Weekly Web Watch 06/08/09 – 06/14/09


The Obama administration comes up with a way to avoid a fight with Congress over the Uighurs detained at Guantanamo – send them to Palau.  Or to Bermuda.  The Telegraph reports that the UK was not consulted.  Thomas Joscelyn sees a resultant fracture developing in the US-UK relationship.  Scott Horton sees friction between the allies resulting from the UK Law Lords’ declaration that detainees are entitled to view all the evidence against them.  And Slate reports on what happens to detainees that are shipped to other countries.

The Obama administration also transferred three detainees to Saudi Arabia.  The Weekly Standard’s Thomas Joscelyn critically notes that one of them is a convicted murderer (in Bosnia).

Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Lieberman calls Guantanamo a “humane” facility and urges the President to keep it open.  A Guantanamo detainee allegedly commits suicide. but the AP is skeptical of the government’s story.  Christopher Hitchens calls Guantanamo a “state-sponsored madrasah,” where the guards are humane but the worst detainees force the others to live the lifestyle of a radical Muslim.

Reports claim that the White House has  abandoned plans to transfer detainees into the United States.  Contrarily, Rep. John Boehner claims that the “first step in the Democrats’ plan to import terrorists into America” has been put in motion.  His evidence: “[A] Tanzanian national held at Guantanamo since September 2006, arrived at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, which has housed several suspected terrorists during their prosecutions in the federal court for the Southern District of New York.”  In Iraq, a detainee suspected of killing 5 Americans is released as part of a peace deal.  And White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs refuses to speculate on whether detainees found not guilty by federal courts would be released.

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee holds a hearing on the implications of long-term detention.  Dan Froomkin and Glenn Greenwald are both optimistic that the Obama administration will be forced to more clearly state whether it supports the Bush administration’s policies or not.

Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman proposed an amendment to the latest war spending bill to exclude photos of detainee abuse from being accessible under the Freedom of Information act.  Greg Sargent reports that Nancy Pelosi and other House liberals and libertarians will not allow the amendment into the final bill.  Michael Goldfarb reports that, in the interim, President Obama may use an executive order to prevent the release of the photographs in the event of an unfavorable court rulingSlate helpfully explains what happens when the CIA tells a judge that documents cannot be released.

Judge Jeffrey White refuses to dismiss Jose Padilla’s suit against John Yoo.  Separately, UK cops allegedly waterboard drug suspects.  The New York Times reports that all Bush DOJ officials involved in a 2005 debate about waterboarding agreed that it was legal.  Debate erupts about the role of James Comey, with Scott Horton and Glenn Greenwald accusing the Times of reporting only selected e-mails.

President Obama appoints a special master, or “compensation czar,” to oversee compensation for executives at companies receiving federal assistance.  Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner rushes to clarify the guidelines for the new office .  Meanwhile, the “transparency czar” struggles to provide transparency to the federal assistance programs and urges that “stress tests” be rerun.  And Rep. Darrell Issa goes originalist on the Treasury Secretary, arguing that the modern office of the Treasury Secretary goes far beyond Alexander Hamilton’s worst nightmares.

The Supreme Court stayed the administration-brokered Chrysler bankruptcy after two Indiana pension funds sued.  Jacob Sullum sighed that the legal arguments wouldn’t matter.  A few days later, the Court refused to grant cert, allowing the bankruptcy to proceed.

Jack Balkin suggests that the holdup on progressive policy is best relieved by a change in Senate rules, not by constitutional amendment.  Fellow blogger Sandy Levinson agrees but claims that a constitutional amendment is the best way to change the “indefensible allocation of power in the Senate.”

The Obama administration filed a brief seeking dismissal of a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act.  Activist John Aravosis has a heated rundown of the various issues raised by the brief.  Dale Carpenter does a separate but similar analysis, concluding that the brief “reject[s] just about every single variation of an argument that gay-rights scholars and litigants have made over the past 30 years.”  John Culhane calls the brief a “jaw-dropping assault on gays and lesbians.”  Larry Tribe, in an interview, claims that the administration was traditionally and legally obligated to argue in favor of the law, whatever the political calculus.  Kos diarist Lars Thorwald concurs.  Andrew Sullivan states a case for why this remains a big deal for gay and lesbian Obama supporters.

One federal agency sues another.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decides a suit against the SEC filed by the FLSA.  Jonathan Adler provides the highlights.

President Obama fired the Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  This follows the IG’s investigation of Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento and an avowed Obama supporter.  Byron York and Nancy Lewis suggest further investigation into possible political motives behind Obama’s action; Jake Tapper provides some additional facts; Zachary Roth claims that Obama appears to have ample justification for the firing.

President Obama issued the fourth signing statement of his presidency.  John Elwood has a critical take here, with follow-up here.

Gene Healy and Radley Balko worry that Sonia Sotomayor defers too often to government at the expense of private liberties.  The Los Angeles Times provides some background.  The party line amongst Republicans remains, however, that Sotomayor is a bad choice because she is “race-obsessed.”  Dahlia Lithwick peddles a softer line.

The Obama administration begins rolling out its health-care policy.  Mary Katharine Ham foresees trouble brewing with both doctors and insurers.

Jake Tapper of ABC News interviews Lakhdar Boumediene.

The fight over videos of bombings in Afghanistan continues to simmer in some quarters.  Bill Roggio claims that the military’s reluctance to release videos of successful attacks allows the Taliban to dictate the narrative of the struggle.  Nathan Hodge argues that the Department of Defense is already transitioning toward that model and has footage of a recent attack.  In the meantime, body counts return as a measure of battlefield progress.  Michael Goldfarb welcomes the development; Kevin Knodell does not.

The Justice Department orders the FBI to Mirandize high-level detainees in Afghanistan.  Stephen F. Hayes reports both on the decision and on the Justice Department’s claims that this is not a change in policy.

The Justice Department maintains that the Executive Branch maintains sole control over national security documents.  Scott Horton calls shenanigans on their reading of history.  Meanwhile, Congress forces the DoD to participate in pet projects – through earmarks.

Does the tragic shooting at the Holocaust Museum justify the Department of Homeland Security report?  Ryan Sager says yes and worries about a developing trend of right-wing violence.  Benjamin Sarlin agrees.  Jesse Walker worries that DHS is overplaying these concerns in order to target lawful activity.

Nathan Sales suggests that intelligence agencies are not sufficiently incentivized to share information with each other.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hints that North Korea might be placed back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism as a result of its development of nuclear weapons.  Jacob Sullum wonders if any connection to terror is actually necessary for inclusion on the list.

United States Southern Command eyes expanding intelligence operations along Mexico’s southern border.  Drones are already in the air (and also in North Dakota).

Blackwater no more: Iraqi authorities detain American security contractors over an alleged murder and could make them the first Americans tried under the new U.S.-Iraq security pact.


One Response to “Weekly Web Watch 06/08/09 – 06/14/09”

  1. Weekly Web Watch 06/15/09 – 06/21/09 « EXECUTIVE WATCH Says:

    […] week, Executive Watch passed along news that the FBI was Mirandizing suspects in Afghanistan.  The House GOP has now included in a bill language to prohibit that practice.  The war […]

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