Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his new memoir, Five Chiefs, that the George W. Bush campaign's 2000 appeal to the United States Supreme Court over the Florida recount was "frivolous" and never should have been granted, according to news reports excerpted below.
President Obama's order to kill a U.S. citizen in Yemen with a drone attack was among the topics in our Justice Integrity Project round-up of significant developments last week. Other stories include increased criticism of Justice Clarence Thomas and disputed media coverage of the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstration and similar ones around the United States. See below for details.
Below are significant articles for this two-week period on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.
Obama White House Seeks Secrecy For Its White House Visitors
Politico, Obama administration appeals ruling on White House visitor logs, Josh Gerstein, Oct. 14, 2011. The Obama administration is appealing a judge's ruling that Secret Service records of visitors to the White House complex are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The decision to appeal the ruling to the D.C. Circuit would appear to be in tension with Obama's repeated pledges to operate the most transparent administration in history. The position taken by the Obama Justice Department, namely that White House visitor records are presidential records and not agency records, is essentially the same one that the department took under President George W. Bush.
Clarence Thomas Retrospectives
Alliance for Justice / Huffington Post, OWS and the 99 Percent After 20 Years of Clarence Thomas, Nan Aron, Oct. 14, 2011. As the Occupy Wall Street movement grows in size and intensity by the day, it's worth noting that Saturday marks the twentieth anniversary of the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court. In our view, one has led directly to the other. Since he took his seat in 1991, Justice Thomas has become the almost perfect distillation of the ultra-conservative agenda -- the pointy end of the spear of corporatism and social conservatism on the Supreme Court. Jeffrey Toobin, in a recent article in The New Yorker, called him "probably the most conservative Justice to serve on the Court since the nineteen-thirties," whose "views both reflect and inspire the Tea Party movement."
National Public Radio, The Ripple Effect, Nina Totenberg, Oct. 11, 2011. Twenty years ago Tuesday, the nation was spellbound by a political and sexual drama that played out before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Following an NPR report, the committee was forced to hold a second round of confirmation hearings to examine allegations it had previously ignored about Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill said she had been sexually harassed by Thomas when she worked for him at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; the hearings probing that charge would change America's political, judicial and cultural landscape forever. But, while the Thomas confirmation hearings would have a profound effect on the country, Justice Clarence Thomas has proved to be a lightning rod, an enigma and, perhaps, a justice of prophetic vision.
Daily Beast, Surviving Clarence, Leslie Bennetts, Oct. 3, 2011. On a balmy Indian-summer afternoon in Waltham, Mass., a slender, attractive 55-year-old professor welcomes a visitor to her modest office at Brandeis University to talk about the historic scandal that transformed the national debate over sexual harassment two decades ago. Calm and as cheerful as her bright tomato-red cardigan, Anita Hill smiles wryly when asked if she suffered from posttraumatic stress after testifying at Justice Clarence Thomas’s 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings, where she was pilloried for revealing the way she said he behaved as her boss in two different jobs. “It was traumatic,” acknowledges Hill, who teaches public policy, law, and women’s studies at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. “It hurt, and it hurt people I cared about. But I was determined not to be defeated by people who tried to make me out to be something I wasn’t.”
Flawed First Amendment Court View?
Huffington Post, Justice Scalia, Originalism and the First Amendment, Geoffrey R. Stone, Oct. 14, 2011. In a recent conversation at the Aspen Institute's 2011 Washington D.C.'s Ideas Forum, Justice Antonin Scalia offered some interesting observations about his theory of originalism and the meaning of the First Amendment. Justice Scalia apparently brought up the Supreme Court's landmark 1964 decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. The situation in Sullivan was fairly straightforward. L.B. Sullivan, a Commissioner of Montgomery, Alabama, brought a civil libel action against several black clergymen and the New York Times because a fundraising ad run by the clergymen in the Times allegedly made several inaccurate statements in its description of a civil rights protest in Montgomery.....In Justice Scalia's world, the New York legislature could do nothing to protect the right of its citizens to be informed, the national government could do nothing to protect the New York Times (and all other national news outlets) from such censorship, and as a result citizens throughout the nation would have their capacity to learn and to understand their own nation squelched by the State of Alabama. The Supreme Court in New York Times quite correctly concluded that such an outcome was profoundly inconsistent with what the Framers of the First Amendment had in mind.
