Saturday, July 23, 2005


Bloomberg: CIA agent says Bush broke promise on Plame


July 23 (Bloomberg) -- A former CIA colleague of Valerie Plame (shown below right with husband, Joe Wilson) and professed Republican gave the Democrats' weekly radio address, saying President George W. Bush broke his promise to fire whoever disclosed her identity as a covert agent.

Plame & WilsonLarry C. Johnson, who described himself as a former Bush supporter, suggested that Bush put politics ahead of security when he "flip-flopped" on his pledge. Johnson was given a forum typically reserved for lawmakers or figures such as former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Johnson spoke after Bush gave his weekly radio address urging swift confirmation of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court. Bush's appointment of Roberts this week shifted at least some public attention to that choice from the issue of White House adviser Karl Rove's part in revealing Plame's identity.

"This is wrong and this is shameful," Johnson, a Washington- based security consultant, said.  "Instead of a president concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a president who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson."

Full Bloomberg piece.


AP: Obama a Celebrity Despite Low-Key Approach


PEKIN, Ill. (AP) - The line forms the moment Sen. Barack Obama is done speaking, a procession of admirers clutching copies of his book, magazines, scraps of paper, disposable cameras and one homemade American flag. It doesn't take long before someone pops the question.

An elderly woman, dressed in bubble-gum pink, looks up with wide eyes. The lanky senator leans in to hear her amid the din in the stuffy library meeting room.

"In 2008 or some other time," she says, "will we get a chance to work for you for president?"

Obama at his Springfield officeObama, left, grins, but demurs. He is not running for president. Not in 2008, at least.

His Senate career is just six months old. And six months before that, few people in America had even heard of this man who was just introducing himself to voters in Illinois.

But one year has passed since Obama's star-making turn at the Democratic convention, and the senator is now a player in two worlds: He's a deliberately low-key newcomer to Capitol Hill, careful to avoid upstaging the powerful old bulls on their home turf. But he's also an A-list celebrity, courted by everyone from Oprah to Gorbachev.

On a scorching July day, Obama has come to this blue-collar community just south of Peoria, seat of a county he and President Bush carried by equally lopsided margins. He's recognized everywhere. As he wraps an arm around a woman celebrating her retirement at C.J.'s Cafe to pose for a photo, a half-dozen friends at her table lift their cell phone cameras and click.

"It's been sort of a whirlwind," Obama says, sipping an iced tea. "Deserved or undeserved, I've received a lot of attention and that can translate into political influence. ... I think my colleagues legitimately see me as somebody who has potential but has just arrived."

Full AP story.


AP: Spoof of Bush Wins Faux Faulkner Contest


By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS, Associated Press Writer -1 hour, 49 minutes ago

JACKSON, Miss. - A scathing parody that likens President Bush to the "idiot" in William Faulkner's novel "The Sound and the Fury" has won this year's Faulkner write-alike contest — and touched off a literary spat.

Organizers of the Faux Faulkner competition are accusing Hemispheres, the United Airlines magazine that has sponsored the contest for six years, of playing politics by not putting Sam Apple's "The Administration and the Fury" in its print edition — only on its Web site.

"One of the things they asked was that we didn't have profanity or any obvious sexual content. We watch for that. But anything else, like a political subject, was funny, it was parody. ... We felt that that shouldn't be censored," said Larry Wells, who organizes the contest with his wife, Dean Faulkner Wells, Faulkner's niece.

The story portrays President Bush in the role of Benjy, the mentally challenged son — or, as Faulkner himself said, the "idiot" — in his 1929 novel about the wreckage of a Southern family.

New York author Sam Apple (AP Photo/Apple Family)Author Sam Apple, right, a 29-year-old writer for Nerve magazine in New York, planned to be in Oxford this weekend to read his parody aloud at the 32nd annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference at the University of Mississippi.

Hemispheres editor Randy Johnson said politics played no role in the handling of Apple's winning entry. The magazine published "The Administration and the Fury" only online, he said, because Hemispheres is trying to bring more attention to its Web site. Plus, he said, Apple's parody already had been published earlier this year in the online magazine Slate.

"The number of people who are able to see the Web site completely stands on its head any charge of censorship," Johnson said. "We are making it available to millions of people."

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


Slate-Papers: Leak twist & torture ban - July 23

D.H.: Most of today's Slate article is about terrorism in Egypt and London, which I am weary of, so I am focusing on the following excerpt instead:

The LAT joins the (Washington) Post in fronting the latest on the CIA leak inquiry, which may be taking a new tack. FitzgeraldInstead of focusing on the legality of the leak itself, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, left, appears to be examining sworn testimony of White House officials for evidence of perjury. According to a Post source, Vice Presidential advisor I. Lewis Libby testified before a grand jury that he learned the name of Valerie Plame from NBC's Tim Russert. Russert has flatly denied this, saying he "did not know Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative."

Similarly, top Bush advisor Karl Rove told a grand jury that in their chat, he and Time reporter Matthew Cooper were mostly talking about welfare reform, and that the Plame topic was a kind of afterthought. But Cooper "can't find any record" of the welfare conversation, and "doesn't recall" discussing it with Rove.

(The LAT also notes the important legal distinction between out-and-out outing a covert CIA agent to a reporter, and confirming that someone is a covert CIA agent to a reporter who's asked. Aspects of the law governing the first instance make it more difficult to prove a crime was committed, which is why prosecutors may be looking more carefully at the second.)

Jane RobertsThe NYT runs an up-close-and-personal on Jane Roberts, the wife of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts, right. Mrs. Roberts, the article explains, is a staunch foe of abortion, having volunteered her legal services to the anti-abortion group Feminists for Life—among whose stated goals is the reversal of Roe v. Wade. [The article also says the group's litigation goals were before Mrs. Roberts' time on the board. In my review of this article, Ted Kennedy says this type inquiry should be off limits. -D.H.] The article also notes that the Robertses, both Catholic, have helped one another deepen their faith.

