April News Reports 2011

 


Chicago Magazine / Felsenthal Files, Donald Trump and the Emanuel Brothers—What's the Deal? Carol Felsenthal, April 28, 2011. Within minutes of the White House’s release of Barack Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate yesterday, Donald Trump (right, in a photo by Gage Skimore via Wikipedia) took the credit, saying, “I’m very proud of myself”—only he could get the president to do what he should have done a long time ago.  Trump’s campaign to vilify Obama is dominating headlines these days, so it’s worth a look to examine the real estate tycoon's ties to two of the president’s most energetic backers: Rahm Emanuel and his younger brother, Ari.  “Deal” would be the best word to describe the relationship among Rahm, Ari, and Trump, who employs Ari as his agent and gave Rahm $50,000 for his run for mayor last December.

Examiner /KDKA-TV Pittsburgh, Wecht Wants Job As Medical Examiner Back, April 28, 2011. Dr. Cyril Wecht, left, the illustrious author, forensic expert and medical school professor, was the Allegheny County medical examiner in Pennsylvania before an ambitious, politically motivated federal prosecutor indicted him on corruption charges. But now that the charges have been dropped, and the term of the current medical examiner has expired, Cyril Wecht says he wants his job back. Examiner /KDKA-TV Pittsburgh,

Politico, Wiretapping leak probe dropped, Josh Gerstein, April 26, 2011.  The Justice Department has dropped its long-running criminal investigation of a lawyer who publicly admitted leaking information about President George W. Bush’s top-secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times — disclosures that Bush vehemently denounced as a breach of national security. They also stoked a congressional debate about whether the government had overstepped its authority as it scrambled to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks.  The decision not to prosecute former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be charged for the disclosures that led to the Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story in December 2005 revealing that, after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush ordered the interception of certain phone calls and email messages into and out of the U.S. without a warrant — a move many lawyers contend violated the 1978 law governing intelligence-related wiretaps.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Newly leaked documents show the ongoing travesty of Guantanamo, Glenn Greenwald, April 25, 2011. The documents reveal vast new information about these detainees and, in particular, the shoddy and unreliable nature of the “evidence” used (both before and now) to justify their due-process-free detentions. Given that multiple media outlets have just published huge amounts of classified information, it is more difficult than ever to distinguish between WikiLeaks and, say, the NYT or the Post under the law. How could anyone possibly justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for disseminating classified information while not prosecuting these newspapers who have done exactly the same thing?

Harvard Law School, Former Swedish Justice Minister offers a view of the Assange case and the relevant laws, April 25, 2011. Thomas Bodström, former Swedish Minister for Justice, discussed several key pieces of legislation implicated in the legal actions taken against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, at an event hosted by the Harvard European Law Association and the Center for European Studies on Friday, April 8, 2011.  Bodström, who served as Minister for Justice from 2000 to 2006, highlighted the importance of trust among European governments in negotiating the European Arrest Warrant in 2001. Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant in December to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom to Sweden for questioning. Assange, the target of the ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, has appealed the decision to extradite him.  “Trust is the key word for the European Arrest Warrant,” Bodström said. “You have to have trust in each other and trust in the system, so that means when a prosecutor says we want this person because he is accused of something, the second person should trust this is correct.”

 

April 26

Newark Star-Ledger, FBI informant Solomon Dwek's sentencing is postponed until next year, Ted Sherman, April 26, 2011. Solomon Dwek — the central figure in the biggest federal corruption sting in New Jersey history — is unlikely to hear his fate anytime soon.  U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares once again put off his sentencing date — this time until March 5, 2012.  His involvement in the sweeping sting operation came to light July 23, 2009, when 44 people were charged with corruption, extortion, bribery and money laundering, leading to the arrests of three mayors, two assemblymen, five Orthodox rabbis and dozens of others.  To date, 27 have pleaded guilty — most recently Vincent Tabbachino, a former Guttenberg councilman who admitted on Monday that he agreed to launder $125,000 that Dwek claimed to be the profit from a knock-off designer handbag business.  Three others have been convicted at trial, two were acquitted and one died days after his arrest. The rest are still awaiting trial.

