Friday, October 20, 2006

Court rebuked

“During the bitter controversy over the military commission bill, which President Bush signed into law on Tuesday, most of the press and the professional punditry missed the big story. In the struggle for power between the three branches of government, it is not the presidency that ‘won.’ Instead, it is the judiciary that lost,” John Yoo writes in the Wall Street Journal.

“The new law is, above all, a stinging rebuke to the Supreme Court. It strips the courts of jurisdiction to hear any habeas corpus claim filed by any alien enemy combatant anywhere in the world. It was passed in response to the effort by a five-justice majority in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld to take control over terrorism policy. That majority extended judicial review to Guantanamo Bay, threw the Bush military commissions into doubt, and tried to extend the protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, overturning the traditional understanding that Geneva does not cover terrorists, who are not signatories nor ‘combatants’ in an internal civil war under Article 3. …

“This time, Congress and the president did not take the court’s power grab lying down. They told the courts, in effect, to get out of the war on terror, stripped them of habeas jurisdiction over alien enemy combatants, and said there was nothing wrong with the military commissions,” said Mr. Yoo, a law professor at University of California, Berkeley, and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research who served in the Bush Justice Department from 2001 to 2003.

“It is the first time since the New Deal that Congress had so completely divested the courts of power over a category of cases.

A bad bet

“Last week President Bush signed a law that will try to impede online gambling by prohibiting American banks from transferring money to gambling sites. Most Americans probably didn’t notice or care, but it may do significant political damage to the Republicans this fall and long-term damage to Americans’ respect for the law,” Charles Murray writes in the New York Times.

“So, a month before a major election, the Republicans have allied themselves with a scattering of voters who are upset by online gambling and have outraged the millions who love it. Furthermore, judging from many hours of online chat with Internet poker players, I am willing to bet (if you’ll pardon the expression) that the outraged millions are disproportionately electricians, insurance agents, police officers, mid-level managers, truck drivers, small-business owners — that is, disproportionately Republicans and Reagan Democrats,” said Mr. Murray, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

“In the short term, this law all by itself could add a few more Democratic congressional seats in the fall elections. We are talking about a lot of people (an estimated 23 million Americans gamble online) who are angry enough to vote on the basis of this one issue, and they blame Republicans.”

Daisy 2006

The Republican Party will begin airing a hard-hitting ad this weekend that warns of more cataclysmic terror attacks against the U.S. homeland.

According to the Associated Press, the ad portrays Osama bin Laden and quotes his threats against America dating to February 1998.

“These are the stakes,” the ad concludes. “Vote November 7.”

The wording strongly resembles that of the notorious 1964 “Daisy” ad. The campaign spot for President Lyndon B. Johnson included the phrase: “These are the stakes” after a countdown and a nuclear explosion.

Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the ad would run on national cable beginning Sunday, but he declined to discuss specifics of the buy.

The ad displays an array of quotes from bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahri, that include bin Laden’s Dec. 26, 2001, vow that “what is yet to come will be even greater.” The ad also cites al-Zawahri’s claim to have obtained “some suitcase bombs,” followed by a scene that appears to show a nuclear explosion.

The ad is also featured on the RNC’s Web site. The party said the ad, called “The Stakes,” will be e-mailed to millions of Republican supporters, activists and the state parties.

Democrats denounced the ad as scaremongering.

“This is a pathetic move by an increasingly desperate GOP,” said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.

Culture warrior

The Alexandria-based Media Research Center has announced the establishment of “a new, unique program,” the Culture & Media Institute, under the direction of Robert Knight.

“We’re putting together a team to expose how the media undermine the American character. Our goal is to empower ‘new’ media while encouraging ‘old’ media to be fairer,” MRC President Brent Bozell said yesterday.

Mr. Knight, a former Los Angeles Times news editor, also has worked for Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council.

The Culture & Media Institute is funded by a three-year, $1 million challenge grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Mr. Bozell said.

Mr. Knight said the institute will work “to expose how the media undermine faith, morality, marriage, thrift, generosity, manners, modesty, entrepreneurialism and patriotism.”

Leak probe

The Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee has suspended a Democratic staff member pending an investigation into whether he leaked a high-level intelligence assessment to the press, the Associated Press reports.

The staff member, who was not identified, was suspended this week by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and the panel chairman, his spokesman Jamal Ware said last night. The aide is being denied access to classified information pending the outcome of a review, Mr. Ware said.

The leak to the New York Times of a national intelligence estimate on global terror trends caused a political uproar last month. In the assessment, completed in April, analysts from the government’s 16 spy agencies concluded that the Iraq war has become a “cause celebre” for Islamist terrorists. President Bush suggested that the document was leaked for “political purposes” weeks before the midterm elections.

In a letter to Mr. Hoekstra dated Sept. 29, Rep. Ray LaHood, Illinois Republican and a panel member, said the Democratic staffer requested the document from National Intelligence Director John Negroponte three days before a Sept. 23 story by the Times.

“This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply ‘look bad.’ But coincidence, in this town, is rare,” Mr. LaHood said in the letter, obtained by the Associated Press.

Rep. Jane Harman of California, the panel’s top Democrat, wrote to Mr. Hoekstra that she was “appalled” by his action, which she called “without basis.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or

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