti-Racism Training

After a video of the arrest of two African-American men sitting in Starbucks without buying anything went viral, Starbucks scheduled anti-racism training. But their inclusion of the Anti-Defamation League in the training provoked another outcry and Starbucks capitulated.

On April 12, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were arrested for trespassing at a Philadelphia Starbucks. A manager called the police because the men, who had been in the coffee shop for just a few minutes, hadn’t bought anything.

Melissa DePino, a Starbucks customer who recorded the video of the arrest that went viral on social media, said, “These guys never raised their voices. They never did anything remotely aggressive . . . I was sitting close to where they were. Very close. They were not doing anything. They weren’t.”

In an attempt to avert a public relations disaster after the racist incident became public, Starbucks announced it would close most of its 8,000 locations on May 29 for racial bias training.

But, adding insult to injury, Starbucks included the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), with its notorious history of racism, as a primary participant in the anti-racism training.

Community outrage at ADL’s central role in the training was swift and strong. Starbucks demoted ADL to a consulting role, and named representatives of three prominent African-American-led civil rights organizations to lead the training.Read more

April 22, 2018

Will Congress Write the President a Blank Check for War?

This coming Monday, April 23, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is set to review a bill that would virtually give President Donald J. Trump a blank check to wage war anywhere in the world any time he pleases.

The Constitution places the power to declare war exclusively in the hands of the Congress. However, for the past 75 years, Congress has allowed that power to drift toward the executive branch.

The new bill, should it pass, would effectively make the transfer of the war power from Congress to the president complete. It is hard to imagine a worse time in American history for this to happen.Read more