Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 22, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

TRIVIALIZING TERROR....Remember Jose Padilla, the "dirty bomber"? Last September, in a major victory for the Bush administration, the 4th Circuit Court ruled that the government could detain Padilla in a military brig indefinitely without charges even though he was a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil. It was an expansive ruling that gave the administration broad powers to treat suspected enemy combatants in virtually any way they wanted.

This should have made the government happy, right? Unfortunately, there was one hitch: this being the United States, wartime or no, Padilla could appeal his detention to the Supreme Court, and there was a chance that the Supremes might not be as accomodating as the conservative 4th Circuit.

So the Justice Department came up with a brainstorm: at the last minute, it asked the 4th Circuit to vacate the government's big victory and transfer Padilla to the civilian court system, where they planned to charge him not with being a dirty bomber, not even with planning to blow up apartment buildings, but with a humdrum variety of low-level conspiracy charges.

Today, the 4th Circuit announced that it was not amused:

The government has held Padilla militarily for three and a half years, steadfastly maintaining that it was imperative in the interest of national security that he be so held. However, a short time after our decision issued on the governments representation that Padillas military custody was indeed necessary in the interest of national security, the government determined that it was no longer necessary that Padilla be held militarily.

....In a plea that was notable given that the government had held Padilla militarily for three and a half years and that the Supreme Court was expected within only days either to deny certiorari or to assume jurisdiction over the case for eventual disposition on the merits, the government urged that we act as expeditiously as possible to authorize the transfer [to a civilian court]. The government styled its motion as an emergency application, but it provided no explanation as to what comprised the asserted exigency.

The opinion, which denied the transfer and sent the case to the Supreme Court, was written by conservative darling Michael Luttig, who until today was considered a possible contender for a spot on the Supreme Court. Now, probably not. In fact, he's probably not even a conservative darling anymore.

It's worth reading Luttig's whole opinion. It's not very long and it pretty clearly indicates that Luttig and his colleagues were seriously pissed. They want to know why the government claimed it was absolutely essential to national security that Padilla be detained indefinitely and then suddenly changed their minds without so much as an explanation. They also want to know why this change of heart came only two business days before Padilla's appeal was scheduled to be filed with the Supreme Court.

And that's not all. They want to know why the government provided them with a completely different set of facts than they provided to the civilian court in Miami. They want to know why the government provided more information about the case to the media than they did to the court. And finally, they want to know why the government did all these things even though they must have known that these actions rather obviously undermined their own public arguments about the importance of the war on terror:

They have left the impression that the government may even have come to the belief that the principle in reliance upon which it has detained Padilla for this time, that the President possesses the authority to detain enemy combatants who enter into this country for the purpose of attacking America and its citizens from within, can, in the end, yield to expediency with little or no cost to its conduct of the war against terror an impression we would have thought the government likewise could ill afford to leave extant.

And these impressions have been left, we fear, at what may ultimately prove to be substantial cost to the governments credibility before the courts, to whom it will one day need to argue again in support of a principle of assertedly like importance and necessity to the one that it seems to abandon today. While there could be an objective that could command such a price as all of this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be.

In other words, if the government's own actions make it clear that they consider the war on terror to be little more than a game designed to expand presidential power, how can they expect anyone else to take it seriously either?

It's a good question. No wonder Luttig was pissed. He was one of the ones who thought the Bush administration took this stuff seriously.

Kevin Drum 12:54 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (79)

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Comments

Now, probably not. In fact, he's probably not even a conservative darling anymore.

No, they hate that thing where you use your brain independently, and arrive at conclusions based on facts.

Only commies and terrorists do that, you know.

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

It's the breath-taking audacity, on all fronts, designed to keep everybody, supporters and opponents, reeling, wondering what's next, that allows them to get away with so much. It rolls over us all in waves, and we become stunned at what has gone before and what's coming next and we're awed by it...the sheer audacity.

Posted by: Jimbo on December 22, 2005 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

Good post. Also, what the court actually DID (as opposed to what it said) is quite impressive: Luttig and the other judges refused to vacate their decision, meaning that the Supreme Court can still review it.

As Luttig suggests, avoiding Supreme Court review was the whole purpose of this highly dubious bait-and-switch to civilian court on different charges. We'll see what the Supreme Court actually decides to do...

More here

Posted by: Joey on December 22, 2005 at 1:08 AM | PERMALINK

I admire this bit, from the opinion:

In one instance, immediately after we had initially declined to act on the government's transfer motion, these concerns were detailed in the press and attributed to former and current Administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity... It should go without saying that we cannot rest our decisions on media reports of statements from anonymous government sources regarding facts relevant to matters pending before the court...

