In a major development on the Clinton email scandal, the New York Times is reporting that the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence community have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether there was mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton using a personal email account while secretary of state. While the newspaper referred to the action as a criminal referral, the Administration quickly moved to counter the story and insist that it is not technically a criminal referral. We have previously discussed this story and the insistence of Clinton that she did nothing wrong in maintaining a private email system and that none of the emails were classified. I disagreed with both premises as well as expressed great skepticism over Clinton’s insistence that she was really not trying to control her emails and insulate them from review but rather simply did not want to carry around two phones. According to the New York Times, investigators believe that Clinton’s email archive contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.” Nevertheless, the Justice Department appears to be moving to counter any expectation of a criminal investigation against the former Secretary of State under Obama. We have previously discussed the special treatment historically given powerful figures in violating national security rules or practices.
I have been a critic of aspects of the case against former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Blagojevich, 58, was convicted of 18 counts of corruption and given a 14-year sentence. The most problematic charge in my view concerned Blagojevich’s wheeling and dealing for the appointment of a successor to fill the 2008 vacant U.S. Senate seat of then-President-Elect Barack Obama. Now a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has overturned five of the counts specifically dealing with that vacancy controversy.
Retired general and former Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark has caused a stir with an interview with MSNBC in which he appeared to call for the establishment of World War II-style internment camps to be revived for “disloyal Americans.” Clark used the infamous American internment camps for Japanese, German, and Italian Americans as a model: “if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put him in a camp, they were prisoners of war.”
The Justice Department has lost a major case where it sought to bar efforts to determine if a convicted rapist is in fact innocent. The Obama Administration argued in United States v. Watson that Bill Watson should not be able to use a new DNA test that was not available when he was convicted of a rape in 2006. Despite dozens of cases where convicted individuals were proven innocent, the Obama Administration fought to prevent the use of this test even though the Innocence Project offered to shoulder all of the costs. The position of the Justice Department was inimical to the values of due process and the rule of law, in my view. The United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit rejected the highly technical claims that neither Watson nor the court should knew the true identity of source of key evidence found at the crime scene.
I am rather perplexed by a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman to order not just four more years of community service for filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza but continuation of psychological counseling despite the countervailing findings of two experts in the case. Judge Berman was on solid ground in much of his opinion on the conditions of the prior sentencing order. While tough, the defense was trying to curtail key aspects of the order. However, the counseling component does concern me.
The Redskins lost a major challenge this week to the cancellation of the their trademark protection by the Patent and Trademark Office. I have previously written about my disagreement with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decision to rescind federal trademark protections for the Redskins as a racially disparaging name as well as the underlying law used to strip the team of its trademark protection. The law allows for a small administrative office to effectively dictate the outcome of a long simmering societal debate over the team name. More importantly, the standard for determining what names or words are disparaging remains dangerously undefined with striking contradictions as we have previously discussed in permitted and disallowed trademarks.
There is an interesting criminal appeal filed in Pennsylvania by a convicted murderer Robert Urwin Jr., 58 who has serious reservations about the judge who presided at his trial. He should know. Former Washington County Common Pleas Judge Paul Pozonsky was later sentenced in the same courthouse for stealing cocaine from the evidence room and replacing it with baking soda.