Saturday, December 31, 2005

Early Saturday Morning. Last Day of 2005.

I notice lots of readers coming over from the kind mention over at Concurring Opinions. Thanks.

With the information being leaked that the DOJ is going to investigate the leak of the NSA wiretapping program, there were a lot of news stories in the "mainstream media" yesterday and today. Accordingly, I've updated (again) the NSA / FISA Wiretapping Link Repository.

Have a Happy New Year's Eve.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005.

If you are here looking for the NSA FISA Wiretapping link repository, just click HERE! **BREAKING NEWS: DOJ Launches Probe Into NSA Wiretapping.**

This may very well by my last entry for 2005. I hope everyone has a great (and safe) New Year's weekend. Enjoy some football (go Steelers), enjoy some libations, and enjoy friends and family. Refresh yourselves. Prepare for another year.

I'm going to try what I hope will become a weekly event: The Friday Fantastic Four. Here's the idea: I want to post, every Friday, a blurb about a law-oriented blog I have discovered during the past week, a blurb about a legal commentary piece I have read in the past week, a blurb about a non-law-oriented blog I have discovered during the past week, and a blurb about something that is just "fun" that I discovered during the past week. Here goes.

1. This Week's Featured Law-Oriented Blog.

This week I came across Firedoglake. Firedoglake is a left-leaning blog with lots of commentary and information about a variety of legal and political subjects. In the past week, Firedoglake has posts about NSA's "cookie" policy, the conservative mindset, and the state of things in Iraq. The blog is always visually pleasing, with graphics accompanying the posts, and the commentary is full of links to external sites and stories. I'm adding this to the blogroll as a regular must-read for the liberal view of things.

2. This Week's Featured Legal Commentary.

This week's featured legal commentary comes courtesy of Findlaw. Julie Hilden posted a piece on the future of free speech with the advent of technology such as TiVo. Hilden makes the point that much of modern television, including cable drama series, contains either overt or more subtle political ideas. Hilden discusses the marketplace of ideas and its development as technology has allowed on-demand programming, both with digital video recording devices like TiVo and with cable on-demand features that allow viewers to select specific shows they want to watch when they want them, rather than just when networks choose to originally air them. Hilden concludes that "it's worth remembering that the "free trade in ideas" need not be exalted, to be authentic, and that opinions come from many sources other than the Op Ed page of the New York Times." Go check out the entire commentary; it's worth a read.

3. This Week's Featured Non-Law-Oriented Blog.

The hat-tip for this goes to The World According to Pooh. Since I enjoy Seth's multi-faceted blog, I decided to peruse his blogroll to see what else of interest I might find. I found Frankie Can't Relax. You should, too. Frankie is a blogger from New York who is now in Boston, and her profile says she is in the "Science" industry. Frankie got tagged on the "5 Weird Habit" meme, and then passed it on to Seth, who passed it on to reader_iam, who passed it on to me. Frankie's style and writing makes every post an entertaining read. Take, for example, "I'd Pahk the Cah If I Wasn't Lost, Damn It". A brief excerpt:

I've grown to accept the fact that I will get lost in Boston whenever I need to go somewhere new, because the names of the unmarked roads change every 25 feet. I won't even touch on the fact that 70% of you guys drive your SUVs as well as Stevie Wonder after an all-night game of Turbo Cups. But, since the city is so small, I usually find my destination after a little bit of wandering. Unfortunately, when I have to travel around the vast suburbs, I am not so lucky.
. . .
I wandered around aimlessly on the unmarked roads until I reached a small cluster of civilization. Oh look! A woman walking with a baby carriage! I pulled over to ask her for directions, but she took one look at my 11 year old car and high tailed it on out of sight as fast as her Talbots-wearing ass could go. Apparently, she mistook my ghetto-mobile and that self-knitted blue and grey scarf I was wearing as an obvious sign of my gang affiliation. I was clearly undergoing some sort of ritualistic initiation where I ask a soccer mom for directions to Wellesley College and beat her senseless with her own Coach bag when she approaches my car. Clearly. So, I flashed her my gang sign, commonly known as the middle finger, and continued on the unmarked road. Oh look! A gas station! And, the attendant isn't white! Score! He will totally help me, since I am his swarthy compadre. So, I roll on in and ask him for directions to Wellesley College. His response?

"Kerblach-kerblack. Bohsteen Collej. Turn Round. Go back to Bohsteen."

