Searched the world over, and it was right there next to them the whole damn time...

>> Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Over at Slate, Jack Shafer previews NBC's new series, The Wanted, a program in which NBC reporters track down alleged war criminals with the help of an elite team of experts in... uh... stuff. Mr. Shafer doesn't seem to think much of what he's seen, but this paragraph in Shafer's piece caught my attention:

The first episode of The Wanted, about Mullah Krekar, will air July 20. An NBC press release bills it as "a groundbreaking television event" that "sets forth on an international hunt for an accused terrorist." In the next paragraph of the release, David Corvo, executive producer at NBC News, says he wants the series to illuminate an overlooked story. "It is surprising how many people with serious accusations against them are living openly and avoiding any sort of judicial process," Corvo says.

(emphasis added)

You don't say, Mr. Corvo, you don't say:

The only thing that confuses me is why NBC is paying for film crews to travel to Norway and Germany when they could just have someone from their L.A. offices drive up to Berkley, which is a helluva lot closer. Mr. Shafer doesn't address this point, so maybe I'm missing something about the complex world of investigative journalism. Or maybe they're holding off so they have something special for sweeps week--if that's the case, maybe I'll even have to get cable or a digital converter box or something.


ntsc Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 5:56:00 AM EDT  

You would never get it past the Supremes and even if they did agree, the Senate is 7 votes short.

At 12:01 PM it should have been announced that the offenders had been arrested and in the interest of justice would be tried under their rules of evidence.

Eric Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 7:46:00 AM EDT  

NTSC: I'm afraid you lost me on this one.

As I've written here in the past, the prosecution of certain Bush officials is (at least arguably) mandated by Federal law, including treaties that the United States is a party to. Congress should have nothing to do with that, it should be a matter for the courts (there have been some arguments that U.S. treaty obligations might be met with a truth and reconciliation committee, in which case responsibility would be moved from the courts to the Executive and/or Legislative branches; I think this is a weak claim).

I'm also not sure what you're suggesting wouldn't get past the SCOTUS. Presumably claims of immunity or privilege by Yoo et al. would end up before SCOTUS, and the Court might grant them immunity from prosecution; it would be a weak conclusion and bad precedent--which isn't unheard of by any means (see Dred Scott, Bush v. Gore, et al.), but it is possible. It's also possible, at least hypothetically, that the Court would follow the law.

In any case it's moot: my snark about the NBC show and former Bush officials aside, the Obama Administration has clearly shown it lacks the political will to do diddley-squat. Indeed, it appears that the Obama Administration is inclined to continue or even extend some of the Bush policies that are a part of the problem (imprisoning people who have been acquitted, which the current Administration has apparently said it might do, is not a human rights violation on the same level as torture, but it's still a disturbing repudiation of American legal principles and widely-recognized basic rights). There won't be a truth and reconciliation committee, much less a trial. At this point I'll be surprised if Professor Yoo gets a mean letter from his state bar for dispensing shitty legal advice that led to crimes against humanity.

ntsc Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 3:14:00 PM EDT  

The current court would not let a conviction of a major Bush official stand. That is my opinion, I would be glad to be wrong. The US vs Bush would probably get sat on before any but lawyers showed up at the district court level.

While Dred Scott opened the territories to slavery, wasn't the final decision really that Scott had no standing to sue? Or am I thinking of something else - Civics was Fall of 1964. SCOTUS is still using that as a way to dismiss cases of prisoners thinking they have Constitutional rights.

Yes the laws says certain things, but it said them while Bush was President as well.

There is nothing in the Constitution that says that Bush officials can not be impeached however, impeaching somebody after they have left office has occurred, although not in over 100 years. If Bush himself is not in the well of the Senate then SCOTUS has no say in such an impeachment. However you need a 2/3 + 1 full majority to convict and I don't see that happening. There is no appeal of an impeachment.

The 12:01 refers to the minute after the oath. I knew it wouldn't happen, but Obama should have ordered arrests at that point. Or at least asked Congress for a special prosecutor.

I also am disappointed that practice I find abhorrent are being continued.

Eric Thursday, July 9, 2009 at 3:40:00 PM EDT  

Dred Scott's lack of standing was half the decision; the more important half was that automatically emancipating Scott when he entered a Free State would deprive Scott's owner of his property rights--a decision that theoretically legalized slavery even in places it was clearly outlawed.

I'm not aware of the situation you cite where someone was impeached after leaving office, but I'm not aware of any grounds for that. Nor of the usefulness of it even if it was legally and practically possible. The major points in prosecuting Bush officials would be satisfaction of justice and deterrence of similar future conduct; post-impeachment would mock the former and do nothing for the latter.

You may be correct about the SCOTUS, but let's assume they'll at least make a pass at following the law. And let's assume, too, that the extent to which the Court is a political creature may cut more than one way: last term, for instance, the Court had a chance to strike down the Voting Rights Acts and declined to do so; some commentators think the Court did so because Roberts and other conservatives recognized that the wind is blowing the other way right now, and that handing down a decision that would likely see a quick legislative reversal would merely diminish the SCOTUS' credibility.

I'm all for due pricess in any case, and announcing arrests at 12:01 wouldn't have accomplished that. Proper process would, in my own view, be to assign DOJ to investigate and seek indictments if appropriate.

ntsc Friday, July 10, 2009 at 6:38:00 AM EDT  

"Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law. "

I would be quite pleased with the above.

The impeachment after leaving office is something I had to have read in the NYT in the last year or so. Late 1800s with a cabinet under-secretary or similar. Probably an op-ed item.

You are correct that due process is important, especially in these cases. Professionally I have been in a business, broadcast TV engineering, where the end justifies the means. The only important thing is getting the product on the air. This has tempered my attitude toward real life.

Eric Friday, July 10, 2009 at 8:59:00 AM EDT  

As a lawyer, I'm inclined to read the clause you cite as fully conjuctive and not disjuctive or alternative; i.e. impeachment does both those things or neither, removal from office is followed by disqualification.

Naturally, I may be wrong and there may be precedent that says so.

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