I am writing this post for members and friends of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. Please feel free to share this elsewhere. I think it may be timely given recent overreaction of OKC police to peaceful protest activities against the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Things to remember when being questioned by the police

NLG Logo

1. It is legal for the police to lie to you to get you to talk. The cops will often tell people that “we are just trying to help your friend. If you can tell us what you know, your friend won’t get in trouble.” Don’t believe it.

2. But, it is illegal for you to lie to the police. And yes they can and will prosecute you for this (even though they can lie to you with impunity).

3. Thankfully it is legal to refuse to talk to the police.

4. If the police come to your door and do not have a warrant, you do not have to let them. The best thing to do is not even open the door.

5. If the police are insistent that you talk to them, tell them you need to talk to your attorney first. Ask for their business card and tell them you will have your attorney contact them. And then contact us at the Oklahoma NLG for assistance in finding an attorney.

A more detailed discussion of these issues can be found in the National Lawyers Guild brochure – You have the right to remain silent

Reprinted from:





  • CONTACTS: James M. Branum 405-476-5620 or 866-933-2769
  • Cynthia Thomas 254-768-8300


photo of Victor AgostoSPC Victor Agosto, a Soldier stationed with 57th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 69th Air Defense Artillery, Rear Detachment, is scheduled for court-martial on Aug.. 5 at Ft. Hood, TX. A victim of the highly unpopular stop/loss policy, SPC Agosto, whose contract was over at the end of June, was told that his next assignment would be deployment to Afghanistan. At the end of April, with support of local residents, Agosto went public with his intent to refuse the orders to Afghanistan, on the basis of the occupation being “immoral and unjust.”

Instead of going ‘underground’ and trying to escape punishment from the Army, Agosto chose to remain at Ft. Hood as a tangible symbol of GI resistance. Refusing all orders that directly support the war, he has found himself in an overwhelming struggle to maintain his honor and position. His court-martial will culminate with the sentencing portion of the trial, at which, it is believed that the Army will enforce the highest form of sentencing it can impose.

SPC Agosto’s attempt to raise awareness and support has not fallen on deaf ears, even in a military community; he has found supporters and friends who are willing to help. As the unit serves overseas, he continues to voice his dissent for an “unjust” war. There will be demonstrators present the day of his arraignment, located off-post due to military regulations concerning demonstrations on military posts.

SPC Agosto’s attorney, James Branum will be available for interviews and to read a public statement by Victor.

Wednesday, August 5

7:00 to 8:30 pm Demonstration for awareness and outreach to Soldiers at Ft. Hood, East gate

To read more about Victor Agosto go to


WHO: PFC Cliff Cornell, a native of Mountain Home, Arkansas, who was recently deported from Canada after having fled there to avoid the illegal war in Iraq

WHAT: The U.S. Army has prosecuted PFC Cornell under a General Court-Martial. A hearing will be held to accept PCF Cornell’s guilty plea and to argue over what the sentence should be.

WHEN: April 28, 2009, 2:15 p.m.

WHERE: Fort Stewart Courthouse, near Hinesville, GA

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Civilian attorney James M. Branum will be available for interviews following the trial by telephone at 405-476-5620 or 1-866-933-ARMY. (we anticipate this will be in the evening)

News about the ongoing campaign to free PFC Cornell from being unjustly imprisoned for his beliefs can be found soon at

The People’s Forum: HR 875 The food police, criminalizing organic farming and the backyard gardener

Campaign for Liberty: HR 875 The food police, criminalizing organic farming and the backyard gardener, and violation of the 10th amendment

Red flags I found and I am sure there are more………..

* Legally binds state agriculture depts to enforcing federal guidelines effectively taking away the states power to do anything other than being food police for the federal dept.
* Effectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn’t actually use the word organic.
* Effects anyone growing food even if they are not selling it but consuming it.
* Effects anyone producing meat of any kind including wild game.
* Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.
* Section 103 is almost entirely about the administrative aspect of the legislation. It will allow the appointing of officials from the factory farming corporations and lobbyists and classify them as experts and allow them to determine and interpret the legislation. Who do you think they are going to side with?
* Section 206 defines what will be considered a food production facility and what will be enforced up all food production facilities. The wording is so broad based that a backyard gardener could be fined and more.
* Section 207 requires that the state’s agriculture dept act as the food police and enforce the federal requirements. This takes away the states power and is in violation of the 10th amendment.