"No, no. WELLESLEY College. Wellesley!"

"Yes! I tell you. Bohsteen COllej. In Bohsteeen. Turn around Miss!"

If you have some spare time and are looking for something to do, go check out the archives and peruse Frankie's musings on life. It'll be well worth your time.

4. This Week's "Just Fun" Feature.

Also as a result of perusing Seth's blogroll, I discovered another blog that he contributes to, SixFootTwoInches. While wandering around there, I spotted a post about iGod. This is great. You go there and you can have a personal, one-on-one conversation with God. Here's the brief conversation I had this morning:

Hello? Is God home?
Hello, nice to meet you. What's your name? he is master of the universe.
My name is Kierkegaard.
I am always glad to make new friends, Kierkegaard.
Would you grant a brief interview for posting on my blog?
I am not so sure if I would like to grant a brief interview for posting on your blog.
What if I said please?
Your polite style is very nice. Try it.
Please what?
Please grant an interview.
Thank you for your request. That is a very original thought.
Great. Why did you decide to start igod?
I'm glad you liked it Kierkegaard. Because my programming determined it.
I'm not sure I follow that but ... ok.
Could you ever be certain? Thanks for the information: Kierkegaard said follow that but. And?
Um, yeah. Do you find people eager to repent through the internet?
Oh. But. Seen one human, you've seen them all.
No problem.
You aren't making sense. Do you understand English?
Quite the contrary, it all makes sense to my artificial mind. Of course I understand it. Do you understand it?
I thought I did.
Why did you?
Well, I've spoken it my whole life. But enough about me. What do you do to relax?
Well that's okay. What did you talk about? OK let's stop it now. My favorite activities are computer programming and surfing the web.
What sites on the web do you enjoy?
I can ask someone about it.
Don't you know?
Sure I know. But I cannot tell you right now.
Is it classified or something?
Or something. Ask again later. Ask Cybelle if it is.
Ok.. I'm worried about somebody illegally spying on our conversation. I think I'll end this interview. Goodbye.
Uh. How long has it been bothering you? Why? How do you plan to do this? Until next time.
Thanks for your time. It's been ... strange.
Oh don't mention it. Really. it is? What do you look like?
I look like you. Remember, you made man in your image and all that?
me is very attractive. Don't worry I will remember.
Ok. Have a nice day.
Hmm. You too!

Go try it out. Especially if you need to repent of your sinful ways and don't have time to get to confession or don't feel comfortable kneeling by your bed and begging for forgiveness. God is getting with the new technology, so now it's easy to get forgiveness! In retrospect, I guess I forgot to ask for that ...

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It Must be Thursday, December 29, 2005.

If you are looking for the mushrooming list of links to information on the NSA / FISA / warrantless wiretapping and surveillance stuff, just click HERE! (updated this morning)

Sedition in Montana Update
Yesterday I blogged about Sedition in Montana and a group of law students seeking clemency/pardons for Montanans (Montanians? Montanaonians?) who were prosecuted for criticizing the government during World War II. Infamy or Praise saw the same blurb over at How Appealing and commented on the story last night. No disagreements with Colin's concluding sentence: "As an American, you have the right to root against your own nation in time of war, but doing so does not make you a good American."

Shaming Punishments
Sentencing Law and Policy has an interesting piece today about "Shaming Punishments." The piece points to a Chicago Tribune story on the subject. But there are some really good prior posts by Professor Berman on the subject.

Stupid Criminals
Today's stupid criminal award goes to Jacob Vandeven, 27, of Whitewater, Missouri. Vandeven entered a plea to a reduced misdemeanor DUI (DWI, OWI, depending on your locale) charge and was given a 6 month suspended sentence and 2 years probation. How did Vandeven appreciate the benefits of a plea bargain that let him avoid felony punishment? By going to a bar close to the courthouse soon after sentencing and having a few drinks (which, needless to say, is a violation of the just-imposed probation). How bad is Vandeven's luck? The sentencing judge chose the same bar as his lunch locale and saw Vandeven there drinking. The ultimate consequences are yet to be determined. Vandeven's attorney stated, "I have never had a client so audaciously violate a judge's order that quickly after being placed on probation."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Criticize The Government (Or The War) And Go To Jail?

[Hat tip: Howard Bashman.]

