Sunday, January 31, 2010

DOJ Lawyers Off The Hook For "Torture" Memos

If this report from Newsweek proves accurate, the already delusional pundits at MSNBC will become even more unhinged:
[A]n upcoming Justice Department report from its ethics-watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), clears the Bush administration lawyers who authored the “torture” memos of professional-misconduct allegations.
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors—Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor—violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action—which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.

Illegal Foreign Political Contributions? Look In the Mirror

Justice Samuel Alito may have been channeling in a more genteel way his inner Joe Wilson, but President Obama seems to have set up a straw-man argument in railing against the Supreme Court's decision in the Citizens United campaign finance case.

Professor William Jacobson of Legal Insurrection says that if the Obama has real concerns about illegal foreign contributions to political campaigns, he should appoint a special prosecutor--to investigate his own 2008 presidential run:
And the place the special counsel can start is with Obama's 2008 campaign, which disabled security features in its credit card web portal so as to allow donors to evade restrictions on numerous aspects of the federal campaign laws, including the prohibition on foreign contributions
Given that Obama was wrong that the decision allows foreign campaign contributions, Jacobson suggests that this grandstanding is an attempt to grease the skids for the nomination of an ultra-leftist judicial activist to the Court in the event that Justice Stevens retires at the end of this term.

By the way, campaign commercials get very tedious, but why shouldn't U.S. corporations be placed on the same level playing field as unions when it comes to political speech under the First Amendment?

Friday, January 29, 2010

KSM Terrorism Trial To Get Venue Change

Moving this trial out of New York City is a start, but the administration needs to abandon the entire ill-advised idea of trying these defendants in criminal court:
Facing growing opposition to its plans to hold the Sept. 11 terrorist trial in New York City, the Obama administration is considering moving the proceedings elsewhere.
Two administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Friday the Justice Department is drawing up plans for possible alternate locations to try professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices in case Congress or local officials prevent the trial from being held in Manhattan.
The Washington Post reports that Congress may try to block federal criminal trials for detainees:
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) plans to introduce a bill next week that would prohibit funding of a federal trial for Mohammed and other Sept. 11 defendants, in an effort to force the case into a military tribunal. An earlier such legislative effort failed, but a spokesman for Graham said that the senator has been taking the pulse of his colleagues and that "momentum has been building."
The same Post article says that the Gitmo jail may stay in operation longer than the administration that wants to shut it down:
The closure of the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, is beginning to look like a protracted and uncertain project for the Obama administration as political, legal and security concerns limit the president's options.
Having blown the one-year closure deadline set last January in an executive order, the administration is planning to transfer some detainees to a state prison it hopes to acquire in Illinois. But there appears to be little mood in Congress to provide the administration with either the funding for the prison or the authority to transfer detainees who will be held indefinitely.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Panel Says Obama Administration Failing To Prevent WMD Attack

When it comes to national security, the state of the union is not strong. A failed presidency (one that even requires a teleprompter for a visit to a sixth grade class) is one thing; a failed presidency that jeopardizes the safety and security of the American people is quite another.
In a 19-page report card being published Tuesday, the bipartisan Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism gives the Obama administration an "F" for failing to take key steps the commission outlined just over a year ago in its initial report.
A bipartisan, independent commission on stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction says that the Obama administration has failed in its first year in office to do enough to prevent a germ weapons attack on America or to respond quickly and effectively should such an attack occur.
n a 19-page report card being published Tuesday, the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation and Terrorism, chaired by former Senators Bob Graham, a Democrat from Florida, and Jim Talent, a Missouri Republican, gives the new administration the grade of "F" for failing to take key steps the commission outlined just over a year ago in its initial report.
 [Source: Fox News]

Did the sixth graders get a better report card?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Backpedaling on KSM Trial?

