True, we have always known that the outside of any envelope we place in the mail can be seen. We have always known that the phone company had access to “pen register” information, and that the bits and bytes that make up our e-mails are “known” to the various providers transmitting them. But we also did expect that the keepers of the media would take no interest in our metadata, would in fact be bound by rules of confidentiality, and that they would not only safeguard the contents of the communications, but also, to the extent practical, the fact of the communications too. We certainly didn’t think that the metadata would be analyzed by a government agency.
Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo’
Is the ingenuity of our judges and lawyers so trifling we cannot establish that linkage without revealing things that are truly secret? (Establish waterboarding, for instance, without going into what questions the torturers were asking? Or conduct certain proceedings in camera?) Is it beyond all possibility to chart a judicial path to consequences for the people who did these things?
We can all agree that historical understandings of the dividing line between war and law enforcement do not fit well the kind of conflicts our nation faces today. But the solution to that quandary should not be to cede all discretion to an Executive that works in the shadows. There are other unaddressed needs at work, among them the imperative to cut the public in on the discussion and the decision-making.
The ABA’s report said that if a President thinks a law contains unconstitutional language, he shouldn’t sign it. To me, that is Ivory Tower impracticality. Take the 2011 Appropriations Act; if Obama hadn’t signed it, the government would have shut down. Would it have been remotely responsible for Obama to have done that? Such purity would make government impossible. Signing statements are actually a good alternative to such chaos. The President asserts non-aquiescence, government moves on, and the courts can sort the matter out if they need to.
Do we want our presidents empowered to imprison people simply for their beliefs?
So it is far from clear that, even if the 9/11 attacks had been carried out by uniformed military, these would have been war crimes. It is, however, beyond doubt a violation of U.S. and New York State criminal law for civilians to attack skyscrapers with airplanes.
What the Client Wanted To Hear First, so the official story has gone, there were the lawyers, people with names like John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury. Consulted by their clients in the Oval Office, the CIA, the Pentagon and the Vice President’s Office about whether Muslim men could be imprisoned without […]
“A Few Bad Apples” On October 19, 2003, Specialist Sabrina Harman of the 372nd Military Police Company picked up a Sony Cybershot camera and began taking photographs of life on Tier 1A at Abu Ghraib prison. She documented naked prisoners being stacked like cordwood, prisoners being threatened by attack dogs, hooded prisoners, beaten […]
Various Circles of Hell Jack L. B. Gohn Because of the agonizingly slow leakage of information concerning the previous administration’s practices of internment and interrogation of Muslim men, it is only recently that the Central Intelligence Agency component has come into focus. When the Abu Ghraib photos were first leaked to […]
Decommissioning Guantanamo, releasing or trying its inmates: Not so complicated as it may appear.