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Friday, July 20, 2001

Yes. Exactly.

@ 06:23 PM CST [Link]

INS to Free 3,400 Ex-Convicts.

Hum. You know, I'd thought that Ashcroft would have dithered and defied and kept people in jail longer (well, longer than he did, anyway -- three weeks is a comparative bagatelle, and most of them will be in jails a while longer yet as the process goes through). I suppose as a practical issue it would have been impolitic for the head of Justice to have refused a direct order from the Supreme Court.

Ashcroft vowed yesterday to take action against countries that refuse to accept the immigrants or unreasonably delay their return. He said in a speech in Denver that he may ask Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to "discontinue granting visas" to citizens of countries that do not cooperate. That would be an unprecedented action, Justice Department officials said.

Ho. I want to see him do it, I really do. I mean, let's face it: there can't be that many visa requests from the four major "offenders" -- and political considerations won't allow him to refuse visa requests from Cuba; almost all of those are some sort of official visit. Either that, or they're Cuban-Americans visiting back and forth, bringing up family, and again, political considerations won't allow it. (Bush II Fraudulency does not want to outright lose Florida next election cycle, or make things harder for the Republicans down there.) OK, sure, he can deny student visas from those countries, and tourist visas. But if any of them are requesting employee visas, then he'll have to contend with the corporations who yank the Shrub's strings, and they will not be pleased if he messes with them, especially if he does it with any frequency.

Ashcroft also vowed to work with state and local law enforcement officials to determine whether any detainees could be returned to state or local custody to serve additional sentences.

Ah, there's the Ashcroft we all know and loathe. Congress having been slapped down on this issue for having made an ex post facto law and Justice having been slapped down for enforcing it, he'll just try to do an end run around the Court. Of course, since any additional offenses that he could find in records would almost certainly already have been punished (well, they wouldn't be in records, otherwise, now would they?), he can just get slapped down again, but by then, the people will have served additional time beyond their sentences -- again. Plus, of course, there's that "terrorist" designation he's looking to slap on the "most dangerous"; since their offenses are a matter of public record, the only way he can make that stick is by jailing people under the Secret Evidence portion of the Immigration Acts ("we know you did it but we won't tell you how or why we know and we won't let you defend yourself because in order to defend the country we have to shred the Constitution, that radical document"), which various courts are repeatedly holding to be unconstitutional.

Fun having our own little despot in charge of doling out "justice", isn't it?

@ 06:15 PM CST [Link]

Swisher County attacked its crack problem with the sort of campaign that has become commonplace since Ronald Reagan declared war on drugs almost two decades ago. Using funds from a regional drug task force, the local sheriff hired an undercover agent, who began making buys in and around Tulia. Only a select few knew about the deep cover operation. But even those who did were not prepared for the results: over an eighteen-month period, in a town so small it doesn't even have a Dairy Queen, the agent allegedly made more than 100 controlled buys of illegal narcotics. Early on the morning of July 23, the arrests finally came. By the end of the week, it was evident that the forty-one suspects targeted by the sting had something in common. Thirty-five of the arrestees came from Tulia's tiny black community, which numbers no more than 350. Ten percent of the town's black population had been taken down by one undercover agent. [...] But race is not the only troubling aspect of last summer's drug bust in Tulia. There was a notable absence of drugs - at least, in any appreciable quantity - in the Tulia drug underworld exposed by Agent Coleman, and the evidence presented didn't seem to fit the patterns of drug use in the community. And Coleman, upon whose sole testimony virtually all of the prosecutions were built, has a questionable past of his own. [...] Then there is the evidence: the drugs Coleman allegedly bought in Tulia. Coleman made contact with a community of low-income crack smokers, primarily young black men like Donnie Smith. But strangely, almost every buy Coleman made was of powdered cocaine. Only a handful involved crack or marijuana. Such irregularities didn't seem to matter to the Swisher County juries that began handing down verdicts and sentences last winter. "Just mention drugs, and you can get a conviction in the Panhandle," one defense attorney later said. The first two trials resulted in verdicts of ninety-nine and 434 years, respectively. Most amazing have been the sentences for defendants with no prior felony convictions, who would otherwise have been eligible for probation. Freddie Brookins, twenty-two, received twenty years for one count of delivering an eight ball. He had no prior record. Another defendant with no priors, twenty-three-year-old Kizzie Henry, got twenty-five years. [...] virtually everyone caught in the bust was charged with selling powder cocaine, in some instances up to a half-dozen counts. Tulia doesn't even have a fast food restaurant, much less a bar or nightclub. The per capita income is $11,000. Yet suddenly powdered cocaine, a drug normally associated with affluent users, seemed to be everywhere - at least everywhere in Tulia's hardscrabble black community. And while powder was everywhere, it only seemed to appear in small quantities - just enough to constitute a second-degree felony. Could there really be forty coke dealers in a rural Panhandle community? "Where the drug addicts at? Where the big houses? Where all the gold teeth?" Smith asked.

