Patterico's Pontifications

5/4/2011

Grassley Grills Holder on Gunrunner and Failing to Prosecute a Leaker of Classified Information

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:47 pm

Good questioning by the Senator. It’s a relatively short video and worth your time.

Jerry Brown Slowly Dismantling Death Penalty Apparatus in California

Filed under: Crime — Patterico @ 9:25 pm

In the excitement over bin Laden, Californians may have overlooked Jerry Brown’s stealth moves to do away with the death penalty in California. Last week he announced that he is cancelling the construction of a new death chamber that was being built to respond to bogus constitutional objections by meddlesome judge Jeremy Fogel. [UPDATE: Actually, he did not scrap a new death chamber, just a new Death Row -- i.e., new housing for the inmates. See the UPDATE below.] Yesterday the L.A. Times reported that, not surprisingly, Brown’s decision has resulted in the state deciding not to pursue any more executions this year. Yes, we’re only in early May.

The development comes on the heels of Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision last week to scrap construction of a new $356-million death row facility. California faces another potential roadblock from looming legal challenges to the state’s acquisition of sodium thiopental, the key execution drug, which is no longer made in the U.S. and has to be obtained from foreign producers.

Lawyers for the state said it was not feasible to schedule executions this year, according to a transcript of the meeting with Fogel in his chambers Friday. Given the time it will take to put together a new execution team, train the 20-plus members and provide documentation of their qualifications to lawyers for condemned inmates, the execution procedures won’t be ready for review and potential approval until at least January, the judge noted.

Corrections officials have declined to say why Martel wants to change the execution team that was deemed ready in September, when the state was prepared to execute rapist-murderer Albert Greenwood Brown.

This is probably a more personal issue for me since I tried my first death penalty case last year. I won’t go into it in detail, lest this blog post become part of a federal hearing in 30 years, but suffice it to say that my defendant killed two innocent people in different incidents and laughed about it. Numerous witnesses and DNA evidence proved his guilt in an overwhelming fashion and the jury took about four hours to decide he deserved to die. But thanks to people like Jerry Brown, that defendant is more likely to die of natural causes than to suffer the penalty that the jury found appropriate, after hearing from two very experienced defense attorneys and a mitigation expert.

What gets me is how perverse the arguments can be. The death penalty costs too much, we are told by those who seek to make it as expensive as possible. The death penalty takes too long to administer, we are told by those who drag it out as long as possible. And, increasingly, the response from those who support the death penalty is to accept these arguments, rather than to fight them.

The L.A. Times in March proudly printed an op-ed from the famous “hanging judge” of Orange County, who sentenced 10 people to death, including the cretinous Rodney Alcala, who killed five girls, one of them 12 years old. He complained that the death penalty rarely actually results in an execution. Was his solution to streamline the appellate process? Strip away technicalities and focus on true innocence? No. It was simply to shrug his shoulders and give up. Gil Garcetti, my former boss, used to refuse extraditions from Mexico that were conditioned on our not seeking the death penalty. He threw such principles to the wind and agreed with the “hanging judge” that the barriers erected by death penalty opponents are simply too much even to try to overcome.

Why do we accept such ridiculous arguments? Why do we take it seriously when a Death Row inmate delays his execution as long as possible, and then complains that the delay is unconstitutionally cruel? Why do we take it seriously when people who tortured little girls to death complain that a carefully administered drug cocktail is too cruel because it might cause them some pain?

Me, when I hear these arguments, I don’t want to give in to them. I want to fight.

But my position is an increasingly lonely one.

Congratulations, California. You’re getting what you asked for.

UPDATE: With all the delays, I assumed that the decision to scrap a new Death Row carried with it the consequence of scrapping a new death chamber. Brown has scrapped the former but not the latter, as pointed out by commenter aphrael. The new chamber is already complete. Sorry for the mistake.

With this explanation, I am less agitated now that there will be no new Death Row. But I remain irritated at the inexplicable delays, caused by bizarre decisions like the decision to ditch the old execution team in favor of a new one, with no reason given.

Oh — and by the way, I have a bone to pick with Carol J. Williams regarding her description of conditions on Death Row. But that will take another post to address.

(Another) Osama bin Laden News Roundup

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:34 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

This is just another post where I collect a lot of stories loosely related to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

First we learn that

Obama invited former President George W. Bush to accompany him, but Bush declined.

“President Bush will not be in attendance on Thursday,” The New York Times quoted his spokesman David Sherzer as saying. “He appreciated the invite, but has chosen in his post-presidency to remain largely out of the spotlight. He continues to celebrate with Americans this important victory in the war on terror.”

I have seen some people argue that maybe he feared being sandbagged, just like Obama did previously to Rep. Ryan and the Supreme Court.  I don’t think he would be that graceless, but then again I never thought he would be graceless enough to lie to the Supreme Court about what they said in a case, to their face.  So who knows?

