Patterico's Pontifications

4/28/2007

Mstislav Rostropovich Dead

Filed under: Music — Patterico @ 12:30 am

Rostropovich is dead.

Terrible news.

(H/t Joseph.)

4/27/2007

L.A. Times Issues Non-Correction Correction on Special Order 40

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Immigration — Patterico @ 8:58 pm

In this post, I noted an error in an L.A. Times article about Special Order 40:

The L.A. Times reports:

The Los Angeles Police Department’s landmark Special Order 40, which prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects, has come under an aggressive assault by anti-illegal immigrant activists who argue that it ties the hands of police.

Unfortunately, this is misinformation, as Special Order 40 actually does no such thing. You can read Special Order 40 here. Contrary to today’s Times article, Special Order 40 does not prohibit officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects.

Today the paper publishes this non-correction correction:

Police and immigrants: An article in the April 11 California section about a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department stated that the department’s landmark Special Order 40 “prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects.” The 1979 order states that “officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person.” Although officers have long interpreted the order as a prohibition, LAPD officials said they don’t consider Special Order 40 a blanket ban on inquiring about immigration status.

That’s weaselly. The paper made a claim about what Special Order 40 actually says. That claim was wrong. Period. The paper should have the guts to admit it. Words mean things, and Special Order 40 simply doesn’t say what the paper claimed it did.

I recently suggested how the correction should have been worded:

An April 11 article stated that the Los Angeles Police Department’s landmark Special Order 40 prohibits officers from inquiring about the immigration status of suspects. It does not.

That’s the clear admission of error that the paper should have made — but did not.

And, looking at the bigger picture, there is an interesting story lurking under the surface, which I mentioned to the Readers’ Representative: why do officers interpret Special Order 40 as a prohibition against asking suspects about their immigration status, when the order itself actually contains no such prohibition?

Sadly, the paper shows no sign of interest in this critical issue — which, as I have explained, could be an important factor in helping Los Angeles deport illegal alien criminals. There are about 34,000 alien criminals a year that we should be deporting, but aren’t. Does the L.A. Times not consider this a big enough story to cover?

If I Thought He Understood What He Was Saying, This Answer Might Just Earn My Vote

Filed under: 2008 Election,Abortion — Patterico @ 8:16 pm

In last night’s debate of Democrat presidential contenders, the candidates were offered the chance to bash the Supreme Court’s partial-birth abortion decision — and each candidate duly did so. From the transcript, here was the very next question asked, together with Gov. Richardson’s answer:

MODERATOR BRIAN WILLIAMS: We’d like to ask the same question of all of you, down the line, in order, and it calls for you to say a name or to pass. And Governor Richardson, we’re going to start with you. The question is, your model Supreme Court justice.

GOV. RICHARDSON: It would be Justice Whizzer White.

MR. WILLIAMS: How about someone who is among the living? (Laughter.)

GOV. RICHARDSON: It would be — and in this particular case, Judge Ginsburg, who said that this was an erosion of a woman’s right to choose and degraded the ability of a woman to protect herself health-wise.

Who volunteers to tell Gov. Richardson how Justice White voted in Roe v. Wade?

(H/t: JCG.)

UPDATE: Matthew J. Franck has much more.

Why a “Media Exemption” to Campaign Finance Regulation is Always a Bad Idea

Filed under: Civil Liberties,General — Patterico @ 12:11 am

Eugene Volokh reports on a “media exemption” to regulation of speech in the name of campaign finance reform, in Washington State. Apparently the “media exemption” applies to talk radio hosts — but it may not apply to you and me:

[T]he Washington Supreme Court just confirmed that radio talk show hosts’ advocacy of a ballot measure is not regulated as a campaign “contribution” under Washington state law, because the advocacy is exempted by the “media exemption,” which excludes

A news item, feature, commentary, or editorial in a regularly scheduled news medium that is of primary interest to the general public, that is in a news medium controlled by a person whose business is that news medium, and that is not controlled by a candidate or a political committee ….

But what if a part-time but very popular blogger (think of the PowerLine people, for instance) advocates for a ballot measure? Uh-oh — the media exemption only covers media “controlled by a person whose business is that news medium.” . . . [I]f it’s a part-time sideline for the blogger (assume it’s a solo blog, just for the sake of simplicity), it doesn’t sound quite accurate to say that the blogger’s “business is that news medium.” . . . .

