Tag Archives: Christopher Weber

And So, It Begins…

Ashby Jones at WSJ:

This just in: Virginia federal judge Henry Hudson on Monday ruled that he’ll let the state of Virginia’s challenge to the landmark health care law passed in March go forward, at least for the time being. Click here for the early Reuters story; here for the 32-page opinion.

The Department of Health and Human Services had moved to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in March (click here for the complaint), shortly after the passage of the law. But Judge Hudson on Monday denied the motion.

The ruling represents a setback that will force the Obama administration to mount a lengthy legal defense of the law. The suit, filed by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (pictured), alleges that the law’s requirement that its residents have health insurance violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

Virginia’s lawsuit is one of several trying to undo the health-care law. Another large one was filed in a Florida federal court by a handful of state attorneys general.

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

Cucinelli argues on his website that “buying health insurance can be said to be an act in commerce. However, if someone doesn’t buy insurance, they are by definition not engaging in commerce. This legislation greatly oversteps the Commerce Clause.”


HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius minimized the importance of the judge’s decision, calling it just a “procedural step,” according to the Associated Press.


The new law, the judge commented, “radically changes” health care coverage in the country.  In passing it, he added, Congress broke new ground and extended “Commerce Clause powers beyone its current high watermark.”  Both sides, the decision said, have turned up prior rulings, but they are “short of definitive.”

“While this case raises a host of complex constitutional issues,” the judge wrote, “all seem to distill to the single question of whether or not Congress has the power to regulate — and tax — a citizen’s decison not to participate in interstate commerce” — that is, a private decision not to buy health insurance.  “Neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor any circuit court of appeals has squarely addressed this issue…Given the presence of some authority arguably supporting the theory underlying each side’s position, this Court cannot conclude at this stage that the [Virginia] complaint fails to state a cause of action….Resolution of the controlling issues in this case must await a hearing on the merits.”

Philip Klein at The American Spectator

Todd Gaziano and Robert Alt at Heritage:

On the merits, we are surprised the judge took as much space to conclude that Virginia stated a valid cause of action, namely, that Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority with the individual mandate.  At this stage in the litigation and on the particular motion that was filed (a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for the legal wonks), the judge need not and could not rule on who will win or even if one side is more likely to win.  The only question is whether Virginia stated a legal cause of action (or legal theory) that is cognizable in law.  Virginia certainly has at least a valid substantive theory to challenge the law, because someone with standing is always able to challenge the constitutionality of a statute on the ground that Congress has no constitutional authority to enact it, QED.  Indeed, we think Virginia ultimately should win on the merits, but it is even easier to show that the correct form of the argument was set forth in the complaint.  Nevertheless, unless the district court’s jurisdictional rulings are overturned, Judge Hudson’s discussion of the constitutional issues is somewhat instructive.  It shows he is not hostile or dismissive of Virginia’s claims, which is surely good for liberty.

Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey:

Expect the Left to go after Judge Hudson.  George W. Bush appointed him to the federal bench in 2002, following a career in the state bench and also in the US Marshal Service as director during Bush 41’s administration.  The Right showed no reluctance to point out Susan Bolton’s appointment by Bill Clinton, and turnabout is not just fair play but de rigueur by now.

It matters little, anyway.  Virginia wasn’t the only state preparing a challenge to this law, nor was it even first to file a challenge.  This law will go to the Supreme Court from many directions, and there are more than enough constitutional grounds for judges to allow hearings on it, regardless of what Pete Stark thinks.

Besides, Hudson only refused to dismiss the lawsuit.  He hasn’t yet ruled on any of the arguments in the case, except to rule that Virginia has a case to argue that the federal government overreached.  What we know now is that at least one court will hear that case — and that’s the first step to checking the power of Washington.

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Filed under Health Care, The Constitution

The 80s Are Over, My Friend

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

Congress passed a bill Wednesday that would narrow the disparity between mandatory sentences for crack and powder cocaine possession, changing a 24-year-old law that critics said unfairly subjected blacks to longer prison terms than whites.