Still it brings up a funny point.  Mr. President, lean forward, because I have a question.  Why are you going to ground zero? Are you, perhaps, going to celebrate the great thing you did?  No, of course that can’t be it, because you just sanctimoniously told us that “we don’t need to spike the football” so it can’t be that…

Of course maybe it’s a good thing Bush isn’t going, because if radio host Mike Malloy gets his way, the SEALS will pick up Bush right then and there.  Yep, this idiot said: “So when does Seal Unit 6, or whatever it’s called, drop in on George Bush? Bush was responsible for a lot more death, innocent death, than bin Laden. Wasn’t he, or am I wrong here?”  Yes, you are wrong.

Meanwhile the denial in the Muslim world is setting in:

Across the Muslim world, the killing of Usama bin Laden has unleashed a swirl of conspiracy theories, with many Pakistanis, Afghans and Arabs refusing to believe US assurances that al Qaeda’s founder is actually dead, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

And of course there is no news at all that would ordinarily contribute to conspiracy theories, right?  Right?

Ah crap

Leon Panetta, director of the CIA, revealed there was a 25 minute blackout during which the live feed from cameras mounted on the helmets of the US special forces was cut off.

A photograph released by the White House appeared to show the President and his aides in the situation room watching the action as it unfolded. In fact they had little knowledge of what was happening in the compound.

Mr Panetta said: “Once those teams went into the compound I can tell you that there was a time period of almost 20 or 25 minutes where we really didn’t know just exactly what was going on. And there were some very tense moments as we were waiting for information.

Meanwhile the Daily Caller helpfully sums up all the inconsistencies in the official story, and fellow Caller Jim Treacher writes:

(more…)

Media rush to measure Obama’s “Osama bounce” (Pts. 1 and 2)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 4:23 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Crass, but inevitable. In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, media and pollsters rushed into the field to insta-poll public reaction. Taken together, Pres. Obama is seeing a significant boost in numbers on handling terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan. However, the overall “Osama bounce” for his general job approval numbers looks below average so far.

Let’s start with the WaPo/Pew figures:

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has jumped in the wake of bin Laden’s killing. In the one-day survey, 56% say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 38% disapprove. Last month, Obama’s job rating was about evenly divided — 47% approved, 45% disapproved. Obama has gotten about the same boost in job approval as did former President Bush in the days after the U.S. military’s capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Following Saddam’s capture, Bush’s rating rose from 50% to 57%. (A more comprehensive survey will be conducted May 5-8 to follow up on these preliminary reactions to the death of bin Laden and Obama’s job performance.)

However, while Obama’s ratings for dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism have improved dramatically — by 16 points and 14 points, respectively, since January — opinions about his handling of the economy have not. Just 40% approve and 55% disapprove of his job performance on the economy, which is little changed from April.

Obama gets far more credit from the public than does George W. Bush for bin Laden’s killing. But the military and the CIA and other intelligence agencies receive much more credit — fully 86% say the U.S. military deserves a “great deal” of credit and 66% say the same about the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Roughly a third (35%) say that Obama deserves a great deal of credit for bin Laden’s demise, and a large majority (76%) says he deserves a great deal or “some” credit. By comparison, 51% say that Bush deserves either a great deal (15%) or some credit (36%) for the death of bin Laden.

On the other hand, the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday showed a statistically insignificant one point rise in the president’s overall approval rating compared to a poll taken over the weekend. Based on the historical data below, I would tend to favor the WaPo’s 9% boost — but the NewsBeast poll also showed no change in Obama’s overall approval rating (there is good news for him in some of the NewsBeast internals, including perception as a leader and head-to-head matchups against GOP rivals). (more…)

Obama is not Releasing the Osama Death Photo and Scattered Idiocy on the Subject (Update: More From CBS Interview Released)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:33 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Obama says more on the subject below the fold.

Update (II): Via Michelle Malkin, we are seeing photos from the compound including dead terrorists.  But not bin Laden.

——————

I mentioned it in an update to this post, but really it deserves its own stand alone post.

In some ways we have already talked this to death.  When it was announced that bin Laden’s body had been disposed of, Patrick wrote:

Second, we have waited 10 years for this. People need to see the body. They need to see the evidence. Someone wrote Instapundit earlier in the evening to say: “When do we get to see the long form death certificate?” It’s a funny crack, but beneath the surface of the joke lies a hard reality: we live in a country where people ignored tons of evidence that Obama was born in Hawaii, and where others ignored tons of evidence that bin Laden and al Qaeda caused 9/11. And in a country apparently teeming with Birthers and Truthers, you’re telling me you’re gonna dump Osama bin Laden’s body in the sea in the middle of the night?

