I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Various matters

(updated below - updated again)

Here are a few short items which I will likely add to a little bit later today:

(1) I'm going to be on Air America's Majority Report tonight at 8:35 pm. You can find your local AAR station here or listen to the live audio feed here.

(2) As is their practice, Amazon has unilaterally reduced the price for How Would a Patriot Act? by 40%. The book continues to occupy the #1 position on the Amazon Top Sellers List. The tour, interviews, appearances, etc. are being planned now and will be scheduled around the date of the book's release (May 15). I will post those here as they are confirmed.

(3) This is what Michelle Malkin said about Ramesh Ponnuru's new Ben Domenech-edited book Party of Death:

Party of Death is the most important book of the year, if not the decade. Ramesh Ponnuru, one of the nation’s most penetrating and lucid young conservative thinkers, makes a thorough, reasoned case for respecting life. The good news is that the death cult of Planned Parenthood, Howard Dean, and the New York Times is on the way to ultimate defeat.--Michelle Malkin

What is "ultimate defeat"? Isn't death ultimate defeat? Why does everything which Michelle Malkin says always have such deranged and angry undercurrents, and isn't it particularly ironic to wish "ultimate defeat" on people while praising a book supposedly devoted to the decrying of death values?

(4) In other Corner news, Kathryn Jean Lopez finally comes clean and admits: "I credit Lucianne Goldberg with getting him the job" -- only she wasn't talking about all of Jonah's employers, but instead about Tony Snow's hiring as Press Secretary.

(5) Speaking of Michelle Malkin and the Corner, Michelle is (as always) enraged; today it's about some vandalism at UNC-Chapel Hill's ROTC armory, reflected by this picture which she posts:

Although Michelle blames left-wing anti-war protestors for the vandalism, couldn't that message have been expressed just as easily - and just as accurately - by people like Bill Kristol, Dick Cheney, John Hinderaker, Michael Ledeen, or Jonah Goldberg?

(6) The news from Iraq today:

A sister of Iraq’s new Sunni Arab vice president was killed Thursday in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad, a day after the politician called for the Sunni-dominated insurgency to be crushed by force.

In southern Iraq, a bomb hit an Italian military convoy, killing four soldiers — three Italians and a Romanian — and seriously injuring another passenger, officials in Rome said. The bomb struck the convoy near an Italian military base in Nasiriyah, a heavily Shiite city 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, said local Iraqi government spokesman Haidr Radhi.

Elsewhere, a U.S. jet fired two missiles at insurgent positions in Ramadi, U.S. officers said. Fighting also broke out northeast of Baghdad between Iraqi forces and insurgents.

Just the sheer quantity of killing on a daily basis makes it morally reprehensible for politically motivated individuals to minimize the violence and to suggest that it's really just all overblown.

(7) Arlen Specter today threatened to introduce legislation to cut off funding for the illegal NSA program if the White House does not cease stonewalling the investigation he is trying to conduct:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter said Thursday he is considering legislation to cut off funding for the Bush administration's secret domestic wiretapping program until he gets satisfactory answers about it from theWhite House.

"Institutionally, the presidency is walking all over Congress at the moment," Specter, R-Pa., told the panel. "If we are to maintain our institutional prerogative, that may be the only way we can do it." Specter said he had informed President Bush about his intention and that he has attracted several potential co-sponsors. He said he's become increasingly frustrated in trying to elicit information about the program from senior White House officials at several public hearings.

According to a copy of the amendment obtained by The Associated Press, it would enact a "prohibition on use of funds for domestic electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes unless Congress is kept fully and currently informed."

Specter also agreed with Democrats who say that any of the bills to tighten guidelines for National Security Agency program and increase congressional oversight could be flatly ignored by an administration with a long history of acting alone in security matters.

"It is true that we have no assurance that the president would follow any statute that we enact," Specter said. He said he's considering adding an amendment to stop funding of the program to an Iraq war- hurricane relief bill being debated by the Senate this week and next.

I can't count how many times I have criticized Specter for exhibiting pretenses of independence and dignity only to back down and obediently fall into line behind the White House. It's his defining charateristic. And the realization that the President preserves the right to break the law and that the White House is "walking all over Congress" is a few years late.

But still, it is encouraging to hear a Republican Senator in his position (Judicary Committee Chair) clearly state that the President believes he can break the law and threaten to cut off funds unless the White House cooperates with the Senate's investigation into the NSA scandal (h/t John Stephenson of Stop the ACLU, who says about Specter and others who think that the President shouldn't break the law: "If we are attacked again, and it could have been prevented by this program, you know who to point the finger at").

Stephenson, like so many Bush defenders, apparently thinks that the United States is so weak that we can only defend ourselves by allowing the President to break the law when he wants to. Ronald Reagan managed to comply with FISA while waging war against the Soviet Empire, but George Bush can't defend the country against some jihadists unless he eavesdrops on us without warrants.

(8) A video featuring Al Qaeda leader/Iraq branch Abu Musab al-Zarqawi surfaced the other day, and a U.S. military official is saying that it's "an act of desperation . . . that is indeed Zarqawi in his final hours." The official said: "He knows the people of Iraq are on the verge of foming a national unity government and democracy equals failure for Zarqawi. So he's pulling out all stops."

It's so interesting how this works. Whenever we don't hear from Al Qaeda leaders for awhile, it means that we're winning, because their absence that shows how they have to hide in caves and are probably really hurt or even dead. But then when we do hear from them, that also shows we're winning, because it shows that they're desperate and they know they're in their final hours.

It's the same formula that's used to assess increases and decreases in insurgent violence in Iraq. When the violence decreases for awhile, it means that we're winning because the insurgency is dying. When it increases, that means we're winning because it shows how desperate they're getting; they know they're dying and increased outbursts of violence are their last chance.

That's so lucky for us. Every event -- even opposite ones -- means we're winning. How come, then, we don't seem to be any closer to leaving, or achieving anything that would have made the incalculably costly invasion even remotely worth the costs?

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