OpEd News, The Suicide of Liberty, Paul Craig Roberts, Oct. 12, 2011. Pat Buchanan's latest book, "Suicide of a Superpower," raises the question whether America will survive to 2025. The question might strike some readers as unduly pessimistic and others as optimistic. Anyone who has been paying attention knows that the "superpower" is over-extended financially and militarily. The Bush/Cheney/Obama regimes have shredded the constitutional protections that gave American citizens their liberty. By dictate alone, the executive branch has acquired the power, prohibited by the Constitution, to incarcerate citizens indefinitely without presenting evidence and obtaining conviction. According to the US government, a secret executive branch panel now exists that has acquired from somewhere the unaccountable power to put citizens on a list to be assassinated without due process of law merely on the basis of an unproven government assertion. How does this differ from Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany? The transformation of the US into a police state has been achieved quickly and with scant protest. Congress and the courts are silent. The media is silent, as are the law schools and bar associations. Out of 535 US Senators and Representatives, only Ron Paul has protested the destruction of liberty. Editor's Note: Dr. Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury. His latest book, How the Economy Was Lost, has just been published.
New Murdoch Scandals Revealed
CNN, Exclusive: Videos detail News America tactics against competitors, Scott Zamost, Todd Schwarzschild and Drew Griffin, Oct. 14, 2011 UK phone-hacking scandal raised questions about business practices of News Corp. U.S.-based subsidiary drawing attention with allegations of corporate espionage Floorgraphics lawsuit alleged "illegal, anti-competitive, and unfair business practices" News America Marketing moves sought to put Floorgraphics out of business, suit alleges The far-reaching News of the World phone-hacking scandal that toppled the 168-year-old British newspaper this summer, led to the resignation of Britain's top police official and threatened Rupert Murdoch's global media empire continues to raise questions about the business practices of parent company News Corp.'
Guardian (United Kingdom), Wall Street Journal circulation scam claims senior Murdoch executive, Nick Davies, Oct. 13, 2011. Andrew Langhoff resigns as European publishing chief after exposure of secret channels of cash to help boost sales figures. One of Rupert Murdoch's most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation's flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal's true circulation. The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper's management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardizing its treasured reputation for editorial quality.
Alabama's Retirement Board Hires Infamous Siegelman Prosecutor
Legal Schnauzer, Notorious Siegelman Prosecutor Has Lined Up a New Job Connected to Massive Amounts of Cash, Roger Shuler, Oct. 13, 2011. People who have a stake in the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA)--and that includes just about everyone who lives in our state, plus quite a few who live beyond its borders--should be concerned about reports that Leura Canary is set to take a new job. Why should RSA stakeholders be alarmed about this news? For one, it comes as Republicans in the Alabama Legislature are pushing bills that would allow them to control boards that govern RSA and its $25 billion nest egg.
Texans Laud Prosecutor Who Halted Inquiry On Condemned Man's Innocence
Innocence Project, The Best Work a Prosecutor Could Do? Stephen Saloom, Oct. 12, 2011. Last week the Corsicana Sun reported that the Texas County and District Attorney Association (TCDAA) had awarded its annual Lone Star Award to Navarro County District Attorney Lowell Thompson for his work preventing a Texas Court of Inquiry into the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted in 1992 and executed in 2004 for setting a fire that killed his three children, despite strong evidence that the fire was accidental. The TCDAA states that the Lone Star Award “..identifies and commends Texas prosecutors who have distinguished themselves and the profession through exemplary work in cases of public interest.” When I read that I thought: “Could it be that stopping an inquiry into a possible wrongful conviction was the act through which a Texas prosecutor most distinguished himself and the profession in the public interest last year?”
