Patterico's Pontifications


Released Afghan Detainee Set to Sue U.S.

Filed under: Terrorism,War — DRJ @ 11:15 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Catching up on a story from a couple of weeks ago, the Obama Administration has released Mohammed Jawad from Guanatanamo and returned him to Afghanistan:

“Mohammed Jawad returned to Afghanistan this week after a military judge ruled that he was coerced into confessing that he threw a grenade at an unmarked vehicle in the capital in 2002. The attack wounded two American soldiers and their interpreter.

Afghan police delivered Jawad into U.S. custody and about a month later he was sent to the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Jawad and his family say he was 12 when he was arrested, and that he is now 19 years old. The Pentagon has said a bone scan showed he was about 17 when taken into custody. His defense lawyers decline to give an exact age for Jawad, who does not have a birth certificate, but say photos taken in Guantanamo showed that he had not gone through puberty.”

Now his family plans to sue the United States:

“Lawyers and family members say Jawad was submitted to various types of torture while imprisoned, including sleep deprivation and beatings.

The family plans to sue for compensation in U.S. courts, said Maj. Eric Montalvo, one of the military lawyers who was defending Jawad. Montalvo, who finishes his military service this month and has already joined a private firm, said he will aid in the process but will not necessarily file the suit.

“I will not allow him not to be assisted,” Montalvo said, explaining that Jawad needs intensive psychological counseling and tutoring to make up for his lack of schooling. Jawad said he wants to become a doctor because he was impressed by the way doctors at Guantanamo helped people.”

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Jawad was wrongfully detained in Afghanistan and that it’s appropriate to release him from Guantanamo. Damages for wrongful detention might make sense, although I don’t know if there’s a basis for it under international law. But damages for the loss of schooling? I suspect Jawad had more access to schooling at Guantanamo than he would ever have had in Afghanistan, unless you count terror training school.

As for allegations of mistreatment, Jawad was apparently so mistreated that he wants to be like his captor’s doctors. If he was so mistreated, you’d think he’d rather be like his lawyer.


A Fairy Tale

Filed under: Health Care,Obama — DRJ @ 9:18 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Beldar has written a fairy tale that explains how Obama plans to bring health care to America:

King Canute and the Magic Pony

Read it twice … or more … because Beldar has slipped in several clever references. It reminds me of the Fractured Fairy Tales I enjoyed on Rocky & Bullwinkle, especially one called King Midas.


“NY’s Tax-Funded Ex-Terrorist”

Filed under: Obama — DRJ @ 7:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Before he was White House green jobs czar, Van Jones was a board member for the Apollo Alliance — a coalition of environmental groups, labor unions and street organizers that unified around the green jobs concept. According to a New York Post guest op-ed, the director of the New York branch of the Apollo Alliance is former Weather Underground leader Jeff Jones:

“[Jeff] Jones was a fugitive from justice for 11 years. His own account at his Web site says: “As a leader of the Weather Underground, Jeff evaded an intense FBI manhunt for more than a decade. In 1981, they finally got him. Twenty special agents battered down the door of the Bronx apartment where he was living with his wife and four-year-old son.”

With Mark Rudd and Bill Ayers, Jones in 1969 co-founded the radical Weatherman, which orchestrated the violent “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago, and later undertook an anti-government bombing campaign. Three of its members died when a bomb they were constructing to attack Fort Dix accidentally detonated in Greenwich Village.

And Jones is still proud of his terrorist activities — saying as recently as 2004: “To this day, we still, lots of us, including me, still think it was the right thing to try to do.”

The op-ed says Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has credited Apollo with helping write the stimulus bill and getting it passed. I can’t find proof of this, although Reid has spoken approvingly of the Apollo Alliance. Here is the author’s bottom line:

“As a consultant to WDI [“Workforce Development Institute (WDI), a union-controlled organization (“developed in partnership with the NYS AFL-CIO,” it says) that works with state and local government and universities”], Jones is helping write the grant proposals for federal stimulus funds — funds authorized in the bill Apollo helped write, presumably ensuring that taxpayer dollars end up in the hands of groups that share Apollo’s political agenda.

