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POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Torture-Si! Cursing No! CHOPPING IN THE HIGH COTTON A billboard ago: He has the mouth of Webster and a questions. While audience members submit rises over the flat land of the Panhandle. On brain of clay! ted at least four questions on civil liberties, it is pictured a father and son hoeing sweet Tip your hat to the kids at Yeshiva the legal scholar preferred to take queries beans. Next to them in big bright letters University High School. They nailed it. from a group of eighth-grade participants reads “1099-No! W-2-Si!” Speaking from a podium at the LBJ Library, about what it’s like to be a lawyer and his The ad campaign is the brainchild of Texas Dershowitz presented arguments riddled role in the 01 Simpson case. Rural Legal Aid. It hopes to halt a greedy with inconsistencies and then refused to “Dershowitz is ensconced in his ivory little practice of some cotton and bean grow defend them. While passing himself off as a tower,” said Will Harrell, executive director ers in the high plains. Instead of classifying great civil libertarian and liberal, he argued of the Texas ACLU who attended the lecture. workers as employees as they are legally tenaciously for undermining the principles “He should get out and see how the real obligated to do, the growers pretend the for which those ideologies stand, advocating, people live.” workers are self-employed contractors, like among other measures, pre-emptive war, plumbers. This practice deprives laborers of legal torture, and universal ID cards. VIRTUAL DEMOCRACY On January 7th and 8th, all kinds of benefits including worker’s corn “Historically,” he said, “no rights are a committee formed by the Texas secretary of pensation and application of the minimum inalienable!’ state’s office met behind closed doors to test wage. Perhaps worst of all, since employers The Harvard professor painted a vision of four computerized voting systems for use in don’t pay into social security or federal taxes, America as Israel writ largewrapped in fear the 2004 election cycle. While county offi workers are deprived of their rightful tax with a suicide bomber on every corner. \(Fear cials have final say on which voting systems benefits. Instead of receiving tax refunds, mongering the future as one long, neverto use, they can pick only systems that the they owe self-employment taxes since they ending terroristic siege is a favorite and usesecretary of state has certified. So far, those file the wrong form to the Internal Revenue choices don’t look too appealing. Service. “I hate torture but I’m a realist,” said Two of the systems under review were This method of shortchanging workers Dershowitz. produced by companies with close ties to the has existed for decades, says Larry Norton, Since the U.S. government already Republican Party. One system was created by a lawyer with the farm worker’s division of practices coercive questioning techniques, Diebold Inc., an Ohio-based firm whose chief TRLA. The ad campaign targets two audiences. Dershowitz argued that at least a judge executive, Walden O’Dell, is a major donor to In addition to educating labor, it offers growshould sign off on “torture warrants!’ the Bush campaign and who wrote famously ers who violate the law a chance to do right. “Make it right by giving it a judicial impriin a fund-raising letter, “I am committed to “We want to educate our clients that if they matur,” he said. helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to are doing hard labor in the field, they should Torture would only be used when a susthe president next year!’ \(He later insisted be getting W-2 forms, not ones for indepenpecta so-called “ticking-bomb terror”delivering” Ohio didn’t mean doctoring dent businessmen,” says Norton. ist”had information that could save lives. In a shocking example of good governThe information would have to be indepenproduct of Diebold’s major rival, Electronic ment, the feds are paying for the placement dently corroborated somehow, Dershowitz Systems 6 Software. ESS also has allies in of the billboards. If growers take heed, it conceded. the GOP. \(Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of could prove to be that true rarity, real tort Unfortunately the professor cannot point reform. If they don’t, as awareness grows to a single case in the United States where Jennifer Waisath, spokesperson for the among the workforce, more cases of actionthe scenario he describes has occurred, secretary of state’s office, said the com able abuse will likely present themselves to but that’s not stopping him from advocatmittee tested two new systems \(from METS TRLA attorneys. ing undermining the Bill of Rights. The Eighth Amendment specifically prohibits the Diebold and ESS software was certi THE STEALTH REACTIONARY At frequent intercruel and unusual punishments. Dershowitz fled last year, Waisath said the committee vals during his recent lecture in Austin, Alan does mention Ireland and Israel as places considered requiring “modifications” to the Dershowitz paused to reminisce about what where such tactics have been successfully controversial systems before they are used appears to be a favorite topichimself. In employed-and just look how peaceful those in Texas elections. She wouldn’t elaborate on an attempt to show how far he has come in countries are. what modifications the committee studied. life, he told ticket holders at the KLRU-TV Although Dershowitz spent much of the The team met in secret, she said, to protect sponsored event what his classmates had speech laying out a new civil liberties parathe companies’ proprietary information. But written about him in their high school yeardigm, he declined to take any questions on programmers who obtained Diebold’s code book, back in Brooklyn almost half a century the topic. The format allowed only for written have been alarmed not only by the system’s 12 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 1/30/04