@ 05:49 PM CST [Link]

George W. doesn't seem like the recycling type, but if you check his White House performance so far, you'll see that there are many old things he's trying to reuse. He's brought back an extraordinary number of retreads from Daddy Bush's administration. While he campaigned last year as an "outsider," 43% of Bush the Second's presidential appointees are well-worn insiders who also held appointed positions under Bush the First.

Hum. Well, in that case, maybe there's an actual point to foreign politicians contacting Bush I Incompetency to find out about the policy directions of Bush II Fraudulency. After all, Bush I created the policies in the first place, didn't he?

@ 05:37 PM CST [Link]

I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a country where insurance of this type is needed so badly. I don't want to imagine it. And, of course, the people who need it most can't afford it at all -- still less can they afford the treatments and tests it's meant to cover.

@ 02:44 PM CST [Link]

The View from the Ground, June 26, 2001:

At Stateway Gardens, a gloomy but familiar irony of urban life persists: the place where effective policing might be most productive turns out to be exactly the place where tension between citizens and cops seems to be most firmly built into the social dynamic. [...] most Stateway residents were shocked but not particularly surprised when a small army of Chicago Police interrupted a neighborhood basketball tournament and subjected everyone there to extensive personal searches. The ages and occupations of the approximately 250 people searched varied widely, but everyone there did have two things in common: they were all black, and they were all searched despite the fact that the police lacked a search warrant or any (apparent) probable cause.

Just daily life in the Chicago projects. Which makes Sylvia's Constitutional Rap just that much more pointedly ironic, doesn't it?

@ 02:25 PM CST [Link]

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Oh, goodie. Yet another email virus. Which I received at work. Thankfully, I never EVER open attachments these days.

@ 11:27 PM CST [Link]

I hardly know what to say ... Except that you must --- MUST --- watch the TV commercials.

@ 05:39 PM CST [Link]

Bush II Fraudulency wants to drill for oil in yet another national park. What is it with this man and national parks? He's still targeting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Does he have something against trees? What? Does he think that resources to be preserved "for the people" means "only for the people who want to drill for oil in them"?

@ 02:02 PM CST [Link]

House Republican leaders were forced to postpone a vote on President Bush's proposal to channel more money to religious social service groups yesterday when they ran into fierce opposition from Democrats and Republicans concerned about discrimination in federally funded charitable efforts. The leadership's abrupt decision was prompted by a rebellion led by GOP moderates, who threatened to vote with the Democrats to reject the measure unless its language was altered to require charities taking federal money to abide by state and local nondiscrimination laws.

My. Bush II Fradulency does know how to unify Congress, doesn't he?

@ 12:17 PM CST [Link]

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Albuquerque may help decide a major constitutional issue. ... Um ... wait ... ALBUQUERQUE? Good grief.

