Monthly Archives: October 2007

Not Xmas in October

According to the latest forecasts, Tropical Storm Noel looks as if it is neither going to strengthen enormously, nor hit the US.

However, the National Weather service would like you to know that this storm is not pronounced in the same way as a synonym for Christmas ([Middle English noel, from Old French, variant of nael, from Latin nātālis (diēs), (day) of birth, from nātus, past participle of nāscī, to be born.])

Tropical Storm NOEL Forecast Discussion PLEASE NOTE THAT THE PRONUNCIATION FOR THE THIS STORM'S NAME IS NOL…WITH A LONG O SOUND AND JUST ONE SYLLABLE…OR EXACTLY LIKE THE WORD KNOLL.

No umlaut, got it?

Another Great Capitalist Moment

At the conclusion of a scary, at times rebarbative, summary of the 'Values Voter' (what are the rest of us? valueless? devalued?) summit entitled I go to the 'Values Voter Summit' so you don't have to, we find this gem:

I'd like to give a shout-out to Lambda Rising, an iconic gay bookstore not far from the Hilton Washington, where the Values Voter Summit took place. Walking by the store during a break Saturday afternoon, I was amused to see a sign in the window reading, “Attention, Values Voters! Show your badge and get 20 percent off.” I's good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit lives, and my guess is that most of the guys from the 'ex-gay' ministry booth were down there the minute the conference ended.

Dodd Stands Up, Late But Tall

What's amazing is not that Senator Chris Dodd gave a really good speech drawing a line against further Administration depredations against the Constitution.

No, what's amazing is that it took so long before he did it.

And what's disheartening is that speeches like this are rare and wonderful things in this (supine) Democratic-in-name-only (“DINO”) Congress. Because contempt for law (and for Congress) are hallmarks of this Administration.

Torture Charges Filed Against Rumsfeld in France

I would have thought he’d know better than to travel to Europe, where they still have some standards: Donald Rumsfeld Charged With Torture During Trip To France

October 26, 2007, Paris, France – Today, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Paris Prosecutor before the “Court of First Instance” (Tribunal de Grande Instance) charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. Rumsfeld was in Paris for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, and left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.

“The filing of this French case against Rumsfeld demonstrates that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide. A torturer is an enemy of all humankind,” said CCR President Michael Ratner.

France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld’s accountability for crimes of torture in Guantanamo and Iraq. France has no choice but to open an investigation if an alleged torturer is on its territory. I hope that the fight against impunity will not be sacrificed in the name of politics. We call on France to refuse to be a safe haven for criminals.” said FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen.

We want to combat impunity and therefore demand a judicial investigation and a criminal prosecution wherever there is jurisdiction over the torture incidents,” said ECCHR General Secretary Wolfgang Kaleck.

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture — and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court — it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

French courts therefore have an obligation under the Convention against Torture to prosecute individuals responsible for acts of torture if they are present on French territory. This will be the only case filed while he is in the country, which makes the obligations to investigate and prosecute under international law extremely strong.

Rumsfeld’s presence on French territory gives French courts jurisdiction to prosecute him for having ordered and authorized torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

In addition, having resigned from his position of U.S. Secretary of Defense a year ago, Rumsfeld can no longer try to claim immunity as a head of state or government official. Nor can he claim immunity as former state official, as international law does not recognize such immunity in the case of international crimes including the crime of torture.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs’ case on RumsfeldÂ’s responsibility for the abuse of detainees.

This is the fifth time Rumsfeld has been charged with direct involvement in torture stemming from his role in the Bush administrationÂ’s program of torture post-9/11.

Two previous criminal complaints were filed in Germany under its universal jurisdiction statute, which allows Germany to prosecute serious international crimes regardless of where they occurred or the nationality of the perpetrators or victims. One case was filed in fall 2004 by CCR, FIDH, and Berlin attorney Wolfgang Kaleck; that case was dismissed in February 2005 in response to official pressure from the U.S., in particular from the Pentagon.

The second case was filed in fall 2006 by the same groups as well as dozens of national and international human rights groups, Nobel Peace Prize winners and the United Nations former Special Rapporteur on Torture. The 2006 complaint was presented on behalf of 12 Iraqi citizens who had been held and abused in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and one Saudi citizen still held at Guantánamo. This case was dismissed in April 2007, and an appeal will be filed against this decision next week.

Two other cases were filed against Rumsfeld in Argentina in 2005 and in Sweden in 2007.

Full text of complaint (.pdf, in French).

We’re Hiring!

Today is the start of the AALS meat meet market, the annual hiring conference for would-be law professors. My wife is the chair of our entry-level appointments committee, so she's in DC along with the rest of our committee, while I'm minding the home front.

The law school has a lot of openings this year — six by some counts, although I'd guess that one or two of those jobs may be earmarked for lateral offers. But whatever the number, we're hiring, and it's a recession year. If this turns out to be anything like the year I was on the market, many state schools will find their budgets being cut between now and summer, and some of the jobs they thought they had may evaporate. There are some disadvantages to being in the private sector — high tuition burdening students with debt chief among them — but this may be one of the times when being private works to our advantage.

A few weeks ago I published an extended essay on this blog in which I tried to describe some of the salient features of life at UM from the point of view of entering faculty. I titled it “Ten Reasons Why You Should Teach Here — And Three Why You Shouldn't”. In case anyone is reading this from the AALS, I repost a slightly amended version of the same essay below.

But before I do that, I can't resist quoting from our student newspaper, the Res Ipsa Loquitur, which recently interviewed our most recent hire, Charlton Copeland, about his initial impressions of UM Law. This is part of what he said:

The faculty stood out for me a the AALS recruiting conference as one of the most intellectually engaged faculties with which I met over the weekend. They actually were interested in my writing projects, and gave me the sense that they took them and me seriously. My time with the committee ran out too quickly for me. My feeling of intellectual comfort with the faculty was only enhanced during my visit to the campus later in November, but that was augmented by my delight that this would be a group with which I'd be comfortable beyond simply discussing scholarly work. They were a bit quirky, and in a way about which I am excited. I am excited about the diversity of the city of Miami as well, and the opportunities that I think it will provide me to think about my areas of research in new ways — ranging from race and the the law (where the Law School has long been at the forefront in American legal education) to comparative separation of powers issues in Latin America.

And that maybe sums it up better than I can. It's certainly shorter.

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