CheneyCiting national security and what the Post calls "presidential prerogatives," Vice President Dick Cheney, left, attempted to convince rogue Republicans not to sponsor legislation that would prohibit military personnel from engaging in "cruel, inhuman" treatment of prisoners, and prevent them from using unapproved interrogation techniques. The new legislation, drafted largely by Sen. John McCain, would be part of the upcoming $442B defense bill. The White House suggested that if the prisoner welfare language was present in the big bill, the president would probably veto the whole thing.

David Sarno is a writer in Iowa City. Full Slate article, "Egyptian Resort Violence."


NYT: Ted says Roberts' wife's work off-limits - July 23

Jane Sullivan Roberts, below right, with President Bush, center, and her husband, Judge John Roberts, a Roman Catholic lawyer from the Bronx, is mum as her pro bono work for Feminists for Life is drawing intense interest in the ideologically charged environment of her husband's Supreme Court confirmation debate.

Bush with the RobertsesSome abortion opponents view her activities as a clear signal that the Robertses are committed to their cause; supporters of abortion rights fear the same thing. Others say that drawing a direct line from her activities to how her husband might rule on the Supreme Court - assuming that he not only shares her views, but would also act on them to overturn 32 years of legal precedents - is both politically risky and in bad form.

No less a Democratic stalwart than Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, at a breakfast meeting with reporters on Friday, that Mrs. Roberts's work "ought to be out of bounds."

Advocates on both sides have long acknowledged that with this issue, the personal is often political. But Mrs. Roberts has led an independent and unapologetic life that defies any attempt at pigeonholing.

Mrs. Roberts, who declined to be interviewed for this article, was not recruited by Feminists for Life, but sought the group out about a decade ago and offered her services as a lawyer, said its president, Serrin Foster. The group was reorganizing at the time and beginning to focus its work on college campuses. Its mission statement, driven home in advertising in recent years, says: "Abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."

Full NY Times article, "Anti-Abortion Advocacy of Wife of Court Nominee Draws Interest,"  By LYNETTE CLEMETSON and ROBIN TONER.

Friday, July 22, 2005


AP: Kerry demands Roberts documents - July 22


WASHINGTON - Democratic Sen. John Kerry (below left) urged the White House late Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.

Kerry"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.

Opening what is expected to be a broader attempt by Democrats to pry loose documents, Kerry issued his statement as Roberts made the latest in a series of courtesy calls on senators in advance of confirmation hearings.

Democratic officials also said Friday they want access to all material regarding Roberts at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. Roberts served in the White House counsel's office from 1982-1986. He was principal deputy solicitor general in the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

The Reagan Library, in Simi Valley, Calif., holds an unknown number of documents relating to Roberts, arranged by subject matter. While material in some subjects are designated on the library's Web site as available to the public, most is not.

The Democratic officials said Democrats also are eager to learn details of Roberts' activities in Florida in 2000, at the time of the state's contested presidential recount. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to provide details.

An attorney in private practice at the time, Roberts flew to the state at his own expense to offer advice to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, as the governor's older brother tried to clinch the election over then-Vice President Al Gore.

Kerry is not a member of the committee. But he nonetheless injected himself into the debate at the end of a week in which Bush appeared to catch Democrats off guard by picking a court candidate with conservative credentials, yet one with little judicial experience, and thus, little public paper trail. Roberts would replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who often provided the decisive vote in split decisions, sometimes siding with conservative justices and sometimes with the liberals.

"The American people should know whether John Roberts will protect their constitutional rights if confirmed as a justice to the court," Kerry said in a statement.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said he voted against Roberts in committee for his appeals court seat two years ago partly because he didn't feel the nominee fully answered senators' questions.

Full AP story.


Slate-Papers: Leakgate & terrorist motivation


Citing the ever-so-popular "people who have been briefed on the case," the NYT says above the fold that Karl Rove and the vice prez's chief of staff, Scooter Libby -- both of whom spoke to reporters about now-outed CIA agent Valerie Plame -- were at the time quite busy crafting the administration's response to questions about the president's 16-word State of the Union assertion that Saddam was going after uranium in Niger. (That would be the same assertion that Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, undermined.) Supposedly, Libby and Rove even "helped" craft the letter former CIA chief George Tenet wrote taking the blame for ill-supported claim. Libby is shown, below right, at a White House dinner this week speaking to another guest.

Libby talking to dinner guestThe Times says that the leakers (defense lawyers?) see the above context as helpful toward Libby and Rove. (No, TP can't figure out why, either.) In any case, the Times says the Libby-Rove work was "particularly striking" for the unusual degree to which political and national-security arms of the White House were brought together in "an effort to defend the administration."

One more bit: In what seems to be a prosecutor-side leak, Bloomberg reported yesterday that the testimony Rove and Libby gave -- in which they reportedly said they first learned about CIA agent Valerie Plame via reporters -- is "at odds with what the reporters have said."

An op-ed in the NYT -- by a French academic -- questions the line that today's terrorists are reacting to British and others' foreign policies:

[I]f the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan -- or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

The Western-based Islamic terrorists are not the militant vanguard of the Muslim community; they are a lost generation, unmoored from traditional societies and cultures, frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations. And their vision of a global ummah is both a mirror of and a form of revenge against the globalization that has made them what they are.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Today's Papers column, "Sound Check?"


NYT: Rove & Libby worked on nukes from Africa claim


This article was reported by David Johnston, Douglas Jehl and Richard W. Stevenson and was written by Mr. Johnston.

WASHINGTON - At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative's identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.

Joe WilsonThe two issues had become inextricably linked because Joseph C. Wilson IV (shown, left, appearing on Face the Nation this week), the husband of the unmasked C.I.A. officer, had questioned Mr. Bush's assertion, prompting a damage-control effort by the White House that included challenging Mr. Wilson's standing and his credentials. A federal grand jury investigation is under way by a special counsel to determine whether someone illegally leaked the officer's identity and possibly into whether perjury or obstruction of justice occurred during the inquiry.

Rove with NovakPeople who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove (pictured in June 2003 with reporter Bob Novak, right, whom Rove is accused of leaking the information to) and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

Full NY Times story.


