Patterico's Pontifications


Souter Speaks to HLS Graduates

Filed under: Law — DRJ @ 8:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Justice David Souter gave the commencement remarks at the Harvard Law School graduation last week. Here is the text of his remarks in which he referenced the United States Constitution, constitutional, or unconstitutional 58 times.

Given that the study of Constitutional Law is no longer a required course at Harvard Law School, I wonder how much the new grads got out of that speech.


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.


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