Monday, September 24, 2007

Defense Authorization - Week Four [H.R.1585]

The Senate will open the week on the Water Resources Development Act, before resuming consideration of Defense Authorization.

If you don't read here on weekends, please give a quick peruse to Senator Dorgan's mention of the case of Donald Vance.

Links to Defense Authorization bill text, amendments, and debate is at the top of the "Week of September 17" post.

  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt.2064 to strike section 1023 (CSRT modification)
  • Kyl/Lieberman S.Amdt.3017 to express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran [Passed 9/26]
  • Biden S.Amdt.2997 to express the sense of Congress on federalism in Iraq. [Passed 9/26]

Most of this Sept 21 Senate debate was on Biden/Brownback's S.Amdt.2997, "political/federalism surge for Iraq." It includes the text of the amendment, short comments by Senators Brownback, Hutchison, Feinstein and Warner, and extended remarks by Senator Biden. Scroll past the vote on the Levin/Reed amendment to get to the "political/federalism surge" remarks.

My simple-minded reduction asks, "in US history, what came first, the states? or the federal government?" The fact that we are made up of states doesn't make the United States any less of a single entity, as against the rest of the world. The issue is how to divide power between regions and the central government, and the extent the regions have any meaningful say in that division.

Monday schedule:
  • 2:00 p.m. - Open for morning business
  • 3:00 p.m. - Take up H.R.1495 - Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)
  • 5:45 p.m. - Vote on passage of WRDA Conference Report
Tuesday schedule:
  • 10:00 a.m. - Open and move immediately to H.R.1585 - Defense Auth
  • Debate Biden/Brownback #2997, "political-federalism surge," for 30 minutes
  • 10:30 a.m. - Vote on Biden/Brownback with 60 vote threshold
  • Debate Kyl/Lieberman #3017, to express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran

Off-floor action scheduled for the week of September 24:

Senate Judiciary Committee
Tuesday September 25, 9:30 a.m.: Strengthening FISA: Does the Protect America Act Protect Americans' Civil Liberties and Enhance Security?
Thursday, September 27, 10:00 a.m.: Hearings to examine S.1267, S.2035 (both are press shield measures) and other proposed legislation

House Committee on Armed Services
Wednesday, September 26, 10:00 a.m.: to mark up H.R.2826, to restore habeas corpus for individuals detained at GTMO


Transforming the Federal Role in Education

  • Today the First Lady announced that the United States Agency for International Development will launch a major initiative in support of the President's commitment to basic education in Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Liberia, Mali, and Yemen beginning in Fiscal Year 2008.

The same bullet item is recited in Fact Sheet: Today's Education Announcement

[Note: The WH changed the contents of since it was posted here. The "Transforming" page now discusses only domestic education spending. Perhaps trying to downplay Laura Bush outlines education initiative]

It makes an interesting counterpoint to the President's speech excoriating Congress for overspending.

18:13: H.R.1495 - WRDA: Passed 81-12 (veto proof)

A motion to take up and pass H.R.1255, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records, was raised by Senator Feinstein, and objected to by the Republicans.

A motion to take up and pass S.223 - Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, was raised by Senator Feinstein. The bill as written requires electronically-filed campaign finance reports, same as is required for the House and for Presidential candidates.

In the process of objecting, Senator Ensign said that politically-motivated ethics complaints need to be identified as such, and offered a modified consent request that includes considering and debating an Ensign amendment to accomplish that objective. Senator Feinstein objected to part of the proposal that requires disclosure of donors to organizations that typically file the ethics complaints. Dueling objections.

She went on to say the identity of the objecting Republican (objecting to the underlying S.223 bill) is unknown, and then "invoked" a measure of recently-passed S.1 that requires the disclosure of the identity of a Senator who objects to proceeding to a bill. The hold on S.223 must be made public within six days. Senator Feingold piles on by reiterating the same about the "new rule on secret holds," and went on to say that he believes Senator Ensign (who voiced his reason for objecting) has satisfied the new rule by disclosing his objection.

18:37: Schumer on his perpetual gun-grab with what he refers to as "NICS Improvement Act." If I have the background correct, this bill makes gun possession or purchase a federal offense, to anybody who seeks psychiatric care. (H.R.2640)

19:04: The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow.

UPDATE @ Sept. 25

H.J.Res.43 - "That subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection [$8,965,000,000,000] and inserting in lieu thereof $9,815,000,000,000." See also Senate Report 110-184.


Judge Brownback's dismissal of Khadr has been reversed, and the military commissions trial can go on, with what amounts to a resubmission of CSRT evidence to a military judge. Khadr was found to be an "enemy combatant" by a CSRT, but in order to be in the jurisdiction of Judge Brownback's Court, Khadr must be an "alien unlawful enemy combatant." Therefore, one issue to be decided by Judge Brownback is whether Khadr is an "unlawful enemy combatant." Lyle Denniston's excellent summary of the ruling: "Military commissions' powers broadened" includes observations that are not likely to be accurately represented by media, if represented at all. Media links AP and NYT here and, WaPo and LATimes here, h/t Howard Bashman.


Beldar's latest on the Senator Craig saga, "Of pleas and piñatas."


The planned timing for debate and vote on the Biden "political/federalism surge" amendment was changed yesterday. The time for the resumption of debate and vote is indefinite, and will certainly be later than the 10:30 a.m. gleaned from Friday's Record in combination with agreement to debate for 30 minutes prior to the vote.

    [Friday's Record] Mr. LEVIN. ... On Tuesday at 10 o'clock, we are going to have a unanimous consent agreement that the Biden amendment will be voted on at 10 o'clock on Tuesday. That is going to be part of a unanimous consent agreement that is being prepared.
    In addition, in terms of the Lieberman-Kyl amendment, there will be some debate on that today, and on Monday, and we will make an effort to see if we can't agree on a time certain on Tuesday, after the Biden amendment is disposed of on Tuesday. But we can't commit to that now. We will make a good-faith effort on Monday to set up that time on Tuesday, after the Biden amendment is disposed of.
    Mr. REID. Mr. President, I think we are headed in the right direction. We may have to drag that vote--not drag it but set it for 10:15. We usually don't come in on Tuesdays until 10 o'clock, so would 10:15 be OK?


    [Monday's Record] Mr. REID. ... that on Tuesday, the morning hour be deemed to have expired, the time for the two leaders be reserved ... that there then be a period of morning business for 60 minutes ... that once morning business is closed, the Senate resume consideration of H.R. 1585

10:03: Senator Reid said the Senate expects to receive a message from House today on SCHIP, and that the Senate will take the steps necessary to ratify it so it can be sent to President Bush. He did not outline any schedule for that, or for taking up the Biden/Brownback "political/federalism surge" amendment.

10:17: Senator Kyl objects to the Biden amendment, because it comes off as the US dictating to Iraqis how they will form their government. He invokes "the sovereignty of the Iraqi people." Reading the Biden/Brownback amendment, I see nothing that directs "partitioning" at all (what does that mean, anyway?), let alone any particular geographic lines of partitioning.

10:38: Morning business has been extended to 11:45 a.m. Senator Stabenow noting that Senate passage of SCHIP would be with a veto-proof majority, if the Senate votes as it did on its version in the first place.

UPDATE @ 14:24

There's a short "stack" of procedural motions in play on the defense authorization bill. I don't know exactly what's in that stack, but it appears to be aimed at forcing a vote on a hate crimes amendment within the context of defense authorization.

Senator Reid made a motion to recommit the bill to committee, with an amendment #3039, and called for (and obtained sufficient second) roll call votes on the motion to recommit with the amendment. He also called up amendment #3040, a second degree amendment to #3039 (thereby filling the amendment tree), and aborted a doomed attempt to call up a second 2nd degree amendment. Senator Reid also obtained unanimous consent that there be no further cloture motions on the bill for the remainder of today.

The general effect of a motion to recommit is to "step an issue to the front of the line, to the exclusion of all other issues." One artifact of a motion to recommit is that it has priority in voting order, over all pending amendments. The motion to recommit doesn't necessarily create delay, the bill can be "out and back" with the wink of an eye. Another artifact is that, if passed, a motion to recommit causes already-passed amendments to be "wiped out," although as a practical matter I assume they can be reestablished under a UC agreement.

Historical notes: Zero motions to recommit were filed in 2005, two were filed in 2006. A Senator Ensign Motion to Recommit Emergency Supplemental was tabled on a 68-28 vote, on April 26, 2006. A Senator Frist Motion to Recommit Health Insurance Act was mooted when the modified bill (S.1955) died before final passage, in May 2006.

In 2007, Senator Reid filed and later withdrew a motion to recommit H.J.Res.20 (Continuing appropriations), and Senator DeMint's motion to recommit the conference report on H.R.1 (implementing 9/11 Commission recommendations) was rejected on a 26-67 vote.

Back to the present: Senator Reid announces that there may be a Republican side-by-side to the Democrat proposed hate-crime amendment. I suppose that will be a love-crime amendment.

