Recorded at the James A. Little Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 24, 2011.
Michael Ratner is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) in Berlin. Both are non-profit human rights litigation organizations. He was part of the small group of lawyers that first took on representation of the Guantánamo detainees in January 2001, a case that resulted in a victory in the Supreme Court in 2004. CCR established a network of over 600 pro-bono lawyers to represent Guantánamo detainees and continues that work.
He has filed criminal complaints in the courts of Germany, France and Spain against former US officials including Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld seeking the initiation of criminal prosecutions against them for the Abu Ghraib abuse and torture as well as for their actions at Guantánamo. Recently, CCR and ECCHR prepared papers to file in Switzerland against George W. Bush for torture. As a result Bush canceled his trip. A major area of Mr. Ratner’s litigation and writing is the enforcement of the prohibition on torture and murder against various dictators and generals who travel to the United States. He has sued on behalf of victims in Guatemala, East Timor, Haiti, Argentina, among other countries. He has also litigated numerous suits to prevent or stop illegal US wars ranging from Central America to Iraq. A constant in his work has been litigation against government spying and surveillance of activists.
Ratner’s books, authored or coauthored, include the soon to be published, Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in 21st-Century America (2011) and Killing Che: How the CIA Got Away with Murder (2011). Other books include International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts, Second Edition (2008); Against War with Iraq (2003); Guantánamo: What the World Should Know (2004); and The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book (2008). Ratner has taught human rights litigation at Yale and Columbia Law Schools. A past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Ratner has received many awards including Trial Lawyer of the Year, the Columbia Law School Medal of Honor (2005), the North Star Community Frederick Douglass Award, Honorary Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School (2005), and The Nation Institute/Puffin Foundation Prize for Creative Citizenship (2007). In 2006, the National Law Journal named Ratner one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States.
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