Archive: January 2006

Three Major Views on Hamas Win

Lots of interesting viewpoints out there on the Hamas win, but most still seem to break down into one of three categories: 1. Hamas is a terrorist organization that will always be hell bent on the destruction of Israel. Hamas's rise to power is just more bad news for the already fragile two-state solution. 2. Winning a place in government will force Hamas to take a more moderate position in order to ensure the continuing flow of international aid, and to negotiate on behalf of its constituents, most of whom want to live in peace in a country of their own. 3. We have no idea how this will turn out, and we have no way of knowing how a Hamas-led Palestinian government will affect Israel's March elections -- or anything else, for that matter. As you could probably tell from my last post, I tend to take the third...

By Emily Messner | January 27, 2006; 11:27 AM ET | Comments (241)

And the Winner Is ... Hamas!

The official results won't be announced until later today, but Hamas has declared victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, and the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia along with his entire cabinet suggests the outcome is not in dispute. Palestinians voted against the corruption of the late Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, though in so doing they voted for an organization known more for its involvement in terrorism than for its political experience. That said, besides just voting against corruption, Palestinians were voting for a group that has made community improvement part of its mission, taking on projects like installing street lights and paving roads. That, unsurprisingly, won a fair bit of loyalty from Palestinians who for years had watched the chairman of the PLO live a life of relative luxury, while they couldn't so much as get a pothole filled. Yaakov Katz reports that some Israeli army officers are saying...

By Emily Messner | January 26, 2006; 8:22 AM ET | Comments (76)

Osama Conspiracy Theories

Wow, the Flat Earthers really came out of the woodwork to join the debate over the weekend on Osama bin Laden's latest message. Among the theories floated in the busy comments section of the last post: · From the Debater who calls himself Impeach Bush (no secrets about political leanings there): Bush and bin Laden "have to be working together, why else hasn't he been caught. The average length it takes to catch a fugitive is 9 months, and that's when you just use available police and FBI resources." Bin Laden is Bush's boogeyman "to scare the American people into doing what he wants." · Another Debater (whose name I couldn't even attempt to divine) writes, "everytime the Bush administration needs a boost, more votes, wants to push something through, the 6'6" unseeable-diabetic arab manages to stagger out of his bed in Riadyh and tape another message for his boss...."...

By Emily Messner | January 24, 2006; 12:01 AM ET | Comments (223)

Eurasia Freezing, Australia Burning

Dual explosions rocked a gas pipeline serving Georgia and Armenia yesterday, cutting off Russian gas supplies to thousands of people during a particularly cold winter. According to Interfax, Russian investigators suspect an "extremist group" operating in the area was behind the sabotage. Mikheil Saakashvili, president of the Republic of Georgia, suspects the Russians of blackmail. This is not the first time Saakashvili has accused Russia of manipulating energy supplies to bend its neighbours to its political will. The Georgian president wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he noted that Putin's sudden push for "market rates" in Ukraine is disingenuous at best. There is nothing "free market" or "market rate" behind Russian energy prices. Manipulation of energy prices and supplies is a critical tool of those in Russia who believe that hydrocarbons are the best means of political influence. In Georgia, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two areas...

By Emily Messner | January 23, 2006; 4:31 AM ET | Comments (33)

Bin Laden: Rumors of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated ...

All the speculation of Osama bin Laden's death -- intensified by the release of a videotaped message from bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri earlier this month -- must have finally gotten to him. The terrorist mastermind has offered "a long-term truce on fair conditions" in a new audiotape (listen/transcript), parts of which were broadcast on Al Jazeera yesterday. Mack at Bruised Orange wonders what a truce would really entail: The prospect of a truce is interesting only as an academic exercise. What would the political and cultural landscape look like under a truce with al-Qaeda? In every treaty there is compromise. What exactly would they be willing to compromise? What would we be willing to compromise away to al-Qaeda? Bill over at the Citizen Journal blog asserts that the tape "is a stunning message to the US that the notion the left's attempts to undermine President Bush 'emboldens our enemies'...

By Emily Messner | January 20, 2006; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (237)

And Iran, Iran So Far Away (I Couldn't Get Away)

Guess it's about time we talk about Iran. This is the one story I've been able to follow on every stop of my vacation, largely thanks to the availability of BBC World in East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, and here in Oz. (BBC World, the respectable offspring of BBC News in the U.K., holds the distinction of being more mind-numbingly repetitive than MTV. The ten stories and four self-promoting commercials the channel has on any given day are on perfectly interesting subjects, but by the eighteenth news loop, they kind of lose their appeal.) Thanks to BBC, I was able to watch the live press conference with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad right from my hotel room in Bali. (More on Bali and the fight against terrorism in another post.) Given that Ahmadinejad is known for his outlandishly inflammatory statements -- and his freakish lust for the apocalypse -- it seemed he...