Anyone should be entitled to spend his or her own money on political organizing, but Apollo and WDI are spending taxpayer dollars to organize a coalition of extreme environmentalists, labor unions and social-justice street organizers.

That’s bad enough in itself, but to have the effort spearheaded by an unrepentant domestic terrorist is a true outrage.”

Glenn Beck helped the op-ed’s author with a visual presentation in late August:

If this is true, then Obama’s association with Weather Underground founders has come full circle. He began his political career as a candidate for State Senate with help from Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn and he’s continuing it as President with help from Ayer’s Weather Underground co-founder Jeff Jones.


Beware of “Experts”

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 6:00 pm

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

In Wednesday’s Los Angeles Times, writer Richard Winton wrote a laudatory and laughably credulous article on the work of every liberal’s favorite police “expert,” Merrick Bobb. I place quotation marks around the word because Mr. Bobb, a politically connected lawyer, hasn’t the least bit of practical experience in matters on which he renders opinions. He has, rather, parlayed his political connections in such a way as to have himself appointed to various citizens’ commissions charged with implementing police reform in Los Angeles. His expertise, therefore, is limited to whatever knowledge he has been able to glean from reading reports prepared for him by others, many of whom have no greater knowledge of police work than he does. (Our host has posted previously on Mr. Bobb’s apparent conflict of interest in writing an opinion piece for the L.A. Times.)

Wednesday’s article focused on the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Personal Performance Index, which was described as an “early-warning system” used to identify deputies displaying patterns of behavior indicative of potential liability for the county. A study released by the Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday concluded, according to the Times, that “there is a strong link between the number of complaints filed against a deputy – proven or not – and the possibility that the deputy will eventually get into serious trouble and become a liability for the department.”

It’s all well and good for the Sheriff’s Department, as does the Los Angeles Police Department, to attempt to identify officers whose behavior may indicate looming problems. What I object to is the over-reliance on computer databases to make judgments about past behavior and predictions of future behavior.

The LAPD has for several years used a similar officer-tracking system, the current version of which is known as TEAMS II. (The LAPD is crazy for acronyms; the meaning of this one currently escapes me, if indeed I ever knew it.) There are commanding officers within the LAPD, as I assume to be the case in the Sheriff’s Department, who believe they can render an accurate judgment of an officer’s worth merely by looking at a printout of the information contained within the various databases. Though in some cases one may be able to form the outlines of an opinion based on this information, to rely on it exclusively, and to accord weight to unproven and even unfounded allegations, is to do a disservice to those officers who voluntarily expose themselves to the hazards attendant to working high-crime areas.

What Mr. Bobb would realize, if he were indeed the expert he purports to be, is that making groundless complaints against police officers is a tactic long employed by criminals in Los Angeles, most especially by gang members whose activities are best curtailed by proactive policing. In the LAPD, this tactic has been known to be effective in some cases, with officers either being reassigned by cowardly managers or deciding on their own to avoid those neighborhoods where they can scarcely drive down the street without having a complaint made against them.

A colleague of mine was once denied a transfer because a captain (who has since been promoted to commander) formed an opinion of him based on a series of unproven allegations, nearly all of which were made by gang members he had arrested. The officer had an exemplary record and not a single sustained allegation against him of any type, yet he was nonetheless denied the position he sought. The job instead went to an officer who had conducted himself more cautiously – and less effectively – as he went through his career.

I once had a partner who objected as I was driving our black-and-white into a housing project in South Central L.A., one known then as now for its violent crime. “I don’t think we should be here,” he said. “It’s dangerous.”

I’m sure that officer has racked up a personnel record Mr. Bobb would hold as exemplary, but the city isn’t the least bit safer for his efforts.

–Jack Dunphy

“No president has ever been treated like that. Ever.”

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 3:46 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

So says Rahm Emanuel regarding Rep. Joe Wilson’s heated “You Lie” directed at President Obama in last night’s Joint Session of Congress. Emanuel may be right about cat-calls in that venue — provided you exclude when Democrats booed President Bush in his 2005 State of the Union address [EDIT: and other examples in this thorough post at The Jury Talks Back] — but he’s wrong that public officials never indulge in Presidential name-calling:

“President Obama accused Bill Clinton of peddling “bald-faced lies” during the presidential campaign, according to a new book on the 2008 race.

