“ALEC” is the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it may be the most powerful organization you (probably) never heard of. There’s a good chance ALEC already has impacted your life. And if it hasn’t yet, give it time.
ALEC describes itself as an organization that “provides a constructive forum for state legislators and private sector leaders to discuss and exchange practical, state-level public policy issues.” Others have called it a means for powerful corporations and interest groups to influence legislation to enrich themselves at the public’s expense.
Let’s look at specific examples. Insurance companies wanted off the hook from mesothelioma claims, so ALEC came forward with a model bill to protect corporations from asbestos exposure liability. The bill quickly was introduced in Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, and at the federal level. The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act would require asbestos victims and their families to publicly disclose all manner of personal information before receiving compensation. This information could be used to deny credit or employment and make the victims vulnerable to identity theft. The point, obviously, is to intimidate people from filing claims. No such disclosure is required of companies that exposed employees and customers to asbestos.
In fact, liability protection is a major focus of ALEC bills. As of August 2013, this year at least 71 bills crafted by ALEC have been introduced around the country that make it harder to hold corporations accountable for death or injury. Many have misleading names, such as the “Full and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act,” introduced in two states, that limits the amount a corporation has to pay to compensate people it has injured.
Federal prosecutors filed espionage charges against alleged National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden, officials familiar with the process said. Authorities have also begun the process of getting Snowden back to the United States to stand trial.
The officials did not describe the charges in detail because they’ve been filed under seal in federal court in Alexandria, Va. The documents are not publicly available.
According to officials, charges accuse Snowden of violating federal espionage laws by sharing classified documents with people who were not cleared to receive them. Charges also accuse him of stealing government property.
This is not to say that I was not angry about the attacks. I believed that Islamic extremism posed a serious threat to the country, and I wanted an aggressive response from our government. I was ready to stand behind President Bush and I wanted him to exact vengeance on the perpetrators and find ways to decrease the likelihood of future attacks. During the following two weeks, my confidence in the Bush administration grew as the president gave a series of serious, substantive, coherent, and eloquent speeches that struck the right balance between aggression and restraint. And I was fully supportive of both the president’s ultimatum to the Taliban and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan when our demands were not met. Well into 2002, the president’s approval ratings remained in the high 60 percent range, or even above 70 percent, and I was among those who strongly approved of his performance. […]
During the lead-up to the invasion, I was concerned that the hell-bent focus on invading Iraq was being driven by agendas and strategic objectives that had nothing to do with terrorism or the 9/11 attacks. The overt rationale for the invasion was exceedingly weak, particularly given that it would lead to an open-ended, incalculably costly, and intensely risky preemptive war. Around the same time, it was revealed that an invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein had been high on the agenda of various senior administration officials long before September 11. Despite these doubts, concerns, and grounds for ambivalence, I had not abandoned my trust in the Bush administration. Between the president’s performance in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the swift removal of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the fact that I wanted the president to succeed, because my loyalty is to my country and he was the leader of my country, I still gave the administration the benefit of the doubt. I believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgment deferred to, and to the extent that I was able to develop a definitive view, I accepted his judgment that American security really would be enhanced by the invasion of this sovereign country.
While I was screaming at my TV and marching in the streets in protest of the Patriot Act, the Afghanistan War and later the Iraq War, Glenn Greenwald “was ready to stand behind President Bush” and wanted to “exact VENGEANCE on the perpetrators.” And he “believed then that the president was entitled to have his national security judgement deferred to”, which of course included the passage of The Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.
So yeah, Glenn Greenwald, why exactly should I listen to him now?
Whether you are conservative or liberal, the actions of many states to keep people from voting should send a chill down your spine.
In a country where voter participation is abysmal, we should all be working to get more people involved in the political process – not less. In a move that should remind everyone on the left how important elections are, the Obama Justice department has rejected South Carolina’s new law requiring a photo ID at the polls.
We don’t have to look back very far to see what a Republican Justice department would do.
There has been a lot of progress in voting rights since the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but in recent years, the Republican Party, which is now dominated by the Tea Party wing, is trying to roll back that progress and disenfranchise voters who just happen to be in predominantly minority populations. And we all know it is because minorities understand clearly that the Democratic Party represents all people, regardless of skin color or ethnic background and these people tend to vote in their own self interests – for Democrats.
For Republicans, it’s a game of percentages. If they can lower the turnout of minorities and make it harder for groups who support Democratic candidates to have their votes counted, they can continue their quest to….well, it seems like their only goal is to put more money in the pockets of the rich. They really haven’t tried to hide that fact in the last few years. It’s all about protecting the rich and consequently, hurting the poor. And I don’t think I’m being hyperbolic.
The police officer that Mr. Davis was convicted of murdering deserves that justice be done — but killing a man who had nothing to do with Officer MacPhail’s death will only compound the injustice horribly.
If you haven’t signed the Amnesty petition yet, please do so by clicking here.
