News Release Archive - Legal

First Sign of Normalcy: Ramp up Evictions

MALIKA CONNER, malika@righttocounselnyc.org@RTCNYC
Director of organizing for Right to Counsel NYC Coalition, Conner said today: “The CDC eviction moratorium set to expire July 31 doesn’t go far enough to protect tenants: It stops landlords from evicting only some tenants and doesn’t prevent landlords from suing. It also prioritizes landlords’ profits over tenants’ needs by requiring tenants to pay what little money they have towards rent.

“The current eviction protections in New York State, enacted through the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act (CEEFPA), protects most tenants from eviction, but only if they submit a hardship declaration form. These state protections are set to expire on August 31 and must absolutely be extended to prevent a health and homelessness crisis.

“Neither of these so-called moratoriums stop landlords from suing tenants wholesale, which is a serious cause of anxiety and stress for tenants and puts hundreds of thousands of families in immediate risk of eviction when they expire.

“Right now, despite these protections, there are more than 236,000 households across New York State with eviction cases in Housing Court. During the pandemic alone, landlords sued more than 65,000 tenants for eviction. That’s a nearly 40 percent increase in eviction cases since March 2020 and tens of thousands of families at risk of losing their homes.

“We cannot let these protections expire while New Yorkers are still reeling from the pandemic. Many tenants are without work, are struggling to pay for necessities like food and healthcare, and continue to endure poor living conditions in apartments neglected by landlords throughout, and even before, the pandemic. A recent study by UCLA also found that the number of coronavirus cases and deaths ‘increased dramatically’ in states where eviction moratoriums had been lifted.

“Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature must act now to stop mass evictions. The CEEFPA must be strengthened and extended beyond August 31st so all tenants are protected. Along with its many horrors, the COVID-19 pandemic taught us some important lessons. One of those lessons is that we can never again accept the routine inhumanity of the housing court eviction machine. Allowing the eviction protections to expire is simply not an option and will quickly reel us back to overcrowded, superspreader housing courts and families facing homelessness.”

Drone Whistleblower to be Sentenced Today

CHIP GIBBONS, chip@rightsanddissent.org@RightsDissent
    Gibbons is policy director with the group Defending Rights & Dissent which has done extensive work in the case of Daniel Hale, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. He participated in the U.S. drone program, working with both the National Security Agency and the Joint Special Operations Task Force at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.

    Gibbons has said: “Hale’s crime is exposing the human rights abuses of U.S. drone strikes, including that during a given time period nearly 90 percent of those killed by drone strikes were not the intended target.”

    Gibbons said today: “Daniel Hale’s prosecution, like all prosecutions of whistleblowers under the Espionage Act, was a political prosecution. Hale was prosecuted not because he leaked classified information — such leaks are routine in Washington — but by exposing civilian casualties he contradicted official U.S. policy pronouncements about its global assassination program. …

    “The prosecution made it clear that by seeking an unprecedentedly harsh sentence they were seeking to chill other whistleblowers from coming forward to the press. Hale’s disclosures did not damage U.S. national security, but his prosecution damaged U.S. democracy.

    “Hale’s disclosure also included information about the U.S. watch list, which since released, has been used by CAIR [Council on American-Islamic Relations] to challenge the No Fly List. While Hale’s attorneys are requesting a sentence of 12 to 18 months, the prosecution are asking for a sentence of seven to nine years. Such a sentence would be the longest sentence ever given to a whistleblower who gave information to the media in a civilian court. As part of his sentencing, Hale penned a letter to the judge explaining how witnessing the gruesome human cost of drone strikes, as well as Obama’s pronouncements that precautions were taken to protect civilians, led him to seek to expose the true nature of U.S. drone warfare. Prosecutions under the Espionage Act were once rare, but became the norm under the Obama and Trump administrations. The use of the Espionage Act against journalists’ sources has been roundly condemned by press freedom advocates.”

    A copy of Hale’s letter to the judge and other material is available at StandWithDanielHale.org.