14:40: Senator Kennedy using morning business to discuss SCHIP, and also to advocate for the proposed hate-crime package.

15:30: The Senate stands in recess until 17:00 for the unveiling of a portrait of Robert Byrd, in the old Senate chambers.

18:00: Senators Warner, Levin and Biden in a bit of a round robin on the subject of Biden's "political/federalism surge" amendment, with Senator Warner indicating an inclination to be in favor, provided some adjustments are made. [Changes detailed starting at S12033]

18:21: Senator Levin sent a series of 37 34 amendments to the desk, to be voted on agreed to (no vote) en bloc, and with remarks to be entered "at the appropriate place in the Record."

18:36: Senator Reid announced no votes tonight. The procedural posture will be clear from the Record, but I believe the Biden amendment is "behind" Reid's motion to recommit the bill.

18:55: Senator Thune noted that defense authorization has been used as a vehicle for repeat votes on Democrat sponsored Iraq-related amendments (transition the mission, pull out, defund); and is now being "hijacked" (my term, not Senator Thune's) to be the vehicle for hate crimes legislation. All at the expense of passing defense authorization, which is necessary to support the US military.

18:57: Senator Corker (he reminds me of Freddie Mercury of Queen) talked about SCHIP and the upcoming veto by President Bush.

19:30: Byron York on the Smith/Kennedy hate crime proposal.

19:33: Senator Corker introduces some negotiated procedure.

  • Hatch S.Amdt.3047 introduced (probably the GOP counterpart for the Smith/Kennedy hate crimes amendment), and a cloture motion was filed to "decide the fate" of the amendment
  • If a cloture motion is filed tomorrow, on a motion to concur with House amendments to H.R.976 - SCHIP, that cloture motion will be be treated as though it was filed today
  • S.Res.325 - A resolution supporting efforts to increase childhood cancer awareness, treatment, and research; was passed
  • H.R.3375 - To extend the trade adjustment assistance program under the Trade Act of 1974 for 3 months; was passed

19:49: Senator Whitehouse's turn to close shop.

  • S.2085 - A bill to delay for 6 months the requirement to use of tamper-resistant prescription pads under the Medicaid program; was read three times and was passed (technically, was read the third time, the record for Friday shows it being read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance). This bill first appeared on Friday the 21st, but wasn't put on Monday's or Tuesday's legislative calendar.

19:50: The Senate stands adjourned until 9:30 a.m., with 1 hour of morning business. No further schedule given. C-SPAN2 reports that in the balance of the week, the Senate will take up SCHIP, and perhaps a continuing spending resolution, in addition to whatever becomes of defense authorization.

A few cloture motions will mature on Thursday. A couple on dueling hate crimes amendments, and probably definitely one on the SCHIP conference report. [See UC agreement, "... on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, when cloture is filed on the motion to concur in the House amendments to the Senate amendments to H.R. 976, the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, that it then be considered to have been filed on Tuesday ..."]

UPDATE @ Sept. 26

Interesting and useful point of view on the CMCR decision in the Khadr case at Balkinize: What's Wrong With the Khadr Decision.

It objects to the "lawful/unlawful" distinction, as applied, and argues for the use of distinction between privileged and unprivileged belligerents. Useful in that it reflects on both the nature of the actor, and the nature of the act -- and both aspects certainly have play as the legal system struggles with which court system and procedural rules apply across the range of possible combination of those aspects.


Nomination withdrawn: John A. Rizzo, to be General Counsel of the CIA, sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007.

The NYT reports on this one: Nominee for C.I.A. Counsel Withdraws

Also on the subject of nominations, but reviewing the makeup of the 4th Circuit, read 4th Circuit's 5-5 Split May Impact Hot-Button Cases - by Brendan Smith. (h/t HowAppealing)


Today is the day the judge in Minnesota will meet with Senator Craig's lawyers to discuss withdrawing the Senator's guilty plea. Beldar describes how he would eviscerate Craig, based on non-appearance, taking advantage of a tactical error by Craig's counsel.



  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt.2064 to strike section 1023
  • Kyl/Lieberman S.Amdt.3017 to express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran. [Passed 76-22]
  • Biden S.Amdt.2997 to express the sense of Congress on federalism in Iraq. [Passed 75-23]
  • Kennedy/Smith S.Amdt.3035 (to the language proposed to be stricken by Amendment No. 2064), to provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes.
  • Motion to recommit the bill to the Committee on Armed Services, with instructions to report back forthwith, with Reid S.Amdt.3038 (enactment date 3 days after passage).
  • Reid S.Amdt.3039 (to the instructions of the motion to recommit), enactment date 2 days after passage.
  • Reid S.Amdt.3040 (to Amendment No. 3039), enactment date 1 day after passage.
  • Hatch S.Amdt.3047 (to Amendment No. 2011), to require comprehensive study and support for criminal investigations and prosecutions by State and local law enforcement officials.
Cloture motions to be voted Thursday:
  • on Kennedy/Smith S.Amdt.3035
  • on Hatch S.Amdt.3047
  • on House-passed version of H.R.976 - SCHIP

I'm not perfectly clear as to how the motion to recommit will be used, procedurally, although I think its intended effect is to stifle the filing of further amendments to the bill. A motion to commit has precedence over a motion to amend, according to Senate Rule XXII. Riddick's has more detail, and this "usual" precedence can be (and has been) overridden by UC agreements to vote on amendments or motions, and in general, conduct business as usual provided there is unanimous consent. At this point, the motion to recommit is just "hanging there," providing the "must have unanimous consent" effect for certain actions that are otherwise the prerogative of a single senator. The motion to recommit will probably be mooted by final passage of defense authorization, without ever being referred to again.

My intuition, for what it's worth, says the debate today will be on the hate crimes amendments, not on Iraq (Biden/Brownback v. Kyl/Lieberman), and not on defense authorization. I'd like to know what Senator Reid meant by "not anytime in the near future" when he said this:

    Mr. REID. Mr. Chairman, there will be no more votes tonight. We have tried to work something out on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment and the Biden amendment. We have been unable to do that.
    We have been very close a few times, but we have just been informed that Senator Biden will not have a vote anytime in the near future. There will not be a vote on the other one [Kyl/Lieberman] anytime in the near future. We hope tonight will bring more clearness on the issue.

On the Hate Crimes Diversion

Notice that the Kennedy/Smith hate crimes amendment is to Section 1023, and that Section 1023 is proposed to be stricken. That is, if Kennedy/Smith is passed, and then Graham/Kyl is passed, the Kennedy/Smith amendment will be stricken. This hints at two things:

the Kennedy/Smith vote is probably a do-nothing sham

due to be erased even if it passes. Typically this is done to "give comfort" to fence sitting Senators, they can vote their conscience without fear of that vote being put to effect. Secondly, that there is an expectation that Graham/Kyl (to strike or amend revisions to the present CSRT process) will eventually pass.

[See mea culpa at Sept 28 - the amendment replaces Section 1023, it doesn't amend it]

The Hatch amendment, on the other hand, is to a durable "substitute" amendment.

The Hatch amendment sets out a study of the rate of occurrence of "relevant offenses," and adds the classes of gender and age to the usual "race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity" classes. The Hatch program also gives the Attorney General discretion to provide technical and/or financial assistance to state or local prosecutors, where the state or local entity lacks the resources to investigate or prosecute a hate crime. Financial assistance is limited to $100,000 per grant, and $5,000,000 per year.

9:35: Senator Reid indicated that scheduling of the Biden/Brownback v. Kyl/Lieberman votes is still being negotiated. Actions to be taken this week include SCHIP, a continuing appropriations resolution (H.J.Res.52), and increasing the debt limit (H.J.Res.43).

Senator McConnell spoke of the ongoing unrest in Burma.


H/T HowAppealing, a discouraging, yet extremely interesting article that looks behind the legal details involved in the CSRT process.

Dispute Stymies Guantanamo Terror Trials
by Jess Bravin - WSJ

10:30: Morning business was generally on SCHIP (debating its scope of play as to nationalizing health care, and its cost) and on delaying passage of the defense authorization bill by using it as the vehicle for numerous and sundry unrelated issues.

11:40: Morning business droned on. Senator Durbin talked about his intention to reintroduce the DREAM Act. If my sense of the effect of the motion to recommit is correct, his intention is already thwarted. He can't introduce a new amendment to this bill, absent unanimous consent. Of course, he can talk about anything.

UPDATE @ 12:14

UC Agreement reached to vote "right now" on Biden/Brownback #2997 and Kyle/Lieberman #3017, each as modified, and each with a 60 vote threshold. The vote on Biden/Brownback got underway at 12:16.

Following that action, the Senate will proceed to Coburn #2196 (as part of the agreement), and then to Webb #2999 (not part of the agreement).

12:40: Biden/Brownback #2997: Passed 75-23
GOP Aye votes: Bennett, Brownback, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Domenici, Ensign, Grassley, Gregg, Hatch, Hutchison, Isakson, Lott, Lugar, Martinez, McConnell, Murkowski, Roberts, Shelby, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Sununu, and Warner
DEM Nay votes: Feingold, Hagel & Voinovich (I know, two of those are Republicans)
McCain and Obama are on the campaign trail.