CT: Rightists wrongly say Roberts is "originalist"

Christianity Today's online issue this week quotes Focus on the Family's James Dobson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins saying that John G. Roberts, Jr., President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, is an "originalist" and "strict constructionist" like Justices Scalia and Thomas.
However, the CT article goes on to say that when Roberts was examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2003 for his current Circuit Court post, "during an exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Roberts resisted attempts to categorize his judicial philosophy.
"I don't know if that's a flaw for a judicial nominee or not, not to have a comprehensive philosophy about constitutional interpretation, to be able to say, 'I'm an originalist, I'm a textualist, I'm a literalist, or this or that.' I just don't feel comfortable with any of those particular labels," Roberts told Durbin. "One reason is that as the Constitution uses the term 'inferior court judge,' I'll be bound to follow the Supreme Court precedent regardless of what type of constructionist I, personally, might be."
Full Christianity Today article.
D.H.:  It simply cannot be credibly claimed that Roberts is an "originalist," or any such label.  Nothing in his record indicates he has those beliefs. 
Nor can it credibly be claimed that either Dr. Dobson or Mr. Perkins use those terms correctly or know what they mean.  All that can be said is that Dobson and Perkins are mounting a huge assault on our government to reverse Roe v. Wade.  They seem to think that theories like "conservative, strict constructionist" will get them there. 
"Originalist" has the sense of going back to the Founding Fathers' original intent, but does not deal with 27 amendments that were ratified as late as 1992, or the Founding Fathers' views on slavery and women not being allowed to vote. 
"Conservative, strict constructionist" means being committed to established law and precedent, as I've exlained in my op-ed piece "Conservative Strict Constructionism Will Backfire," published in January.   A person truly of such a view would have problems reversing a well-settled precedent like Roe v. Wade.  Which means that so-called "rightists" like Dobson and Perkins do not really want a true "conservative strict constructionist."  What they want is a ringer who will give them the desired result regardless of ideology.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


MMfA: O'Reilly says it's good Roberts supports Roe

Today Media Matters for America said:

On the July 20 edition of Fox News' The Bill O'LiarlyO'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly, left, interpreted Roberts' 2003 confirmation statement that Roe v. Wade is "settled law" to mean that Roberts "would have no problem upholding Roe v. Wade" on the Supreme Court and criticizing the "liberal print" media for ignoring the statement:

O'REILLY: I expect him to be confirmed by the end of the year. But not before the pro-abortion senators work him over, playing to the reproductive rights crowd. The left-wing print press was in lockstep about the judge's stand on abortion. Nearly identical wording in editorials about the judge's stand on abortion appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, USA Today, among others. Now, if you don't think there's a group-think among the liberal print, you're living in Oz. He has stated he would have no problem upholding Roe v. Wade. But that will be -- not be enough for the opposition crowd.

Full Media Matters for America story.

D.H.:  This gives me pause that Roberts might indeed be a ringer on Roe.  If pathological liars like O'Reilly think it's good that Roberts supports Roe, the truth probably is that it's bad that Roberts does not support Roe.  It's not that I think O'Reilly always lies, but I do think he's predisposed to lie.


AP: Rumsfeld admits Iraq problems, keeps them classified; Dems object


On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters that a full report was to be provided to Congress by Thursday or Friday and he said that it would not include an estimate of how many U.S. troops are likely to be required in Iraq next year, even though Congress is pressing for that estimate.

"The information we're getting is in large measure from the Iraqi security forces," he said. "It's their information. It's not for us to tell the other side, the enemy, the terrorists, that this Iraqi unit has this capability and that Iraqi unit has this capability." Rumsfeld said it would be "mindless" to publish information about the combat readiness of Iraqi security forces that would reveal their strengths and weaknesses.

Speaking at that Wednesday news conference with Rumsfeld, incoming chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Peter Pace, seen below right with Rumsfeld, said the Pentagon's unwillingness to publicly release that information does not mean Congress is kept in the dark.

Pace & Rumsfeld"We do tell the Congress privately, classified, exactly what these facts are. So there is a dialogue, just not one in the public," he said.

Pace has said repeatedly that it is not possible to know how many U.S. troops will be needed because the size of the force will be determined by conditions, including further progress in containing the insurgency and training the Iraqis.

There are about 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq now, down from a peak of about 160,000 during the January elections.

Sen. Carl Levin, ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said that limiting the release of this information to the public was unacceptable.

Joining Levin, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calfornia said Thursday that if Rumsfeld submits merely "a progress report on the war without standards, goals and timetables specified" he will not have satisfied the intent of Congress.

Full AP Breaking News story.


AP: 3 London tube stations attacked


LONDON - Two weeks after suicide attacks on subway stations and a bus, police reported incidents at three subway stations and an official said the windows of a double-decker bus were blown out Thursday.

Rescue personnel gather at Warren Street in central London, Thursday July 21, 2005. Warren Street station and two other London Underground stations were evacuated at midday Thursday following reports of smoke and explosions, two weeks after a series of bombings targeted London's public transport system. Police also were investigating a report of an incident on a bus in east London. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)Rescue personnel gather at Warren Street in central London, left.  Emergency teams were sent to all three stations after the lunch time incidents. One witness told Sky TV that another subway passenger told him a backpack exploded at the Warren Street station and there were reports of smoke.

Police said one person was hurt but stressed that the scale of the attack was not on the order of the July 7 bombings in which 52 people and four suicide attackers were killed.

Full AP story.


AP: Rice gets Sudan apology for guards' assaults

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) - Security forces in the Sudanese capital manhandled U.S. officials and reporters traveling with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, marring her round of congratulatory meetings with leaders of the new unified government. Rice demanded an apology, and got it.

"It makes me very angry to be sitting there with their president and have this happen," she said. "They have no right to push and shove."

Rice made her remarks to reporters after she and her entourage boarded an airplane to fly from the capital to a refugee camp in the Darfur region. At the camp, she said the United States would hold the Sudanese government to account if it fails to end the refugee crisis.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Sudanese foreign minister responded to Rice's demand for an apology by telephoning her aboard the plane to express regret for the incidents at the ultra-high-security residence of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir.