Dwek continues to draw a $12,500-a-month stipend being paid out of his bankrupt real estate empire in return for his services to the federal trustee overseeing the sell-off of his properties.  A judge in the case last month also approved the payment of limited expenses — including the cost of $100-an-hour bodyguard.

Politico, Wiretapping leak probe dropped, Josh Gerstein, April 26, 2011. The Justice Department has dropped its long-running criminal investigation of a lawyer who publicly admitted leaking information about President George W. Bush’s top-secret warrantless wiretapping program to The New York Times — disclosures that Bush vehemently denounced as a breach of national security. They also stoked a congressional debate about whether the government had overstepped its authority as it scrambled to respond to the 9/11 terror attacks.  The decision not to prosecute former Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm means it is unlikely that anyone will ever be charged for the disclosures that led to the Times’s Pulitzer Prize-winning story in December 2005 revealing that, after the Sept. 11 attacks, Bush ordered the interception of certain phone calls and email messages into and out of the U.S. without a warrant — a move many lawyers contend violated the 1978 law governing intelligence-related wiretaps.

Legal Schnauzer, Will Democrats Ever Rise Again in the Deep South? Roger Shuler, April 26, 2011. Douglas Jones was about the only person who would comment about the Beck nomination for a recent four-part series by Andrew Kreig, executive director of the Justice Integrity Project (JIP). Jones' comments, if read closely, are hardly comforting. In fact, he seems to engage in the kind of dissembling that is likely to turn off any Alabamians who might consider joining the progressive cause.April 25

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Newly leaked documents show the ongoing travesty of Guantanamo, Glenn Greenwald, April 25, 2011. The documents reveal vast new information about these detainees and, in particular, the shoddy and unreliable nature of the “evidence” used (both before and now) to justify their due-process-free detentions. Given that multiple media outlets have just published huge amounts of classified information, it is more difficult than ever to distinguish between WikiLeaks and, say, the NYT or the Post under the law. How could anyone possibly justify prosecuting WikiLeaks for disseminating classified information while not prosecuting these newspapers who have done exactly the same thing?

Harvard Law School, Former Swedish Justice Minister offers a view of the Assange case and the relevant laws, April 25, 2011. Thomas Bodström, former Swedish Minister for Justice, discussed several key pieces of legislation implicated in the legal actions taken against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, at an event hosted by the Harvard European Law Association and the Center for European Studies on Friday, April 8, 2011.  Bodström, who served as Minister for Justice from 2000 to 2006, highlighted the importance of trust among European governments in negotiating the European Arrest Warrant in 2001. Swedish authorities issued an arrest warrant in December to extradite Assange from the United Kingdom to Sweden for questioning. Assange, the target of the ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, has appealed the decision to extradite him.

April 23

Locust-Fork News-Journal, Paul Doomm Speaks, Feinberg Runs, Glynn Wilson, April 23, 2011. Gulf Coast Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg came to New Orleans on the anniversary of the BP oil disaster and got a mouthful from some of feel wronged by the process of paying out up to $20 billion in loss claims. Paul Doomm has been confined to a wheelchair since the end of Summer 2010 after swimming in the Gulf. After all, the government said it was safe. A lot of controversy has surrounded his illness. He wanted to speak directly to Feinberg, but he was not allowed. So he was interviewed by videographer John Wathen.

April 22

Legal Schnauzer, Who Benefits From Ronnie Gilley's Guilty Plea in Alabama Bingo Case? April 22, 2011. Friday, April 22, 2011. Why did Country Crossing developer Ronnie Gilley plead guilty this morning in the federal Alabama-bingo prosecution? The answer, at least in part, probably can be found in a post we wrote two days ago here at Legal Schnauzer.

 

 

The Smoking Gun, Sealed Records Exposed In Major Court Gaffe; Federal prosecutors scramble to cloak details of ongoing probes, Staff investigation, April 22, 2011.In a shocking failure to protect sensitive details about dozens of ongoing criminal investigations, federal officials somehow allowed confidential information about sealed cases to be publicly accessible via the court system’s online lookup service, The Smoking Gun has learned.Over the past nine months, details of 40 separate sealed court applications filed by federal prosecutors in Alabama were uploaded to PACER, the web-based records system that counts nearly one million users, including defense lawyers, prosecutors, journalists, researchers, private investigators, and government officials.