So, this White House tried to influence people by anonymous leaks to the press. How, um, unusual. I can't think of any other examples of that...

Flanders, is this leak an embarassing leak or a criminal one? You're the expert.

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 1:12 AM | PERMALINK

We are at war, Oceana has always been at war with Eurasia. Not letting big brother do what he wants with the nasty Padilla is double plus bad for Luttig.

Posted by: Winston Smith on December 22, 2005 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

I think it is pretty obvious. The dirty bomber charge was based on very thin intelligence that probably could not be presented in court. The blowing up apartments charge was based on Padilla own statements without allowing him to talk to a lawyer, and so would not be admissible in court either. So they could not make a criminal case on either of those charges.

Posted by: mikeca on December 22, 2005 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

Luttig passes the test.

A+

Posted by: Jimm on December 22, 2005 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

"Trivializing terror" ??

How is it 'trivializing terror' to lock up a guy who poses a threat to innocent Americans?

Posted by: GOPGregory on December 22, 2005 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

It's intriguing, by the way, that the opinion looks typed, rather than printed.

Does the court have proportional fonts on its typewriters? How do we know that Luttig really rendered this opinion? Maybe he said the exact opposite, but moonbat bush haters destroyed that document and substituted this forgery.

Things that make you go hmmmm..

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 1:22 AM | PERMALINK

Bush and his administration have built a house of cards that is beginning to collapse. It is a relief to know that there are conservative men and women who are finally ready to reclaim their integrity and call Bush on his lack of same.

Posted by: rainyday on December 22, 2005 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK

lock up a guy who poses a threat to innocent Americans?

And we know this how? On the say-so of a group of demonstrated liars and con men?

If he's a threat to "innocent Americans" (as opposed, I guess, to those who are not virgins, whom he is not interested in), then what we do here in modern Western civilization is we have this thing called a "trial", at which the government presents something called "evidence." Then on the basis of "facts" (of which you may have heard, though they are considered obsolete by many on the Right), a jury renders a "verdict."

At least, that's how it worked when America was a free country, back in the twentieth century. Now, apparently, not so much.

Posted by: craigie on December 22, 2005 at 1:26 AM | PERMALINK

A semantic analysis on Autocad 6.0 that I just completed reveals that Michael Luttig is disheartened not because of any actions of the Bush administration but because he failed to successfully complete the rigorous screening process conducted by the White House for the judgship that was given to Harriet Miers.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

If Democrats want to shoot themselves in the foot by pretending to be conservative judges at odds with the Bush administration, they aren't going to make any headway in the next election.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 1:31 AM | PERMALINK

Fake tbrosz: Your call for help is duly noted.

Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

That's a lame fake tbrosz. Where's fake Al? He's much better.

Posted by: weichi on December 22, 2005 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

"Luttig passes the test."

Don't trust em. Luttig is establishing his independence credentials for his upcoming SCOTUS
appointment. They don't care about Padilla anymore, obviously. They will need someone, after Alito goes down, who will say there are limits on Presidential perogatives. Luttig, once on the court, will reverse himself and wear the kneepads.

They lie. How many times do they have to be caught before y'all understand that they all lie.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on December 22, 2005 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

Don't feed the trolls, please.

German judge gives him a 2.0 out of 5

Posted by: tbrosz on December 22, 2005 at 2:20 AM | PERMALINK

Scalia is going to fucking eat this case for breakfast.

The White-collar-criminal party's days are numbered.

Posted by: freedom_been_forgotten on December 22, 2005 at 2:34 AM | PERMALINK

No wonder Luttig was pissed. He was one of the ones who thought the Bush administration took this stuff seriously.

You left off "What a sucker!"

Posted by: Allen K. on December 22, 2005 at 2:36 AM | PERMALINK

While I'm as happy as anyone to see the administration smacked around over this issue and their transparent mendacity, I can't but be in awe of Luttig's youthful naivete. For only now does it seem to occur to the 4th Circuit that the Justice Dept might be a little disingenous about their need to lock up this half-wit. This decision is like that moment when you realize that your dad isn't perfect, something that happens for most of us long before we reach maturity.

The whole point of not allowing the president to lock up whomever he wants willy nilly is to avoid executive abuses. If we knew that all presidencies were good and honorable and trustworthy all the time, we could let them do a whole lot of things that we don't. But that just isn't the world we live in.

"They LIED to us!" shrieks the 4th. Well, no shit, sherlock. That's why we have the Bill of Rights and checks and balances in the fucking first place.

So now Luttig gets all petulant for being made to look like a supreme jackass. Better be careful, man, they might just lock YOU up in a brig. After all, if you're not going to agree with them anymore, you're a threat to national security.

