Monthly Archives: April 2006

Further Evidence Rumsfeld Implicated in War Crimes

Please read this important post by Marty Lederman, Army Confirms: Rumsfeld Authorized Criminal Conduct.

Here’s a key section, but there’s more:

The Army’s charges against
Jordan reflect the view, undoubtedly correct, that the use of forced
nudity or intimidation with dogs against detainees subject to military
control constitutes cruelty and maltreatment that Article 93 makes
criminal. It doesn’t matter whether they are or are not “torture,” as
such; nor does it matter whether the armed forces should be permitted to use such interrogation techniques: As things currently stand, they are unlawful, as even the Army now acknowledges.

But then how can we account for the actions of the Secretary of Defense and his close aides?

On
November 27, 2002, Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes, following
discussions with Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, General Myers, and Doug
Feith, informed the Secretary of Defense that forced nudity and the use of the fear of dogs to induce stress were lawful

techniques, and he recommended that they be approved for use at
Guantanamo. (The lists of techniques to which Haynes was referring can
be found in this memorandum.) On December 2, 2002, Secretary Rumsfeld approved those techniques for use at Guantanamo — and subsequently those techniques were used on detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani.

In other words, the Secretary of Defense authorized criminal conduct.

Today’s Army charge under UCMJ Article 93 against Lt. Col. Jordan — for conduct that the SecDef actually authorized as to some detainees — demonstrates that Rumsfeld approved of, and encouraged, violations of the criminal law.

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Blog Conference Meta-Blogging

Here’s an addition ot my earlier list of blog conference related posts:

Please add any I’ve missed via the comments!

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Tell Us How You Really Feel

Earlier this week, many of my colleagues at UM mentioned that they had heard I would be speaking here — more than ever noticed my participation any four more meaty conferences of your choice. Is it the trendiness of the topic, or the quality of the pre-conference publicity?

Brian Leiter explains why he stayed home: although invited, “I was too busy and … I didn’t really want to attend a conference on what strikes me as a topic of no intellectual interest.” Personally, I wouldn’t put it quite that harshly.

And I find the complacent elitism of this comment irritating:

The other main limitation of blogs as forums for serious scholarly debate … is that only a minuscule number of first-rate legal scholars in any field actually blog on scholarly topics; indeed, if you subtract the Chicago faculty blog and Balkinization, “miniscule” may overstate the number of leading lights in their fields who blog in their areas of scholarly expertise (you can probably count the remainder on one hand).

This seems to me to be wrong on two levels. First, in some fields, IP for example, many of the leading figures are bloggers. Second, why should one assume that the traditional measure of worth is the right one? Why not celebrate the possibility that new tools and methods of communication might allow new voices to come forward to prominence? That said, I have to admit that there is yet to be much evidence (at least among law professors) that blogs have done much to subvert, rather than reproduce or reinforce the existing hierarchies.

And I do have the feeling that there’s a lot of brain power here being focused on … less than one might wish. None of which means it’s not a fun event, or interesting in various ways. It’s nice to see old friends. It’s good to put faces to names. And it’s been entertaining to see that, at least in this crowd, there are a number of people who are far more obsessed with blogging…

Of the conference papers I’ve read so far, the ones I would recommend most strongly are Larry Solum, Electronic Paper Blogging and the Transformation of Legal Scholarship and Orin Kerr, Blogs and the Legal Academy. But I haven’t had a chance to read them all yet.

Continue reading

Posted in Talks & Conferences | 7 Comments

Froomkin’s Bloggership Conference Slides

Here’s a link to my slides for the ‘bloggership’ conference.

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Bloggers Blogging the Blog Conference

So far I know of the following people who are blogging this event (I’ll update if I find more):

And oh boy they are already referring to each other. This has a circular cast….

Also relevant, sort of, Howard Kurtz Media Notes Extra which is about blogs “because I believe it has become the most vibrant, innovative and controversial form of information delivery in the media world today.”

Posted in Talks & Conferences | 2 Comments

Blog Conference Today

I’m at the Berkman Center’s conference on “Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship.” There’s a webcast if you are looking for a way to avoid thinking about studying for or grading exams.

I’m on the second panel, due to start at 11, as a discussant. With the moderator’s permission, I plan to take advantage of the podium to announce a new project. More here later after I’ve gone public at the conference.

PS. I hate the word “Bloggership.”

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Meanwhile, Back in Tallahassee

The Florida legislature has been unusually busy this year, and by and large the results are pretty ugly.

The legislature passed, and Jeb Bush signed, a bill repealing the doctrine of joint and several liability in Florida. Henceforth, joint tortfeasors will no longer be required to contribute more than their percentage of the judge or jury’s assessment of their share of the total fault. Deep pockets can rest easier. The value of patsies just increased. And victims (and taxpayers) will have to pay more when some members of a group of joint tortfeasors are judgment-proof.

Florida is infested with billboards. And south Florida is full of billboards blatantly erected in violation of local law…which for years wasn’t enforced in exchange for bribes and/or campaign contributions. Eventually, the laws here got changed to ‘grandfather’ them in so that some streets I drive on, like Bird Road, are overrun with the things. The Florida legislature’s reaction to this will, however, boggle your mind. It has just passed a bill that…protects billboards from the threat of being obstructed by trees.

Ladybird Johnson must be spinning in her grave. [UPDATE: As noted by an astute commentator, Ladybird Johnson is in fact living; according to the wikipedia “She has been protected by the Secret Service longer than anyone else in history.”] This isn’t just a failure to ‘beautify’ roads — it’s a public commitment to permanent uglification. If Jeb Bush signs this one, local governments will be forbidden from planting any trees where they might obstruct the public’s view of those glorious billboards.

The bill requires that billboards be given a clear sight line of 500 feet on roads with speed limits above 35 mph and 350 feet where the speed limit is under 35 mph. If counties or cities plant trees within that zone, they have 90 days to remove them or face a court fight and fines.

And if existing trees near a billboard are knocked down in a hurricane or if they die, they cannot be replaced except by low-growing shrubs or flowers that do not block the sign.

Still on the legislative agenda: proposals to gut the class-size amendment, the voter-approved mandate to have small classes in schools. That amendment has been a perennial bone in the Republican throat since at some point you might actually have to appropriate money to build those classrooms and pay those teachers.

There has been a ray of good news: spurred by the public scandal of an on-camera murder of a child by guards at a Florida “boot camp” (and the furor over the ensuing attempt at a coverup, then a whitewash), the legislature has voted to “demilitarize” the boot camps to which youthful offenders can be sent. Instead of a regime where guards, who were essentially unregulated and unsupervised, could and did use as much violence as they wanted for minor infractions such as ‘not looking respectful’, the new statute “bans the use of stun guns, pepper spray, pressure points, mechanical restraints and psychological intimidation unless a child is a threat to himself or others.” Yes, in Florida this really is enormous progress, so let’s be grateful for it.

Posted in Florida | 11 Comments