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Guantanamo military tribunals ruled unlawful.

Judgment on the US Supreme Court website for those who want 185 pages of pdf.

ETA: particularly important because the decision is more wide-reaching than simply covering the Special Tribunals question. A significant part of the reasoning is the fact that the majority found that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions does apply to the so-called War on Terror. That has implications well beyond these tribunals.

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I've been arguing about the cretinous description of three Guantanamo detainees killing themselves as "assymetrical warfare" elsewhere rather than here: the Fafblog engages with the notion as only it can...

they only committed suicide as part of a diabolical ruse to trick the world into thinking our secret torture camp is the kind of secret torture camp that drives its prisoners to commit suicide! This fiendish attempt to slander the great American institution of the gulag is nothing less than an act of asymmetrical warfare against the United States - a noose is just a suicide bomb with a very small blast radius, people! - and when faced with a terrorist attack, America must respond. Giblets demands immediate retaliatory airstrikes on depressed Muslim torture victims throughout the mideast!


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Craig Murray has a few new posts on the extraordinary rendition affair: (1), (2), (3). This story has not gone away yet...

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I am in my London office, which is nice. And the weather is better here, which is also nice.

I had to get up at 5 to be here, and the office for which I personally pay City of London style rent (literally, in the last round of rent-reviews we lost the battle over what the comparables should be) is full of other people's junk. Which is less nice. Heigh ho.

Thanks for all the kind words and thoughts on yesterday's post and by email etc.

Because I can't be bothered to do a separate post, Hilzoy on Obsidian Wings on the Maher Arrar decision:

Apparently, one of the counts could have proceeded had the Court not found that the national security questions it raises require that it be deferred to Congress or the executive. The courts, according to the decision, lack the foreign policy expertise to decide such questions, and therefore they should be left to the "political branches" of the government.

I think this is just wrong. Article VI of the Constitution states that "all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby". We have entered into the Convention Against Torture. Article III of that Convention states that "No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture." There are very substantial grounds for believing that someone rendered to Syria, as Arar was, would be tortured, even leaving aside the possibility that we asked the Syrians to torture him. We have therefore violated one of those treaties which are, according to the Constitution, the law of the land.

This means that the extradition of Maher Arar is a violation of the law. It may also have foreign policy implications, but it does not thereby cease to be a violation of the law. And while conducting foreign policy may not fall within normal judicial expertise, reading laws, and determining whether the facts in evidence warrant conviction under them, is exactly what judges do. If determining when conduct violates a law and when it does not does not fall within their purview, I have no idea why on earth we bother to have them.

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From Unconfirmed Sources

Unnamed White House Source Wegman (Pudgy) Waterhouse, speaking on the condition that he was totally pissed at this authors use of other Unnamed Sources with names that were very similar to his said, “Okay, okay, I can see where people might see the humor in Bush talking about vote fraud, but it’s important that the Ukrainian People understand something that’s vitally important: we don’t give a lanyo what they think. They’re just a shitty little people in a shitty little country. We’re just looking for something that will get Americans attention away from the fact that we’re gonna postpone elections in Iraq because the whole place is totally out of control.

Speaking on the condition that he was more anonymous than ever before Waterhouse continued, “We see it shaking out this way: A Revolution will make for a few days of great TV, especially since Ukrainian chicks are pretty good looking, all thin and drawn and pale. During the Protest phase we’ll slip in a report that we may delay the Iraq Elections; as soon as people start to notice that one of the main pledges of George Bush’s Campaign is in the toilet we’ll ask Vlad (Russian President Vladimir Putin) to send in troops to quell the uprising. That’ll give us at least a month of television news reports full of dead cute Ukrainian chicks, further distracting Americans from Iraqi Insurgents, Military Deaths, Halliburton and Tom DeLay. By the time the whole thing is over we’ll have solidified our strangle hold on the Bill of Rights and we’ll have Iran in our crosshairs.”


Nov. 10th, 2004 10:26 pm
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Splendid piece of invective.