Twice, Sudanese guards' hostility toward members of Rice's entourage devolved into shouts and shoving.

As Rice's motorcade arrived at the residence, armed guards slammed the gate shut before three vehicles could get in, including those carrying Rice's interpreter and other State Department officials who were supposed to attend her meeting with el-Bashir.

After protests, the officials were eventually allowed in. But guards repeatedly pushed and pulled Rice senior adviser Jim Wilkinson, and at one point he was shoved into a wall.

"Diplomacy 101 says you don't rough your guests up," Wilkinson said later.

Once Rice's traveling group was inside, the guards tried to keep reporters out of a planned photo shoot of Rice's meeting.

When reporters were finally allowed in, they were elbowed and guards repeatedly tried to rip a microphone away from a U.S. reporter. They were ordered not to ask questions, over State Department objections.

When NBC diplomatic reporter Andrea Mitchell tried to ask el-Bashir a question about his involvement with alleged atrocities, a scuffle broke out.

Guards grabbed the reporter and muscled her toward the rear of the room as State Department officials shouted at the guards to leave her alone. "Get your hands off her!" Wilkinson demanded. But all the reporters and a camera crew were physically forced out.

Ambassador Khidair Haroun Ahmed, head of the Sudanese mission in Washington, attempted to smooth over the situation on the spot. "Please accept our apologies," he told the reporters and aides. "This is not our policy."

Full AP Breaking News story.


Slate-Papers: They got some s-plainin to do - July 21

By Eric Umansky - Posted Thursday, at 4:32 AM CT

The New York Times gets a peek at a Pentagon assessment concluding that virtually no Iraqi security forces are capable of independent counter-insurgency operations. About half were labeled trainees capable of doing anything much at all. About a third of military units were considered useful so long as they operate with U.S. help. The Washington Post leads with a State Department memo central to the investigation of the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. The 2003 memo, which may have been how White House officials found out about Plame, marked the paragraph referring to her and her employer "S", for secret. The Los Angeles Times leads with the arrest in Pakistan of an al-Qaida suspect who reportedly phoned all four of the London bombers shortly before the attacks. Haroon Rashid Aswat is a British citizen of Indian descent and is wanted by the U.S. in connection to a late 1990s' plot to create a jihadi training camp in Oregon. The NYT fronts the search for Aswat. The Wall Street Journal world-wide newsbox and USA Today lead with and others front followup to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge John Roberts. Democrats have held their fire, playing nice in the face of Roberts' resume. Of course, some opposition is to be expected. "It's a little bit like biblical Pharisees, you know, who basically are always trying to undermine Jesus Christ," said Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, below right, in a TV interview the Post flags.

HatchTuesday's Journal first reported that the State Department memo warned that Plame's info was classified. But the Post has a few more details. The memo didn't say Plame was a covert agent, but as the Post says, anybody reading the Plame paragraph "should have been aware that it contained secret information." One other thing the WP notes: The memo made only glancing reference to Plame. Instead of most of it was taken up with supporting claims by Plame's husband, (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson, that Saddam didn't really seem to be going after yellowcake in Niger.

The NYT didn't get a copy of the Pentagon's assessment of Iraqi forces. Rather it got a seven sentence summary of the assessment written by the incoming chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The Times spends a whole article summarizing those seven sentences; why not post them as well?

The LAT notices that while Roberts' stance on abortion is murky, his wife's isn't. She's a long-time anti-abortion advocate.

The WSJ wonders whether Roberts is a supporter of "originalism," the notion -- promoted by Justices Scalia (shown on the cover of a book about him, below left) Scalia Dissents: book about Justice Scaliaand Thomas -- that rather than consider society's current standards, justices should stick to the narrow confines of what they deem were the intents of the Constitution's framers. A particularly thoughtful NYT op-ed suggests Roberts isn't really on-board with Scalia and Thomas. The piece, by the law prof Jeffrey Rosen, makes a number of other points and is today's extra-credit reading.

The NYT and WP front Sunnis on the constitution-writing committee suspending their involvement in the process ostensibly over a demand that they get better security. Yesterday's USAT flagged the possibility of a walkout. The LAT suggests the Sunnis on the committee are also frustrated that their ideas are not being taken into account. The Post notices that Kurdish members of the committee are causing their own problems: They've made a bid for a big-time expansion of the semi-autonomous Kurdish zone, putting its border just 75 miles from Baghdad.

Ten people were killed by a suicide bombing outside a security forces recruiting center in Baghdad. A bomber killed 25 people at the same location about two weeks ago.

The NYT fronts an international observer group concluding that heads of the militia terrorizing Darfur are still on the Sudanese government's payroll. The number of attacks in Darfur has actually gone down recently. But the Times says that's because "almost everyone who might have been a target is either dead or living in a refugee camp." A piece inside the Post suggests the U.S. has lately been playing down the killing in Darfur.

Everybody mentions the previously unannounced "retirement" of LAT editor John Carroll, who had bridled at his bosses' pushes for big budget cuts. Replacing him will be Dean Baquet, a former NYT man who is, among other things, quite skilled at skimming talent from his old paper. Or as NYT top editor Bill Keller said, "He has this habit of telling recruits there's something in the New York water that makes your penis fall off."

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Slate Magazine.


WashPost: State Dept. said Plame was secret

By Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei - Washington Post Staff Writers, Thursday, Page A01
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV (shown below right appearing on Face the Nation July 17) was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Wilson on Face the NationAnyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.

Prosecutors attempting to determine whether senior government officials knowingly leaked Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative to the media are investigating whether White House officials gained access to information about her from the memo, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The memo may be important to answering three central questions in the Plame case: Who in the Bush administration knew about Plame's CIA role? Did they know the agency was trying to protect her identity? And, who leaked it to the media?

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife.

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later.

Full Washington Post story.


NYT: Most Iraqi forces can't cope without us - July 21


WASHINGTON - About half of Iraq's new police battalions are still being established and cannot conduct operations, while the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only "partially capable" of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, and only with American help, according to a newly declassified Pentagon assessment.