Birmingham News, VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor's lawyer says Ronnie Gilley's plea changes nothing for his client, Kim Chandler, April 22, 2011. A lawyer for VictoryLand owner Milton McGregor said "nothing has changed" for his client because of co-defendant Ronnie Gilley's decision to strike a plea deal with prosecutors. "From our point of view nothing has changed. Mr. McGregor is innocent and we continue to look forward to proving his innocence," McGregor lawyer Joe Espy said.

 

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Nobel Peace Drones, Glenn Greenwald, April 22, 2011.
A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed 23 people this morning, and this is how The New York Times described that event in its headline and first paragraph: “Drone Strikes Militants in Northwest Pakistan.” When I saw that, I was going to ask how the NYT could possibly know that the people whose lives the U.S. just ended were "militants," but then I read further in the article and it said this: "A government official in North Waziristan told Pakistani reporters that five children and four women were among the 23 who were killed." So at least 9 of the 23 people we killed -- at least -- were presumably not "militants" at all, but rather innocent civilians (contrast how the NYT characterizes Libya’s attacks in its headlines: "Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas").

FireDogLake, Obama on Manning: “He Broke the Law.” So Much for that Trial? Michael Whitney, April 22, 2011. President Barack Obama made stunning accusations about accused Wikileaks whistleblower PFC Bradley Manning, directly asserting that Manning “broke the law.” Apparently the President of the United States of America and a self-described Constitutional scholar does not care that Manning has yet to be tried or convicted for any crime.

 

 

 

April 20
Legal Schnauzer, Is Lawsuit Cash Having a Negative Impact on Progressive Politics? Roger Shuler, April 20, 2011.  Alabama lawyer G. Douglas Jones helped rake in more than $50 million in attorney fees from a lawsuit against individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth Corporation. Lawyers from California and New York were involved in the case, but Jones served as co-liaison counsel here in Birmingham, home to HealthSouth headquarters.

New York Times, Obama’s Young Mother Abroad, adapted from “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother,” Janny Scott, April 20, 2011.

Legal Schnauzer, Is lawsuit cash having a negative impact on progressive politics? Roger Shuler, April 20, 2011. Alabama lawyer G. Douglas Jones helped rake in more than $50 million in attorney fees from a lawsuit against individuals and entities connected to HealthSouth Corporation. Jones was a leading advocate of the Obama administration's recent decision to nominate George Beck as U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, sources tell Legal Schnauzer.The Beck nomination was roundly criticized in a recent four-part series by Andrew Kreig, who Kreig calls the nomination "Obama's Alabama Snafu," and you can read all four parts of his piece through links at the end of this post. Is George Beck the best candidate to replace Leura Canary, the abominable George W. Bush appointee who helped ramrod the Don Siegelman/Richard Scrushy prosecution? No, and not by a long shot.

Justice Integrity Project, Experts Debate Nigerian Election Fairness, Andrew Kreig, April 20, 2011. A high-level panel of Nigerian experts on April 19 agreed – with one exception – that the presidential election in Africa’s most populous nation achieved largely credible results despite protest riots now occurring because of fraud allegations.

Sahara Reporters, Election 2011: Propaganda Battle Shifts To Washington, DC, As Diplomats Pressure Buhari To Halt Protesters, Site Administrator, April 20, 2011. As violence spreads and worsens in the Northern part of Nigeria in reaction to perceived irregularities in last Saturday’s presidential polls, the INEC-declared “President-elect” Goodluck Jonathan has stepped up his campaign to put a gloss of credibility on the elections. Mr. Jonathan’s handlers are focusing on selling his message to an increasingly jittery international audience. The US state department in a press statement today noted that the elections which had been widely celebrated as the freest and fairest by the Jonathan team and supporters "was far from perfect". The US government listed, "under-age" voters, violence and intimidation, ballot stuffing, and inordinately high turnout in some areas of the country" as discernible flaws of the presidential election.