The measure was approved by voice vote in the House and sent to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law, The Associated Press reported. The bill made it through the Senate in March.

The legislation would overhaul a 1986 law that mandated a person convicted of crack cocaine possession get the same mandatory prison term as someone with 100 times the same amount of cocaine in powder form. The bill passed Wednesday reduces that ratio to about 18-1, the AP said.

Cord Jefferson at The Root:

Twenty-four years ago, at the height of America’s crack epidemic, Congress enacted legislation that saw persons convicted of possessing crack receive prison sentences equal to persons possessing 100 times that amount in powder cocaine. This was problematic for many reasons, the most glaring being that African Americans possessing crack went to jail in droves while white defendants, who more often dabbled in expensive powder cocaine, escaped without prison bids. After the Senate passed the bill in March, Attorney General Eric Holder commented, “There is no law enforcement or sentencing rationale for the current disparity between crack and cocaine powder offenses.”

Unfortunately, today’s vote makes the ratio between crack and powder cocaine sentences 18-to-1—still not perfectly equal. But it’s a step, and a bipartisan one at that. Six Republicans co-sponsored the bill, including Lindsay Graham and Orrin Hatch.

Jacob Sullum at Reason:

Under current law, five grams of crack triggers the same five-year mandatory minimum sentence as 500 grams of powder; likewise, 50 grams of crack triggers the same 10-year mandatory minimum sentence as five kilograms of powder. The bill passed today, which President Obama is expected to sign soon, will reduce those 100-to-1 ratios by 82 percent. From now on, a drug offender will need only 18 times as much powder to get the same sentence he would get for crack. That’s still crazy, but substantially less so. In addition to reducing the sentencing disparity, the bill abolishes the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack (as opposed to possession with intent to distribute), another way in which federal law treats smokable cocaine with unusual severity. Families Against Mandatory Minimums says this is “the first time that Congress has repealed a mandatory minimum drug sentence since the Nixon administration.”

Mark Kleiman:

This time, the bill had lots of conservative Republican support, but the ranking Republican on House Judiciary demonstrated why it’s taken more than 20 years to change the law by pulling out the usual demoagogic warnings about rampant drug abuse. The Fraternal Order of Police also weighed in on the wrong side.

Sens. Dick Durbin and Jeff Sessions and Rep. Bobby Scott all deserve congratulations, though I think an administrative fix – regulating the conditions under which the mandatory could be invoked by federal prosecutors so that only worthwhile cases could be brought – would have been cleaner and quicker.

This is one more indication that at least marginally sensible drug policy is now politically discusable.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

I agree entirely with Adam Serwer when he says that this passage makes the crack disparity “only one fifth as racist as it used to be.” But you know what we don’t do a lot of in this country? Reduce sentences. Check out the makeup of the world’s largest prison population and you’ll see what I mean. “Law ‘n’ Order” and “Tough on Crime” remain shibboleths used by politicians to hammer away at criminal sentencing reformists. So ANY change in a positive direction takes a ridiculous amount of work and struggle. This is a small step, but it’s a step in the right direction.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights has a backgrounder on the law change. And the Houston Chronicle spoke out in a very good editorial today. Now, the next step is to eliminate this disparity entirely, so we actually have equal justice under the law.

Steven Taylor:

Don’t get me wrong:  I would not recommend crack cocaine usage and there were (and are) still social costs of some significance associated with its usage.  The problem with the reaction in the 1980s was that, like much of our drug laws, we overreact and make rules based on fear and the drama of the moment rather than rational consideration of the problem.  We paint each new drug as practically the end of the world and react accordingly (the current drug of fear is meth-in the past it was heroin).  Again:  all of these are substances that cause substantial harm, but we tend to lack a sense of proportion in dealing with them.

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Filed under War On Drugs

What A Bunch Of College Dropouts!