Bush Florida Court Victory
Huffington Post, John Paul Stevens: Bush Appeal To Supreme Court Was 'Frivolous,' Luke Johnson, Oct. 10, 2011. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his new memoir, Five Chiefs, that the George W. Bush campaign's 2000 appeal to the United States Supreme Court over the Florida recount was "frivolous" and never should have been granted. He recalls bumping into Justice Stephen Breyer at a Christmas party and the two having a brief conversation about the Bush application to halt the recount by issuing a stay. "We agreed that the application was frivolous," he writes. "To secure a stay, a litigant must show that one is necessary to prevent a legally cognizable irreparable injury. Bush's attorneys had failed to make any such showing."
Frontline TV Probe Oct. 12 To Examine Government Explanation for Historic Anthrax Attacks
Baltimore Sun, Frontline's 'Anthrax Files' takes hard look at FBI role in suicide of Ft. Detrick scientist; Report asks if FBI overstated case against Frederick resident Bruce Ivins, David Zurawik, Oct. 10, 2011. Nobody does investigative journalism on TV like Public Television's "Frontline" -- nobody, and that includes "60 Minutes." And Tuesday night at 9, the venerable series revisits Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, and the case of anthrax researcher Bruce Ivins who killed himself in 2008 as the FBI zeroed in on him as its prime suspect in the case of deadly envelopes of anthrax sent through the mail. According to this hard-edged report done in partnership with McClatchy Newspapers and Propublica, the FBI did more than zero in. Under tremendous pressure to solve the case that started in 2001 with anthrax mailed to U.S. senators and network anchors, the agency squeezed Ivins hard -- using every trick in the book to get a confession out of him even as he insisted on his innocence to the end. Ivins was a troubled guy with some distinctive kinks, the report acknowledges, but even FBI consultants in the case now admit that the agency overstated its evidence and never found a smoking gun to prove the researcher's guilt. In fact, evidence was revealed last summer that shows Ivins did not have the equipment needed to make the powdery kind of anthrax sent through the mail. That didn't stop the FBI then -- or now -- in acting like it found its man.
"The Anthrax Files" is a chilling report on several fronts. First, it is a reminder of what paranoid and scary times have been living though since 2001 when the envelopes first appeared -- and the horrible events we just commemorated took place on September 11. These are indeed dark times, and with the economy getting worse and worse, there seems to be no light anywhere in sight. Second, the report shows how a federal agency can shred an individual's life -- with or without the proper evidence to convict. "The Anthrax Files" suggests that anyone with the psychological issues Ivins had might have cracked under the weight of the FBI invading his privacy, exposing his secrets and ultimately getting him kicked out of the community of researchers that he called home at Ft. Detrick. And finally, this is a chilling report, because if Ivins was not the person who sent the anthrax, then that killer is still on the loose. And we are left with an FBI that not only failed to solve such a huge case, but overstated and maybe lied about what it did accomplish.
Obama Officials Leak Classified Memo to Explain U.S. Assassination
Salon Unclaimed Territory, The Real Danger From Classified Leaks, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 10, 2011. It’s worthwhile to expand on one point I made at the end of yesterday’s discussion of the leaking by anonymous DOJ officials of selected portions of the Awlaki memo to The New York Times‘ Charlie Savage. As Marcy Wheeler noted, “What was leaked to Savage is MORE classified than anything Bradley Manning is alleged to have leaked.” But as I added last night, given that these anonymous DOJ officials appear to have been on a mission to justify the President’s assassination order as legal and just, it’s probably inadvisable to hold your breath waiting for the criminal leak investigation to begin.
