On the front page of today’s Boston Globe, higher-education beat writer Peter Schworm reports on the emerging power struggle between, on the one hand, universities that boast increasingly large endowments, and on the other, members of Congress. Several politicians have proposed using the tax code to pressure those institutions to use more of their endowment money for decreasing the sky-high costs of private college educations, making such educations more affordable to working class and poor families.
By Harvey Silverglate
It’s unlikely that the pooh-bahs at the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) read any civil liberties column or blog, let alone The Free For All. But I can’t help but think that somehow this blog launched an idea when I suggested on February 8 that the DOJ sic its legal ethics watch-dogs from the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the DOJ lawyers who drafted the infamous “torture memos.
The New York Times is reporting that a group from Princeton has developed a way of reading encrypted data off of computer memory by literally freezing the data in place -- with liquid nitrogen -- before the data, in temporary storage, is erased. Private data thieves or government investigators could easily bypass sophisticated cryptographic systems with a cheap can of compressed air, potentially exposing private materials to unauthorized eyes.
Harvey and I have an article on Simon Glik in today's Phoenix, following up on some of the post-trial coverage we've featured on this blog. In the piece we argue that the legislature needs to change the state wiretapping law in order to better guarantee robust citizen oversight of police and other public officials.
If you doubt that Alice in Wonderland is the best primer available for understanding the legal system, you might read Tony Mauro's latest piece in the Legal Times. The Supreme Court just denied certiorari in the case challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program, meaning that though it didn't make a decision as to the merits of the case, it couldn't muster four judges who wanted to consider the legal questions.
Over at the law blog Concurring Opinions, Daniel Solove points to an AP article reporting that “Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.” Solove sees a parallel between this and the New York subway’s security push, which he says was “largely symbolic.
I’m old enough to have concluded, not so long ago, that I probably would not live to see Americans elect a truy reflexive – yet thoughtful – civil libertarian as President. I had hoped that Bill Clinton would be such a President, at least until he actually moved into the White House. Just his act of signing the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA) (summary here) was enough to sober me up.
I received a few e-mails yesterday from civil libertarian
colleagues grumbling about the interview Antonin Scalia gave to BBC radio yesterday
in which the Supreme court justice seemed to advocate mild forms of torture in
a “ticking time bomb” scenario. Reuters has a good wrap-up here.
Some have gone as far as to call for the associate justice’s impeachment for
discussing in the news media matters either before the court or likely to arise
in the near future.
By Harvey Silverglate
Last Friday, I wrote in this space that there are ample grounds for launching ethics investigations against the Bush Administration lawyers who wrote formal opinions authorizing various “coercive interrogation” techniques that long ago overstepped the lines – a bit vague here and there, but not altogether unfathomable – the law uses to define torture.
The progress of freedom
and legal equality is measured in sometimes subtle
A couple of days ago, I
received in the mail my monthly copy of OUT
magazine, a publication aimed toward the gay community but having
articles of more general interest. It came wrapped, as it always does, in an
opaque gray plastic wrapper, with no indication on the label as to the name or
nature of the publication within.