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Human Rights Law

Marjorie Cohn Marjorie Cohn

Legal and political analysis of criminal justice, human rights and U.S. foreign policy.
By Marjorie Cohn

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Last Entry: March 23, 2014 at 20:42:00

Recent Entries: 157

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BDS: Non-Violent Resistance to Israeli Occupation

Posted on March 23, 2014
Thanks to Scarlett Johansson, the American Studies Association (ASA), and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has entered our national discourse. Representatives of Palestinian civil society launched BDS in 2005, calling upon ?international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South African in the apartheid era ...

Beyond Orwell?s Worst Nightmare

Posted on January 31, 2014
?Big Brother is Watching You,? George Orwell wrote in his disturbing book 1984. But, as Mikko Hypponen points out, Orwell ?was an optimist.? Orwell never could have imagined that the National Security Agency (NSA) would amass metadata on billions of our phone calls and 200 million of our text messages every day...

NSA Metadata Collection: Fourth Amendment Violation

Posted on January 16, 2014
Edward Snowden, who worked for the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed a secret order of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), that requires Verizon to produce on an "ongoing daily basis ... all call detail records or 'telephony metadata' created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls...

Voices From the Drone Summit

Posted on November 17, 2013
Last weekend, I participated in a panel on the illegality of drones and targeted killing off the battlefield at the conference, ?Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance,? in Washington DC. Nearly 400 people from many countries came together to gather information, protest, and develop strategies to end targeted killing by combat drones...

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Killing Civilians to Protect Civilians in Syria

Posted on August 28, 2013
By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne MirerThe drums of war are beating again. The Obama administration will reportedly launch a military strike to punish Syria?s Assad government for its alleged use of chemical weapons. A military attack would invariably kill civilians for the ostensible purpose of showing the Syrian government that killing civilians is wrong...

The Struggle Continues: Seeking Compensation for Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims, 52 Years On

Posted on August 10, 2013
By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne MirerToday marks the 52nd anniversary of the start of the chemical warfare program in Vietnam, a long time with NO sufficient remedial action by the U.S. government. One of the most shameful legacies of the American War against Vietnam, Agent Orange continues to poison Vietnam and the people exposed to the chemicals, as well as their offspring...

Bradley Manning's Revelations Saved Lives

Posted on August 06, 2013
This is a historic verdict. Judge Denise Lind correctly found Bradley Manning not guilty of aiding the enemy because the evidence failed to establish that Manning knew information he provided to WikiLeaks would reach al-Qaida. A conviction of aiding the enemy would have sent a chilling message to the news media that if they publish leaked classified information, their officers could face life in prison...

Key Mistakes Sway Jury in Zimmerman Trial

Posted on July 19, 2013
A Southern jury of six women ? none of them black ? found 28-year-old George Zimmerman's shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to be justifiable homicide because he acted in self-defense.The jurors were prohibited from considering race. They were instructed only on the parts of self-defense law that helped Zimmerman, and the chief police investigator improperly testified that he believed Zimmerman...

Five "High-Value" Guantanamo Detainees Improperly Presumed Guilty

Posted on July 05, 2013
It is a bedrock principle of our system of justice that everyone who is charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. That includes "high-value detainees" awaiting trial in Guantánamo's military commissions. Yet pre-trial hearings held June 17-21 in the cases of five men charged with planning the 9/11 attacks revealed a clear presumption of guilt on the part of the government...

Snowden's Case for Asylum: An Interview With Marjorie Cohn

Posted on June 30, 2013
Despite U.S. government pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin is balking at demands that he extradite Edward Snowden from Moscow to face espionage charges for leaking secrets about America?s global surveillance operations. Still, Snowden?s status remains dicey, as Marjorie Cohn explains to Dennis J Bernstein...

Former CIA Employee, Snowden, Blows Whistle on NSA's Dragnet Surveillance

Posted on June 19, 2013
Just as Bradley Manning's court-martial was getting underway, another brave whistleblower dropped a bombshell into the media: The Obama administration is collecting data on every telephone call we make. Nearly 64 years to the day after George Orwell published his prescient book 1984, we have learned that the "Thought Police" are indeed watching every one of us...

Guantanamo Prisoner Al-Nashiri's Case Demonstrates Unfairness of Military Commissions

Posted on June 19, 2013
The issue of terrorism has been front and center in the national discourse since 9/11. Guantánamo has become a symbol of US hypocrisy on human rights.Lawyers handling the criminal case of Guantánamo prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri argued several pre-trial motions last week...

The Turkish Spring: Lawyers Rounded Up

Posted on June 13, 2013
For nearly three weeks, thousands of protestors have gathered peacefully at Occupy Gezi in Taksim Square in Istanbul. Turkish police have unleashed a brutal crackdown, resulting in three confirmed deaths and nearly 5,000 injured. According to Turkish lawyer Kerem Gulay, a Fulbright Scholar and doctoral student at Cornell Law School, police tactics include excessive beatings with police batons and rifle handles, and the use of pepper spray and other chemicals, rubber bullets, and, allegedly, real bullets...