 

Associated Press/Yahoo, Charred corpses line road after Nigeria vote riots, Jon Gambrell, April 20, 2011. Burned corpses with machete wounds lay in roads and smoke rose above this city where rioting broke out again Tuesday among Muslim opposition supporters who were angered by the announcement that the Christian incumbent president had won reelection Saturday.

April 18

British Broadcasting Corp., Riots break out in the northern cities of Kano and Kaduna as presidential poll results show Goodluck Jonathan is set to win, Komla Dumor, April 18, 2011. Riots have broken out across northern Nigeria as presidential poll results show Goodluck Jonathan is set to win. Homes of supporters of Mr Jonathan, the incumbent, were attacked in the cities of Kano and Kaduna. Young supporters of Muhammadu Buhari, who is popular in the north, have been clashing with police and military. They feel that the elections have been rigged in some areas of the south.

Weekly Standard, When Daniel Met Julian: The rise and fall of WikiLeaks, Jonathan V. Last, April 25, 2011. During a span of 22 months the website WikiLeaks.org morphed from a digital anarchist demonstration project into a semisuccessful international campaign against the American government.

April 18

New Yorker, Current Cinema: Casualties of War, Anthony Lane, April 18, 2011. Of the many questions posed by “The Conspirator,” and left unresolved, the most pressing are these: How much did Mary Surratt (Robin Wright) know of the plot to kill Abraham Lincoln? How could she not have known of it, given that some of it was hatched within the respectable boarding house that she ran in Washington, D.C.?

Professors blogg, The affair Irmeli Krans in the case of Sweden against Assange…Expressens "scoop" an alibi, Dr. Marcello Ferrada-Noli, April 18, 2011. The Swedish newspaper Expressen -- a right-wing tabloid of the Swedish establishment's press -- convinced the world in March it had a “scoop” of breaking-news in the Assange case. The paper reported that the police officer Irmeli Krans who interrogated one of the Assange-accusers was a friend of the main accuser-instigator Anna Ardin. But this fact was already known by everybody who cared to read the proceedings of the police investigation. So it was simply one of the many irregularities in the case ignored by the mainstream Swedish media, much like the continuing cover-up of the rigged documentary about Julian Assange broadcast the State-owned National Television, SvT 1. Expressen's so called scoop it was to create an alibi, an exception, within an overall cover-up that otherwise is performed by the Swedish mainstream media in regard to the affair Assange.

April 17

Salon Unclaimed Territory, Obama v. Obama on Signing Statements, Glenn Greenwald, April 17, 2011. 
Regardless of one's views on signing statements or the "czar" de-funding law, then, there is simply no question that Obama is now asserting exactly the power that, when demagoguing this issue during the campaign, he insisted was illegitimate and he would not exercise. What kind of person would justify that?

April 15

Justice Integrity Project, Exclusive on Redford’s Lincoln Murder Mystery, Andrew Kreig, April15, 2011. “The Conspirator,” Robert Redford’s compelling Civil War-era mystery about the first woman federally executed in the United States, opens today across the United States. Already, the movie (shown at right in a scene being directed by Redford) is spawning a new controversy about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

April 14

Washington Post, Robert Redford’s ‘The Conspirator’ and the lost Union cause, Ann Hornaday, Thursday, April 14, 2011. There’s something appropriate, if not prophetic, in the fact that the Confederate cemetery in Richmond is called Hollywood. From the inception of American cinema, the Civil War has provided narrative fodder and an inexhaustible supply of action, emotion and heightened drama, leading to a perfect marriage of history and myth.

Salon Unclaimed Territory, The two-tiered justice system: an illustration, Glenn Greenwald April 14, 2011. Of all the topics on which I've focused, I've likely written most about America's two-tiered justice system -- the way in which political and financial elites now enjoy virtually full-scale legal immunity for even the most egregious lawbreaking, while ordinary Americans, especially the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, are subjected to exactly the opposite treatment: the world's largest prison state and most merciless justice system. But The New York Times this morning has a long article so perfectly illustrating what I mean that it's impossible for me not to highlight it. The article's headline tells most of the story: "In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures."

