Michael Ratner
President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights

An interview with Michael Ratner conducted September 12, 2013 by Ronald J. Grele for the Columbia Center for Oral History, Rule of Law Oral History Project. 

Michael Ratner entered Columbia Law School in 1966 unsure of what kind of lawyer he wanted to be. The United States’ civil rights movement, however, quickly put his career plans in sharp focus.  Shortly after graduation, Ratner went to work for the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and has been the  organization’s prominent voice on social justice issues in the United States and abroad ever since. Highlights of this interview include discussions of Mr. Ratner’s participation in the 1968 Columbia University protests, the Obama administration’s failure to close Guantánamo, President Obama’s approach to the war on terror, representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the torture and trial of U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning, and Edward J. Snowden’s leaking of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents and the change it has and will have on unchecked U.S. government secret programs.

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