Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Secret CIA Prisoners Disappeared

Required for Con Law and Internship Students (Read Human Rights Watch Press Release)
Human Rights Watch, a highly respected non-partisan human rights group, published a detailed report identifying 38 people who were held in CIA black sites and are still missing. The report titled “Ghost Prisoner: Two Years in Secret CIA Detention,” includes a detailed description of a secret CIA prison given by a former detainee released from custody last year. In a letter to President Bush(pdf), HRW called on the President to account for the whereabouts of the "disappeared" prisoners. In its press release Joanne Mariner, the terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch, stated:
The CIA program – and the civilian leaders who created it – have inflicted tremendous harm on the reputation, moral standing, and integrity of the United States. It’s time for President Bush to repudiate this program, and to take steps to repair the damage it has done.
See also this BBC report.
Take Action through Amnesty International, and through Human Rights First.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Study Group

This is for the people that attended the study group. Some of your email addresses wouldn't work, so if you didn't get my email that's why.

Con Law Quiz Review

Post your questions here and Hima and I will try to answer as many as possible throughout the day. Hima's review session will be in PUP 357 this afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Federal appeals court upholds MCA habeas-stripping provisions

President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act in October, which ordered the suspension of habeas corpus rights to any foreign national detainee labeled 'enemy combatant.' Recently, the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld this provision saying it does not "violate the Suspension Clause [Art. I, §9, cl.2 text] of the US Constitution." The case is expected to go to the Supreme Court.

You can read the entire case at

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Judge Orders Padilla's Military Jailers to Testify

Required for Con Law Students (Read Boston Globe Article)
Jose Padilla is an American citizen who has been detained for five years as an "enemy combatant." As Jurist stated:
Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Padilla, initially accused of planning to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States, was finally charged in November 2005 on unrelated counts.
The Boston Globe reported: "His lawyers say Padilla was tortured, drugged and psychologically damaged during the 3-1/2 years he was interrogated and held in "extreme isolation" at a military brig in South Carolina prior to being charged in the civilian court." Jurist has an archive of its media coverage. The Supreme Court's decision dismissing Padilla's case on procedural grounds can be read here (pdf).

Friday, February 16, 2007

House Opposes Bush Plan to Escalate War

Required for Con Law Students
The House of Representatives passed a resolution disapproving of the Bush plan to send more troops to Iraq. The measure passed 246-182 with 17 Republicans in support. See this UK Independent story or the Washington Post. HCR 63 Reads:
Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq. Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That--
(1) Congress and the American people will continue to support and protect the members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or who have served bravely and honorably in Iraq; and
(2) Congress disapproves of the decision of President George W. Bush announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq.

Italy Indicts 31 in CIA Abduction Case

Required for Con Law Students (Read WP or BBC Story)
Another European country is pursuing criminal charges against U.S. officials for abduction, rendition and torture. The Washington Post reports "A judge Friday indicted 26 Americans and five Italians in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect on a Milan street in what would be the first criminal trial stemming from the CIA's extraordinary rendition program." The BBC has additional coverage.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Testimony ends in Libby perjury trial

Both sides rested today on Libby's perjury trial. The court will hear closing arguments next tuesday and the jury should get the case by midweek.

The defense did not have Libby or Cheney testify, even though there was a great deal of debate regarding Libby's testimony. This decision could deal a heavy blow to the defense's case. In addition, the judge would not allow the testimony of CIA briefers that concerned classified national security issues. They were expected to explain that Libby misspoke due to national security matters.

The defense tried to explain their decision against Libby and Cheney's testimony after the jury left for the day. They claimed that Libby's testimony would not help the case and they did not need Cheney's testimony.

Justices Complain to Senate About Their Pay

Required for Con Law and Internship Students

Following up on Chief Justice Roberts' complaints last week, Justice Kennedy told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the pay for federal judges is far too low. As the AP reported:
"Federal district court judges are paid $165,200 annually; appeals court judges make $175,100; associate justices of the Supreme Court earn $203,000; the chief justice gets $212,100.... Kennedy said that '$160,000 sounds like a lot of money to the average American, and it is. But it is insufficient to attract the finest members of the practicing bar to the bench.'"

