Friday, August 19, 2005

Other items in the Times

Fighting back tears, Gov. Bob Taft apologized in court on Thursday for failing to report nearly $6,000 in gifts, and a judge ordered him to pay $4,000 in fines and write a letter to the people of Ohio acknowledging his violation of ethics laws.
Democrats condemned "a culture of corruption" in Ohio, and one Republican official in Cincinnati urged him to resign.
[. . .]

The scion of a Republican dynasty, Mr. Taft had repeatedly promised not to tolerate violations of ethics laws in his administration.

The above is from Albert Salvato's "Ohio Governor Fined Over Unreported Gifts" in this morning's New York Times.

Colin e-mails to note the Associated Press article "Convicted Reservist Escapes Jail Time"

A military jury spared an Army reservist jail time but reduced his rank Thursday for assaulting a prisoner who later died at a detention center in Afghanistan.
Prosecutors had asked that Pfc. Willie V. Brand, 27, be sent to a military prison for 10 years with a dishonorable discharge. Instead, the panel reduced his rank to private.
Brand sighed in relief and hugged his lawyer. A commander reviews military jury decisions but cannot impose a more serious penalty.

Erika e-mails to note Dean E. Murphy's "Court Rules U.S. Need Not Pay for Abortion of Doomed Fetus:"

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit came in the case of a 23-year-old woman who lives in Bremerton, Wash. Her name was not disclosed.
The woman terminated her pregnancy in 2002 after she learned that her fetus had no forebrain or cerebellum, a fatal condition known as anencephaly. Because her husband was in the Navy, the woman was covered under the military's health plan, the Civilian Health and Medical Program for the Uniformed Services, or Tricare.
But Tricare administrators said they were barred from paying for the abortion. Federal law prohibits payment for abortions except "where the life of the mother would be endangered if the fetus were carried to term." A regulation putting the law into effect specifically excludes payments for situations involving "fetal abnormalities" and mentions anencephaly.
Brand was convicted Wednesday of assault, maltreatment, maiming and making a false official statement in connection with an attack on a detainee known as Dilawar in December 2002.

Todd S. Purdum and John M. Broder file "Nominee's Early Files Show Many Cautions for Top Officials, Including Reagan" (aided and abetted by John Files, Anne E. Kornblut, Neil A. Lewis, Robert Pear and Scott Shane) where they note the very important fact that John Roberts knows when to use "that" and when to use "which." Should we all now be conviced of his competence for the court? Or do you have to be close enough to catch the fumes off Purdum's jock to be left dazed and light headed?

It's funny, you know, Democracy Now! interviewed David J. Luban (who, with Stephen Gillers and Steven Lubet wrote Slate's "Improper Advances: Talking dream jobs with the judge out of court") and Michael Ratner and there was actually a discussion of real issues, real issues beyond grammer.

From "Conflict of Interest? Roberts' Interviews with White House Officials Prior to Gitmo Ruling Raise Questions About Impartiality:"

DAVID LUBAN: Yeah. That's a fair question, but I don't think the chronology quite bears that out. Remember that Justice O'Connor's retirement came as a surprise, but what wasn't a surprise was that there was very likely going to be an opening on the court, and that's because the Chief Justice developed thyroid cancer and it was unclear whether he was going to resign or not. Now, as early as February 22nd of 2005, the New York Times mentioned that Roberts was a prominent possible successor to Chief Justice Rehnquist. So, at least from February on--that's a couple of months before the Hamdan case is argued--it's already being reported that there's very likely going to be an opening on the Supreme Court and that Judge Roberts is a candidate for the opening.
Now, one of the other things that’s important: You said correctly the case is called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, but President Bush was himself a defendant in the case along with Rumsfeld. That's because the President personally signed the finding that there was reason to think that Mr. Hamdan was a terrorist. So, here you don't just have a case of a lawsuit against the government. You know, the government could be anything. It could be any of thousands of offices. This is a case against the President, the President personally, among other defendants; and the people who are conducting the interviews with Judge Roberts while this case is going on, are the President's very top aides.
AMY GOODMAN: David Luban is with us, Georgetown University law professor who co-wrote
a piece in -- on Slate, the online magazine. Michael Ratner, you're with the organization Center for Constitutional Rights that is representing the man who brought the case before the Supreme Court, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, in Guantanamo. Your response.
MICHAEL RATNER: [. . .] I mean, my reaction is just with utter amazement, to be honest. I mean, here you have on April 1, a week before the argument, you have Roberts meeting with Gonzales, Gonzales the Attorney General who was the architect of the entire policy that the Geneva Conventions should not apply to the people in Guantanamo, that they should use military commissions, and he's meeting with this guy at the same time that he is sitting on a case that's going to determine whether or not the Geneva Conventions apply. So, at a minimum, as David's
article clearly says on Slate, that his impartiality might reasonably have been questioned -- that is, Judge Roberts -- and he should have disqualified himself. There's not any issue about it.
But I would go further. It reminds me of a case when Ellsberg, the man who revealed the Pentagon Papers, was on trial for espionage, and during the trial President Nixon, briefly, but other people in his office, Ehrlichman and others, meet with the trial judge to offer him to be the head of the F.B.I. Well, the outcry in the community was huge about that when it was discovered, and it wasn't just looked at as, 'Well, he might -- His impartiality might reasonably be questioned,' but it was looked at as essentially the offering of a bribe to the President -- to the judge -- the offering of a bribe by offering him a head of the F.B.I. And that is -- was an impeachment offense, really, and it was one of the offenses listed in the impeachment.
So, this goes, I think, way beyond the question of impartiality be questioned. This looks really bad. This was the central policy of this administration, which the Center has been challenging since day one: the non-application of Geneva Conventions to the people in Guantanamo. So, I -- and the fact that so little has been made out of it so far. There was David's
Slate article; there was a piece in the Washington Post that in my view, while it exposed some of it, was very mealy-mouthed; and almost nothing today. I can't understand it, actually.

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