Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

220px-Felthat300px-Muddy_Water_Red_desertBelow is my column today on the Perry indictment. I have previously raised my serious reservations about the factual and legal basis for a criminal charge. We obviously do not know what evidence will be presented, particularly evidence of back channel communications that might have occurred over the threatened veto. Such conversations can have a highly damaging effect on jurors as shown by the trial of Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich. They can also damage someone politically by exposing uninhibited moments or comments. I have heard from reporters in Texas that there might have been communications between Perry and Lehmberg about her resigning but I have yet to see clear accounts of such communications. However, at the moment, I cannot see the basis for these charges. Perry publicly stated his intent to use his lawful power to veto the line item for the office budget if Lehmberg did not resign. I do not see how the use of such a lawful power in this case would rise to the level of a criminal act.

At the moment, I see a compelling case for dismissal as a threshold legal question for the court. However, the degree to which the court views this matter as turning on the factual allegations as opposed to the legal questions, it could be held over for trial. That is the problem with such ambiguously written provisions is that the court may feel more constrained in dismissing the counts. The result for Perry can be damaging even if he is acquitted as was former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison two decades ago. Hutchinson was charged with using state employees to plan her Christmas vacation in Colorado and write thank-you notes. The case was so weak that it took only 30 minutes for the jury to find her not guilty on all charges. The political danger is the exposure of private communications. Few of us are as crude as Blagojevich or his wife even in private but none of us is likely to look good if our unguarded comments were played out for a national audience. Once again, only time will tell what type of evidence was heard by the grand jury. Yet, my view is that this indictment is very problematic from a constitutional standpoint and offers little to support such a major prosecution.

Here is the column:

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Rho-Chalmers-TDPC-SelfieThere is an interesting story out of Texas in the Perry controversy that raises the difference between grand juries and petit juries. One of the grand jurors, Rho Chalmers, who indicted Governor Rick Perry turned out to be a delegate to the Texas Democratic Party convention who not only actively participated in the convention during her service but actually took a picture with a Democratic state representative who appeared as a witness before her jury.

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220px-Jay_Nixon_cropWhile like many I was shocked by the story of the shooting of an unarmed man, Michael Brown, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, I have refrained from making public comments due to the conflicting accounts that have arisen in the case. As a criminal defense attorney, I have long resisted the tendency to rush to judgment, particularly in the midst of public unrest, in such cases. I saw that as a problem in the Trayvon Martin case. Those same concerns were raised this morning with the statement of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon who publicly stated that “a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued.” Presumably, he is speaking of the arrest and prosecution of Officer Darren Wilson. However, the investigations into the case are continuing and, in my view, Nixon’s comments are wildly inappropriate at this stage.

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perry2Yesterday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry turned himself in response to the indictment for alleged abuse of power. Regardless of how you feel about Perry, he takes a damn good mug shot.

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milleryoungincident2 We have been following the controversy surrounding the confrontation of Feminist Studies Associate Professor Mireille Miller-Younga with pro-life advocates on campus. Miller-Young led her students in attacking the pro-life display, stealing their display, and then committing battery on one of the young women. Thrin Short, 16, and her sister Joan, 21, filed complaints and Miller-Young was charged with criminal conduct including Theft From Person; Battery; and Vandalism. To the surprise of some of us, faculty and students rallied behind Miller-Young. She remains employed as a faculty member. Miller-Young initially pleaded not guilty but later entered a guilty plea with an apology. She has now been sentenced to sentenced to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, 10 hours of anger management, $500 in restitution and a small fine. While her actions (and absence of serious university punishment) remain highly disturbing, some of the letters written on her behalf raise new questions over the commitment of University of California faculty to free speech and core academic principles. Miller-Young has been defended by faculty as the victim of a media campaign to portray her as “an Angry Black Woman” and her seemingly happy demeanor on the videotape has been dismissed as a “mask” that she wears as part of a “cultural legacy of slavery.”

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By Charlton S. Stanley, Weekend writer

We should have seen this coming. I believe it is going to get worse before it gets better, if ever. At some point there is going to be a “pitchforks and torches” backlash.

Ferguson MO logoIt may be starting in Ferguson, MO. Take a look at one of the latest stories to come out of there. It’s sad that we have to look overseas to get reliable and up to date news about what is happening in the good ol’ US of A. Because of the great sucking sound that is the US corporate mainstream media, people who want to get a more balanced read on the news check sites such as Al Jazerra, The Guardian, RT, The Epoch Times, and Der Spiegel.

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dJZiSXft_400x400There is a controversy at the University of Illinois over the right of faculty to express views on social media outside of their positions. Steven Salaita had already been offered a tenured position in the American Indian studies program on the Champaign-Urbana campus and was just waiting for approval by the university’s Board of Trustees, usually a perfunctory stage. However, Salaita posted strongly anti-Israeli sentiments after the start of the recent war in Gaza. After those postings, he was informed that the university was rescinding its offer due to opposition on the board.