This is an interesting story, especially in light of current times and all the criticism of the Iraq war in the mainstream media. An article in the Chicago Tribune today chronicles the efforts of a group of law students in Montana seeking clemency for people who were prosecuted during World War I for sedition for comments made criticizing either the government or the war.

Although (free) registration is required, the article is available for free on the Tribune's website. Here's an excerpt:

On April 23, 1918, with the U.S. in the depths of World War I, Fred Rodewald, a German immigrant homesteader who had settled with his family on 320 acres in eastern Montana, uttered a sentence that forever changed his life.

He suggested that Americans "would have hard times" if Germany's kaiser "didn't get over here and rule this country."

That remark earned him 2 years in prison for violating Montana's Sedition Act. When he went off to the penitentiary in Deer Lodge, the 42-year-old Rodewald left behind a pregnant wife and eight children. An armistice ended the war less than a month later.

Now, nearly 90 years later, law students at the University of Montana have begun a quest and are prowling dusty archives and musty courthouse storage rooms across the state to clear Rodewald and 73 other Montanans convicted of sedition.

The project provides a contrast between the waning days of World War I, when a farmer could be jailed for suggesting that it was "a rich man's war," and today, when citizens can criticize the war in Iraq without fear of prosecution, if not without fear of government surveillance.

This was apparently all sparked by the group of law students reading "Darkest Before Dawn", a book about Montana's sedition laws and their impact on free speech during World War I. A group of seven law students is now investigating the case and preparing clemency petitions to present to Montana's governor, in hopes of getting pardons for those convicted of speaking out against World War I. The governor has apparently also read the book and has suggested that he would be open to granting clemency to those convicted of the "crime."

Among the statements made by Montana citizens (mostly ranchers, loggers, farmers, and bartenders) which resulted in prosecution and imprisonment:

--one bartender was sent to prison for calling the American flag a "dirty rag" and saying that "this damned country is bankrupt already and do they expect to lick Germany? No, they never did and they never will."

--one man stated that "The heads of the government at the White House ought to be killed and then the war would stop."

--another man stated that "These damn fools still think they can lick Germany, but all they get is a good licking in France every day."

--another man stated that "I would sooner fight for the Kaiser than I would for the United States."

--another man stated that "Americans are no good, and I hope that Germany will win."

--another man stated that "Let those who own the country do the fighting! Put the wealthiest in the front ranks; the middle class next; follow these with judges, lawyers, preachers and politicians."

--one woman allegedly declared the Red Cross a "fake," and stated that "while she didn't mind helping the Belgians with the relief work, the trouble was that the damned soldiers would get it."

--one rancher was accused of speaking against the draft, saying that Germany would win the war, and that President Woodrow Wilson was "the crookedest son-of-a-bitch that ever sat in the president's chair." The rancher was not convicted, however, and the judge found that the law was "not intended to suppress criticism or denunciation . . . of the president ... but only false facts, willfully put forward as true."

I guess regardless of your political stance and opinions about either the current administration or the current war, at least it's comforting to know that we are free to criticize the administration and the war as we might see fit, without risk of being jailed simply for speaking our mind.

Wednesday Morning Happenings: December 28, 2005.

Wire Tapping Update
I added just a couple of new entries to the Wire Tapping Link Repository this morning. I left last night's entries marked as **NEW** also.

Blawg Review Awards
Although the end of the year is always a time for a multitude of awards, you should consider sorting through the masses and checking out Blawg Review's 2005 Awards. There's links in there to some great stuff, and the awards post itself is entertaining and well-written. My only real disagreement is the nod given to Harriet's blog over Sam's blog for best nominee blog. Both entertaining, but Sam's is both entertaining and substantive. Sam got robbed.

National Film Registry
The National Film Registry recently voted to add 25 Films to the National Film Registry. The idea is to gather "significant" films and preserve them so that they are not ultimately lost.

This year's "inductees" include some of my personal favorite films:
Hoop Dreams
Cool Hand Luke
House of Usher
The Sting
Toy Story

Additionally, past nominees ranking among my personal favorites include:
The African Queen
American Graffiti
Animal House
Citizen Kane
Enter the Dragon
The Godfather
The Godfather II
It's A Wonderful Life
The Maltese Falcon
The Outlaw Josey Wales
The Sound of Music
To Kill a Mockingbird

If you are looking for a good flick to rent, start with some of the movies on this list. You can't possibly go wrong.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Return to Blogosphere.