And my only quibble is he is focused on American opinion, and I focus on the opinion of the Muslim world.  Now, there are crazy people over there who believe in Mossad-controlled sharks and the like.  But there are also plenty of normal people over there who simply will not believe the word of the U.S. President.  Perhaps they have been lied to by their own government so much that they don’t trust the word of any government official.  Or perhaps they have a real, but not insurmountable anti-American bias.  These people can be convinced, if we put a little more effort into it.

Later on I learned of and I posted evidence that the quick disposal itself was specifically commanded by Islamic tradition, but it turns out that burial at sea was against Islamic tradition.  So if our goal in destroying evidence was to show the Muslim world how sensitive we were, then we failed.  That is right, we destroyed evidence and didn’t even get the benefit out of it we hoped for.

So consider this for a minute.  Imagine this was a trial.  How would we prove he was the dead guy?  The president’s statement is just hearsay.  He’s never even seen the body.  There is DNA analysis, of course, but in any trial the other side is allowed to run its own independent tests—something that has been prevented, here.  And we have the testimony of one of his daughters, but part of her story about us dragging him out in front of his family is not credible.  So we are going to tell the Muslim world to believe the word of a woman we officially claim is lying?  I am personally satisfied, but only a fool thinks that is sufficient for someone more skeptical but still capable of being convinced.  Disposing of the body was dumb.  Not releasing the photos is even dumber.

We should frankly release everything we can.  The photos, any footage from the raid, all we have.  Blur out details we shouldn’t see—just as they did with that famous photo of the situation room as the raid occurred:

(Look at the photo in front of Hillary.  It has clearly been blurred.)  Blur and edit as you have to for national security purposes, but show us everything else.  The most transparent White House ever should do no less.

But the White House is too clueless to get that.  From a CBS report Patrick pointed me toward:

In an interview with Steve Kroft for this Sunday’s “60 Minutes,” President Obama says he won’t release post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden taken to prove his death.

“We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies,” Mr. Obama said.

So once again the President attributes base motives to his constituents, just as he did the “bitter clingers.”  We don’t want it as a trophy, Mr. President. We want it to prove to the Muslim world that yes he is actually dead.  And yes, I also suspect that for some Americans who lost loved ones in that attack, it won’t seem real until they see it.  Don’t they deserve some closure?

But believe it or not, Obama didn’t say the dumbest thing on the subject.  Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers did.  Oh boy he did.

Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said Wednesday that the Obama administration should not release the gruesome post-mortem images, saying it could complicate the job for American troops overseas. Rogers told CBS News he has seen a post-mortem photo.

“The risks of release outweigh the benefits,” Rogers said. “Conspiracy theorists around the world will just claim the photos are doctored anyway, and there is a real risk that releasing the photos will only serve to inflame public opinion in the Middle East.”

The flammable ones will get upset over a stick figure labeled “Mohammed.” They won’t need help.

But I haven’t gotten to the really dumb part:

“Imagine how the American people would react if Al Qaeda killed one of our troops or military leaders, and put photos of the body on the internet,” Rogers continued. “Osama bin Laden is not a trophy – he is dead and let’s now focus on continuing the fight until Al Qaida has been eliminated.”

Um, Representative Rogers, they already have done exactly that.  The terrorists put kill shots and videos of killing our troops on the internet all the time, you idiot.  Frankly I am amazed that a guy chairing the House Intelligence Committee doesn’t know that.

And CBS gets this wrong, too:

Skeptics have called on the United States to release photos of bin Laden, who officials say was shot in the face during a raid on his compound, in order to prove that the al Qaeda leader is really dead.

No, it’s not just skeptics, but people who believe the president but are concerned that he is about to squander all value in the victory he attained.  Why did we send our troops in there?  I mean if we just wanted to kill him, we could have dropped a sufficiently large and deadly bomb on him and called it a day.  It ain’t exactly a hardened bunker.  So logically, sending in troops only makes sense if the purpose is to get the verified kill—to be sure we got him.  But that verified kill, Mr. President, is useless unless we can convince people we actually got that kill.

But the President is in sanctimonious mode, now, and in my observation he is unlikely to change his mind once he gets there.

Update: This is from the very partial transcript on the subject:

(more…)

Be Wary of People and Sites Claiming to Have Photos of bin Laden Dead (Update: Obama Vows Never to Release the Real Photos)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 10:01 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Update: Cnn says via a breaking news email that they are not going to release the photo now.  Yes, I am convinced the bastard is dead.  But I am concerned about those in the Muslim world who (1) can be convinced, but (2) do not trust the word of the President.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the people who lost loved ones on 9-11 might need that visual verification for their own sake.  So once again Obama is withholding basic evidence on a topic and expecting us all to be satisfied.  Only this time, it’s not the American people who will doubt him, but the Muslim world.  And I thought he cared about their opinion?