The sad thing is, if it reaches the Court, what they are quite likely to do is to decide that the city has been an egregious violator of constitutional rights for 25 years. Which would be very sad, frankly, because it looks like the limits have worked as they were meant to. They've leveled the field, kept special interest influence minimized (well, as much as you can at the local level, anyway), and since local media really has to cover the mayoral race, it doesn't restrict anyone's freedom of speech in any meaningful way.

And, to be sure, the Court did rule the other way with spending limits this year. But still .....

@ 06:31 PM CST [Link]

On a winter afternoon in 1989, a Jesuit priest named Joseph Towle was called to the home of a teenager in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. Jesus Fornes, a young man Father Towle had guided toward his first communion, had something awful to tell the priest: he had killed a man in Kelly Park. [...] Mr. Fornes, the priest said, had told him something else: two other boys in the neighborhood, who had had nothing to do with the killing, had been convicted of the crime. On that winter afternoon, they were a few days away from being sentenced to prison for a murder.

This would be a critical problem with the seal of the confessional, yes. Something which allows a man to knowingly let the innocent pay for the crimes of the guilty when he could do something about it ...

Before he stepped onto the witness stand, the Roman Catholic priest's credibility was attacked by Bronx prosecutors, who said Father Towle would be violating church law by disclosing the conversation.

And this would be a problem with prosecutors who favor convictions over the truth. Granted that the truth in this case is difficult, at best.

One wonders what the good father would have done had New York had the death penalty. What he would have done had the murderer lived longer. Granted that he advised the murderer to come forward, he still knew that the lives of these innocent men were being destroyed and he did nothing else. And if, as the priest insists, it was not a formal confession, then he has no excuse for ever keeping the secret. He was not bound by the seal of the confession if there was no confession. He certainly has no reason for keeping the secret for four years after the man died. (And a side issue: if, as he insists, it was no true confession, he has opened himself to a charge of obstruction of justice. His "role as a counselor" does not protect him from the dictates of the law in the way that the confessional does.)

By the end of the day, the secular credibility of Father Towle's account was backed by another source who also enjoyed a special relationship of confidentiality with Mr. Fornes: his former lawyer, Stanley Cohen. [...] Mr. Fornes "was very clear he had committed murder and these other men had not," Mr. Cohen testified. "He said, `I'm here because I can't sleep, I can't eat, I can't live with myself.' " Unlike the priest, however, Mr. Cohen said he had advised his young client to keep quiet. "He was going to throw his whole life away by going to court and saying he did it," he said, adding that he felt free to testify about their confidential discussions now that Mr. Fornes was dead.

And that lawyer should be strung up by his balls; regardless of the result, I hope he loses his license to practice in any state -- at the very least, it should be suspended for the length of time those two men have served, combined, which would be 26 years or thereabouts. Because he didn't want his client to throw away his life, he threw away the lives of two other men who never once harmed him. He
effectively suborned perjury -- to be sure, the guilty man never testified, but by advising him not to come forward, the lawyer was guilty of concealing material evidence and witnesses, and of obstruction of justice.

Towle's testimony yesterday was key to the appeal because it added credibility to other people who testified that Fornes had named himself, Peter Ramirez and Carlos Ocasio as the killers, and had exonerated Morales and Montalvo. One of those people to testify was Anthony Servino, a Morales lawyer and former Westchester County prosecutor. Servino testified yesterday that -- apparently after he met with Towle -- Fornes came to see him in January 1989 on the day that Morales and Montalvo were to be sentenced and confessed to the slaying. "He kept saying, 'I did the crime, I'll do the time,'" Servino said. "He said it wasn't right that they were convicted." Servino said he filed a motion to set aside the guilty verdict. But Fornes obtained a lawyer, Stanley Cohen. In a subsequent hearing, he invoked his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to testify. So Servino took the stand and testified to what Fornes had told him.

And, of course, in the face of all this, prosecutors continue to argue that the sentence should stand. It will ruin their conviction rate. They can't punish the man who confessed to the crime, so someone should be in prison. Despite several people attesting to it, there's no proof that he confessed. And so on, and so on.

