Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

February 3 roundup

  • To what extent should law schools pursue missions other than that of training lawyers to practice competently? [Ken at Popehat]
  • Survivors of woman slain in terror attack seek $200 million from county of San Bernardino [Courthouse News] A pertinent 2001 Elizabeth Cabraser quote about terrorism and litigation: “If we sue each other, the terrorists win. We need to be united.”
  • Self-driving car revolution is coming quickly, but there might still be time for feds to mess it up [Randal O’Toole]
  • “NYT throws hissy-fit, sues over use of thumbnails in critical book” [Rebecca Tushnet via Mike Masnick, TechDirt]
  • New laws from Brussels could endanger thousands of historic guns in British museums [Telegraph]
  • Drawing on the organization’s entire moral authority, i.e. none at all, United Nations panel calls for U.S. to pay slavery reparations [Independent, Vice]
  • Aviary Attorney: “The hottest bird lawyering game to come out of 1840s France!” [Steampowered via Lowering the Bar]

Suit: Twitter abets terrorism

Say, how about letting random juries in sympathetic damages cases determine the boundaries of free speech? Twitter “is being sued by the widow of an American killed in Jordan… [Tamara Fields] said Twitter knowingly let the militant Islamist group use its network to spread propaganda, raise money and attract recruits.” [Reuters]

Free speech roundup

  • “Charlie Hebdo editor: Censorship must not win” [Charb/New York Post] Today, on anniversary of that attack, Cato hosts free speech attorney Robert Corn-Revere on “The Assassin’s Veto,” with comments from GWU lawprof Catherine Ross, moderated by John Samples [details, and watch live]
  • Florida lawmakers muzzle doctors’ comments to patients regarding guns. 11th Circuit says okay. No, not okay [Ken White, Eugene Volokh]
  • The ‘speech integral to criminal conduct’ exception, important in early free speech law, has come roaring back [Eugene Volokh; for the role of this doctrine in the Oregon cake case, see my post then and his]
  • Good news if you’re a Wisconsin conservative who forgot to archive your emails: that nice John Doe prosecutor secretly did it for you [Watchdog]
  • From Federalist Society national lawyers’ convention, Prof. Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz interviews Kirsten Powers on her new book The Silencing (wobbly audio in early minutes, which eventually clears);
  • “Ex-tenant barred from saying that ex-landlord had been in the Witness Protection Program, ‘[r]egardless of the truth or falsity of this information'” [Volokh]
  • Lawprof Eric Posner wants to roll back First Amendment to curb ISIS recruitment. Hell, no [ABA Journal, Anthony Fisher/Reason, Ken White/Popehat]

Occupy Malheur and the Bundy boys’ bait

My take on the Oregon standoff, this morning at The Federalist:

As my Cato Institute colleague Randal O’Toole skillfully explained, none of the protagonists in the Oregon standoff really deserve our admiration: the Hammond ranching family misbehaved, the federal government overcharged, and then the Bundy cranks arrived to spray kerosene on the glowing embers….

Unlawful protest occupations of public places and government buildings have long been a familiar part of American public life, and even those not involving arms sometimes have rather serious consequences for the health and well-being of innocent bystanders….

In the ordinary calculations of humanity, events like Waco and Ruby Ridge and the Philadelphia MOVE bombing represent a grotesque failure. Despite the spirit of the mob and the ever-present temptation to shoot first, most such situations in our country are resolved with legal consequences for the wrongdoers but not with loss of life and limb. We should be glad of that.

Read the whole thing here. I’ve covered the earlier Bundy Nevada standoff in this space, as well as the wider phenomenon I call folk law. For more coverage of occupations, blockades, and acts of physical intimidation that were resolved without bloodshed (and sometimes without later legal consequences to those who broke the law) see our tag on selective law non-enforcement, including this from 2011 about how some cheered when unionized Wisconsin police announced solidarity with protesters occupying the state capitol and refused orders to oust them.

More: Randal O’Toole has a new post up on the Hammonds’ actions and punishment.

Banking and finance roundup

  • Trying to buy gift cards in bulk as an employee bonus, Coyote discovers anew that the government hates cash;
  • Initial public offerings are drooping again, regulation one reason [Thaya Knight, Cato]
  • A dissent from the lamentations, here and elsewhere, on the decline of small community banks [Ira Stoll] “Fed’s Tarullo says looking into smaller banks’ concerns” [Business Insider]
  • Berned out? Financial transactions tax “one of the more overrated ideas in American Progressive political discourse” [Tyler Cowen, Wikipedia on Sweden’s experience via @aClassicLiberal on Twitter] And Sen. Sanders continues to express incredulity on Twitter about college loans’ carrying higher interest than home mortgages do, despite attempts to enlighten him on the whole topic of secured lending and collateral [@tedfrank]
  • Video of Federalist Society convention panel on constitutionality of administrative law judges at SEC and elsewhere with John S. Baker, Jr., Stephen Crimmins, Todd Pettys, Tuan Samahon, moderated by F. Scott Kieff;
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ban on contractual arbitration will help class action lawyers, few others [Todd Zywicki, Mercatus]
  • “How US policies to stop terrorist financing end up hurting innocent families abroad” [Dylan Matthews, Vox] Money laundering regs, “de-risking” result in many bank closures in U.S.-Mexico border areas, hassles result for local residents and businesses [Kevin Funnell]