Insert overplayed Franklin quote here.

Posted by: Royko on December 22, 2005 at 3:16 AM | PERMALINK

Luttig didn't pass the test.

He just didn't want to look like a biggest tool than the Bushies had made him out to be.

How effing red he must've turned when he read the actual indictment brought against Padilla. And don't think for a minute that his more reasonable colleagues didn't whack him privately with it.

Posted by: Macswain on December 22, 2005 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

The government legal beagles in this case sound like the third shift b-team latrine squad.

Honestly, is this anyway to run a dictatorship?

Posted by: clyde tolson on December 22, 2005 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

And don't think for a minute that his more reasonable colleagues didn't whack him privately with it.

"Bailiff, whack his pee-pee."

I feel so old some days...

Posted by: Clave on December 22, 2005 at 3:46 AM | PERMALINK

Okay, I will rephrase...

Luttig passes this test.

Whatever his motive, or why he is pissed, they came to the right decision, and it's going to the Bush Administration that ends up looking like a#$.

So, to give credit where due, I give Luttig an A+ for exercising his inner "don't f@#$ with me, or the law".

Posted by: Jimm on December 22, 2005 at 4:14 AM | PERMALINK

And, for the record, I was the guy warning early in the Miers confirmation, in these blog threads, that she was a smokescreen for Luttig, after everyone got sick of the whole chaos of the Miers confirmation and breathed a sigh of relief that someone was nominated who knew what they were talking about.

Of course, I was wrong, and it ended up being Scalito, but believe me when I tell you that I am not a Luttig fan, and never have closely considered being one, though I don't really carry any actual animus towards him either, other than general criticism of his overall legal emphasis, especially in the case of rulings favoring corporations.

Posted by: Jimm on December 22, 2005 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

"How is it 'trivializing terror' to lock up a guy who poses a threat to innocent Americans?"

You'd think they'd at least pretend to read the post before pretending to respond to it.

Posted by: Kenji on December 22, 2005 at 4:19 AM | PERMALINK

I have to go with Royko here - the praise for Luttig is undeserved. The government can press whatever charges it likes; it's up to the courts to determine whether they're justified. My point is that the 4th court decided that the government was right (or at least entitled) to hold Padilla without charge, even though it's manifestly unconstitutional. As far as we know the evidence on which they based that judgement hasn't changed. If it was right then, it's right now, no matter how much the government is fucking about with the process. So what's Luttig's beef, really? Is he really saying that the courts should just trust the government when they say a citizen is a national security risk and must be locked up forever, and that they don't need to look at the evidence for that assertion?

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on December 22, 2005 at 5:54 AM | PERMALINK

But spying on lesbians and vegans and Quakers shows the government entirely takes terrorism seriously.

Posted by: Gore/Obama '08 on December 22, 2005 at 7:48 AM | PERMALINK

The government legal beagles in this case sound like the third shift b-team latrine squad.

Honestly, is this anyway to run a dictatorship?

The govt legal beagles can't do much when their client, the administration, keeps painting them into a corner. When Padilla's secret indictments come out, it will be an enormous scandal. If you remember, when Padilla was arrested, it was a HUGE prapaganda coup for Ashcroft.

Posted by: Tulkinghorn on December 22, 2005 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

Reminds me of when I was a mere lad and the Committee decided to have a "Got a minute" moment with Robespierre.

Love it when the rats start attacking each other - keeps the Tumbrels full.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 22, 2005 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

What is particularly great about this is the fact that the Bushies have even lost Luttig. Sheesh, Luttig is one of the bad guys but even HE has limits that BushCheney punched right through like they were wet toilet paper.

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on December 22, 2005 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

But spying on lesbians and vegans and Quakers shows the government entirely takes terrorism seriously.

Are you willing to tolerate the threat from Lesbofascism and Veganfascism and Quakofascism?

Posted by: Stefan on December 22, 2005 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

You'd think they'd at least pretend to read the post before pretending to respond to it.

Since the trolls' goal is to distract from the post, actually knowing what it says is immaterial as far as they're concerned. Standard Right-Wing Trolling Tactic: If you can't refute it, distract from it.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on December 22, 2005 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Upcoming RNC talking point about Luttig: he's just jealous 'cause he got passed over for SCOTUS.

Oh, and it's now fairly easy to see why Bush wanted Miers for SCOTUS: he knows that she agrees with him on giving the President the power to pull crap like this. (That's also why I think Luttig has blown his chances of a SCOTUS appointment, but maybe he figures that he has no chance anyway, since Bush won't appoint a third white male.)

