tv Democracy Now PBS May 12, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
05/12/16 05/12/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york this is , democracy now! quite that is what pinochet did. torture them and killed them. what is the difference i would ask the american people between us and p;inochet? amy: the pioneering human rights attorney michael ratner has died at the age of 72. from attica to assange, the longtime head of the center for constitutional rights defended, investigated, and spoke up for victims of human rights abuses across the world from haiti and guatemala to iraq and the
palestinian territories. he used the law to sue some of the most powerful people in the world on behalf of some of the least powerful. in 2002, michaelatner filed the first lawsuit against george w. bush on behalf of guantanamo prisoners. six years later, he won a landmark case at the supreme court against the bush administration. today we speak with his family and friends and hear michael in his own words. >> this is no time for compromise, no time for political calculations. us,oward zinn admonishes the job of thinking people not to be an aside of the executioners. remindsin nation prize us all that the job for each of us is not to be an aside of the executioners. amy: all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!,
democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. brazil's senate has voted to suspend president dilma rousseff immediately and begin impeachment proceedings against her on accusations of tampering with accounts to hide a budget shortfall. the 55 to 22 senate vote followed more than 20 hours of debate. one politician described it as the "saddest day for brazil's young democracy." vice president michel temer will assume the presidency during rousseff's suspension. temer himself has been implicated in brazil's massive corruption scandal. several of his top advisers are under investigation, and just last week he was ordered to pay a fine for violating campaign finance limits. attorney general jose eduardo cardozo called the vote a historic injustice. >> honest, innocent woman at this moment is being condemned. a judicial pretense is being
used to oust a legitimately elected president over ask which have been practiced by all previous governments. historic injustice is being committed. an innocent person is being condemned. amy: military police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters who had gathered outside congress, the vast majority who were there to support president rousseff. teacher and protester celma pereira spoke out. >> it is revolting. we're here defending our democracy and those in spray us with terror gas. they are cowards. amy: the pioneering human rights attorney michael ratner has died at the age of 72. for over four decades he defended victims of human rights abuses across the world from the prisoners. from haiti and guatemala to the iraq and the palestinian territories. michael ratner served as the longtime president of the center for constitutional rights.t the first case against the george w. bush administration for the indefinite detention of
prisoners at guantanamo. the supreme court eventually sided with the center in a landmark 2008 decision when it struck down the law that stripped guantanamo prisoners of their habeas corpus rights. in recent years, he was the chief attorney for wikileaks founder julian assange and became a leading critic of the u.s. crackdown on whistle blowers including chelsea , manning and edward snowden. we'll spend the hour honoring at this looking at the life and legacy of michael ratner. among those joining us, rumsfeld from --julian assange, from exile inside the ecuadorian embassy. in washington, d.c., presidential candidate donald trump is meeting with republican party leaders, including house speaker paul ryan, as the party faces a growing split over whether to support the presumptive presidential nominee. ryan has said he's not yet ready to support donald trump, whose calls to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, to build a wall across the u.s.-mexico border and to ban
, all muslim immigrants and visitors from entering the u.s. have caused widespread backlash. house minority leader nancy pelosi addressed today's anticipated meeting, saying that donald trump's platform is nothing new for the republican party. >> since when have the house republicans been so concerned about intolerance statements and discriminatory ideas? they appear to be shopped other candidate, not just the front presumptive nominee, but all of their candidates appear rhetoric ond by the the campaign trail, but year after year, republicans have enthusiastically turned their intolerance and discrimination into legislation. amy: wednesday marked the deadliest day in baghdad so far this year as three separate car bombs killed at least 93 people across iraq's capital. isil has claimed responsibility for all three attacks.