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff claims that the KSM trial in NYC may not necessarily go forward:
Top administration officials are getting nervous that they may not be able to proceed with one of their most controversial national-security moves: trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other accused 9/11 conspirators in federal court in New York City. Last November Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. portrayed the trial as a way to showcase the American justice system to the world—and to accelerate President Obama's stalled plans to shut down the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. But because of shifting political winds in Congress, the trial is now "potentially in jeopardy," a senior official, who did not want to be named talking about a sensitive situation, tells NEWSWEEK. The chief concern: that Republicans will renew attempts to strip funding for the trial and, in the aftermath of the bombing attempt aboard Northwest Flight 253, pick up enough support from moderate Democrats to prevail.
Part of the shifting political winds includes the election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, which occurred after this blog entry was published. Brown opposes giving civilian trials to captured terrorists.

CNN Anchor Blasts Ft. Hood Report

CNN's Jack Cafferty used to be one of the Bush administration's most vociferous critics. Lately, Democrat leaders in Washington have become the subject of his wrath. In this clip, he calls the Pentagon's 86-page report on the Ft. Hood shooting rampage a joke and a politically correct whitewash:

Christmas Day Bomber and Bureaucratic Bungling

It's incredible that this proposed legislation is even necessary, but as the saying goes, it is what it is:
Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced legislation Thursday to require that U.S. intelligence officials be consulted following a foreign terrorist’s detention by the United States.
The legislation would address a serious error that occurred in the handling of the so-called Christmas Day terrorist, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was charged in civilian criminal court.
At a Homeland Security Committee meeting Wednesday, Senator Collins learned during her questioning of witnesses that none of the three top U.S. intelligence officials had been consulted about that important decision. The determination to place Abdulmutallab into the U.S. civilian court system was made without their input or knowledge.
Senator Collins said this mistake “may have prevented the collection of valuable intelligence about future terrorist threats to the United States. Frankly, I was stunned to learn that the decision to place the captured terrorist into the U.S. civilian criminal court system had been made without the input or the knowledge of any of those three top intelligence officials:the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and the Secretary of Homeland Security."
“These officials were never consulted by the Department of Justice. The decision was made without them.”

Administration Panel: 25% Of Gitmo Detainess Too Dangerous To Release

A committee made up of officials from the Justice Department, Defense Department, DHS, State Department, and CIA and FBI has determined that some detainees must stay locked up for the duration:
A Justice Department-led task force has concluded that nearly 50 of the 196 detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be held indefinitely without trial under the laws of war, according to Obama administration officials.
The task force's findings represent the first time that the administration has clarified how many detainees it considers too dangerous to release but unprosecutable because officials fear trials could compromise intelligence-gathering and because detainees could challenge evidence obtained through coercion.
Human rights advocates have bemoaned the administration's failure to fulfill President Obama's promise last January to close the Guantanamo Bay facility within a year as well as its reliance on indefinite detention, a mechanism devised during George W. Bush's administration that they deem unconstitutional.
[Source: Washington Post]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Even Before Being Sworn In, Senator Brown Notches First Victory

Nancy Pelosi concedes:
The leader of the House of Representatives said Thursday she lacks the votes to push the Senate's sweeping health overhaul bill through the House, a potentially devastating blow to President Barack Obama's top domestic priority issue.
...Pelosi said, "In its present form without any changes I don't think it's possible to pass the Senate bill in the House, adding "I don't see the votes for it at this time."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mr. Brown Goes To Washington: There Is A New Sheriff In Town

Congratulations to Scott Brown on his stunning victory in the Massachusetts Special Senate election. The march towards socialism has been stopped in its tracks. And far as homeland security, this is what the Senator-elect said in his acceptance speech:
And let me say this, with respect to those who wish to harm us, I believe that our Constitution and laws exist to protect this nation - they do not grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. In dealing with terrorists, our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them.
Immediate fallout of the Brown victory: Obama's flawed nominee to head the Transportation Safety Administration, Erroll Southers, has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Will The Machine Stall Scott Brown's Certification