Newsweek reporter Richard Wolffe writes in “Renegade: The Making of a President” that Obama’s campaign struggled to figure out how to respond to former President Clinton, who during the early primaries was a fierce defender of his wife Hillary Clinton’s bid for the Democratic nomination.

“We had to figure out how to deal with a former president who was just lying, engaging in bald-faced lies,” Obama told Wolffe. He also boasted about his campaign’s ultimate ability to take on the former president.”

Please note this post is about comparisons, and it isn’t a defense of Wilson’s comment or Obama’s.


Don’t Take Tax Any Advice from ACORN (Updated)

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 2:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Some “undercover work” from Big Government:

Hot Air says ACORN denies everything.

UPDATE: The Instapundit links an AP report that says the two ACORN employees have been fired.


NEA Communications Director “Currently Employed” (Update: Follow the Money)

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 2:26 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In the past weeks, Big Hollywood has posted articles on telephone conferences by the National Endowment for the Arts with artists encouraging them to help Obama’s legislative agenda. That smacks of politicizing the NEA.

Now there are reports the NEA’s Communications Director has resigned, or been reassigned, or something Politico says is utterly cryptic:

“The communications director for the National Endowment for the Arts is no longer in his job amid a flap over suggestions he suggested artists work to further President Obama’s legislative agenda.

A conservative artist writing on the site Big Hollywood first complained that the official, later identified as Yosi Sargent, had been on a conference call with artists aimed at furthering President Obama’s legislative agenda — a bit of a no-no for the agency, which does its best to stay apolitical.

The agency, for now, is keeping it utterly cryptic: Sargent is “currently an employee,” said spokeswoman Sally Gifford, who said she couldn’t comment on whether he is communications director.”

Maybe his status is UTB – “under the bus.”

UPDATE — In addition to researching an NEA propaganda timeline, the Washington times is also following the money:

“On August 12, a group of 21 arts organizations endorsed President Barack Obama’s health reform plan only 48 hours after a conference call in which a top National Endowment for the Arts official asked arts groups for help in advancing the administration’s policy agenda, including health care.

One reason the arts organizations may have been so swift to follow the administration’s suggestion is that 16 of the groups and affiliated organizations received nearly $2 million in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in the 150 days before the conference call. According to a Washington Times analysis of NEA records, more than $1 million of that total came from the stimulus package.”

The Washington Times also has some questions for the Obama Administration at the link, questions that so far remain unanswered.


Pres. Obama’s historic speech to somebody, Pt. 2

Filed under: General — Karl @ 1:55 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Let’s briefly revisit the point of Pres. Obama’s speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress last night.

Yesterday, in asking who the audience was for this speech, I noted that “the self-selected audience for the speech will likely skew in favor of Obama, something to remember if the establishment media does a poll of people who watched the speech.” There was nothing oracular about this prediction. As Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal noted before the speech: (1) instant response polls measure only speech-watchers; (2) the audience is usually skewed toward the President’s fans; (3) instant reactions tend to fade; and (4) some pollsters have reservations about instant reaction polls in general.

Sure enough, CNN did a flash poll showing that ObamaCare a 14-point gain among speech-watchers. Buried at the end of the story is the fact that the sample of speech-watchers in the poll was 45% Democratic and 18% Republican. For comparison, consider that the most recent Gallup survey of party ID among adults had 35% of Americans as Democrats and 28% as Republicans. A 14-point swing among a sample that skewed to the left is not surprising. Regular tracking polls are unlikely to show anything near it.

It should be fair to presume that the White House knows what Blumenthal (and any other respectable pollster) knew. Thus, it is notable that Pres. Obama delivered what Larry Sabato rightly characterized as a “tough, partisan speech.” Things have been going so badly for Obama and ObamaCare in recent weeks that he was beginning to lose support on the left. Obama apparently decided he needed to pump up his flagging base, and knew that is who would be tuned in last night.