the largest car bomb killed 63 in a crowded market in the predominately shiite neighborhood of sadr city. hours later, two more bombs exploded at police checkpoints in different parts of the capital. new government figures show the obama administration has resettled only 1736 syrian refugees over the last seven months, despite president obama's pledge to resettle at least 10,000 syrians by this coming september. in contrast, canada has resettled more than 26,000 syrian refugees since late 2015. while turkey, lebanon, and jordan have together taken in millions of syrian refugees since the conflict began five years ago. human rights groups and the united nations are accusing turkish security forces of human rights violations, including deliberately shooting kurdish civilians and syrian refugees. human rights watch has accused the turkish border guards of killing at least five syrian refugees in the past two months. separately, the u.n. has accused
turkey of intentionally shooting at civilians and destroying infrastructure in the largely kurdish regions of the country's southeast. kenya is vowing to close the world's biggest refugee camp within a year, which could force up to 300,000 somali refugees back into war-torn somalia. kenya justifies the closure saying the dadaab camp has been used by the militant group al-shabaab as a place to smuggle weapons. human rights groups have decried the threatened closure. the director of amnesty international u.k. kate allen said -- "forcing back to violence and persecution is as immoral as it is unlawful, and risks increasing instability and displacement in the region." the italian parliament has approved a law recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples. the law falls short of legalizing same-sex marriages and it will not allow people in
same-sex civil unions to legally adopt their partner's biological children. president of equality italy aurelio mancuso heralded the move. >> today is a historic day, historic what the days we had on divorce, abortion, of hadley rights. today italy will see change. our next objective is equal marriage rights, but today we are obviously satisfied. amy: oil giant shell has announced it is abandoning all but one of its federal offshore leases for drilling in alaska's remote chukchi sea. last summer, the obama administration approved shell's permit to drill in the remote arctic waters, despite fierce opposition from environmental groups. shell dropped its leases after its exploratory well in the chukchi sea showed only traces of oil and gas. on tuesday, greenpeace campaigner vicky wyatt called for further protection of the arctic saying -- "president obama must seize this
opportunity and place the entire arctic and u.s. outer continental shelf off limits to the fossil fuel industry for good." george zimmerman is planning to auction off the gun he used to kill unarmed african american teenager trayvon martin in 2012. zimmerman has listed the firearm on gunbroker.com with a starting price of $5000. bidding is scheduled to begin today. george zimmerman wrote in the listing that he would donate a portion of the proceeds to blm violence against law -- "fight blm violence against law enforcement officers." a colorado judge has found robert lewis dear mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial over the november shooting spree at a planned parenthood clinic, which killed three people and wounded 9 others. dear has admitted to the shooting, saying he targeted planned parenthood "because it's murdering little babies."
the case is now on hold. dear has been sent to a state mental hospital for treatment. in financial news, the world's top 25 hedge fund managers earned a staggering $13 billion last year. this means that only 25 men earned more than the entire economies of some countries, including nicaragua and the bahamas. two men, kenneth griffin of citadel and james simons of renaissance technologies, each earned $1.7 billion last year. both men have poured millions into the 2016 presidential race backing republican candidates who have since dropped out. simons is now backing hillary clinton, with more than $2 million in donations so far. griffin has also been a major supporter of chicago mayor rahm emanuel. he was the biggest donor to emanuel's 2015 reelection campaign and has been quoted as saying that instead of closing 50 chicago public schools, mayor
emanuel should have closed 125 schools across chicago. in upstate new york, climate activists disrupted a power plant conference and forced the chair of the federal energy regulatory commission norman bay off the stage. the protesters were calling for fossil fuels to be kept in the ground. it's the latest disruption targeting the little-known federal agency, which is responsible for regulating the natural gas industry, hydroelectric projects and , oil pipelines. this clip begins with chairman norman bay. >> a market-based approach to further import public policies -- as you all know, the world health organization and the leading scientist on the planet have said, keep it on the ground or sign the death points of hundreds of millions of evil. amy: and those are some of the headline this is democracy now,
democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. juan: welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. rightsilblazing human attorney michael ratner has died at the age of 72. for over four decades he defended, investigated, and spoke up for victims of human rights abuses across the world. he served as the longtime head of the center for constitutional rights. attorney david cole told the "new york times" -- "under his leadership, the center grew from a small but scrappy civil rights organization into one of the leading human rights organizations in the world. he sued some of the most powerful people in the world on behalf of some of the least powerful." in 2002, the center brought the first case against the george w. bush administration for the indefinite detention of prisoners at guantanamo. the supreme court eventually sided with the center in a landmark 2008 decision when it struck down the law that stripped guantanamo prisoners of
their habeas corpus rights. ratner began working on guantanamo in the 1990's when he fought the first bush administration's use of the military base to house haitian refugees. michael ratner's activism and human rights work dated back to the 1960's. he was a student at columbia law school during the 1968 student strike. michael was a clerk for the legendary federal judge motley. when he graduated from law school, she was the first african-american judge and protege of thurgood marshall. she wrote -- "michael ratner was an rest respect the a list law clerk i've had in my tenure on the bench." amy: michael ratner joined the center for constitutional rights in 1971, his first case centered on a lawsuit filed on behalf of prisoners killed and injured in the attica prison uprising in upstate new york.
