Law Enforcement

The Ellison example

Featured image In “For Rep. Keith Ellison, recent protests speak to a lifelong struggle,” the Star Tribune’s Allison Sherry provides an incoherent update on Ellison’s fraught relationship with law enforcement. There are two problems with the article. Sherry doesn’t know what she’s talking about and she simply provides a platform for Ellison to vent. Sherry works to suggest that there is something complicated about Ellison’s views of law enforcement. She writes, for »

Risen risin’

Featured image New York Times reporter James Risen is under subpoena to testify in the prosecution of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is under prosecution for blowing a CIA program intended to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. The program was classified beyond top secret. To no discernible public good, Risen publicized the program in his book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. The government thinks that »

The uses and misuses of Eric Garner’s death

Featured image Bill Otis takes on George Will’s column (which Steve made note of here,) which claims that Eric Garner “was criminalized to death.” Among Bill’s points are these: 1. A sales tax on cigarettes and criminal penalties for not paying it do not signify criminalization run amok. Indeed, conservatives generally prefer sales taxes to income taxes, on the theory that it’s better to tax consumption than production. 2. There is always »

Harvard and Yale law deans embarrass themselves with mindless op-ed

Featured image Martha Minow, dean of Harvard law school, and Robert Post, dean of Yale law school, have written an op-ed in the Boston Globe about the need to “regain trust in the legal system” following the grand jury “no-bills” in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner killings. It’s a shockingly bad piece, devoid of both evidence and argument. The thesis of the op-ed is that in the criminal justice system, at »

Don’t breathe!

Featured image John observes that in Minneapolis “The liberals are revolting.” It’s a general truth but, in Minnesota, we have a bad case of it. I happened to be heading south on Highway 35W out of downtown Minneapolis at mid-afternoon yesterday when I saw the roving band of ladies and gentlemen of the idiotic left marching north. They accompanied themselves with the the mindless “I can’t breathe” chant. I found the chant »

Eric Garner and the issue of over-criminalization

Featured image The death of Eric Garner at the hands of a police officer has focused attention not only on the use of force against Garner, but also on the low-level nature of the crime that put him in jeopardy. Garner’s offense was selling loose cigarettes, a means of evading the high tax imposed on tobacco products. For purposes of analyzing the potential case against the officer who choked Garner, it makes »

No indictment in Staten “choking” case

Featured image A Staten Island grand jury has declined to indict the white police officer who killed a black suspect who resisted arrest. The evidence before the grand jury has not been released; hopefully, it will be. But the entire scene was captured on video, and the video is disturbing. Let’s first recognize that this case bears little resemblance to Michael Brown’s. Brown robbed a convenience store and committed assault in the »

Obama to issue executive order on “police militarization”

Featured image President Obama is preparing to issue an executive order that will require federal agencies review the way they provide U.S. police with heavy equipment like tanks and aircraft. The order is partly symbolic, but it also contains a goodly dose of mischief. According to a White House report cited by CNN, only 4 percent of the aid provided by the Department of Defense to police departments can be viewed as »

Yes, the process in Wilson’s case was unusual, but it didn’t favor Wilson

Featured image Because the evidence seems to support the grand jury’s “no bill” ruling in the Darren Wilson case, critics and protesters have focused on the grand jury procedure. They argue that it was highly unusual, and they are right. Normally, prosecutors try to guide a grand jury towards an indictment. Almost invariably, prosecutors succeed. Hence the cliche that a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. In »

Did Obama pressure Gov. Nixon to keep the National Guard out?

Featured image I noted here that the National Guard wasn’t in Ferguson last night, and I wondered why. After all, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon had declared a state of emergency in the St. Louis area — the potential emergency being the impending grand jury decision — and had mobilized the National Guard. In addition, the mayor of Ferguson had requested the Guard’s presence. Yet, the National Guard was nowhere to be seen »

The fire this time

Featured image Watching the Ferguson mob rioting for fun and looting for the traditional reasons live on television last night, I didn’t see much “anger” in evidence. The arson and destruction looked premeditated and deliberate, an orgy of opportunity. Was it an accident that the orgy commenced as President Obama urged calm? (The White House has posted the text of his remarks and a video of his statement here.) It was either »

No indictment in the Michael Brown shooting

Featured image A Missouri grand jury has declined to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. The decision will, no doubt, be greeted by much outrage and perhaps some violence. At this time, I doubt that anyone outside of the grand jury process knows enough about the evidence to say whether Wilson should have been indicted. Unfortunately, this won’t stand in the way of a blizzard of »

Why conservatives should be wary of criminal sentencing reform

Featured image The war on standards in America proceeds on multiple fronts. Employers are under pressure to lower employment standards; public schools to lower student discipline standards; colleges to lower admissions standards; banks to lower lending standards, and so forth. America’s most basic standards are those embodied in its criminal laws. These standards are enforced through the penalites (usually in the form of prison sentences) associated with non-compliance. Conservatives generally have tried »

The Risen heist comes to FOX News

Featured image New York Times reporter James Risen appeared on Greta van Susteren’s FOX News show tonight to promote his new book (video below). Van Susteren touched on the subject of Risen’s noncompliance with the subpoena requiring his testimony in the pending prosecution of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for violation of the Espionage Act. Van Susteren clearly has no idea of the issues raised by Risen’s conduct. I wrote about them »

Gabriel Schoenfeld: A Risen in the sun

Featured image Gabriel Schoenfeld has graciously responded to my invitation to comment on last night’s 60 Minutes segment publicizing the case of New York Times reporter James Risen. Mr. Schoenfeld is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the former senior editor of Commentary. He is also the author of The Return of Anti-Semitism and, most recently, A Bad Day on the Romney Campaign. In Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, »

The Risen Heist

Featured image Last night CBS’s 60 Minutes broadcast a segment presenting New York Times reporter James Risen as a martyr and a hero. Lesley Stahl’s report on Risen is posted here.. The video is below. Should journalists be free to choose which laws they are required to observe and which ones they can break at will? That, essentially, is what Risen is demanding as the trial of alleged CIA leaker Jeffrey Sterling »

Bob McDonnell and the criminalization of politics

Featured image For former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, found guilty last week of fraud and extortion, I have only the small amount of sympathy reserved for those who fall from grace deservedly, but not due to true malice or viciousness. However, I agree with William & Mary law professor Jeffrey Bellin that charges like those brought against McDonnell present the real danger of criminalizing ordinary politics. The essence of the legal case »