Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Federal Terrorism Trial: An Insider's Account

From City Journal: A NYC resident chronicles his service on a federal terrorism jury:
The case was one of the most significant in the U.S. government’s battle against terrorism. It pitted the United States against Monzer al-Kassar, one of the world’s most successful—the prosecutors would say notorious—arms dealers. Whether it established any significant legal precedents would be left for the appellate lawyers to debate....I was a member of the jury, and I kept a daily journal, recording my own reactions to the lawyers, the witnesses, and the unfolding drama. Throughout the trial, the jurors heeded the judge’s admonitions not to discuss the case. But when it was over, I reconvened the jurors to ask them about their recollections. This is our story...

EMP Threat to Homeland Security

Additional voices are warning that an electromagnetic pulse attack could destroy America's power grid:
The federal government is doing “nothing” to protect against an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could wipe out American civilization, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a leading expert on the subject, tells Newsmax.
For only $200 million to $400 million, the government could protect a key element of the power grid to keep electrical power from being wiped out for years, according to Dr. Pry, a former staff member of the congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. Yet neither Republicans nor Democrats have been willing to spend that small sum, says Pry, who is president [of] EMPACT America...
A single nuclear bomb exploded over the Midwest would generate an electromagnetic pulse that would destroy the chips that are at the heart of every electronic device. While military and intelligence networks may be shielded against EMP, most of the rest of the country’s technological infrastructure is not...
To be most effective, an EMP device would be detonated by a missile 200 miles above earth. A strong missile defense would knock missiles out of the sky before they reach the U.S. But going back to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative — dubbed Star Wars — Democrats have consistently ridiculed the idea of an anti-missile defense.
According to EMPACT America, "An Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) is a sudden, massive broad-band wave of electro-magnetic energy that strikes large regions of the earth. It can originate from the sun in the form of solar events or as a result of a detonated nuclear device. In either case, an EMP attack can severely damage electronic devices resulting in the disabling of computers, the electric grid, telephones, water supply and transportation systems of an entire continent."

Update: A follow-up Newsmax report:
The nation’s military is largely unprotected in the event an enemy launches a nuclear bomb that would fry microchips and the power grid with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., tells Newsmax.
Since the early 1990s, “Essentially all our new weapon systems have been built with a waiver for EMP hardening,” says Bartlett, a scientist and inventor who is the ranking member of the House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces.
“If an enemy used an EMP enhanced weapon — and Russian generals told our EMP commission that they had developed weapons which emit 200 kilovolts per meter weapon — I’ve been assured by experts in the area that everything would be down,” says Bartlett, who has been the leading member of Congress fighting to recognize EMP as a threat.

ACORN's Friends

We've already mentioned in previous posts how the artist formerly known as Stuart Smalley likely owes his disputed U.S. Senate seat to ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has more:
Here in Minnesota, ACORN has boasted of playing a major role in the 2008 elections. It claims to have registered 43,000 new voters, which it describes as 75 percent of the state's new registrations. Franken's margin of victory in the Senate race was razor-thin: 312 votes out of about 3 million cast. And Minnesota's laws on proof of voter eligibility are notoriously loose. Did ACORN folks pull some fast ones to help get their favorite son Franken elected -- a win that handed Democrats the 60-vote, veto-proof majority that they needed to enact their liberal agenda?
Secretary of State Mark Ritchie assures us that Minnesota's system of voter verification protects electoral integrity.
But here's an uncomfortable fact: Ritchie himself was endorsed by the now-notorious ACORN and elected with its help.
And the American Spectator is reporting that the corrupt community organization appears to have direct ties to the community organizer in chief:
Newly discovered evidence shows the radical advocacy group ACORN has a man in the Obama White House.
This power behind the throne is longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard. He holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush's White House.
Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York.
Recall that the president incredibly said on national TV that he was unaware that ACORN got much federal funding.

Senate Eyes Court Packing Scheme

We've pointed out previously how the Senate majority used parliamentary trickeration during the previous administration to deny many highly qualified judicial picks an up-or-down vote on their nominations. So before even filling the existing judicial vacancies, lawmakers apparently want to create more judgeships:
Democrats aren't satisfied with the one-party state in which they control Congress and the White House and can politicize the Justice Department and take over the banking and automotive industries. Now liberal Democrats are pushing a court-packing scheme as well.
A subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the proposed Federal Judgeship Act of 2009 (S. 1653), which would create positions for 63 new federal judges - 51 in federal district courts and 12 in appeals courts. This proposal is nothing less than a sneaky equivalent of what President Franklin D. Roosevelt tried with his infamous court-packing power grab on the Supreme Court in 1937. The only slight difference is that this attempt is more under the radar.
The Supreme Court has been choosing to consider fewer cases each year. This means the lower courts provide the final disposition for a larger percentage of controversies than ever before. Packing those courts with new, loyal liberals can thus have a huge effect on legal issues without the high profile - and public backlash - of unpopular Supreme Court decisions and fringe appointments to the high court...To create even more positions for Democrats to fill when current high caseloads exist in part because of Democratic intransigence would be like rewarding card sharks for stacking the deck.
If this legislation is not ideological court packing, the Democrats can demonstrate their good faith by first confirming all the hold-over nominations from the previous administration.