Martin Finucane at The Boston Globe:

The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.

“What we are submitting is the idea that the president should be selected by the majority of people in the United States of America,” Senator James B. Eldridge, an Acton Democrat, said before the Senate voted to enact the bill.

Under the new bill, he said, “Every vote will be of the same weight across the country.”

But Senate minority leader Richard Tisei said the state was meddling with a system that was “tried and true” since the founding of the country.

“We’ve had a lot of bad ideas come through this chamber over the years, but this is going to be one of the worst ideas that has surfaced and actually garnered some support,” said Tisei, who is also the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

The bill, which passed on a 28-to-9 vote, now heads to Democratic Governor Deval Patrick’s desk. The governor has said in the past that he supports the bill, said his spokeswoman Kim Haberlin.

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

If Patrick signs the bill, it would be a victory for activists who have been campaigning in other states to get similar legislation passed. Supporters say the current Electoral College system is arcane and outdated and causes candidates to campaign in battleground states while largely ignoring the rest of the country.

Under their plan, if states carrying a majority of the electoral votes — 270 out of 538 — enact the law, the candidate winning the most votes nationally would be assured a majority of Electoral College votes, according to the Globe.

Illinois, New Jersey, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have already approved the legislation, according to the advocacy group National Popular Vote.

A similar measure passed both branches of the Massachusetts Legislature two years ago but did not make it all the way through the process, the Globe said.

Smitty at Robert Stacy McCain’s place:

Boston.com reports that the Massachusetts legislature is going in through the out door again, passing a law to ignore the will of their people, and instead just give their electoral votes to the popular vote winner nation wide.

But Senate minority leader Richard Tisei said the state was meddling with a system that was “tried and true” since the founding of the country.
. . .
Tisei also criticized the proponents for not following the normal procedures to seek a constitutional amendment.

“The thing about this that bothers me the most is it’s so sneaky. This is the way that liberals do things a lot of times, very sneaky,” he said. “This is sort of an end run around the Constitution.”

Abso-effing-lutely. This is what Article Five is about. Understood, there seems to be a psychological joy, which some find, in taking words to mean whatever they wish. Hence the Commerce Clause becoming the Constitution over the last century. Hence the “judicial deference” doctrine, where Congress can emote whatever it wishes, and We The People get to watch the 14-ish trillion dollar debt pile up due to Federal over-reach.

Does this state even merit the privilege of having the USS Constitution moored in Charlestown?

One hopes the American people grasp that this is one more step down the path of collapse into tyranny. Possibly not a big one, but a step nonetheless, and unlikely to gain much traction in Virginia.

Daniel Foster at The Corner:

I know that this is remedial for Cornerites, but the electoral college is one of the last vestiges of federalism we have left. It reflects the Founders’ conviction that the method of choosing the Executive should reflect the will of the several states qua states — he’s called the President of the United States, not the President of America. The desire to protect the integrity and discreteness of the states, and to prevent the most populace states from running up the score in the popular vote, was the essence of the Connecticut Compromise. Do away with the college and you might as well abolish the Senate. Not that many on the Left would shed too many tears over that prospect.

In any event, there is something of a consolation prize here: unless and until enough states adopt the measure to give it teeth,Massachusetts will wind up serving as a mere rubber stamp for whoever wins the presidency by accruing enough votes in the other 49 states. Which means Massachusetts could realistically go Republican in 2012. . .

Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker:

The Cato Institute, the Vatican (or maybe the Saddleback Church) of corporate libertarianism, recently hosted a debate between John R. Koza, the Pope (or maybe the Martin Luther) of the National Popular Vote plan, and Tara Ross, the Virgin Mary (or maybe the Flying Nun) of the electoral-college status quo.


The most striking aspect of this debate is how extraordinarily feeble Ms. Ross’s arguments sound. Watching the discussion unfold, I was tempted to suspect that the fix was in—that the Cato Institute had rigged the fight in Dr. Koza’s favor. But that can’t be right, because Cato opposes the National Popular Vote plan. It even sent the director of its “Center for Representative Government” to testify against it before a state legislature.

