BTS 3/19/07: Guantanamo Challenges; Friendly Fire; South Africa

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On tonight’s Beneath The Surfaces we begin with the turbulence and scandals of the judiciary creating a storm for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez just as the confession of Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was released in the report of his military tribunal. We talk to Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents many of the detainees at Guantanamo and are challenging the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act in a petition to the Supreme Court.

We then turn to Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2005, held for 28 days, and rescued by an Italian secret-service agent who was shot and killed by U.S. forces, about her new book Friendly Fire, which recounts her experiences as a hostage as well as her insights about the occupation of Iraq.

Finally on tonight’s Beneath The Surface, we talk to Brian Ashley, South African activist about the general situation today in South Africa.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Michael Ratner is a human rights lawyer and president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He is author of Guantanamo: What the World Should Know among many other writings. He is the recipient of the Columbia Law School's Medal for Excellence, the university's highest award to its alumni.

2. Giuliana Sgrena, reporter for the Italian daily Il Manifesto has reported on Afghanistan and Iraq since 1988 and is a recipient of the prestigious Cavaliere del Lavoro prize for her Iraq reportage. While working in Iraq, she was kidnapped by insurgents on 4 February 2005 and held until March 4, 2005. On the day of her release, as she was being escorted to Baghdad International airport by Italian security, Sgrena and the two Italian intelligence officers who had helped secure her release came under fire from U.S. forces while on the dangerous road to the airport. Both her imprisonment and the US attack are powerfully documented in her new book Friendly Fire (Haymarket Books).

3. Brian Ashley has been an activist in the South African liberation struggle having gone into exile in Zimbabwe in 1984. He is the founder and director of the Alternative Information and Development Centre, AIDC, a radical advocacy NGO mobilizing against neoliberal globalization and its impact in South Africa and Southern Africa. He helped form the Jubilee 2000 anti-debt movement in South Africa and the global Jubilee South movement that fights against debt domination by the International Financial Institutions and the G8 countries. He is active in the World Social Forum representing AIDC on the WSF International Council and the African Social Forum Council. He is also a leading member of the Palestinian Solidarity Committee. Apart from being active in a number of social movements in SA he is a board member of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU led Working Partnerships Research and Education Agency.