Should Scott Brown win tomorrow's Massachusetts special election, Democrats may delay the legal "certification" of his victory. One problem with that scenario--it may be unconstitutional:
Appointed Senator Paul Kirk will lose his vote in the Senate after Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts of a new senator and cannot be the 60th vote for Democratic health care legislation, according to Republican attorneys.
Kirk has vowed to vote for the Democratic bill even if Republican Scott Brown is elected but not yet certified by state officials and officially seated in the Senate. Kirk’s vote is crucial because without the 60 votes necessary to stop a Republican filibuster, the bill will be defeated.
This would be a devastating loss for President Obama and congressional Democrats. The bill, dubbed ObamaCare, is the centerpiece of the president’s agenda. Brown has campaigned on becoming the 41st vote against ObamaCare.
But in the days after the election, it is Kirk’s status that matters, not Brown’s. Massachusetts law says that an appointed senator remains in office “until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy.” The vacancy occurred when Senator Edward Kennedy died in August. Kirk was picked as interim senator by Governor Deval Patrick.
Democrats in Massachusetts have talked about delaying Brown’s “certification,” should he defeat Democrat Martha Coakley on Tuesday. Their aim would be to allow Kirk to remain in the Senate and vote the health care bill.
But based on Massachusetts law, Senate precedent, and the U.S. Constitution, Republican attorneys said Kirk will no longer be a senator after election day, period. Brown meets the age, citizenship, and residency requirements in the Constitution to qualify for the Senate. “Qualification” does not require state “certification,” the lawyers said.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Privacy Violations: TSA's New Full-Body Screening Procedures Too "Transparent"?

Privacy and individual rights advocates claim that the Transportation Security Administration has been less than candid about the possible abuse of intrusive airport full-body scanners:
Pushback against the deployment at airports of digital image scanners that show people's naked images through their clothes is gaining steam, bolstered by the Electronic Privacy Information Center's publication of government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security papers suggest the Transportation Security Administration overstated the privacy protections travelers subjected to the scanners would have.
Contrary to TSA's claims, the controversial backscatter scanners are able to store and send images, according to the documents EPIC obtained. There are 10 variable privacy settings on the device, which presumably can be dialed up or down at the point of operation with the required access code.

The Land of Opportunity, Not Amnesty

As a public service, here’s a message for those on both sides of the political aisle who get a tingle up their legs when they think about granting amnesty to illegal aliens: Secure the border first.

Americans are perhaps the most welcoming, generous people on earth, but before comprehensive immigration "reform" can be considered, the country needs comprehensive border security reform.

And although most of the current chaos is going on at the southern border, the northern border needs to be locked down as well.

It's hard to believe that in this polarized political climate, the Democrats (and some Republicans) are serious about pushing for amnesty in 2010, unless they feel that ACORN, SEIU, and corrupt Secretaries of State will give them a firewall of fraudulent votes in the November congressional elections no matter how far their overreach.

But the bottom line is that with massive unemployment, and terrorists trying to penetrate our (porous) borders by any means necessary, this is perhaps the worst of all possible times to even consider this kind of legislation.

One thing that the political and media class don't seem to understand is that Americans generally favor legal immigration. As we do strong border enforcement.

In fact, it is the legal immigrant with the entrepreneurial drive that is achieving success everywhere you look, unlike the many of us who grew up here and who can barely get up from the coach in the family room during the commercials. The American economy and culture have been greatly enriched by law-abiding immigrants who come here to work and add value to our society.

Simply put, it is illegal immigration that everyday Americans oppose. It is also absurd to assume that political parties have to favor amnesty as a way to pander to presumed monolithic voters among certain groups. In general, the American people across the board oppose amnesty for lawbreakers in the same way that most Americans oppose Socialized medicine. Both run counter to the American way. The opposition to amnesty stems from the fact in part that it violates our sense of fair play and respect for the rule of law--how can we allow those who broke the law to jump ahead in line of those who followed the required procedures? Moreover, Americans don't want to send social service agencies and the criminal justice system farther into bankruptcy then they already are.