(Edited to note that Chrysaphi, Christina and doubtless thousands of others with roots in or connexions to the southern states of the USA (for any one of a number of possible values of "southern") justifiably take exception to the page. I see their point.)

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Hah. Daniel on Crooked Timber suggests a plan that I've been advocating while drunk over the last few years: the way for the UK to influence the US is to join it.


Nov. 4th, 2004 06:15 am
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In a rush: two entirely unrelated links:

Earthsea miniseries forthcoming.

Further to an aside of ABOTF's on the Culture: Boris on how Bush owes Blair.

(ETA: Oh, and also My eyes hurt now)

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Well, there it is then. I have nothing to say. If you want the long view of where the US is going try Rich, here (or here). If you want a rational look at the Democrats you may agree with Brad or with Daniel on Crooked Timber, and again on Crooked Timber there's an interesting article pointing out the difference between a conservative and a neoconservative. If you want the soundtrack for today, there's Kat. If you want resigned optimism, there's A.J.Hall. If you want to join in the comments on a splendid bit of polemic I'm sure Brendan has the energy for you (and see also L'Emmerdeur for not dissimilar sentiments from an American).

Me, I'm following the inflatable president with Fafnir and Giblets.

Appositely enough, I've just been watching the last part of The Power of Nightmares. One-sided it undoubtedly is, nevertheless his description of the intelligence about the existence and intentions of the alleged Islamicist terror network reminded me irresistibly of Umberto Eco's deconstruction of the true history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (dealt with briefly in Foucault's Pendulum and examined in more detail in an essay in Six Walks in the Fictional Woods): a Russian revolutionary turned Tsarist secret policeman's fantasy; based on a scene in a bad novel written by a German postman masquerading as a British diplomat itself borrowed from a scene from a good novel by Dumas (Joseph Balsamo) but using the Jews in the place of Dumas' Illuminati and ascribing to them a plot from a pamphlet by someone else accusing Napoleon III of nefarious doings; which had itself taken the description of the plot from a polemic by Sue against the Jesuits. (It shouldn't be, but probably is, necessary to point out that I am not drawing any direct parallels between radical Islamicists and Jews here, merely between the ways their "plots" have been analysed and raised panic.)

Edited to add: Jesus Christ! Lawyers: how's this for a specific disclosure application (well, Freedom of Information strictly)?:

"Item 1. All notes, emails, memos, and other communications pertaining to any and all problems experienced with the voting system, ballots, voter registration, or any component of your elections process, beginning October 12, through November 3, 2004.
Item 2. Copies of the results slips from all polling places for the Nov. 2, 2004 election. If you have more than one copy, we would like the copy that is signed by your poll workers and/or election judges.
Item 7: All e-mails, letters, notes, and other correspondence between any employee of your elections division and any other person, pertaining to your voting system, any anomalies or problems with any component of the voting system, any written communications with vendors for any component of your voting system, and any records pertaining to upgrades, improvements, performance enhancement or any other changes to your voting system, between Oct. 12, 2004 and Nov. 3, 2004.
Item 8: So that we may efficiently clarify any questions pertaining to your specific county, please provide letterhead for the most recent non-confidential correspondence between your office and your county counsel, or, in lieu of this, just e-mail us the contact information for your county counsel."

(Black Box Voting)
(from Quixotic Kitten)

Edited to further add, because I really can't be arsed to do another post, there's also Mike Knell debating where the real threat to our way of life is to be found

I can't do original content these days. Can you tell?

Oh Fuck

Nov. 3rd, 2004 08:57 am
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I'd managed to convince myself this wasn't really going to happen...

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And who better to give it than The Medium Lobster.

"The Medium Lobster will deign to share these revelations, gleaned after hours of meditation and fervent study of reams of data projections over the last several months, with the lumpen masses: that George W. Bush will win with 59.7% of the popular vote and 352 electoral votes, precisely.

