Thursday, January 05, 2006

Kicking the Can

In ruling, without comment, to allow the Bush crew to suddenly move so-called "dirty-bomber" Jose Padilla from military detention in South Carolina to civilian court in Miami, the Supreme Court has punted for now the issue of whether or not a president can detain American citizens indefinitely without any charges, even in "wartime."

I'm no lawyer, but it seems that the legal argument against the Bush administration's actions -- should the matter ever come before the Supreme Court -- should be based on the fact that we are not "at war" in the relevent sense of the term. Yes, the US is fighting a war in Iraq, but that has nothing to do with Padilla's detention, which predates that war. If the "War on Terror" is the war in question, well that's a war that -- like the war on drugs -- may never end. Even if it does end, it will do so without peace treaties, acts of Congress, or other identifyable signals. So is it the president's position that for the remainder of America's time as a nation on this Earth that its president will have the right to suspend the Constitution as he and only he sees fit? If so, then Bush's position is that one set of terrorist attacks four years ago requires the perhaps permanent suspension of the Fourth Amendment.

Even the troglodytes like Scalia and Thomas should be repulsed by that notion. Which is why if this ever gets to the Supreme Court, it will likely end the madness of King George. Hence the significance of the Court's decision to dodge the issue. They don't want to be in the position of raining on their beloved president's parade.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

When This Guy Sings, Republicans Will Cry

From the NYTimes:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 - Jack Abramoff will plead guilty to three felony counts in Washington on Wednesday as part of a settlement with federal prosecutors, ending an intense, months-long negotiation over whether the Republican lobbyist would testify against his former colleagues, people involved with the case said.

Mr. Abramoff, 46, is pleading guilty to fraud, public corruption and tax evasion, setting the stage for prosecutors to begin using him as a cooperating witness against his former business and political colleagues. In exchange, Mr. Abramoff faces a maximum of about 10 years in prison in the Washington case.


Official Washington has been on edge for months awaiting word of Mr. Abramoff's legal future. Once a masterful Republican lobbyist with close ties to the former House majority leader, Representative Tom DeLay, he earned tens of millions of dollars representing Indian casino interests and farflung entities like the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands. Through a complicated web of financial arrangements, he helped funnel donations to his lawmaker friends' and their campaigns, and took members of Congress, mainly the Republicans in power, on lavish trips.

Now, after more than two years of investigations, prosecutors have developed a list of at least a dozen lawmakers, congressional aides and lobbyists whose work appears suspect and who are now at the core of the case. With Mr. Abramoff's cooperation, the Justice Department will have a potentially critical witness to alleged patterns of corruption or bribery within the Republican leadership ranks, which in some cases they believe also took the form of campaign donations and free meals at Mr. Abramoff's downtown restaurant, Signatures.

It is about to be on. Happy New Year!