Senator Webb reasserts his argument that the Lieberman/Kyl amendment represents the first time the US (and Congress too; declarations of an organization being "terrorist" usually come from the executive directly, or the executive via the State Department) has declared a formal part of a foreign government as a terrorist entity. Voting on that amendment started at about 12:44.

13:02: Lieberman/Kyl #3017: Passed 76-22
GOP Nay votes: Hagel and Lugar

In the "for what it's worth" department, Senator Klobuchar changed her vote to Nay after casting it Aye.

13:04: Senator Coburn calls up #2196, and notes a desire to speak on it for 30 minutes.

Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, none of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be used for the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, except those activities related to the permanent closing of the NDIC and to the relocation of activities performed at NDIC deemed necessary or essential by the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the appropriate Federal agencies.

Senator Webb's #2999 (link to text) would establish a commission to be known as the "Commission on Wartime Contracting," mostly made up of members of Congress, with a charter to investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.

Both hate crimes amendments are awaiting cloture votes tomorrow, so there won't be votes on those today, although there may be some debate on the subject.

13:31: Senator McCaskill calls up #2999 (link to amendment summary), with modifications at the desk.

At some point this afternoon, Senator Craig announced his intention to stay in the Senate, rather than resign. The judge in Minnesota won't decide Craig's motion to withdraw his guilty plea, until after the end of September.

19:31: S.Res.333 - to authorize the production of records by the permanent subcommittee on investigations of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs; was passed. [This authorizes the release of Senate testimony for use by federal prosecutors, relating to investigation of and possible prosecutions within the credit counseling industry.]

19:43: Senator Reid announces two hours of debate tomorrow, followed by a stack of cloture votes, in the following order: Kennedy #3035, Hatch #3047, SCHIP. If cloture is NOT invoked, the amendment will be withdrawn, if cloture IS invoked, the Senate would vote on the amendment. After voting on the cloture motions for the two competing hate crimes amendments, a cloture vote on the SCHIP bill as passed by the House.

19:47: The Senate stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m.


Federal Court rules parts of the USA PATRIOT Act to be unconstitutional, an opinion and order I am in the process of reading. It is a facial challenge to the electronic surveillance and physical entry portions of FISA, as amended by the USA PATRIOT Act.

Judge Ann Aiken expressly rejects the conclusion of the FISA Review Court, in it's "In re: Sealed Case" opinion, that as long as a significant purpose of a snoop is the acquisition of foreign intelligence, the criminal law enforcement apparatus can obtain a warrant, drive the search activity (even to seek evidence of criminal activity), and and use any evidence in a criminal prosecution.

... Prior to the Patriot Act, FISA may have had as its "general programmatic purpose . . . to protect the nation against terrorism and espionage threats directed by foreign powers." In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d at 46. After the Patriot Act, however, FISA surveillance, including the surveillance at bar, may have as its "programmatic purpose" the generation of evidence for law enforcement purposes - which is forbidden without criminal probable cause and a warrant.

    Finally and perhaps most significantly, In re Sealed Case ignores congressional concern with the appropriate balance between intelligence gathering and criminal law enforcement. It is notable that our Founding Fathers anticipated this very conflict as evidenced by the discussion in the Federalist Papers. Their concern regarding unrestrained government resulted in the separation of powers, checks and balances, and ultimately, the Bill of Rights. Where these important objectives merge, it is critical that we, as a democratic Nation, pay close attention to traditional Fourth Amendment principles. The Fourth Amendment has served this Nation well for 220 years, through many other perils. Title III, like the Supreme Court's pronouncements in Katz and Berger, recognizes that wiretaps are searches requiring fidelity to the Fourth Amendment.

    Moreover, the constitutionally required interplay between Executive action, Judicial decision, and Congressional enactment, has been eliminated by the FISA amendments. Prior to the amendments, the three branches of government operated with thoughtful and deliberate checks and balances - a principle upon which our Nation was founded. These constitutional checks and balances effectively curtail overzealous executive, legislative, or judicial activity regardless of the catalyst for overzealousness. The Constitution contains bedrock principles that the framers believed essential. Those principles should not be easily altered by the expediencies of the moment.

    Despite this, the FISCR holds that the Constitution need not control the conduct of criminal surveillance in the United States. In place of the Fourth Amendment, the people are expected to defer to the Executive Branch and its representation that it will authorize such surveillance only when appropriate. The defendant here is asking this court to, in essence, amend the Bill of Rights, by giving it an interpretation that would deprive it of any real meaning. This court declines to do so.

    For over 200 years, this Nation has adhered to the rule of law - with unparalleled success. A shift to a Nation based on extra-constitutional authority is prohibited, as well as ill- advised. In this regard, the Supreme Court has cautioned:

The price of lawful public dissent must not be a dread of subjection to an unchecked surveillance power. 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.
Keith, 407 U.S. at 314.

    Therefore, I conclude that 50 U.S.C. §§ 1804 and 1823, as amended by the Patriot Act, are unconstitutional because they violate the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The opinion will certainly be appealed, good chance it will go all the way to SCOTUS, seeing as how the first review will be in the 9th Circuit.

Volokh: District Court Judge Invalidates Part of FISA
Jurist: Federal judge rules Patriot Act search, surveillance provisions unconstitutional
Balkinize: Quick Take on Judge Aiken's FISA Decision
Concurring Opinions: Judge Strikes Down Part of USA Patriot Act
HowAppealing: Judge rejects portion of Patriot Act (article links)
Volokh: My Analysis of the Oregon FISA Decision (Orin Kerr)

This is the second adverse ruling against the USA PATRIOT Act this month. The first struck down the National Security Letters (NSL) device.

UPDATE @ Sept. 27

I missed the filing yesterday, of a pair of cloture motions to limit debate on Defense Authorization, one on the substitute amendment (2011), another on the underlying bill. The motions were filed by the GOP, and if conducted per the rules, votes on those cloture motion would happen tomorrow after morning business.

The unspoken colloquy between Senators Levin and Biden on the "political/federalism surge" (the entry of which was proposed two days ago, but was objected to by Senator Thune) concisely summarizes the political process in Iraq, as it relates to federalism and the Sunnis objecting to the federalism part of the Iraq constitution. See Page S12094 at "CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMISSION". That link also provides the full text of the Biden/Brownback and Kyl/Lieberman (Iran) amendments as modified, which is essential material to support accurate commentary.

  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt.2064, to strike section 1023 (CSRT revisions)
  • Kennedy/Smith S.Amdt.3035 (to the language proposed to be stricken by Amendment No. 2064), to provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes.
  • Motion to recommit the bill to the Committee on Armed Services, with instructions to report back forthwith, with Reid Amendment No. 3038, (and 3039 and 3040) to change the enactment date.
  • Hatch S.Amdt.3047, to require comprehensive study and support for criminal investigations and prosecutions by State and local law enforcement officials.
  • Coburn S.Amdt.2196, no funds from this bill for National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC)
  • Webb Modified S.Amdt.2999, to provide for the study and investigation of wartime contracts and contracting processes in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Beyond the cloture votes starting around 11:00 a.m. today (two hours of debate prior to the first cloture vote), I believe the order of business will be to continue with defense authorization. Assuming the cloture motion on SCHIP passes, some Republicans will require the 30 hours of debate before the final vote.

The business that Senator Reid intends to finish before the end of next week includes:

  • defense authorization (cloture votes Friday)
  • SCHIP (30 hours of debate allowed post cloture - limited to 6 hours by UC) [Passed Thursday]
  • debt limit increase (H.J.Res.43) [Passed Thursday]
  • continuing appropriations resolution (H.J.Res.52) [Passed Thursday]
  • "There are a number of other issues in addition to the CR that we have to finish before Monday. We have no choice. We have a farm bill we have to extend ..."
  • Commerce-State-Justice appropriations (H.R.3093 - Commerce, Justice, Science has yet to be taken up a first time, by the Senate : H.R.2764 - State-Foreign Operations is at the point of agreeing with conference committee report)

In the ever-popular "predictions" department: Kennedy/Smith will come close to obtaining cloture, but will fall short (57-41); Hatch will obtain cloture easily (75-23 or wider margin) and will be passed on a voice vote; cloture will also be invoked on SCHIP (70-28). Remember, my predictions are unreliable!


H/T HowAppealing, the article "Justice Dept.'s warrantless eavesdropping rejected" is on the subject of warrantless acquisition of touch-tones tapped after a call is completed. New technical term for vocabulary: post-cut-through dialed digits (PCTDD).


This one will kick around until it is passed. First submitted 13 years ago, it rises again and again, like the Energizer Bunny.

U.N.'s sea law treaty pushed - David R. Sands (Wa Times)

The Bush administration today begins a fresh push for Senate ratification of the U.N. Law of the Sea accord ... Supporters, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden, Delaware Democrat, and the panel's ranking Republican, Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, say this could be the best chance to win the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the treaty.


