Patterico's Pontifications


Gitmo Detainee Report Released

Filed under: Obama,Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 6:24 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

After his Inauguration, President Obama called for the closing of the detention center at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base — a decision that he has not been able to implement — as well as a comprehensive review of all detainees held there. The comprehensive review was completed in January 2010 but, as reported in the Washington Post, was not released to Congress until last week:

“About 10 percent of the 240 detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when President Obama took office were “leaders, operatives and facilitators involved in plots against the United States,” but the majority were low-level fighters, according to a previously undisclosed government report. About 5 percent of the detainees could not be categorized at all.

The final report by the Guantanamo Review Task Force recommends that 126 of the detainees be transferred either to their homes or to a third country; that 36 be prosecuted in either federal court or a military commission; and that 48 be held indefinitely under the laws of war. A group of 30 Yemenis was approved for release if security conditions in their home country improve.

The report was completed in January but sent to select committees on Capitol Hill just this week. The administration sat on the report in the wake of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day because there was little public or congressional appetite for further discussion of its plan to close the military detention center.”

The New York Times covered the story here. As Thomas Joscelyn points out in the Weekly Standard, the Times and other media have erroneously described detainees (other than the Chinese Uighurs) as eligible for release:

“The Task Force distinguishes between detainee “releases” and “transfers.” Release “is used to mean release from confinement without the need for continuing security measures in the receiving country.” Transfer “is used to mean release from confinement subject to appropriate security measures.” The distinction is an important one.

None of the thirty Yemenis mentioned by the Times were placed in the approved for “release” category. All of them were placed in the approved for “transfer” category.

The chief reason the Task Force placed them in what it calls “conditional” detention is that Yemen cannot provide the “appropriate security measures” that are required to transfer them.

According to the Task Force, the 30 Yemeni detainees “are not approved for repatriation to Yemen at this time, but may be transferred to third countries, or repatriated to Yemen in the future if the current moratorium on transfers to Yemen is lifted and other security conditions are met.”

The Times’s misreporting on these 30 Yemeni detainees is not unique. The press continually gets this wrong. Virtually every time a detainee is transferred from Gitmo, the press reports that he has been “cleared for release.” (To be fair, I have mistakenly used this phrase in the past, although not in the same manner.) The implication of this phrasing is that the detainees in question are either innocent or no longer a threat. Neither implication is true.

The truth is, the Task Force made it clear that no detainees (other than the Uighurs) have been “approved for release.” The 156 total detainees who have been approved for transfer (126 approved for transfer, plus 30 Yemenis in “conditional” detention) are all considered to pose at least some risk.

As the Task Force explained, “It is important to emphasize that a decision to approve a detainee for transfer does not reflect a decision that the detainee poses no threat or no risk of recidivism.”

The head of the Task Force, Matthew Olsen, elaborated on this in an earlier interview with BBC News. “No decision about any of these detainees is without some risk,” Olsen said.

The detainees approved for transfer by the Obama administration are, quite simply, the ones they are willing to assume “some risk” on.”

In the legal world, Assumption of the Risk is a term used in tort law. I guess it has a new meaning now.


The North Korean Threat

Filed under: International — DRJ @ 3:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’ve been reading a lot about North Korea lately because it worries me. Austin Bay sums up my concerns:

“Kim can’t handle real sunshine — the truth. In the 60 years since the Korean War began, South Korea has decisively defeated North Korea in the social and economic spheres. Only in military terms, in the base destructive power of Pyongyang’s large armies and nascent nuclear weapons program, does the North challenge the South. War is all Kim has. Violence is how he controls his own people — assassination and threats of nuclear immolation are how he relates to the rest of the world.

As we enter the summer of 2010, the risk of all-out war on the Korean Peninsula is quite high, and possibly the highest it has been since the armistice was signed in 1953. The armistice suspended major combat — it is not a peace treaty. The situation is quite serious. It’s time to end the Korean War, and that means ending the Kim regime, not placating it. That’s the message to send Pyongyang. Until South Korea and the Obama administration face that fact, the wicked joke is on us.”

I hope there’s another way but unless China decides to be responsible, I don’t see it.


Greenwashing BP

Filed under: Environment,Politics — DRJ @ 1:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Next Right looks at BP’s Democratic bedfellows:

“One of the top media consultants for British Petroleum gave free rent to a politician who became White House Chief of Staff.

And, no, this was not Karl Rove giving a freebie to Andy Card.

No, the recipient of the favor was Rahm Emanuel and the benefactor was Stanley Greenberg.

Stanley Greenberg is an interesting guy. He is married to CT Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Grrenberg is the principal of Greenberg Quinlan Rosner, a large polling and public relations firm. They do both political campaign work and “corporate communications” work.

