Attorney Carl Mayer Files Emergency Appeal to Supreme Court on NDAA; Former Iranian Hostage Sarah Shourd Decries Solitary Confinement in US Prisons

by Peter B. Collins on December 13, 2012

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Our favorite lawyer, Carl Mayer, returns to talk about his latest effort to restore our constitutional rights, an appeal to the Supreme Court of NDAA detention law;  Sarah Shourd, who was imprisoned in Iran in 2009 and spent almost 14 months in solitary, speaks against the widespread use of solitary confinement in American prisons.  We last spoke to Mayer after his September 12 victory, which placed a permanent injunction on section 1021-b of the 2012 NDAA.  In October, the Second Circuit appeals court put the injunction on hold, and cited new information that was not presented to the trial court–assurances that Chris Hedges and other plaintiffs would not be subject to this extreme and overly vague law.  While Mayer is appealing that in proceedings that start this month, he also has filed an emergency appeal with Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg to restore the injunction and, in turn, our constitutional rights.  We discuss the confusion that remains about the 2012 NDAA, as reflected by the Feinstein amendment to 2013 NDAA that excludes American citizens (with a huge loophole) and creates more confusion for residents and visitors. While some Obama supporters have declared that the October appeals court opinion “fixed” the problem, Mayer offers strong evidence to the contrary.

At 36 minutes, we are joined by Sarah Shourd.  In 2009, she was hiking in Iraq near the Iranian border with friends Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer (now her husband).  For most of the 410 days she was held in Iran, she was in solitary confinement.  She is now speaking out about the estimated 80,000 American prisoners who are held in solitary today, and published this op-ed recently.  She talks about the effects of solitary on the psyche, and how it amounts to “no touch torture”.  We refer to the PBC podcast from June 22, 2012 about California’s barbaric “SHU” (security housing unit) at Pelican Bay, where some men have been held for more than 20 years with no human contact.  In some states, solitary is being scaled back or discontinued. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has called for a ban on isolation for more than 15 days.

Sarah’s website is here, and you can follow her on Twitter, @sshourd

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