Suprema Lex

by Henry on June 10, 2004

“Jack Balkin”:http://balkin.blogspot.com/2004_06_06_balkin_archive.html#108680154938193129 on the torture memo.

bq. The stench of corruption permeates the pages of this report. Legal minds, blinded by ideology, and seduced by power, have willingly done the Administration’s dirtiest work– apologizing for torture and justifying violations of the most basic human rights. They have mangled the law and distorted the Constitution, manipulating legal sources to maximize power and minimize accountability. It is the sort of legal reasoning that twists law to destroy the Rule of Law. It is the sort of legal reasoning that brings shame on our nation and our people. It is the sort of legal reasoning that makes me ashamed to be a lawyer.

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Randy takes on

by Ted on June 10, 2004

Two good links from Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons:

Q&A about the torture memo

There was recently an intelligent bit debate about Amnesty International between Chris (also here), Jacob Levy at the Volokh Conspiracy, and Eve Garard at Normblog. Randy confronts some other anti-Amnesty points that aren’t quite up to snuff.

Randy takes on

by Ted on June 10, 2004

Two good links from Randy Paul at Beautiful Horizons:

Q&A about the torture memo

There was recently an intelligent bit debate about Amnesty International between Chris (also here), Jacob Levy at the Volokh Conspiracy, and Eve Garard at Normblog. Randy confronts some other anti-Amnesty points that aren’t quite up to snuff.

The Durbin amendment

by Ted on June 10, 2004

As most readers will know, it has recently come to the attention of the world that lawyers in the Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel have prepared a memo arguing that torture can be authorized by the President. The argument, as I understand it, is that when the President believes that he is operating in his capacity as Commander in Chief, he has unlimited power, which cannot be constrained by the Legislature. It goes so far as to say that authority to set aside the laws is “inherent in the president.”

Michael Froomkin’s analysis of the torture memo is an invaluable example of the best of blogging. (Also see Jim Henley, Eric Muller, von from Obsidian Wings, among others.)

On pages 22-23 the Walker Working Group Report sets out a view of an unlimited Presidential power to do anything he wants with “enemy combatants”. The bill of rights is nowhere mentioned. There is no principle suggested which limits this purported authority to non-citizens, or to the battlefield. Under this reasoning, it would be perfectly proper to grab any one of us and torture us if the President determined that the war effort required it. I cannot exaggerate how pernicious this argument is, and how incompatible it is with a free society. The Constitution does not make the President a King. This memo does.

Via TalkLeft, I see that Sen. Dick Durbin has introduced:

an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill to reaffirm US commitment to the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture, and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and to affirm unequivocally the prohibition against torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

TalkLeft has a good deal of information about this, including a sample letter of support for this amendment which can be adapted and forwarded to your representatives in Congress. Here’s a good resource for contacting them. Please do this.

One last point, in which I get a little emotional.

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Disputed terminology

by John Quiggin on June 10, 2004

Via Eugene Volokh,[1] I came to this Boston Globe piece by Jeff Jacoby, who complains that the term “partial birth abortion”, when used in news stories, is normally surrounded by scare quotes, with the explanation that this term is used by opponents of legal abortion, but disputed by supporters. Jacoby complains about liberal bias here and says, among other things “when reporting on the same-sex marriage controversy, they should observe that “what critics call ‘homophobia’ — a term promoted by gay and lesbian activists — is not recognized by medical authorities”

As far as I can recall, I’ve never seen the word “homophobia” used in a news story in a major newspaper, other than in quotes, usually direct, but occasionally indirect (“activist X is concerned about homophobia”) Certainly I’ve never seen it used as if it referred to a recognised medical condition analogous to, say, claustrophobia. I looked in Google News and the recent uses I could find were all either in direct or indirect quotes, opinion pieces (including reprints of Jacoby!) or in publications such as Gay Times and Alternet, which don’t claim to be unbiased. Can anyone point to examples that would support Jacoby?

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Euro 2004

by Chris Bertram on June 10, 2004

Endless playing with the “BBC score predictor”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/euro_2004/score_predictor/default.stm has me anticipating an England–France final with England beating Italy in the semis and France having knocked out the Dutch. But, of course, whatever happens in the real world, it won’t be that. The Dutch are the big mystery, of course, they always screw up in the end (and with Clarence Seedorf threatening to quit if he’s not played in his favourite position, it looks like business as usual). Group C looks the hardest to call: neck and neck between the Swedes and the Danes to avoid relegation [I meant non-qualification, of course]. And I expect the Germans to get just one point, a miserable goalless draw with Latvia. And the final victors? Like everyone else I can’t see beyond France.

[Update: my hot betting tip is Fernando Morientes for top scorer at 20/1]

Don’t vote.

by Daniel on June 10, 2004

On this sacred day of democracy, two old posts of mine putting forward the case for not taking part in this complete farrago. I would add two points in the context of the current UK elections:

1) Given the large-scale use of postal ballots, the “electoral bezzle” (the proportion of the turnout which consists of fictional characters who are the result of electoral fraud) is probably much larger this time than in previous elections.

2) As the FT points out today, the list system used in the European elections means that there are substantial numbers of political hacks and placemen who will get elected no matter what, making it even more pointless to bother voting.

Don’t encourage them.

Caseo Abscondito

by John Holbo on June 10, 2004

Another positive-negative rights-liberties post. Probably you’ve had enough of that, so I’ll tuck it away discreetly.

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