One is forced to conclude that the arguments sound feeble because they are feeble.

Two examples. Ms. Ross argues that N.P.V. would undermine the two-party system. She says that there would be “five, six, ten Presidential candidates in elections. There’s no reason for there not to be.” As a result, she says, we would end up with a President elected with fifteen per cent (“or it might be twenty per cent, or whatever”) of the popular vote.

In reality, there is a very good “reason for there not to be.” The domination of two large, coalition-like parties is a function of the fact that there can be only one winner of a Presidential election. If it were remotely true that popular-vote elections cause parties to proliferate, then you would expect to find examples of this phenomenon. Since all fifty states elect their governors this way, there ought to be at least a couple that have, or have ever had, this problem. If the problem is a function of size—the larger the electorate, the more likely parties are to proliferate—you would expect to find such proliferation in, say, at least one of the four largest states, each of which is more populous than the entire country was in 1840. You find no such thing. It doesn’t happen in California (pop. thirty-seven million), it doesn’t happen in Wyoming (pop. half a million), and it wouldn’t happen in the United States of America (pop. three hundred million).

So that argument is merely untrue. A second argument—that N.P.V. would empower regional candidates—goes further: it is the exact opposite of the truth. Do I really need to explain why awarding a hundred per cent of a state’s electors to the plurality winner in that state favors candidates whose appeal is regional as opposed to national? “The George Wallaces of the world, which right now have basically no impact on national elections, would have a much larger voice,” she argues. No impact? In 1968, Wallace, whose appeal was regional, got 13.5 per cent of the popular vote and 46 electoral votes. In 1992, Ross Perot, whose appeal was national, got 18.9 per cent of the popular vote and zero electoral votes.

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

I suspect that two factors are at work here. The first is an attachment to the status quo and a reverence for American political institutions of all stripes, which is certainly commendable up to a point (the point being a recognition of when the institution has failed.) The second is Republican partisanship — since 2000, many Republicans associate criticism of the electoral college with the delegitimization of the Bush presidency. That is to say, if we admit that the electoral college is unfair, then we admit that Al Gore was the rightful winner in 2000. That’s also an understandable sentiment but not a good basis for defending an ineffective electoral mechanism.

Tara Ross at The Corner:

NPV commits Massachusetts to an interstate compact, which goes into effect once states holding 270 electors (a majority) have agreed to sign it. Under the terms of the compact, participating states must allocate their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote (instead of each state’s popular vote). If this compact goes into effect, theElectoral College will exist in theory, but not in practice. Patrick’s signature will make Massachusetts the sixth state to approve the compact. The first five were Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington. New York and the District of Columbia could also soon jump on this bandwagon.

The Massachusetts legislature has forgotten (or never knew) the lessons of history that caused the founding generation to create institutions such as theElectoral College . The Founders had an interesting challenge in front of them: How could they encourage successful self-governance in a country as big and diverse as America? They faced two challenges: First, they knew that, as a matter of history, pure democracies fail. John Adams once noted, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” In such a system, it is simply too easy for bare or emotional majorities to tyrannize minority groups. The Founders’ second challenge came from the vastness of America’s territory: Some wondered how the alternative to democracy, republicanism, would operate in such a large nation.

The Founders solved their dilemma by drafting a Constitution that blended three different governmental principles: republicanism, democracy, and federalism. America would be self-governing, but minority groups (especially the small states) would have tools with which to protect themselves from unreasonable rule by the majority. The federalist aspects of the nation would help solve the problem of extending a republic across such a broad swath of territory.

The founding generation thought that a nation of thirteen states was big and would require unique solutions. What would they think about a nation of fifty states?

UPDATE: Steven Taylor

Mark Thompson at The League


Filed under Legislation Pending

Retirement, Hello!