michael ratner was deeply involved in latin america and the caribbean challenging u.s. policy in cuba, haiti, nicaragua, guatemala, puerto rico, and elsewhere. in 1981, he brought the first challenge under the war powers resolution to the use of troops in el salvador as well as a suit against u.s. officials on behalf of nicaraguans raped, murdered and tortured by u.s. backed , contras. in 1991, he led the center's challenge to the authority of president george h.w. bush to go to war against iraq without congressional consent. a decade later he would become a , leading critic of the george w. bush administration filing lawsuits related to guantanamo, torture, domestic surveillance and the 2003 invasion of iraq. , he also helped launch the group palestine legal to defend the rights of protesters in the u.s. calling for palestinian human rights. in recent years he was the chief , attorney for wikileaks founder julian assange and became a leading critic of the u.s. crackdown on whistleblowers
including chelsea manning and , edward snowden. he also served as democracy now!'s attorney for many years and was the husband of karen ranucci, a longtime member of the democracy now! family. today we will spend the hour looking at the life and legacy of michael ratner. later we will be joined by three lawyers who worked closely with michael over the years but we begin with a speech he gave in 2007 when he was awarded the puffin/nation prize for creative citizenship. >> over the last few years, i've become a coin it with a man, a french held syrian in his 80's -- algerian and his 80's who was water tortured, or is this administration says, waterboarded by the french. here's how he described his water torture. a practice that goes back to the inquisition. the run was soaked rapidly.
water flowed everywhere. in my mouth, in my nose, all over my face. i tried by contracting my throat to take in as little water as possible and to resist suffocation by keeping air in my lungs as long as i could. but i could not hold on for more than a few minutes. i had the impression of drowning and a terrible agony, that of death itself, took possession of me. think about this man when you hear the cia talk about enhanced interrogation techniques. or think about a terrible agony, that of death itself, that of death itself taking over you when you hear our new attorney general refuse to condemn waterboarding. or when you hear that some of our democratic leaders were briefed and made not a peep of
objection. [applause] let there be no doubt, the bush administration tortures, it disappears people, it holds people forever and offshore penal colonies like guantanamo will stop it renders them to be tortured in other countries. this is what was done to a man who was rendered to syria for torture. and sadly, a majority of our congress, our courts, and our media have given bush a free hand and in fact worse, have been the handmaidens of the torture and detention program. given a freet been hand by the senate for constitutional rights. it is not been given a free hand by the nation. it has not been given a free hand by jeremy or naomi. today we are in the midst of a pitched battle. a pitched rattled to put this
country back, at least ostensibly, on the page of fundamental right and moral decency. the battle is difficult and the road is long and hard. on occasion, i get pessimistic. sometimes i and my colleagues feel like sisyphus. twice, not just once, twice we pushed the rock up the hill and won rights for guantanamo detainees in the supreme court. and twice the rock was rolled back down by congress over those rights. .o we pushed it back up again five days ago we were in the supreme court for the third time. it was difficult, more difficult than before because the justices have changed. four are anti-to libyans. lost forever to humanity. [applause]
but before i get is all depressed, we have had our victories. we have gotten lawyers to guantanamo, stop the most over torture, and freed half of the guantanamo detainees. over 300. we have gotten arar out of syria. canada has apologized for his torture, given him a substantial recovery in canadian dollars -- which is no embarrassment anymore. [laughter] they said he was an innocent man, but he remains on the u.s. terror list. we have slowed, but not yet stopped remarkable grab for authoritarian power. lose hope't look -- because i think about the early days of guantanamo. few.rst, we were
but now, we are many. at first when ccr began, we were the lonely lawyers taking on the bush administration at guantanamo. now we are many. now we, just on guantanamo alone, are over 600 lawyers. most from major firms of every political strife. [applause] these lawyers have an understanding of what is at stake -- liberty itself. struggle, this struggle will be seen as one of the great chapters in the legal and political history of the united states. [applause] or, torture, disappearances, murder surround as like plagues. most in this country go on their way oblivious. some don't want to know and are
