Patterico's Pontifications


Cold Stone Creamery: If It’s Good, We Don’t Have It

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:51 pm

So I wait in line at Cold Stone Creamery for 15 minutes, which already feels like a mistake, only to learn: 1) they’re out of waffle cones; and 2) they’re out of chocolate ice cream.

So why am I even here?


Israel Targets Haniyeh

Filed under: International — Patterico @ 8:38 pm

Israel targeted Palestinian Prime Minister Hamiyeh, but missed. (H/t Dan Riehl.)

UPDATE: Or was it just a warning shot?

(See-Dubya) Arguing in the Alternative–Clarke says Times Was Just Blowing Smoke

Filed under: General — See Dubya @ 4:53 pm

(A post by See-Dubya) 

Here’s Richard Clarke and Roger Cressey in the New York Times:

Privacy rights advocates, with whom we generally agree, have lumped this bank-monitoring program with the alleged National Security Agency wiretapping of calls in which at least one party is within the United States as examples of our government violating civil liberties in the name of counterterrorism. The two programs are actually very different. Any domestic electronic surveillance without a court order, no matter how useful, is clearly illegal. Monitoring international bank transfers, especially with the knowledge of the bank consortium that owns the network, is legal and unobjectionable. … These initiatives, combined with treaties and international agreements, should leave no one with any presumption of privacy when moving money electronically between countries.

I bolded that part because it moots the argument that privacy interests were implicated by the Swift program. If there is no expectation of privacy in a transaction or communication, no warrant is necessary. It’s public knowlege. And it’s basic 4th Amendment stuff. The police can get your credit card records without a warrant, because you were willing to share them with the credit card company. The police can get a list of who you call on the phone, because you’re willing to share that information with the phone company (as opposed to tapping the content of the conversation itself, which does require a warrant.) No harm, say C&C; no foul.

C&C also speculate that President Bush’s reaction to the Timeses’ disclosure is a Rovian electoral calculation, and the value of the program is not that we catch terrorists with it, but that we make it more difficult for them to move money. C&C wonder whether “… the press [should] really be called unpatriotic by the administration, and even threatened with prosecution by politicians, for disclosing things the terrorists already assumed?” As Allahpundit points out, however, they ignore the fact that Hambali the Bali Bomber was caught because of information gathered through precisely this surveillance of his SWIFT transactions.

I am just fascinated that the Times thought running this piece was a good idea. Because it amounts to a repudiation of some the fundamental premises of James Risen and Eric Lichtblau’s original reporting.

Remember, this was supposedly a “secret” program. Hush-hush, nobody knows, classified—hence the title of R&L’s piece “Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror”. They also have a caption to a picture there that says “Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.” But don’t pay attention to that right now. We’re arguing in the alternative.

Which we will continue to do below the jump… (more…)

Stephen Yagman: “Boo-Hoo, This Wetter Hurt My Feeeeewings!”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:49 pm

Stephen Yagman, the ethically challenged civil rights attorney who was recently indicted for tax evasion and money laundering, is apparently not only a valiant defender of the downtrodden, but also a thin-skinned crybaby. He is suing an LAPD detective for writing him a letter gloating about the indictment:

A Venice civil rights attorney indicted this month on tax charges claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that a retired LAPD detective who expressed “glee” at the news caused him “extreme emotional distress.”

. . . .

[I]n the new lawsuit, he takes issue with a three-paragraph letter sent to him on June 23 by Jerry Le Frois, who identifies himself in the letter as a past member of the LAPD’s Special Investigations Section — a frequent target of Yagman’s civil rights suits.

“I read with unlimited glee and profound satisfaction, the U.S. Department of Justice press release of the nineteen count indictment. … I would like to wish Mr. Yagman lots of luck after he is convicted and sent to a federal prison,” the letter says. “May you rot in hell, you despicable excuse for a human being.”

Well said, Mr. Le Frois.

Guess what, Mr. Yagman? I read the news with unlimited glee and profound satisfaction myself.

Are you going to sue me, too?

(Thanks to reader Rick W.)

P.S. Isn’t this the free-speech hero who once claimed First Amendment protection for defaming a federal judge (for whom I worked) with false statements, including a blatantly untrue and outrageous accusation that the judge was sometimes “drunk on the bench”? And now he’s suing someone merely for expressing the deeply held opinion that Yagman is “despicable”?

What do you lefties think of your First Amendment champion now?

Keller and Baquet Issue Joint Pronouncement from on High

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Media Bias,Scum,Terrorism — Patterico @ 11:55 am

Bill Keller and Dean Baquet issue a joint pronouncement today defending their decision to publish classified details of a safe, legal, and effective counterterror program.

There’s little new here. The editors don’t try to argue that the program was illegal, that it had inadequate safeguards, that Congress was not briefed, or that the program was ineffective.

In the absence of any such argument, their decision cannot be defended, and they make no serious effort to try. Instead we get the same platitudes and arguments we have seen from each of them individually: they hate terrorism too; they took the decision seriously; the public has a right to know. I refer readers to my earlier response to Dean Baquet’s previous defense.

I agree generally with the idea that some classified information must be exposed by newspapers. I would draw the line in a different place from the newspapers, but a government program to assassinate political opponents of the President would be the proper subject of a news story, whether the program were classified or not.

But when a program is legal, effective, and has proper controls and oversight — and the editors here make no serious effort to argue otherwise — the argument doesn’t fly. And the editors make these decisions with incomplete information; witness the fact that the Los Angeles Times didn’t even know any of the specific successes of the program when they ran their story.

While the piece offers nothing new in the way of a defense, it nevertheless has a couple of interesting aspects.


What Would You Ask Dean Baquet?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Terrorism — Patterico @ 12:35 am

I have been thinking about drafting up a list of questions for Dean Baquet, editor of the Los Angeles Times, regarding his decision to publish the details of the Swift anti-terror program. I thought I might put together a list of questions in an open-source fashion. I’ll throw out a few questions I’d like to see answered, and you leave me a comment with suggestions for other questions.

I’m not saying he’s going to sit for an interview with me. But he should, don’t you think?

In no particular order, here are a few questions I’d like him to answer:


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