'Underwear Bomber' Calls Skeptic As Witness
Prison Planet / Alex Jones Channel, Bombshell: Underwear Bomber Calls Haskell As Defense Witness, Paul Joseph Watson, Oct. 10, 2011. In a shocking development in the trial of the accused underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Delta Flight 253 eyewitness Kurt Haskell has been called by Abdulmutallab as a witness for the defense, a move that could blow the whole case wide open. Detroit Lawyer Haskell has been a prominent skeptic of the government’s official version of events, having witnessed a well-dressed man help Abdulmutallab clear security before the incident on Christmas Day 2009 despite the fact that the bomber had no passport, in addition to the fact that his own father had warned U.S. intelligence officials of the threat posed by Abdulmutallab a month before the attempted attack.
Whitey Bulger Mob Case
Telegraph, James 'Whitey' Bulger was turned in by former Miss Iceland, Jon Swaine, Oct. 9, 2011. A former Miss Iceland received the $2 million (£1.3 million) reward for the tip-off that led to the arrest of James "Whitey" Bulger, the Boston mobster who spent 16 years on the run from US authorities. Anna Bjornsdottir, a former model and winner of her country's nationwide beauty pageant in 1974, is understood to have called the FBI after realising that her former neighbours were wanted fugitives.
Boston Phoenix, Whitey Bulger and the Feds: Final Act, Harvey Silverglate, Oct. 5, 2011. Choosing the slow grind: Why are we trying Whitey in federal court, when state courts would deliver justice more swiftly? Boston Phoenix, Hollow Justice, David Boeri, Oct. 5, 2011. The FBI might have got its man, but anyone seeking real accountability from Whitey Bulger's government enablers will come away empty-handed yet again
Texas Family Court Judge Seeks To Seal His Paternity Records
Montgomery County Courier, (Texas), Judge seeks to seal his paternity suit records, Nancy Flake, Oct. 8, 2011. A Montgomery County judge is seeking to seal the court records of his recent paternity suit in Hunt County, a move that an attorney representing the mother of the judge’s child said is “to avoid embarrassment.” But Steve Jackson, the attorney for Judge Tracy Gilbert, left, of the 418th state District Court – Montgomery County’s only court dedicated to family law – said he moved to seal the records to protect Gilbert and his family from a man “who has exhibited behavior” causing Gilbert and other parties to “fear for their safety.”
Imprisoned Press Lord Speaks Out
Huffington Post, My Destruction by Murdoch, Conrad Black, Sept. 27, 2011. In 2007, I was convicted of fraud and sentenced to six-and-a-half years of imprisonment. At the time I was ranked as the third largest newspaper magnate in the world.... My prosecutors began with a demand for life imprisonment and fines and restitution of $140 million…No sane, fair-minded person could possibly now believe that I was guilty of any crime, and no similarly endowed person, writing from the vantage point I do, could have endured this persecution for over eight years without it diluting his affection for the United States.
Huffington Post, Eric Cantor Condemns Occupy Wall Street 'Mobs', Oct. 7, 2011. Amanda Terkel, Oct. 7, 2011. Top House GOP leaders assured attendees at the 2011 Values Voter Summit Friday morning that despite all the attention on fixing the nation's economy, they remain committed to pushing the priorities of social conservatives, including defunding Planned Parenthood and defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Reason TV, What We Saw at the Occupy Wall Street Protest, Oct 7, 2011. On October 4, 2011, Reason.tv visited the Occupy Wall Street protests at Liberty Square in Lower Manhattan, on Day 18 of the ongoing demonstration. The crowd was relatively small at about 300, and included educated but unemployed workers, college students and recent graduates, homeless drifters, performance artists, 9/11 truthers, and a not-insignificant number of journalists.
Government Forfeitures Protested
Fox Business Freedom Watch, Can the Government Steal your Property? Andrew Napolitano, Oct 6, 2011. Business Owner Russ Caswell and Attorney Scott Bullock discuss their case against the government in their civil asset forfeiture lawsuit.