10:53: Senator Hatch quotes Mick Jagger, "You can't always get what you want ..." but credits the lyric to "an eminent political philosopher." [Correction - Senator Hatch said, "To quote an unappreciated political philosopher"] Cute, and I use the lyric myself, often, but it sounded funny coming from Orin Hatch.

Next step on hate crimes, to make political affiliation a protected class. Get on with the votes already.

11:17: After Senator Reid made a last-minute pitch in favor of SCHIP, and Senator McConnell spoke against the Kennedy hate-crime amendment, voting got underway.

11:38: Cloture on Kennedy/Smith #3035: Passed 60-39
GOP Aye votes: Coleman, Collins, Gregg, Lugar, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Warner, Voinovich

Wow. That's a bit of surprise. The Kennedy amendment was subsequently passed on a voice vote. Don't forget that the fate of this amendment going forward to conference depends on the disposition of the Graham amendment. In other words, the Kennedy/Smith vote is probably a do-nothing sham when all is said and done.

[See mea culpa at Sept 28 - the hate crimes amendment replaces Section 1023, it doesn't amend it]

11:54: Cloture on Hatch #3047: Passed 96-3
The Hatch amendment was subsequently adopted based on an agreement reached before the vote started.
[The Senate agreed to vitiate the cloture motion before the vote, and voted directly on the amendment]

Then the full Senate went into a quorum call. I get a kick out of it, when a full Senate checks for quorum, and when an "empty" Senate (two Senators present, one in the chair) has a treaty-passing 2/3rds vote.

12:13: Cloture Motion on SCHIP H.R.976: Passed 69-30

Well, I was close on one out of three.

Senator Ensign speaks on the same issue he did earlier this week, on the filing of ethics complaints and the relationship of that to S.223 - Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act.

12:52: The Senate makes SCHIP its formally pending business, with a time agreement of 6 hours between 12:15 or so and the taking of a vote on the bill. Then to H.J.Res.43 (debt limit, 90 minutes of debate), then to H.J.Res.52 (continuing resolution on appropriations). Looks like a wrap up of the week, late tonight.

Senator McConnell locked in names and time allotments for debate on the Republican side of the SCHIP debate. (DeMint 10 minutes, Bunning 15, Lott 10, Grassley 45, Hatch 30, Vitter 10, Coburn 15, Corker 10, Smith 10, Snowe 15, Murkowski 15, Burr 10, Thune 10, and Cornyn 10 minutes)


A short point - counterpoint on the question of security contractor immunity: Contractors may fall under military law (Wa Times)

UPDATE @ 18:28

The Senate has moved to 90 minutes of debate on raising the debt limit to just shy of 10 trillion dollars.

20:16: Motion to concur with House on SCHIP H.R.976: Passed 67-29

20:31: Debt limit increase H.J.Res.43: Passed 53-42
A few surprising NAY votes: Boxer, Klobuchar, Lautenberg, Mikulski, Sanders

20:47: Continuing resolution H.J.Res.52: Passed 94-1
NAY Vote: Feingold

Hmmm ... the chair (Sanders) announced that Graham's amendment falls, as a result of passing the Kennedy/Smith amendment!? He also recited some odd disposition of the motion to recommit, using amendment numbers other than those actually associated with the motion to recommit. Neither disposition (Graham amendment, motion to recommit) comports with the what I heard with my own ears, or with the statements previously appearing in the record. Something else to check tomorrow.

Senator Webb's #2999 (original text - audit of Iraq contracts) was passed, as modified, on a voice vote.

21:15: Coburn's #2196: Rejected 26-69

Manager's package of amendments is passed. The Senate is moving on to vote on a pair of cloture motions, one for the substitute amendment, and the second on the underlying bill. The bill will not be passed tonight, nor tomorrow.

21:27: Cloture on Substitute Amdt #2011: Passed 89-6

Kennedy Amendment #3058 and a modifying amendment #3109 called up by Senator Reid. The amendment aims to increase the number of federal employees, and change the rules for obtaining contracts let by the federal government. Lots of details in this amendment. Senator Mikulski dubs it the "Remember Walter Reed" amendment.

Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76

No more votes tonight. The Senate will resume consideration of defense authorization in the morning. I'm off to watch the RedSox (now behind 5-3).

Besides the Graham and motion to recommit disposition, I also wonder about the cloture motion on the underlying bill, H.R.1585. Perhaps I missed a massive UC agreement sometime in the afternoon.

21:57: Senate stands adjourned until 10:30 a.m.

UPDATE @ Sept. 28

A couple of interesting articles on GTMO detainees.

U.S. to Allow Key Detainees to Request Lawyers (WaPo)

There went the argument that opening up to civilian lawyers is too big a security risk. Interesting that the ABA objects to the government citing it as a legal resource.

Supreme Court Preview: Detainee Rights on the Docket (Mother Jones) (h/t HowAppealing)

Has a summary of the underlying basis for detaining Boumediene, and notes in conclusion, a speculative comment by Neal Katyal, that the government will act in a way to avoid Court review, perhaps even going so far as to release Boumediene. I hadn't considered that possibility, but there's similar precedent where the government transferred Padilla from military detention and mooted a pending case.


I don't understand the basis for the procedural effects that flowed from invoking cloture on the hate crimes amendment, but here it is, straight from the Daily Digest for September 27.

The following motion and amendments fell when cloture was invoked on Kennedy/Smith S.Amdt.3035 (to the language proposed to be stricken by S.Amdt.2064):
  • Motion to recommit the bill to the Committee on Armed Services, with instructions to report back forthwith, with Reid S.Amdt.3038 (and #3039 and #3040), to change the enactment date.
  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt. 2064, to strike section 1023

One outcome is that the objectionable hate crimes language will proceed to conference. As for the objectionable CSRT language that was to be addressed by Graham/Kyl #2064, that may have been addressed in an amendment that is part of the manager's package or was quietly passed before the manager's package was passed ... I haven't looked for that yet.

The cloture motion on the underlying bill has been withdrawn by a UC agreement that includes agreement to vote on the bill as amended, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.


Mystery solved (that was easy). The hate crimes amendment itself accomplished the effect of removing the objectionable Sec.1023. Kennedy/Smith S.Amdt.3035 recites, "In lieu of the matter proposed to be stricken insert the following: ... [hate crimes Section 1070]". Said another way, "Remove Section 1023, and insert Section 1070."

I am rather embarrassed at having overlooked the language of the amendment, and construing, in error, the Digest language "to the language proposed to be stricken by S.Amdt.2064" as leaving Section 1023 in place, but in an amended form that would include hate crimes. A better Digest summary would have recited "in place of the language proposed to be stricken by S.Amdt.2064"

Live and learn. The digest, like case headnotes, is not a perfectly reliable substitute for construing the underlying record.


  • Levin S.Amdt.2011, in the nature of a substitute.
  • Kennedy S.Amdt.3058, to provide for certain public-private competition requirements.
  • Kennedy S.Amdt.3109 (to #3058), to provide for certain public-private competition requirements.

Over on the Executive Calendar side:

A unanimous consent agreement was reached providing that when the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs reports the nomination of Julie L. Myers, of Kansas, to be Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, it be sequentially referred to the Committee on the Judiciary for up to 30 calendar days and that if the nomination is not reported by the completion of that time the nomination be automatically discharged and placed on the executive calendar.

10:35: Senator Reid announces no roll call votes today. First vote at 5:30 p.m. Monday. By UC, the 5:30 p.m. Monday vote is on the bill, which seems to indicate Kennedy S.Amdt.3058 is dead in the water.

The general tenor of his speech is on appropriations, and the threat of vetos by President Bush. Business for next week: Defense appropriations will be started on Tuesday morning, Commerce-State-Justice appropriations after that.

H.R.2693 was read a second time and placed on the calendar. This bill is to have OSHA introduce standards for exposure to diacetyl (the butter smell and taste associated with popcorn).


11:19: Senator Warner notes that he's inclined to permit debate on the Kennedy amendments, in order to provide a record, but that at some point (Monday) they will be withdrawn so that the private-public competition issue can be placed before the appropriate Senate committee, which has so far not had an opportunity to consider the proposal.

12:57: The Senate stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. Monday. The schedule provides for one hour of morning business, and debate on H.R.1585 from 3:00 p.m. until it votes on final passage, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.


The President will veto State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)


An important ruling from the DC Circuit, relating to its opinion in Parker (the DC gun statute case), Judges evaluate an argument on gun access.

UPDATE @ Oct. 1

17:55: Kennedy #3058 Passed 51-44
GOP AYE Votes: Snowe, Specter, and Warner
DEM "not voting": Biden, Clinton, Dodd, and Obama

Modifying amendment, #3109, was withdrawn.

Defense Auth Subst. Amend. #2011 passed by previous agreement.
18:12: H.R.1585 Passed 92-3
NAY Votes: Byrd, Coburn, Feingold

Monday, September 17, 2007

Defense Authorization - Week Three [H.R.1585]

Friday's Senate Session ran from 9:45:48 to 9:46:15 a.m., a total of 27 seconds.

