Sandy Levinson explains why Samuel Alito’s ascension to the Supreme Court
is so important to the White House, and it’s not Roe v. Wade:
Judge Alito and Executive Power:
Key to any answer, I suggest, is the belief by insiders in the Bush Administration that he would be better on the one issue they REALLY care about, which is the aggrandizement of Executive power. The events of the past two weeks, following the disclosures about literally unwarranted wiretapping and data-mining by the National Security Agency, bring into sharp focus the intent by the Administration, led by Dick Cheney, to assert almost unlimited executive powers linked to the “Commander-in-Chief” Clause of Article II of the Constitution. Dick Cheney has apparently been obsessed since his own service as Gerald Ford’s Chief of Staff with returning the presidency to the “imperial” status that was, he thought, the victim of Watergate. For him the Bush Administration is about rolling back what are perceived as illegitimate incursions on raw presidential power.
This concern helps to explain John Roberts appointment as Chief Justice. Recall that then-Judge John Roberts gave the Administration a major victory in the D.C. Court of Appeals in the Hamdan case literally the week before he was nominated to the Supreme Court…. Roberts is likely to be a dependable ally of the President. There is also the important detail, ignored by almost all of the press, that one of Roberts’s prerogatives as Chief Justice is the ability to appoint, without any checks from his colleagues or the Congress, federal district judges to the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court and then federal circuit judges to serve on the three-member court of appeals from decisions of the FISC. As University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Theodore Ruger has importantly demonstrated, Chief Justice Rehnquist was prone to appoint conservative Republicans to serve on that Court, which is the first line of defense against overreaching by the Executive in wiretapping and other forms of surveillance….
The stakes are simply too high to allow any deference at all to this president (and vice-president), whose hunger for power, if tolerated, will transform us into a country that none of us should wish to live in.
December 29th, 2005
Mandana Hendessi sent me this email in response to my article The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustrations of US troops in Iraq: An Ocean of Ignorance [posted with permission]:
I stumbled across your article “The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustration of US Troops in Iraq” today which plunged me into dismay and sorrow. The brothel in the Green Zone was never intended to be such. Far from it, I set it up as a shelter for victims of family and tribal violence in February 2004 towards the end of my stint in Baghdad as the gender advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority.
I am so heartbroken to have realised that the rumours are actually true. In February I waged a campaign here in the UK, on hearing about the closure of the shelter by Iraq’s interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar. Although at first it appeared that the president’s intention was to annexe the house to his collection of properties in the Green Zone, leaked emails later showed that the house was taken over because it was being used as a brothel by American soldiers. The Iraqi interim government and the White House seemingly colluded to ensure that this scandal wouldn’t become another Abu Ghraib by suppressing the news.
I was wondering if you have more information about this.
In a further email she responded to my question as to why she assumed the two brothels, her shelter and the one reported by Patrick Cockburn. were the same:
I somehow have this deep suspicion that it is the same house because it offered a good cover for such misdeeds, under the guise of a women’s shelter, with everywhere else being under the careful scrutiny of the US Army. Furthermore, this house was out of the view, tucked away on the outskirts of the Zone – out of sight, out of mind.
Following the annexation of the house and the eviction of the residents (whether prostitutes or victims of domestic abuse) in Feb, I cited leaked confidential emails from the then president’s wife (wife no.3 – he is shamefully polygamous) to the State Department about the house falling into disrepute and therefore requiring drastic action. I also heard similar reports from a Muslim charity in the UK which had provided funding to furnish the shelter. They also noted with shock and awe the sudden disappearance of the director of the so-called charity running the project, shortly after the shelter was closed. It’s all very horrible and sinister.
But such has been the fate of poor Iraq and Iraqi people. And you are right, the women’s situation in the New Iraq is woefully no better than under Saddam, despite all the efforts, notably by Iraqi women’s rights activists with dreams of Nirvana.
Strangely enough, I am in the process of writing a book on my six-month stint in Iraq. Yes, the story must be told and explored in all its dichotomy – the war-torn Iraq was tumultous and violent as well as innocent, charming, beautiful and generous. There was an opportunity for building a just and democratic society on the ruins of war and dictatorship which was woefully squandered by friends and foes.
December 29th, 2005
A new article of mine The Sex Lives and Sexual Frustrations of US troops in Iraq: An Ocean of Ignorance is now available on OpEdNews:
Well over a hundred thousand American men and women, most younger than 30, spend a year or more at a time in a foreign country where they are almost totally isolated from the indigenous population. Are all these troops really chaste for those long periods, as called for my military regulations?
What is going on sexually among US troops in Iraq is one of the great untold and unknown stories of the Iraqi occupation. As I have followed the course of this war, I have paid careful attention to any glimmers on information available. Having read perhaps 30,000-50,000 articles on Iraq, I’ve seen at most a couple dozen mentions of anything related to sex, other than the systematic sexual abuse and sometime rape of detainees at Abu Graib and the other US prisons. Of course, military regulations ban sex out of marriage, but these regulation have about as great a chance of being obeyed as the US has of obtaining the “total victory” that the President is always promising….
December 29th, 2005
A new report says the world has been far more peaceful since the end of the Cold War. Armed conflicts dropped 40% from 1992 to 2003 and mass slaughters of civilians dropped 80%. No wonder the War State has been in such a panic, inventing the Global War Against Terrorism. Peace is, as always, the enemy of the Imperial State: Peace on Earth? Increasingly, Yes.
A major study by the Rand Corp. published this year found that U.N. peace-building operations had a two-thirds success rate. They were also surprisingly cost-effective. In fact, the United Nations spends less running 17 peace operations around the world for an entire year than the United States spends in Iraq in a single month. What the United Nations calls “peacemaking” — using diplomacy to end wars — has been even more successful. About half of all the peace agreements negotiated between 1946 and 2003 have been signed since the end of the Cold War.
No wonder the US right hates the UN so much. Its existence threatens the rationale for the warrior state.
December 29th, 2005