Monday, July 25, 2016

From Roger Fitch and Our Friends Down Under at Justinian

Rolling out the big guns

University professors fight Texas gun laws in court ... The importance of this election to SCOTUS ... Remembering Zbigniew Brzezinski's advice for the US to act "unpredictably and in anger" ... The Republican FBI chief's Trumping of Hillary Clinton ... From Roger Fitch - Our Man in Washington
"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed"
2
nd amendment to the US constitution (1791).
"No kind of travesty, however subtle or ingenious, could so misconstrue this provision of the constitution of the United States, as to make it cover and protect that pernicious vice, from which so many murders, assassinations, and deadly assaults have sprung, and which it was doubtless the intention of the legislature to punish and prohibit… We confess it appears to us little short of ridiculous, that any one should claim the right to carry upon his person any of the mischievous devices inhibited by the statute, into a peaceable public assembly, as, for instance into a church, a lecture room, a ball room, or any other place where ladies and gentlemen are congregated together."
English v State, 1871 Texas Supreme Court decision upholding a law against carrying deadly weapons
One hundred-and-forty-five years years after English v State, Texans endure a despotic government of Republican zealots, an alien occupation that has lasted longer than the Civil War and a Reconstruction that was carried out by quite different Republican radicals.  
Texas is now a Tea-Party state, where demented NRA-funded legislators deal with epidemic gun violence by pouring ever more oil on the fire.  
The recent shooting of 12 policemen in Dallas, for example, was facilitated by the widespread possession of firearms in Texas, including privately-owned assault weapons, and resulted in the DPD's dubious but "unique use" of military equipment: the bomb robot
The nature of state legislation following mass shootings "depends on the dominant political party and ideology of the state," and in responding to campus shootings, Texas, instead of prohibiting guns, enacted laws compelling state universities to allow concealed weapons, even in classrooms, despite opposition by administrators, students and professors alike.
In a sickening coincidence, the Texas law will take effect on August 1, the 50th anniversary of the day Charles Whitman shot 14 people dead from the tower of the University of Texas in Austin, the start of the modern phenomenon of mass shootings.  
The university's politically-appointed regents duly forced through rules allowing concealed handguns in classrooms, though not on the tower observation deck.
Three UT professors are fighting this in court, and among their arguments is the novel claim that, after Heller, a "well-regulated militia" should include a well-regulated private use – wholly absent in Texas.
The state will be represented by the lead defendant, the state's attorney general Ken Paxton, currently facing state and federal charges for securities fraud.
*   *   *
Mohamedou Slahi: Guantanamo Diaries were a best seller
As the Guant√°namo prison approaches its 16th year, there's renewed media interest in miscarriages of justice, and individual Dreyfuses held at America's Devil's Island.  
The Boston Review has an article on the long-suffering Mohammedou Slahi, author of a bestselling Gitmo narrative, and Politico has a piece on the CIA-tortured Abu Zubaydah, a man who's been waiting seven years for his habeas hearing. Pleadings recently unsealed in the DC habeas include Zubaydah's own accounts of his torture.  
CIA torture has been further illuminated by the disclosure of shocking advice by the agency's nameless medical staff, here and here, and the release of the agency's chilling "applied research" contracts with the "enhanced interrogation" psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen.
It's damning evidence against health professionals who would fit neatly in a Nuremberg dock - alongside the Bush Gang's torture lawyers.
The Pentagon's drumhead Court of Military Commission Review has allowed the Limberg MV charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri to go forward in Nashiri's military commission trial. The offence, which resulted in the death of a Bulgarian crewman on a Malaysian-chartered, French-flagged tanker in international waters, had no connection with any war, or indeed, with the United States.
Abu Zubaydah and al-Nashiri meanwhile have cases pending in the European Court of Human Rights against Lithuania and Romania for hosting their CIA torture camps, morehere
*   *   *
James Comey: Obama's Republican at the FBI, still messing with the Clintons
In a few months, Barack Obama, that careful steward of the (pecuniary) interests of the American governing class, will be leaving office. Will he be replaced by the consummateconman, bankrupt businessman and real estate developer, Donald Trump? Or will it be the veteran insider, Hillary Clinton, accompanied, for better or worse, by her husband?
For his part, Mr Trump has already displayed apparent signs of mental instability byintemperate attacks on the ethnicity of the federal judge hearing the Trump University case; these spectacularly backfired, with the court unsealing files Trump's lawyers had wanted sealed.
The judge later resealed the files, but the damage had been done, with the release of Trump's predatory university "playbook" for hooking suckers.    
The importance of the election to the supreme court's future cannot be overstated, withmajor cases for next term already scheduled. Trump's list of favourites for court appointment includes a fair sprinkling of odious appellate court judges, but doesn't include his elder sister, 3rd circuit judge Maryanne Trump Barry - she's not conservative enough.
It obviously doesn't include feisty judges like Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, currently in strife for indicating a preference for life in New Zealand should Trump become president.
Meanwhile, a clue to the incoherent foreign policy rants of Trump may be found in a newly-declassified memorandum to Jimmy Carter by his national security adviser, ZbigniewBrzezinski.  
Readers may recall it was Brzezinski who in 1979 had the bright idea of arming Afghan jihadists and encouraging them to attack the lawful Afghan government, in order to induce a Soviet invasion.
Zbig gave Jimmy the following advice: 
"... an impression has developed that the Administration (and you personally) operates very cerebrally, quite unemotionally ... however, occasionally emotion and even a touch of irrationality can be an asset. Those who wish to take advantage of us ought to fear that, at some point, we might act unpredictably, in anger, and decisively. If they do not feel this way, they will calculate that simply pressing, probing, or delaying will serve their ends ..."
Strangely, the choice between Trump and Clinton could lie in the hands of a dedicated Republican, unwisely appointed to high office by Obama.  
Even though FBI director James Comey decided that his agency would not recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for misuse of private email servers while Secretary of State, the way in which he announced it has been condemned as unethical and a violation of the DoJ's prosecution manual. More here.
John Dean comments on Hillary's continuing problems, casting Comey - heavily involved in the Whitewater beat-up against the Clintons 20 years ago - as Inspector Javert.