With that in mind, we're not too far removed from the Christmas season. During the holidays, A Christmas Story, the hilarious and beloved send-up of the works of radio raconteur Jean Shepherd, goes into heavy television rotation. Sadly, Bob Clark, the director, and his son, were killed by an illegal alien drunk driver in April 2007. The tragic circumstances that befell Clark and his son have unfortunately been replicated throughout the country.

American has plenty of American citizens who drive drunk or commit violent crimes, as your local police blotter or the TV show Cops (or its newest guilty-pleasure analog, Campus PD) reveals. Why would we need to import more non-citizen felons --regardless of their country of origin--into our society?

And it's not just a matter of crime prevention, but of national security. For example, it's been widely reported that Hezbollah has established a foothold in South America. And a few years ago, the San Antonio Express-News published a four-part series about the increasing number of persons from Middle Eastern countries coming across the Mexican border "who have come to America with darker pursuits than escaping war or starting a new life."

An October 2009 article in the London Telegraph suggests the UK Labor Party opened the floodgates to immigration (both legal and illegal) for cynical political reasons that they previously kept under wraps: "The huge increases in migrants over the last decade were partly due to a politically motivated attempt by ministers to radically change the country and 'rub the Right's nose in diversity', according to Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett." Hasn't London, in recent years, become a hotbed of extremist activity in part owing to lax immigration policies?

Getting back to the northern border, the narrator in the 1941 film 49th Parallel intones that the U.S.-Canadian border is the only [then] undefended frontier in the world. By coincidence, we just happened to watch the DVD, which is about six shipwrecked German sailors on the lam in Canada after the RCAF sinks their U-boat (and all their other fellow enemy combatants with it) in Hudson's Bay.

The movie, which despite its continuity and production flaws and other issues, is considered a classic, was originally commissioned by the British government as an anti-isolationist propaganda piece to sway American public opinion in favor of joining the Allies against the Nazis. If you get a chance to see it, you'll realize that the film is much more nuanced than that.

Anyway, Spoiler warning: As the film concludes, the last remaining fugitive, the fanatical Nazi Lt. Hirth (in a compelling performance by British actor Eric Portman) hops aboard a freight train bound for the states. When the train crosses into U.S. territory in the Niagara Falls area, the fugitive officer demands to be taken to the German embassy under the law (the U.S. was neutral at the time). The by-the-book customs officers at first agree to comply. However, a Canadian solider played by Raymond Massey who had been overpowered by Hirth tries to convince the customs officers to send the train back. Here's his pitch: Since each item of freight has to be listed on the manifest, and since neither the Nazi officer or Massey's character appear on the manifest, the train car must be returned to sender--where the fugitive Nazi will obviously be immediately arrested as a war criminal. To this, the Nazi officer, who has murdered numerous innocent Canadian citizens during the manhunt, says "I protest. You can't do this. It is illegal." The Massey character prevails, however, and customs returns the train car to Canada. [Disclaimer: As the film fades out, the Massey character begins to administer some "rough justice" to the officer, which admittedly would be considered detainee abuse by today's standards, and we of course do not condone this type of behavior.] Today, the enemy officer would been immediately Mirandized so he could clam up assuming he wasn't given immediate refugee status, assigned a court-appointed ACLU lawyer for a civil trial, and sent for immediate anger management counseling.

Again according to the London Telegraph, the Christmas day Northwest Airlines bomber was singing like a canary until his civilian lawyer advised him to remain silent.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Christmas Day Bomber Lawyers Up, Quiets Down

The London Telegraph claims that the Obama administration really blew it by charging the Northwest Airlines underwear bomber in civilian court:
The chance to secure crucial information about al-Qaeda operations in Yemen was lost because the Obama administration decided to charge and prosecute Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as an ordinary criminal, critics say. He is said to have reduced his co-operation with FBI interrogators on the advice of his government-appointed defence counsel.
The potential significance became chillingly clear this weekend when it was reported that shortly after his detention, he boasted that 20 more young Muslim men were being prepared for similar murderous missions in the Yemen.
The lawyer for the 23-year-old Nigerian entered a formal not guilty plea on Friday to charges that he tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on December 25 – even though he reportedly admitted earlier that he was trained and supplied with the explosives sewn into his underwear by al-Qaeda in the Arab state.
"He was singing like a canary, then we charged him in civilian proceedings, he got a lawyer and shut up," Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission that investigated the Sept 2001 terror attacks on the US, told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I find it incomprehensible that this administration is treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue. The president has finally said that we are at war with al-Qaeda. Well, if this is a war, then Abdulmutallab should be treated as a combatant not a criminal."

