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Archive for the ‘criminal law’ Category

The AP has a nice little story about the CIA’s kidnap and torture squad, re-posted here at Talking Points Memo:

Four of the nation’s most highly valued terrorist prisoners were secretly moved to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2003, years earlier than has been disclosed, then whisked back into overseas prisons before the Supreme Court could give them access to lawyers, The Associated Press has learned.

It amazes me that someone can write an entire article about an illegal secret government program that was designed to kidnap and torture people while hiding them from the courts and the public … without using the words “illegal,” “kidnap,” or “torture.”

But holy hell, what is this next bit about?

Worse for the CIA, if the Supreme Court granted detainees rights, the entire covert program was at risk. Zubaydah and al-Nashiri could tell their lawyers about being waterboarded in Thailand. Al-Nashiri might discuss having a drill and an unloaded gun put to his head at a CIA prison in Poland.

“Anything that could expose these detainees to individuals outside the government was a nonstarter,” one U.S. official familiar with the program said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the government’s legal analysis.

Let me unpack that logic a bit.  Individuals in the Bush CIA had to hide these imprisoned men from the courts and anyone else outside the government … because … if the prisoners were allowed to talk to anyone, they might complain about being tortured … by the CIA?  Which would, you know, look bad on their annual GS-14 performance reviews.  Or something.  It’s not like they could have been worried about being charged with crimes.  John Yoo and Jay Bybee told them it was all OK! (Guess which one of those two names is missing from the article.)

So instead, everyone in the Bush administration who learned about the illegal secret torture and kidnapping program just… went along with the conspiracy to cover it all up, because hey, why rock the boat?  And the AP is granting anonymity to a source who is “familiar” with “the program” because … if we knew the source’s name, presumably he could be charged with a crime, either in the US or somewhere else.

Glad we’ve cleared that up.

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From kgw.com :

PORTLAND, Ore. — Immigration officials have revealed a plan to create holding cells in Portland’s slowly up-and-coming dying South Waterfront neighborhood.

fixed that for you.  A brand new ICE jail for transient prisoners is just what the John Ross condobacle needs to sell those last few units (at 60% below original list price).

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So Boingboing, among several others, tells me that the Pentagon wants to take their ball back:

In a briefing at the Defense Department, Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell ordered Wikileaks to remove classified documents and return them to the U.S. government.

For reals?  I might be wrong here*, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how the internet works.  See, e.g., the Tom Cruise scientology video saga for just one example of what happens when powerful people with expensive lawyers decide to attack random people on the internet.  And if you think the Department of Defense is more web-savvy than the Church of Scientology, I suppose you’re entitled to that opinion… but short of nuking Iceland, what are they going to do?

I pose that question in all seriousness.

This isn’t about being “nice” or some kind of contest between DoD and Wikileaks about the meaning of “the right thing” in this context.  It’s almost universally accepted that the U.S. government is spending a ton of money  to murder innocent people in Afghanistan for no reason that can be articulated.   Wikileaks, majorities of the American public, and most of the rest of the world clearly wants it to stop.  To the extent that words like “good” or “right” have meaning here, any action that moves U.S. policy towards an end of the occupation is unquestionably “the right thing,” and so far Wikileaks has done more towards that end in just a few short weeks than the US military apparatus has been able to accomplish in nearly ten years.  DoD has significantly less credibility than Wikileaks does at this point- agents of the US government are in no position to be making demands.

The ultimatum the DoD has issued here, “Do the right thing and return our files…[implied OR ELSE!]” is essentially nonsense.  Even if Wikileaks wanted to comply (they don’t) or were going to try to comply (they won’t), what does it even mean to “return” a digital file?  I’m put in mind of those people who send emails via Outlook and then try to “recall” them… by sending a second email.  Exchange server might work like that, but *email* doesn’t.  And pretending that it does just makes the pretender look silly.  Or stupid.  Once something is on the web, you can’t take it back.

Over the last five years or so, we’ve witnessed the birth of that awareness in the collective consciousness of our more intelligent political leaders.  As applied to politicians, the long memory of the net is a positive- any tools that help the electorate to screen out people who are crazy or habitual liars are a good thing.  I guess this sample of DoD’s ideas about their power over the net is an indicator that the bureaucracies haven’t quite figured it out yet.