Tim Surette at TV.com:

Larry King has died. Oh wait, what? He just retired? Oh. Okay. Larry King has retired as host of Larry King Live, the long-running program that began 25 years ago. King will still hang around the CNN offices occasionally, hosting various specials and stealing pens, but he’s done with his nightly show.

John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up. Hudson:

After years of interviewing A-list celebrities and political heavyweights, Larry King is retiring from his post at CNN. In a brief statement, King wrote:

I’ll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects. I’m incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I’m looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.

In the last few months, a growing chorus of media observes had urged him to retire.

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

“Larry King Live” recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot.

Despite dropping in the ratings in recent months, the show has remained a prominent outlet for newsmakers to tell their stories, from O.J. Simpson to Octomom and Monica Lewinsky to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. King, always wearing suspenders and dark-rimmed glasses, is known for asking straightforward questions and giving guests time to talk.

Seemingly every major politician has scheduled a campaign stop to sit across from King’s signature vintage microphone. During their 2008 presidential runs, Barack Obama and John McCain made multiple appearances. Billionaire Ross Perot announced he was running for president in 1992 on the program. And the show was the setting for the historic NAFTA debate between then-Vice President Al Gore and Perot in 1993, which for more than a decade was the highest-rated program in cable history, according to CNN.

King has sat down with every U.S. president since Richard Nixon. CNN said King has interviewed more than 50,000 people, “including Marlon Brando, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Paul McCartney, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, L. Ron Hubbard, Madonna and Martin Luther King, Jr.”

The network has not confirmed published reports that British television personality Piers Morgan will succeed King in the 9 p.m. ET slot.

Newsbook at The Economist:

The departure of Ms Brown and Mr King opens a two-hour window to fix this problem. CNN has already announced plans for half of it. Eliot Spitzer, who governed New York state until he dallied with a prostitute, will host a discussion programme with Kathleen Parker, a conservative newspaper columnist. Non-partisanship will give way to partisan crossfire.

There are rumours that Mr King’s chair will be occupied by Piers Morgan, who is best known in America for judging America’s Got Talent, a competitive variety show. In Britain, on the other hand, Mr Morgan is mostly associated with a turbulent spell at the Daily Mirror newspaper. He was pushed out in 2004 following the publication of hoaxed pictures purporting to show British troops abusing Iraqis. If nothing else, his arrival would make CNN less dull.

Joel Keller at TV Squad:

I’m jealous of Larry King.

No, really, I am. Not of his family life or his sartorial choices (he’s too pigeon-shouldered for those suspenders), but of his interviewing skills.

You heard me. As a guy who’s done his fair share of celebrity interviews over the years, to the point where I’m starting to forget who I’ve spoken to and when, I’ve always marveled at how Larry was able to get the people who came into his studio to open up and get personal with him.

In the olden days of magazines, reporters would have to hang out with their subjects for weeks on end, or delve deeply into their subjects’ lives via research and reporting in order to get so personal. King, on the other hand, managed to do it in just under an hour, when the only research he may have is a few quotes and what the subject’s next project was.

Now that King has decided to semi-retire, that style will be hard to replicate. How was he able to do it?

He made his guests comfortable. Let’s face it; to many, Larry is the doddering but curious grandfather people always liked talking to. And he used that perception to his advantage. He never, ever put his guests on the spot as soon as they sat down. Often he opens with a question about their latest project or what they’ve been doing lately. He gently leads them to the point where he can ask them open-ended questions about real feelings they have as opposed to canned PR-approved answers. To some, those questions were softballs. But to those who really knew his methods, those were his way to get people to relax.

Tony Collings at Firedoglake:

Amid all the praise for Larry King as he prepares to depart, I hate to rain on his parade but the truth is that much of what he did was bad journalism. He used up an entire hour at an all-news network to give celebrities free publicity, at a time when I and other CNN Washington correspondents were trying to ask the tough questions that journalists need to ask. Most of the time King’s questions weren’t even softballs. They were invitations to celebrities to tell us how wonderful they are. And the worst moment of all came on Jan. 18, 2001.

