Archive for May, 2010

Terrorism and the Rule of Law

Posted in Law, Mil on 20100527 by Avenging Sword

After reading this Ackerman post (HT Steve), I’m trying to figure out what it means to fight terrorism while upholding the “rule of law”.  At first glance, that phrase implies (at least to me) abiding by the strictures imposed by the Constitution & Acts of Congress.  Fair enough, but what does that mean?  With constitutional interpretation being notoriously subject to disputation, simply citing the Constitution or federal statutes doesn’t help us very much.

Set that aside:  what I’m more interested in is concrete policy prescriptions:  what do Ackerman & the like mean when they espouse “the rule of law” WRT counterterrorism?  ISTM they mean something like the following:

1.  No torture, w/ “torture” encompassing not only waterboarding, but also other “enhanced interrogation” techniques.  Anyone who performs such techniques should be prosecuted under the federal Torture Statute.

2.  No “targeted killing” of an American citizen abroad (or at home, presumably), absent a criminal trial.  Presumably this prohibition encompasses citizens who are effectively beyond the reach of the courts (whether via geographic remoteness, or inability to extradite, or the like).

3.  Absent criminal charge(s) (and presumably trial & punishment in civilian courts), persons captured by US troops as alleged Taliban or AQ members cannot be indefinitely detained.

4.  But #3 apparently doesn’t encompass legitimate acts of war committed by alleged AQ members against US troops in the field.[1] So apparently we’re granting such persons the privilege of combatant immunity historically confined to lawful combatants; and hence, unless we can convict them of bona fide war crimes, they go free.

5.  To ensure executive compliance with (at least) #3, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is to be made available to anyone detained by American authority.  Or within any location subject to American jurisdiction; I’m not clear what the dividing line is here.   The nationality and domicile/residency status of the detained individual are not relevant.  Review is to be conducted by civilian federal courts.

IMHO, it is debatable whether these propositions are desirable from a policy standpoint, or necessarily mandated by the Constitution.  However, that’s not what I’m (currently) interested in discussing.  My question, rather, is this:  do these five propositions fairly & accurately represent the position of those like Ackerman (and presumably many of my fellow co-bloggers here at Alexandria) who argue that various aspects of the Bush/Obama GWOT are inconsistent with the rule of law?   I may (or may not, time permitting) attempt to critique the aforementioned propositions at a later date; but before I go about doing that, I’d like to determine whether or not I’m inadvertently setting up straw men.


[1] This would seem to be implied by this statement in the aforementioned Ackerman post:

[If Obama et al were committed to the rule of law, then] [t]here would be no embrace of the military commissions, and certainly no prosecution under them of someone who as a 15-year old allegedly threw a grenade that killed an American soldier – heinous, but clearly a traditional battlefield act – for a war crime.

Occupation, Birthright Citizenship, and the Fourteenth Amendment

Posted in Law on 20100509 by Avenging Sword

It recently occurred to me that,[i] if American soil were ever occupied by a hostile foreign military force, the resultant occupation[ii] would raise interesting questions regarding the citizenship of those born within occupied territory.  This is due to the following provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, which generally establishes birthright citizenship for those born upon United States soil:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.[iii]

During and after such an occupation, two questions would likely arise:

  • If someone was born to US citizens or alien friends[iv] residing in that territory, would he be a citizen?
  • Would those born the alien enemies adhering to the occupying enemy army be entitled to birthright citizenship?[v]

The following is the result of my ruminations upon the first of these questions. Continue reading

Laptop Bleg

Posted in Random on 20100503 by Avenging Sword

So a little over a month ago, my USMCR enlistment contract (finally!) expired (*).  By way of celebration, I’ve decided to replace my bare-bones, 2005-vintage laptop with something a bit more up-to-snuff.  Alas, having not followed tech stuff for many years now, I’m not entirely sure what I ought to be looking for in a laptop.  Here’s what I do know:

  • Functions/Usage:  I mainly use my current laptop for ‘Net surfing, word processing, Excel calculations, and occasionally CAD.  Historically, it’s also doubled as my audio (CD/MP3) & video (mainly DVD) player.  Generally, it’s also ended up being a desktop replacement, such that it sits at home for months at a time; however, occasionally I do take it with me for travel, etc.
  • Screen Size:  I’m thinking 15″-17″.  I’m not that picky about this, since I’ll probably be getting a flat-panel monitor along with this thing.
  • Manufacturer:  I’ll probably be sticking with Dell here, but I’m willing to be convinced to try someone else.  I’m most concerned with reliability & quality.

As for the other specs, however, I confess I’m rather clueless.  E.g.,

  • Operating System:  For better or worse, I’m inclined to stick with Windows, since it’s what I’ve used for years, and I’m a creature of habit in that regard.  Still, while I know to avoid Vista, I’m not sure if I should stick with XP, or go for Windows 7.  If the latter, should I choose 32 or 64 bit?
  • Processor:  Intel alone seems to have about a zillion varieties, and I’m not sure which to choose.  Or should I go with AMD?
  • Cache:  I’m assuming more is better, but how much is good enough?
  • Memory/RAM:  Ditto.
  • Hard drive:  Ditto.
  • Video Card & sound card:  For each of these, is there a particular brand I should be going for (or avoid), or will pretty much anything do?
  • Ports/interfaces:  Besides USB, are there any other types of interfaces I ought to have?  E.g., Firewire, Mini Card?
  • Service plan:  are these any good, or are they basically a waste of money?  If the former, how long should I get it for?
  • Wild card:  anything else that I missed, that I shouldn’t have?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

(*) No, I’m not reenlisting.  I went in pretty sure I wasn’t going to make a career of the Corps, and I saw nothing over the following 8 yrs to make me change my mind.  The patriot in my figures I’ve already served my time.  Plus, my girlfriend would be none too pleased.