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

UMBC is Closing at 4:00pm on Tuesday 2/13 - No Internship Class

Please be prepared to discuss the readings assigned for today (2/13) and for next week (2/20) during next week's class. We will have guest speakers next week as well. Your memo's are still due on 2/20. Feel free to ask questions regarding the memo's in the comments section of this post.

As Long as UMBC is Open, Class and the Quiz Will Take Place

Check the UMBC website for info on whether the university is closed. At this posting it is open.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Hey guys I'm sorry my internet was giving me a lot of problems so I couldn't get on exactly at 10. I've answered the questions that were posted and I will be up pretty late so you can continue to post questions and I will answer them. Again I'm really sorry.

Review Questions

What is the Guarantee Clause? Did the court in Baker overturn the decision concerning the use of the Guarntee Clause that was established in Colegrove? What was the courts decision in Baker?

How did Nixon define the word "try," and did the court agree?

Did the court provide Marbury a remedy? Explain why or why not

What is the differance between mootness and ripeness?

Which of the limits placed on the court was significant in McCardle?

Review Session

Hey guys, please enter any questions you have regarding the quiz in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to help you. Thanks.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Army officer won't ship out, faces court martial

Lt. Ehren Watada refused to go to Iraq because he feels that the war is immoral and illegal. In addition, he has spoken out against the war on several occasions: "As the order to take part in an illegal act is ultimately unlawful as well, I must as an officer of honor and integrity refuse that order." Watada's attorney argued that his speech was protect and that the war violated army regulations which state that wars must adhere to the United Nations charter. However, the military judge rejected both arguments.

First and Fourth Amendment Issue

In 2002 Thomas Leonard cursed while addressing a township meeting. The township officer arrested Mr. Leonard for the use of profanity. A lower court held that the officer was justified in arresting Mr. Leonard. However, the 6th US Circut Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts decision saying that the officers actions were not justified because Mr. Leonard did not pose a threat. Later on, Mr. Leonard sued claiming that his First and Fourth Amendment Rights were violated. However, the US. District Court held that the officer did have probable cause; so the charges were dropped. Mr. Leonard's attorney is working on an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Senate Investigates Firing of DOJ Lawyers

Required for Internship Class (Read WP Article).

A controversy has been brewing about the Justice Department's firing of several U.S. Attorneys. Democrats are alleging that AG Gonzales and the DOJ has replaced veteran U.S. Attorneys with Bush political supporters. The Washington Post referred to:
an escalating confrontation between the Justice Department and Senate Democrats over a wave of firings of U.S. attorneys, including six who were notified by Justice officials in December that they would be asked to step aside. The seventh, former U.S. attorney Ed Cummins of Little Rock, has said that he was asked to leave last year in order to give the job to Griffin, who previously worked for Rove and for the Republican National Committee.

Monday, February 5, 2007

US to Issue New Charges Against Hamdan & Others

Required for Con Law Students (Read Jurist Summary)

In one of our next classes we will discuss the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision. US military officials announced this week that they are filing new charges against Hamdan and several other Guantanamo detainees including an Australian and a Canadian. See this Jurist summary. Also, see the media reaction to the announcement in Australia and Canada. To take action on Guantanamo related issues see:

The Center for Constitutional Rights

Senators Demand Arar Investigation

Required for Con Law Students (Read Toronto Star Report).

On the first day of class I referred to the Arar case. Recall that Arar is a Canadian citizen who was detained by US officials at JFK airport and then flown to Syria where he was tortured for months. He has since been released without charges and Canada has cleared him of any ties to terrorist groups. The Toronto Star reported that :
The chair of a key Senate committee says he will ask the investigative arm of Congress to probe why Maher Arar remains on a U.S. terror watch list. Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont said he would direct the Government Accountability Office, the independent watchdog of Congress, to expand its ongoing probe of why names erroneously appear on watch lists to look into the case of Arar.... Leahy and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, met reporters yesterday after a promised briefing by U.S. justice officials. Both said they left the meeting with more questions than answers, but refused to respond when asked if they believed Arar constituted a threat to the U.S. and should remain on the list.
To take action on these issues check these websites:

Amnesty International USA
Human Rights First

For more see this Jurist summary.