like ostriches. some want to justify it all. some want to make compromises. but be warned, we are at a tipping point. a tipping point into lawlessness and medievalism. we have our work to do for each of us, the time for talking is long, long over. this is no time for compromise. no time for political calculation. us,oward then admonishes the job of thinking people not to be in a side of the executioners. the puffin nation prize reminds us all that the job for each of us is not to be on the side of the executioners. thank you all. [applause] amy: attorney michael ratner speaking in 2007 when he was awarded the puffin nation prize for creative citizenship. michael died wednesday at the age of 72.
as a result of complications related to cancer. when we come back, we will be joined by a roundtable of his colleagues and friends beginning with wikileaks founder julian assange who will's be to us from inside the ecuadorian embassy in london. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. back in a minute. ♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. juan: today we are remembering the life and legacy of the trail blazing attorney michael ratner who died on wednesday at the age of 72. we're joined by four gas who knew michael well on a personal professional level. amy: reed brody is counsel and spokesperson for human rights watch.
michael smith is an attorney and a board member of the center for constitutional rights. he co-authored a book with michael called "who killed che? how the cia got away with murder." we're also joined in pittsburgh by jules lobel, the president of the center for constitutional rights and a law professor at the university of pittsburgh. and joining us from london is julian assange, founder of wikileaks, joining us from the ecuadorian embassy in london where he has asylum. he has been there for almost four years. he took refuge in the embassy in 2012. assange wants to avoid extradition to sweden over sex assault crimes, which he has repeatedly denied. he says he fears sweden will extradite him to the unit is rates were he could face trial for publishing classified information. welcome to democracy now!
your thoughts today on your late counsel, your late attorney and friend michael ratner. >> michael touched many people throughout his life. you're seeing some of that today. friend andersonal advisor. lawyer. with wikileaksed and other lawyers in the united states are grieving, but i want to reflect a little on michael ratner. important not his talent, political
and human kisses to see -- consistency, but because he was a role model to so many who knew him. michael wasmodel -- thatne of these figures played left so much. he was not a thundering genius come although, he was brilliant. he was not someone who was ideologically hidebound. he was not someone who simply engaged in value projection or exhibitionism. lifeel ratner was -- led a which was more to terry both at the human level in terms of dealing with his family, his
friends, andh his in law and work political consistency. he brought all of the sings together. and that is why you are seeing the outpouring that you are 'seing because of michael sensitivity across all of these feltns, he is someone you interacting with you as a human being, not simply someone who wanted something in a political direction or in terms of law. flaws, thesehis only major understand that he really was a figure or you could
-- emulate. late i think this is probably we will be seeing his most important legacy -- the other lawyers who will talk about the cases -- the case is that he took, he certainly took many cases for us in relation to the ongoing pending u.s. prosecution in relation to chelsea manning and others, he stepped forward first in relation to guantanamo bay went other lawyers, such as groups associated with the aclu, felt it was not something it was politically achievable. inspires ane who model for people who are
.oncerned about justice it is achievable. not a model of self-destruction. not a model that is unable to achieve because it requires some particular kind of genius that cannot be worked towards, and that is something that deeply affected our young lawyers in the united states. juan: jillion, i want to ask about this issue of the model that he provided to others. could you talk a little bit about his impact both in terms of the work he did in defending whistleblowers like yourself, but also in terms of his ability to take the human rights issue to an international level and to deal across countries and mobilize legal battles across borders? >> yes. i have dealt with many lawyers in the united states and many