The blog posts supporting the ballot measure may thus have to be reported as contributions. What’s more, state law would limit them to $5,000 worth of help (whatever that means for a blog) “within 21 days prior to [the] election.”

So too bad for you, concerned citizen: Unless your “business is [a] news medium,” you’re regulated. The established, professional media are of course exempt; but, no, not you.

I have repeatedly opposed a media exemption for bloggers, describing such an exemption as “nothing more than asking our masters for permission to speak.” Over two years ago, I said:

In my view, political speech is speech at the core of the First Amendment. Neither the FEC nor any other government agency has any right to regulate it in any way. When my right to engage in such speech is threatened, my impulse is not to seek out a law carving out some exception for my speech. My impulse is to tell those responsible that they can go to hell.

At the risk of being tagged as someone who goes around saying “I told you so” . . . I told you so. The situation in Washington State well illustrates the total insanity of trying to protect our First Amendment rights by cravenly seeking media exemptions.

The First Amendment isn’t just for the media. It’s for everyone. If someone ever tries to get you to support a “media exemption” to any regulation of speech, tell them they’ll have to pry your keyboard from your cold, dead hands.

Kozinski Bashes Blogs?

Filed under: General,Kozinski — Patterico @ 12:00 am

If he was serious, Alex Kozinski just went down a few notches in my estimation. He was recently asked what he thought about blogs, and said:

I hate ’em. Hateful things. . . . I just think it’s so self-indulgent, you know. Oh, I’m so proud of what I’m saying, I think the world instantly wants to know what I’m thinking today. People wake up thinking, hmm, what does this person, whoever the blogger in question is — I wonder what great thoughts have come into his mind this morning that I can feel myself edified by. I can’t really have breakfast, really enjoy my day until I hear the great thoughts of Howard Bashman — I don’t think so. I go for months without ever knowing what Howard has to say. So I don’t know. I find it sort of self-indulgent. And I find it so grandiloquent.

But was he serious? Orin Kerr says:

Listening to the tape, it sounds like Judge Kozinski is exaggerating a bit for comic effect.

I’d like to think so. Judge for yourself. The audio is here. I will say that there is an awfully odd tone to his voice as he engages in this tirade, and although he is a genuinely witty guy, the above passage is not very funny and gets very few laughs.

But if you listen to the whole thing, he says that he hates all bloggers, with no exceptions — yet he clearly liked David Lat’s blog, and (I think) implied that he liked Howard Bashman’s as well.

So let’s hope Kozinski was just kidding. After all, Howard Bashman is the last guy you’d want to pick on for being flowery and self-indulgent — and his site is tremendously useful. Either Judge Kozinski was kidding, or he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about here. I’d prefer to think the former . . . but I’m not 100% sure.

4/26/2007

Let the Fisking of Tenet’s Book Begin

Filed under: General — WLS @ 10:26 pm

[Posted by WLS] 

In a significant blow (or maybe not) to 60 Minutes and HarperCollins, the NYT managed to make a retail purchase of George Tenet’s book “At The Center of the Storm” which isn’t supposed to hit bookstore shelves until Monday.  They have an early story up which focuses, shockingly, on disputes Tenet has with the V.P. and the “neocons” over the intelligence case for the Iraq War.

The 60 Minutes tease and now this NYT story focus first on the source of Tenet’s “Slam Dunk” nickname bestowed upon him by the leftwingnutroots.  Tenet claims that his use of the phrase has been taken out of context by the VP and others who have deflected blame for the faulty intelligence to the CIA.   Here is his explanation as explained by the NYT reporters:

He gives a detailed account of the episode, which occurred during an Oval Office meeting in December 2002 when the administration was preparing to make public its case for war against Iraq.

During the meeting, the deputy C.I.A. director, John McLaughlin, unveiled a draft of a proposed public presentation that left the group unimpressed. Mr. Tenet recalls that Mr. Bush suggested that they could “add punch” by bringing in lawyers trained to argue cases before a jury.

“I told the president that strengthening the public presentation was a ‘slam dunk,’ a phrase that was later taken completely out of context,” Mr. Tenet writes. “If I had simply said, ‘I’m sure we can do better,’ I wouldn’t be writing this chapter — or maybe even this book.”

So, in other words, Tenet claims his “slam dunk” comment was nothing more than an assurance to the President that the CIA could re-tool their presentation to make it more persuasive when presented to the public.