Week Three? Yes. This is the bill scuttled in July after a theatrical all-nighter dedicated to Levin/Reed S.Amdt.2087 (to provide for a reduction and transition of United States forces in Iraq), which culminated in a failed cloture vote. Rather than finish Defense Authorization with a couple days work, Senator Reid moved on to other subjects.

Week 1: Senate action on H.R.1585 in the Week of July 9, 2007.
Week 2: Senate action on H.R.1585 in the Week of July 16, 2007.
Week 3: The page you are viewing
Weeks 4 and 5: Senate action on H.R.1585 in the Weeks of Sept 24, and Oct 1, 2007.

H.R.1585 - Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Senate Counterpart Bills
S.1547 - National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Military Construction Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
S.1548 - Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008

Text of H.R.1585
(Engrossed in House - 1.4 Mb pdf with page numbering)
House Report 110-146 (Main Report : CBO Estimate)
Text of Senate Counterpart Bills
Text of S.1547
(Reported in Senate - 1.1 Mb pdf with page numbering)
Text of S.1548
(Reported in Senate - 860 kb pdf with page numbering)
Senate Report 110-77 (Main Report)
Senate Report 110-125 (Intelligence Committee Addendum - Revamp the CSRT process, removes the part of the bill that restricts the DoD granting of security clearance.)

White House Statements of Policy

On H.R.1585 - National Defense Authorization Act, FY 2008 (House 05/16/2007)
On S.1547 - National Defense Authorization Act, FY 2008 (Senate 07/10/2007)
On H.R.2956 - To require the Secretary of Defense to commence the reduction of the number of United States Armed Forces in Iraq to a limited presence by April 1, 2008 (House 07/12/2007)

Legislative Action
Text of Amendments

H.R.1585 Summary of Action

June 28, 2007: S.Amdt.2000
July 9, 2007: S.Amdts. 2003-2024
July 10, 2007: S.Amdts. 2026-2064
July 11, 2007: S.Amdts. 2065-2127, 2130
July 12, 2007: S.Amdts. 2131-2188
July 13, 2007: S.Amdts. 2189-2209
July 16, 2007: S.Amdts. 2210-2268
July 17, 2007: S.Amdts. 2270-2313
Sept 12, 2007: S.Amdts. 2862-2863
Sept 17, 2007: S.Amdts. 2864-2886
Sept 18, 2007: S.Amdts. 2889-2907
Sept 19, 2007: S.Amdts. 2909-2944
Sept 20, 2007: S.Amdts. 2945-3021
Sept 24, 2007: S.Amdts. 3023-3032
Sept 25, 2007: S.Amdts. 3033-3047
Sept 26, 2007: S.Amdts. 3048, 49, 58, 68-70, 73, 75
Sept 27, 2007: S.Amdts. 3076-3110
Oct 1, 2007: S.Amdts. 3112-3115

Debate of July 9, 2007: Part I
Debate of July 10, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV
Debate of July 11, 2007: Parts I-III - Part IV
Debate of July 12, 2007: Parts I-II - Part III
Debate of July 13, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III (Kyl)
Debate of July 16, 2007: Parts I-II - Part III (Kyl on detainees) - Part IV (Feinstein on GTMO) - Part V - Part VI
Debate of July 17, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III
Debate of Sept 17, 2007: Part I (Kyl) - Part II
Debate of Sept 18, 2007: Part I
Debate of Sept 19, 2007: Part I - Part II
Debate of Sept 20, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III
Debate of Sept 21, 2007: Part I
Debate of Sept 24, 2007: Part I (Lieberman/Kyl Amdt.)
Debate of Sept 25, 2007: Part I - Part II - Part III - Part IV - Part V - Part VI
Debate of Sept 26, 2007: Part I - Part II (votes: federalism & Iran) - Part III - Part IV - Part V
Debate of Sept 27, 2007: Part I (pass hate crime) - Part II (UC at end) - Part III
Debate of Sept 28, 2007: Part I - Part II
Debate of Oct 1, 2007: Part I - Part II (vote on passage)

After the selection was floated prominently for the weekend, the nomination of Judge Michael B. Mukasey for Attorney General will be announced today. He's a good pick. He'll be a calming influence on the DoJ and won't create a confirmation fight. I don't expect the underlying issues of US Attorney replacement (including fighting Congressional subpoenas) and the Terrorist Surveillance Program to be resolved either as a condition of consideration, or as result of confirmation. That is, those issues proceed status quo.

Speaking of surveillance, I notice a recent shift in rhetoric from "don't worry - no known Al Qaeda in the US" to "worry - sleeper cells among us."


A not-much discussed aspect of Iraq is the number of civilian personnel involved in the post-war rebuilding. Consider the [very biased and untrustworthy] source, but the core event reported in Blackwater License Being Pulled in Iraq (loss of license to operate) is probably true. The story hits on a number of points that will continue to be contentious (e.g., immunity from prosecution) as the nation building efforts grind on.


A brief summary at Volokh Conspiracy, of the procedural status of the Parker case, this being the DC gun-ban case that is being appealed to the Supreme Court. Significant Developments in DC Case on Handgun and Self-Defense Bans. The article notes significant "irregularities" in the city's petition for a writ of certiorari, primarily involving a failure to claim that the Circuit Court erred in construction of the long-gun aspects of its opinion, holding, and order.


Immigration in Defense Authorization

  • Feinstein's guest worker program for up to 1.5 million agricultural workers (S.340)
  • Durbin's DREAM Act (S.Amdt.2237 and S.Amdt.2919)

Expect continuation of Democrat proposals on ending military action in Iraq, and a do-over on the troop rotation proposals (time away from theater equal to time in theater, etc.). The content of amendments from July is very wide ranging (GTMO, habeas, get out of Iraq, immigration, environment, etc.), and fresh amendments are apt to pour in as well.

UPDATE @ 11:15

White House Fact Sheet on Michael Mukasey. I expect confirmation in slightly longer than the average of three weeks, and vocal but token opposition from the usual subjects. Mukasey's background and inclinations are well-know, and he's apt to stick to them.

President Bush Announces Judge Michael Mukasey as Nominee for Attorney General.

Until the Judge is confirmed, Assistant Attorney General Paul [sic] Keisler will serve as acting Attorney General. Accepting this assignment requires -- Peter -- I said -- Peter Keisler. Accepting this assignment requires Peter to delay the departure date he announced earlier this month, and I appreciate his willingness to do so. Peter is the acting Attorney General. Paul Clement, who agreed to take on this role, will remain focused on his duties as Solicitor General, so he can prepare for the Supreme Court term that begins just two weeks from today.

UPDATE @ 14:15

Senator Reid notes issues that will be debated under Defense Authorization:

  • Closing of the base at GTMO
  • Habeas Corpus
  • Detainee treatment - interrogation methods ("torture")
  • Duration of military action in Iraq

He says the Republicans are thwarting the will of the majority via filibuster or threat thereof, and calls on Republicans to join the Democrats to change the direction of the war in Iraq.

Next week the Senate will return to SCHIP in action on the conference committee report.


Senator McConnell calls for speedy hearing and vote on the nomination of Mukasey to be Attorney General.

UPDATE @ 15:55

Senator Leahy says he will, at some point, again bring Senator Specter's S.Amdt.2022. Consideration of this amendment was blocked by objection from Senator DeMint on July 10. The amendment relates to statutory habeas corpus provisions.

UPDATE @ 16:36

Senators Levin and Warner, as bill managers, pass a set of 50 amendments; set aside the amendments left pending when the bill was returned to the calendar in July, and made pending a substitute amendment, as well as dueling amendments: Specter/Leahy S.Amdt.2022 (habeas corpus) and Graham S.Amdt.2064 (CSRT's). [links are to July discussion, not to text of amendments].

UPDATE @ 19:10

After expressing frustration that the minority party has been obstructing progress in the Senate (I'm detecting a pattern here), Senator Reid filed a cloture motion to limit debate on Specter/Leahy S.Amdt.2022 (habeas corpus).

I wonder if he was relieved when the Republicans didn't object to straight up or down votes on the two amendments. Then let down when he was reminded that it takes only one objecting Senator to force the use of cloture. The 60 vote hurdle is ever-present for contentious matters.

UPDATE @ Sept 18

Happy National Farm Safety and Health Week!

A shift from Defense Authorization for a good part of the day, at least as a matter of the formally pending business.


Debate "on defense" is apt to be focused on the two pending amendments; Specter/Leahy habeas corpus and Graham CSRT process. There was some debate on those amendments yesterday, by Senators Kyl and Sessions. Unfortunately (and uncharacteristic of Senator Sessions), the "debate" was long on false assumptions and false effects.

For example, one argument against modifying the CSRT process is that 30 of the released detainees turned around and engaged in hostilities on a foreign battlefield. I don't understand the lesson or object there. Is it that the rule should be "once detained, detained for life?" That there should be no releases? What of Hicks, the recently-released Australian who has since renounced Islam? Is the lesson that the government while the current CSRT procedures were in place makes bad judgment calls by releasing people who should be detained? "30 returned to the battlefield" has great superficial appeal, but without more, it's only useful as a point of distraction.