people in the united states. , although some of them come -- although some of them claim to be concerned with the abuse of state power in the united states -- in fact, very provincial and in some ways american exceptionalism of their own, michael cut completely across that. he was genuinely concerned about people in guatemala, about me as -- about people who face problems in palestine. he was able to work with these other groups, other lawyers becauseurisdictions they could see his genuine human concern for them was not simply about grabbing some prize that he could take back to the united
states and exploit within his yorkif you like, new constituency. so he was very effective as a lawyer and campaigner for justice because he would do things, for example, seeing that people might be extradited to the united states, take up the battle at the place of exhibition -- for example, here , in myunited kingdom case, and in relation to alleged terrorism cases. other lesser lawyers, lesser human beings might have gone, well, i can get the glory and i can get the credit once that person is extradited to the united states and then can be -- the trial can be exploited and ence can be set in the united states. michael was much more concerned as a human level to take action
early in the process. and try and stop grand jury's or try and stop exhibitions before the person entered into the u.s. justice system that has become increasingly difficult to deal with. amy: i want to go to a video produced by the ratna family to mark michael 60th birthday talking about his legal legacy. >> he has worked on a series of cases in different areas that are just pushing the ability to raise international human rights in u.s. courts. >> nothing could justify the massacre which killed his son kamal. today, united states court agreed. >> it is been a long time. i have come halfway around the world, but i feel satisfied that at last a court has said, this is wrong. >> kamal was one of 200 killed in the student protest. the indonesian general has now been ordered to pay.
>> it affected the judge heavily. the judge who probably did not note eased two more from timber to was incredibly moved. feeling badi think about what happened, but very good that we had gotten, after a lot of work and a lot of people's efforts, got to a child that was really heard he helped high near fort law or you can actually sue dictators or sue were criminals from within the united states. >> found out early that this general was studying at the harvard school of government. students worked for most of this clear pulling together information about the general's role in genocide in guatemala. >> the only way they could pieces waso do some to interview the general. i suppose the student doing
research on guatemala -- went to harvard graduation with the papers in hand. >> michael is not afraid to sue anyone at anytime. >> wearing harvard graduation robes and serve with a big smile, held out the papers, called a stand, shook his hand. the general took the papers with a big smile. >> he won these huge cases. of course, many of the dictators have not forked over the billions of dollars that thei r the dems are due. amy: that story that you heard, the attorney beth stevens, talking about the lawsuit jandro, hector alle graduating from the harvard school. in the corner, you see michael's profile. i was there along with alan narron as beth stevens and
michael ratner and the private investigator slept hector with this lawsuit as he was walking in to get his harvard kennedy school degree. slapping him with a lawsuit for crimes against humanity. we are joined by a roundtable of people to remember michael ratner who died on wednesday of complications due to cancer here in new york city. michael ratner, the longtime former head of the center for constitutional rights. we are joined by michael smith, his collie, co-author and friend . as well, reed brody of human rights watch and jules lobel joining us from pittsburgh, ecuadoriannge in the embassy in london. give us the span of his work, reed. >> from defending human rights in the united states to defending central american revolutions against the united states, from defending
hiv-positive haitians quarantined in guantanamo to defending muslims taken to guantanamo 10 years later. you know, from defending -- from suing american torturers abroad this doing, as we saw, foreign torturers in america. over 50 years, michael was always instantly on the right side of every battle, fighting the right battle from the right trench. he had this unerring ability to know where to be at the right time. amy: reed, you were arrested with michael in 1984. can you talk about these circumstances? >> i had just come back from nicaragua were documented systematic atrocities by the u.s.-backed contras who are trying to undermine the revolution. there was a sit in at the federal building in downtown