AFRICOM Strikes Somalia: Black Bombings Matter

CommonDreams reports: “Sanders, Lee, and Murphy Slam Biden Administration’s First Drone Strike in Somalia.” It also reports: “‘A Huge Outrage’: Senate Panel Approves $25 Billion Pentagon Budget Increase.”

Politico reports in “Welcome to Joe Biden’s Somalia war“: “On Tuesday, U.S. Africa Command [AFRICOM] chief Gen. Stephen Townsend authorized a single drone strike against al-Shabaab militants attacking an American-trained elite Somali force known as the Danab. While no U.S. troops accompanied the Somalis during the operation near Galkayo, Pentagon spokesperson Cindi King told NatSec Daily that Townsend has the authority under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter ‘to conduct collective self-defense of partner forces.'”

In February, Biden bombed Syria, see Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Biden Bombing Syria: ‘Illegal.’

ABDI SAMATAR, [currently in Mogadishu] samat001@umn.edu
    Available for a limited number of interviews, Samatar is professor and chair of the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota.

    Samatar recently wrote the piece “Somalia’s toxic political and security order: the death knell of democracy” for The Conversation: “In 2006, after a decade-and-a-half of cruel civil war, the Union of Islamic Courts, a homegrown alliance of religious leaders, terminated 15 years of warlords’ terror and tyranny. They pacified Mogadishu and surrounding areas and were about to set up local administration for the city and the surrounding settlements.
“But the initiative was short-lived. The international community, led by the U.S., reversed this local initiative, and empowered a government dominated by warlords.

    “U.S. (and foreign) influence was further consolidated after 2008 — the year Washington listed Al-Shabaab as a terrorist organisation. Since then, the U.S. and its allies have spent billions of dollars on illusive security and superficial development that has failed to improve the capacity of Somalis to take charge of their future.”

    Vice just published the piece: “U.S. Airstrikes Have Torn Somali Families Apart. They’re Still Seeking Justice.” See their reporting on AFRICOM.

    See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last year on AFRICOM: “U.S. Bombings in Africa: Why Are People Unaware?

Global Rights Threat of Israeli Spying Firms

RICHARD SILVERSTEIN, richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052
Silverstein is an independent journalist and researcher writing about Israeli foreign policy and covert operations. He writes the Tikun Olam blog and contributes to Al Jazeera English, Middle East Eye, and Jacobin magazine.

He just wrote the piece “NSO Group Targets 50,000 Cell Phone Numbers in 50 Countries: Heads of State, Cabinet Ministers, Diplomats, Security Officials.” He also recently wrote the piece “Israeli Cyber-Mercenary Company, Candiru, Exposed as New Global Rights Threat.”

He said today: “Two major media exposes in the New York Times and Washington Post have shone a light on the damage done by Israeli cyber-hacking companies to human rights around the world. The Post story, published in collaboration with Amnesty International’s Pegasus Project, details a massive corporate spying campaign by the world’s largest such company, NSO Group, targeting 50,000 cell phones located in 50 countries. At its heart is the most sophisticated cyber-malware product on the world market, Pegasus.

“Among those targeted were heads of state, cabinet ministers, diplomats, and military-security officials. The articles indicate that the NSO client state Saudi Arabia had infected the phones of a close associate of murdered journalist, Jamal Khasoggi, his ex-wife, and his fiance. The electronic device of a Mexican journalist was hacked less than two weeks before his murder.

“As it faces a major lawsuit from Whatsapp, which was compromised by an exploit created by NSO, the company is mounting an aggressive defense including creating an ethics panel meant to whitewash the moral and ethical lapses for which the technology is responsible. Members of the panel included former Obama administration officials including Julie Kayyem and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro. It has also hired a major D.C. lobbying firm and one of Washington’s leading libel lawyers in an effort to cajole or intimidate its critics into silence.

“These reports prove that this industry must be regulated by U.S. legislation and/or international treaty. Cyber-hacking on this scale is an incredibly lucrative business in which the more dangerous the technology, the more money is to be made. If restraints aren’t imposed, the damage could spread exponentially in coming years.”