Fr. Towle will, of course, be absolved of his sins against those men by his superior confessors -- probably has been already. One wonders how those men will feel, should they ever get out of prison.

There is a great deal wrong with our system. It's biased against the poor, allows all sorts of extraneous prejudice, privileges process above the truth at times. But it's all we've got, and whatever its flaws, it's got no chance of working if people withhold relevant information for no good cause.

@ 03:44 PM CST [Link]

Leonard Sannon is quite composed for a boy who is only 14 years old. [...] So when his parents offered to send him with a prayer group to see the religious relics of Ireland, Leonard, an American born to Haitian parents, packed his well-traveled passport and was off. But the ninth-grader said he needed all of his composure on his way home last Wednesday when U.S. immigration agents in Ireland accused him of having forged his passport. They sent his travel companions, 38 adults, back to New York without him and told Leonard he would not be allowed back in the United States. [...] Leonard was traveling with the Queens-based The World Cenacle Prayer Group, which organizes religious pilgrimages. The trip's volunteer coordinator, Conrad Ponio, said he returned without Leonard because immigration officials told him there was nothing he could do. "They told me you can't wait for him because the passport was counterfeit,” Ponio said. "They said you can't do anything.” [...] The Sannons said they agreed to send their son on the trip to religious sites in Ireland to help him understand that people other than African-Americans have been the victims of persecution. Now, they wonder whether the lesson he will carry from his experience is that racial bias still exists. "We wanted him to know that even though the Irish have been better off than black people, that they have been persecuted, too,” Jocelyne Sannon said. "But I doubt very much if he were a blue-eyed boy they would have allowed this to happen.”

@ 03:43 PM CST [Link]

President Bush's personal commitment to pass his embattled "Faith-Based Initiative" was influenced, in part, by the role faith played in Bush's decision to quit drinking at age 40, Republican Conference Chairman J.C. Watts, R-Okla., said Tuesday. [...] "Those of us opposed to this legislation have long wondered why this legislation was being pushed for by the White House, since religious charities are incredibly successful at providing services under current law," [House Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.] said. "The Salvation Army memo of last week provided the 'smoking gun.'"

You know, I'd wondered about his determination on this topic myself. Any sensible person can tell you that when your natural allies don't like something intended to benefit them, you should probably cut your losses and move on. At least this gives a certain context.

That said, it is neither reasonable nor appropriate for a president to determine that the country needs to be "saved" in quite that manner.

@ 02:58 PM CST [Link]

She said that when she called InfoSpace’s customer service line, she was told the situation would be reviewed. Tucci quoted the man on the phone as saying, "Well, if they put in the word lesbian, what else would they be looking for besides porn?"

How very charming. Not only did Dogpile.com equate all lesbian and gay topics with porn and force you to view results from adult sites, but then they thought it was appropriate to insult the public when they complain.

And the customer service person involved probably didn't even vaguely realize that his comment could be seen as insulting, which makes it even worse.

As of today, Dogpile has broken the link between "gay" and porn (and won't that sentence get me some interesting search hits); you're no longer forced into adult page results when you type the word, and you get a reasonable category index.

@ 02:33 PM CST [Link]

Tuesday, July 17, 2001

III. RECOMMENDATIONS [of the Commission]:
A. Modify the pretrial role of the convening authority in both selecting court-martial members and making other pre-trial legal decisions that best rest within the purview of a sitting military judge.
B. Increase the independence, availability and responsibilities of military judges.
C. Implement additional protections in death penalty cases.
D. Repeal the rape and sodomy provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. §§ 920 & 925, and the offenses specified under the general article, 10 U.S.C. § 134, that concern criminal sexual misconduct. Replace them with a comprehensive Criminal Sexual Conduct Article, such as is found in the Model Penal Code or Title 18 of the United States Code. [...]

