Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Tuesday Post - this time, on Tuesday!

Hello once again, everyone. Wonder of wonders, my regular weekly post of things of interest to me is actually on time. Hopefully the late postings of the last two weeks will be anomalies and not indicative of a trend.

Let's take a look at news items that looked rather interesting, shall we?

German authorities released from life imprisonment one of the terrorists from the 1985 TWA hijacking that left a US Serviceman dead. Nice to see the German foreign minister saying "It's not our problem" as to where this guy goes. It also looks like he was released to secure the freedom of a German hostage in Iraq. Wouldn't it have been easier to extradite this guy to the US back in the 1980s? I guess not. The German government wouldn't have had a bargaining chip, would they? Danke fur nicht, Deutschland.

If we catch this guy in Iraq, what does it say about terrorist recidivism rates? Would this make for a far stronger case for summary execution of terrorists as illegal combatants in accordance with the Geneva Conventions?

Nationally speaking, we also have this case with the Bush Administration defending the use of no-warrant domestic surveillance of suspected terrorist contacts in the US. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 should have been amended to allow for such searches, but Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor looks like he has found a roundabout set of precedent that allows for such things. Byron York's latest National Review Online article shows precedent from Bill Clinton and makes former Deputy AG (and 9-11 Commission member) Jamie Gorelick look like a stuanch defender of the practice. "But Clinton did it too!" is a weak argument as far as I'm concerned and ought to actually raise flags about the legality of such practices.

Jeff Soyer's post at Alphecca brings up the 4th Amendment question of the NSA actions quite nicely. What assurances do we have that these surveillances made in a time war don't get used as precedent for warrantless domestic surveillance in a time of peace? The pragmatic answer to the domestic surveillance issue is "do it regardless of the legal issues and use the information to locate and kill those who would harm our nation." The Bush Administration's answer is "better to do this and ask forgiveness than get blamed for inaction if something happens, and hope we found enough legal precedent in the meantime." Mine is "Update old espionage laws to reflect new technology and tactics, but make sure Constitutional rights are reasonably uninfringed." Debating reasonableness is of course the next step. All in all, I don't know if Professor Kerr's legal reasoning on the NSA eavesdropping actions is completely sound (and I'm pretty sure he'd agree with me on that) but when dealing with a murky subject like espionage, any allowances made for the sake of expedient action have to be followed up with some serious protections.

May I mention that Rod Blagojevich doesn't like veterans' preference laws or any part of Illinois that doesn't rhyme with "Shook Bounty?" Okay, that's not totally accurate, but an article in the State Journal-Register shows that Ol' Blaggie is unwilling to fire an Illinois Department of Employment Services manager who got his job by moving around a veterans' preference law. The worst part is that the guy who has the job of taking care of employment services in Freeport only wants to do it from the comfort of his Chicago-area environs. Drop the guy and re-open the job.

After those national- and state-related issues, why do I seem to have "Breaking the Law" by Judas Priest playing in my head? Eh, it's appropriate enough. Even when the government has good intentions, something always sems to get stepped on. This is one of those cases where Ronald Reagan's saying of "Government doesn't solve problems; Government IS the problem" holds true.

Normally, I'd add something about SIU's legal troubles with race- and sex-based bias in fellowship distribution but today I'd rather highlight Glenn Poshard asking for help in funding the SIU Medical School's new lab facility in Springfield. It's being used by all kinds of state agencies at the moment as the SIU President can't get the cash to run the cancer center envisioned for the building. A centrally-located cancer treatment facility is a great addition to the Springfield area, as it will help serve the folks who can't make the two-hour drive to St. Louis or the three-to five hour drives to Champaign (if there's a center there) or Chicago. Mind you, getting something similar in Carbondale would also be a huge benefit to southern Illinois, too. For now, though, let's worry about funding the center in Springfield. Private donations, anyone?

The Colts lost their first game of the season to San Diego. Ouch. Here's hoping that the loss this week gets the team re-focused and ready to win all the way through to the Super Bowl.

City of Heroes has a lovely addition this week to its usual game. How do superheroes celebrate Christmas? They save it from peril, naturally! The heroes of Paragon City must take a trip to the heart of the Rogue Isles and recover presents stolen from local charity drives! Those who succeed get the amusing reward of a Santa hat. Silly? Sure. Fun? You betcha! Nefarious villains also get the cance to ruin Christmas by stealing presents meant for the poor and needy. Hokey and melodramatic? What, you were expecting character-driven studies of depressing people talking in their apartments about France? Not gonna happen! Also, Christmas presents left around the city by a mysterious figure called "The Gamester" can determine if you're naughty or nice, apparently. If you're nice, you get a surprise that will help you out in your time of need. If you're naughty, you get attacked by killer snowmen! How can you not appreciate a game like this?

Well, that's it for now, dear readers. Have a Merry Christmas if I don't see you before the next Tuesday post.

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