Is Big Pharma’s Dominance Through Bayh-Dole Act Finally Getting Scrutiny from Biden?

STAT News in “Biden’s executive order would pause a Trump rule forbidding march-in rights to lower drug costs” reports: “In a little-noticed move, the Biden administration has hit the pause button on a rule that would prevent the federal government from using a controversial legal provision for combating the high prices of products developed with taxpayer dollars.”

(Last week, STAT News reported: “Major pharmaceutical companies and trade groups helped fund the campaigns of more than 2,400 state legislators nationwide in the 2020 election.” STAT News focuses on health issues and is produced by Boston Globe Media.)

JAMES LOVE, james.love@keionline.org, @jamie_love
    Love is director Knowledge Ecology International, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization that “searches for better outcomes, including new solutions, to the management of knowledge resources.” KEI is focused on “social justice, particularly for the most vulnerable populations, including low-income persons and marginalized groups.”

    He said today: “The Bayh-Dole Act, passed in 1980, created a uniform policy for the management of patents on federally funded R&D. Among the provisions are some that can be used to increase competition and address abuses, such as excessive pricing. In the early 1990s, Congress pressed the federal government to curb high prices on federally funded drugs for HIV, cancer and rare diseases. In 1995, President Clinton announced he would no longer enforce reasonable pricing conditions in contracts. Since then, the NIH has rejected a number of petitions to use its rights to ‘march-in’ on patent rights, and grant licenses to generic manufacturers, when prices are excessive.

    “Universities and drug companies have lobbied aggressively and successfully for more than 20 years to prevent this from happening. There is a petition outstanding today by three prostate cancer patients for the government to grant a march-in request on Xtandi, a drug that costs $150k+ per year in the United States, and far less everywhere else. On Jan 5, 2021, NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] proposed a regulation to eliminate pricing as a grounds for a march-in request. The executive order put a hold on that provision, and now the Biden administration will have to rule on the Xtandi petition, which is before DoD. The precedent will be important for many other products.”

Haiti and the Disaster Foreign Manipulation Has Wrought

The Miami Herald reports in “Haiti President Jovenel Moïse assassinated in middle-of-the-night attack at his home“: “The assailants apparently claimed to be agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to videos taken by people in the area of the president’s home. Moïse, 53, lived in Pelerin 5, a neighborhood just above the hills in the capital.

“On the videos, someone with an American accent is heard yelling in English over a megaphone, ‘DEA operation. Everybody stand down. DEA operation. Everybody back up, stand down.'”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “These reports are absolutely false.”

See Wednesday Institute for Public Accuracy news release on Haiti. Also see Twitter list on Haiti.

AMY WILENTZ, awilentz@uci.edu@amywilentz
Wilentz is author of numerous books on Haiti including The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier and Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti. She can talk about the history of Haiti and how U.S. interventions have “inspired enmity and disgust” among the Haitian people.

See Twitter thread on U.S. interventions in Haiti.

CHRIS BERNADEL, cbernadel@protonmail.com@Blacks4Peace
Bernadel is on the Haiti Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace; both of his parents are Haitian immigrants. See the group’s statement from Wednesday: “Will the Biden administration and other political players use this moment as the pretext for military intervention, as was done in 1915? Will interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph attempt to consolidate power under the pretext of the current state of siege? Will the Core Group find a new willing puppet, more pliable than Moïse, to bring ‘stability?'”

EMMANUELA DOUYON, [in Haiti] emmanuela.douyon@gmail.com@emmadouyon
Douyon testified in March before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on what Biden administration policy on Haiti should be. She said today: “Since last June, with the collective of activists, NOU PAP DOMI (We Will Not Sleep), I have been actively denouncing the increase in violence in Haiti and urging the authorities to act accordingly. A friend and fellow activist, Netty Duclaire, was killed less than a week ago along with 18 other Haitian citizens. I am mourning and now comes this terrible news.

“Never would I have imagined that the head of the country would be assassinated. If he can be assassinated in his home, who is safe in this country? Whose life matters in this country? How are we supposed to keep going and keep burying our loved ones?