"We" currently have some 65,000 detainees in Iraq. That's an appropriate place to keep combatants, and those detainees don't come under the umbrella of CSRT. The government chooses who is removed from that group, transported elsewhere, and subjected to "CSRT treatment." Is it reasonable to expect the evidence -- supporting a finding that the person subjected to "CSRT treatment" is a terrorist -- to be very strong, almost beyond reproach? If it is, then how does one explain that over half of the initial detainees were released?

Senator Kyl used the Nuremberg trials as an example of "good procedure," where the defendants had little in the way of trial procedure, discovery, and so forth. I don't know the details, and it would be interesting to learn the evidence that put each of those defendants on trial. I suspect each was a public figure, who gave and signed orders, and the orders were put into evidence. In such a case, exculpatory evidence is merely a dilatory tactic -- and if my sense of the defendants at Nuremberg is accurate, that trial doesn't facilitate exploration of a process to separate "wrongfully detained" people from those who should be detained for life or killed.

See too, the fact pattern and detention period of the 21 plaintiff/defendants in Johnson v. Eisentrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950).

I don't see habeas rights as a GTMO issue, even though that's the lens it's cast in. Senator Sessions said yesterday, "Let me note that during World War II, there were 425,000 enemy combatants held within the United States, none of who were allowed relief through habeas petitions." Held within the US, not entitled to habeas. The core questions regarding the rendering of fair and impartial justice lie in a place other than being detained at GTMO.

President Bush has indicated that he would veto the Defense Authorization Bill if it is passed with the language of Sec. 1023 as it stands, unamended; and Graham's S.Amdt.2064 removes Sec. 1023 lock, stock and barrel. I consider the details on this subject "very fluid," with a credible veto threat on one side, and a willingness to compromise on the other. Senator Graham has noted an inclination to modify his CSRT amendment (S.Amdt.2064) before having it debated and voted on.

Senate July 12, 2007 - Page S9076: Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I had intended to offer amendment No. 2064 to strike certain provisions of the bill regarding detainee procedures, legal procedures affecting detainees. I have been talking with Senator Levin and his staff to see if there is some common ground we can find about this CSRT process at Guantanamo Bay--Combatant Status Review Tribunals. There are some ideas that Senator Levin has that I am going to associate myself with.


Hearing on Warrantless Surveillance and FISA - Pt. II (scheduled for 11 a.m today)
Press Release - Announcement
Committee Letter and questions to DNI McConnell

There are some fair questions in there. The answers aren't included in DNI McConnell's prepared remarks.


12:30: Coburn's S.Amdt.2888, to provide DC College Access assistance to students who attend private schools, was REJECTED on a 38 - 59 vote.
GOP against full choice: Barrasso, Collins, Grassley, Murkowski, Snowe, Specter, and Warner

12:53: H.R.1124 - DC College Access Act, was PASSED on a 96 - 0 vote.

Senator Byrd did not vote, which is unusual.


Very interesting comparison between Blackwater and military approach to personnel security.


Hahahah. Susan Collins says "I have an eloquent speech, and ask it to be printed in the record." She's in favor of granting a representative to the residents in the District of Columbia, and to have the Courts sort it out.

14:52: The cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the consideration of S.1257, to give the District of Columbia a representative in the House, was [guessed 56-38 at 15:00] REJECTED on a 57 - 42 vote.
Senator Byrd was the sole absent Senator.

15:08: Senator Smith attempted to bring up Hate Crimes legislation in the form of Senator Kennedy's S.Amdt.2067, and was shot down by objection from Senator McCain on the grounds that this is a Defense Bill, cramped for time.

Senator Biden rose to call up his S.Amdt.2335, but backed down from the formality of introducing the amendment at this time. The amendment calls for upgrading all Hum-Vees to the up-armored version. I again suggest a reading of this comparison between Blackwater and military approach to personnel security.

15:21: Senator Reid described the debate "form" or "schedule" of handling Iraq measures (these are the contentious proposals such as troop rotation, pullout, restricted funding, etc.), as being brought up within the venue of Defense Authorization rather than standing separately.

16:21: Senator Durbin's DREAM Act, S.Amdt.2237, makes its expected appearance. It wasn't debated last time Defense Authorization came around. My guess is Senator Durbin gets a chance to talk about this before it's relegated to disposal on a point of order. If this can't pass in the context of Immigration Reform (S.1639), College Cost Reduction (H.R.2669), or Homeland Security (H.R.2638) why should it pass in the context of defense authorization?

UPDATE @ Sept 19

Another withdrawn nomination, "Anita K. Blair, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, which was sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007."

Judge Mukasey's nomination hasn't yet been submitted to the Senate.

Unrelated, but an interesting tidbit about degraded GPS facilities.


Senator Sessions on the DREAM Act


One hour of debate starting just after 9:30 this morning, followed by a cloture vote (at about 10:30) to limit debate on the Specter/Leahy/Dodd "habeas corpus" amendment. Brief discussion from July, and in the same post, repeated here in case others are inclined to fact find for themselves, read S.185 - Habeas Corpus Restoration Act of 2007, as well as the accompanying Senate Report 110-90. (Senator Specter introduced the same language late in the 109th Congress, S.4081).

The amendment isn't as simple or black and white as the sound bite politics make it out to be, and the "right" to habeas is intertwined with the CSRT process and the more or less universally recognized desire to make minimal error in use of force against innocents, and to give a fair (and checkably so) shake to all accused.

To the extent the system fails to meet those fundamental expectations, there's plenty of blame to go around -- Congress for not acting to form a tribunal system in the first place, and the administration for demanding (and getting) lack of transparency while filling the power vacuum with its own novel (new) "system of secret justice." Some of my previous coverage and opinion:

Senator Specter on Legal Process for Detainees (Sept 25, 2006)

[Quoting Senator Specter on Sept 20] "The fact is, Congress has been derelict in its duty in providing rules for military commissions, and it is our responsibility under article I, section 8. The Senator from Illinois and I filed legislation shortly after 9/11, 2001, to accomplish that, as did other Senators. [Bills were offered in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and now in 2006] The Congress did not act because this issue has been too hot to handle, too complicated, too dicey. It is not to the credit of the Congress, which sat back and did nothing."


Establishing Military Commissions (Sept 26, 2006)

I think this bill will bite us in the ass. I think the Republicans engaged in sloppy rhetoric and logic (not that the DEMs did any better), and in some cases, outright misrepresentation (not that the DEMs did any better). There were many many straw men set up and knocked down, many invalid comparisons and parallels, godawful implicit assumptions that "took" the final question as answered (everyone we are talking about is the worst of the worst, therefore I'll talk about something other than how the United States will determine who is the worst of the worst), and in general an absence of serious debate.

Some of the better Senate debate on the subject (this year) was conducted between Senators Specter and Graham on March 7 and with Senators Kyl, Specter and Graham on March 8.

In my opinion, there's no urgent need to take up this amendment, because the issues, with all of their warts, are squarely before the Courts. SCOTUS made a rare reversal when it decided to rehear the Boumediene case. See this June 29 entry for additional links and discussion of that under-reported event, and this from June 11, on al-Marri.

I still hold my speculation that Specter's sense of urgency is driven by a desire to not have the Courts chastise Congress for its manifest shortcomings in this area. But it's too late for that, and the eventual settling point will be better if the legislation follows (or limits, as the case may be) the holding of the Supreme Court.

As noted above, the habeas point doesn't, on its own, settle matters. The other pieces of the puzzle involve the CSRT process itself, and could be broached in the context of Graham's S.Amdt.2064. Seeing as how the Senate is at least as dysfunctional now as it was last year, I expect the same outcome this time around -- that being that CSRT and habeas will be "per details established by the administration, and not by Congress." I predict this cloture motion will not get the 60 votes it needs to pass.

09:46: Senator Graham is misrepresenting the effect of the proposed bill, right off the bat, as giving habeas rights to soldiers. He finally narrows the effect of the proposed law to what it really is, that being limited to -some- of the detainees at GTMO. But he's glossing over the important distinction between "enemy combatant" and "unlawful enemy combatant." How important? The military judges at GTMO have dismissed every case brought before them (okay, there have only been two) on the distinction, and appeal of those dismissals is still pending.

Nothing in this proposed amendment would fetter battlefield conduct and the usual law of war, contrary to Senator Graham's hype.

09:56: Senator Specter's habeas argument is based on finding the CSRTs to be fundamentally unfair, and he wants the Courts to fill that void. He's incorrect in stating the Congress established CSRT's though, except in the sense of being a rubberstamp formality for administration-proposed language.

10:08: Senator Kyl's "enemy combatants" argument is a straw man. POW cases (10 USC) are expressly kept in that military law venue by the proposed amendment, being forbidden from bleeding over to civilian courts (28 USC). I do agree with Kyl's note that it's better to wait for the Court to decide, than to continue the whipsaw action.