April 13

Legal Schnauzer, The Siegelman Case: Ten Years of Injustice--and Counting, Roger Shuler, April 13, 2011. In April 2001, former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman hired a lawyer after articles in statewide newspapers indicated a federal grand jury was focusing on his administration. Today, 10 years later, the case ranks as perhaps the most notorious political prosecution in American history. Justice still seems a long way off and, perhaps most alarming, a veteran federal justice official seems intent on making sure the public never discovers what really drove the Siegelman case.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Obama’s “bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating, Glenn Greenwald / Salon, April 13, 2011. Last week, Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. What evidence is there that Obama has some inner, intense desire for more progressive outcomes? These are the results they're getting because these are the results they want.

Legal Schnauzer, Blog Skewers A Conservative Newspaper And Then Gets Hacked, Roger Shuler, April 13, 2011. A blog that recently gained national attention for revealing the hypocrisy behind one of the South's most conservative newspapers has become the target of hackers.

April 12

Washington Post, Newly found papers of Walt Whitman unveiled, Michael E. Ruane, April 12, 2011. On Tuesday, the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the National Archives announced that Kenneth Price, a Whitman expert from the University of Nebraska, had found almost 3,000 pieces in Walt Whitman’s handwriting, a discovery that Archivist of the United States David Ferriero called “astonishing.” The writings are essentially letters authored by various government officials that Whitman copied into record books when he was a clerk in the U.S. attorney general’s office in the 1860s.

Computer World, U.S. police increasingly view private email, instant messages, Jeremy Kirk, April 12, 2011. Law enforcement organizations are making tens of thousands of requests for private electronic information from companies such as Sprint, Facebook and AOL, but few detailed statistics are available, according to a privacy researcher. Police and other agencies have "enthusiastically embraced" asking for e-mail, instant messages and mobile-phone location data, but there's no U.S. federal law that requires the reporting of requests for stored communications data, wrote Christopher Soghoian, a doctoral candidate at the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, in a newly published paper. "Unfortunately, there are no reporting requirements for the modern surveillance methods that make up the majority of law enforcement requests to service providers and telephone companies," Soghoian wrote. "As such, this surveillance largely occurs off the books, with no way for Congress or the general public to know the true scale of such activities." That's in contrast to traditional wiretaps and "pen registers," which record non-content data around a particular communication, such as the number dialed or e-mail address that a communication was sent to. The U.S. Congress mandates that it should receive reports on these requests, which are compiled by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Soghoian wrote.

April 11

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Manning, Obama and U.S. moral leadership, Glenn Greenwald, April 11, 2011. On December 15, when I first reported the inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention, I did not assign any blame to -- or even mention -- Barack Obama. But since then, the Manning controversy exploded into national prominence and Obama has explicitly defended the treatment, leaving no doubt that it directly reflects on who he is as a leader and a person.

For that reason, as The Guardian reports this morning, a letter signed by "more than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars" that "includes leading figures from all the top US law schools, as well as prominent names from other academic fields" -- featuring "Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law"; who "taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign"; and "joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago" -- not only denounces Manning's detention but also the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner's personal responsibility for it.

Hudson Reporter, When a nod is as good as wink, Al Sullivan, April 10, 2011. Hoboken politics is better than any soap opera or reality show you can ever watch on TV because if you saw this stuff on TV, you wouldn’t believe it. With Hoboken’s “reformers” facing one of the toughest municipal elections in years – six of the nine City Council seats are up for election on May 10 – they suddenly get a gift from the gods in a 2009 videotape that shows Councilman Michael Russo allegedly agreeing to take a bribe from FBI informant Solomon Dwek.

Washington Post, Reading, Writing and Michelle Rhee, Diane Ravitch, April 10, 2011. The most chilling episode in Richard Whitmire’s biography of Michelle Rhee occurs near the end, when Rhee says to a PBS camera crew, “I’m going to fire somebody in a little while. Do you want to see that?” Of course they did, and they taped the chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools firing a principal. The victim’s face was not shown, but the episode revealed a woman who relishes humiliating those who have the misfortune to work for her.

