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Tuesday, August 17, 2004
*Official* ACS Blog Launched

The ACS national office has launced an official blog, complete with regular and guest bloggers and a comments feature. Please add it to your blog rolls, tell friends and stop by.

Monday, August 02, 2004
ACS Blog Recognized

Ambrogi Book2.GIF This blog is one of the legal web sites highlighted in the second edition of Bob Ambrogi's Essential Guide to the Best (and Worst) Legal Sites on the Web. This fine book will benefit any lawyer that uses the Internet.

It is available directly from the publisher, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Saturday, July 31, 2004
Self-Destruction of the Federalist Concept

Thanks to the religious-themed lawyer blog Logos for the pointer to a great Chicago Tribune by Steve Chapman entitled The Late, Great States - Where Have All the Federalists Gone?, article reprinted at Slate. Sean Fosmire summarizes:

Chapman suggests that the reason that current conservatives seem to have forgotten about federalism is that Republicans are in power now. When the Democrats held the Presidency and a majority position in Congress, conservatives argued in favor of decentralized authority in order to reduce the effective power of the national government and keep power in the hands of the states, where they could exercise far more influence. Now that they hold the reins of power, they are not so eager to make the same arguments.

    "Once Republicans saw all the great things they could do with centralized power in Washington, they forgot why they ever found it worrisome in the first place."


Consistent federalism would support both opposition to a Federal constitutional amendment on gay marriage and opposition to Roe v. Wade. Most liberals (for the former, against the latter) and most conservatives (vice versa) are fair-weather federalists.

Thursday, July 22, 2004
Election Observers?

Balkinization has some comments on the recent vote in the House of Representatives barring federal officials from requesting foreigners to observe U.S. elections:

"Saying that we are so afraid of international observers that we must officially bar their entry does little to elevate our badly battered reputation, and merely confirms an image of American arrogance."

Sunday, July 11, 2004
Brad DeLong's Fahrenheit 911

Brad DeLong knows exactly how he would have improved Michael Moore's new movie Fahrenheit 911--make it tougher:

When Cheney talks about how proud he is of Halliburton, I would have cut to somebody describing the Halliburton accounting fraud--the failure to disclose material changes in accounting practices that moved a big chunk of profits forward in time to the current year--that Cheney presided over, and linked that to Bush's Harken Energy trading and to Halliburton's billing practices in Iraq. I would have had a section on Cheney's claims that persons nobody can find told him of a direct threat to Air Force One on the morning of September 11.

When Bush talked about how the have-mores were his 'base', I would have set out some numbers about the effects of his... tax shift... on the people then in the room. When Moore showed the picture of the Supreme Court, I would have read out the portion of the decision--'Our consideration is limited to the present circumstances, for the problem of equal protection in election processes generally presents many complexities'--in which the Justices reveal how ashamed they are of the possibility that Bush v. Gore might ever be used as a precedent. I would have juxtaposed the investigation of PeaceFresno and of something like the 'extraordinary rendition' of Maher Arar to the kid gloves used to handle the bin Laden relatives after 911: why not keep them until September 16, and send the FBI and CIA through to ask them all to 'tell us everything you can about your uncle'?

Saturday, July 10, 2004
Political Commentary Disguised As Legal Analysis

Washington Post reporter Susan Schmidt developed a well-deserved reputation during the Monica Lewinsky madness as a leading water-carrier for what might charitably be called "less-principled" elements of the Republican Party. Her blatant breaches of journalistic ethics, including complaining to the employers of those who had criticized her political bias earned her the nickname "Steno Sue."

Schmidt's latest story, on the criminal investigation of the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, shows she has lost none of her eagerness to parrot the latest Right Wing attack line. Here's a partcularly egregious quotation:
Plame's role could be significant in an ongoing investigation into whether a crime was committed when her name and employment were disclosed to reporters last summer. ... The report may bolster the rationale that administration officials provided the information not to intentionally expose an undercover CIA employee, but to call into question Wilson's bona fides as an investigator into trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. To charge anyone with a crime, prosecutors need evidence that exposure of a covert officer was intentional.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo needed no law degree to realize:
There's no 'challenging the bona fides of a political opponent' exception to the law in question. While Plame's alleged role may have some political traction, it's legally irrelevant. Government officials are not allowed to disclose the identity of covert intelligence agents, whether they feel they have a good reason or not.
If the Bush Administration were more interested in doing its job than politics, the perpetrator or perpetrators of the Plame outing would probably be in jail already. Instead, they are still out there, ready to do more damage to the national security in the interest of political advantage.

The Needlenose Blog has a good summary of some of Schmidt's other politically-motivated journalistic misadventures. The big mystery here is: Why hasn't a newspaper like the Washington Post that purports to aspire to excellence jettisoned the likes of Schmidt a long time ago?

Disappearing Prisoners

Nat Hentoff is rightly concerned about an ad hoc system of apparently illegal "prisons, set up after 9-11 [that] 'may be unprecedented in American history. They operate entirely outside the U.S. judicial system, according to a set of rules approved by the Justice Department [that] are also top secret.' " Nightline noted "three investigations into the deaths of prisoners who were being interrogated by CIA agents in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The damage caused by such practices is obvious. What's not so obvious is exactly how these abuses are supposed to make us safer.

Friday, July 09, 2004
Welcome Back, Cooped Up

After a hiatus brought on by his son's health problem, it's good to see the IU-Indianapolis Law's Jeff Cooper back in action at Cooped Up. Among the topics of concern: the Valerie Plame scandal.