I have to laugh at the "this is not the US criminal process," following the description of released prisoners going right back to their old tricks. Sounds like the usual process to me. Incarcerate the innocent and release the guilty. Looks like the military isn't any more successful in sorting out the players than are civilian judges. Welcome to the real world.

I'm curious as to the release of the names of 200 unindicted co-conspirators. How many were on "wanted" posters, so that release of their supposedly-classified "wanted" status amounts to a non-issue?

Google search: Omar Rahman unindicted coconspirators -- Wow. This hits on US Justice Dept to Co-Sponsor Convention of ISNA - Unindicted Co-Conspirator in HLF Trial (note the recently released list of unindicted co-conspirators here? Same issue that Kyl bemoaned, is it not?)

Ali A. Mohamed's name was No. 109 on the list of unindicted coconspirators in the Brooklyn cell. The former Green Beret was never charged in the case, but he was well-known to prosecutors and FBI agents -- as an FBI informant, as an untrustworthy individual, and as a man who had attracted the attention of U.S. military intelligence.

Ali Mohamed and the 1993 WTC Bombing

Murky stuff, indeed.

10:47: Cloture vote begins. Predictions: vote concludes at 11:20 with cloture being rejected on a 56-39 vote.

11:10: I have 44 Nay votes on my informal tally - cloture can't be invoked. Hey, my tally was right, then Snowe changed her vote to Aye. Not a bad guess all around, except the Senate was quicker on getting its vote done than I thought they would be, and more of them were "in" than I thought.

11:11 The cloture motion to limit debate on S.Amdt.2022, to restore statutory habeas corpus to certain cases, was REJECTED on a 56 - 43 vote.
GOP Aye votes: Hagel, Lugar, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Sununu
DEM Nay vote: Lieberman

UPDATE @ 11:22

Senator Levin notes Graham S.Amdt.2064 will be set aside, as progress is being made on negotiating changes to it.

Webb/Hagel troop rotation amendment is to be brought up, and Senator McCain notes that a Warner "sense of the Senate" amendment will be offered in a side-by-side competition with Webb. Further, that he'd like to have a time agreement on the combined debate. Senator Levin hedges on whether or not there will be direct 60 vote hurdles for the amendments, only saying that agreement there will be part of a larger unanimous consent agreement.

The Webb/Hagel troop rotation amendment is S.Amdt.2909, the text of which is not available in the Congressional Record.

[#2909 is at Page 11759]

UPDATE @ 13:00

On Blackwater operations in Iraq, this from AP:

"It will be difficult for the Iraqi government to make them leave the country because they protect the embassy," said an aide to al-Maliki. "Maybe they will make a commitment that they study their moves" or agree to change the name of the company.

LOL. "Change the name of the company." I don't think Iraqis are stupid, sheesh.

A 2004 regulation issued by the U.S. occupation authority granted security contractors full immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law. Unlike American military personnel, the civilian contractors are also not subject to U.S. military law either.

Hassan al-Rubaie, a member of the parliament's Security and Defense Committee, said an investigative committee has been formed to consider lifting the contractors' immunity.

Now that's a good gig, immunity all around. Plus, working for Blackwater involves more effective protection (e.g., better vehicles), and pays better than being in the military.

UPDATE @ 16:00

Look for votes starting shortly after 5:15 p.m. on a side-by-side competition between the Webb amendment and what will be a McCain amendment for the "sense of the Senate" on the same subject. Each amendment being subjected to a 60 vote hurdle for passing.

UPDATE @ 18:22

Both the Webb and McCain amendments failed to obtain 60 votes. [ Yaaaawn ]

Webb #2909: 56 - 44 vote
McCain #2918: 55 - 45 vote

The "usual suspects" crossed over on the Webb amendment: Coleman, Collins, Hagel, Smith, Snowe and Sununu - Lieberman. Hagel didn't even vote Aye for the McCain amendment; but Bayh, Biden, Johnson, Landrieu, Lieberman, and both Nelsons did.


Senator Cornyn reintroduces his resolution condemning the NYT advertisement. [S.Amdt.2934] Senator Durbin says the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth were likewise impugning the military, and calls for a repudiation of their activity too, for consistency's sake. Is Senator Kerry running for higher office again? Senator Boxer chimes in against the Swifties.

UPDATE @ Sept 20

President Bush has not yet sent the formal nomination of Michael B. Mukasey to the Senate. What the public record shows is an intention to nominate, but not yet a nomination to the Senate. I hope the "intention to nominate" wasn't given in the same vein as Senator Craig's intention to resign. [Bad joke]


Beldar has the best coverage and commentary regarding the Rather v. CBS complaint


The White House is pushing FISA modernization and retroactive immunity.

President Bush Discusses the Protect America Act of 2007
Fact Sheet: FISA 101: Why FISA Modernization Amendments Must Be Made Permanent

Senator Reid's brief response.


[Mr. Reid]: We also are going to have a vote at noon on Monday. Everyone should be aware of that. It is not going to be a judge's vote, it is going to be an important vote.

I noticed this when Senator Reid said it yesterday, and speculate that the "important vote" is either on some aspect of conduct of the Iraq war, or on the issue of appropriations in general, and the prospect of government shutdown if appropriations aren't passed by the end of September. Senator Reid has been beating the "Republican obstructionist" drum steadily.

Still, I'm curious as to precisely what he has up his sleeve. Three day advance notice of a specific Monday noon vote strikes me as odd, for many reasons. We'll know soon enough. This sort of vote scheduling is part of a larger media campaign.

Maybe the vote will be on Senator Durbin's "modified DREAM Act." (S.Amdt.2919 - discussed in a Washington Times article by Stephen Dinan, 'Dream' for illegals gets a wake-up call)


Federation of American Scientists commentary and links in US Embassy in Baghdad Sees Widespread Iraqi Corruption reads to me as a precursor to the replacement of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The draft report has been out at least since August 30.


  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt.2064, to strike section 1023, relating to the granting of civil rights to terror suspects.
  • Cornyn S.Amdt.2934, to express the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and the integrity of General Petraeus and all the members of the United States Armed Forces.
Past "review" of Graham's S.Amdt.2064


Senator Reid has S.2070 - A bill to prevent Government shutdowns, placed on the calendar. It was first read last night. This is a 100% Republican bill, not one of the 15 sponsor/co-sponsors is a Democrat.

Senator DeMint Press Release - September 19, 2007
Republican legislation would prevent another shutdown - by Alexander Bolton (The Hill)

Pure speculation on my part: a Democrat will object to proceeding to the bill (arguing that the Congress would be well able to pass the appropriations but for Republican obstruction), and a cloture motion will be filed by the Republican side. The important vote on Monday will be on the cloture motion on the motion to proceed. The stage is being set to cast blame on Republicans for failing to pass appropriations.

UPDATE @ 10:06

Senator Coburn notes that the Congress is about to increase the debt limit, and he extends his remarks to unfunded future liabilities. The debt limit is somewhere just south of 9 trillion dollars, and the unfunded federal liabilities are on the order of 70 trillion dollars. Those numbers are so big that they defy comprehension.

If one had a business at the time Jesus Christ was living, and it lost one million dollars per day, every day since then, that business wouldn't be even one trillion dollars in debt until seven hundred years from now.

UPDATE @ 12:15

Voting on dueling "the public is mean" amendments. Maybe the Senate can bring back the dueling pardon amendments, when the Democrats were chastising President Bush for commuting Scooter Libby's sentence, and the Republicans were chastising President Clinton for a pocketful of last-minute pardons.

60 votes being required to pass, one of two measures fell:

Boxer #2947: Rejected 51-46 vote
Cornyn #2934: Passed 72-25 vote

Boxer's argument about "blaming organizations" (or avoiding such) was a hoot. The Senate and House OFTEN invoke outside organizations, both pro and con. See ACLU, Heritage Society, Federalists and the ABA, assorted environmentalist organizations, PETA, and so on. All these debates and votes prove is that election politics doesn't end with elections, and that there is room for election politics on the floor of Congress. Same old, same old.

13:00: Next up, Feingold #2924 for two hours of debate, 90 minutes under Senator Feingold's control, 30 minutes under Senator McCain's control. A 60 vote hurdle is in place for this amendment. Feingold's amendment calls for what amounts to pull-out of Iraq by June 30, 2008.

Senator McCain asks whether the Levin/Reed amendment follows, whether each Iraq related amendment be conducted with a 60 vote hurdle, and if all amendments are to be filed by 3:00 p.m. today? Senator Levin says those are roughly his understandings, and that formal agreement close to those parameters (the DEMs have been given until 4:00 p.m. to file amendments) is likely.

Senator McCain says he doubts he'll need 30 minutes of time to make his points in opposition, and suggests a vote on the Feingold amendment could happen well before the two hours allotted for debate.

Voting started at 14:54, and concluded at 15:18.
Feingold #2924: Rejected 28-70


Press Conference by the President - September 20, 2007

Senator Leahy on today's SJC Meeting - See comments pertaining to judicial nominations, starting about half way down the page (following remarks about the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act).