Of all of the topics that appeared on the Commission’s long list of possible areas for consideration, the issue of prosecuting consensual sex offenses attracted the greatest number of responses from both individuals and organizations. The Commission concurs with the majority of these assessments in recommending that consensual sodomy and adultery be eliminated as separate offenses in the UCMJ and the Manual for Courts-Martial. Although popular acceptance of various sexual behaviors has changed dramatically in the fifty years since the UCMJ became effective, the Commission accepts that there remain instances in which consensual sexual activity, including that which is currently prosecuted under Articles 125 and 134, may constitute criminal acts in a military context. Virtually all such acts, however, could be prosecuted without the use of provisions specifically targeting sodomy and adultery. Furthermore, the well-known fact that most adulterous or sodomitical acts committed by consenting and often married (to each other) military personnel are not prosecuted at court-martial creates a powerful perception that prosecution of this sexual behavior is treated in an arbitrary, even vindictive, manner. This perception has been at the core of the military sex scandals of the last decade. [...] A comprehensive Criminal Sexual Conduct statute would more realistically reflect the offenses that should be proscribed under military law. The new statute would reconfigure the entire field of “Criminal Sexual Conduct” in the military context, replacing the outdated “rape and carnal knowledge,” “sodomy,” and general article offenses with a modern statute similar to the laws adopted by many states and in Title 18 of the United States Code. The Commission urges that the new statute recognize that military rank and organization may produce an atmosphere where sexual conduct, although apparently consensual on its face, should be proscribed as coercive sexual misconduct. There are many models from civilian life that make similar legal distinctions, including laws that govern sexual activity between teachers and students, doctors and patients, probationers and counselors, and corrections officers and prisoners. The Commission believes that this type of statute is appropriate and relevant in a military organization with its attendant subordinate-superior and special trust relationships.

Regarding Title 18 of the US Code itself ... it's a remarkably comprehensive law dealing with sexual abuse (although, except for the Mann Act provisions -- transportation of a minor across state lines for sexual purposes -- I'm baffled as to when any of them would take precedence over state laws dealing with the same crimes) ... remarkably, the crime of sodomy, as defined in Chapter 109a, Section 2246, is only a crime insofar as force is used. Imagine that.

I should imagine that the military will, of course, take the report under advisement.

And bury it.

Very very deep in the Pentagon vaults.

@ 01:10 PM CST [Link]

You know, Dorothy Tillman may have some impressive hats, but it's too bad she doesn't have an impressive brain to go with those hats. I mean, she just insulted the hell out of an entire ward, because she thinks that those black people should not have elected a white person: ''We want that seat to belong to an African American. We want to make sure we take that seat as part of our 20 super-majority black wards," Tillman said. But the fact remains that, you know, a ward composed of 85% blacks did elect that man. Whether or not he goes into the Black Caucus depends on the purpose of the caucus: if it's to represent the interests of black constituents, then he should certainly be a member; if it's to represent the interests of black aldermen ... why do they need it? (Of course, this assumes that the aldermen recognize that their interests and their constituents' interests are not necessarily one and the same, which, frankly, I rather doubt.)

@ 12:51 PM CST [Link]

Remember them? The city with the lovely riots earlier this year? They've been having a perfectly lovely time of it since then, as well:

Must be lovely attempting to provide oversight when nobody will either give you information to oversee, and when they actively interfere in your attempts to do so.

@ 12:45 PM CST [Link]

You know, in this day and age, having the FBI Crime Lab accuse you of shoddy work is just sad. I mean, we're talking about the crime lab that, despite supposedly doing generally good work, seems to feel the urge lately to commit spectacular errors or misconduct every five years or thereabouts, and get flayed in public.

Ah, well. At least those five people have another chance.

@ 12:20 PM CST [Link]

All I can say is, South Africa is a very different place, indeed. (I can't imagine any 18-year-old in this country putting himself through that, but then, we don't seem to have manhood initiation rituals. Not that type, anyway. For which I'm sure a nation is grateful.)

We prefer to get 'em while they're young, and hope they don't remember it later. (You know, I can understand why it would make a difference in a sort of cultural identity ... but for salvation? There are religions that think if you have that little bit of skin, you won't be saved? How very ... peculiar.)