Friday, January 8, 2010

Christmas Day Bomber Pleads Not Guilty

The lawyered-up underwear bomber pleads not guilty in his initial court appearance in Detroit federal court:
Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, the man charged with trying to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane on December 25, pleaded not guilty Friday to six federal charges.
Wearing a white T-shirt, too-long khaki pants that were rolled up several times at the ankles and blue sneakers, the 23-year-old Nigerian national walked slowly into the federal courtroom, ankles shackled and in apparent pain after having suffered second- and third-degree burns in the flight.
Asked by the judge whether he was taking any medication, he replied he was taking painkillers but that he understood the six charges he faced.
AbdulMutallab faces the following charges according to the federal indictment from the office of Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan:
  • attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction
  • attempted murder within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States
  • willful attempt to destroy and wreck an aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States
  • willfully placing a destructive device in, upon and in proximity to an aircraft within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States which was likely to endanger the safety of such aircraft, and
  • two counts of possession of a firearm/destructive in furtherance of a crime of violence
In a move that will make us all safer, the U.S. State Department announced on January 5 that it had revoked AbdulMutallab's visa.

Detainees Like The Accommodations At Club Gitmo

Congressman Peter King once said that the only scandal at the Guantanamo Bay prison is that the detainees are treated too well. In an article about the "new pessimism" that the Gauntanamo Bay prison will ever be closed, Newsweek suggests that the detainees agree:
But the final irony is that many of the detainees may not even want to be transferred to Thomson and could conceivably even raise their own legal roadblocks to allow them to stay at Gitmo.
Marc Falkoff [a lawyer who represents some of the Yemeni detainees at Gitmo] notes that many of his clients, while they clearly want to go home, are at least being held under Geneva Convention conditions in Guantánamo. At Thomson, he notes, the plans call for them to be thrown into the equivalent of a "supermax" security prison under near-lockdown conditions.
"As far as our clients are concerned, it's probably preferable for them to remain at Guantánamo," he says.
Separately, reports more recidivism from released Gitmo detainees:
As many as one in five former Guantanamo Bay detainees are suspected of or confirmed to have engaged in terrorist activity after their release, U.S. officials said, citing the latest government statistics.
The 20 percent rate is an increase over the 14 percent of former inmates that an April Pentagon report said were thought to have joined terrorist efforts, said the officials, who requested anonymity. The officials didn’t provide the numbers on which the 20 percent is based.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

D.C. Circuit Validates Indefinite Detention For Enemy Combatants

The detainee lobby loses another round in court, this time a habeas corpus petition on behalf of Ghaleb Nassar Al-Bihani, apparently a cook for the Taliban who carried a weapon but never fired it in combat:
A federal appeals court Tuesday endorsed the government's sweeping authority to detain terrorism suspects whom it can link to al-Qaeda, the Taliban and affiliated groups.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court's decision in 2008 that the government may continue to detain a Yemeni, an admitted cook for a group allied with the Taliban. The prisoner, Ghaleb Nassar al-Bihani, has been held at the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, since 2002.
The decision would make it more difficult for some detainees to win release through federal lawsuits challenging their confinements because it so strongly backs the government's authority, legal experts said.
"This is a big win for the government," said Robert Chesney, a national security law professor at the University of Texas.
Two of the judges on the three-judge panel were George W. Bush appointees: Janice Rogers Brown and Brett Kavanaugh. "Viewed in full, the facts show Al-Bihani was part of and supported a group—prior to and after September 11—that was affiliated with Al Qaeda and Taliban forces and engaged in hostilities against a U.S. Coalition partner. Al-Bihani, therefore, falls squarely within the scope of the President’s statutory detention powers," the court wrote.