U.S. government’s social media vetting for visa applicants (see update/correction)

“Fearing a civil liberties backlash and ‘bad public relations’ for the Obama administration, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson refused in early 2014 to end a secret U.S. policy that prohibited immigration officials from reviewing the social media messages of all foreign citizens applying for U.S. visas, a former senior department official said.” According to former acting DHS undersecretary John Cohen, political “optics” inhibited U.S. officials from the fully legal course of checking the social media posts of visa applicants. The process came under scrutiny after the granting of a fiance visa to Tashfeen Malik, a resident of high-terror-risk Pakistan who had extensively discussed jihad and martyrdom online. [ABC News; but see below updates/corrections, which correct significant errors in the early reporting]

It’s important to keep straight that our Constitution restricts what the U.S. government can do to U.S. persons, but imposes little if any constraint on what it can ask of those seeking to enter.

P.S. Alex Nowrasteh talks with several immigration lawyers who say they know of instances in which social media postings by persons under U.S. immigration scrutiny got vetted. More: James Taranto (quoting New York Times’s statement that “immigration officials do not routinely review social media as part of their background checks,” with “pilot programs” to do so in place since the fall of last year).

Update: contradicting widespread reports in the press, FBI Director James Comey now describes the couple as having expressed jihadist sentiment in private but not in public messages on social media [Washington Post] And the New York Times now apologizes for early, erroneous reporting based on anonymous sources which misled much of the press and commentariat into believing Malik’s extremist sentiments were in plain sight.

A life of American freedom, taken

My friend Tim Sandefur, whose work will be familiar to many readers here, lost his brother in the Islamist terrorist attack in San Bernardino. He wrote this tribute and reflection. An excerpt:

Those of us who also serve by only standing and waiting must respond in just the way that our enemy most despises: by living our lives exactly as we would have done. That means cherishing our freedom; celebrating our secular, free institutions; relishing the pleasures of life as physical beings; respecting the special spark in each individual person — here, in this world, during this life. Our values triumph each time we exercise them. Danny and I watched the attacks of September 11, 2001, together on the TV in our living room. I can say with certainty that—to the extent that so kind a man was capable of understanding such evil — he believed in defying the barbarian by living just as we choose: freely, tolerantly, skeptically, joyfully, laughingly, humanly. After the (most recent) Paris attack, Danny enjoyed watching over and over again this well-known video by Andrew Neil. It expresses very well what he believed, and what our family believes.

I urge reading the whole thing.

Gun control, terrorism, and President Obama

Just out, and could hardly be more timely: new David Kopel monograph for Cato, “The Costs and Consequences of Gun Control.” From Kopel’s summary at Volokh Conspiracy:

The policy analysis examines several gun control proposals which have been promoted by the Obama administration and the gun control lobby: bans on so-called assault weapons; bans on standard magazines; confiscation; and the prohibition of all private sales, loans and returns, except when processed by a gun store [and explains] why each of these proposals is likely to do little good and much harm….

Also at Cato, Trevor Burrus responds to an otherwise predictable editorial on gun control that the New York Times elected to print on its front page:

Not only do victims of mass shootings constitute one percent or fewer of gun deaths (depending on how “mass shooting” is defined), but the perpetrators of mass shootings are the hardest to affect with public policy changes…. Mass shooters are the quintessence of an over-motivated criminal, and in a country with over 300 million guns, there are very few (if any) realistic gun control laws that could stop mass shooters. Policy proposals that focus on identifying would-be mass shooters and protecting would-be victims of mass shooters have a much better chance of succeeding than any proposal that focuses on guns.

Jonah Goldberg at National Review reacts to the same editorial, while James Taranto has this on Twitter: “The New York Times today published the newspaper’s opinion in the front page. The last time it did that was yesterday.”

Since last week’s slaughter by a radicalized Islamist couple of 14 employees at a gathering of county health employees in San Bernardino, you’ve almost certainly seen people claim that the U.S. has had 355 mass shootings this year. A Mother Jones editor (of all people) in the NYT (of all places) explains why a more accurate number would be 4. And the Washington Post “Fact Checker,” after awarding Two Pinocchios to President Obama for his claim that “this [kind of mass shooting] just doesn’t happen in other countries” has gone on to examine his claim that “We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths” and finds the evidence “not as clear cut as the president claims”: “We wavered between Two and Three Pinocchios, but in the end settled on Two.”

Great moments in security watch lists

“At least 72 employees at the Department of Homeland Security are listed on the U.S. terrorist watch list, according to a Democratic lawmaker.” [Adam Kredo, Free Beacon] Critics, including the ACLU, have complained that the list inadvertently sweeps in large numbers of innocent persons who are given no legal right to contest their inclusion.

More:”My Fellow Liberals, Don’t Support Obama’s Terror Watch List Gun Ban” [Cathy Gellis, The Daily Beast]

Lawsuit accuses Facebook of abetting terror

A lawsuit filed in New York accuses Facebook of allowing its service to used by Palestinian groups “to incite violent attacks against Israeli citizens.” Eugene Volokh predicts the case “is going nowhere” given both the First Amendment and Section 230, “47 U.S.C. § 230 — [which] prevents Internet service and content providers from being held liable for speech by their users.” More: Daniel Fisher notes a publicity angle.