That was when King was on the stage with newly-elected President George W. Bush. It was at a pre-inaugural party paid for by Bush supporters and carried live on CNN. The decision had been made by CNN to let King host the event, a decision that CNN execs later regretted, since this clearly created the appearance of pro-administration bias by an employee of a news organization. Good journalists are supposed to not only be detached but adopt an adversarial relationship toward the powerful. That evening Larry King did the exact opposite.

To make it worse, at one point he rushed up to Bush and hugged him.

I watched in dismay, and so did most other journalists. As CNN reporter John King (no relation) later put it: “I watched in shame and horror.”

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Filed under Mainstream, TV

Oh My God! They Indicted Kenny! … You Bastards!

Ravi Somaiya at Gawker:

First Goldman Sachs gets a lawsuit from the SEC, now prosecutors have indicted a former Blackwater president and four other former employees on weapons charges. Details are not yet clear. But who knows where this Federal justice train will stop.

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

The 15-count indictment accuses the five of skirting federal firearms laws and misrepresenting weapons sales, Reuters reported.

Gary Jackson, the company’s former president, was charged along with former general counsel Andrew Howell; former executive vice president William Mathews; former vice president of logistics and procurement, Ana Bundy; and former armorer Ronald Slezak.

Prosecutors said they gave weapons as gifts to Jordanian officials in hopes of winning their business. To account for the missing guns, Jackson allegedly ordered employees to fill out paperwork falsely showing that Blackwater workers had bought the guns for their own use.

The Justice Department said there was no wrongdoing by the Jordanian government and said the country helped in the probe, according to Reuters.

Zachery Roth at TPM:

The AP reported last month that the Feds were considering charges stemming from a 2008 raid, in which federal agents found and seized 22 weapons, including 17 AK-47s. The Feds were probing whether Blackwater obtained the letterhead of a local sheriff in order to create a false justification for buying the guns.

Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services last year, after a 2007 shooting by Blackwater guards in Baghdad killed 17 Iraqis.


The Justice Department just indicted five evil southern scum-lords who used to run Blackwater, the private murder company hired by Dick Cheney to kill everyone in Iraq. The charges? Weapons violations, something about illegal machine guns, lies to the Feds, general criminality. No murder charges, because it’s always the little shit that brings down these big shits.

Nick Baumann at Mother Jones:

The South Park guys have hinted that an episode about the Blackwater/Cartman incident could be forthcoming this season. Anyway, the full AP report on the gun charges is here.

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Filed under Crime, GWOT

Returning, For A Moment, To Fort Hood…

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

Up to eight Army officers could be disciplined for failing to properly handle the behavorial and professional problems of the accused Ft. Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, in the years leading up to the November rampage.

A Defense Department review concluded that if Hasan had been dealt with correctly his career might have ended before the shooting spree at the Army base that left 13 people dead, according to a military official who spoke to the Los Angeles Times.

Hasan’s superiors allowed his psychiatry career to advance despite the fact that he repeatedly failed to meet basic officer standards for work ethic, appearance and physical fitness, according to the report.

The officers whose actions may be called into question hold ranks of colonel and below, and could be given letters of reprimand, the official, who spoke anonymously, told the Times.

The report also found the Pentagon’s policies toward internal threats are outdated and don’t focus enough on hunting down extremists, the official said.

The Jawa Report:

The report — or at least, AP’s take on the report — downplay’s Hasan’s radical Islamist ties, instead focusing on the fact that he was often late for work, a loner, and disheveled. You see, the problem here was that he was a bad employee who was promoted, not that he supported jihad.

The dumbest part of the report?Hasan showed no signs of being violent or a threat. Really? He attended a mosque where Anwar al Awlaki worked. The same mosque attended by two 9/11 hijackers and Ahmed Omar Abu Ali. He used an acronym for Soldier of Allah on his business cards. He made many anti-military and anti-American statements. He even publicly defended terrorists!