Court Denies Moussaoui Appeal

9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is staying in jail for the duration:
A federal appeals court on Monday upheld the conviction and life prison term of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in a U.S. court in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected an effort by Moussaoui's lawyers to send the case back to federal court in Alexandria, where he pleaded guilty in 2005 to an al-Qaeda conspiracy to crash planes into U.S. buildings that led to the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. After a two-month sentencing trial in Alexandria, Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison.
Attorneys for Moussaoui had told the Richmond-based court that he should be retried or resentenced because he was deprived of his constitutional rights. The Justice Department argued that the proceedings were fair.
Writing at NationalReviewOnline, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy says the U.S. dodged a bullet in the court ruling, and only because of the defendant's guilty plea:
...if [Moussaoui] had not surprised everyone by pleading guilty, if he had instead insisted on proceeding with his trial (not just the penalty phase but the guilt phase), the case might well have ended disastrously.
...The appellate court notes that Moussaoui claims it was error for the trial judge to interfere with his unqualified right to represent himself; "to have personal, pretrial access to classified, exculpatory evidence"; and to be able to summon witnesses like co-conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for trial testimony. The Fourth Circuit acknowledges that all these claims have merit, but the court finds that Moussaoui, by pleading guilty, waived any claim of prejudice...Even more alarming, the Fourth Circuit concedes that its waiver rationale is inconsistent with a decision by the Ninth Circuit on which Moussaoui relies — i.e., if the Fourth Circuit had followed the Ninth Circuit, there's a good chance it would have had to agree that, regardless of the guilty plea, Moussaoui's convictions should be reversed.
The Fourth Circuit also reminds us that the trial judge initially struck the death penalty from the case because the government refused to give Moussaoui access to the al-Qaeda prisoner witnesses. The Fourth Circuit reversed the judge at the time, but on the condition that it would be open to revisiting that conclusion if the government failed to provide Moussaoui with all the classified exculpatory information to which he was entitled. At that critical moment, Moussaoui decided to plead guilty. That is, we never found out what would have happened if Moussaoui had insisted on a trial at which he'd have access to all these witnesses and other national-defense information. The guilty-plea is deemed to have waived any claim by Moussaoui that he was denied the information to which he was entitled.
In the next case — like, say, KSM's civilian trial — the defendants will be smart enough not to plead guilty. They will insist on getting every piece of intelligence they're entitled to. And the prosecutors will look at this ruling on Moussaoui's appeal and realize they'd better give it to them or risk having the case thrown out. That's what the law-enforcement approach buys you.
Now that the Christmas Day Northwest Airlines underwear bomber has lawyered up, what similar legal mischief can we expect by his defense lawyers?

The Obama Passport Caper Revisited

If you happened to be channel surfing on the night that the news broke that someone illegally accessed then-candidate Obama's passport file, you might have noticed that MSNBC was covering the story like it was a combination of Watergate, IranContra, and the death of Elvis. CNN, to its credit, had a more measured coverage. As soon as it came out that the perpetrator had also snooped into Hillary Clinton's and John McCain's file, the story quickly disappeared from all media outlets, including MSNBC. Newsmax is now claiming an Obama supporter (rather than what was presumed to be an opponent) breached the passport records:
Obama’s top terrorism and intelligence adviser, John O. Brennan, heads a firm that was cited in March for breaching sensitive files in the State Department’s passport office, according to a State Department Inspector General’s report released this past Jul
The security breach, first reported by the Washington Times and later confirmed by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, involved a contract employee of Brennan’s firm, The Analysis Corp., which has earned millions of dollars providing intelligence-related consulting services to federal agencies and private companies.
During a State Department briefing on March 21, 2008, McCormack confirmed that the contractor had accessed the passport files of presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and John McCain, and that the inspector general had launched an investigation.
Sources who tracked the investigation tell Newsmax that the main target of the breach was the Obama passport file, and that the contractor accessed the file in order to “cauterize” the records of potentially embarrassing information.
“They looked at the McCain and Clinton files as well to create confusion,” one knowledgeable source told Newsmax. “But this was basically an attempt to cauterize the Obama file.”
What could possibly be in a candidate's passport file that would be so damaging that an covert operative would need to go in and scrub it? Incidentally, a key witness in this incident was murdered, and the case remains unsolved.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

