White House race roundup

by Walter Olson on September 8, 2008

  • High-profile trial lawyer and Hillary fundraiser John Coale now backing McCain, believes plaintiff-friendly Sen. Lindsey Graham, a confidant of the GOP candidate, will sway him on liability issues [Gerstein, NY Sun, Tapper/ABC, Haddad/Newsweek] More on McCain-Graham friendship [New Republic]
  • Reasonably neutral evaluation of contrasting McCain and Obama positions [Chris Nichols, NC Trial Law Blog]
  • No Naderite he? Sen. Biden has generally taken a “protect the golden goose” approach toward his state’s niche as provider of corporate law [Pileggi, Bainbridge]
  • Palin’s views on legal reform mostly unknown; Alaska (like Delaware) has one of the most highly regarded state legal systems, and wouldn’t it be fun if the state’s distinctive and longstanding (if somewhat attenuated) loser-pays rule got mentioned in the campaign?
  • Lending spice to campaign: prospect that victorious Dems might criminally prosecute Bush officials [Guardian (U.K.), Memeorandum, OpenLeft ("we'll put people in prison" vows whistleblower trial lawyer/Democratic Florida Congressional candidate Alan Grayson)] Some differences of opinion among Obama backers on war crimes trials [Turley (Cass Sunstein flayed for go-slow approach); Kerr @ Volokh (Dahlia Lithwick doesn't think it has to be Nuremberg or nothing); earlier]
  • If anyone’s keeping track of these things, co-blogger Ted is much involved with the McCain campaign this fall, I am not involved with anyone’s, so discount (or don’t discount) accordingly.

{ 8 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 09.08.08 at 4:22 pm

Lending spice to campaign: prospect that victorious Dems might criminally prosecute Bush officials

Way to go Democrats. Let’s see if you can make this country into a banana republic. I do see just one little glitch with your plan. Don’t you have to first win the election before you start executing people?

2 William Nuesslein 09.09.08 at 7:54 am

What makes a banana republic, Mr. Nieporent, convicting Scooter Libby or giving him a keep-out-of-prison card?

A basic principle that has guided post Word War II politics was stated at the Nuremburg Trial.

“But we do say that it is now, as it was for sometime prior to 1939, illegal and criminal for Germany or any other nation to redress grievances or seek expansion by resort to aggressive war. ”

There was a Kabuki dance to justify our murderous invasion of Iraq, but in my opinion the attack broke both International Law and US Law. Letting people skate as to their Aluminum tubes lie, their Uranium from Niger lie, their using US Attorneys for partisan purposes, etc. would make us a Banana Republic.

3 Deoxy 09.09.08 at 9:29 am

There was a Kabuki dance to justify our murderous invasion of Iraq, but in my opinion the attack broke both International Law and US Law.

While your Kabuki dance analogy is quite good, it only applies to trying to get the approval of people who would never approve, not to be legal under the “International Law”.

The case under that interesting body of treaties (for which “law” is actually a rather poor term) is actually exceedingly simple, and our actions amazingly obviously legal, for several reasons, but the easiest is this:

We were already (quite legally – UN resolutions from 1990) at war with Iraq. We had a ceasefire agreement – and they violated it many, MANY times and in several ways.

You may certainly disagree with the US actions, believe they were immoral, make arguments and claims to that point, and possibly even persuade the entire world to your point of view, but the legallity of the action is not remotely in contest.

4 Deoxy 09.09.08 at 9:33 am

Oh, and the only person to lie about Uranium and Niger was Joe Wilson – his testimony UNDER OATH (not to the press) was that the people he met with in Niger said they had a visit from Iraqi officials who wanted to discuss imports, and they (the Nigerian officials Wilson met with) believed the import they wanted to discuss to be uranium. He said the exact opposite of that to the press. Go check the Congressional record… I’ll wait.

The aluminum tubes thing I specifically did not pay attention to (so you could well be right), but the “using US Attorneys for partisan purposes” thing is really quite funny… I have no doubt that was done, but by Bush and by the majority of other US Presidents in my lifetime. I’ve never seen a complaint about it before…

So, that leaves you with pretty weak sauce.

5 Commentor 09.09.08 at 9:57 am

Deoxy,

My personal knowledge on the subject is lacking, but I’ve heard in many discussions with both Republicans and Democrats that the level of politicization of the U.S. Attorneys’ office under the current administration was somewhat unprecedented.

My understanding is that presidents have always replace U.S. Attorneys upon taking office, but the mass removal of U.S. Attorneys by the president who appointed them has not happened before.

Can anyone with more knowledge clarify or correct this?

Thanks.

6 Richard Nieporent 09.09.08 at 10:10 am

Thanks Deoxy for setting Mr. Nuesslein straight. Not that it will do any good. Unfortunately with people like Mr. Nuesslein, it is not good enough to replace the party in power. They also want a pound of flesh. It appears that Mr. Nuesslein is looking forward to a few show trials like they had in the old Soviet Union. With a little persuasion you can get them to confess their crimes at the trial. That should make for good reality TV.

What would make it a Banana Republic Mr. Nuesslein is prosecuting people for political “crimes”. The strength of our Republic is that we have elections so that the people can remove from office the politicians that they disagree with. The concept that you lose an election, not your liberty, is an important one for the stability of a country. If we start trying members of the defeated party they may be reluctant to give up power.

A basic principle that has guided post Word War II politics was stated at the Nuremburg Trial.

By the way Mr. Nuesslein, by violating Godwin’s Law you automatically lose the argument.

7 Ted 09.09.08 at 4:49 pm

Bill Clinton fired every single U.S. Attorney in a single day because they had been appointed by his predecessor.

The real scandal with the U.S. Attorneys is that it’s a scandal at all that Bush replaced a handful.

8 William Nuesslein 09.10.08 at 8:29 am

As part of end of the Gulf War was a commitment by Iraq to account for a list of materials relating to WMD development. The US had the right to use force, if necessary, if Iraqi failed its duty. Between the effects of war and of the weapons inspectors almost all of the listed items was accounted for. The minor residual, which could have fit into a two garages, wasn’t found despite years of investigation. Somehow the list became perfect and the missing items became a vital threat. But that was not by reason, it was propaganda.

About Joe Wilson: He was the third guy to look into the Uranium from Niger matter. The first two reports were negative too. It was explicitly stated that the reference to seeking uranium was mere conjecture by a Nigerian official. Iraq already had enough Uranium in country to make sever atomic bombs. That material was recently sent to Canada. The president of the United States lied, not Joe Wilson.

When all US Attorneys are replaced at the change in administrations, the individual attorneys can say that’s life. In the Bush case, the message was that unless your discretion exactly matched that of party officials, you were out.

I don’t remember any major or minor prosecutions of officials from prior administrations, and I favored the Nixon pardon. In fact, I was against the impeachment of Nixon. In the case of the Bush administration, violent war was waged against Iraq despite Mr. ElBaradei’s assertion that an Iraqi nuclear program was very unlikely, and Mr. Blix’s assertion that he found no evidence at all of WMD.

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