@ 12:04 PM CST [Link]

Oh, goodie. Yet another Outlook vulnerability. The patch should -- eventually -- be posted to the Microsoft Technet site.

@ 11:56 AM CST [Link]

Between 4 million and 6 million Americans either failed to cast votes or had their votes invalidated in last year's presidential election because of faulty equipment, mismarked ballots, polling place failures and foul-ups with registration or absentee voting, a study by two leading universities reported yesterday. [...] But while the university recommendations received a generally warm reception, several officials and organizations expressed reservations about the report's emphasis on technology and its promotion of a federal role in a process that traditionally has been controlled by state and local governments. [...] "I hope people aren't convinced that simply plugging in new voting systems around the country is going to solve our problems," said Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, the newly elected NASS president.

You know, I can understand the reservations about technology. After all, you switch to some electronic version, the electricity fails at a polling place, and you're screwed for that entire ward. However, voter education or no, simply plugging in new voting systems would, in fact, appear to solve a great many of the problems of last year's elections.

I don't get the reservations about the federal role, though. I mean, the states flatly don't have the money to do a major upgrade all at once. (Even if they did, the certified voting technology vendors don't have the capacity to deal with all the localities at once, but that's another issue.) Even if they did ... well, I suppose they see any change as a loss of power. The fact that the country at large would probably be better served by uniform standards for federal election is, of course, beside the point.

@ 11:50 AM CST [Link]

Monday, July 16, 2001

You know, we keep hearing about how the Brits are smarter, how their schools are better, how their game shows are harder, how their television is just so much more intelligent, and so on and so on and so on. So it's interesting to see that they can be stupid yahoos just like everyone else.

That said ... 117 complaints? Can you imagine the flood to the FCC if the Today show decided to broadcast any such thing? Although I don't imagine that there would have been much comment about the orgasm cream.

It's also interesting that the Coronation Street episode inspired such outrage. It would have gotten mostly just a shrug here. Which probably doesn't say anything good about us.

@ 05:58 PM CST [Link]

Toronto Public Health is advising men who have sex with men to take precautions to prevent the spread of meningitis. Five cases of the illness among this population have been reported in the last two months. "Meningitis is circulating in the community and precautions should be taken," said Dr. Sheela Basrur, Medical Officer of Health. [...] Dr. Basrur noted that the number of cases of meningitis in Toronto has increased in the first six months of this year. "This increase is primarily in cases of men who have sex with men, and it includes two individuals who died."

I didn't realize that any disease could really be spread through kissing.

@ 05:04 PM CST [Link]

From the moment Mark Douglas hit the road Friday, headed for the Fawn Creek neighborhood of slain police Officer Lois Marrero, he worried about it. As a longtime reporter for NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8, he knew the drill. Talk to the neighbors, find her friends and tell how those who lived near the 40-year-old police veteran were coping with news of her death. But while driving to the home she shared with life partner and fellow Tampa Police Detective Mickie Mashburn, Douglas wondered: Should he mention it? Should he say she was gay?

@ 02:27 PM CST [Link]

Let's all cheer that China will be hosting the 2008 Olympics, shall we? Let's shall. Huzzah! Oh, and we can also cheer because we don't live there. (Oh, yeah, getting an Olympic games and capitalist prosperity is going to make them pay a lot of attention to human rights, yessirree bob!)

Just don't cheer too loudly; you just never know what's been going on in your own back yard.

@ 01:45 PM CST [Link]

Curiouser and curiouser. People in Tampa are protesting the cameras with recognition software that the city is installing.

That's not the curious part.

If Tom Tomorrow is to be believed, any time the software registers a match of 8.5 or higher, the "suspect" will be arrested.(I couldn't find the story on the New Haven Advocate site.)

Appalling, but again, not the curious part.

ArchConservative representative Dick Armey is joining the ACLU to call for hearings on the use of such technology.

Perhaps a sign of the coming apocalypse, but again, not the curious part.