The DCCC has paid Greenberg’s firm in excess of $500,000 during the 2006 and 2008 election cycles. They are also Dick Blumenthal’s pollster.

But let’s look at the corporate side, where Mr. Greenberg promises to “help corporations increase competitiveness and profitability, improve reputation, and take advantage of global trends.”

Who are they helping? British Petroleum.”

Read the whole thing.


Christian Judges

Filed under: Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 12:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The LA Times AP reports on four San Diego lawyers who are running for Superior Court judgeships based on a Christian platform:

“A group of conservative attorneys say they are on a mission from God to unseat four California judges in a rare challenge that is turning a traditionally snooze-button election into what both sides call a battle for the integrity of U.S. courts.

Vowing to be God’s ambassadors on the bench, the four San Diego Superior Court candidates are backed by pastors, gun enthusiasts, and opponents of abortion and same-sex marriages.

“We believe our country is under assault and needs Christian values,” said Craig Candelore, a family law attorney who is one of the group’s candidates. “Unfortunately, God has called upon us to do this only with the judiciary.”

The challenge is unheard of in California, one of 33 states to directly elect judges. Critics say the campaign is aimed at packing the courts with judges who adhere to the religious right’s moral agenda and threatens both the impartiality of the court system and the separation of church and state.”

Elected officials often espouse support for Christian or religious values but I don’t recall any judicial candidates who embraced Christianity as part of their judicial philosophy.

What do you think?


Dems May Limit Unemployment Benefits

Filed under: Government — DRJ @ 12:21 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

House Democrats are considering winding down unemployment benefits:

“The House has extended unemployment insurance approximately three times this year, but discussions have begun on how to wind down the benefit.

“There is a sense that the economy is recovering and this is not a new entitlement,” Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) told The Hill, adding, “We need to get down to the business of hearing some congressional deliberations in terms of winding down the long-term extensions of unemployment.”

The House on Friday passed a jobs bill that extends unemployment insurance through November, which adds approximately $40 billion to the deficit. Pomeroy said the measure’s cost created more anxiety for members when compared to April, which was the last time Congress extended the benefit.

“Support for this extension of unemployment compensation relief had a different level of support this time,” he said. “There was a lot more discussion.”

Members from districts with high unemployment are not supportive, plus the current extension expires in November. Maybe there will be more jobs during the holiday season but, if not, I doubt Congress will cut off benefits just before Christmas.



Dean Kagan Eliminated Con Law (Updated x2)

Filed under: Education,Law — DRJ @ 10:16 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan made several changes as Dean of Harvard Law School. Many commentators have focused on her ban on military recruiting but CNS news reports on another major change — eliminating U.S. Constitutional law as a required course:

“As dean, Kagan won approval from the faculty in 2006 to make major changes to the Harvard Law’s curriculum.

“My understanding is that she instituted three new courses to the required curriculum and, in so doing, got rid of a requirement to take constitutional law,” Robert Alt, senior legal fellow and deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told

“Currently, at Harvard, constitutional law is not required for first-year law students, or even for graduation,” Alt added.

Indeed, according to Harvard documents, constitutional law is not listed among the law school’s academic requirements, though the catalogue for 2010-2011 does list more than a dozen elective courses dealing with some form of constitutional law.

But in a 2006 Harvard news release explaining the changes, Kagan explained the move away from constitutional law was deliberate: “From the beginning of law school, students should learn to locate what they are learning about public and private law in the United States within the context of a larger universe — global networks of economic regulation and private ordering, public systems created through multilateral relations among states, and different and widely varying legal cultures and systems.

“Accordingly, the Law School will develop three foundation courses, each of which represents a door into the global sphere that students will use as context for U.S. law,” the guide said.”

American law students trained in the “global sphere … as context for U.S. law” instead of in U.S. Constitutional law? I don’t know what they call that in Boston. In Texas, we call that BS.


UPDATE: Media Matters points out an error in the CNS report because Harvard Law School had already dropped its Con Law requirement prior to Dean Kagan’s curriculum changes. As noted here, the prior curriculum encouraged students to take Con Law but it was not a required course.

UPDATE 2: My thanks to pizzathehut for his tenacity on this topic. The title of the post is in error since, unlike most of its top-tier brethren, Harvard Law did not require Con Law so the course wasn’t “eliminated” as a required course by Dean Kagan or her immediate predecessors. My apology for the error.

Sestak Timeline

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 8:13 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Doug Ross posts the Sestak Timeline, including a link to the Larry Kane interview question that started it all:

“So how did it happen? How did a straightforward question and blunt answer bring anxiety to the White House? I’ll tell you the story.For over three months now, friends and others have asked me to recount the events of February 18th of this year, when a single question from me to Congressman Joe Sestak unleashed a controversy that remains to this day. Is it a political issue? Is it illegal? I can’t answer those questions, but I can tell you how casually it all happened, and what basis I had for asking the question,

“Were you ever offered a job to get out of this race? (The contest against Arlen Specter).