manhattan organized by the national lawyers guild. michael was there, bill kunstler, barbara dudley, margaret clemens. we were all arrested. but michael did not stop there. when the international court of justice and the hague ordered that the united states stopped funding and supporting the contras, michael and jules lobel and the ccr went into court saying, look, let's enforce this order. actually, michael asked me to go down to nicaragua to talk to americans who might be in harms fundinghe contra continued. i interviewed and took an affidavit from a friend named ben lender who wrote in his affidavit that if the u.s. kept funding the contras, he was in danger of life and limb. of course, the lawsuit failed. an injunction was not granted. was killed, the only
american to be executed by the u.s.-backed contras in nicaragua. michael defended the lender family and their suits for many years. smith, youel cohosted a show with michael ratner "law and disorder." talk about how you first met him and his perspective on the law and how lawyers dealt with the law. >> i lived around the corner for michael thirtysomething years ago. michael had just gotten elected as the president of the national lawyers guild. slept up one night and asked if i would be on the editorial guuild- board of the magazine. we did six books together. he did afford or introduction or a chapter in a number of them.
in one book, michael greatly loved and admired che come and he suspected the u.s. story was b.s.'s death request.foia here's what by nothing happened. one day he said, i just got this huge box of documents from the fbi and cia and the defense department and the white house. what should we do? notionepresenting present the time and i said, i think we have a book. can you hold off putting your catalog into we look through it? michael, myself, and my wife looked through it, put out our first book. we were on the show with you, amy, 20 years ago. out of nowhere, 10 years later without michael making a further request, he got another box of documents. there had been a lot of historical work done in the
meantime. we were able to take these new documents. stuff on white house stationery that said, the troops we trained finally got him, a memo to johnson, the president. stuff like that. we put the story together. we realized it was a prior agreement with the bolivian dictatorship, the cia had two agents running intelligence. the department of defense was finding everything from balance to bullets, funding the army that captured che. they had a prior agreement with the head of the bolivian military to capture and kill him. so that was americans doing, and we proved that. that book is all over cuba. they sold it for $.25 and was featured at the national book fair. it is in argentina. even coming out now in iran in farsi. in october killed 1967 in bolivia. >> that's right.
the moral responsibility for that, the actual responsibility for the assassination, which was political murder, lies on the united states. there is no statute of limitations to murder. the two people that directed the killing are alive and in florida. -- one of theany many contributions michael made. juan: he was a lawyer that did not overestimate the power of or for the requirements of the law. -- he deeply think believed in democracy and the rule of law. he did not think that capitalism was compatible with that. he thought maybe fascism was, but certainly -- you can see what is going on now. michael initially started off, like all of us, as liberals, thinking that a law was a solvingd way of disputes, may flawed humor there, but could be fixed. we all quickly got over that notion. michael came to believe that the
law was a means of social control by the 1% who would fight to keep their control by any means necessary as long as possible. that is what the law was. michael sought to promote true democratic law and undermine that false ideology that the law we have now is somehow fair. it is not fair. amy: i wanted to go back to a moment with you, michael smith, and michael ratner. 22 and washington, d.c., at the reopening of the cuban embassy after it was closed for more than five decades. sweat. was drenched in it was boiling hot, but it was one of the happiest times i had ever seen michael ratner as he talked about the significance of this historic day. >> amy, let's just say, other than the birth of my children, this is perhaps one of the most
exciting days of my life. i have been working on cuba since the early 1970's, if not before. i went on brigades. i did construction. and to see this can actually happen in a country that decided early on that unlike most countries in the world, it was going to level the playing field for everyone. no more rich. no more poor. everyone the same. education for everyone. schooling for everyone. housing if they could. to see the relentless united states go against it from the bay of pigs to utter subversion on and on and to see cuba emerged victorious -- when i say that, this is not a defeated country. this is a country -- if you heard the foreign minister today, what he spoke the history of u.s. imperialism against cuba. from the intervention in this and it should american war to the platt amendment which made u.s. of permanent part of the cuban government, the taking of guantanamo come at the failure to recognize it in 1959 to the
