Monthly Archives: September 2005

US Digging in Heels at WSIS?

The US position on WSIS is stated, quite forcefullly, in EU and U.S. clash over control of Net.

Key quotes:

The European decision to back the rest of the world in demanding the creation of a new international body to govern the Internet clearly caught the Americans off balance and left them largely isolated at talks designed to come up with a new way of regulating the digital traffic of the 21st century.

“It’s a very shocking and profound change of the EU’s position,” said David Gross, the State Department official in charge of America’s international communications policy. “The EU’s proposal seems to represent an historic shift in the regulatory approach to the Internet from one that is based on private sector leadership to a government, top-down control of the Internet.”

Political unease with the U.S. approach, symbolized by opposition to the war in Iraq, has spilled over into these technical discussions, delegates said.

The United States has sharply criticized demands, like one made last week by Iran, for a UN body to govern the Internet, Gross said. “No intergovernmental body should control the Internet,” he said, “whether it’s the UN or any other.” U.S. officials argue that a system like the one proposed by the EU would lead to unwanted bureaucratization of the Internet.

“I think the U.S. is overreacting,” said David Hendon, a spokesman for the EU delegation.

Posted in Law: Internet Law | 1 Comment

Now *That’s* An Idea

100% lifted from Stirling Newberry at The Blogging of the President just because it’s such a fun idea:

Paul Krugman for Senate: I’m going to believe that Jon Corzine will win the governor’s race in New Jersey. But who should be the Senator? There is one outstanding resident of New Jersey who has both demonstrated intellectual saavy, and now partisan political chops in getting the word out to the public: Paul Krugman.

If progressives want to take the mantle of “the party of ideas.” This would be a sure fire way to do it: appoint Krugman to the seat that Corzine, knock on wood, will be vacating when he becomes governor.

Posted in Politics: US | 3 Comments

What’s Going on at WSIS?

Something truly odd and potentially important is happening at WSIS.

The Register says, EU deal threatens end to US dominance of internet, while The Inquirer says, America needs to give up Internet control, but neither one really explains what is going on.

I guess we’ll know by tomorrow.

Posted in Law: Internet Law | Leave a comment

We Are So Proud Of Our Free Press

Writing about the first foreign tour by US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen P. Hughes (dubbed US Minister for Propaganda by no less an authority than the Financial Times), New York Times reporter Steven R. Weisman breaks from the party line about the wonderful free press in the US, and the benighted press in the third world:

On Mideast ‘Listening Tour,’ the Question Is Who’s Hearing: She [Hughes] addressed several policies, but in concise sound bites rather than sustained arguments. In American campaigns, such messages repeated over and over can have an effect because a presidential candidate dominates the news with every statement he makes, and if that fails to work, money can be poured into saturation advertising.

By contrast, in the lively and percussive environment of this region, Ms. Hughes came nowhere near the commanding heights of the media.

Got that? In the US, during elections — the time it matters most — government propaganda is parroted reflexively by the media, and if for some reason they don’t toe the line, say a young white woman is missing, people with enough money can nonetheless drum it into the public by endless repetition on TV.

Strangely, that doesn’t work in Egypt, in Turkey, in Qatar, or even in … Saudi Arabia.

Update: Could be because they don’t have real elections there?

Posted in The Media | 3 Comments


The other day Eugene Volokh posted a short note referencing a reminiscence about then-Associate Justice Rehnquist:

An Arizona Lawyer’s Reminiscence About Chief Justice Rehnquist: I left the justice at the hotel about 8 that night and picked him up the next morning. He told me how much he enjoyed his walk and that he had three or four beers at one of the “joints.” He said he sat at the bar, talked and told jokes late into the night with a number of the bar’s regulars. Just before he left to return to the hotel, he asked one of his bar mates, Pete, what he did for a living.

Pete told him that he drove a big-rig truck for Pacific International Express. In turn, Pete asked his new buddy “Bill” what he did for a living. Bill said to Pete and his bar gang, “Well, I work in Washington, D.C. I am a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Pete and the gang laughed heartily at Bill’s joke or apparent fantasy, slapped him on the back and offered to buy him one more beer “for the road back to Washington and the Supreme Court.”

There is something cute about this annecdote (and in fact the entire article from which it is from paints an attractive portrait of an unpretentious Associate Justice, one well at odds with the image of the Chief who put those golden Gilbert and Sullivan stripes on his robe).

