Monthly Archives: November 2008

Text of Judge Leon’s Remarks in Guantanamo Habeas Case

Thanks to SCOTUSblog, we have Documents on Boumediene detainee ruling including a full transcript of the remarks by Judge Leon, that I mentioned previously (Judge Grants Writ of Habeas Corpus for 5 out of 6 Gantanamo Detainees)

Here's the key excerpt from the transcript, significantly reformatted for easier reading:

Now, I want to raise a note of caution to those who may be listening or to those who will read my ruling. This is a unique case. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Few, if any others, will be factually like it. Nobody should be lulled into a false sense that all of the Government's cases will look like and be like this one. If there is any lesson that the parties and the Court have learned, these cases are unique and the habeas process must be flexible.

The practical effect of the Supreme Court's decision to superimpose the habeas process into the world of intelligence gathering is to create a virtually limitless complex of novel and difficult questions. As a result, the precedential value, if any, should be and is — should be and is limited to these cases.

One last point I would like to make.

The Court appreciates fully that the Government has a right to appeal its decision as to these five detainees whose petitions I have granted. I have a right, too, to appeal to the senior-most leadership at the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies. My appeal to them is to strongly urge them to take a hard look at the evidence, both presented and lacking, as to these five detainees. Seven years of waiting for our legal system to give them an answer to a question so important, in my judgment, is more than plenty.

The appellate process for these five detainees would, at a minimum, constitute another 18 months to two years of their lives. It seems to me that there comes a time when the desire to resolve novel, legal questions and decisions which are not binding on my colleagues pales in comparison to effecting a just result based on the state of the record.

Detainees' counsel will undoubtedly file an appeal with regard to my decision denying Mr. Bensayah's petition. That appeal will provide more than enough opportunity for both sides to challenge the novel, legal rulings that this Court has had to make.

I appeal to the senior leadership of those agencies to bring to an end this process as to these five detainees. We will stand in recess.

Strong stuff.

Posted in Guantanamo | 1 Comment

Bailing out the Automakers

This article by Jake Brewer, GM Goes Grassroots. A Son is Torn. deserves wide readership.

It pretty well describes — but much more personally and passionately — how I and lots of folks feel about the auto companies: From my point of view they've been screwing up routinely since about 1965

Remember 'Unsafe at Any Speed'? 'Safety Doesn't Sell'? The campaign against pollution control? Against fuel efficiency? Against small cars? The lack of interest in alternate engines? The inbred nature of the automobile bureaucracies? The bailouts of the past? I remember it all. And I don't see why I should spend a dime to benefit auto executives. I do get why there may be strategic reasons to protect the auto companies — defense industries, US workers, supply chains, pension funds, danger of foreign vulture funds buying hard assets at bargain prices, and more.

If we do a bailout, there needs to be some consequences for a generation of failure in the management suites. And I wouldn't exempt the shareholders either.

Posted in Econ & Money | 4 Comments

Onion Does the Financal Crisis

As good as any other commentary I’ve seen:


In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

Posted in Econ & Money | Leave a comment

Florida Teen Films His Suicide On Webcam

It seems I'll be on Channel 10's 6pm news broadcast explaining why tragedies like this one — Pembroke Pines teen broadcasts suicide on webcam — don't mean that we need a special set of cops and regulators for the Internet. (Earlier Channel 10 story, saying up to 1500 people were watching his broadcast; eventually someone called the Pembroke Pines cops, but they broke in too late to save Abraham Biggs Jr.)

The facts are grisly:

A Pembroke Pines teenager told an Internet audience he wanted to kill himself by drug overdose — and then he followed through on his macabre threat while a live webcam captured it, according to the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office.

Abraham Biggs Jr., 19, ingested a lethal mixture of three different drugs early Wednesday, then continued to blog about it while others watched online and egged him on.

The end of the video — which shows Pembroke Pines police busting into his bedroom and discovering his body — remained up on LiveVideo.com as of Friday morning.

Yes, I blame the people involved, not “the Internet”.

Florida has displaced the common-law rule against suicide with some statutory provisions. The most relevant one is aimed at assisted suicide (there's also § 782.081, banning premeditated commercial exploitation of a suicide, but that seems to me not to apply to these facts). Here's the relevant law:

782.08 Assisting self-murder.—Every person deliberately assisting another in the commission of self-murder shall be guilty of manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

The obvious legal questions, were a prosecutor to attempt the probably unwise project of indicting one or more of the 'egging on' crowd, are

  1. Does 'egging on' amount to 'deliberately assisting'?
  2. If the statute does make 'egging on' manslaughter, does the First Amendment prevent its operation because it protects this sort of speech?

My gut instinct — and I'll quickly admit this is not my field at all — is that 'egging on' does not amount to 'deliberately assisting' under this statute, which was pretty clearly aimed at physician assisted suicide, and cases where someone gives a depressed person guns or pills. I see the law as criminalizing the provision of tools in the main. Perhaps this could be extended to specialized knowledge, such as telling a depressed person how to make or find a gap in a protective fence at 'Suicide Gulch'. But I don't see it as extending to encouragement — even if a psychiatrist might testify (let us imagine) that the encouragement was a necessary element of the victim's decision.

Good thing, too, because the second question is much harder…

Posted in Internet, Law: Internet Law, The Media | 5 Comments

David Sirota Thinks The Media Is Doing a ‘Brainwash’

David Sirota, Shaking off the brainwash – The Denver Post

If you're having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: You're likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing.

For weeks, your television, newspaper and radio have been telling you America is a “center-right nation” that elected Barack Obama to crush his fellow “socialist” hippies, discard the agenda he campaigned on, and meet the policy demands of electorally humiliated Republicans.

This is the usual post-election nonsense from the Braindead Megaphone, as author George Saunders famously calls our political and media noise machine. When George W. Bush wins by 3 million votes, the megaphone blares announcements about a conservative mandate that Democrats must respect. When Obama wins by twice as much, the same megaphone roars about Democrats having no mandate to do anything other than appease conservatives.

I do own a TV now, but I don't ever watch the TV news; and since the election haven't watched the commentators. Sounds like I'm not missing much?

Posted in The Media | 1 Comment

Solutions Finding Their Problem

If we can get Congress and the electorate into a mind-set that says what the economy needs is stimulus of the electroshock variety, then all sorts of things become possible.

Here's one idea that has been floating around for years, whose time has come: Cash for clunkers.

The garbage can model of public choice decision-making describes organizations as places with 'solutions looking for problems'. I expect we might see lots of this sort of thing — and that's on the whole a good thing.

Posted in Econ & Money | 1 Comment

EFF Fighting the Good Fight on Wiretap Case Immunity

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a reply brief yesterday in response to the federal government's and telecoms' motion for dismissal or summary judgment in an ongoing lawsuit against the telecoms for their (alleged) participation in illegal warrantless surveillance. The case is captioned “In re National Security Agency Telecommunications Records Litigation, Mdl No. 1791”.

This is the suit that motivated the immunity provisions of the FISA amendments. But they were drafted in a very very odd way that leaves some substantial daylight for challenges. And the great lawyers at EFF have done a first-rate job of running for daylight.

[Disclosure: In addition to serving on EFF's Advisory Board, I had a minor role in assisting the EFF legal team on one of the issues.]

Posted in Civil Liberties, Law: Privacy | Leave a comment