Monthly Archives: June 2008

An Extraordinary Statement About Torture, Honor, Law, and Country

I've said many times before that the JAGs are heroes of the post-9/11 military. Here's another extraordinary example of this: the closing argument of an Air Force Major, David J. R. Frakt, in Favor of Dismissal of the Case Against Mohammad Jawad (6/19/2008) in a 'combat status review tribunal' [Note 6/24/08: commentator mremer says below that this was a merits hearing, not a CSRT, and based on this aclu blog post, I think he's right] held at Guantánamo. (Transcript via the ACLU.)

There ought be be a medal for this sort of princpled powerful advocacy in service to the nation. Please read it. I've reprinted the full text below to make it easier. (If you care — I'm not sure how relevant it is under the circumstances — you can learn more about the facts of the Mohamed Jawad case from

Update: Here's some background on Major and Professor David Frakt.

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Posted in Guantanamo, Torture | 5 Comments

Tres Florida

Why I am not the least bit surprised that all three major Florida universities — UM, UF, FSU — are represented on this select list of institutions of higher education who have signed deals with Victoria's Secret for “pink” themed clothes and underwear?

All so very tasteful and revenue-enhancing, I'm sure. And so Florida. Although to be fair, there are lots of schools from both sunny and raininy states on that list…

(Spotted via Kieran Healy, A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste.)

Posted in Florida, U.Miami | 1 Comment

The European Soccer Championship: Guide

Now that the Boston Celtics have won the “world” championship, eyes are firmly set on the Euro soccer championship. The tournament has already moved to the quarter finals. It is hard to understate the impact of this event on life in most of Europe (and many other parts of the world).
Even if you are not interested in the game itself, perhaps you might enjoy my general observations on the meaning of the euro soccer championship:

• Law of supply and demand: International soccer championships are a special occasion. The European championship occurs only every 4 years. The World championship also takes place every four years. This means that there is always one year of “nothingness” in between each tournament. Artificial scarcity of supply => increase in demand.

• Global warming. Streets are empty during most games. Al Gore loves soccer championships (except victories for Turkey, see below).

• Numbers don’t add up:
o Some small countries (Croatia, Holland) perform really well on a consistent basis even though they have a small population. Most likely explanation: something in the faucet water.
o The distortion of money: one of the very richest soccer leagues in the world, England, has the best teams (see Champions league results) but underperforms on the world stage. One explanation: the money allows them to import foreign players, lowering the amount of national players in crucial positions in the league (beware MLS).

• Soccer & Steroptypes: Germany: it is not always pretty, but the outcome is always efficient. Gary Lineker famously described soccer as a game ” for 22 people that run around, play the ball, and one referee who makes a slew of mistakes, and in the end Germany always wins.”. The German soccer team always manages to beat some of the most stylish, talented teams and advance to the final stages. This years seems no different. In the first quarter final Germany beat an immensely talented Portuguese squad (3-2). The bookmakers (who are also very efficient) favor Germany as the final winner (1/4) of the tournament.

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Posted in Etc | 1 Comment

Obama Acts Like a Coward

I think Obama will be great on foreign policy. On domestic policy, not so much.

Today he as good as sold out the fight against FISA's immunity provisions. While the statement below might sound OK, it's failure to say that the bill is unacceptable in its current form, or to say 'filibuster' amounts to a surrender to the fix put in by the leadership. (And, no, this bill is not in any noticeable way an improvement over its predecessor draft. The judicial review provisions are a sham — they don't test for the legality of any wiretapping, they don't test for the legality of any request by the administration to engage in wiretapping, they don't test for whether the recipients of those requests thought or had reason to think that the requests were legal — no, all the court will test is whether the administration says that it made a request. Big deal.)

As one person put it to me, “Obama's national security state is going to be so much cooler than McCain's.”

The full text of Obama's weasly statement is below.

Update: Jack Balkin says, from Obama's perspective, what's not to like?.

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Posted in Civil Liberties | 5 Comments

P2P File Sharing Update: The Role of (good old) Off-line Networks

British survey findings on young people's music ownership show that teenagers and students have an average of more than 800 illegally copied songs each on their digital music players.

Here is an excerpt: The research also showed that half of 14 to 24-year-olds were happy to share all the music on their hard drive, enabling others to copy hundreds, or thousands, of songs at any one time. Although illegal copying has become widespread, the scale of the problem uncovered by the University of Hertfordshire left the music industry surprised. On average every iPod or digital music player contained 842 illegally copied songs. Fergal Sharkey, former lead singer of the Undertones and now chief executive of British Music Rights, said: “I was one of those people who went around the back of the bike shed with songs I had taped off the radio the night before. But this totally dwarfs that, and anything we expected.”

I don’t see what there is to be surprised about. Even if the entertainment industry’s scare tactics (lawsuits) have moved file-sharing traffic away from major P2P sites to smaller sites and various torrents, the overall volume of sharing might still be high. Besides, free copynorms among young people are not going away. My own study on the interaction between deterrence and copynorms shows that scare tactics may strengthen pro-copy norms among file-sharers. This new study shows just how much portable storage capacity boosted off line sharing.

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Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA | 3 Comments

Democratic Leaders Join GOP In Selling Out the Constitution

The Democratic Congressional leadership has endorsed the new FISA sellout. (Text here; instant analysis by EFF here.)

The ACLU is enraged. See ACLU Blog: Because Freedom Can't Blog Itself: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union » This Spade is a Spade: FISA Deal Is Bunk

You should be enraged too. Perhaps you might even consider a donation to the fund that seeks to punish elected officials who should know better (starting with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer), the Act Blue PAC vs. Retroactive Immunity, also known as the Strange Bedfellows Fund, as it's attracting support from a group ranging from progressives to supporters of Ron Paul.

Our only hope in stopping this is going to be the Senate. Is Obama going to step out to lead on this? (Meanwhile see the statement by Sen. Feingold.)

I have no idea why our congressional leaders feel a need to be so craven on this issue. Their position doesn't even poll well. It's as if they are suffering from some sort of battered person syndrome or something.

Posted in Civil Liberties | 3 Comments