No, the curious part is that the above link on hearings is the only notice I could find about the cameras on either the Tampa Tribune or St Petersburg Times site. The Associated Press newswire story is being reported across the country; you'd expect more detailed local information. But not a word in the local newspapers. Why, one wonders, would the local newspapers not have extensive coverage of these protests?

As a side note, it'll be fascinating to see how Tampa works out the logistics of getting someone to the place in time to arrest them before they leave. It'll be even more fascinating to see, assuming they keep the technology, how many lawsuits they have against them for false arrest -- I'd wager that the flood will be coming.

@ 01:10 PM CST [Link]

Six years have passed since Tampa resident Mazen Al-Najjar learned he was a suspected Middle East terrorist. More than three of those were spent in jail, where he was held without bail on secret evidence. Al-Najjar had no idea then what the government had. He still doesn't. [...] He and his attorneys first requested his files about the same time he was arrested in May 1997 for overstaying a student visa.
Such a violation is relatively common, but as a stateless Palestinian, Al-Najjar's paperwork was more convoluted than most. Then the government made it atypical: Al-Najjar should be held without bail, it said, because of secret evidence he is "associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad." [...] "The court wants to deport him on his record, but he can't see his record. Even if he is naturalized (as a citizen), someone down the road can try to revoke that based on the same secret evidence," said Houeida Saad, a D.C. attorney and legal co-director of the National Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, formed in 1997 to address immigrant rights.

It will be utterly fascinating to see what happens with this case. There would seem to be two paths his lawyer can argue. First, since no country will take someone branded a terrorist, the US can't deport him, and since they can neither deport nor detain him, he has to be set free -- although what status INS will give him at that point is anyone's guess. Second, there's the plain denial of due process rights; although the government is allowed to keep the identity of accusers secret when revealing them would put them in danger, they have been taking it to excess, to say the least. In any event, when keeping information secret compromises someone's ability to defend themselves, courts have consistently held that the government oversteps its bounds.

The House is now working on a bill to repeal the secret evidence portion of the immigration acts. Interestingly, it would not, as currently written, have applied to Al-Najjar's case; his student visa had expired, and the act limits itself to those with "unexpired visas". The original version of the bill was broad enough to cover his case; I suspect that various executive departments protested vigorously enough to cause a rewrite. I'd be willing to bet almost anything that what appears to be a technical fix alters the law enough that none of the currently detained people is covered by it. After all, if you've been in jail a few years, unable to either work or attend classes, you cease to fulfill the requirements of your visa and thereupon become an illegal alien. The fact that this has happened through no fault of your own is, of course, entirely irrelevant.

Interestingly, Bush II Fraudulency is on record as being against the secret evidence portion of the act. Assuming some form of repeal reaches his desk, it will be terribly fascinating to see what he does with it. I cannot imagine that Ashcroft, for one, is in favor of this repeal, but as noted in the prior entry, the Arab countries are already concerned that Junior's policies are tilted against them. It would be a chance for him to make a gesture of sorts. Mind, as written, it would only be a gesture.

@ 11:40 AM CST [Link]

I can't help it; this worries me. I don't care how new you are to the job; foreign dignitaries and heads of state should not be calling the president's daddy to be reassured about his policy positions and initiatives. As it stands, Rove handles politics, Cheney handles process, and Daddy Bush handles coddling foreign heads of state ... what the hell is it that His Fraudulency does all day in there, anyway? It's as if we now have our very own version of Regency Britain, only instead of George III's porphyric insanity, we have Bush II's utter incompetence.

@ 10:20 AM CST [Link]



the last ten ...

12/19/2001: vive la france

12/19/2001: princess, redux

12/19/2001: yemen and rumsfeld

12/18/2001: you're NOT in the army now

12/18/2001: interesting donation

12/18/2001: shame on winn dixie, indeed

12/18/2001: saudi princess

12/17/2001: new resolve

12/17/2001: a victim of the attack ... yeah, right

12/17/2001: polluters ho!


elsewhere ...

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