“We, young activists, Petrochallengers, tried to warn the international community with the hashtag #freeHaiti but it was to no avail. We are not receiving the kind of support we need whether it’s from the UN or other countries and organizations. This partly explains why the situation keeps getting worse and we can’t see the impact of all the aid received, not to mention that because of corruption there is at least one notable case of mismanagement of aid money: the Petrocaribe scandal.

“I am shocked by the news of the assassination of former president Jovenel Moïse. This shows the extent to which violence reigns in Haiti. Justice must be served. We, the Haitian people, must stop the current political crisis and end the vicious cycle of violence.”

Assange Case: British Court Grants Biden Limited Appeal to Continue Attack on WikiLeaks Founder

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola

Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola has extensively covered the legal proceedings regarding Assange.

He just wrote the piece “Assange Extradition: British High Court Grants U.S. a Limited Appeal” for The Dissenter which reports: “The High Court of Justice rejected U.S. efforts to ‘second guess’ factual findings made about medical and expert evidence.”

Gosztola notes that he has “reviewed the appeal submissions, which are not publicly available” and gives a breakdown of the arguments in his just-published article.

He reports: “’It comes as no surprise that the U.K. High Court will consider the U.S. government’s appeal, but Julian Assange should not be in this position in the first place,’ stated Reporters Without Borders director of international campaigns Rebecca Vincent. ‘He has been targeted for his contributions to public interest reporting, and his prosecution in the U.S. would have severe and long-lasting implications for journalism and press freedom around the world.’

‘”We call again for [President Joe Biden’s] administration to drop the appeal and close the case, and for the U.K. to immediately release Assange from prison, where his mental and physical health remain at high risk,’ Vincent added.

“‘[Stella] Moris [Assange’s partner] asserted, [Attorney General] Merrick Garland has egg on his face because of the decision to use a witness that perjured himself in order to try to imprison Julian and keep him imprisoned.'” See IPA news release from a week ago: “Key Witness Against Assange Admits Fabrication.”

Gosztola wrote in January: “British Judge Keeps Assange In Prison, Despite Ruling Against Extradition.”

Supreme Court “Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act”

MARJORIE COHN, marjorielegal@gmail.com@marjoriecohn
Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, recently wrote the piece “Supreme Court Drives a Stake Through the Heart of the Voting Rights Act.”

She writes: “Divided strictly along ideological lines, the Supreme Court construed what was left of the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) to uphold two Arizona voter suppression laws that civil rights organizations had challenged for disproportionately burdening voters of color. This decision sends a dangerous signal to states that the courts are likely to uphold their voter suppression laws that make it harder for people of color to vote.

“In Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the Court’s six right-wingers ruled, over the dissent of the three liberals, that Arizona’s ‘out of precinct policy’ and ‘ballot harvesting’ provision did not violate Section 2 of the VRA. Section 2 forbids any voting procedure that ‘results in a denial or abridgment of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race.’ …

“’In recent months, State after State has taken up or enacted legislation erecting new barriers to voting,’ [Elena] Kagan wrote. ‘Those laws shorten the time polls are open, both on Election Day and before. They impose new prerequisites to voting by mail, and shorten the windows to apply for and return mail ballots. They make it harder to register to vote, and easier to purge voters from the rolls. Two laws even ban handing out food or water to voters standing in line.’

“The ball is in Congress’s court. Two federal voter protection bills are pending, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. In addition, the Judiciary Act of 2021 would increase the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to 13. That could provide an opportunity to dilute the right-wing agenda of the current six members of the Court who voted to open the floodgates of voter suppression legislation.”

* Key Witness Against Assange Admits Fabrication * China Whistleblower

KEVIN GOSZTOLA, kevin@shadowproof.com, @kgosztola

Managing editor of Shadowproof, Gosztola has extensively covered the legal proceedings regarding Assange. He highlights the reporting of the Icelandic outlet Stundin, which reports: “A major witness in the United States’ Department of Justice case against Julian Assange has admitted to fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks founder. The witness, who has a documented history with sociopathy and has received several convictions for sexual abuse of minors and wide-ranging financial fraud, made the admission in a newly published interview in Stundin where he also confessed to having continued his crime spree whilst working with the Department of Justice and FBI and receiving a promise of immunity from prosecution.”