Washington Post, The trials of Kaplan Higher Ed and the education of The Washington Post Co., Steven Mufson and Jia Lynn Yang, Saturday, April 9,  2011. Eleven years ago, one of Washington’s most tradition-bound companies placed a bet that would transform its fortunes. The wager, by The Washington Post Co. and its Kaplan division, took the form of a $165 million purchase of an Atlanta-based chain of for-profit vocational schools that catered to low-income students. The bet was big — the price equal to the profits earned that year by The Post Co.’s print-media pillars: this newspaper and Newsweek magazine. So was the payoff.  The acquisition of the firm, called Quest Education, turbocharged the rise of Kaplan, a modest business that had until then mainly prepared students for standardized tests.

 

Justice Integrity Project, What To Do About Obama's Alabama Snafu? Part IV Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011.The Justice Integrity Project today calls for the Senate Judiciary Committee to invite independent witnesses to testify at the confirmation hearing for George L. Beck, President Obama's nominee to become U.S. attorney for the middle district of Alabama. Only a full review of the conflicts surrounding this nationally important but dubious nomination can restore vitally needed public trust.

Justice Integrity Project, Part III: Beck's Backers Make Their Case, Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2011. “For his diligence and relentless pursuit of justice, I have named George L. Beck to serve as a U.S. Attorney,” announced President Obama on March 31. “I am confident he will serve the people of Alabama with distinction.”

Justice Integrity Project, Part II: Bailey-Beck Siegelman Frame-up, Andrew Kreig, April 6, 2011. Two videos, one from June 2007 and another just seven months later in 2008, illustrate why George Beck is such a bad choice as the Obama nominee to run Alabama’s troubled middle district office in the state capital of Montgomery.

 

Justice Integrity Project, Part I: Senate Must Grill Tainted Alabama DOJ Nominee, Andrew Kreig, April 5, 2011. President Obama ended more than two years of high-profile White House indecision March 31 by naming the prominent Alabama attorney George L. Beck as his nominee to become U.S. attorney for the state’s Montgomery-based middle district. Despite an impressive career overall, Beck is a horrible choice because he was a compliant defense attorney in the notorious prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman’s, the state’s leading Democrat.

Legal Schnauzer, Obama Nominee Should Be Rejected for Key Justice Department Post, Roger Shuler, April 6, 2011. The U.S. Senate should thoroughly grill and then reject the Obama administration's nominee for a controversial U.S. attorney position, according to a report out this morning from the Justice Integrity Project (JIP).

Birmingham News, Federal prosecutors in the bingo vote-buying case need to get their act together, Editorial Board, April 5, 2011. Federal prosecutors involved in the bingo vote-buying case are apparently off to a bad start, if a hearing last week is any indication. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. sharply scolded the government's team for not giving the 10 defendants information they are entitled to have about federal wiretaps. He threatened sanctions and issued a special rebuke for lawyers from the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., who are leading the prosecution. "This is supposed to be some elite unit coming down from D.C., and how this case has been conducted is ridiculous," Capel said.

 

April 4

Wired / Threat Level, Appeals Court Strengthens Warrantless Searches at Border, David Kravets  April 4, 2011. The authorities may seize laptops, cameras and other digital devices at the U.S. border without a warrant, and scour through them for days hundreds of miles away, a federal appeals court ruled. The 2-1 decision Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes as the government is increasingly invoking its broad, warrantless search-and-seizure powers at the U.S. border to probe the digital lives of travelers. Under the “border search exception” of United States law, international travelers, including U.S. citizens, can be searched without a warrant as they enter the country. Under the Obama administration, law enforcement agents have aggressively used this power to search travelers’ laptops, sometimes copying the hard drive before returning the computer to its owner.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, The most uncounted cost of Endless War, Glenn Greenwald, April 4, 2011. Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham yesterday both suggested that Congress take unspecified though formal action against the Koran-burning by Florida preacher Terry Jones, which triggered days of violence this week by angry Muslims in Afghanistan. This event demonstrates one of the most uncounted (though one of the most intended) costs of our posture of Endless War: the way it is exploited to endlessly erode core liberties.

