Posts Tagged Legal
WE CAN’T KEEP WAITING FOR CONGRESS TO GO NOWHERE FAST, REGARDING TRUMP’S POSSIBLE COLLUSION WITH RUSSIA. WHAT’S PLAN B, AND PLAN C?
In my last post, I suggested that behind Donald Trump’s Visible Regime, there might be a Shadow Government, which controls the real power in Washington. But, here are just a few of the problems, emanating from today’s White House, that smell:
1. Trump’s Political Strategist, Steve Bannon, is a permanent member of the National Security Council.
2. With two former generals in Trump’s Cabinet, why was it the Secretary of State, who suggested a potential pre-emptive attack on North Korea, and in Chin’s backyard?
3. Why have Cabinet Officers not been allowed to appoint Deputies, as usual, and their Confirmation Hearings should have been held, or at least scheduled by now?
4. Why was Donald Trump so discourteous after he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Friday? He looked like a pouting schoolboy who had just been smacked-down!
5. Why is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson skipping the coming NATO Summit in order to visit Moscow, which he is quite familiar with? Couldn’t he take a side trip there, either before or after the NATO meeting?
6. Numerous former and current Trump Associates have had contact with various Russian officials, both in Moscow and Washington.
7. Yesterday, Donald Trump was threatening Congressman, who vote against his ideology-based Health Care Plan? Does he know that we were still a Democracy?
8. And, why does his daughter, Ivanka, sit in on meetings with foreign Heads of State?
Plan A, just holding Congressional Hearings, when Donald Trump’s Republican Party holds the majority in both Houses, will always have a Chairman who belongs to his party, as well as a majority of members. Also, since the GOP believes that it can jam even the most Draconian Legislation through Congress, with their own Man in the White House, can it really be trusted to find collusion, between Trump and Russia, if it is found to have been present?
A “Select”, or Temporary, Committees of Congress will fare no better, since it also will have many of the same party and ideological biases as standing committees do. The Nation needs to have a Plan B, and a Plan C. Plan B would be the appointment of “Special Prosecutor, someone of exemplary legal credentials and who is unbiased, for or against anything but the Truth. And Plan C would consider other options, besides Impeachment, such as a complete Regime Change.
The Special Prosecutor should delve into all aspects of the Russia-Trump Connections, where there may be improprieties. This would include: current and former Trump employees, agents and advisors; whether in person or any other form of contact, and whether the location was foreign or domestic. And Yes, the Special Prosecutor should have complete access to any and all Federal Tax Returns (and all Schedules) of Donald Trump—and for every prior year!
Plan C should draw-up plans, in the event that there was some form of collusion, between Donald Trump and his Campaign, with the Russian Federation. Simple Impeachment proceedings might not be appropriate, since it would be merely eliminating the Head of an Illegal Government. Just like the proverbial Hydra: cut-off the head, and it frown another. Plan C should decide whether usual Impeachment proceedings would be appropriate or, perhaps, a Declaration of the Election as being null and void might be in order
Plans B and C, or some other appropriate meassures, will take time to consider, draft and, perhaps, need to be ruled on by the Supreme Court. Given the many important policy issues—both foreign and domestic—which are constantly arising, we need to insure that we have plans already in place to maintain that “finely-tuned” Government that the United States must have!
NOTE: I realize that if the world-clock stopped ticking, we would have time to call for a Constitutional Convention, or to otherwise Amend the Constitution; but, WE DON’T!
The “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” is expected to reach the Senate Floor very soon. It has considerable bipartisan support, and was easily approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. President Barack Obama, however, has vowed to Veto it.
On September 11, 2001, of the 19 terrorists who flew airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the one that was brought down by passengers in a Pennsylvania field, fifteen were from Saudi Arabia. This legislation, commonly referred to as the “Saudi Bill”, would enable interested U. S. persons to sue nations that finance terrorism for restitution against those foreign governments.