I find this less than compelling — it sure sounds like a guy trying to reverse-engineer the situation to make it come out better for himself.  Tenet’s primary gripe is that “Slam Dunk” has come to define his career with the CIA, and that the VP and other war advocate have repeatedly referred back to it in their years-long battle with the CIA over where the blame for faulty intelligence should lie.

The reporting on this subject started with Woodward’s book.  Of the same meeting, Woodward wrote:

On Dec. 19, 2002, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice asked Tenet and McLaughlin how strong the case was on weapons of mass destruction and what could be said publicly….

Two days later, Tenet and McLaughlin went to the Oval Office. The meeting was for presenting “The Case” on WMD as it might be presented to a jury with Top Secret security clearances. There was great expectation. In addition to the president, Cheney, Rice and White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. attended.

With some fanfare, McLaughlin stepped up to brief with a series of flip charts. This was the rough cut, he indicated, still highly classified and not cleared for public release….

When McLaughlin concluded, there was a look on the president’s face of, What’s this? And then a brief moment of silence.

“Nice try,” Bush said. “I don’t think this is quite — it’s not something that Joe Public would understand or would gain a lot of confidence from.”

Card was also underwhelmed. The presentation was a flop. In terms of marketing, the examples didn’t work, the charts didn’t work, the photos were not gripping, the intercepts were less than compelling.

Bush turned to Tenet. “I’ve been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we’ve got?”

From the end of one of the couches in the Oval Office, Tenet rose up, threw him arms in the air. “It’s a slam-dunk case!” the director of central intelligence said.

Bush pressed. “George, how confident are you?”

Tenet, a basketball fan who attended as many home games of his alma mater Georgetown University as possible, leaned forward and threw his arms up again. “Don’t worry, it’s a slam dunk!”

It was unusual for Tenet to be so certain. From McLaughlin’s presentation, Card was worried that there might be no “there there,” but Tenet’s double reassurance on the slam dunk was memorable and comforting. Cheney could think of no reason to question Tenet’s assertion. He was, after all, the head of the CIA and would know the most. The president later recalled that McLaughlin’s presentation “wouldn’t have stood the test of time.” But, said Bush, Tenet’s reassurance — “That was very important.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A22552-2004Apr18_4.html

This is a pretty straightforward account by Woodward, and it is completely at odds with what Tenet is now saying. Given the way its written, I suspect the primary source for the account was Card, who was reported to have been quite accommodating of Woodward when he was writing the book.

Woodward’s book was excerpted by the WaPo in April 2004.  But in 2003, Ronald Kessler had published “The CIA At War”, for which Tenet had given two sitdown interviews, and McLaughlin had given more than one interview.

http://www.amazon.com/CIA-War-Inside-Campaign-Against/dp/0312319339

The “slam dunk” episode isn’t recounted in Kessler’s book, but there is zero animosity by Tenet towards the VP or the White House, and McLaughlin actually praises the VP and his interaction with the CIA in the months leading up to the war.   Take this passage, for example, from pg. 316-17:

When Cheney visited the CIA, McLaughlin would escort him into a conference room across the hall from the DCI’s office.  There, the Vice President would spend three or four hours at a time with analysts.  Besides the weapons of mass destruction issue, Cheney made visits to look into three or four other issues that interested him, such as North Korea and China.

“He came here a lot,” McLaughlin told me.  “The characterization Colin Powell gave was exactly right:  He loves to dig into things.  When he comes, he is polite and respectful.  Most of the people I would bring in to talk to him were thankful he was here.  We were saying, “Thank you, God, for bringing us someone who is interested.”

More later.  WLS

Flap Over L.A. Times Recognition of Armenian Genocide

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:06 pm

There is an interesting controversy going on at the L.A. Times in which a reporter is alleging that he was taken off a story about the Armenian genocide because he is Armenian. The reporter e-mailed some colleagues to say:

Colleagues, You should know that I had a Page One story killed this week by Doug Frantz. His stated rationale for killing the piece had nothing to do with any problems with the story itself. In an email to me, he cited no bias, no factual errors, no contextual mishaps, no glaring holes….

Because his logic is so illogical, questions must be raised about Frantz’ own objectivity, his past statements to colleagues that he personally opposes an Armenian genocide resolution and his friendship with Turkish government officials, including the consul general in Los Angeles who’s quoted in my story. Frantz is heavily involved and invested in defending the policies of Turkey.

Read more about it at L.A. Observed (here and here) and at the L.A. Weekly.