The Alito hearings may turn out to be more interesting than we'd expected, given that "Unchecked Executive Power" is now destined to be the # 1 issue in the hearings. Let's see how skilfully he bobs-and-weaves on that one.

Posted by: M.A. on December 22, 2005 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

It's good to see someone finally call the Bush Administration on their perpetual shell games to avoid accountability.

Posted by: RT on December 22, 2005 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

"While there is an objective that could demand a price such as this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be."

hhmmm, what objective could someone have that would include completely flauting the law and the courts, and trying to just get them to do what you want regardless???

and btw, dontcha just HATE it when those pesky activists judges actually, ykno follow the law!

Posted by: e1 on December 22, 2005 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Dearest Winston,
Actually, we haven't always been at war with Eurasia. Last year we were at war with Eastasia. Before that, Oceania were at war with Eastasia. The wars continue, it's just the participants that change.
Ivan

Posted by: Ivan Pope on December 22, 2005 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

. . . the 4th Circuit Court ruled that the government could detain Padilla in a military brig indefinitely without charges even though he was a U.S. citizen arrested on U.S. soil.

I guess this means that John Ashcroft lied in his congressional testimony when he said and promised that these powers of detention wouldn't apply to American citizens on American soil.

Yet another lie exposed.

Posted by: Advocate for God on December 22, 2005 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Thank no god, judges dislike being lied to or made to look like fools or toadies for the political gain of dumbfucks like Bush and his acolytes. Too bad they could care less about the individuals who are victims of the political games these people play.

Posted by: Hostile on December 22, 2005 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

At the risk of seeming shamelessly self-promoting, I will proclaim that femi-nazism has railroaded far more low-income people off to prison than the WOT, mainly because of he said/she said changes to the law, changes in hearsay testimony, limitations on delving into the reputation of the alleged victim, and the shameless over-charging of working poor defendants to force a plea bargain, knowing full well that these poor folks have to get out of jail within a few weeks or they lose their jobs and their homes. They CAN'T sit in jail waiting for trial.
Want a gimmick even better than a wiretap for sending someone to prison--let just the word of one accuser be sufficient, without physical evidence to support the charge.
More at google search: "Why the Innocent Plead Guilty. . ."

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 22, 2005 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

What? You mean that quaint concept of "checks and balances" might actually work, even during wartime?

Posted by: Some Dude on December 22, 2005 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

For this admijnistration, terrorism is the bat they wield to gain power. Yes, the court should be furious. If the administration were actually interested in reducing US vulnerability, they would be doing completely different things.

Padilla has been a victim of Bush fiat from the start. The courts should have overruled King George early on this, and shame on them for sitting idle.

Posted by: Scorpio on December 22, 2005 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

While there could be an objective that could command such a price as all of this, it is difficult to imagine what that objective would be.

Given his propensity to favour corporates, Luttig is either not very smart or is dropping a veiled hint that he knows what the objective is but is not yet prepared to say it publicly.

The objective is, of course, a fascist dictatorship. An objective which is very close to becoming actuality. We have known for a week that Bush has acheived item 7 on Dr Laurence Britt's checklist:

7. Obsession with national security

Inevitably, a national security apparatus was under direct control of the ruling elite. It was usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions were justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities was portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

Posted by: Brian de Ford on December 22, 2005 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

A semantic analysis on Autocad 6.0 that I just completed reveals that Michael Luttig is disheartened not because of any actions of the Bush administration but because he failed to successfully complete the rigorous screening process conducted by the White House for the judgship that was given to Harriet Miers.

Posted by: Daniel on December 22, 2005 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

It's almost certain now that Padilla is innocent of any crime. The ridiculous criminal indictment is designed to extract a plea agreement from him, in order to provide cover for the "mistake" the government made in locking him in solitary confinement for three years. What they were hoping was that they could hold him in solitary confinement forever, so that no one would ever know; but when they saw that the case might get to a Supreme Court with O'Connor still on it, they got cold feet.

Anyone who thinks that the government protects us from terror by throwing innocent people in dungeons is welcome to explain their position.

Posted by: JR on December 22, 2005 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

How is it 'trivializing terror' to lock up a guy who poses a threat to innocent Americans

As far as I can tell, Padilla's a handjob, not a threat.

Thought experiment: Let's say I were preznit. I got an idea in my head that conservatives were a threat to innocent Americans. Should I lock up conservatives based on my perception?

Replace me with GeeDubya and "conservatives" with "brown people" and you have something closer to reality in this country.

Posted by: Dr. Squid on December 22, 2005 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

JR, don't you have to prove you are innocent ummmmm wait a minute, that doesn't sound quite right....