It is important to note that, along somewhat similar lines, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that families of U. S. servicemen may make claims of nearly two billion dollars (cumulatively) from seized assets of the Government of Iran for the 241 servicemen who were killed in the Beirut Marine barracks, in 1983. Iran is a known financier of terrorism, and more specifically, provides backing to both Hamas and Hezbollah. How does the bombing in Beirut compare, or differ, from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, and other targets on 9/11?
The Marine barracks bombing had been traced to Hezbollah and, indirectly to Iran, which backs it. Although Saudi Arabia, by embracing Wahhabism, perhaps the most ultra conservative movement within Sunni Islam, might have established the environment for terrorism, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that Saudi Arabia itself was directly complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
President Obama warned that, by enabling U. S. citizens to sue foreign governments directly for offenses carried out by their citizens might, in turn, result in citizens of other countries suing the U. S. Government. These issues have been raised, time and again, after American forces and contractors have committed various atrocities, and even military actions that have caused death and destruction among civilians in countries our military was fighting in. Such a scenario might just cause any sort of foreign affairs dialogue to become meaningless.
As always, during a Presidential Election year, there is the possibility that the so-called Saudi Bill might lead to some form of political pandering; but, given the bipartisan support, that certainly does’t appear to be the case. The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, well-intentioned though it might be, fails to differentiate between nations that are known benefactors of terrorism, and those that are not. Under our Rule of Law, there is a big difference!
When it comes to some forms of intelligence information—in collecting, safeguarding and breaking into it—the process is often more important than any particular data. But, I’ll get back to that later.
This week, a U. S. District Court ordered Apple, Inc. to help the FBI break into the iCloud data safeguard mechanism in the iPhone of one of the husband-and-wife team of terrorists who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California in December. On Friday, the Justice Department (in a follow-up brief) demanded that the judge order Apple to comply immediately with his ruling. The letter also included comments, perhaps sarcastically, that Apple’s resistance was essentially due to it business plan.
Apple had intended to Appeal the Decision and was in the process of preparing it to be submitted to the Court next week. While the electronic data community is forming to support Apple, some legal analysts have stated that Justice is probably trying to pre-empt Apple’s Appeal.
Additionally the extremely quick follow-up, and the wording, seems to suggest that Justice is attempting to politicize the case by trying to sway public opinion. A NY Times article, providing more details, is linked, as follows: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/20/business/justice-department-calls-apples-refusal-to-unlock-iphone-a-marketing-strategy.html?emc=edit_na_20160219&nlid=64667462&ref=headline.
Initially, it was suggested that the FBI’s request was only for a one-time fix, and for just that one iPhone. So, once the master key is available, however, what about the next time that the FBI wants to peak into a suspect’s encrypted data, and the next, etc? Or other agencies?
Additionally, every other country in which iPhones are sold might sue for similar access, through their respective legal systems—including China and Russia? And, what if there isn’t any worthwhile intelligence data in the iPhone; but, the precedent of government infringement on proprietary rights would then have already been established?
Toward the end of World War II, America developed the Atomic Bomb before Nazi Germany did. And then, for the past four decades, we have been trying to stop the spread of nuclear weapons—both the number of warheads and the nations with access. Trying to put the genie back into the bottle?
Might governments, by forcing companies to provide access to supposedly protected data in their machines, ultimately be setting the stage for the next round of Non-Proliferation talks; but, in this case, over the dismantlement of some of the electronic data advances that have been made during the Digital Age? In essence, enabling such surreptitious access to personal, corporate and state information could, indeed, jeopardize both personal and national security!
NOTE: I am an Apple shareholder; but, this blog post is intended to defend the issues and not to defend the corporation, per se.
Associate Justice Anthony Scalia, age 79, died in his sleep Saturday night. Justice Scalia was considered, perhaps, the most conservative member of the U. S. Supreme Court, and its greatest legal scholar. His fairness, in pursuit of judicial excellence, however, was demonstrated by his suggesting that Elena Kagan, a liberal, be considered for nomination to the High Court.