April 2

 

Jersey Journal /NJ.com, And a time for every purpose, Agustin C. Torres, April 2, 2011. As predicted, the U.S. Attorney's Office filed a petition and was granted permission by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals for a second 30 days, ending May 4, to decide whether to request an appeal, before the entire panel, of U.S. District Judge Jose Linares' ruling that knocked off extortion charges against brothers Louis and Ronald Manzo. The Manzos still face bribery and mail fraud charges. The U.S. Attorney's Offices confirmed the additional time. Spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael issued an excerpt from the petition: "... The District of New Jersey has submitted all its materials to the Department of Justice in Washington and is now awaiting a decision from the Office of the Solicitor General, whose authorization is required for the filing of any petitions for rehearing en banc (full court)..." And here is the most interesting snippet: "Part of that review involves soliciting the views of different United States Attorney's Offices and Departments throughout the country, which is a time-consuming process ..." There are many ways to go here to comment. Let's just say it sounds like the quarterback is scrambling.

BLT -- Blog of the Legal Times, Online Booksellers Immune in $30M Lawsuit Filed Over Obama Book, April 1, 2011. Online booksellers cannot be held liable for defamatory content on their Web sites if it's created by an outside party, a Washington federal court judge ruled yesterday (PDF). The suit stems from a 2009 book self-published by Larry Sinclair, who claimed he and President Barack Obama had used drugs and engaged in sexual acts together in 1999; court records listed a P.O. Box address in Tennessee For Sinclair, but filings also place him at a Florida residence. The book publishing service sold copies of Sinclair's book through booksellers Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com and Books-A-Million; the publishing company also sent promotional materials to be posted with the listing for the book.

 

April 1

Legal Schnauzer, Obama Proposes a Wretched Nominee for Controversial U.S. Attorney Post, Roger Shuler, April 1, 2011. Just when you think the Obama administration's performance on justice issues in Alabama can't get any worse . . . it does.  Now we know why Obama waited more than two years to nominate a replacement for Bush appointee Leura Canary in the Middle District of Alabama. He apparently planned to nominate someone who is almost as bad as she is . . . so, why rush it?  George Beck, from the Montgomery firm of Capell and Howard, is the administration's choice, according to a press release issued yesterday. Sources tell Legal Schnauzer that the White House would have needed to strive awfully hard to come up with a worse choice than Beck. The Alabama Democratic Party issued a statement supporting the nomination, which speaks volumes about why Democrats can't win a statewide race in "The Heart of Dixie" to save their souls.

Birmingham News, Alabama judge threatens sanctions against bingo prosecutors, Kim Chandler, April 2, 2011. Birmingham News, Alabama judge threatens sanctions against bingo prosecutors, Kim Chandler, April 2, 2011. A judge on Friday said federal prosecutors acted with arrogance and "blatant ignorance" of the law by failing to turn over information about wiretaps to defense lawyers in the bingo vote-buying case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. said he is considering sanctions against prosecutors for their repeated delays in sharing documents.

 

 

Washington Post, Cleanup of Madoff mess has its own mounting cost, More oversight urged as lawyers’, others’ fees are expected to top $1 billion, David S. Hilzenrath, April 1, 2011. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme cost many investors their life’s savings, but for the lawyers, accountants and consultants hired to clean it up, it has unleashed a gusher of cash. The tab through the end of last year came to $288 million, and it is expected to grow by $1.1 billion in the coming years, according to a tally recently submitted to Congress. The money is coming from a small, government-sponsored nonprofit organization called the Securities Investor Protection Corp. (SIPC), which manages the liquidation of failed brokerage firms in much the same way the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. backstops failed banks. But a federal watchdog warned Thursday that neither the courts nor officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission effectively oversee the fees and expenses paid to outside contractors and urged regulators to watch more closely to make sure the payments are appropriate.

 

 

 

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