TSA Nominee Used Database to Snoop On Wife's Boyfriend

Another day, another Obama administration nominee in trouble:
The White House nominee to lead the Transportation Security Administration gave Congress misleading information about incidents in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, documents obtained by The Washington Post show...
[Erroll] Southers, a former FBI agent, has described inconsistencies in his accounts to Congress as "inadvertent" and the result of poor memory of an incident that dates back 20 years. He said in a Nov. 20 letter to key senators obtained by The Post that he had accepted full responsibility long ago for a "grave error in judgment" in accessing confidential criminal records about his then-estranged wife's new boyfriend...
Civil liberties specialists said that the misuse of databases has been common among law enforcement authorities for many years, despite an array of local, state and federal prohibitions intended to protect personal information. Studies have found that police at every level examine records of celebrities, women they have met and political rivals. Some federal authorities have been jailed for selling records to criminals.
Southers also refuses to say whether he favors allowing TSA screeners to unionize. Given the hassles at airport security checkpoints as it is, can you imagine piling crazy union workrules on top of that?

Speaking of security at airports, open borders advocate Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary, announced a new international airport security initiative:
Senior Homeland Security officials will meet with leaders at major airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America and the Middle East in the coming weeks "to review security procedures and technology being used to screen passengers on flights bound for the United States," the department announced this afternoon. Napolitano said she would follow up on those meetings with her own "ministerial level" discussions.

Intelligence Reviewer Has Major Conflict of Interest

Remember all that cockamamie campaign rhetoric about banning all those horrible lobbyists from the administration? According to Politico, never mind about all that:
President Barack Obama promised a “thorough review” of the government’s terrorist watch list system after a Nigerian man reported to U.S. government officials by his father to have radicalized and gone missing last month was allowed to board a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit that he later allegedly tried to blow up without any additional security screening.
Yet the individual Obama has chosen to lead the review, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, served for 35 years in the CIA, helped design the current watch list system and served as interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center, whose role is under review.
In the three years before joining the Obama administration, Brennan was president and CEO of The Analysis Corp., an intelligence contracting firm that worked closely with the National Counterterrorism Center and other U.S. government intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security agencies on developing terrorism watch lists.
In the meantime, Newsweek claims that Obama received pre-Christmas intel about terror threats to the homeland:
President Barack Obama received a high-level briefing only three days before Christmas about possible holiday-period terrorist threats against the US, Newsweek has learned. The briefing was centered on a written report, produced by US intelligence agencies, entitled "Key Homeland Threats", a senior US official said.
The senior Administration official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that nowhere in this document was there any mention of Yemen, whose Al-Qaeda affiliate is now believed to have been behind the unsuccessful Christmas Day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bring down a transatlantic airliner with a bomb hidden in his underpants. However, the official declined to disclose any other information about the substance of the briefing, including what kind of specific warnings, if any, the President was given about possibly holiday attacks and whether Yemen came up during oral discussions.
By the way, as we've mentioned previously, the media used to go nuts about Bush's Crawford, Texas, vacations, but have they said word one about Obama's extended Hawaiian holiday in the midst of a terror attack?

In a related development, Obama reached back into the Bush administration to appoint Howard Schmidt as White House cybersecurity "czar." Schmidt, a former special cybersecurity advisor to President George W. Bush, specialized in computer security and forensics as an investigator for the FBI, the Air Force, and local law enforcement. In the private sector, he held executive positions related to cyber-security at Microsoft and eBay.