But there’s also something sad about that story. To me it shows how stratified the US has become or, if you prefer, remains: regular folks just ‘know’ that elites will never mix with them, so they don’t believe it when it happens. And the fact that it happens is so worthy of commentary that it is mentioned in the elite’s obituaries.

There’s more than one bubble in Washington.

Posted in Law: The Supremes | 4 Comments

U.M. Law Faculty Email is Down…

Just in case you are trying to e-mail a member of the UM Law faculty, all UM faculty (and most staff but not student) email accounts have been down all day, and intermittently down yesterday. If someone knows when it will be fixed, they are not telling. We are told it is a hardware issue, but no more than that.

You can still reach me via my address, but mail to me at is in cyber-purgatory somewhere.

Maybe we should outsource?

Update (8:30pm) It is showing signs of life now. Grrrr.

Posted in U.Miami | Leave a comment

Judge Orders Release of Abu Ghraib Abuse Photos

In a lengthy, detailed, and at times passionate opinion, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein, U.S. Army, JAG Corps, 1957-1960, has ruled that the government must release photos taken by one of the US guards at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. The pictures show gross abuse of the detainees.

The government had two main arguments against releasing the photos. The first was that the release would violate the Geneva Convention. The judge made short work of that.

The second was that the release might endanger our troops, by inflaming public opinion in the Arab Muslim world. Here, minus citations, is what the court said to that:

The government argues that the terrorists will use the re-publication of the photographs as a pretext for further acts of terrorism. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, provide the declaration of a scholar on the Middle East who states that, in his opinion, “there is nothing peculiar about Muslim culture in Iraq or elsewhere that would make people react to these pictures in a way different from other people’s reactions elsewhere in the world.” In addition, Professor Famhy suggests that there is a large group of Iraqis, and of Muslims generally, who respond favorably when we show the openness of our society and the accountability of our government officials, and that we would suppress those values and that favorable response by preventing the publication of the Darby photographs.

Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command. …

The terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan do not need pretexts for their barbarism; they have proven to be aggressive and pernicious in their choice of targets and tactics. … [M]y task is not to defer to our worst fears, but to interpret and apply the law, in this case the Freedom of Information Act, which advances values important to our society, transparency and accountability in government.

The interests at stake arises from pictures of flagrantly improper conduct by American soldiers–forcing prisoners under their charge to pose in a manner that compromised their humanity and dignity. … the pictures are the best evidence of what happened, better than words, which might fail to describe, or summaries, which might err in their attempt to generalize and abbreviate. Publication of the photographs is central to the purposes of FOIA because they initiate debate, not only about the improper and unlawful conduct of American soldiers, “rogue” soldiers, as they have been characterized, but also about other important questions as well– for example, the command structure that failed to exercise discipline over the troops, and the persons in that command structure whose failures in exercising supervision may make them culpable along with the soldiers who were court-martialed for perpetrating the wrongs; the poor training that did not create patterns of proper behavior and that failed to teach or distinguish between conduct that was proper and improper; the regulations and orders that governed the conduct of military forces engaged in guarding prisoners; the treatment of prisoners in other areas and places of detention; and other related questions.

Suppression of information is the surest way to cause its significance to grow and persist. Clarity and openness are the best antidotes, either to dispel criticism if not merited or, if merited, to correct such errors as may be found. The fight to extend freedom has never been easy, and we are once again challenged, in Iraq and Afghanistan, by terrorists who engage in violence to intimidate our will and to force us to retreat. Our struggle to prevail must be without sacrificing the transparency and accountability of government and military officials. These are the values FOIA was intended to advance, and they are at the very heart of the values for which we fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a risk that the enemy will seize upon the publicity of the photographs and seek to use such publicity as a pretext for enlistments and violent acts. But the education and debate that such publicity will foster will strengthen our purpose and, by enabling such deficiencies as may be perceived to be debated and corrected, show our strength as a vibrant and functioning democracy to be emulated.

In its most recent discussion of FOIA, the Supreme Court commented that “FOIA is often explained as a means for citizens to know what ‘their Government is up to.’ The sentiment is far from a convenient formalism. It defines a structural necessity in a real democracy.” As President Bush said, we fight to spread freedom so the freedoms of Americans will be made more secure. It is in compliance with these principles, enunciated by both the President and the highest court in the land, that I order the government to produce the Darby photograph that I have determined are responsive and appropriately redacted.

Posted in Torture | 6 Comments