Thursday, October 3, 2013

From My Friends Down Under At Justinian....

More blockbusters coming to you

Israel given unfiltered NSA data ... All phone calls in the US are "relevant to terrorism" ... Defence contractor successfully sues torture victims for costs ... NY designates city mosques as "terrorism enterprises" ... US Supremes in need of a code of conduct ... Nixon on judicial appointments ... Roger Fitch files from the town in the process of shutting down  
David Miranda (right): dodgy detention at Heathrow
BEING "mirandised" took on a new meaning last month at Heathrow Airport
There's more here and here on the dodgy detention of Glenn Greenwald's Brazilian partner David Miranda and Brazil's response.
The British spy agency GCHQ even resorted to self-abasement before UK courts to get the right to look at the Miranda material, claiming its agents might be recruited by foreign enemies, if names were known.  
Section 7 of the UK Terrorism Act was used again at Gatwick Airport to detain another Obama critic. Isn't the UK-US relationship "special"?
Fresh from overseeing the smashing of computers at the Guardian, the British spooks next demanded the NY Times destroy its copy of Snowden's revelations; their alarm was understandable, if you look at GCHQ's training slides.
In the US, the scandal keeps spreading, with the news that the NSA has already hacked or stolen the encryption keys it needs to read most of the world's communications. Indeed, NSA supercomputers make encryption pointless.
Obama has been even more "aggressive" in spying than George Bush, lifting restrictions on the collection of Americans' data imposed by the previous government.
The FISA court released a number of newly-declassified orders approving collections of data, but their reasoning seems at odds with Supreme Court decisions.  
It's not surprising, with no counter-advocacy.
In fact, the FISA court reports no US telecom has ever challenged its orders.
Industrial espionage by the US has now surfaced - in Brazil - and that country has considereddropping out of the Internet altogether
The US Memorandum of Understanding giving Israel raw unfiltered NSA data on Americans could be a model for agreements with other foreign "friends", e.g. Australia.  
The Justice Department is now asserting that all phone calls in the US are "relevant" to "terrorism".
If a Smartphone is used, a lot more is on tap.
According to Der Spiegel, the NSA finds Smartphones offer a data bonanza. 
Foreign companies are benefiting as a result. Deutsche Telekom is enjoying a boom in its email business.
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CONFLATING war with civilian terrorism in order to justify indefinite military detention is still a popular pastime of the US government.
A critical study of America's other Guantánamo - Bagram prison in Afghanistan, which holds non-Afghans - mainly Pakistanis - has been released by the human rights law firm Justice Project Pakistan.  
At the moment, non-Afghan Bagram prisoners have three habeas claims in court in the DC Circuit for the second time.  
There's more here on Maqaleh and other non-Afghans held in Afghanistan, some taken to a war zone for the express purpose of defeating their habeas claims. 
One of the petitioners, the Pakistani Amanatullah, was removed from occupied Iraq to Afghanistan.
According to British courts who heard the case of the similarly-situated Bagram prisonerRahmatullah that's a war crime.  
Scotusblog has more on the DC cases. 
Some prisoners of the US who remained in occupied Iraq - in accordance with the Geneva Conventions - were left to the tender mercy of mercenary interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison.
A few brought civil suits in the US for their mistreatment. Recently, these plaintiffs unexpectedly lost their suit, based on the trial judge's contentious interpretation of the Supreme Court's recent Kiobel decision (see post of July 2013) on the scope of the Alien Tort Statute.
The triumphant defence contractor CACI International, who provided the contract "interrogation services" at Abu Ghraib, had the chutzpah to counter-sue the torture victims for costs, and they've been granted.
There's background here and here, plus earlier posts on the case here and here
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Mosques next to be frisked
THE New York Police Department was rebuffed by both the courts and city council for its racial-profile "stop and frisk" policy.  
Now NY's finest are in the news again, with a novel counter-terrorism policy: by merely designating the city's mosques "Terrorism Enterprises," NYPD investigations can proceed with a minimum of fuss.  
More here.  
If upheld, this interesting gloss on the First Amendment could supply a much-needed precedent for investigating turbulent priests and rabbis. 
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Ginsburg: dismayed by the Roberts court majority
DURING the summer recess, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg let loose on the Roberts Court for its blatant activism.
Now, as the October term of the Supreme Court approaches, proposals are being made for a code of ethics for the court.  
It's the only federal court without such a code, and it helps explain Bush v Gore, where at least three of the Bush-selectors had invested their family's future in the winning regime.
The court's first big case in the new term will be McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission,testing campaign contribution limits.  It has alarming implications for US elections. 
Another blockbuster case on its way to the court concerns the Texas vote-suppression laws. Faced with a permanent white minority in Texas, the Republican state has applied its new voter ID law.  
It's designed to knock the Hispanic plurality vote on the head, simultaneously disenfranchising poor blacks and university students. The latter wonder why they can't use student IDs, when concealed weapon owners are allowed to vote with their gun permits.  
The US Justice Department has sued Texas, and they've been joined by others.  
A case unlikely to be granted certiorari is that of Ali Saleh al-Marri, the Qatari who holds the distinction of being the only civilian - other than José Padilla - arrested on US soil and designated one of George Bush's imaginary "enemy combatants".  
Although he is now in prison after a lawful conviction in a civilian court, al-Marri preserved his right of appeal against one of the most infamous manoeuvres of the Bush Regime.
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Nixon and Haig: looking for the "meanest right wing" judges
MEANWHILE, the criteria for selecting US federal judges – Supreme Court included - have received fresh light.  After forty years, the Nixon Library has released the final batch of the former president's incriminating audio tapes.   
In a July 12, 1973, conversation with his chief of staff Al Haig, Nixon may be heard discussing future judicial nominations, urging Haig to find the "meanest right-wing" nominees. 
The newly-released tapes lay out the Republican strategy for judicial appointments, now successfully implemented, especially in DC, and in the three southern circuits with a generous supply of pertinently-skilled lawyers.