No. Signs. Of. Violence.

Also showing no signs of prior violence?

Jed Gladstein:

How can the American military come to grips with home-grown Islamic terrorism when it won’t even acknowledge that political correctness enabled the Fort Hood massacre just as surely as an alcoholics’ wife enables his obsession by her co-dependency?

At a hearing televised on C-SPAN today, former Chief of Naval Operations, Vern Clark, and former Head of the Army, Togo West, fielded some questions from reporters about the Fort Hood terrorist incident. The two retired military officers are the Co-Leaders of what is euphemistically being called the “Fort Hood Shootings Review.”

The retired senior military officials intoned their recommendation that, for the American military, “situational awareness is the order of the day.” But when a reporter asked “Was political correctness a factor in overlooking the self-radicalization that went on here?” the best the officers could offer was “That question is out of bounds.”

Out of bounds? No, I’ll tell you what’s out of bounds: any military policy, procedure or official who for the sake of “diversity” risks the life of a single American soldier. That’s what’s out of bounds. And the sooner the military bigwigs get that, the safer our soldiers will be.

Bill Bennett at National Review:

You can read that “low self-esteem, depression, and anger are tied to many different types of violence” in the report. You can read about “workplace violence” and “disgruntled employees” in the report. You can read about “Motivations for domestic terrorism” such as “animal rights, “white supremacy,” and “religious intolerance” thrown in on equal par among other factors that simply were not in play here in the report. And you can read the grand conclusion that “Religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor; most fundamentalist groups are not violent, and religious-based violence is not confined to members of fundamentalist groups.”

But you would be reading a complete and total whitewash. You’d be reading a lie of a report. But that is what the Pentagon has produced.

Here was a situation where an Islamist reached out to Islamist imams like Anwar Awlaki who has worked with other terrorists, including 9/11 hijackers. Where he had a business card that read “Soldier of Allah,” Where he yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire on fellow soldiers and Americans. Where he delivered a lecture and said “non-Muslims were infidels condemned to hell who should be set on fire.” Where he told his neighbor the morning he set off on his rampage that “I’m going to do good work for God.” Where he said his allegiance was “to sharia law” not “American law” when asked by his colleagues. Where his classmates said “no one would . . . have trusted him with anything.”

And yet he was made a major. And yet he was educated by the U.S. military. And yet he was kept in the U.S. military. And he then went to war with the United States.

Kathryn Jean Lopez at The Corner

Paul Mirengoff at Powerline:

On Friday, the Department of Defense released its report on the Fort Hood Massacre –“Protecting the Force: Lessons from Fort Hood.” It is a disgraceful document. Indeed, Ralph Peters does not exaggerate when he says:

Rarely in the course of human events has a report issued by any government agency been so cowardly and delusional. It’s so inept, it doesn’t even rise to cover-up level.

The report attributes the fact that the military did not identify the threat posed by the Nidal Hasan — it calls him “the alleged perpetrator” — to bureaucratic shortcomings in the acquisition and sharing of information. As to accumulating information, the report finds that “current definition for prohibited activities [by members of the armed forces] is incomplete and does not provide adequate guidance for commanders and supervisors to act on potential threats to security.” In addition, “there is no well-integrated means to gather, evaluate, and disseminate the side range of behaviorial indicators which could hlep our comomanders better anticipate and internal threat.”

Second, the report finds a “gap” in the sharing of information. According to the authors, “the mechanisms for sharing potential indicators of internal threats with appropriate command channels are limited.” The report calls for an end to allowing “bureaucratic concerns by specific entities over protecting ‘their’ information” to “prevent relevant threat information and indicators from reaching those who need it — the commanders.”

