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Marginally better than silence

Posts tagged law

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Federal judge tells police not to ticket Occupy protesters

A federal judge on Tuesday told police temporarily to stop issuing tickets to Occupy Cincinnati demonstrators camping out in a city park, while the protesters’ lawyers and city leaders try to hammer out an agreement on issues in the protesters’ federal lawsuit against the city…

On Monday, the group filed for a court order blocking the city from enforcing rules that ban people from the park after it closes at 10 p.m. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Susan Dlott issued an order calling for a “standstill” on enforcing that rule in the park. The 28-hour stay expires at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Citations may then resume unless an out-of-court settlement is reached.

Protesters say the park rules violate their free speech rights, but the city’s lawyers say the rules are constitutional and that police should have the ability to regulate after-hours activities in the park, either through citations or, possibly, arrests. Since Oct. 9, city police have issued 239 citations to 91 people for violating park rules, racking up roughly $25,000 in fines. One protester was arrested Monday, Miller said, after refusing to sign his citation.

The first amednement reads; “Congress shall make no law… abridging the… right of the people peaceably to assemble”. It’s clear that if these demonstrations were not political in nature, the response would be entirely different and would not involve the militarization of our police force.

Filed under occupy Wall Street rights law rule of law ruling

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I can’t believe they jail people in the UK for insults

Insulting a group of people should never be enough to deprive someone of their freedom, especially when the insults were over sports and via facebook. This specifically is what blew my mind:

Birrell posted sectarian comments about Catholics and Celtic fans between 28 February and 8 March, just days after being released early from a 12-month jail sentence.

On 1 March, two days before the Old Firm match, Birrell posted: “Hope they (Celtic fans) all die. Simple. Catholic scumbags ha ha.”

On 4 March, the day after the game, he wrote: “Proud to hate Fenian tattie farmers. Simple ha ha.”

Four days later Birrell posted: “They’re all ploughing the fields the dirty scumbags.”

He also posted abuse directed at the Pope.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Totten told Birrell: “I am satisfied that the nature of this offence, and in particular your previous record, means that I require to impose a prison sentence on you.

"I do want to make clear today that in selecting a prison sentence I also have in mind that the court should be sending out a clear message to deter others who might be tempted to behave in this way"…

At an earlier hearing defence solicitor John McLaughlin said: “These postings were distasteful and abusive. However, his postings did not contain threats or incitement to violence.

"There was no mention on them of Neil Lennon or the manager of Celtic."

There’s no question that this guy was a massive dick, but do we really want the government telling us that if we insult the wrong group, we go to jail?

Filed under free expression dissent free thought speech law rights human rights

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Jose Padilla and how American justice functions

The story of Jose Padilla, continuing through the events of yesterday, expresses so much of the true nature of the War on Terror and especially America’s justice system.  In 2002, the American citizen was arrested at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, publicly labeled by John Ashcroft as The Dirty Bomber, and then imprisoned for the next three years on U.S. soil as an “enemy combatant” without charges of any kind, and denied all contact with the outside world, including even a lawyer.  During his lawless incarceration, he was kept not just in extreme solitary confinement but extreme sensory deprivation as well, and was abused and tortured to the point of severe and probably permanent mental incapacity (Bush lawyers told a courtthat they were unable to produce videos of Padilla’s interrogations because those videos were mysteriously and tragically “lost”).

Needless to say, none of the government officials responsible for this abuse of a U.S. citizen on American soil has been held accountable in any way.  That’s because President Obama decreed that Bush officials shall not be criminally investigated for War on Terror crimes, while his Justice Department vigorously defended John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and other responsible functionaries in civil suits brought by Padilla seeking damages for what was done to him…

The treatment Padilla has received in the justice system is, needless to say, the polar opposite of that enjoyed by these political elites.  Literallydays before it was required to justify to the U.S. Supreme Court how it could imprison an American citizen for years without charges or access to a lawyer, the Bush administration suddenly indicted Padilla — on charges unrelated to, and far less serious than, the accusation that he was A Dirty Bomber — and then successfully convinced the Supreme Court to refuse to decide the legality of Padilla’s imprisonment on the grounds of “mootness”  (he’s no longer being held without charges so there’s nothing to decide). 