First thing Sunday morning, once the news of his death was made public, virtually all segments of the Republican Party were proclaiming that President Barack Obama is a lame duck, and declaring that he should leave the appointment of a replacement Associate Justice for the next President. The Presidential Election, by the way, will not be held until November 8; however, and thus President Obama’s term still has eleven months to go—expiring on January 20, 2017.
Until then, Barack Obama has a Constitutional duty to nominate another Justice to the Court and, likewise, the Senate also has a similar duty to consider the candidate, and Confirm or Reject him or her. Until the Senate can place their political partisanship aside, and give any nominee fair consideration, the Court might be deadlocked, with a four-to-four, Conservative to Liberal split, for some time to come. Also, such gridlock would not make Chief Justice John Roberts’ goal, to eliminate politics from the Court, any easier.
Charles P. Pierce’s column, in Esquire magazine, provides some historical perspective. It points out that a President is not a lame duck until his replacement is actually elected. Therefore, that status would only last for two and a half months. Mr. Pierce’s column is linked, as follows: http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a42199/obama-lame-duck/.
Every one of the current field of Republican Presidential candidates claims to be a Ronald Reagan Conservative. As GOP Elder, Bob Dole, cited after an earlier debate, they say Conservative many more times than they do Republican. The GOP apparently choses to forget that President Reagan appointed Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy during his last year in office, and he certainly was not the first.
By far, the most influential nomination to the Supreme Court was made by our second President, John Adams, after he had already lost the 1800 Presidential Election, which ran from October 31 until December 6. So, Adams was indeed a lame duck, until Thomas Jefferson’s Inauguration, on March 4. During that lame duck period, President Adams made, perhaps, the most influential Supreme Court nomination ever.
On January 20, 1801, President Adams offered the Chief Justice position to John Marshall, whom accepted it immediately. The lame duck Congress confirmed the nomination on January 27, and Marshall was sworn in on February 4. Chief Justice John Marshall presided over the Supreme Court for 34 years, leaving an important and lasting imprint on it.
Born in the U.S. and having lived for almost seven decades in America, I had heard the term “Grand Jury” many times. Everyone assumes they know what it is, but do they… really? The term has come up recently since the Saint Louis County Prosecutor, in Missouri, chose to “try” (White) Police Officer Daren Wilson before it, after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black Man, in Ferguson, last August.
A Grand Jury is an anachronism that dates back to Medieval English Law, back when there were no police forces or even a modern Court System as we know it today. At that time anyone could bring charges against anyone. The purpose of the Grand Jury was for the prosecutor to prove that there was sufficient evidence to try the case.
At the time of the Birth of the United States, our Founding Fathers chose to include the Grand Jury System (as the Fifth Amendment) in our Bill of Rights. The reason was to insure that the Government (at some future date) could not try someone on trumped-up charges, which might have been commonplace in the Great Britain of that time.
Noah Feldman, a Professor of Constitutional and International Law at Harvard University, wrote the linked article for Bloomberg View, as follows: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-11-25/fergusons-grand-jury-problem?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1. His comments are similar to that of many legal analysts who have recently questioned the St. Louis County Prosecutor, Robert McCulloch for “trying” the police officer before a Grand Jury, rather than a Court of Law if the facts warranted it.
Going back to why that System is in our Legal System (although only half of the states actually use it), is for the Prosecutor to demonstrate that there is sufficient evidence to consider whether a crime was, indeed, committed. Mr. McCulloch, is not trusted by the Local Black Community since he comes from a Family of police officers, and based on his prior actions.
Generally, the purpose of a Grand Jury is to prove why a case should go to trial–not why it shouldn’t. And, that is behind all of the questions surrounding McCulloch’s legal strategy in this case.
The Prosecutor completely controls the entire Grand Jury process. But, it appears to many that Mr. McCulloch chose to use that process to cover-up his biases. It would be a way for him to deflect all responsibility for the Jury’s “decision”, based on the evidence that he might have selectively presented. But, to his way of thinking, it would lend validation to his preferred course of action. Hopefully, our Department of Justice will step-in, weigh the evidence, and schedule a Trial if truly warranted.