Only "a small number" of Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting the insurgency without American assistance, while about one-third of the army is capable of "planning, executing and sustaining counterinsurgency operations" with allied support, the analysis said.

The assessment, which has not been publicly released, is the most precise analysis of the Iraqis' readiness levels that the military has provided. Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the 160,000 American-led allied troops cannot begin to withdraw until Iraqi troops are ready to take over security.

The assessment is described in a brief written response that Gen. Peter Pace, the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, shown below left with Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, provided last week to the Senate Armed Services Committee. It was provided to The Times by a Senate staff aide. At General Pace's confirmation hearing on June 29, Republicans and Democrats directed him to provide an unclassified accounting of the Iraqis' abilities to allow a fuller public debate. The military had already provided classified assessments to lawmakers.

Pace with Rumsfeld"We need to know, the American people need to know the status of readiness of the Iraqi military, which is improving, so that we can not only understand but appreciate better the roles and missions that they are capable of carrying out," Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said at the hearing.

General Pace's statement comes as the Pentagon prepares to deliver to Congress as early as Thursday a comprehensive report that establishes performance standards and goals on a variety of political and economic matters, as well as the training of Iraqi security forces, and a timetable for achieving those aims. The report was due on July 11, but the Pentagon missed the deadline.

Full NYTimes story.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Coulter objects to Roberts - July 20

In her column released today, raving conservative Ann Coulter, shown below right on the cover of her book How to Talk to a Liberal - if you must, says:

How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must) by Coulter, AnnIt means nothing that Roberts wrote briefs arguing for the repeal of Roe v. Wade when he worked for Republican administrations. He was arguing on behalf of his client, the United States of America. Roberts has specifically disassociated himself from those cases, dropping a footnote to a 1994 law review article that said:

"In the interest of full disclosure, the author would like to point out that as Deputy Solicitor General for a portion of the 1992-93 Term, he was involved in many of the cases discussed below. In the interest of even fuller disclosure, he would also like to point out that his views as a commentator on those cases do not necessarily reflect his views as an advocate for his former client, the United States."

This would have been the legal equivalent, after O.J.'s acquittal, of Johnnie Cochran saying, "hey, I never said the guy was innocent. I was just doing my job."

And it makes no difference that conservatives in the White House are assuring us Roberts can be trusted. We got the exact same assurances from officials working for the last president Bush about David Hackett Souter.

I believe their exact words were, "Read our lips; Souter's a reliable conservative."

Source: AnnCoulter.com article, "Souter in Roberts Clothing."

Dave Haigler: This gives me hope Roberts must not be all that bad. DemLog, Abilene, Texas.


Crawford: Stealth Lesson

By Craig Crawford, below left

Craig CrawfordPro-life conservatives face an unknown danger in Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. They might well have another David Souter on their hands, a nominee thought to be a social conservative but who turns out to be a solid vote for Roe v. Wade's protection of abortion rights. Roberts is a BLANK SLATE on this issue, when you consider how his contradictory stands cancel each other out. And the history of stealth nominees is that conservatives tend to be the ones eventually shocked and enraged. If they take it for granted that the Bush White House has some backroom assurance from Roberts that he will cripple or overturn Roe, don't bet on it. Even if he gave them such assurance (which I doubt), he'll be above reach if it turns out he misled them to get the job. The confirmation hearing is the only chance for conservatives to get Roberts on the record about Roe BEFORE it's too late. If they think it's cute and clever for him to stay off the record and befuddle the liberals, there's no guarantee that liberals won't get the last laugh.

--crawfordslist.comSource:  Huffington Blog.


AP: Both party chairs speak to Latino group


By DEBORAH YAO, Associated Press Writer -- Wed Jul 20

PHILADELPHIA - Democratic and Republican leaders touted their parties' records on inclusion Tuesday, courting voters at the annual conference of a Hispanic civil rights group.

In a sign of the growing political clout of Hispanics, the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee chairmen both appeared at the event for the first time.

Dean"There's a lot of talk about which party Hispanics in this country are most likely to affiliate with," DNC chairman Howard Dean (right) said. "This is a party that will give opportunities for elected officials in politics to Latinos and Hispanics."

GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman shot back by listing Hispanics named by President Bush to his cabinet or to other prominent positions.

"This is the most diverse administration in history," Mehlman said.

Despite the courtship of the two parties, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia declared at the end of the speeches that "no political party or ideology owns us."

Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States with more than 41 million people and large populations in states such as California, Florida, New York and Texas that have many electoral votes.

While Hispanics have traditionally leaned toward Democrats, Bush garnered more than 40 percent of the group's vote in the last presidential election.

Full AP story.


AP: Filibuster of Roberts unlikely - July 20

Roberts with senatorsWith photographers arrayed before them in the right of the picture below, U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, third from left, sits with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, left, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, 2nd from left, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, right on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, July 20, 2005. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer - 1 hour, 24 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The possibility of a Democratic filibuster against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts in the Republican-controlled Senate seemed to all but disappear Wednesday.

One influential Democrat said Roberts was "in the ballpark" of being a nonconfrontational selection. A Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold hearings on Roberts' nomination, said she did not think the appeals court judge was "filibuster-able."

At the same time, a conservative group purchased TV ad time in support of Roberts. Abortion rights groups staged protests against Roberts at the Supreme Court and Capitol.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans moved to schedule Roberts' hearings and vote in a one-month period after Labor Day. "It's possible to start the hearings in August, but I think September is a preferable time," said GOP Sen. Arlen Specter (news, bio, voting record) of Pennsylvania, the Judiciary Committee chairman.

The Senate's Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, said he had not heard any senators in his party mention filibustering President Bush's pick to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

"Do I believe this is a filibuster-able nominee? The answer would be no, not at this time I don't," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., a strong abortion-rights supporter and a committee member.

Several of the seven Republicans among the 14 senators who brokered a deal over judicial filibusters indicated they thought a filibuster against Roberts would be unwarranted. Most have already praised Roberts. Their support would make it almost impossible for Democrats to carry out a filibuster.

The group planned to meet Thursday to talk about Roberts.