Posted by: whosays on December 22, 2005 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Daniel above, Go play poker online with the lions. May they be starving today. Stay the hell off this site.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 22, 2005 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

FWIW, here's my quick take:

No WMD = no credibility before the world with any "intelligence" we ever present on a potentially dangerous or threatening situation.

No Dirty Bomber (or, more precisely, a plausible argument for the necessity to change legal circumstances) = no credibility with the most conservative appellate court in the country.

First France, now Luttig.

3 more years of this.

Posted by: SoCalJustice on December 22, 2005 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Say, you aroused defenders of civil liberties should have been around for the election of 1864. The tyrant Lincoln was not only pursuing an extremely bloody civil war (with butcher Grant about to make it even bloodier) Old Abe had locked up almost all dissenting voices and shut down Democrat and peacenik newspapers altogether.

Of course, you can argue that Fort Sumter was a more serious act of war than 9/11, or that ending slavery was a more pressing social project than the current hope of curtailing terrorism by bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.

You know, another interesting thing Lincoln did was issue directives to the army in the West to crush Native American uprisings that threatened the gold camps which financed the Yankee war effort. The Sand Creek massacre in Idaho followed, and that one in Colorado I can never remember...

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 22, 2005 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

Say, you aroused defenders of civil liberties should have been around for the election of 1864. The tyrant Lincoln was not only pursuing an extremely bloody civil war (with butcher Grant about to make it even bloodier) Old Abe had locked up almost all dissenting voices and shut down Democrat and peacenik newspapers altogether.

Of course, you can argue that Fort Sumter was a more serious act of war than 9/11, or that ending slavery was a more pressing social project than the current hope of curtailing terrorism by bringing democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.

You know, another interesting thing Lincoln did was issue directives to the army in the West to crush Native American uprisings that threatened the gold camps which financed the Yankee war effort. The Sand Creek massacre in Idaho followed, and that one in Colorado I can never remember...

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 22, 2005 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

I just love this post! And you know I'm going to let Patterico know about it.

Posted by: Tillman on December 22, 2005 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

To GOPGregory:

How do you know that the guy poses a threat without a trial ? Since when do we have preventive detention, which is a favorite practice of dictators everywhere ?

The government's flip flops -- first, Padilla was a dirty bomber and now he is something else entirely -- do not strengthen its case and Luttig has called them on it. You must be very disappointed in a conservative jurist with principles.

Posted by: John M on December 22, 2005 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

shorter Michael L Cook: look over there feminazis!! wait that didn't work, shit, hey Lincoln sucked!

Posted by: e1 on December 22, 2005 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK
In other words, if the government's own actions make it clear that they consider the war on terror to be little more than a game designed to expand presidential power, how can they expect anyone else to take it seriously either?

Given that Dick Cheney has recently admitted that their motivation is largely to "restore" the "legitimate authority" the Presidency lost because of laws passed after Vietnam and Watergate, my guess is that they've gotten to the point where they don't even feel the need to mask that goal anymore.

The Royalist Party thinks it has enough blind, unshakeable support that it need no longer conceal its goals from the public.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 22, 2005 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Gaming the courts, gaming congress, gaming the press, who have they not manipulated with selective Facts and 'Cases' made to get what they wanted- more power and money for their pockets. Lokks like judges don't like it either.

Posted by: emel on December 22, 2005 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:The Royalist Party thinks it has enough blind, unshakeable support that it need no longer conceal its goals from the public.

which makes me wonder if all the absinythe drinking really has driven them insane, given the decline in approval ratings, and all recent revelations regarding formerly secret programs, legistlative initiatives not being passed, etc. and what was the other thing? oh yeah, indictments. i mean do they really think that they can still act with impunity, not suffer any political consequences, or do they just not care?

i can't decide if it's hubris or delusion.

Posted by: e1 on December 22, 2005 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Cook: Say, you aroused defenders of civil liberties should have been around for the election of 1864. The tyrant Lincoln was not only pursuing an extremely bloody civil war (with butcher Grant about to make it even bloodier) Old Abe had locked up almost all dissenting voices and shut down Democrat and peacenik newspapers altogether.

Lincoln's actions weren't necessarily right or even very effective.

They also involved actual war inside the country.

There was no enemy from Iraq attacking the US when we invaded, much less present in this country.

As for terrorists in general, it is a specious argument to suggest that a handful of terrorists is of the type of threat as a divided country in the midst of civil war with tens of thousands of "enemies" within.

You might as well also argue that Jefferson was really against civil rights and liberty because he continued to hold slaves and thought African Americans inferior.

Everybody falls short of perfection on occasion, even our national heroes.