And now, the Medium Lobster shall retire for the moment, leaving his audience gasping and applauding in his wake. In one month he shall emerge once more with a breakdown of how many undecided voters - within the margin of error - can dance on the head of Ohio."

With such authority backing my prediction, I am confident that Martin's tenner is as good as mine. Sadly.

I seem to have become third counsel in some really scarily bigtime multi-jurisdiction multi-suit (currently seven separate suits and another to be drafted shortly) litigation. Which is in many ways a very good thing, but I have a horrible feeling my life may be about to disappear out of the window. Possibly for a very long time. Ho hum.


Oct. 31st, 2004 11:32 pm
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I hate having to work on Sundays.

In particular I hate having to research recent developments in s.459 petitions and trying to draft some reasons why certain offshore jurisdictions should follow our bad habits.

In particular particular I hate doing so, and preparing for a posession on Monday morning, and preparing for an administration action before the Chancery Masters on Monday afternoon, and preparing a skeleton for Friday next that really ought to be filed already, and doing so when I'm already feeling blue about Stuff.

Where'd all the fun go? Not to mention all the time for reading and writing things about something other than the law. Mind you, at least there really is offshore work in the offing,,,

Ho hum. I'd forgotten how good U2's Staring at the Sun actually is.

Completely forgot about the clocks this morning, which did at least mean I started work ridiculously early.

Oh, and someone's heart's in the right place but they have far too much time on their hands: The Bushiad and the Idyossey

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Supreme Court in habit of running a book on presidential elections... (From Crooked Timber)

(Edited to note that given the sums staked I find this amusing rather than worrying, there are far more serious concerns about the trustworthiness of the US federal electoral process, to my mind.)

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Fafnir, on who John Kerry really ought to have picked:

"A Kerry-Batman ticket would be sure to win everybody but hardcore social conservatives and superstitious and cowardly lots. Batman brings his tough-on-crime stance a lot of bipartisan credentials and a surprisingly strong Latino support, plus he has some innovative ideas on tort reform. With his years of opposition to the evil Ra's al Ghul Batman has a lot of counterterrorism experience, plus his tenure with the Justice League makes him an ideal internationalist. Now I know the big drawbacks to Batman are always (1) he is a big Republican (2) he is kind of a crazy hawk an (3) he doesnt exist but I really think Kerry coulda made it work if he threw him somethin in the platform like extra funding for security in Arkham Asylum which we totally need anyway, what is up with that place the Joker escapes like once a month."

And Giblets on why John Edwards was the wrong choice:

"John Edwards! Fah! Giblets scoffs at the sorry and miserable excuse for a veep pick that is John Edwards! If John Kerry was a real man he would have picked Giblets for his vice president - and been swiftly and viciously rejected, for Giblets will be no one's vice ANYTHING! Bow before Giblets's air of executive authority! Bow before Giblets's air of executive authority NOOOOOOOW!

Now let Giblets enumerate the many failings and corruptions of John Edwards, a miserable excuse for a vice president whom we all will be better off without!

  • He is a trial lawyer! You cannot trust trial lawyers, they stink of corruption and the corrupting influence of the trial lawyer industry! We need a vice president who is unsullied by ties to wealthy and corrupt industries!
  • He is too inexperienced! With only six years of experience in politics John Edwards is not qualified for the vice presidency. Now, if those six years were as Texas governor and if he were running for president, things would be totally different. But as it stands, he is too inexperienced!
  • He is a trial lawyer! As a trial lawyer Edwards repeatedly stole money from poor corporations to give to greedy children crippled by their products! Do we really need a vice president who is a lackey of Big Children? Giblets thinks not!
  • He is an unaccomplished liberal! What war's he started, huh? How many pointless quagmires has he stranded the American military in? Can he take a look at the monstrously-swelling national debt and say "I did that"? How many no-bid war contracts has he handed out to incompetant corporate cronies? Giblets will take John Edwards seriously when John Edwards starts doing something serious.
  • He is a trial lawyer! Giblets may have mentioned this before, he is not sure. But Giblets knows some great lawyer jokes. So a rabbi, a lawyer, and an elephant are on a bus.
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Once again, Christ on a bike... (link via Rainstorm).

