Thursday, April 18, 2013

From Roger Fitch and our Friend Down Under at Justinian

Glory, glory, hallelujah

Old guard rallies to the cause of female CIA agent glorified fictionally in Zero Dark 30... Latest from US Supremes, including forthcoming important gene patent case ... Secret no-fly lists tested in court ... DoJ's sweetheart deals with badly behaved banks and bankers ... George W. Bush's Liberty and Freedom Institute opens for business ... Our Man in Washington 
Brennan: ably assisted by CIA villains
JOHN BRENNAN has been sworn in as CIA director, using a copy of the Constitution without the Bill of Rights
Ably assisted by an interview committee composed of CIA villains, Mr Brennan is already busy advancing the careers of CIA operatives implicated in crimes, such as the acting and proposed director of CIA Clandestine Services.  
A right-wing Washington Post columnist was outraged that this worthy woman's (torturous) past might be held against her, just when it seemed the CIA's infamous glass ceiling might crack. 
Naturally, the torture counsellor John Yoo was also upset.    
More here and here on the promotion of the female CIA agent glorified fictionally in the filmZero Dark 30 (see January post).  
One of the accusations against this person is her unauthorised visit to Poland to witness the CIA torture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now being tried at Guantánamo.
The CIA acknowledges water-boarding two other men held in Poland, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah and, interestingly, the  now acting CS director helped organise the destruction of videotape evidence of their torture - formerly a federal crime.
More here.
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"Who decides the laws of war?" - was the recent NY Times headline after the DC Circuit struck down convictions for faux war crimes the government obtained in Guantánamo's unique military commissions. 
Prof Steve Vladeck now offers help, with a guide for using real courts to collaterally attack rulings of the Gitmo commissions and to appeal decisions of the Pentagon's drumhead Court of Military Commission Review.    
Complementing it is a new history of the military commissions by the Wall Street Journal'sJess Bravin.  
One of the CMCR cases the government lost has been appealed.
The DoJ conceded the Bahlul case in the DC Circuit and asked the court to vacate the convictions of Al Bahlul in the light of the Circuit's decision in Hamdan II, which the government decided not to appeal.  
The Circuit duly vacated Al-Bahlul's convictions, but now the government wants a Bahlul en banc hearing.
Al Bahlul's brief is here.
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US Supremes: plenty of pending decisions
The final oral argument docket of the Supreme Court for this term has been announced and includes the contentious Myriad gene patent case.
The Monsanto gene patent dispute has already been heard but, leaving nothing to chance, Congress has passed what is popularly known as the "Monsanto Protection Act".
It's part of a spending bill and benefits agricultural gene manipulators who - co-incidentally - contribute substantially to particular congressional "re-election" funds.
More here on this alarming development which, luckily, is temporary.  
The Guardian has more 
In two new decisions the Supreme Court continues to undermine class actions.
Narrowing eligibility criteria tends to force economically unviable individual arbitration on plaintiffs. More here.
The two "gay" cases before the Supreme Court this term (see March post) have now been heard.
The second case, testing the constitutionality of the Defence of Marriage Act, involves estate taxation, but over 1,100 other federal laws and entitlements are implicated.  
The pay-for-delay generic drug case has now been argued.  
And finally, the Court has decided two sniffer-dog probable cause cases involving the state of Florida.
One case was decided in an unexpected way, and it's all down to "curtilage". Remember that? More here.
The other case went the other way, clearly showing the distinction between curtilage and carriage, or rather, porch and car.
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In genuine dictatorships - and Britain - they revoke your passport and declare you an ex-citizen, as David Hicks discovered to his cost. 
Typically, it's done by means of secret "no-fly" (or "no-sail") lists, which can also affect foreigners with valid residence visas, as in this San Francisco case.
An Oregon case tests these underhanded practices as applied to citizens.
There's even a "no-leave" list for citizens who can't get out of the US, as an Islamic Oklahoman discovered: he now travels the hard way
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Breuer and Holder: banks too big to prosecute
The Justice Department continues to make sweetheart agreements with giant banks responsible for the economic collapse of 2008, with no admission of guilt or prosecution of executives, even when their actions were clearly felonious.
Even foreign banks benefit, e.g. the settlement with HSBC for laundering nearly $900 million in drug money for violent crime cartels.
Attorney General Eric Holder has now admitted that some banks (e.g. HSBC) are just too big to criminally prosecute and so they haven't bothered.
Matt Taibbi has more on "deferred prosecutions" where - after a government shakedown - payment of a symbolic fine gets the bank off the hook no matter the crime.  After all, they're "too big" to let fail.
Lanny Breuer, the chief of DoJ's Criminal Division, has meanwhile retired.
Not criminally prosecuting anyone on Wall Street during his time as Assistant AG has paid off handsomely for Breuer, who will join a who's-who of other revolving-door Wall Street lawyers at Covington and Burling.  
The Securities and Exchange Commission's friendly settlements are also being treated with suspicion, by federal judges (more comment here), but it's not clear the judges have anyauthority to force the hand of government lawyers 
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Bush: new presidential centre to glorify his deedsThanks to Barack Obama and a still-compromised Justice Department, statutes of limitations for Bush administration crimescontinue to run out
It's a good thing, too, as the George W. Bush Presidential Centre (Library and Freedom Institute) is ready to open.  
Many people supposed that a George W. Bush Library would feature virtual enhanced interrogations and the like, but there's no sign of torture cell mock-ups, hands-on handcuffs or interactive games with black-garbed rendition teams pouring water down the throats of helpless detainees.
Instead, the "public policy institute" attached to the library (or liberry, as Mr Bush might say) will evidently have as its function theglorification and justification of the appointed president and his deeds.
That's something Mr Obama and other ex-presidents can understand. They'll all be there for the opening