* I’m not wrong.

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Arizona turns off its photo ticket contract.

The cameras, which included 76 units either mounted near the shoulder or operated from vans, were adept at snapping speeders as they whizzed past sensors, but getting offenders to pay after the tickets were mailed to them was another matter. Less than a third of the 1.2 million tickets issued were paid, and the state collected $78 million, far below the projected $120 million annual revenue. Some of those tickets, typically $181 apiece, no doubt were lost in the mail…

no doubt.

… others no doubt were not paid as violators tested a legal theory that they needed to be served in person.  Process servers who were supposed to follow up could hardly keep up with the load.

Oh.  That’s much more likely.  Wonder what it costs to hire a cut-rate process server in Arizona?  $80 per attempt?  $50?  What with the vendor’s rake-off for running the system, I bet nobody did the math to figure out whether they’d ever break even.
But WTF is this about?

Lawmakers at the hearing were concerned with more than just accident statistics. State Representative Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) was also upset to learn that the Redflex freeway cameras have been recording video twenty-four hours a day to track the movements of drivers not accused of any crime. Last September, TheNewspaper first reported the plan to link all continuously recording photo enforcement cameras into a nationwide surveillance network.

Jesus on fishhooks.  Sometimes when I read stuff like this I wish I was actually MORE paranoid than I am.

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You might think that the people who have been running the US operation in Afghanistan for the last few years would show a bit more maturity than a bunch of fourteen-year-old valley girls.

You’d be wrong.

On Friday, however, officials close to McChrystal began trying to salvage his reputation by asserting that the author, Michael Hastings, quoted the general and his staff in conversations that he was allowed to witness but not report.

“You said you wouldn’t tell anyone!  You pinky-swore!  I thought we were friends!  I’m never going out to the movies with you ever again!”

Oh, and this:

A U.S. military spokesman in Kabul, Air Force Lt. Col. Edward T. Sholtis, acknowledged that Hastings, like other reporters who have interviewed McChrystal over the past year, was not required to sign written ground rules. “We typically manage ground rules on a verbal basis,” Sholtis said. “We trust in the professionalism of the people we’re working with.”

Ground rules?!  What the fuck are you talking about “ground rules?”  You assholes are using my tax money to murder innocent people in a country halfway around the world for no goddamn reason at all, and you’re openly slagging your boss in front of a MAGAZINE REPORTER for christsakes, and the reporter went and REPORTED your borderline-treasonous insubordination, and now you have the fucking gall to whine about “ground rules?”

Here’s a ground rule for you, you worthless bag of guts: be happy you haven’t yet been charged with committing war crimes, and shut the HELL up before someone corrects the oversight.

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Get your free “Prosecute BP” bumper sticker.

all you need to do is to send us a LEGAL SIZE envelope s.a.s.e. otherwise we have to fold your sticker to this address:Sticker Robot / ProsecutePO Box 1189Woodacre, CA.94973-1189 subject to availability.We will gladly send you a sticker or two, depending on the response to this offer.

via Free Prosecute BP Sticker from Sticker Robot!.

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Or short of wishing them ill, maybe we could at least stop giving them financial support?

Public opinion matters where issues are not of fundamental interest to a nation. Israel is not a fundamental interest to other nations. The ability to generate public antipathy to Israel can therefore reshape Israeli relations with countries critical to Israel. For example, a redefinition of U.S.-Israeli relations will have much less effect on the United States than on Israel. The Obama administration, already irritated by the Israelis, might now see a shift in U.S. public opinion that will open the way to a new U.S.-Israeli relationship disadvantageous to Israel.

The Israelis will argue that this is all unfair, as they were provoked. Like the British, they seem to think that the issue is whose logic is correct. But the issue actually is, whose logic will be heard? As with a tank battle or an airstrike, this sort of warfare has nothing to do with fairness [. . . .]

Internationally, there is little doubt that the incident will generate a firestorm. Certainly, Turkey will break cooperation with Israel. Opinion in Europe will likely harden. And public opinion in the United States — by far the most important in the equation — might shift to a “plague-on-both-your-houses” position.

via Flotillas and the Wars of Public Opinion | STRATFOR.

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