It is embarrassing for me to even type these words. As Peters notes, the signs that Hasan was a radical Islamist who might well be a danger were abundantly clear, nor were they not missed by his associates. And the fact that his associates did not share this information was not due to poor bureaucratic “architecture” or turf protection. The information was not shared because, given Hasan’s status as “the Army’s sole Palestinian-American psychiatrist,” his “superiors feared — correctly — that any attempt to call attention to his radicalism or to prevent his promotion would backfire on them, destroying their careers, not his.”

James Joyner:

Most obviously, the DoD will have to figure out how to get commanders, who have been socialized over the last two decades or more to avoid drawing attention to racial, ethnic, religious differences to have the courage to report suspicious behavior up the ranks — and to do so without creating a command climate that feels hostile to devout Muslims who are loyal soldiers.

Thomas Joscelyn at TWS

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Filed under Crime, GWOT, Military Issues

Take Off Your Shoes, Belt, Open Your Bag, Post Procedures On The Internet

Christopher Weber at Politics Daily:

The Transportation Security Administration says secrets about airport screening practices were inadvertantly posted on the Internet as part of a contract solicitation.

The TSA’s 93-page Standard Operating Procedures manual went online with some sections redacted, ABC News first reported. But hackers were able to easily undo the redactions and top secret passages were distributed across the Web.

The details revealed involve special screening rules for diplomats, CIA agents, and police.

The manual provides easily copied images of credentials used by members of Congress, the Federal Air Marshals, the CIA and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It also reveals that only 20 percent of checked bags are hand searched for explosives, and it details limitations of x-ray screening, ABC reported.

“This is an appalling and astounding breach of security that terrorists could easily exploit,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. “The TSA should immediately convene an internal investigation and discipline those responsible.”

News of the security breach comes one day before the Senate Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on preventing terrorists from traveling.

Ed Morrissey:

Part of maintaining a security protocol is securing the protocol itself.  Those wishing to breach security for whatever purpose maintain a constant watch on procedures and training, looking for chinks in the armor.  Normally that takes a lot of trial and error, with plenty of risk for the malefactors for detection and capture.  Overcoming that intensive dedication to lost resources would be a prime goal of any terrorist network, but especially those whose numbers have been greatly reduced by a full-blown war conducted by the US on them — primarily al-Qaeda in this instance.

The publication of this data removes the requirement to throw lots of resources against the security protocol to learn its weak points.  That means that people flying now are at higher risk, thanks to the exposure of this information.  It almost certainly means that TSA will have to change these procedures, which will mean longer waits at security checkpoints for the foreseeable future, as they attempt to close the breach they themselves created.

Israel Matzav

Ed Oswald at Technologizer:

TSA officials are claiming that the document is “outdated,” however critics argue that the screening process has likely not changed that drastically that the procedures detailed here are worthless to terrorists and other interested parties.

Certainly this breach is a threat to national security, and I tend to agree with those critics who say this one is pretty serious. 9/11 was a product of terrorists understanding the loopholes in our airport security procedures, and this breach now threatens to give our enemies insight into how we’re keeping them out.

Not good at all.

James Joyner:

Some of what’s now been revealed would have been easy enough to guess.  Presumably, al Qaeda isn’t going to send people with Saudi and Yemeni passports to blow up planes, anyway. And that a wheelchair and orthopedic shoes would likely lessen the suspicion with which you’re viewed by security officials isn’t exactly shocking — although that doesn’t mean TSA won’t now start aggressively screening wheelchair-bound grannies.  Thankfully, there are seldom more than 2 or 3 of those on a flight, anyway, so the additional delays and stupidity will be modest.

Nor am I terribly concerned that photocopies of CIA credentials have been published. Presumably, people skilled enough to counterfeit them already have more useful models from which to work.   And the average terrorist plotter, even those who consider themselves al Qaeda operatives, lack the skillsets to make use of this information.

More troubling is the detailed information on the limitations of screening equipment.  Again, that’s information for which there were surely alternate paths for well organized terrorist cells.   But would-be terrorists now have a pretty good idea of how TSA deals with those limitations.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing

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Filed under GWOT, Homeland Security, Infrastructure