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Michael Ratner

Michael Ratner Was A Revolutionary Lawyer Like No Other

When Michael Ratner died in 2016, the world lost one of the great human rights lawyers of the past century. A descendant of holocaust survivors, Ratner embodied the courage and integrity that is often sorely lacking among his peers in the legal field, taking on cases that seemed impossible to win, but were always essential to protecting human rights. He served as president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) as well as the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and spent much of his life advocating for the protection of civil liberties and civil rights. One of his greatest achievements was winning the case Rasul v. Bush, which set the legal precedent for hundreds of detainees held in Guantanamo Bay to be able challenge their detention in U.S. courts.

Samuel Moyn’s Unprincipled Attack On Human Rights Giant Michael Ratner

Samuel Moyn’s vicious and unprincipled attack on Michael Ratner, one of the finest human rights attorneys of our time, was published in the New York Review of Books (NYRB) on September 1. Moyn singles out Ratner as a whipping boy to support his own bizarre theory that punishing war crimes prolongs war by making it more palatable. He disingenuously claims that enforcing the Geneva Conventions and opposing illegal wars are mutually exclusive. As Dexter Filkins noted in the New Yorker, Moyn’s “logic would favor incinerating entire cities, Tokyo style, if the resulting spectacles of agony lead more people to oppose American power.” Moyn takes Ratner—the long-time president of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who died in 2016—to task for filing Rasul v. Bush to give people indefinitely detained at Guantánamo the constitutional right to habeas corpus to challenge their detention.

My Friend Michael Ratner

Michael admired courageous people who live their lives without contradictions.  John Brown was one such person. Brown and his band of 19 men captured the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia hoping to spark a slave uprising and arm themselves with the captured weapons. It didn’t work. Brown was surrounded, wounded, captured, tried for treason, and hanged. Michael admired Vladimir Ilyich Lenin who helped lead the 1917 Russian Revolution which overthrew capitalism.  Lenin had hoped that the revolution would spread to the rest of Europe and prevent a capitalist restoration.  We know what happened in 1991.  Michael admired Che Guevara. Che lead a division of rebel troops in Cuba 1959. They captured a military supply train in the famous battle of Santa Clara. The island was cut in half and the Americans supported puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.

On Contact: Radical As Reality Itself

On the show this week, Chris Hedges talks to Michael Smith about civil rights attorney Michael Ratner's recently published memoir, "Moving the Bar – My Life as A Radical Lawyer". Smith was a close friend and collaborator of Ratner's for over three decades. Michael Ratner was one of the most important civil rights attorneys in our era. He spent his life fighting on behalf of those who state and empire sought to crush, from the leaders of the prison uprising at Attica to Muslim prisoners held in Guantanamo, to Julian Assange.

Michael Ratner, Relentless Radical Lawyer, Dies

By the Center for Constitutional Rights. Michael had the vision to see things on the horizon—things that others barely glimpsed, often dismissed, or were convinced simply didn’t exist. From his work at CCR challenging US imperialism and oppression through policies of brutal militarism from Central America, Iraq and at home, Michael stood for peaceful conflict resolution and accountability for the inevitable abuse that accompanies the use of force. He never shied away from a fight, no matter the odds; indeed, it is likely he specifically selected the cases with the longest odds. After all, those involved in these cases were most in need of solidarity, support and a legal ally. This was obvious in the years he spent dedicated to exposing conditions facing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and advocating for adherence to international law and recognition of their human rights.
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