If you are a member of the legal profession or clergy, please join the sign-on letters being circulated in support of Mr. Davis’s request for clemency. Legal professionals click here; clergy, click here.
Write a letter to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (address and sample letter below): In this case, it will be important not to state your conviction that Mr. Davis is innocent, but that there are too many doubts to move forward with the execution. In the words of a Georgia law professor: “A verdict that is not ironclad is not good enough to support the death penalty.”
Write a letter to Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles (address and sample letter below): Here again, it is important to focus on the holes in the case — the fact that anything less than an ironclad verdict cannot be the basis for the death penalty.
Watch the following video, regarding clemency for Troy, and pass it on– “The State of Georgia does not have to execute Troy Davis and it should not execute Troy Davis,” in the words of Prof Russell Covey, Criminal Law Expert, Georgia State University. “There is one fail-safe built into the system that still exists, and that’s the clemency process.”
ASK OTHERS TO DO LIKEWISE, particularly citizens of Georgia. Send a link to this post, or to any of the above information, and ask your friends and loved ones to take action. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread news far and wide — if you are on either, please use them in support of Troy.
There is no other way to put this: There is a very real possibility that Troy Davis will be dead before the month is out, killed for a crime that he didn’t commit. Please do whatever you can to save his life.
The latest outrage that has became a raging fire is the legal issues surrounding the terrorist Anwar Awlaki. I tend to have a problem with the whole idea of targeting anyone for murder, whether an American, former American or whatever. But I guess I do want my government to protect me from those who openly pledge violence and terrorism towards my country. I’m one of those that thinks violence begets violence and until we all stop being violent, it ain’t never gonna end. I’ve read some of Glenn Greenwald’s rantings about this, he’s a lawyer you know, and just like with other recent issues like health care, Glenn uses his skills as a lawyer to present a case…. well, a blog post, so not really a case….but really, a case, to his readers. He’s the type that if you follow the links he puts up, you end up getting a lot different information than you thought, he clearly exaggerates. Does he assume that most people don’t follow the links, just throws them up to make it look like it’s well documented. I came across this dissenting letter that John Cole posted at his Balloon Juice blog, kudos to John for doing it. I learned a few things about the case from reading it and thought I would share it with you. I’m not saying I endorse everything it says, but it raises some issues worth thinking about and it takes a great swipe at Glenn Greenwald, gotta love that, in my opinion. (emphasis mine)
From the email bin:
Hi John Cole,I’m a regular reader and I’m writing to say that I think your cut-and-dried posts on international law and the Constitution are really irresponsible.
On Al-Awlaki, what’s your response to the argument that targeted killing of him is allowable, under international law, because he’s been designated by the US and the UN as an “active operational member of AQAP” and, as such, if and only if the US determines he presents an imminent threat, the US can take actions to defend itself against an attack (like, say, the Christmas bombing, in which there’s evidence he was involved in planning) by either capturing or killing him? How about your argument to rebut the government’s position that, under the Constitution, he has no basis to make a habeas-type argument because he is not being denied access to process, he’s refusing to submit himself to the judicial process in the US? On the state secrets doctrine, why do you neglect to mention the portion of the doctrine that requires an in camera review of evidence by a judge to determine whether what the government says is state secret information really is? What’s your response to the argument that Al-Awlaki’s father doesn’t have standing to bring a case on his son’s behalf because his son is perfectly capable of bringing such a case on his own and has shown no interest in it? Last, do you have a rebuttal to the argument that the case itself presents non-justiciable political questions that are outside of the purview of the courts? Do you believe that the Article III courts should be able to override the authority given to the other two branches in Article I and II for pursuit of foreign policy and military actions? How would you, as a judge, craft an injunction such as the one Al-Awlaki’s father is requesting? How would you enforce it?
I know, you’re not a lawyer, so you don’t care about these “legal technicalities” because you care only about broad moral arguments. Well, you know what? These things that you consider to be “technical” legal arguments are actually important parts of our system and all of them have larger, yes, moral components behind them. There are legions of judges and lawyers, both on the prosecutorial and defense side, that work day in and day out at this stuff and in good faith. These people don’t have the luxury that Greenwald does of arguing to the choir and simply disregarding any arguments that he deems not up to civil liberties snuff. (Has Greenwald ever seen a prosecutor’s argument that he thinks is not evil? You should compare one of his posts on the government’s case in Al-Awlaki to the government briefs. You’ll find he just skips over whole parts of their argument, probably because he has no counter.) They also don’t deserve to have their positions painted as “evil” by you, if you’re not going to make any attempt to understand what is actually going on.
On this stuff, you seem to be firmly in the, “Obama and Holder are war criminals and murderers—because Glenn said so, that’s why!” camp. It’s a shame that so many of your readers seem happy to go along on the “don’t bother me with the facts” train. That’s the irresponsible part of it.
John Coles Response to the letter –
My response is that the government targeting someone for death and refusing to explain why is so broadly offensive to me that I don’t give a shit about the legal arguments. I may be pigheaded and wrong, but that is where I stand.