"I think that Judge Roberts deserves an up-or-down vote, and I hope that the other members of that group agree with me," said Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record), R-Ariz.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., said the group had sent a message to the president to send the Senate a mainstream conservative. "And it appears at first look that Judge Roberts is that," he said.

Roberts is "in the ballpark of a nonconfrontational nominee," Lieberman added.

Full AP-Yahoo News story.


MMfA: Roberts view on abortion unclear - July 20

Media Matters for America this afternoon reports that media stories that President Bush's nominee for Supreme Court John Roberts' view that abortion rights are settled law and he supports them, are mistaken:

During initial coverage of President Bush's nomination of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court, many media outlets have cited Roberts's pledge at his 2003 appellate court nomination hearing to "fully and faithfully apply" Roe v. Wade as the "settled law of the land" as evidence that he would vote to uphold the 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion if confirmed to the Supreme Court. But the suggestion that Roberts's previous description of Roe as "settled law" signals anything about how he would vote if confirmed to the highest court is incorrect. As an appellate court judge, the position to which he was "applying" in 2003 when he pledged to follow the law, Roberts is bound to adhere to Supreme Court precedent or face possible reversal on appeal. But as a Supreme Court justice, he would be in a position to vote to overturn Roe, or any other Supreme Court decision with which he disagreed, no matter how "settled." In the words of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), the upholding of binding precedent "is required of lower-court judges," and therefore Roberts's comment "seems to leave open the possibility that he could vote to overturn Roe as a high-court justice."

Similarly, several news reports on July 20 contrasted Roberts's 2003 pledge with a legal brief he helped file in 1991 on behalf of the first Bush administration stating that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Setting them up in this manner suggests that there is a conflict between the two statements. For example, USA Today wrote that they were "two seemingly contradictory positions that Roberts took on Roe." But regardless of whether the 1991 brief reflected Roberts's personal views or merely represented the views of his client, his 2003 statement does not indicate anything about:

1) his personal view of Roe,

2) whether his view has changed since 1991; or

3) how he would vote on the matter if elevated to the Supreme Court.

Other news reports more accurately reported the limited significance of Roberts's description in 2003 of Roe as "settled law." For example, on the July 19 edition of CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley noted that Roberts's comment was "not definitive" because "[a]s an appellate court judge, Roberts's job is to uphold law. The Supreme Court can reconsider law."

While challenging White House press secretary Scott McClellan during a July 20 press briefing to explain why it is "unreasonable" to expect Roberts to be more "forthcoming" about his views on abortion, NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory noted that "as an appellate judge he [Roberts] is limited by what is the Supreme Court decision, but as a justice he would wield so much more power and have the authority, you know, to reverse 'settled law.' " Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Roberts's critics "say Democrats shouldn't accept those assurances from a Supreme Court nominee who would have the power to overrule high court precedents that he had to follow on the lower court." Even NBC's Williams improved his description of Roberts's comment on the July 20 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, saying: "What I think the abortion-rights activists would question, though, is that as a lower court judge he [Roberts] has to abide by the Supreme Court precedents. As a Supreme Court justice, he is on his own."

Full Media Matters for America article.


CNN: U.S. warns Americans in Saudi Arabia


From Elise Labott - CNN Washington Bureau

Wednesday, July 20, 2005; Posted: 1:21 p.m. CDT (16:21 GMT)

(CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, warned Wednesday that more terrorist attacks could be in the works in the kingdom.

The embassy issued a warden's message, or advisory, to the American community in Saudi Arabia saying that it "has received indications of operational planning for a terrorist attack or attacks in the kingdom."

The statement posted on the embassy's Web site said there was "no specific information concerning timing, target or method" of possible attacks but noted that terrorists previously have targeted housing compounds and other places for Westerners as well as Saudi government facilities.

"In addition to car bombs and armed assaults involving multiple gunmen against such facilities, terrorists have used ambush attacks to kidnap and/or assassinate individual Westerners," the advisory warned.

Full CNN story.


Barhorst: Tyrannies

Tyrannies need enemies that differ from the norm to divert the population. If there are not enough enemies a tyranny will create them.

Tyrannies always attack a messenger of news that is negative to the tyrannies position.

Tyrannies always answer a straight forward question with a segue.

Tyrannies always announce that their version of a God is on their side.

Tyrannies use the Law as a tool of rule not a tool of justice.

Tyrannies believe the well placed lie is an acceptable tool of rule.

Tyrannies tightly control or destroy the middle class.

Terry Barhorst

Click on the latest Abi-Demian, Democratic Party News:


Slate-Papers: Revealing Roberts - July 20

By Eric Umansky - Posted Wednesday, at 3:12 AM CT

Everybody leads with—and most banner—President Bush's nomination of Judge John Roberts for the Supreme Court. Roberts, just 50, is something of a Republican establishment superstar. He's served in the administrations of Reagan and Bush I and two years ago was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, considered the country's second-highest court.

The Wall Street Journal describes the Harvard-trained Roberts as "affable, thoughtful and solidly Republican." But though he's been around Washington for two decades, it's hard to nail down his exact views since he's served on the bench for only two years. Before that, as an administration attorney he was obligated to take whatever positions the Oval Office handed down.

Some of the papers don't buy or consider that notion; USA Today's subhead, for example, screams that Roberts "argued Against Roe." But when asked about Roe v. Wade at his 2003 confirmation hearings, Roberts described it as the "settled law of the land." Of course, even that doesn't mean much; it could have just been a savvy statement of the obvious: As an appeals court judge he was bound by the Supreme Court's precedent.

As the WSJ puts it, Roberts' short time on the bench gives the White House a "strategic advantage." Democrats can be suspicious of Roberts, but he doesn't have a track record on which they can nail him.

The NYT's Adam's Nagourney describes the choice as "almost obvious in retrospect": Roberts "is at least good enough for conservatives ... yet genial and enigmatic enough to confound Democrats." "They've artfully threaded the needle," said one Democratic congressional aide.

In other words, as the LAT notes, Roberts is something of a quadruple threat: "a young, conservative judge with a spotless personal record and a minimal paper trail."