Sestak didn’t flinch .

“Yes,” he answered.

“Was it Navy Secretary?”, I asked

“No comment.”

He proceeded to talk about staying in the race but added that “he was called many times” to pull out.

Later, I asked, “So you were offered a job by someone in the White House?”

He said, “Yes.”

When the taping stopped, Joe Sestak looked surprised .

“You are the first person who ever asked me that question.”
I called the White House Press Office. I played the interview for the individual who answered the phone. She said someone would call me back. A few minutes later, another individual called. She said the White House would call back with a reaction “shortly.” That was 3:45 in the afternoon.

The report aired all night without a White House response.

At 6:45 the next morning, 15 hours later, a Deputy Press Secretary called. She said, “You can say the White House says it’s not true.”

As Kane asks, why did it take the White House 15 hours to issue a denial?


“He Wanted to Die for Something”

Filed under: War — DRJ @ 5:22 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The 1,000th American serviceman has died in Afghanistan:

“An Associated Press tally shows Leicht is the 1,000th U.S. serviceman killed in the Afghan conflict. The first death — nearly nine years ago — was also a soldier from the San Antonio area.

“He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered,” said Jesse Leicht, his younger brother. “He didn’t want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something.”

The AP bases its tally on Defense Department reports of deaths suffered as a direct result of the Afghan conflict, including personnel assigned to units in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Uzbekistan.

Other news organizations count deaths suffered by service members assigned elsewhere as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes operations in the Philippines, the Horn of Africa and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Leicht’s brothers told the AP that the military also told the family that his death put the toll at 1,000.

When military officers went to tell Leicht’s parents that their adopted son had died in combat, sheriff’s deputies had to help navigate them to the 130-acre family ranch tucked impossibly deep in the Texas Hill Country.

It was here that Jacob Leicht chopped thick cedar trees and hiked the rugged limestone peaks, growing up into an imposing 6-5, 200-pound Marine with a soft heart. He watched “Dora the Explorer” with his brother’s children and confided to family that he was troubled by the thought of young civilians being killed in battle.”

Leicht — who was born on July 4th — had just returned to the front line after spending 2 years recovering from injuries inflicted by an Iraqi IED. He wrote letters begging to be sent back and was finally cleared to return just over a month ago.

Apparently the desire to serve runs in this family. His brother Jesse enlisted in the Marines 9 days ago.

MORE: Michael Yon says “ AfPak shows every indication of becoming far worse than Iraq ever was.”


Website Update (Updated)

Filed under: Blogging Matters — DRJ @ 2:42 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

As Patterico mentioned recently, his website changed hosts and I think we’ve all noticed an improvement in performance. However, you don’t need me to tell you that there were problems yesterday because one of Patterico’s posts generated significant traffic from several big links.

Fortunately, the new website host took these problems as a challenge and is working diligently to resolve them. The changes they already implemented made a big difference on the administrative side, and I think the website loads better overall. Now we’re down to dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

Once again, we’re calling on you for help in this process. Please use the comments to list problems you are having now — not yesterday’s or prior problems, but current problems or things you notice in the coming days.

And thank you very much.


UPDATE: I forgot to mention the timeframe for this post. The host will be working on these issues between now and Tuesday or Wednesday. Thus, you may not see improvements until next week but they are working on it.

Obama’s Strengths (Updated)

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 1:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

John Hinderaker at PowerLine compares the cerebral, non-emotional qualities of Dick Cheney to Barack Obama:

“I think I finally understand what Obama’s supporters have meant all this time when they call him “cerebral.” He just doesn’t do emotion well. I’m sympathetic to him on that one, as I was to Cheney. But Americans, unfortunately, have come to expect emotional resonance from their presidents. The lack of it could prove a significant liability to Obama.”

It’s a jarring comparison but it makes sense when you read the whole thing. Like Cheney, Obama has a calm, cool, cerebral demeanor — although Clarice Feldman questions whether he’s really that smart or well-educated.

To put in terms my 1970s brethren understand, Obama may be like Spock without the smarts.


UPDATE: Dana Milbank was not impressed with President Obama’s lack of strength at his Oil Spill press conference:

“In a sense, it’s refreshing to have a president who is candid about shortcomings. Yet Obama’s news conference may have been the weakest hour of his presidency.

As I sat in the fourth row on Thursday, I was struck by the weirdly passive figure before me. He delivered lawyerly phrases and spoke of his anger about the oil spill but showed none in his voice or on his face. He was, presumably, there to show how aggressively he has handled the disaster, but he seemed cool, almost bloodless.”

Bloodless? Hmmm. Maybe Milbank thinks Obama is Spock, too.

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