The only thing surprising about the revelation yesterday that the Justice Department seized the phone records of AP reporters, is that anyone still cared enough to express outrage.
In a world where both parties (with the implicit support of almost everyone in the country) gladly support the PATRIOT Act and sternly denounce intelligence leaks as the worst breach of security ever, how can anyone be shocked or dismayed that the Justice Department used its broad investigative powers in an effort to stop a leak?
Conservatives, liberals, and reporters alike have little room to seriously complain…
[Ed. note: As we recently mentioned, we're looking for someone to write Morning Docket, on an alternating-week schedule. To those of you who have already applied, thanks for your interest; we'll review the applications and pick a writer this weekend. If you'd like to apply, there's still time -- just follow the application instructions contained in this post (but please note that the gig now comes with pay -- a modest monthly stipend). Thanks.]
* It seems to get worse by the day. The CIA apparently destroyed interrogation tapes while a federal judge was still looking for information about the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. [New York Times]
* So what exactly are the federal government’s policies on border searches? Two groups sue to find out. [Washington Post]
* We like funny legal ads. But state regulators are not amused. [Wall Street Journal via How Appealing]
* Kibbles ‘n bits ‘n indictments. Two Chinese companies and an American importer are indicted in connection with tainted pet food. [New York Times]
* Professor Akhil Amar (our former con law prof; pictured) will be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in the administration of… Mike Gravel! Amar: “I’m not quitting my day job.” [Yale Daily News via How Appealing]
* The latest legal woes of Dickie Scruggs and friends. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Gov. Romney wins Michigan. [CNN]
* Sen. Clinton faces challenge from “uncommitted.” [CNN]
* NV Supreme Court overturns decision allowing Rep. Kucinich to debate. [MSNBC]
* Criminal prosecutions of Blackwater security guards would not be easy. [New York Times]
* Did CIA lawyers and officials implicitly sign off on the destruction of interrogation tapes? [Washington Post]
* Austrian court rules animal rights group can’t have custody of chimp; appeal will be to the European Court of Human Rights. [AP]
* DOJ to investigate Tejada? [New York Times]
* Collected news coverage about yesterday’s Stoneridge decision. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* So, it’s gonna be illegal now, which means the CIA can’t do it, right? [Washington Post via How Appealing]
* New Jersey gets rid of the death penalty; now if they could just tackle that disgusting odor. [BBC]
* Prosecutors go 0-1-6 in Sears Tower trial. [CNN]
* Hey, look everybody! International law! They’ve got a court with judges and lawyers and stuff, and they even issue rulings! Just like it’s real! That’s cute. ICJ upholds treaty giving islands to Colombia. [Jurist]
* Hollywood writers take this strike thing up a notch. [AP via Reno Gazette-Journal]
Ok, that’s not exactly right. Technically, he’s not ok with torture, he just defines torture in a manner that allows him to be ok with stuff that most of us would call torture. Would you expect anything less of a CIA lawyer? John Rizzo, acting GC for the CIA and Bush’s nominee for the permanent job, is facing opposition in the Senate because of his
decision to sign off on the controversial 2002 “Bybee Memo” in which the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) defined torture as physical pain equivalent in “in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death.”
Every time we step away from our computer, big news breaks. Here’s a thread for discussion of the verdict in the Scooter Libby case.
We’ll update this post with comments and links as we read the coverage.
Okay, so here’s the Washington Post lede (which we like better than the NYT and AP ledes — it’s the most substantive and informative of the three):
A federal jury today convicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer’s identity, finding the vice president’s former chief of staff guilty of two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice, while acquitting him of a single count of lying to the FBI.
It’s a big victory for special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald (a proud graduate of Regis High School, which is also our alma mater). It’s a blow for Libby’s two talented defense lawyers: Theodore V. Wells Jr., of Paul Weiss, and William Jeffress Jr., of Baker Botts.
(Random digression: Ted Wells was at Lowenstein Sandler in New Jersey for many years, before he was wooed to the other side of the Hudson. Bill Jeffress was previously at the super-elite boutique of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin, which was acquired by Baker Botts.)
During his closing argument, Ted Wells broke down in tears. Now he has real cause for crying.
His client must be even more sad. Per the Post:
Under federal sentencing guidlines, Libby faces a probable prison term of 1 1/2 to three years when he is sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton June 5.
Update: As one of you notes, sentencing guru Doug Berman thinks Libby’s sentence could go much higher. See here.
Libby reacted to the verdict stoically. Again from the Post:
As the jury forewoman read each guilty count in a clear, solemn voice, Libby was impassive, remaining seated at the defense table, gazing straight ahead and displaying no visible emotion. His wife, Harriet Grant, sat in the front row with tears in her eyes and was was embraced by friends. Later she hugged each of Libby’s lawyers.
We’re reading Tony Mauro’s super-juicy article as fast as we can. Highlights and discussion will follow shortly.
Okay, we’re done. Here are some excerpts:
The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s Senate confirmation battles in 1971 and 1986 were more intense and political than previously known, according to a newly released FBI file that also offers dramatic new details about Rehnquist’s 1981 hospitalization and dependence on a painkiller….
In July 1986, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Rehnquist to be chief justice, the Justice Department asked the FBI to interview witnesses who were preparing to testify that Rehnquist had intimidated minority voters as a Republican Party official in Arizona in the early 1960s. According to a memo in the Rehnquist file, an unnamed FBI official cautioned that the department “should be sensitive to the possibility that Democrats could charge the Republicans of misusing the FBI and intimidating the Democrats’ witnesses.” But then-Assistant Attorney General John Bolton — who more recently served as ambassador to the United Nations — signed off on the request and said he would “accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI.” It is unclear whether the FBI ever interviewed the witnesses.
John Bolton? That guy is everywhere! Did he have the walrus moustache back then?
More discussion — including tales of Rehnquist’s “bizarre ideas and outrageous thoughts,” his paranoia that the CIA was out to get him, and his attempt to escape from a hospital while in pajamas — after the jump.
* When committing a robbery, try not to target a master of illusion. [CNN]
* Another legal show goes the way of “The Law Firm.” [CNN]
* Dahlia Lithwick begins this article, “Chief Justice John Roberts is the Dr. McDreamy of the federal bench.” [Slate]
* Dismissal sought in the CIA leak case. [AP]
* Justice Kennedy, the likely swing vote in Monday’s decision in Ayers v. Belmontes, also holds the critical vote in deciding the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Here’s some interesting commentary on last week’s oral arguments. [SCOTUSblog]
* Another day, another deepening of the doo-doo over at HP. Now the plot is taking on a “made-for-television-movie” feel: “[D]etectives tried to plant software on at least one journalist’s computer that would enable messages to be traced.” [New York Times]
* National security adviser Stephen Hadley indicates that the White House is trying to reach a compromise with Republican Senators over what the CIA can and cannot do when interrogating terror suspects. [New York Times]
* A medical examiner hired by successful Supreme Court litigant Anna Nicole Smith performed a second autopsy on Smith’s 20-year-old son over the weekend. The cause of death has not yet been determined, but heart disease, stroke, or a “congenital anomaly” have been ruled out. [Associated Press]
* Options backdating defendant William Sorin was outside general counsel at Comverse Technology — a rather unusual arrangement. Sorin was awarded millions of dollars worth of stock options, even though he wasn’t even a salaried employee of the company. [Corporate Counsel]
* A happy 67th birthday to Justice David H. Souter. And some advice: Don’t eat that cupcake sent over by Ann Coulter, even if she did stick a cute little candle in it. [How Appealing]
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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