Weekly Web Watch 11/30/09 – 12/6/09

By Ryan Caldwell

President Obama announced that 30,000 additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan.  Obama also announced that the U.S. will begin to draw down troop levels in Summer 2011.  The New York Times and Washington Post both have descriptions of the deliberation process.  James Joyner points out that Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates can’t seem to agree on whether the 2011 timeframe is a deadline or a guideline (nor, perhaps, can Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs).  Wired has a neat feature on how the strategy is “sold” to the public.

A couple seeking (what else?) a reality show gig crashed the White House state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  The Secret Service has promised an investigation, but so has Congress.  Now the White House pledges to block the White House social secretary from testifying before Congress, citing separation of powers.  The social secretary’s role in the fiasco is already being questioned.  Sandy Levinson can’t imagine that the Constitution was written to shield the social secretary from questioning by Congress.  Neither can Dana Perino and Bill Burke.  Orin Kerr reviews the possible criminal charges that the couple may face and reminds you that “Crashing a White House state dinner, and then bragging about it on Facebook, is really really dumb.”

The Supreme Court vacated an appellate court ruling on detainee abuse photos.  The Second Circuit, including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, had ordered the government to turn over the photos to the ACLU.  However, the court noted that legislation has since been passed concerning the photographs.  The ruling does not end the matter; it was remanded to the district court.

Scott Horton questions what may or may not be going on at the “black site” run by Joint Special Operations Command at Bagram Air Force Base, and whether Obama’s Executive Order No. 13941 (shutting down “black sites”) really accomplishes anything at all.  Daphne Eviatar has some additional factual background.

Morris Davis, a former Guantanamo prosecutor who wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal critical of President Obama’s detainee prosecution policy, is now out of a job at the Congressional Research Service.  CRS refuses to comment publicly on Davis’s firing, but sources tell Newsweek that it was a result of the op-ed.

Somewhat relatedly, the CRS published an article describing the difference between civilian trials and military commissions and one about legal issues raised by the closing of Guantanamo.

Executive Watch’s Jason Rathod has published a note examining the history and effects of Department of the Navy v. Egan.  Egan is a case often cited for the expansive use of executive power.

Did the British Attorney General in 2002, Lord Peter Goldsmith, originally advise Tony Blair that the invasion of Iraq was illegal?  A public inquiry in the U.K. seems to have gained possession of such a letter, according to Scott Horton.

President Obama held a summit aimed at creating more jobs in the U.S.  The Washington Post reports on the difficulties the president faces.  Debt-hawk economist Veronique de Rugy provides numbers and charts to prove that the U.S. is running short of funds.

Erik Prince, owner of Xe (nee Blackwater), outed himself as a CIA operative.  He also talked a great deal about what his company does for the CIA.  Jeremy Scahill, who has been dogging Blackwater/Xe for years, offers the opinion that Prince is engaged in “graymail,” or threatening to reveal sensitive information if he doesn’t get some help from Washington.

Max Baucus admitted that the woman he suggested be nominated for a U.S.  Attorney position was, at the time, his girlfriend.  Baucus withdrew his suggestion after he and the woman decided to move in together.

The White House has announced plans to expand drone strikes in Pakistan; the article also mentions the use of CIA snipers to target Taliban leaders in Waziristan.

The Justice Department filed a brief in Padilla v. Yoo, arguing that the Ninth Circuit should not recognize a Bivens action against someone for rendering advice in a “national security” setting.

As it turns out, Canada was not spying on the U.S. in 2007 through the cunning use of of coins.  However, Executive Watch reminds you to stay vigilant against the threat from our northern neighbor.

Best.  Transcript.  Ever.

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One Response to “Weekly Web Watch 11/30/09 – 12/6/09”

  1. Loren Jurgensmeyer Says:

    I actually enjoy this blog. Discovered it on Google and you put up some great info. Look forward to the next post.

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