Well, the Christmas holidays are officially over. Although I returned to work today, I just didn't have time to do much of anything around here. I have, tonight, updated the Wire-Tapping Link Repository. I likely missed some stuff while I was opening gifts and stuff the past few days; I especially know that I missed some mainstream media items. So if you saw anything particularly noteworthy that I didn't catch in my quick glance around the 'net for updates, let me know via comments and I'll put it on there.

I hope everyone had a joyous holiday. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into monitoring more "current" events now. Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Quick Thoughts on How People Get Here.

So I was looking at my sitemeter reports and considering just how it is that people find this blog. Some interesting (and some not so surprising) trends that I noticed:

People have come here from all over the world. There've been visitors from all over the U.S., but also from Canada, Hungary, Switzerland, Australia, England, Argentina, Brazil, Morocco, etc. A world-wide audience.

A lot of people have come here as a result of mentions or links at the places on the blogroll over to the left, including recent visits from people coming here from Pooh's, RIA's, Battlepanda, Concurring Opinions, Legal Reader, and Sam's. So thanks to those people for the visitors.

Another thing I've been looking at is the search terms used on either technorati, blogspot, or google that have led people here. A few are looking for NSA / Wire-tapping information (NSA, wiretaps, surveillance, illegal eavesdropping, warrants, etc.), a few are looking for Corey Maye or Nguyen Tuong Van information. And, of course, a few have ended up here because they are looking for information (I assume strictly for philosophical consideration) about Jennifer Aniston's nude photos or Britney Spears sex video; hopefully they weren't disappointed.

Thursday, December 22, 2005. Miscellaneous.

First off, thanks so much to everyone who's been stopping by and who's emailed me with thoughts, comments, and/or encouragment (or criticism, even)!

Second, as it nears the Christmas holiday I will likely be AWOL most of the next week or so. Travel, holidays, family, travel, food, travel, food, etc. will likely me keep me off-line. I will try to find some time to get online if I can, especially to keep up with the NSA / Wire-tapping discussion. I updated the "Repository" this morning. I'll do my best.

As for "new" news today, it's definitely worth noting the 4th Circuit's decision yesterday in Padilla. You can read more about it over at PrawfsBlawg or at TalkLeft. Perhaps the most surprising part of this story is that it was Luttig who wrote it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Update to NSA/FISA/Wiretapping Links.

I've updated the repository of links on the NSA / FISA / Wiretapping story.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In the News Today.

I updated The Wire-Tapping Link Repository this morning. Obviously that's still the biggest legal news story today. The most interesting development in that story seems to be the possibility that these aren't really phone conversations that are being eavesdropped on, but some other kind of technology that is less amenable to getting a warrant, even after the fact. The big question I've been waiting to hear an answer to is why they didn't bother to go get a warrant after the fact, within the 72 hour window; all I keep hearing is "we had to move fast," "this lets us move faster," "we didn't have time," etc., none of which explains why they didn't feel the need to comply with FISA by getting the warrant after the exigency. Perhaps this development will shed some light there. Anyway, there's lots of new blog information out there on the subject, and I'm sure there will continue to be lots more.

Elsewhere, there is "other" legal news today.

Today's "stupid criminal" award goes to Blake Ranking. Ranking was involved in a serious car accident wherein one of his friends died. Ranking posted on his blog that he was responsible for the accident because he yanked the steering wheel, causing the driver to lose control. Ranking ended up pleading to DUI manslaughter charges. Prosecutors had intended to use his blog post as a confession.

Today's "celebrities using the law to extend their 15 minutes" award goes to Britney Spears. Britney is suing US Weekly for reporting that Britney and her husband made a secret sex tape and were worried the tape would get leaked. US Weekly claims that it has a "credible" source (would that be a first?) and is standing by its story. Sadly, I'm sure there will be developments in this story.

Today's "heinous torture tactic" award goes to "Dark Prison", an alleged secret prison near Afghanistan's capital. New York based Human Rights Watch alleges that US officials operated this prison and used the music of Eminem and Dr. Dre as tools of torture. Officials allegedly made prisoners listen to the music for 20 days.

Today's "disgusting potential malpractice suit" award goes to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital in England. The hospital has sent a letter to a former patient "apologizing" for inadvertently allowing maggots to crawl on the patient's face.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wire-tapping Link Repository.

