Monthly Archives: March 2005

First Amendment and Bush ‘Town Hall’

These people got ejected from a Bush “town hall meeting” on Social Security because of a bumper sticker on their car: Secret Service investigating removal of three from Bush visit. What's interesting here is that it's possible the Secret Service didn't do it but someone else, possibly pretending to be a Secret Service agent did the evictions. (See also this fuller account at Daily Kos.)

  • If the Secret Service had anything to do with this, it violated the law and the Constitution
  • If the evictions were by private citizens misrepresenting themselves as government officials, they committed a crime
  • If the evictions were by private citizens being intimidating, it could be a crime or civil offense (e.g. assault, threats, depends on state law)
  • It's conceivable that there might be a way for private citizens to artfully mislead people and give the impression they are secret service agents without actually making actionable mis-statements (“Sir? Could you please come this way? I need to talk with you. I'm sorry, but you will have to leave. Security. I'm sure you will understand.”) I just don't know enough about the relevant law to be sure.

Update (3/30): The Washington Post has more on the story:

As described by Recht, a man in a blue suit told the three they had to leave and “in a physical, forcible way” escorted them out, refusing to explain why. Mackin said local law enforcement is in charge of policing civil disobedience at such events, although the Bush advance team is often seen asking disruptive people to leave.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 10 Comments

Firefox on Steriods

Firefox on steroids. Nothing the advanced user will not have done already, but a very nice step-by-step guide for the rest of the world.

Posted in Software | 3 Comments

Discourse.net Zeitgeist

I’m in a conference room at Stetson Law School in Tampa today, having a very interesting meeting of the Florida Supreme Court Committee on Privacy and Court Records. So no blogging for now.

Meanwhile, have you visited the Discourse.net Zeitgeist? It’s a cute MT plugin that lists all the search terms that have lead someone to this blog in the last 48 hours. The more the people used the term, the bigger the type face.

Posted in Discourse.net | Leave a comment

‘FBI Helped Saudis Escape’ Not Such Tin Foil After All

Remember that tin-foil tale about the US helping high-ranking Saudis — including members of the bin Laden family — leave the US without interviewing them? It seems the conspiracy theory had one fact wrong — the flights in question didn't actually take off before the air travel ban was lifted, but only soon after, in a period when flights were still limited. Otherwise, the tin foil view is looking pretty good.

New Details on F.B.I. Aid for Saudis After 9/11: The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. - which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history – arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country.

“I say baloney to any inference we red-carpeted any of this entourage,” an F.B.I. official said in a 2003 internal note. Another F.B.I. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week regarding the airport escorts that “we'd do that for anybody if they felt they were threatened – we wouldn't characterize that as special treatment.”

Yes, you see, we give Saudis special treatment like this all the time, so it's not really special, is it?

Posted in 9/11 & Aftermath | 6 Comments

Jeb Bush’s ‘Culture of Life’ In Deadly Action

Jeb Bush is all for 'life'…as long as it doesn't get in the way of more tax cuts.

Agency probes group homes' deaths: A federally funded watchdog group is investigating the recent deaths of four disabled Floridians amid an aggressive campaign by the state to cut millions of dollars from programs that provide medical care for disabled people in community settings.

Two developmentally disabled adults who lived in group homes in Brandon, and two others under the care of The ARC in St. Lucie County, have died since October 2004, a month after the state required the operator of the two Brandon group homes to change the way residents received nursing care.

A woman at one Brandon home developed such a severe infection at the site of her feeding tube that she has been hospitalized in intensive care since Feb. 13.

Will we see Randall Terry demonstrating about this outside the statehouse? Somehow I rather doubt it.

Posted in Florida | 2 Comments

Schiavo Case Almost Led to State Cop v. Local Cop Showdown

According to today's Miami Herald, Jeb Bush ordered state cops to grab Terri Schiavo at a point during the judicial proceedings at which, due to Florida's automatic stay law, such a move would arguably have been if not legal at least not in direct violation of a court order. The automatic stay law suspends a judge's order when the state appeals it. (Judge Greer reimposed his order within a few hours.)

Local cops apparently didn't get the word, or didn't want to go along with the sneaky move, and were prepared to stand off the state cops.

Participants in the high-stakes test of wills, who spoke with The Herald on the condition of anonymity, said they believed the standoff could ultimately have led to a constitutional crisis and a confrontation between dueling lawmen.

“There were two sets of law enforcement officers facing off, waiting for the other to blink,” said one official with knowledge of Thursday morning's activities.

In jest, one official said local police discussed “whether we had enough officers to hold off the National Guard.”

OK. We dodged that bullet. But kindly remind me how many microns separate us from banana republics with warring paramilitary forces.

Posted in Florida | 6 Comments

Why the US Needs to Join the International Criminal Court

I used to think that the US should not join the International Criminal Court because it too greatly intruded on our sovereignty. I am more and more convinced that I had it backwards: we need to join the ICC to save ourselves from ourselves.

The heart of the ICC scheme is a complementarity of jurisdiction: the ICC has jurisdiction only over very serious crimes against humanity such as genocide or war crimes. And even then, only if the crime happened in a signatory state or was committed by a national of a signatory state.

And even then the ICC only has the power to act only if the state with jurisdiction over the alleged criminal is unwilling or unable to genuinely prosecute him.

Which brings me to why the ICC is looking better all the time:

Pentagon Will Not Try 17 G.I.'s Implicated in Prisoners' Deaths: Despite recommendations by Army investigators, commanders have decided not to prosecute 17 American soldiers implicated in the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004, according to a new accounting released Friday by the Army.

Investigators had recommended that all 17 soldiers be charged in the cases, according to the accounting by the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The charges included murder, conspiracy and negligent homicide. While none of the 17 will face any prosecution, one received a letter of reprimand and another was discharged after the investigations.

This comes on the heels of a bizarre defense offered to Congress by Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III for his report on why no higher-ups are responsible for anything bad:

When pressed to explain why he did not hold anyone accountable for failing to establish clear interrogation procedures in Iraq and Afghanistan, Admiral Church told reporters, “I don't know who you would have assigned responsibility necessarily to do that.”

When our government admits we have killed 27 POWs (something we used to take rather seriously when it was US POWs in the hands of the Vietnamese and the Viet Cong), tortured who knows how many, and then our government says no one is to be held accountable — that's when the case for joining the ICC, as a last-gasp line of defense of our decency — seems at its strongest.

Posted in Law: International Law | 18 Comments