At Padilla’s trial, the judge excluded all evidence of the abuse to which he was subjected and even admitted statements he made while in custody before he was Mirandized.  Unsurprisingly, Padilla was convicted on charges of “supporting Islamic terrorism overseas” — but not any actual Terrorist plots (“The government’s chief evidence was an application form that government prosecutors said Mr. Padilla, 36, filled out to attend an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000”) — and then sentenced to 17 years in prison, all above and beyond the five years he was imprisoned with no due process.

Not content with what was done to Padilla, the Bush DOJ — and then the Obama DOJ — contested the sentence on appeal, insisting that it was too lenient; Padilla also appealed, arguing that the trial court made numerous errors in excluding his evidence while allowing the Government’s.  Yesterday, a federal appeals panel of the 11th Circuitissued a ruling, by a 2-1 vote, rejecting each and every one of Padilla’s arguments.  It then took the very unusual step of  vacating the 17-year-sentence imposed by the trial court as too lenient and, in effect, ordered the trial judge to impose a substantially harsher prison term…

Thus: American officials who are responsible for this “inhumane” and “cruel” abuse of detainees act with full impunity, as usual.  Those who are its victims are not merely denied all redress (though they are), and do not merely have the courthouse doors slammed in their faces in the name of secrecy, national security and presidential power (though they do), but they are also mercilessly punished to the fullest extent possible.

Glenn Greenwald breaks down how the government used the legal system to strip Jose Padilla of essentially every single right he was guaranteed as a US citizen while protecting those who had him tortured (an actual crime).

Filed under rule of law law habeas corpus jose padilla

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Turkey to take Israel to the ICJ over blockade deaths

On Friday, Turkey kicked out Israel’s ambassador and several diplomats as a result of Israel’s refusal to apologize for the illegal blockade and unlawful killings of people bringing relief aid to Palestinians:

Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and senior Israeli diplomats and suspended military agreements on Friday, the day after it emerged a U.N. report said Israel had used unreasonable force in a raid on a Gaza-bound ship that killed nine Turks, Reuters reported…

Turkey will no longer recognize the Gaza blockade and will take the issue to the International Court of Justice.

Juan Cole talks about the strength of the case against Israel:

A UN Human Rights commission report had found that both the blockade and the attack on the Mavi Marmara are illegal in international law. The Palmer report, prepared by a former New Zealand Prime Minister and former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe and issued on Friday condemned Israel for excessive force but called the blockade itself legal because it aimed at preventing weapons from reaching Gaza. (The blockade of weapons imports is of course legal, but Israel as the occupying power is in the wrong legally to blockade staples and other necessary goods, and is wrong to prevent Palestinians from exporting their products; that Israel is wrong is clear in the plain text of the Geneva Convention of 1949 on occupied territories, which Mssrs. Palmer and Uribe appear to have neglected to consult.) Neither UN committee report on the incident has any legal standing, which is why Turkey is going to a body that has the standing to adjudicate the dispute– the ICJ…

The likelihood is that Turkey will prevail at the ICJ, since both UN investigations have maintained that Israeli commandos in fact committed a tort in the killings.

An ICJ ruling against Israel on this issue could begin an avalanche of tort suits against the Israelis, who have been pursuing illegal policies in settling the occupied West Bank and usurping Palestinian land and water. Such international judgments could accelerate after the United Nations General Assembly votes to admit Palestine to membership in the UN, which will likely have the effect of encouraging countries to upgrade Palestinian representation to embassy status. Palestinians with an embassy would be in a position to file persuasive amicae curiae briefs in tort lawsuits against Israeli concerns in a particular country that are owned by companies that profit from illegal West Bank colonization.