Roberts' decisions on the bench, says the Washington Post, have been marked by "dispassionate reasoning rather than inflammatory language." But as the New York Times emphasizes, Roberts—a card-carrying member of the Federalist Society—has evinced skepticism about the extent of the feds' regulatory powers. In one recent case, Roberts ruled that feds can't use the Endangered Species Act to protect (endangered) arroyo toads since the case doesn't involve interstate commerce. "The toad," he wrote, "for reasons of its own, lives its entire life in California."

Slate's Emily Bazelon flags another case Roberts ruled on just last week: He gave the OK to the military tribunals at Gitmo, even though most independent analysts have concluded that the tribunals don't meet minimum standards of justice. Roberts' ruling, writes Bazelon, should be "seriously troubling to anyone who values civil liberties."

Social conservatives seemed pleased with the pick, and as the Journal emphasizes, the nomination also "drew cheers" from the business community. In between serving in the Bush I administration and his recent appointment to the bench, Roberts was a top corporate lawyer. When he was nominated for appeals court two years ago, about 150 prominent lawyers, Republicans and Democrats, signed a letter supporting him.

Liberal groups quickly went into overdrive against Roberts. But as everybody notes, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid basically held his fire, describing Roberts as "someone with suitable legal traditional credentials" whose record should be checked out to see if it shows a "commitment to the core American values of freedom, equality, and fairness."

Everybody rates Roberts' chances of confirmation as elevated. Two years ago, a Senate committee approved his appeals court nomination 16-3. It's also worth knowing that back in 1992, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Roberts' nomination for federal court stalled.

The Los Angeles Times offers the most detail on White House officials' description of Bush's decision-making process: Reportedly, he interviewed five candidates over the past few days and sealed the deal at about noon yesterday. As for Judge Edith Clement, the White House suggested she was, at least, one of the finalists.

Confirmation hearings will probably begin after the summer recess, about early September.

Out of curiosity:Were previous Supreme nominations handled in the same way that Bush just did it, a primetime announcement with no questions?

USAT, NYT, and LAT all front the assassination of two Sunnis who were involved in drafting Iraq's constitution. It's just latest case of insurgents targeting Sunnis who work with the government. One Sunni member of the constitution-writing committee told reporters that the government has ignored requests for guards. "We are neglected, and no one cares about us," he said. USAT quotes the official saying the rest of the Sunnis on the panel will withdraw until they get protection.

Also yesterday, 10 Iraqi contractors were killed as their minibus approached work at a U.S. military base. The NYT says there were no suicide bombings for a second day a row.

The NYT notes inside that Ahmed Chalabi is moving to purge nearly 30 staff members of the tribunal for Saddam Hussein, including the court's chief investigative judge. Chalabi, who heads Iraq's deBaathification squad, wants the staffers canned for once being party members. Prosecutors and judges during Saddam's era were required to be card-carrying members of the Baathist party.

Most of the papers reefer a Pentagon report that raises red flags about China's growing military power. As the Post emphasizes, the report was at the center of much administration infighting. The result is a somewhat mixed report, which in turn begets mixed coverage. The LAT's subhead: "With the arms buildup, Beijing could flex its muscle across Asia, the report cautions." The NYT: "CHINA'S MILITARY GEARED TO DETERRING TAIWAN, REPORT SAYS."

The WP notices inside that the administration came out against a bipartisan bill that would create a federal shield law for journalists. The bill says journalists can stay mum about their sources unless there is "imminent and actual harm to national security." A Justice Dept. official told a Senate committee that such a law would not only be "bad public policy" but would impair the government's ability to, of course, "fight terrorism."

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com .   Source:  Slate Magazine.


NYT: Roberts no Scalia-clone


WASHINGTON - Standing at the president's side Tuesday night, Judge John G. Roberts, below left, a veteran of 39 arguments before the Supreme Court, said, "I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps."

Judge Roberts with President BushThese were the words of someone deeply anchored in the trajectory of modern constitutional law, not of someone who felt himself on the sidelines throwing brickbats, nor of someone who felt called to a mission to change the status quo.

There are others, potential nominees whom the president might have chosen, who probably also feel a lump in the throat when they think about the Supreme Court, but it is caused by anger rather than reverence. That is not to say that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whom President Bush had offered as his models for a Supreme Court selection, do not respect the institution, but their stance is one of opposition to many currents of modern legal thought that the court's decisions reflect.

Now the question is whether Judge Roberts, if confirmed, will, like those two justices, commit himself to recapturing a distant constitutional paradise in which the court was faithful to the original intent of the framers or whether, like the justice he would succeed, he finds himself comfortably in the middle rather than at the margin.

His résumé suggests the latter, as does his almost complete lack of a paper trail. There are no flame-throwing articles or speeches, no judicial opinions that threaten established precedent, no visible hard edges.

To the extent that as a judge he has expressed a limited view of federal power, that is consistent with the views of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, whom he is being named to succeed, and would not change the balance on the court. He signed briefs as a Justice Department lawyer conveying the anti-abortion position of the first Bush administration, but he has given no indication of his personal or judicial views on abortion.

Democratic senators and liberal advocacy groups were wary Tuesday night, vowing to probe beneath the smooth surface.

"Let's be clear: Judge Roberts is not a stealth nominee, because the president's inner circle knows his views well, even if Americans do not," Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice, said in a statement issued moments after the nomination was announced.

And indeed, the nominee's network of associations suggests a firm identification on the conservative side of the legal spectrum: not only his involvement with the Federalist Society, but his service, before he became a judge, on the legal advisory council of the National Legal Center for the Public Interest, a group here that describes its goal as promoting "free enterprise, private ownership of property, balanced use of private and public resources, limited government, and a fair and efficient judiciary." It is a group that attracts support from many prominent conservatives.

But the recent history of the Supreme Court indicates that these sorts of biographical details are less important over the long run of a justice's career than is an internal compass, not easily reduced to a paper record or elicited by questions at a confirmation hearing.