cutting off of relations in 1961, this is a major, major victory for the cuban people stop and that should be understood. we are standing at a moment that i never expected to see in our history. amy: bruno rodrigues, the foreign minister of cuba, gave a rousing speech inside the embassy. talk about what he said still needs to be accomplished. he wasn't exactly celebrating a total victory today. >> no, because things are still not normal. the u.s. is still spinning $30 million year to try to separate the cuban government. they are still illegally holding guantanamo and still have the most important thing, because it is costing the cuban people 1.1 trillion, they still have the blockade. unless those things are changed, you're not going to have changed situation. >> if obama wants to solve
guantanamo and the prisoners are once on a boat, give it back to -- at guantanamo, give it back to cuba. the easy way to do it, satisfy the cubans, satisfy guantanamo. let it happen now. think about cuba's place in history. not just for the fact of society, economically people all of the social network that we don't have in the united states, but think about its international role. think about apartheid in south africa and the key single event took place in angola with 25,000 cuban troops repulsed to south african military and gave it its first defeat, which was the beginning of the end of apartheid. it had an internationalism that just unbelievable. i remember standing in -- 100,000 people in front of a square in havana in 1976. said,give a speech and there is black blood in every
cuban vein and we are going into angola. i'm telling you, i still cry over it. any code that was michael ratner speaking to lie 22nd, 2015 -- july 22, 2015, the opening of the cuban embassy in washington, d.c., after it had been closed for more than 50 years. michael ratner died on wednesday, died yesterday, at the age of 72 of complications related to cancer. this is democracy now! we will be back remembering his life and legacy in a moment. ♪ [music break]
died at the age of 72 wednesday of complications related to cancer. we have a round table of people .emembering michael's life he was a longtime president of the center for constitutional rights. in a moment, we will go to jules lobel in pittsburgh who took over for michael. julian assange, remembering him from inside the ecuadorian embassy in london where michael went scores and scores of times to meet his client and friend julian assange who has been hole up in there, granted clinical asylum by ecuador but afraid if he steps outside, he will be sure data to the united states. michael smith, longtime friend, colleague, and co-author of "who killed che? how the cia got away with murder." and reed brody who wrote the pinochet papers with michael ratner. juan: i would like to bring in jules lobel from pittsburgh. jules, you replace michael as
the head of the center for constitutional rights. could you talk about his impact on social activism in the law and his model of lawyering? >> yeah, michael was a role model and inspiration for many lawyers and activists around the world, including myself. i never would have been involved with the center and i never would've had the career that i did if it wasn't for michael who got me involved, urged me to stay involved, and gave me the model of learning that i subsequently use -- lawyering that a subsequently use. his model, which i think is used by many people now, but which he pioneered him in her respects, is threefold. one is, he never back down from a fight against oppression, against injustice, no matter how difficult the odds or how hopeless the casing to be, no matter how much there was a lack of president. he took cases that nobody else would take for clients that nobody else would represent. whether it was work in central
america in the 1980's were nobody else would take these cases or the war powers cases or the haitian cases that reed talked about or the guantanamo cases. many cases.ne in now you talk about 600 guantanamo lawyers. when michael first said at the center, we have to take this case, he was standing alone and the center was standing alone. there were not 600 lawyers behind him, but he was willing to do that because he was unflinching in the face of oppression and unfair. -- unfearful. i remember when the first president bush went to war in iraq. 45 congressman sued. ron dillon told me, we call the center and we called michael because we knew you guys would do it. we knew you guys were willing to take on the bush administration and we did not know if anybody else was going to do it.