We should not set our standards to the lowest exhibited by these national heroes, but to the best they championed.

The problem with Bush is that he has no higher standards and doesn't really believe his own rhetoric, much less follow it most of the time, only straying on rare occasions.

He strays from even his most reasonable rhetoric daily.

He seems undistressed at his own actions, unthoughtful about their potential consequences, and unlimited in his self-adoration for implementing them.

Lincoln and Jefferson both struggled tremendously with the moral implications of their own actions, policies, and opinions.

Bush clearly does not.

Posted by: Advocate for God on December 22, 2005 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

A semantic analysis on Autocad 6.0... - Daniel

This is the second time I have read something like this on PA and I just don't get it. Since when has Autocad, a Computer Aided Drafting program, become associated with some kind of language analysis application? Isn't this kind of like saying "I talked it over with the toaster and..."?

Help me out here.

Posted by: Eric Paulsen on December 22, 2005 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

e1 wrote: "i mean do they really think that they can still act with impunity, not suffer any political consequences"

I think that is precisely what they do think: that the fuss will blow over, just as previous fusses have blown over, and things will return to normal but with presidential powers significantly enhanced.

I wish I could be sure that they were wrong but, alas, I'm not. The media and the public have notoriously short attention spans and Congress has been remarkably docile and there is little evidence that either of these things will change.

Posted by: PaulB on December 22, 2005 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Eric Paulsen wrote: "Help me out here."

It's satire, based loosely on the Dan Rather kerfluffle.

Posted by: PaulB on December 22, 2005 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

"He [Luttig] was one of the ones who thought the Bush administration took this stuff seriously."

just another stupid conservative. the bushcriminal only takes himself seriously - nothing else.

Posted by: justfred on December 22, 2005 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB:Congress has been remarkably docile and there is little evidence that either of these things will change.

watching the media crow and the Senate Dems pratically break their arms trying to pat themselves on the back for keeping the ANWR prov out of the defense spending bill, i kept thinking to myself 'this is what it takes? this one thing is what it takes for you lot to find your spines?' not that the ANWR provision wasn't worth fighting over, but hasn't there been so much else??

i just hope that they'll keep it together and keep the momentum going i.e. with real changes to the Patriot act and not rolling over on taxes etc.

Posted by: e1 on December 22, 2005 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

in regards to "conservative darling" you might want to read conservative Scalia's dissent in Hamdi, which is more protective of 4th amendment rights than is the plurality opinion. What Luttig did is not necessarily contradictory to conservative (not neo conservative) principles. Note how Scalia's dissent is at the opposite end of Clarence Thomas'. As a liberal, I think this developing split among conservatives and neoconservatives may prove quite interesting politically.

Posted by: ron on December 22, 2005 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Cook,

Perhaps a little correction to your comments about Lincoln.
As to Sand Creek, which is in south eastern Colorado. This was the result of a Colorado Militia zealot by the name of Col "Fighting Parson" Chivington. He took a group of some seven hundred strong Colorado and New Mexico militia to massacre less than 200 men, women and children who had agreed to move peacefully to a new reservation further south in Oklahoma.
A Lincoln military supporter refused to allow his men to fire upon the poor souls and later testified against Chivington. Following his testimony Chivington had him shot. The "good citizens" of Colorado acquited the "Fighting Parson".

The Militias and Federal Troops were only supposed to keep the trails open in eastern Colorado for commerce between the Colorado mine fields and the east. They were not under orders to massacre innocent tribes.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 22, 2005 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if Luttig's middle name might happen to be "Petard."

Posted by: G. Jones on December 22, 2005 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I don't get the approval for Luttig. What the 4th Circuit's earlier decision did was to pass the buck. They agreed with the Government's contention that the Government has a right to imprison US citizens (anyone?) but said if the Supreme Court wants to take a crack at the issue (in other words, either pull the 4th Circuit's chestnuts out of the fire or pat them on the back) that was OK. Then the Government double crossed the 4th Circuit. And most of the comments here are praising Lutting for, what, going home and kicking the dog? Nothing I read in Luttig's opinion changes the earlier decision. It just lets off some steam for having been betrayed. A real mensch would have said 'OK, you changed your mind, so we've changed ours. Here's our revised decision.' And then layed out what their current view of the Government's rights and responsibilities are given the Government's observed lack of seriousness with regards to the arguments they have been making for the last 3 years. Now that would have been something to praise!

Posted by: tearz on December 22, 2005 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Tearz, at least Luttig slapped King Dumbo on the hand. Also, this will go to the Supreme Court although BushCo was clearly trying to avoid that. And Luttig did it! 'Love it!

