Monthly Archives: September 2005

Free Country Datum VII: Routine, or Routine Meanness?

via Informed Comment:

September 27, 2005

Office of the Chief
United States Park Police
Dwight E. Pettiford
1100 Ohio Drive S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20242

Dear Chief Pettiford:

I am writing to request information regarding the treatment of individuals arrested on September 26, 2005 in front of the White House and processed at the United States Park Police Anacostia Station.

Yesterday 384 protestors, including peace activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested outside the White House and were brought to United States Park Police Anacostia Station. I was very surprised to learn that many of those arrested were kept handcuffed in vans and buses for up to 12 hours before they were charged and released. Some of those were released at 4:30 in the morning after being arrested at 4:00 the previous afternoon. Many of those held captive the longest were grandmothers and senior citizens. Those released after midnight were unfamiliar with Washington, DC and had no means to travel back to their hotels once the metro had closed. Anacostia is not frequented by taxicabs after midnight.

I have the following questions regarding the treatment of those arrested yesterday:

1. Why was the Anacostia Station chosen as the sole location to process all 384 arrestees when there were several other Park Police stations in the greater Washington, DC area?

2. In what other circumstances have arrestees been detained by U.S. Park Police for periods exceeding twelve hours before being charged with a crime?

3. In what other circumstances have arrestees been detained by U.S. Park Police, and kept handcuffed on buses for periods exceeding ten hours?

4. What is the established U.S. Park Police procedure for processing large numbers of arrestees in the Washington, DC area?

Please respond to the Judiciary Committee Minority Office at 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515, telephone number 202-225-6504, fax number 202-225-4423.


John Conyers, Jr.

Ranking Member

House Committee on the Judiciary

In despotic countries protesters get a one-way trip to the cells. Even in most democracies, you don’t expect cops arresting protesters to treat you with kid gloves. In our country, even though there’s not a shadow of a reason to think you are dangerous, we handcuff you for hours then release you after midnight in a ghetto with no transport.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 3 Comments

Joy In Mudville

As the whole world probably knows by now, a Texas grand jury indicted Majority Tom Delay this afternoon. Not only did I read about on a gazillion blogs, one more triumphalist than the next, but someone here came by and dealt me a photocopy of the indictment from a little stack.

I agree the public information makes the guy look guilty, but can I just be a dissenting voice here and say that there is something about the chortling that I don’t like. Even really vile politicians are entitled to a fair trial. As private citizens we are allowed to rush to judgment — only officialdom must act on the presumption of innocence — but there’s still something to the idea that we should leave our minds open to the idea of innocence. (And I’ve never liked conspiracy prosecutions without a charge for an underlying offense, and I’m not minded to start liking them now, even when the cause is jurisdictional rather than lack of evidence.)

The other thing that bugs me even more about this is the casual way in which everyone seems to accept the idea that this conspiracy prosecution is necessary because the local Texas DA who would have sole jurisdiction over the underlying election law finance offenses would never prosecute them. Seems that as of a couple of weeks ago at least, the district attorney in Fort Bend County, John Healey Jr., has never investigated DeLay or TRMPAC, and had no plans to do so. Many articles on the subject blandly reported that this was because Healey, a Republican, has no desire to harm the head of the state GOP. (If anything has changed recently, I can find no sign of it.)

Even Florida DAs are not quite that brazen about their political loyalties and fears. Where’s the outrage?

Posted in Politics: The Party of Sleaze | 9 Comments

Richter Library Has (Had?) a Blog

Googling for a phone number to call to ask for help with a balking online journal collection (the last page of EVERY article was missing!), I stumbled on Richter Library Web Services Dream Design, a blog with this great mission statement:

This weblog focuses on the University of Miami Richter Library’s website and strategies for thinking about ‘visionary’ possibilities for web services. It encourages ‘dreaming’ about ‘academic library’ information architectures so that dreams become reality and Richter sets the model for a next generation of academic library web services.

It’s a real pity it hasn’t been updated since last April, because I think this is the sort of thinking-out-loud that user-centered service-oriented institutions like libraries (and law schools!) should be doing.

Posted in U.Miami | 1 Comment

Plenty of Blame to Go Around (V)

Read Escapable Logic on a TV reporter’s insidious attempt to play the blame game by the old rules — which are now the wrong rules. It’s powerful stuff, with quotes from and links to many other worthies, notably David Weinberger’s facts as cudgels, which was probably the place I first saw this incident dissected.

Can it really be that sometimes a truth is greater than the facts on which it was said to rest? It’s very rare, but yes — so long as there are other relevant and supportive facts.

Ordinarily, of course, we rely on the facts to set us free from the chains of falsehood. For example, that hype about anarchy rape and murder in the Superdome? Dead bodies everywhere? Not.

Posted in Unspeakably Awful (Katrina) | 2 Comments

He Just Drank the Kool-Aid

Note to media: This report in a tabloid is false. Even my brother calls it “utterly scurrilous”. And it bears no connection whatsoever to this sartorial incident.

Note to all: Having looked at a video of the speech, I don’t think the photo of Bush’s mis-buttoned shirt linked to above is a photoshop job. But as regards the Bush-is-drinking-again story, the Enquirer is not to be trusted. Even if it did break the Monica Lewinsky story. Or, maybe, especially since…

Note to lawyers and law students: On the other hand, if you would like a good lawyer’s hypothetical, try Dwight Meredith at Wampum on the poor fit of the XXVth Amenment to problems of substance abuse in the White House. Nice exam question for someone.

Posted in Politics: Tinfoil | 4 Comments

Remove RTF Cruft From Clipboard

This looks useful. PureText is a free tool that removes RTF cruft (fonts, etc.) from stuff in your clipboard.

I can already do that via the wonderful wonderful Clipmate, but PureText looks as if it takes even fewer keystrokes.

Spotted via Lifehacker just before I was about to stop reading it on grounds of obviousness.

Posted in Software | 1 Comment


Susan Crawford has been having way too much fun. (Note: I had to open IE to view it.)

Posted in Internet | 1 Comment