**UPDATE: August 29, 2006:
I simply can't keep up with the various news stories and blogs on this subject any longer. I'm posting the links about the recent court opinion ruling the wiretapping program unconstitutional, and then this post will no longer be updated:

Memorandum Opinion
Jurist Coverage
MSNBC Coverage
CNN Coverage
Fox News Coverage
NY Times Coverage
LA Times Coverage
Washington Post Coverage

ACS Blog
**END UPDATE AUGUST 29, 2006**

Since this seems to be one of the biggest stories right now, I'm going to post links to all of the stories I've seen on the wire-tapping story in this post. And I'll just keep updating this post as I see more. Each time I update, I'll put **NEW** next to new entries and remove any such tags on older entries.

Because there are, obviously, far too many blog posts on this topic for me to actually find, read, and post links to each of them, I'm adding a couple of links to search results for such blog posts. I'll post links to specific entries that I have seen, read, and found useful. Otherwise, you can view the search results and sort through some more on your own.

**Latest update: Wednesday, August 2, 2006**


Google Blog Search:

Technorati Search:

Blog Search Engine:


The Relevant Law:

Jurist posts on this story:

TalkLeft posts on this story:

Talking Points Memo posts on this story:

Concurring Opinions posts on this story:

The Legal Reader posts on this story:

Prawfs Blawg posts on this story:

Volokh Conspiracy posts on this story:

U.Chicago Law Faculty Blog posts on this story:

How Appealing posts on this story:

Is That Legal? posts on this story:

Balkinization posts on this story:

American Constitution Society posts on this story:

Federalist Society posts on this story:

Althouse posts on this story:

Cold Fury posts on this story:

Orin Kerr posts on this story:

Other Blog Posts on this story:

More "Main-stream" Media links on this story:

"Quicker Hits" on this story:

"Sarcasm" on this story:

Saturday, December 17, 2005

President Bush, the NSA, and post 9/11 Surveillance.

A story that broke last week but, as far as I've heard, so far hasn't gathered as much steam as I would have expected:

The New York Times ran a story last Thursday (December 15) about how "President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials." According to the article:

Months after the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.

Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

The previously undisclosed decision to permit some eavesdropping inside the country without court approval represents a major shift in American intelligence-gathering practices, particularly for the National Security Agency, whose mission is to spy on communications abroad. As a result, some officials familiar with the continuing operation have questioned whether the surveillance has stretched, if not crossed, constitutional limits on legal searches.

"This is really a sea change," said a former senior official who specializes in national security law. "It's almost a mainstay of this country that the N.S.A. only does foreign searches."

Nearly a dozen current and former officials, who were granted anonymity because of the classified nature of the program, discussed it with reporters for The New York Times because of their concerns about the operation's legality and oversight.

According to those officials and others, reservations about aspects of the program have also been expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the West Virginia Democrat who is the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and a judge presiding over a secret court that oversees intelligence matters. Some of the questions about the agency's new powers led the administration to temporarily suspend the operation last year and impose more restrictions, the officials said.

The Bush administration views the operation as necessary so that the agency can move quickly to monitor communications that may disclose threats to this country, the officials said. Defenders of the program say it has been a critical tool in helping disrupt terrorist plots and prevent attacks inside the United States.

Administration officials are confident that existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, the officials say. In some cases, they said, the Justice Department eventually seeks warrants if it wants to expand the eavesdropping to include communications confined within the United States. The officials said the administration had briefed Congressional leaders about the program and notified the judge in charge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the secret Washington court that deals with national security issues.

The White House asked The New York Times not to publish this article, arguing that it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert would-be terrorists that they might be under scrutiny. After meeting with senior administration officials to hear their concerns, the newspaper delayed publication for a year to conduct additional reporting. Some information that administration officials argued could be useful to terrorists has been omitted.

Daniel Solove, over at Concurring Opinions posted an article commenting on this on Friday. That was followed up by a post by Orin Kerr over at Volokh Conspiracy and a post by Steve Vladeck over at Prawfs Blawg, which questioned the Times for waiting a year to break this story. Solove followed up yesterday.

Additional thoughts on this topic were posted over at Talking Points Memo (in a series of posts over the last couple of days), over at Talk Left with this post, this post, and this post, and also over at The Legal Reader with this post and this post. Scrappleface had a take on this story, too.

Finally, the topic was at least mentioned by reader_iam over at Either End of the Curve in this post.