Two Cops Who Killed Kathryn Johnston Plead Guilty — to Manslaughter

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:45 pm

CNN reports that the officers who shot Kathryn Johnston have pleaded guilty — to manslaughter:

A police officer and a former officer pleaded guilty Thursday to manslaughter in the shooting death of a 92-year-old woman during a botched drug raid last fall. Another officer still faces charges in the woman’s death.

Officer J.R. Smith told the judge Thursday that he regretted what had happened.

“I’m sorry,” the 35-year-old said, his voice barely audible. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation, making false statements and perjury, which was based on untrue claims in a warrant.

Former Officer Gregg Junnier, 40, who retired from the Atlanta police force in January, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation and making false statements. Both men are expected to face more than 10 years in prison.

It’s not enough. We now know, based on the plea, that these officers lied to get into that house. This was a felony murder. These men should never again see the light of day.

When this case was first reported, I urged people not to jump to conclusions, and I continue to believe that was the right call. However, in the comment section to my posts, I made some comments to the effect that, based on the information then available (service of a valid search warrant at an address where suspected narcotics were recovered), Ms. Johnston was at fault for shooting at the police. Since that information has proven to be incorrect, those comments were wrong. Making matters worse, I didn’t qualify my statements every time I made them, so that, for example, I said: “If she fired first and shot 3 cops, then shooting her was eminently justified.” Well, not if they busted into her house based on a phony search warrant! — something we now know to be the case.

If you read the entirety of the thread, it’s clear that my main point was that people should not leap to the conclusion that the warrant was served at the wrong location. I still think that was a valid point to make. But my sloppier comments — especially the unqualified ones like the one I just quoted — are an illustration of the dangers of commenting off the cuff. Now that we know Ms. Johnston did nothing wrong [UPDATE: or, at least, there is good reason to believe she didn’t — see UPDATE below], I regret any suggestion I made to the contrary, and I apologize to her memory and to her family — not that they will likely ever see my apology.

I don’t promise to refrain from approaching issues in a cautious manner, and I don’t promise to leap to conclusions in the future. That would be the wrong lesson to learn from this incident. But I will do my best to avoid making sloppy comments. This incident has taught me that people sometimes pay as much attention to those as they pay to my more carefully crafted posts.

UPDATE: Several commenters are arguing that the validity of the warrant is a wholly separate issue from whether the shooting is justified. I disagree. They are not the same issue, but the issues are intertwined to a large degree.

When looking at the actions of the police, the fact that the warrant was based on lies (and the cops serving it knew that) is critical. If the police were committing a felony when they served the warrant on Ms. Johnston’s home — because they were breaking into a home based upon what they knew to be a trumped-up justification — then they can’t escape the consequences for causing Ms. Johnston’s death by arguing self defense. They set the tragedy in motion by committing the felony to begin with. If I legally walk into a store and the owner pulls a gun on me, I may shoot and kill him. If I rob a store and the owner pulls a gun on me, it’s a different situation entirely. If I shoot and kill him, it’s murder.

When looking at the actions of Ms. Johnston, the fact that the warrant was based on lies is less relevant, but still meaningful. I don’t agree with the argument that an innocent homeowner has the right to shoot at police if they properly identify themselves as serving a search warrant. The innocent homeowner doesn’t know whether the warrant is trumped-up or just a mistake, and to authorize the homeowner to shoot under those circumstances invites anarchy.

However, the fact that Ms. Johnston was innocent, and actually being victimized by dirty cops, has relevance to assessing her actions. First, it makes it much more likely that the police didn’t properly identify themselves, and that she actually thought she was protecting herself against criminals. The police might claim otherwise — but now that I know they lied to get the search warrant, I’m not inclined to believe anything they say. So while we don’t know that Ms. Johnston did nothing wrong, it now seems a much more likely scenario.

California Supreme Court Screws The Pooch On Permanent Speech Injunctions For Libel

Filed under: Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,Law — Justin Levine @ 12:51 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

For those who know me, it should come as no surprise that I strongly disagree with today’s decision by the California Supreme Court that sustains a permanent injunction against a defendant’s speech after she was found liable for defamation.

In the words of the dissent:

(more…)

Colbert Rips Into My Office

Filed under: Crime,General,Humor — Patterico @ 5:51 am

Don’t stone me, conservatives, but I think Stephen Colbert is pretty funny sometimes. And those who love to run down the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office might just agree with me after viewing this old chestnut from the Daily Show:

I got this video from another Deputy D.A. in my office and knew I had to have it. Right then.

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