There are many more but by the time I got this far in the legislation I was so alarmed that I wanted to bring someone’s attention to it. (to the one person who reads my blog)

Didn’t Stalin nationalize farming methods that enabled his administration to gain control over the food supply? Didn’t Stalin use the food to control the people? Monsanto’s Dream Bill, HR 875

HR 875, was introduced by Rosa DeLauro whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto.

The bill is monstrous on level after level – the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international “industrial” standards to independent farms – the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means

Here’s the letter I just sent to Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas (minority leader of the Ag committee) on the subject:

Dear Congressman Lucas,

I just found out about HR 875. I am very concerned about it, because it would mandate that state departments of agriculture would enforce federal regulations and could in turn lead to the end of organic gardening and agriculture.

The government has no business in my garden. I live on my late grandparents’ old farm and try to grow as much of my own food as possible, using sustainable and organic methods. I am afraid that HR 875 could some day lead to the government being able to regulate or even forbid me from doing this, as it defines “food production facility” very broadly, effectively meaning that a garden that grows produce for my own consumption could potentially fall under governmental regulation.

I understand that you are on the committee that will be considering this bill. Please do all you can to kill it.

James M. Branum

I also will add that I for one will be breaking this law if it passes.


I have a new version of the article I wrote on AWOL issues in the Army. (huge thanks go to Susan Bassein of the GI Rights Hotline for helping me update it, as well as the On Watch editorial board who helped improve it a great deal in the editing process)

You can read it here: On Watch – January/February 2009 Issue, including “AWOL in the Army” Version 2.0

Also in the issue is an Addendum on AWOL/UA policies in the Navy, Marine Corps & Air Force, by my friend (and fellow MLTF co-chair) Kathleen Gilberd

Also I should mention that the layout editing (as well as some of the content editing) for this issue was done by my friend Rena.

Yesterday marked yet another sad day, in a long line of sad days in Oklahoma.

I was in the room and saw it with my own eyes as 10 of our state Senators voted against Randy Brogden’s bill to reform Oklahoma’s horridly undemocratic ballot access laws. I’m going to email the Senate Rules Committee Staff and Chair to make sure I got the votes correct, but as soon as I get confirmation I’ll post the names of those who deserve shame for voting against democracy and those who deserve praise for taking a stand for equality and fairness.

For now though, I must say I have tremendous gratitude for Republican Randy Brogden bringing the bill to the floor. I was very struck by his eloquence in arguing on behalf of the bill. I was also struck by the silence of the opponents of the bill. Most didn’t want to go on the record as opposing democracy so instead they just were silent during debate and then let their votes hit. (the only comments I recalled was one guy cracking a joke about whether Randy would support his bill, and another person who was worried if the ballot access retention standards were based on the state or federal vote count)

I was stunned and outraged at this point and decided to speak my mind (even if I was disruptive), and told the committee, quite loudly as I was storming out of the room, “It’s good to see that Oklahoma isn’t a democracy.” — Not my most eloquent moment for sure, but I had to say something. I wanted the “Gang of 10” to know what they had done.

The fight isn’t over though. I don’t know what it will take, but somehow these laws have to change, as I frankly don’t see the point in voting anymore as long as you don’t get to vote for people of other political parties.

For more information on this issue, please check out the good folks at OBAR (Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform)

CNN: Israel prepares legal defense of soldiers

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Israel’s government on Sunday approved a measure that will give legal protection to its military officers if they are accused of war crimes during the Gaza incursion, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

“The state of Israel will completely back anyone that acted in its name,” Olmert said Sunday at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “The soldiers and commanders that were sent on missions in Gaza need to know that they are safe from different tribunals.

“Israel will assist them and protect them as they physically protected us during the operation in Gaza,” he said.

The logic here is pretty amazing and absurd.

The basics of International law, as codified under The Nuremburg Principles make it clear that “following orders” is not an excuse for war crimes.

Here are two portions of the Principles that are revelant here…

Principle II – The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law…

Principle IV – The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

To me the Israeli state’s decision to protect officers who may have committed war crimes (to say nothing of the culpable political leaders who are liable under principle III of the Nuremburg principles) is not a far stretch from the actions of those who helped Nazi war criminal escape justice by fleeing to South America.

As I have said before on this blog, I am not anti-Jewish. I do think in the end that some form of a two-state solution (provided that monetary compensation is made to displaced Palestinians for land that would be retained by Israel) is the best solution to the situation.

But I am disgusted to see the Israeli state continue to act without any sanction against the people of Palestine, and now to see the Israeli state defy international law like this is beyond the pale.

I know that irony is not the right word to describe this, but it is absurd to see a nation created as a refuge for victims of the holocaust, now use the very tactics of the Nazis to defend their actions. It is shameful and must be called for what it is.