By Emily Messner | January 18, 2006; 12:21 PM ET | Comments (385)

What the Constitution Really Says

G'day (and all that other Aussie lingo) from Adelaide! While I'm here in the opposite hemisphere, The Debate is going to be a little more free form. Today, we have a thought-provoking post from Guest Blogger Jason Scorse, a professor who decided to take a closer look at the document that provides the foundation of our democracy. * * * The U.S. Constitution, like the Bible, is oft-quoted but rarely read. I recently decided to reread the document to see what the Founding Fathers had in mind for our government and society in their own words. I discovered some very illuminating things, which are sure to irritate both conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans: Article. I. Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States ......

By Emily Messner | January 17, 2006; 8:38 AM ET | Comments (113)

Are YOU an Agent of a Foreign Power?

As promised in the previous post, here's a quick rebuttal to the claim that the government can lawfully spy on an "agent of a foreign power" without obtaining a warrant. In his opinion finding against the government in the 1972 warrantless eavesdropping case, Justice Powell wrote: The warrant clause of the Fourth Amendment is not dead language. Rather, it has been "a valued part of our constitutional law for decades, and it has determined the result in scores and scores of cases in courts all over this country. It is not an inconvenience to be somehow 'weighed' against the claims of police efficiency. It is, or should be, an important working part of our machinery of government, operating as a matter of course to check the 'well-intentioned but mistakenly overzealous executive officers' who are a part of any system of law enforcement." ...[It] touches the very heart of the Fourth...

By Emily Messner | January 13, 2006; 6:42 AM ET | Comments (125)

Who You Callin' A Traitor?

In delivering the Supreme Court's opinion in the Plamondon case of 1972, Justice Lewis Powell acknowledged that eavesdropping technologies could be used legitimately to maintain public order. "But a recognition of these elementary truths does not make the employment by Government of electronic surveillance a welcome development -- even when employed with restraint and under judicial supervision," Powell wrote. "There is, understandably, a deep-seated uneasiness and apprehension that this capability will be used to intrude upon cherished privacy of law-abiding citizens." "The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power," he continued. "Nor must the fear of unauthorized official eavesdropping deter vigorous citizen dissent and discussion of Government action in private conversation. For private dissent, no less than open public discourse, is essential to our free society." Powell recognizes the fundamental risk of eavesdropping without a warrant: Absent checks on executive...

By Emily Messner | January 12, 2006; 9:20 AM ET | Comments (75)

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted ...

I am officially on vacation. I'll try to post now and then, including a bit more about the domestic surveillance debate and some cool posts on various other subjects written by a few fine Debaters, but for now, there's a flight to Malaysia that's waiting for me. While I'm gone, I'll be keeping up with the Alito hearings via the Post's Campaign for the Court blog. I'd offer some more, but the plane is boarding, so gotta run. (If you're at all interested in my trip so far -- and I have no idea why you would be -- click the link to read more.)...

By Emily Messner | January 9, 2006; 2:57 AM ET | Comments (22)

Steel Mills and Surveillance

First, a big thanks to all the Debaters participating in the discussion of this important rights issue. For the most part, the conversation has been enlightening and insightful -- and even those who initially came out hurling abuse (and little else) at their opponents seem to have largely calmed down and begun to have a meaningful debate about the matter at hand. Huzzah! Debater James J. Klapper provides this link that leads to the Supreme Court's opinion in Youngstown Co. v. Sawyer, a 1952 case challenging the legality of President Truman's seizure of the nation's steel mills to avoid a potentially damaging strike. Klapper goes so far as to suggest that the entire Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) "is probably an unconstitutional intrusion on presidential powers and responsibilities." I'm not convinced that view is supported by the Constitution -- or by the Supreme Court, which actually recommended in a 1972...

By Emily Messner | January 5, 2006; 1:15 PM ET | Comments (218)

WWFFD? Another Perspective on Surveillance

If I were to design my own line of inspirational T-shirts and bracelets, the theme would be "WWFFD?" -- "What Would the Founding Fathers Do?" In the case of domestic surveillance, James Madison offers some guidance, in the form of his 1792 exposition on "Property." Madison wrote that property rights extend beyond physical objects, to thoughts, opinions, and one's very liberty: "[A] man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them. ...He has a property very dear to him in the safety and liberty of his person. He has an equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them. In a word, as a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property in his rights." For officials of the government to monitor the communication...

By Emily Messner | January 3, 2006; 5:16 AM ET | Comments (186)

 

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