The Ninth Circuit on Foreign Relations Federalism

The Ninth Circuit (Judge Harry Pregerson writing) had an interesting recent decision regarding foreign relations federalism in Cassirer v. Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection Foundation. The case involves California Code of Civil Procedure § 338(c)(3), which extends the statute of limitations for suit for the recovery of fine art against a museum, gallery, auctioneer, or dealer.

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Pakistan Doesn’t Want US Drone War Anymore

After nearly a decade of war by drones on the tribal regions of Pakistan, an ally of the US government, that country has now had enough.

This week Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington, D.C. calling the drone bombings a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty. At nearly the same time, reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are showing the federal government is lying about who exactly is dying in drone wars.

These attacks began with President Bush but have, as many national security policies, swelled under President Obama. An interactive display (which can be viewed here) of recorded drone strikes that has been passed around for months illustrates the evolution of this undeclared war on Pakistan’s innocent men, women, and children. Cries of war crimes and violations of international law are mounting, yet still there is that familiar silence regarding Constitutionality.

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Before You Rejoice

Before you rejoice that the government has seized an alleged terrorist in Libya who was indicted for planning the notorious 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, before you join the House of Representatives in a standing ovation for the Capitol Hill Police who killed a woman whose car struck a White House fence and who then drove away at a high speed, and before you commend the New York Police Department for quickly getting to the bottom of an alleged assault by a motorcycle gang that tormented a young family on a city street, please give some thought to the rule of law.

Last weekend, a team of Navy SEALs kidnapped a Libyan, Abu Anas al-Libi, off of a public street in Tripoli. The Navy men did not have a warrant for his arrest, did not have the permission of the local authorities or the Libyan government to carry out this kidnapping, and were unlawfully present bearing arms in public in Libya. Many of al-Libi’s alleged accomplices already had been arrested, prosecuted and convicted in the U.S. The U.S. could have sought his extradition, as it did with some of them, had President Obama not bombed the American-friendly government of Col. Moammar Gadhafi out of existence, without a congressional declaration of war.

Obama apologists have praised this maneuver as a bloodless way to obtain justice without using drones to kill. (How low we have sunk when Obama can be praised for not executing someone with a drone.) Secretary of State John Kerry, acknowledging that al-Libi is innocent until proved guilty, has claimed that the rule of law was followed here because he will be brought to a civilian U.S. court for trial. Former George W. Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey claimed that because the embassy bombings constituted an act of war, the kidnapping of al-Libi was a lawful wartime assault, and he should be tried before a military tribunal.

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Immunity for War Criminals?

A Manhattan Project physicist once said, “secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction.”

The federal government keeps building up more and more tolerance of the crimes it must hide, and in doing so, is transforming itself into a centralized empire where nothing can be questioned!

The War on Terror tipped the balance between secrecy and privacy, yet many don’t even realize it. Today, we live in an age where secrecy has eclipsed privacy. In fact, there still are people out there convinced that if it concerns national security, they will give up everything for it. But no one can define it. It is ambiguous and ubiquitous at the same time. The 9/11 attack shifted the perception from inalienable rights, to rights not of natural origin and subject to the government’s whim. A symptom – the war crimes started with former President Bush, and have mounted with current President Obama.

Everything is a secret now days. From the crimes in Collateral Murder to the Snowden revelations, the federal government plays the “national security” trump card, or falls back to blatant denial.

As with any addict, the feds become tolerant to their drug of choice and need a higher dosage to feel a high. But as the atrocities mount, leaks of secret information hit our newsstands and Twitter feeds, and the approval rating of our government decreases.

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The President’s Embarrassment

When Secretary of State John Kerry, apparently irritated by a lack of sleep, gave a snippy and what he thought was an unrealistic reply to a reporter’s question at a London press conference last weekend, he hardly could have imagined the world’s response. Asked whether there is anything Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could do at this relatively late hour to avoid an American invasion, Kerry told an international audience that if Assad gave up whatever chemical weapons his government possesses, the U.S. would forgo an invasion.

But not to worry, Kerry added. Assad is not going to do that, and we will end up invading Syria in order to vindicate President Obama’s threat to do so. For two days, Obama remained silent on this as his arch-nemesis, Russian President Vladimir Putin, grabbed the spotlight and the high moral ground.

Putin, sounding more like a Nobel Peace laureate than the killer he is known to be, offered to broker a deal whereby the Syrian chemical stockpile would be surrendered to the United Nations, the Syrian government could go about defending itself from the al-Qaida-driven effort to take it over, and the U.S. would leave Syria alone.

Obama is generally firm in his belief that he needs to vindicate the threat he made last summer when he was trying to outdo Mitt Romney on sounding tough. It was then that Obama threatened to intervene in the Syrian civil war if chemical weapons were used by the government. Nevertheless, hating the international embarrassment visited upon him when suddenly Putin seems more reasonable than he does, Obama conceded to my Fox News colleague Chris Wallace that the Kerry-inspired and Putin-pushed idea seemed worth considering. And then the Syrian government agreed.

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