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225px-alberto_gonzales_-_official_doj_photographPresident_Barack_ObamaFirst there is the record low polls of his popularity. Then there is the growing independent view that there is no chance that the Democrats can retake the House and that the GOP could not only gain seats in the House but retake the Senate. However, nothing likely prepared President Barack Obama for this. His controversial use of unilateral authority has been defended by . . . former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. You may recall Gonzales who was so vilified for his politicalization of the Justice Department and blind support of executive power that he had a difficult time even landing a job. The Gonzales defense is part of a bizarre new world of Democratic politics. Democratic members of Congress recently lined up to quote Associate Justice Antonin Scalia for his restrictive views on standing — a view that has been used to bar public interest organizations in environmental and civil liberties cases. The Obama Administration now routinely pitches appeals to the four most conservative members of the Supreme Court on presidential powers and the most vocal supporters of the President’s use of virtually unchecked power is coming from former Bush officials. Such is the inversive world in which we live. The Democrats have largely abandoned traditional values tied to civil liberties, war powers, privacy, and other core issues in favor of supporting Obama. The result is that you find yourself left with Alberto Gonzales as your pro bono counsel.

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220px-Glenn_greenwald_portraitCIAGlenn Greenwald has called out National Public Radio in a recent interview for a story by Dina Temple-Raston for a story that it aired on how a study had found “tangible evidence” that leaks by Edward Snowden had harmed security by showing terrorists that they have to develop more sophisticated encryption programs. However, that study was the work of a firm named “Recorded Future,” which Greenwald claims has been funded by the CIA to the tune of millions of dollars. Greenwald chastises Temple-Raston and NPR for not informing listeners that the source is a CIA funded outfit. He accuses NPR of essentially airing CIA talking points.

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Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)-Weekend Contributor

It seems that a week doesn’t go by without news of the latest Big Bank agreeing to pay billions in a settlement with the government over their past and continuing abuses concerning mortgages.  This past week was no exception.

“Preliminary reports say that a $16 to $17 billion settlement will soon be announced between the Justice Department and Bank of America. That would break the record for the largest bank settlement in history, set less than a year ago by a $13 billion agreement between Justice and JPMorgan Chase.” Crooks and Liars

Sixteen billion dollars is not chickenfeed!  However, as we have learned in the many past settlements, the dollar amounts can be a little deceiving.  (more…)

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53d2c9932a01b.preview-620We have yet another case of law enforcement holding people for filming in public and threatening them with arrest. This one however is particularly curious. NewsChannel 13 reporter Mark Mulholland and a videographer were filming a story on Grant Cottage where President Ulysses S. Grant had come to the cottage to finish writing his memoirs. This year is the 129th anniversary of his death and the crew was filming costumed re-enactors were commemorating the anniversary. Due to breaking news, the crew had to return the next day to finish with the shots. They were then approached by a Lt. Dorn from the nearby Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility and told that they could not film without permission. What unfolded was a rule that seemed to be without any coherence as to who may take pictures at a historic site.

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Islam-Yaken_2999102cIslamic State jihadists have worked hard to establish the image of murderous extremists who slaughter innocent people and destroy ancient religious temples and shrines. However, various newspapers are reporting, the group appears to be eager to show on social media that they are also domesticated as well as hip in recruiting new followers. Appearing across social media are images of Islam Yaken, a young Egyptian law student who left his affluent family in Cairo to become a soldier for Islamic State with signature sword and slaughterous slogans. At the same time, the ladies of Islamic State are recruiting Western and European women to come and hook up with jihadi in a bizarre version of eHarmony or JDate. JihadDate is a bit different. It promises that, if lucky, you can watch your loved one martyr himself — I kid you not.

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225px-ruth_bader_ginsburg_scotus_photo_portraitSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is again making news in public comments made about the Court and its cases. In two different public events, Ginsburg suggested that the Supreme Court majority has a bias due to the gender of the majority of the Court and engaged people in the political debate over whether she should retire and who should replace her. Putting aside the merits of these debates, I remain deeply disturbed by the active public speaking tours of justices who appear to relish the attention and feed public controversies, including many with political aspects.

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senate_large_seal200px-CIA.svgIn the same week as the State Department report endorsing findings that the CIA lied to Congress and brutalized suspects, the CIA is now admitting that its recent denials of hacking Senate computers was also false. Once again, however, there is not even a suggestion of discipline, let alone criminal charges, for CIA officials who lied to Congress (or allowed others to lie) and hacked into congressional computers.

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StateDepartmentCIAThe State Department has issued a document that endorses the findings of the Senate report on the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after the 9/11 attacks. The document notably avoids references to “torture” but discussed now the CIA brutalized suspects and misled Congress. Putting aside such word substitutions of “brutalizing” for “torture” and “misleading” for “lying,” there remains one glaring omission: not a single CIA official was disciplined, let alone criminally charged. One official even publicly admitted to destroying evidence to avoid its use in court in a torture prosecution. He was allowed to retire with honors and accolades. The Bush and Obama Administration steadfastly refused to prosecute such officials. Indeed, soon after coming to power, Obama went to the CIA to assure officials that they would never face prosecution.

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