Posted by: Tillman on December 22, 2005 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

And Luttig did it! 'Love it!

Exactly. Regardless of the poor reasoning in the 4th Circuit's original Padilla decision, it's nice to know that blatantly attempting to avoid Supreme Court review is too much even for Luttig et al.

Heh, on the FISA thread above, rdw is arguing how there is no restriction upon the executive's actions until the Supreme Court, and only the Supreme Court, rules on FISA. Yet here we have the Bush administration playing football with national security matters entirely to escape judicial review of their actions by SCOTUS. That's why asserting that the only check upon illegal actions by the executive is a court that can only rule on cases actually brought before them is so ridiculous. No wonder rdw avoided this thread.

FWIW, I don't praise Judge Luttig's integrity so much as his ego. This who imbroglio makes him look like nothing more than the President's bitch, and it obviously made him angry. This is not a bad thing. Ego used to be a valuable part of the system. Once upon a time, Senators especially were known for their independence and high opinion of their chamber's special status. That egotism helped the Senate function as a check on the Executive, irrespective of party affiliation. Now Republican Senators are simply supposed to endorse whatever the Executive branch does, without complaint. When they push back (the McCain amendment, ANWR, conservative Republican support for the Patriot Act filibuster), they're branded as traitors. What happened to pride in one's office? Senator Voinovich started crying because he was criticizing the Bolton nomination. Shades of Lucullus weeping at Caesar's feet.

Posted by: mds on December 22, 2005 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK
I don't get the approval for Luttig. What the 4th Circuit's earlier decision did was to pass the buck. They agreed with the Government's contention that the Government has a right to imprison US citizens (anyone?) but said if the Supreme Court wants to take a crack at the issue (in other words, either pull the 4th Circuit's chestnuts out of the fire or pat them on the back) that was OK. Then the Government double crossed the 4th Circuit. And most of the comments here are praising Lutting for, what, going home and kicking the dog?

The original 4th Circuit decision is one most of us here (given the ideological and partisan leanings of this forum) probably agree is wrong, and dangerous. But the decision here against the administration's efforts to derail an appeal by switching systems at the last moment is, notwithstanding the problems of the original decision, a defense of the integrity of the legal system, which is one of the principal mechanisms by which the executive is held accountable to the law.

There's nothing wrong or inconsistent with praising Luttig for his appropriate defense of the system which is essential for limited government while at the same time continuing criticism of him for failing to recognize the appropriate limits on government power.

Posted by: cmdicely on December 22, 2005 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I certainly want to admire Luttig for staying true to his principles, at the cost of never again being considered for a Supreme Court seat. But I keep wondering how much he was influenced by anger at being passed over for Roberts, Miers and Alito. The fact that I would even entertain the possibility that a judge would let anger and petty revenge influence an important opinion says a lot about what I think about people who are considered "conservative" these days.

Posted by: Rebecca Allen, RN,PhD on December 22, 2005 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

They want to know why the government claimed it was absolutely essential to national security that Padilla be detained indefinitely and then suddenly changed their minds without so much as an explanation.

This is exactly why Bush has been forced to bypass the courts in other areas. Courts don't recognize the war powers of the President. It is all about their powers and rarely will any perceived political allegiance change that. Now, the answer to the question is this: At some point in recent months the effort and energy it was taking to keep this guy off the streets one way became harder that what it would take to lock him away for another 20 years another way.

Posted by: Kevin D. Korenthal on December 22, 2005 at 9:08 PM | PERMALINK

thirdPaul, the massacre in Idaho was at Soda Springs and I believe it was U.S. calvary doing the genocide. Lincoln was probably more or less responsible for the army.

Lincoln and Gen. Sheridan also had a very non-constitutional way of dealing with men with southern accents who were found near railroad trestles in the North. They summarily hanged them from same. Many photos exist of these events. The South, of course, had Andersonville, which compares how to inhumane conditions at Guantanimo?

Another good analogy would be the candidacy of Gen. George B. McClellan vs Lincoln in the election of 1864. Democrat McClellan was basically running on a platform of "the war is a failure, end it immediately."

Iraq's civil war may seem a far stretch from our own civil war, but the world is a lot smaller place today. Nothing has happened in Iraq that is more barbaric than what happened in Missouri unrelentingly from 1861-1865.

As for the wiretapping angle, the Mason & Slidell affair was an even more blatant assertion of federal government power to intercept any communications, even British mail liners! Lincoln had to apologize and back off that type of measure pretty quickly.

It doesn't sound like Bush intends to either apologize or back off. So, will he be impeached?
Don't think I'd bet good American money on that myself.