Now certainly the word of the daughter is helpful, but that testimony is problematic, because it is fanciful in other details.  So a reasonable person might dismiss both accounts as dubious.  Which leaves us nothing but the White House’s word on the subject and the word of a scientist who claims to have matched DNA.  That is not nearly enough.

The original post follows.

————————————

Besides the danger of having egg on your face like the NRO and I do, there’s an actual danger involved.  Just as hackers put malicious programs emails asserting that they have pictures of Anna Kournikova, they are doing the same thing with fake pictures of bin Laden:

As U.S. officials debate whether or not to release bloody pictures of a dead Osama bin Laden, hackers and scammers are using links and emails promising those pictures to try to infect your computer.

The FBI says these emails could even appear to come from your friends, claiming to show either photos of bin Laden dead or a video of his death.

But it’s actually a virus or malware that could steal personal information or cause your entire system to crash.

Officials also warn that internet searches can also direct you to sites with malware or virus. And the bad links are also popping up on Facebook and other social media.

As of now, they say there are no released photos or videos.

I doubt that this is terror related.  More than likely they just figure it’s something that people really want to see, like pictures of the tennis star.

Which is interesting because it is a testament to how big the story really was as well as the assertion that there were around 5,000 tweets a second at the height of the Osama story.

Anyway, read the whole thing.

Meanwhile the White House can’t seem to figure out if it wants to release the photos or not.  Right now, guys, we technically only have your word and the word of a scientist who verified the DNA.  Do you really think that is even close enough for the doubters who can be convinced?

Of course there are people in the Muslim world who will believe anything

But although conspiracy theories in that part of the world can get pretty nutty, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t present sufficient evidence that would convince reasonable people.

And it certainly helps that one of bin Laden’s daughters is saying he is dead–even if she is making up a fictional story of having him brought out before his family and being killed.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Access Amazon Through Patterico!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am

In place of an annoying monthly fundraiser, I am reminding you that there is a box on the sidebar to the right, just under the Blogads, that you can use to search anything on Amazon. Any purchase that you make through that box (or this link) benefits this site, at absolutely no extra cost to you.

If you can’t see the widget to the right, you’re probably using AdBlock. There are two solutions: turn off AdBlock and refresh, or simply access Amazon through this link. (If you have an Amazon bookmark, you can change it to that address, which takes you straight to Amazon’s main page. That way you don’t even have to remember to come here first.)

I can report that many readers are using the widget on the right or have replaced their bookmarks. I can’t see who orders what, or indeed any customer names at all, but I can see the products that are being ordered — and they are varied. Books, movies, computer equipment — if it exists, Amazon probably has it. This helps cover the costs of running the site — currently $150 a month ($1800 a year) plus occasional expenditures for consultants, moving servers, and the like. If everyone who regularly reads this site were to access Amazon only through the widget or the link, all costs to the site would be covered — and I could even think about improvements.

When I get more time I’ll put together a list of what I’m reading nowadays. Lot of good stuff there — more books than I have time for nowadays, actually.

Thanks very much for remembering to make your Amazon purchases through this site! One last plug for the widget: you can actually use it to search Amazon from this site, saving you a step. Plug in your search term in the widget on the right, and you will immediately be taken to your search results at Amazon. Convenience and a cost-free way to help your favorite blog — what a country!

“I Didn’t Go to Law School, But I Don’t Believe Lawyers Do This;” Norm MacDonald Shreds Gloria Allred

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:34 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

No deep point to this post, except that I thoroughly enjoyed the sheer fail! of this video:

And honestly I have been really enjoying Norm’s new show. The premiere had me laughing harder than I had in months.

Exit question.  Okay, what was going through her head with that whole reenactment?  First, did it really have to be a two person affair?  She couldn’t have done it wholly by herself?

And the “Justin” in that appears to be Justin Quinn, her client and the father of those two little girls.  So isn’t that, potentially, sexual harassment of her client?  Given that this guy has already decided to sue once for this kind of thing, is that so wise?

Plus, as MacDonald alluded to, doesn’t it kind of diminish the claim that these girls are forever scarred, or whatever Allred’s legal theory is, to then expose them to the same alleged trauma again?  Hell, I think I am more traumatized by watching Gloria do it than I would have if I saw Roger McDowell do it live.

Anyway Gwenn Knapp writes more seriously about the whole thing, and gives some background information, but really I think the most appropriate reaction is closer to MacDonald’s: withering mockery.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Gunrunner at Hot Air

Filed under: Gunrunner — Patterico @ 12:31 am

At Hot Air, I just published a pithier version of my post this evening on the Holder/Issa confrontation regarding Project Gunrunner. Check it out. It’s good to give this scandal any publicity we can.


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