that is why he called us. secondly, michael was brilliant in combining legal advocacy and political advocacy. the cut you had from beth stevens where they brought the case against the former defense minister in el salvador -- amy: guatemala. >> guatemala, i'm sorry. and brilliantly sue them by following the subpoena and the summons while he was graduating from harvard. the respective of what happened legally with the case, the man was finished because that was the front-page news throughout autumn olive. when he filed the guantanamo case, he did not think he had a prayer of winning, but he was going to do this to come as susan anthony said 100 years ago, keep up the drumbeat of agitation, political education and agitation against what he thought was an oppressive u.s. policy in which we all know is an oppressive u.s. policy.
juan: i want to -- >> combining legal activism. juan: i want ask you about his pioneering work in the center's pioneering work in using this obscure alien tort act to go after international criminals. >> peter weiss and rhonda copeland geithner this up until -- 30 years ago. there had been no suits against foreign dictators, for human rights abuses in u.s. courts. so they did not have jurisdiction. the center without any president stood alone and said, we're going to sue human rights abuses wherever they are in the world. suedel took that up and dictators around the world. and now there is a -- hundreds of cases following the lead of michael in the center in using international law and using international human rights in u.s. courts
i want to say one other thing about michael on this. he loved people all around the globe. he represented them, met with them, shared their miseries, shared their sufferings. one of the things he taught me is to truly be with the people. to really go out and meet people, to be compassionate, to be a pathetic. and that is why i that you people all around the globe now death ofing the michael. when i was in cuba six months ago or so, i met with the foreign desk former foreign minister of cuba and the first question he asked me over dinner was, how is michael doing? he knew michael cared about cuba and the people in cuba and he cared about michael. it was those kinds of relationships that michael built that made him such a remarkable person. amy: i want to go back to 2006 when michael ratner and the center for constitutional rights were awarded the lennon ono grant for peace. this wasn't -- this was in
iceland. michael was introduced by yoko ono. aware, -- e well which we ourselves created. but we don't have to live in such darkness. it is up to us to walk away from it. and together, arrive into the future with this already in our hands. to accomplish us this. one is healing [indiscernible] individualo enjoy freedoms and collective health.
borders center for constitutional rights are working on the very things we ofd to restore the balance this land we love and cherish. >> thank you. it is incredible honor for me as the president of the center for constitutional rights to receive this honor. it has special significance for us. of course, a lot of people said to me, michael, what are you guys going to do with the money? one of the things we will be doing is continuing to represent some 500 men that are in cages at guantanamo bay, cuba. [applause] the other thing some of you may be aware of is the united states president bush recently pardon himself and all high-level u.s. officials for war crimes.
awkward in may be the united states, but it is not in the rest of the unite the world. amy: that was michael ratner in 2006 in iceland as he was awarded by yoko ono the lennon ono grant for peace. we only have one minute. your remembrance, your fond remembrance? >> michael and his wonderful wife sharon were at the center. their children, j, an activist with a motley workers and a performance artist, the only july 4 softball game in which everyone ended by singing the internationale now. they were the center of a community. amy: michael smith?
>> i took a singing class. anyone can sing with michael's children. we put them on face time. and we sang the international now. michael was in a barca whinger 's barco lounger in hi living room. he sang it in french. amy: i want him with a clip to mark michaels 60th birthday. many of his friend's were asked to briefly describe him. >> michael is unfaltering. >> tenacious. >> effervescent. >> decent. >> relentless. >> generous. >> got to be some kind of tremendous optimism to keep going at the pace that he goes. amy: friends and family remembering michael ratner. he died on wednesday at the age of 72 of complications related
to cancer. if you memories are stories you would like to share, you can go and we will post it online. thank you to julian assange and jules lobel and michael smith and reed brody. democracy now! is hiring for our video news production fellowship and our internship program. more information at democracynoworg. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!] on this episode of "eat! drink! italy!"...
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