Indeed, Pres. Obama — for all of his attacks on the GOP — undoubtedly knows that the real obstacle to taking over the US healthcare stystem is disunity within the Democratic ranks. Sabato makes the good point that “[i]f Obama can stoke congressional Democrats’ hatred of Republicans, Democrats will be less likely to split and hand the GOP a victory.” By that low bar, Obama’s speech must be deemed a tactical success, albeit a temporary one.


ABC’s John Stossel Moves to Fox

Filed under: Media Bias — DRJ @ 1:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

John Stossel is moving to Fox Business channel and will also appear on Fox News:

“Stossel is a libertarian whose work won both headaches and viewers for ABC during his 28 years at the network. He’ll anchor a weekly program on the Fox Business Network and appear regularly on Fox News Channel.

His new show on the business network will explore consumer issues and libertarianism. Stossel was known for his “Give Me a Break” stories on ABC, which he turned into a best-selling book.”

I look forward to more of Stossel’s reporting. He strikes me as a skeptical and fair person — just what a reporter should be.


L.A. Times Issues Lengthy Correction to Carol Williams’s Article re Ashcroft

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:13 am

The L.A. Times this morning has a lengthy and remarkable correction to Carol Williams’s recent article about a 9th Circuit ruling. Regular readers will recall that I wrote a detailed criticism of Williams’s article, noting that Williams had incorrectly summarized a court decision regarding a lawsuit brought against John Ashcroft concerning his policies in the war on terror. I also wrote an e-mail to Williams and her editor summarizing the errors. The detailed correction shows that my efforts bore fruit:

Ashcroft ruling: An article on Saturday’s Page A1 about a federal appeals court ruling involving former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft inaccurately described the breadth of the court’s decision and mischaracterized some elements of the case. The 2-1 ruling by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday held that Ashcroft could be sued personally for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of a Muslim man, Abdullah Kidd, who was detained after the Sept. 11 attacks. The opening paragraph of the article incorrectly said that the court held that Ashcroft had “violated the rights of U.S. citizens.” The appeals court did not decide that question. Instead, the judges ruled that Ashcroft could be held personally liable if Kidd’s allegations proved true. They sent the case back to a lower court for a trial to determine whether the allegations were accurate.

The allegations involve Kidd’s arrest under a federal law that allows officials to detain witnesses in criminal cases whose testimony is needed and who might otherwise flee before a trial. Kidd alleges that Ashcroft adopted a policy that authorized officials to deliberately misuse the material-witness law to detain people the government lacked probable cause to arrest. The court ruled that such a policy — if it existed — would violate the Constitution.

The article also compared the alleged material-witness arrests to another Bush administration anti-terrorism policy, the seizure of suspects outside the U.S., and in doing so referred to both types of arrests as “secret.” Kidd’s arrest and detention were not secret. The article quoted one portion of the ruling, which sharply criticized those who “confidently assert” that the government has the power to detain people on material-witness warrants, but it incorrectly attributed the quotation to “the panel,” rather than to the two judges in the majority. Moreover, the article described the judges as having aimed their criticism at the Bush administration’s policies. Although that was the clear implication of the judges’ words, they never directly named the targets of their criticism, and the article should have made clear that the criticism of the administration was implied, not stated.

Finally, the article quoted two constitutional scholars as praising the ruling, but failed to note that both of them had previously been on record as criticizing Bush administration policies in the area of civil liberties. The article should have included a broader range of reaction to the decision.

I have bolded the portions of the correction that address points I had made in my post and e-mail.

This is a rare case where the editors actually went beyond my criticisms and clarified even more than I had requested. Either others complained as well, or the paper initiated its own internal review of the article after reviewing my points. Either way, this correction goes far beyond the usual defensive and surly corrections the paper so often issues. Its very length is attention-getting, and its detail — and willingness to address bias and not just factual error — is eye-opening.

Williams’s article truly was a shoddy piece of work, but this correction merits a kudos to whomever is responsible. Somebody there actually seems to care about telling the truth.

Now if they could just import that attitude into their original articles, they might actually have a paper worth saving.

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