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    "[Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests] volunteered that they felt at peace with themselves after being listened to by Peter O'Callaghan. As Commissioner, Peter achieved a unique thing – in [Václav] Havel's words he helped countless people 'orient their spirit' and gave them the certainty that their lives made sense Peter gave them hope just as it is described by Havel."

    Former High Court judge Susan Crennan at the unveiling of the portrait of Melbourne barrister Peter O'Callagan QC who ran Archbishop Pell's Melbourne Response to sexual abuse by priests. The Royal Commission reported that he failed to report criminal offences to the police. September 26, 2017 ... Read more ... 


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    Anonymous campaign against Barry Dangerous ... Restlessness among the senior prefects of the NSW Law Soc ... New junior vice sworn-in ... Councillors stirring against senior vice with strange memo in circulation ... Read more ... 


    Justinian's archive

    Whitelocke on Lawmanship ... Beguiling pastiche of barristerial posturing ... The importance of looking the part ... The Velvet Salamander transforms into the Silver Canetoad ... James Hutton reviews Bullstrode Whitelocke’s essential text for advocates ... From Justinian's archive, July 13, 2010 ... Read more ... 


     

    « Keddies latest trick | Main | Steve Mark has to prove who he says he is »
    Monday
    Apr162012

    Supreme Court unleashes body cavity searches 

    Supreme Court's election rigging ... Court's conservative majority may hatch devilish plan for Affordable Care Act challenge ... Rumsfeld on the lam ... Black hole torture chambers and missing State Department memo ... Strip search decision ... Our Man in Washington reports 

    US Supremes - devillish

    As the US elections approach, everyone is talking about the spectacular spending that has followed the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision approving unlimited corporate donations to politicians. 

    State judicial elections, among others, have been badly compromised.

    The other looming issue this election year is the vote-suppression legislation passed by Republican states.

    New York University's Brennan Center reports that new voting laws in Republican-controlled states will affect 70 percent of the Electoral College in 2012 - a likely boost for Willard "Mitt" Romney

    *   *   *

    The Supreme Court is now in the news continuously. Sometimes it's for things it has already done (e.g. the shaken-baby case), but mostly it's what the court may be planning to do, for instance to Obama's health care law, the Affordable Care Act.

    Some are alarmed that the court is about to strike down a major federal regulatory scheme for the first time since 1936. 

    Another theory: the court's conservative majority is saving its political capital for more sinister use. 

    Meanwhile, it augers ill that a circuit judge has sarcastically employed the Tea-Party epithet "Obamacare".

    When Jerry Smith and two fellow Republicans on a Fifth Circuit panel ordered the Justice Department to explain remarks of President Obama they deemed uncongenial, the Attorney General duly responded

    Eric Holder's letter re-affirming Marbury v Madison is here

    *   *   *

    I've previously noted the American pastime of giving laws self-serving acronyms such as the USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001).

    One new Act of Congress, by contrast, has a more intelligible and accurate acronym: the STOCK Act (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge Act). It's designed to end rampant insider trading by members of Congress.

    *   *   *

    In January I reported that an influential group of Republicans in Congress and elsewhere were not adverse to promoting the interests of a designated terrorist group. The Washington Post had more at the time.

    Now it's news again: former Bush officials are under investigation for aiding an Iranian terrorist group on a State Department blacklist. 

    Democrats are also involved

    Glenn Greenwald looks at the implications of these acts in light of the recent Holder v Humanitarian Law decision.

    In breaking news, we learn that the Bush administration itself provided training to the group in question, MEK, on American soil. 

    Legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh has more

    *   *   *

    Jack Goldsmith has a piece in the New Republic opining that civil libertarians - rather than legal sycophants such as he - are responsible for the national security state the US has become since 9/11.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights responds here.

    The former Bush legal-accomplice is now a Yale law prof and terror-hysteric at Lawfare, and predictably thinks aerial assassinations have a sound legal footing.

    Undaunted by the UK High Court's recent rejection of his interpretation of the Geneva Conventions (see my January post), Prof Goldsmith is also a keen advocate of more non-conforming military commissions

    *   *   *

    Former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld continues to escape justice - criminal or civil - for sending "war" captives to offshore CIA dungeons for explicit torture.

    In Poland, however, the former head of intelligence faces criminal charges for assisting the CIA's Polish branch operation, specifically, "unlawful corporal punishment," a.k.a. torture.

    More here

    Harper's Scott Horton weighs in here.

    Gitmo inmate Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri is a graduate of the same Polish torture dungeon. A Saudi, he has travelled widely, having been kidnapped in the Emirates, then imprisoned and/or tortured by the CIA in Thailand, Poland, Romania, and finally, at Guantánamo, where he faces a military commission. 

    The Open Society Justice Initiative is seeking the intervention of the European Court of Human Rights in Poland's investigation of its complicity in the detention and torture of Nashiri.

    Nashiri, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah are known to have been water-tortured in Poland. When the Polish camp was hastily closed due to exposure in the press, prisoners were transferred to other CIA sites in Lithuania and Romania.

    According to Open Society lawyer Amrit Singh, Nashiri was held in Romania.

    Preliminary motions in Nashiri's Guantánamo military trial are now being heard. As Opinio Juris notes

    "The bankruptcy of the U.S. military-commissions system is currently on full display in the trial of Abd al-Rahim Al-Nashiri.  Readers who can stomach the spectacle of a tortured detainee being prosecuted for imaginary war crimes committed at a time when there was no armed conflict between the U.S. and al-Qaeda anywhere in the world can find excellent coverage of the pre-trial motions at Lawfare."

    *   *   *

    A new Supreme Court strip search decision has been universally derided.

    In Florence v Board of Chosen Freeholders, the conservative majority allowed strip searches before one is jailed, even wrongfully, for any offence no matter how trivial. 

    The Times and Glenn Greenwald have more. 

    Scott Horton was struck by the fact that the newly–disclosed interrogation resistance training manual - consulted by the Bush Gang's "Principals Committee" in devising torture techniques - stated that body cavity searches are performed to make the prisoner "feel uncomfortable and degraded."   

    It's a sentiment some police will now feel free to share. 

    *   *   *

    A long-missing 2006 memo by a Bush-era State Department Counsellor, describing the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" as CID (cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment) violations of the Convention Against Torture, has just surfaced. 

    The Bush administration tried to destroy all copies of Philip Zelikow's memo. The Guardian has more.

    The National Security Archive posted the memo beside the contemporary and contrary memo of the odious Stephen Bradbury, last head of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Justice Department.

    Seen in context, Zelikow's memo further demonstrates Bradbury's culpability in the torture scandal.

    As Scott Horton notes, Bradbury's ...

    "three memoranda are in many respects more appalling than the Yoo-Bybee memos ... [He] first argued that none of the thirteen techniques constitutes torture; in the second, he argued that even if used in combination, they did not constitute torture; and in the third, he argued that the techniques were not CID, and that even if they were, there was no penalty for them."

    Nevertheless, the Obama administration is finally prosecuting someone in connection with George Bush's torture program: the former CIA agent John Kiriakou. 

    His offence? Not torture, but rather, like former CIA General Counsel John Rizzo (see post of November 2011), talking about it.  

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