Democracy Now! May 8, 2003

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Democracy Now! May 8, 2003
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Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz secretly create new Pentagon-based intelligence unit: Seymour Hersh examines the role the Office of Special Plans in the lead-up to invading Iraq; Harsh New York Rockefeller drug laws turn 30: Hip hop pioneer Russell Simmons & Anthony Papa who served 12 years for a first-time offense call for repeal of the laws; A look at how a single officer in Tulia Texas arrested 46 people on false, trumped-up drug charges: Falsely convicted suspects join us in the studio

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:25: U.S. soldiers have uncovered a trailer in the northern Iraq town of Tall Kayf, which they believe could be a mobile weapons laboratory. But officials said more tests are needed before any conclusions could be reached. If the trailer turns out to be a weapons lab, it will be the first major piece of evidence to support U.S. allegations that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction. This comes as the Pentagon plans to send 2,100 more American experts to Iraq to search for weapons. Currently the U.S. has a force of 600 in Iraq. To date no biological or chemical weapons have been found raising some questions about the reliability of evidence provided to the government. In this week s New Yorker an explosive article by Seymor Hersh examines how much of the intelligence linking Iraq to weapons of mass destruction came from a little known department in the Pentagon called the Office of Special Plans. Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, under the guidance of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, the office began gathering intelligence on Iraq independent of the CIA or the Pentagon s own Defense Intelligence Agency. According to the New Yorker article the Pentagon s office became one of President Bush s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with Al Qaeda. Well we are joined by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh to outline his story * Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter with The New Yorker. His latest piece is titled Offense and Defense: The Battle Between Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon. Link: Selective Intelligence: Donald Rumsfeld has his own special sources. Are they reliable? 9:20-9:21 One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:40: Three decades ago today, New York became the first state in the nation to require harsh prison sentences for all drug offenders. The new laws were pushed through the state legislature in 1973 by then-governor Nelson Rockefeller. The laws require a minimum sentence of 15 years for minor possession of drugs. Enforcement of the laws rarely hit drug kingpins. Instead, judges were forced to imprison mostly first-time, low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. Most of them are poor, most are people of color. Dozens of other states and the federal government rushed to adopt their own versions of the Rockefeller drug laws when New York State set the precedent. Today, New York and California alone retain their mandatory minimum sentences. The movement to scrap the laws is continuing to grow. Last year, former New York Senator John Dunne appeared in a TV commercial. He said: "In 1973, I sponsored the Rockefeller drug laws, which have been a well-documented failure." * Anthony Papa, was convicted of a first-time, non-violent drug possession charge in 1985 under the tough anti-drug laws signed by Governor Rockefeller which left the judge no choice but to impose a harsh prison sentence of 15 Years to Life. At the time, Papa, married with one daughter. Papa spent the next 12 years behind bars at Sing Sing prison. During that time, he earned degrees in behavioral science, theology and paralegal studies. He also learned to paint. Papa became an accomplished and acclaimed artist, painting a powerful collection of images relating to his prison experience. One of his pieces, "15 Years to Life," was exhibited at the Whitney Museum. Link:* Russell Simmons, the founder of Def Jam Records and one of the most successful recording executives, producer, promoters in the hip hop world. Last year he helped form the Hip-hop Summit Action Network. Phone: 347 219 2889 * Randy Credico, director of the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice 9:40-9:41 One Minute Music Break 9:41-9:58: In the tiny town of Tulia, Texas in 1999, a single under-cover officer arrested 43 people arrested on charges of selling small amounts of cocaine. The officer had no corroborating evidence in the biggest drug sting in local history. Forty out of the 43 defendants were black. More than ten percent of the African-American community were arrested. In some cases, hometown juries later meted out sentences ranging from 20 years to more than 300 years. Local officials declared the operation a stunning success. 22 of the defendants were sent to prison while others received probation. The undercover agent at the center of the operation, Tom Coleman, was named by the state as lawman of the year. Last week, The Amarillo Globe-News reported defense attorneys have hammered out an agreement with special prosecutors and a judge. According to he agreement, the 13 people still in prison from the drug sting operation should be freed. The agreement is known legally as findings of fact and conclusions of law. A source close to the negotiations told the Amarillo News the agreement will now be sent on to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a final decision. * Jeff Blackburn, Civil rights lawyer and head of the Tulia Legal Defense Project * Tanya White, falsely charged in Tulia Texas on drug charges. Charges were dropped because she was able to produce evidence showing she was in Oklahoma City at the time she was accused of selling drugs in Tulia * Zuri Bossett, falsely charged in Tulia Texas on drug charges 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Sharif Abdul Kouddous, Ana Nogueira, Elizabeth Press with help from Noah Reibel and Vilka Tzouras. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer. Thanks also to Uri Galed, Angela Alston, Emily Kunstler, Orlando Richards, Simba Rousseau, Rafael delaUz, Gabriel Weiss, Johnny Sender, Rich Kim, Karen Ranucci, Fatima Mojadiddy, Denis Moynihan and Jenny Filipazzo.

Date Recorded on: 
May 8, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
May 8, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., May 8, 2003
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