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#553#554#555#556 Episode #557 - The Making of Police State USA
(From The Rosenberg Case to 2010 FBI Raids)



Sat 25 June 2011  Jolie Pataki, Robert Meeropol, Jeanne Mirer, Michael McConnell, Michael Deutsch, Lea Fried
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Download Hour1 Download Hour2This week, a two part show on the US Police State. In our first hour, recordings from last week's meeting of the National Committee to Reopen The Rosenberg Case, including Robert Meeropol's Eulogy to his parents, by whose 1953 killing the US government intensified the red scare. In our second hour, we hear from the Chicago civil liberties community on the September 2010 FBI raids there and subsequent use of grand jury proceedings in an effort to chill dissent.
This two looks at the "war on terror" at home. In our first hour, a 1953 example of the US government has played fast and loose with the law. On the 58th anniversary of the US government's killing of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, a couple of young communist activists, we hear proceedings of the National Committee to Reopen The Rosenberg Case's meeting, entitled "With Justice for Whom?" We start with Jolie Pataki reading a letter from the president of the NCRRC on the relevance of the Rosenberg case to the modern day.

Then we hear "The Eulogy I Was Unable To Give" by Robert Meeropol, the younger son of the Rosenbergs, his first such public speech for some decades, followed by a short statement from his brother Michael, read out by Jolie Pataki. We conclude with a presentation by Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, co-chair of the National Lawyers' Guild international committee, on the relevance of the Rosenberg case to the current "war on terror". She continues 5 minutes into the second hour.

In the second part of our show, we hear an event sponsored by a range of groups, including the American Friends Service Committee, discussion the 2010 FBI raids against activists in Chicago and Minneapolis. We begin by hearing Michael McConnell, who notes that us of blatantly illegal tactics of repression are not without historical precedents, as established by the Church Report in the case of CoIntelPro. He looks at the history of the use of Grand Jury system to undermine people's legal rights, including the Investigative Grand Jury which was founded in the McCarthy era.

Then we hear Michael Deutsch outline the general pattern of US government oppression of activist groups, including the illegal methods as well as the different acts of legislation which have been used to prosecute activists and to try to chill dissent. He explains what underlies the vaguely legislated offence of "Conspiring to Provide Material Support for Foreign Terrorist Organisations" - since 1996, the US Secretary of State has claimed the power to unilaterally designate any organisation as terrorist, without the need to present any evidence of wrongdoing. The legal definition of 'material support', is another slippery concept - this June, the US Supreme Court interpreted the statute to mean that even explaining to other people about the organisation could be considered 'material support'.

Lea Fried closes the show, by giving some US labour union history, how the government fought their successes in the early 20th century noting that unions have become increasingly impotent to the extent that they divorced themselves from wider social issues relevant to their members.
Thanks to Fred Nguyen for the The National Committee to Reopen The Rosenberg Case recording and to Dale Lehman for the The American Friends Service Committee recording.
For a more recent look at the themes looked at in this show, see episode 618.
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