LAX or Checkpoint Charlie circa 1970: you decide.

On a more amusing note (via Neil Gaiman) thousands of Christians (for certain values of Christian) plan to move to South Carolina and then secede from the union. As Gaiman notes, it is unclear what the current population of South Carolina think about this.

On a final note, days spent arguing against litigants in person are somewhat tiring. And I have a full day's trial on something rather more substantial tomorrow...

Edited to add a small theological point on the Christian Exodus people.... they say their definition of Christianity is as wide as possible, but I notice they've included the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Well, that excludes the Catholic and, to the best of my knowledge, Orthodox churches...

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.. the last word should go to the Medium Lobster on Fafblog, for once playing it utterly straight. Well, mostly:

"When we keep our leaders larger than life, they become larger than our ability to rationally discuss them. We apply wondrous sobriquets, classifying the giants of the Oval Office with Catholic precision, making saints and Mysteries of men. Who can question the fighting spirit of the Happy Warrior, or the resilience of the Comeback Kid? The very invocation of their names becomes a sacrament or blasphemy, and as long as we keep their memories blown wildly out of proportion, we'll never have to confront them.

And how much more comfortable that is for us. The danger of Reagan the man, after all, is that we might learn from him. The man was real - a flesh and blood president whose triumphs and failings might lead us to question our own preconceptions. Reagan the Icon exists only in our mind, a creature of our prejudices and ideologies - a figure from unhistory who threatens to teach us nothing."

Abu Hamza

May. 27th, 2004 08:21 pm
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The London Evening Standard informs me that the US authorities have told Abu Hamza he may face the death penalty if extradited.

Really? Well, that could leave them in severe difficulties, as the practice is, to the best of my knowledge, that extradition is only granted by the UK Home Secretary in such cases on the undertaking that the death penalty will not be imposed: see Soering v United Kingdom (1989) 11 EHRR 439 and Re: Al-Fawwaz [2001] UKHL 69 at para.121, and that conventional practice is probably so embedded now that Blunkett might well face a judicial review if he failed to honour it, on the basis of the principle of legitimate expectations, not to mention section 6(1) of the Human Rights Act 1998, Article 2 of the European Convention and Article 1 of the Sixth Protocol.

This could be interesting to watch.

(For the record, I think Abu Hamza is a prick, a rabble rouser, and a crook, I have no opinion on whether or not he is likely to have been involved in terrorism, and I oppose the death penalty even for those undeniably guilty of the most heinous crimes.)

Edited to note that by the next morning Downing Street had flatly stated that extradition would not be granted unless such an undertaking was given.

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Starting with the sublime, Brad reports Eric Alterman on Plan of Attack, and adds:

"I don't know when I'll read it: I don't think it would be healthy for me to get depressed to any further extent. And close engagement with the details of this administration--on any issue--is always depressing."

Secondly, and rather more cheerfully, Samuel Pepys speaks from beyond the grave to tell us just how he felt the morning after the coronation of Charles II, 24th April 1661:

"Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went out with Mr. Creed to drink our morning draft, which he did give me in chocolate to settle my stomach".

Ah Sam, I sympathise. But.. chocolate and beer?

Finally, as always... Fafblog advises Ariel Sharon on how he can ensure he remembers what he needs to do and not to do:

"Now I usually get myself more organized with a To Do List. It reminds me what I have to do and not do and keeps me organized. I think Ariel Sharon would be able to keep things much straighter if he just kept a goals calendar to keep himself on track. Ariel Sharon, here is an idea to get you started:


  • brush teeth
  • buy eggs
  • aerobicize!
  • do not kill Yasser Arafat.


  • go jogging!
  • dismantle settlements
  • for lunch: a light salad.
  • do not kill Yasser Arafat."

Who needs other blogs when you have these three? Well, me, obviously, neverthless they're all high on my list.


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