Justice O'Connor moved indisputably to the left during her 24 years on the court, not in every area of its docket but in some of the most important ones, like affirmative action and abortion. Justices Scalia and Thomas have, by contrast, scarcely changed at all. What accounts for the difference, and what might be the experience of Judge Roberts, who, now age 50, would be likely to serve for 25 years or more?

There is no conclusive answer. But observation suggests that the answer begins with how a justice feels when entering the building each morning (typically not by walking up marble steps but by driving into an underground garage). Is that justice entering a battleground, or coming home?

Source:  NY Times piece, "A Judge Anchored in Modern Law."


ARN: Texans comment on Judge Roberts - July 20

Abilene Reporter News, "In their words," July 20, 2005:

Neugebauer''In looking at his tenure as a federal judge, he has a record of honesty, of integrity and of strictly adhering to the text of the Constitution.''

-U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, right, 19th congressional district

* * *

''I think he's been working for the Republicans for a long time ... but Supreme Court justices have a way of surprising the presidents who nominate them. Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of the most respected Supreme Court justices was a big surprise to Teddy Roosevelt, and Earl Warren was a big surprise to Ike (President Eisenhower). ... (Roberts') opinions have been very carefully crafted, but he has been reversed by the Supreme Court.''

-Dave Haigler, chairman, Taylor County Democratic Party

* * *

''I think Judge Roberts meets the two most important criteria. First, he is a solid conservative and second, he is young enough to serve on the court for a long time. He's an excellent choice. I'm sure by the time the Democrats get a hold of him, his own mother won't recognize him.''

-Paul Washburn, chairman, Taylor County Republican Party

* * *

''President Bush has selected a person with a fine legal mind who is respected by his peers and has a reputation for integrity and fairness.''

- U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas

Source:  Abilene Reporter News - Compiled by Blanca Cantu.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


DH: Thoughts on Judge John Roberts


A little weak on affirmative action.


A little weak on minority voting rights.


Argued for religious activities at public graduation exercises; Supreme Court disagreed 5/4.


Took the side of developers against an endangered species.


Argued that environmentalists had not shown harm about mining on public lands.


Voted to weaken the probable cause showing for drug searches.


Got overruled for saying tightening parole rules mid-sentence didn't violate prisoner rights.


Argued for Bush I that clinics receiving federal funds cannot talk to patients about abortion.


Voted to concur with executive authority in rebuilding Iraq.


Wrote a paper saying that private property should be more protected from government taking, but allowing "changing norms of justice," normally expressive of liberal constitutional theory.


Judge John Roberts' background

Here's some background on Judge Roberts I blogged on July 1:

John Roberts

John Roberts
: 50
Graduated from: Harvard Law School.
He clerked for: Judge Henry Friendly, Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
He used to be: associate counsel to the president for Ronald Reagan, deputy solicitor general for George H.W. Bush, partner at Hogan & Hartson.
He's now: a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (appointed 2003).

His confirmation battle: Roberts has been floated as a nominee who could win widespread support in the Senate. Not so likely. He hasn't been on the bench long enough for his judicial opinions to provide much ammunition for liberal opposition groups. But his record as a lawyer for the Reagan and first Bush administrations and in private practice is down-the-line conservative on key contested fronts, including abortion, separation of church and state, and environmental protection.

Civil Rights and Liberties
For a unanimous panel, denied the weak civil rights claims of a 12-year-old girl who was arrested and handcuffed in a Washington, D.C., Metro station for eating a French fry. Roberts noted that "no one is very happy about the events that led to this litigation" and that the Metro authority had changed the policy that led to her arrest. (Hedgepeth v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 2004).

In private practice, wrote a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that Congress had failed to justify a Department of Transportation affirmative action program. (Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Mineta, 2001).

For Reagan, opposed a congressional effort--in the wake of the 1980 Supreme Court decision Mobile v. Bolden--to make it easier for minorities to successfully argue that their votes had been diluted under the Voting Rights Act.

Separation of Church and State
For Bush I, co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that public high-school graduation programs could include religious ceremonies. The Supreme Court disagreed by a vote of 5-4. (Lee v. Weisman, 1992)

Environmental Protection and Property Rights
Voted for rehearing in a case about whether a developer had to take down a fence so that the arroyo toad could move freely through its habitat. Roberts argued that the panel was wrong to rule against the developer because the regulations on behalf of the toad, promulgated under the Endangered Species Act, overstepped the federal government's power to regulate interstate commerce. At the end of his opinion, Roberts suggested that rehearing would allow the court to "consider alternative grounds" for protecting the toad that are "more consistent with Supreme Court precedent." (Rancho Viejo v. Nortion, 2003)

For Bush I, argued that environmental groups concerned about mining on public lands had not proved enough about the impact of the government's actions to give them standing to sue. The Supreme Court adopted this argument. (Lujan v. National Wildlife Federation, 1990)

Criminal Law
Joined a unanimous opinion ruling that a police officer who searched the trunk of a car without saying that he was looking for evidence of a crime (the standard for constitutionality) still conducted the search legally, because there was a reasonable basis to think contraband was in the trunk, regardless of whether the officer was thinking in those terms. (U.S. v. Brown, 2004)

Habeas Corpus
Joined a unanimous opinion denying the claim of a prisoner who argued that by tightening parole rules in the middle of his sentence, the government subjected him to an unconstitutional after-the-fact punishment. The panel reversed its decision after a Supreme Court ruling directly contradicted it. (Fletcher v. District of Columbia, 2004)

For Bush I, successfully helped argue that doctors and clinics receiving federal funds may not talk to patients about abortion. (Rust v. Sullivan, 1991)

Judicial Philosophy
Concurring in a decision allowing President Bush to halt suits by Americans against Iraq as the country rebuilds, Roberts called for deference to the executive and for a literal reading of the relevant statute. (Acree v. Republic of Iraq, 2004)

In an article written as a law student, argued that the phrase "just compensation" in the Fifth Amendment, which limits the government in the taking of private property, should be "informed by changing norms of justice." This sounds like a nod to liberal constitutional theory, but Rogers' alternative interpretation was more protective of property interests than Supreme Court law at the time.

Source: Slate Magazine.

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