A lot of Iraqis live here in Seattle, many close to my own neighborhood. They NEVER turn out for the anti-war Cindy Sheehan type events so common in our locale. I do know a lot of returned veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan and they sure don't seem to be in favor of this radical impeachment notion.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 22, 2005 at 10:37 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Cook,

Again, I do not know what your particular hangup with Lincoln is all about. The massacre in Idaho was the Bear River Massacre which is near Soda Springs. It was in 1863. The US Army unit was led by a Colonel out of Salt Lake City and was comprised of roughly 200 California Volunteer Militia. The Mormon farmers in the area had requested the Army to stop Shoshones from raiding their farms.
The Army unit found the Shoshones encamped beside the river. After being initially repulsed, they were able to encircle the camp and fire from above. They slaughtered over 250 Shoshones, including 90 women.
Following the massacre, the secretary of the local ward said "This was the Intervention of the Almighty". For almost 130 years, this was perceived by the military as a military battle. It was not until a Professor Emeritus in Utah found a copy of a letter which had been written by a Sgt with the CA militia. In the letter, he described what a horrible massacre it had been.

However, Lincoln had nothing to do with this massacre. He was thousands of miles away overseeing a tremendous conflict. No orders had been sent west to "massacre" Native Americans. This was a rogue Colonel who wanted to make a name for himself living among the Mormons who did not give a good God Damn about Native Americans. Just read how the Mormons felt about not being able to use their Mormon name of Deseret to enter the union. They hated to have the Native American name of Utah from Uinta forced upon them.
Of the six major conflicts between the Army and Native American bands, from Bear River to Wounded Knee, this was the bloodiest. As at Sand Creek, women had their arms and legs broken before being raped and murdered. Such "Gallant" troopers they were not.

The Mormons did not mind that the Army had done their dirty work, but they came to despise the presence of a US Fort on their soil, in their holy city.

And now, back to the thread in progress.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 23, 2005 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, thirdPaul, what a quick and thorough researcher you are. You might have pointed out that the local Mormons in the Soda Springs area were not really Mormons anymore, but victims of a violent schism. They were all refugees from Mormonism. Most of them had been recruited in England without being told anything about the practice of polygamy.

When they arrived in Utah, that little cat was let out of the bag quite quickly and several thousand of them went into a rebellion against Brigham Young. These unfortunates were forced to hole up in what they called Kington Fort until their leader and several others were killed by cannon fire from a large Mormon posse which surrounded them.

Lincoln sent the army to aid these people. I have always thought it was the U.S. calvary, but maybe it was a California militia. The solution was to round the dissenters up (they had surrendered Kington Fort by the time federal forces arrived and were being tried in Mormon civil courts and forced into economic bondage) and the richer ones with good wagons and livestock were sent on to California. The poorer ones were relocated to the Soda Springs region under military protection. I seem to recall that the pacification of the local Indians was done so as to make this area available, but freighters headed into the new gold fields of Montana had also complained of being harassed by these Indians. Lewis and Clark had encountered them as well and commented on how poor they were.

Decades later more conventional Mormons began arriving in Idaho and the breakaways from England felt so threatened that they picked up again and moved further north to around Deer Lodge, Montana. That is where I was born and I knew many people descended from that group of refugees.

I had actually forgotten this story until you brought it up. I don't know that much of it has been published anywhere. I will motivate myself to research after work tomorrow and get back.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 23, 2005 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

Michael Cook,

Thanks for the information. Remember to never pick up hitchhikers around Deer Lodge.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on December 23, 2005 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

Here it is, this episode of Utah history was known as the Morrisite Wars of 1862, after Joseph Morris, the leader of the schismatic anti-polygamy Mormons. Kington Fort was about a quarter mile from the S. Weber river.
The Lincoln administration appointed Stephen S. Harding to be Governor of the Utah territory, who protected the survivors of the Morrisites at Fort Douglas until they could organize into the two large wagon trains to flee Utah. A Col. P.E. Connor provided the military escort for the contingent which fled to Soda Springs on May 5, 1863.

Posted by: Michael L. Cook on December 23, 2005 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

The point about Luttig that a lot of people seem to be missing is that he is acting like a well-trained lawyer who believes that the adversarial process will lead to the truth.

In the process he's accepted that certain statements are facts, and he's working with the lawyers from both sides to arrive at an equitable solution. He depends on the lawyers to argue forcefully, to represent facts truthfully, and to follow the rules of the game.

He is super-pissed because the government isn't playing the same game he was. All of a sudden, the facts change, the arguments change, and the government wants out. He would be deprived of all authority were he to allow the government to drop the case. He's spent three-and-a-half years on this. He wants to see it through.

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