It is illegal to gain land through military conquest, to enforce policies that are designed to force an ethnic group to flee an area, and to blockade basic necessities- all of which are crimes that Israel has unquestionably committed. I sincerely hope that this results in consequences significant enough to stop Israel’s ongoing crimes.

Filed under Israeli Occupation Israel Turkey Law

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yesmeansyes asked: Responses to/thoughts about the Jamie Leigh Jones verdict?

Just that it’s a travesty that KBR (Halliburton) continues to exist only through government subsidy, and that they are able to make employment contracts that preclude using the US court system. If they weren’t rich and she weren’t poor, the results would likely have been extremely different.

Filed under Jamie Leigh Jones KBR halliburton law

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The Illegal War in Libya- Greenwald

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation" —candidate Barack Obama, December, 2007

"No more ignoring the law when it’s inconvenient. That is not who we are… . We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers" — candidate Barack Obama, August 1, 2007

When President Obama ordered the U.S. military to wage war in Libya without Congressional approval (even though, to use his words, it did “not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation”), the administration and its defenders claimed he had legal authority to do so for two reasons: (1) the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (WPR) authorizes the President to wage war for 60 days without Congress, and (2) the “time-limited, well defined and discrete” nature of the mission meant that it was not really a “war” under the Constitution (Deputy NSA Adviser Ben Rhodes and the Obama OLC).  Those claims were specious from the start, but are unquestionably inapplicable now.

From the start, the WPR provided no such authority.  Section 1541(c) explicitly states that the war-making rights conferred by the statute apply only to “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”  That’s why Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman — in an article in Foreign Policy entitled “Obama’s Unconstitutional War” — wrote when the war started that the “The War Powers Resolution doesn’t authorize a single day of Libyan bombing” and that “in taking the country into a war with Libya, Barack Obama’s administration is breaking new ground in its construction of an imperial presidency.”  

Ackerman detailed why Obama’s sweeping claims of war powers exceeded that even of past controversial precedents, such as Clinton’s 1999 bombing of Kosovo, which at least had the excuse that Congress authorized funding for it: “but Obama can’t even take advantage of this same desperate expedient, since Congress has appropriated no funds for the Libyan war.”  The Nation's John Nichols explained that Obama’s unilateral decision “was a violation of the provision in the founding document that requires the executive to attain authorization from Congress before launching military adventures abroad.”  Put simply, as Daniel Larison concluded in an excellent analysis last week, ”the war was illegal from the start.”

But even for those who chose to cling to the fiction that the presidential war in Libya was authorized by the WPR, that fiction is now coming to a crashing end.  Friday will mark the 60th day of the war without Congress, and there are no plans for authorization to be provided.  By all appearances, the White House isn’t even bothering to pretend to seek one.  A handful of GOP Senators — ones who of course showed no interest whatsoever during the Bush years in demanding presidential adherence to the law — are now demanding a vote on Libya, but it’s highly likely that the Democrats who control the Senate won’t allow one.  Instead, the law will simply be ignored by the President who declared, when bashing George Bush on the campaign trail to throngs of cheering progressives: “No more ignoring the law when it’s inconvenient. That is not who we are.”

Obama is really passionate about going through the proper channels to enact change when the issues are progressive in nature, but in order to defend his expansive executive power he’s willing to completely ignore the law and the constitution.  He’s desperate to try to justify this clear violation of the law, and his “legal team is now trying to come up with a plausible theory for why continued participation by the United States does not violate the law”. The justifications are laughable- they include pretending that NATO rather than the US is responsible for the war (despite the fact that it’s US personnel, money, drones, bombs and planes being used), as well as a temporary end to the bombing, only to resume it the next day and pretend that ‘resets’ the 60-day clock (that isn’t even justified since Libya did not attack America). This is a more severe circumvention of the rule of law than Bush’s attack on Iraq, but the left is largely giving Obama a pass because he’s on team “blue”.

Filed under libya obama law war Executive Power