Clarence Thomas & Supreme Court
Washington Post, For Anita Hill, the Clarence Thomas hearings haven’t really ended, Krissah Thompson, Oct. 7, 2011. Twenty years ago, when Anita Hill returned home from the contentious Senate hearings during which she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, people told her not to worry — her name would be forgotten in a matter of months. But two things have become clear this week as she has re-entered the debate: The raw tensions over race, gender and politics raised by the hearings have not been forgotten. And Anita Hill is acting like a woman who wants her name remembered. She is stepping back into the news by choice, giving a series of interviews about a book she released this week on issues of gender and race called “Reimagining Equality.” And she is attending seminars focused on the anniversary of the Thomas hearings, having become over the years a minor political celebrity.
Huffington Post, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 5, 2011. House Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure for a formal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms. House Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), left, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling for hearings "on the pattern of potential ethical lapses" by Thomas, who, after years of filing his financial forms properly, stopped disclosing his wife Ginny's employment status every year between 1997 and 2011. During that time, the letter states, his wife made at least $1.6 million, based on reports from outside groups. "Public records clearly demonstrate that Justice Thomas has failed to accurately disclose information concerning the income and employment status of his wife, as required by law," reads the letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.). "In addition, news reports indicate that Justice Thomas may have also failed to report gifts from wealthy supporters and inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profit organizations."
Washington Post, The legacy of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings, Ruth Marcus, Oct. 6, 2011. Even now, with the healing distance of two decades, the subject of Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas retains its power to provoke and divide. It was 20 years ago this month that Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment surfaced, threatening to derail Thomas’s imminent confirmation to the Supreme Court. I spent the weekend-long marathon of hearings in the Senate Caucus Room, the majestic setting of soaring marble columns and gilded ceiling contrasting with the squalid details of Hill’s allegations. It was both riveting and horrifying. By the time the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings were gaveled to a close at 2 a.m. Monday, I -- like everyone else -- was simply relieved that it was over.
Huffington Post, Clarence's Questions, Part 1: The Case Of The Burning Cross, Oct. 7, 2011. Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question at a Supreme Court oral argument since Feb. 22, 2006. Many have commented on the meaning of his reticence, and Thomas himself -- who is as loquacious in speaking engagements as he is mum on the bench -- has put forward several explanations for his opting out of the lively back-and-forth among his eight colleagues and the lawyers who appear before them. But this series is called "Clarence's Questions," and not "Quiet Clarence," for a reason: As his sixth anniversary of self-imposed silence approaches this term and his third decade on the Court begins, it's worth examining the moments when Justice Thomas felt compelled to step into the fray. Court-watchers know that Thomas is plenty outspoken in his written opinions, where he often argues solely for himself due to his uncompromisingly originalist philosophy. Indeed, most lawyers arguing before him can already surmise how Thomas will vote in their cases, so his silence leaves room for them to address the justices who are more open to persuasion. Yet Thomas' silence has also left many casual observers -- that is, ordinary American citizens -- with the impression that the man either does not care about the cases or cannot intellectually compete with his colleagues. With help from the Oyez Project at the University of Chicago-Kent School of Law, The Huffington Post has compiled a comprehensive audio collection of Thomas' questions, including some "deep cuts" that had been left unattributed in the Court's official transcripts, so that HuffPost readers can hear Thomas and decide for themselves the impact of his silent streak.
New Yorker / Annals of Law, Partners: Will Clarence and Virginia Thomas succeed in killing Obama’s health-care plan? Jeffrey Toobin, Aug. 29, 2011. As the Justice has assumed an influential role on the Roberts Court, his wife has helped lead the public war against the Administration. It has been, in certain respects, a difficult year for Clarence Thomas. These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.