Added Gosztola: “What [the witness, Sigurdur Ingi] Thordarson recanted, contradicted, or clarified about Assange for Stundin shows why cross-appeal is priority for Assange and his legal team. Though extradition was denied, they never had [a] fair opportunity to impeach witness testimony after [a] third indictment was sprung on them.”

Since the charges against Assange have to do with helping expose U.S. war crimes and not with Russiagate, Gosztola noted: “More than two years later and Respectable Elite Pundits still have no clue what the U.S. case is against Assange. They just know why they hate him and damn the consequences to freedom and democracy if he’s ever actually brought before a U.S. court.”

Gosztola also just wrote the piece: “Pentagon whistleblower under investigation after warning about risks of war with China over Taiwan,” which states: “Pentagon whistleblower Franz Gayl has been part of the United States Marine Corps for over four decades. He spent the last months trying to warn U.S. government officials and the public of the threat of becoming entangled in a war with China over Taiwan.

“Yet instead of seriously considering his perspective, Gayl faces a counterintelligence investigation into articles he wrote and early retirement.

“He published an open letter to President Joe Biden on LinkedIn on June 22 in a last-ditch effort to reach the White House and communicate his concerns over the increased potential for an ‘ill-advised foreign war.’

“Gayl warned, ‘Taiwan’s own watershed “Gulf of Tonkin” event is only a matter of time, probably through an accident or miscalculation. Sensing the urgency, I submitted numerous op-eds to U.S. newspaper and electronic media outlets, but each was rejected.’

“’As a last resort, I contacted the [People’s Republic of China’s] own Global Times, which published my op-eds in April and May.’

“The publications spurred an investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). His security clearances were revoked on June 1. …”

Biden, Building on Trump’s Censorship, Targets Iranian and Palestinian Websites

Al Jazeera reports in “U.S. seizes three dozen websites used for ‘Iranian disinformation’” that: “Seized sites include Press TV and Houthi and Palestinian outlets. Move comes amid tense efforts to revive nuclear deal.”

At NATO headquarters recently, Biden spoke of his commitment to the “important shared missions” of “renewing and strengthening the resilience of our democracies” as well as “protecting the free press and independent judiciaries.” Later, he spoke of his insistence to Russian President Vladimir Putin of the “importance of a free press and freedom of speech.”

See Institute for Public Accuracy news release from last year: “Code Red: Barr Seizes Internet Domains of Media Outlets.”

ANDREW STEWART, hasc.warrior.stew@gmail.com@DCBabylon1
On Tuesday, Stewart wrote the piece “FBI & Dept of Commerce Seize Iranian Press TV Web Domain” for Washington Babylon.

He states: “This step by Commerce and the FBI proves … rhetorical flourishes are a smokescreen for a widening censorship mandate within Washington. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the federal policing agencies have sharpened a carceral lens upon the information superhighway, invoking moral panics like ‘internet radicalization,’ aberrant sexual behavior, multimedia piracy, or illicit drug trafficking to justify the crackdown. While there’s certainly no denying that serious malfeasance like white nationalist indoctrination, child pornography, copyright infringement, or sales of narcotics take place online, laws passed in the name of combatting such practices are wildly overreaching and create judicial precedents for later use in cases like that of Press TV. These legislative efforts also conveniently ignore that there were already plenty of laws with harsh, sometimes overly-sadistic penalties for sexual assault, kidnapping, murder, or narco vending. However, none of those laws provided censorship opportunities, something that Washington and Silicon Valley have been desperate to implement after the early Wild West days of the web opened floodgates for free information that could not be used for profits and taxes.

“I have always been wary of state-sponsored broadcasters like RT or Press TV. Both have editorial lines driven by the geopolitical concerns of their sponsors, which is anathema to what journalists are mandated to serve. … None of these qualms, however, justify censorship.”