Bradley Manning's Legal Duty to Expose War Crimes

Posted on June 08, 2013
TruthoutThe court-martial of Bradley Manning, the most significant whistleblower case since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, has begun. Although Manning pled guilty earlier this year to 10 offenses that will garner him 20 years in custody, military prosecutors insist on pursuing charges of aiding the enemy and violation of the Espionage Act, that carry life in prison...

Guantanamo, Drone Strikes and the Non-War Terror War: Obama Speaks

Posted on May 24, 2013
TruthoutAs one of the 1,200-plus signatories to the full-page ad that appeared in The New York Times, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, I was disappointed in President Barack Obama's speech Thursday on counterterrorism, drones and Guantanamo.Torture and Indefinite Detention at GuantanamoIn a carefully crafted - at times defensive, discourse, Obama said, "In some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values - by using torture to interrogate our enemies and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law," adding, "We unequivocally banned torture...

Death is Preferable to Life at Obama?s Guantanamo

Posted on May 09, 2013
More than 100 of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo are starving themselves to death. Twenty-three of them are being force-fed. ?They strap you to a chair, tie up your wrists, your legs, your forehead and tightly around the waist,? Fayiz Al-Kandari told his lawyer, Lt...

A War of Aggression, From "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law" (2007)

Posted on March 19, 2013
According to sources inside the administration, George W. Bush was planning to invade Iraq and remove its government well before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Such an invasion violates the UN Charter, which the United States signed in 1945 after the bloodiest conflict in history...

The Uncommon Courage of Bradley Manning

Posted on March 01, 2013
Bradley Manning has pleaded guilty to 10 charges including possessing and willfully communicating to an unauthorized person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. The charges carry a total of 20 years in prison. For the first time, Bradley spoke publicly about what he did and why...

An Interview with Marjorie Cohn about Targeted Killings

Posted on February 18, 2013
By Dennis Bernstein, Flashpoints, Pacifica Radio DB:  We continue our discussion of the revelations around a memo coming out of the Justice Department that the administration plans to keep up these assassinations and expand the program.  Joining us to take a legal look at this is Marjorie Cohn, Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former President of the National Lawyers Guild...

Zero Dark Thirty: Torturing the Facts

Posted on January 10, 2013
On January 11, eleven years to the day after George W. Bush sent the first detainees to Guantanamo, the Oscar-nominated film Zero Dark Thirty is making its national debut.  Zero Dark Thirty is disturbing for two reasons. First and foremost, it leaves the viewer with the erroneous impression that torture helped the CIA find bin Laden?s hiding place in Pakistan...

Make Obama Do It

Posted on November 13, 2012
By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne MirerPresident Obama declared in his victory address on election night, ?Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated . . . We want our children to live in an America that isn?t burdened by debt, that isn?t weakened by inequality, that isn?t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet...

No Accountability for Torturers

Posted on September 03, 2012
The Obama administration has closed the books on prosecutions of those who violated our laws by authorizing and conducting the torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder decided that his office would investigate only two incidents, in which CIA interrogations ended in deaths...


Posted on August 02, 2012
By Jeanne Mirer and Marjorie CohnTo take action go to http://www.vn-agentorange.org/There are images from the U.S. War against Vietnam that have been indelibly imprinted on the minds of Americans who lived through it. One is the naked napalm-burned girl running from her village with flesh hanging off her body...

Immigration, Racism, and the Supreme Court

Posted on July 18, 2012
The issue of immigration has been tossed about like a political football for some time. Democrats argue that migrants who have spent many years in the United States should be permitted to apply for lawful status. Republicans criticize these proposals as ?amnesty...

Killer Drone Attacks Illegal, Counter-Productive

Posted on June 26, 2012
By Marjorie Cohn and Jeanne Mirer The Bush administration detained and tortured suspected militants; the Obama administration assassinates them. Both practices not only visit more hatred upon the United States; they are also illegal. Our laws and treaties prohibit torture...

Hope Dies at Guantánamo

Posted on June 25, 2012
The tragic case of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif hit a dead end when the US Supreme Court issued an order refusing to hear his case last week. Latif, a Yemeni man, has been imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay since January 2002, after being detained while traveling to seek medical treatment...

Romney the Bully

Posted on May 21, 2012
Last week, I was invited to speak to 40 high school freshman abouthuman rights. When we discussed the right to be free from torture, Iasked the students if they could think of an example of torture. Theysaid, ?bullying.? A major problem among teens, bullying can lead todepression, and even suicide...

International Association of Democratic Lawyers Opposes Military Force Against Syria and Iran

Posted on March 24, 2012
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), a non-governmental organization having consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), is dedicated to uphold international law, particularly the peaceful resolution of disputes as set forth in the UN Charter and basic human rights instruments...

The Haditha Massacre: No Justice for Iraqis

Posted on January 30, 2012
"They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I'll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood.This left something in my head and heart." -Lance Cpl. Roel Ryan Briones Last week, Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich was sentenced to a reduction in rank but no jail time for leading his squad in a rampage known as ?The Haditha Massacre...

Pressure Israel, Not Iran

Posted on January 17, 2012
Neocons in Israel and the United States are escalating their rhetoric to prepare us for war with Iran. Even the infamous John Yoo, architect of George W. Bush?s illegal torture and spying programs, is calling on the Republican presidential candidates to ?begin preparing the case for a military strike to destroy Iran?s nuclear program...

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