Presidentially Ordered Assassination
Forbes, Obama Crosses the Rubicon, Harvey A. Silverglate, right, and Daniel R. Schwartz, Nearly ten years after the rushed and largely unread Patriot Act was made law, the United States has entered into a new realm of secrecy, as a constitutional law professor turned President has brought the state’s secrets provisions to their logical conclusion: he has targeted and killed American citizens based entirely upon information he refuses to make public or submit to a duly established body or tribunal. The President’s move was as unprecedented as it was unnecessary, and rightfully makes many wonder not if we are at the precipice of a slippery slope, but rather how far down that dune we have fallen, and whether we will ever be able to scramble back up. As you undoubtedly already know, on September 30th predator drones flying out of a secret airbase in Yemen blew up a car carrying Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, American citizens allegedly involved with Al Qaeda. While Khan was considered “collateral damage,” Awlaki was the main target and a man who, based upon the President’s word, had been placed onto an official kill list. On Forbes.com, Daniel Schwartz and I argue that the administration’s actions were highly troubling, as they represented a heretofore unimagined expansion of executive power. A presidential-ordered assassination of an American citizen, without the involvement of either of the other two branches of government, is a matter of profound consequence, regardless of the heinousness of the target. In a constitutional democracy, we argue, process matters.
Reuters, Secret panel can put Americans on "kill list', Mark Hosenball, Oct 5, 2011. American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.
New Jersey U.S. Attorney Clears Corruption Suspect in Controvesial Case
Newark Star-Ledger, Former head of N.J. community affairs quietly cleared of wrongdoing after two-year investigation, Ted Sherman and Matt Friedman, Oct. 7, 2011. More than two years after he awoke to an FBI search warrant in connection with a sweeping corruption investigation, Joseph Doria — who was forced to step down as head of the state Department of Community Affairs — has quietly been cleared of any wrongdoing. In a rare letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal prosecutors said they have closed their investigation of the matter. Doria was never charged or even questioned, but became a victim of the political fallout from the case, as he came under mounting pressure to resign as head of the Department of Community Affairs after the search quickly became public knowledge amidst Corzine’s faltering re-election campaign. It is rare for prosecutors to clear potential targets left under a cloud of suspicion caused by their investigations. Authorities never said publicly why they considered Doria a suspect. However, it was later disclosed that Solomon Dwek, the federal undercover informant at the center of the investigation, met several times with Doria. Dwek, a Monmouth County real estate investor who began cooperating with the government after he was nabbed in an unrelated $50 million bank fraud, set up dozens of elected officials and political candidates by soliciting their support for several development projects in return for FedEx envelopes stuffed with cash. Dwek told others he was looking to get state help from Doria on a fictional condo development in Carlstadt, Bergen County, and claimed to have given thousands in cash to a middleman, who was to pass it along to Doria. Shaw died days after he was arrested and agreed to cooperate with authorities. But before he died, he denied he had given any of Dwek’s money to Doria. What Shaw did with the money remains a mystery.
GOP Attacks Eric Holder
CNN, Holder blasts GOP critics for their attacks over Fast and Furious gun operation, Oct. 7, 2011. Attorney General Eric Holder, left, angrily responded Friday to Republican critics of his handling of a controversial gun enforcement operation, charging them with using "irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric." CNN, GOP seeks independent investigation of Holder, Oct. 4, 2011. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee called Tuesday for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Attorney General Eric Holder was honest when he testified earlier this year about his knowledge of a now-discredited federal gunrunning operation.
New York Times, Companies Use Immigration Crackdown to Turn a Profit, Nina Bernstein, Sept. 28, 2011. Private prisons in the United States have long stirred controversy. But while there have been conflicting studies about their costs and benefits, no systematic comparisons exist for immigration detention, say scholars like Matthew J. Gibney, a political scientist at the University of Oxford who tracks immigration systems. Still, Mr. Gibney and others say the pitfalls of outsourcing immigration enforcement have become evident in the past 15 years. "When something goes wrong — a death, an escape — the government can blame it on a kind of market failure instead of an accountability failure," he said. In the United States — with almost 400,000 annual detentions in 2010, up from 280,000 in 2005 — private companies now control nearly half of all detention beds, compared with only 8 percent in state and federal prisons, according to government figures. In Britain, 7 of 11 detention centers and most short-term holding places for immigrants are run by for-profit contractors.