No more votes today. Debate on Levin/Reed today and tomorrow, with a vote on that tomorrow. Then on to a Biden amendment (also tomorrow). Action on Defense Authorization will continue on Monday. Senator Reid also announced a vote on the conference report for H.R.1495 - Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). but I'm not clear if that vote will be a brief interruption to Defense Authorization, or follow it. The House passed the WRDA conference report on August 1st.

Still missing from the schedule: Graham's S.Amdt.2064 dealing with Section 1023/CSRT's. Section 1023 is a will veto matter, so leaving it unresolved as a matter of Senate debate doesn't leave it unresolved in the end.

15:57: Schedule details A vote on Levin/Reed S.Amdt.2898 is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, followed by taking up a Biden amendment. There is no time agreement on debate of the Biden amendment, and according to what I pick up from Senator McCain's comments, an amendment by Kyl/Lieberman will run side-by-side with the Biden amendment.

Senator Reid discloses that the noon Monday vote is on WRDA, and the Monday timing was based on objection from a Republican. If it wasn't for that objection, the WRDA vote would be conducted at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow. So, the threat of a noon Monday vote (an arbitrary schedule set by Reid) is meant to bring pressure to the objecting Republican, because Senators normally use Monday as a travel day, not a voting day.

UPDATE @ 18:30

The Kyl/Lieberman amendment is a sense of the Senate on the subject of Iran, and has been introduced. It will be listed as one of several pending amendments when the Senate resumes tomorrow.

This from Patterico had me laughing from the get go. Somebody get John Dean an interview with Olberman.


On the subject of government surveillance, the blog post Does it Help our Enemies and Hurt Americans when Congress Debates Surveillance Programs? builds on a Reuters article, Eavesdrop debate will cost U.S. lives: spy chief.

My suggestion is to have a vigorous and very public debate, followed by a passing of a law that has strong protection for personal privacy. Now, here's the trick. The law is to be phony, a shell, meant to FOOL people, not meant to be followed. Just like the current privacy law -- there in appearance only, but not followed in fact. Make it so any disclosure of "breaking the law" (e.g., Risen's article in the NYT that disclosed the Terrorist Surveillance Program) is punishable as disclosing a state secret.

If some joker of a judge doesn't "get it," that that law is meant to be phony, Congress can step in and grant retroactive immunity. Repeat the cycle of false indignation, Congressional debate, passing privacy protection laws, ignoring the law, and granting immunity when caught, as necessary. Usually enough time will elapse between "getting caught" events that people won't catch on. The last time Congress was playing the false indignation role was 30 years ago. Meanwhile, prosecution of leakers and the press should keep public awareness to a minimum, and might make for a longer cycle time.

The hearing was by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was titled "Administration Views of FISA Authorities". I haven't seen a transcript or other record, and the Reuters article linked above lacks necessary context for DNI McConnell's statement.

20:37: Adjourned until 9:15 tomorrow. Senator Kerry droned tonight. Senator Sessions was off in the corner muttering, "Don't tase me bro'!"

UPDATE @ Sept 21

The Senate debated without debating [plus Sept 21 debate with debating] and passed H.R.3580 - Amending the Food and Drug Act. See S.1082 and Senator Grassley speech of July 26 for more of the Senate action on this bill.


One vote today, that on the Levin/Reed amendment, and that vote at 10:00 a.m. The phony crisis with the Monday noon vote on WRDA has been averted, the WRDA vote will be Monday evening.

  • Graham/Kyl S.Amdt.2064, to strike section 1023
  • Levin/Reed S.Amdt.2898, to provide for a reduction and transition of United States forces in Iraq. [rejected 47-47]
  • Kyl/Lieberman S.Amdt.3017, to express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran.

I noticed in the prayer, both notice of a Jewish holiday (Yom Kippur) and, talking to God now, thanking Him for His sacrifice, which I took as a reference to Jesus Christ. One of the hazards, I suppose, of non-denominational prayer.

As many people prepare for Yom Kippur, we thank You for Your atoning sacrifice that purchased our freedom.

10:22: Levin/Reed #2898: Rejected 47-47
GOP Aye votes: Hagel, Smith, Snowe (Hagel, Smith and Snowe were cosponsors)

See for comparison, the July 18 failed cloture vote on Levin's #2087: Rejected 52-47
GOP Aye votes: Collins, Hagel, Smith, Snowe (Hagel, Smith and Snow were cosponsors).

Looks as though the "pull out" sentiment has lost steam, not gained it. Adding in the not-voters would have produced a 50-50 split today.

10:22: Schedule details Vote on Biden/Brownback "sense of the Senate" amendment #2997 around 10:15 a.m. Tuesday, a vote on the Kyl/Lieberman #3017 (Iran) amendment shortly after that.

A bit of back and forth between Senators Levin and McCain on the Wounded Warrior legislation, which is being held up by GOP objection to naming conferees - until the House passes its version of Wounded Warrior.

Senator Biden notes GOP cosponsors Brownback, Specter, Smith and Hutchison for his "federalism for Iraq" or a "political surge" for Iraq.

11:22: Senator Warner saying political reconciliation needs to come from the top down, not from the bottom up. We need more centralized government and control, says he -- and less input from the people. Damn those voters.


US Resumes Blackwater Convoys in Iraq. Totally predictable outcome. The call is for money compensation, and an end to immunity. The victims might get money (probably not), but there is no way that Blackwater will operate unless it has immunity. Remove immunity, and the private security details will leave. The US needs the private security details, therefore the US will not permit an end to immunity. See also Blackwater Iraq killings highlight lack of legal recourse against US contractors: NYT.


Actions/News from the White House ...

Presidential Declaration of Continuation of National Emergency

The President has named Adam Belmar to be Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications for Production. Mr. Belmar currently serves as Senior Producer of "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" at ABC News.

As of the morning of September 21, President Bush has not sent a formal nomination of Michael B. Mukasey to the Senate.

UPDATE @ 13:45

Various speeches, not on the bill. Senator Hatch talked about nominees, including Mukasey, and then went onto judicial nominees in particular -- calling for votes on Southwick and Elrod, and rebutting the charge that he was "pocket filibustering" President Clinton's judicial nominations.

And as if on cue, Mukasey Nomination Sent to the Senate.


Green ... what can't be obtained by legislation, by golly, can be obtained by executive fiat and regulation.

Q Does the U.S. oppose the EU's plan to impose strict tailpipe emissions? And can you discuss the progress of the White House working group on C02 emissions, tailpipe regulations?

CHAIRMAN CONNAUGHTON: It's our philosophy that each nation has the sovereign capacity to decide for itself what its own portfolio of policies should be. So Europe should be setting its objectives, just as the United States sets its own objectives.

I would observe on your specific question, the President, in his State of the Union address, has committed to replace 20 percent of gasoline by -- within the next 10 years, and we're doing that for the purposes of improving energy security, and he was very clear it's also for the purposes of reducing greenhouse gasses.

In April of this year, in an executive order, he directed the Secretary of Transportation and the Administrator of the EPA to go ahead and try to achieve that through regulations, even as we are waiting on Congress to do that through legislation. It is remarkable -- the President put forward the most aggressive proposal for replacing gasoline last January; he asked Congress to achieve that objective by the summer driving season. Well, school is back in, where's the legislation? We'd like to see legislation, but we're not going to wait for it. We're going to do it through regulation anyway. And so that's a good sign of our own pursuit of this strategy.


Senator Murkowski said she has been working with Senator Casey on a "diplomatic surge" amendment for Iraq. (S.Amdt.2931) Move over, Senator Biden, you have competition. Not really, the two amendments cover substantially different territory, and neither one of them includes an admonition to work on a Status of Forces Agreement, as Lugar/Warner #2208 does.

14:24: Adjourned until 2 p.m. Monday

UPDATE @ Sept 22

Senator Dorgan's speech harped on a few interesting memes.

  • safe haven for al Queda (the Senator was incensed at the notion of "safe haven," rather than taking the term as impugning the countries that grant it)
  • "A [FBI informant, Donald Vance] whistleblower who saw illegal activity, saw the selling of improper guns in Iraq [by a private US military contractor], some to insurgents, he felt, went to authorities. His country, the United States of America, held him prisoner for 97 days. No habeas corpus ... No right to contact an attorney. If this doesn't disturb the American people, I don't know what will disturb the American people."
  • Fraud and waste by government contractors, taking advantage of the limited extent of oversight
  • The system for whistleblowing to the feds on fraud and corruption is a sham and a fraud

That Donald Vance story is intriguing. I wonder what's behind it.

CBS, the NYT and MSNBC like the guy, he earned a prize that was also given to Kristen Breitweiser. With friends like that, the automatic conclusion reached by many conservative Republicans will be that Vance's story is politically motivated baloney. See Freepers for a classic example. That knee-jerk reaction is certain to be repeated elsewhere if the story gets any traction.

Donald Vance has the nerve to sue the Donald Rumsfeld and the US government. The case is Vance v. Rumsfeld (1:06-cv-06964), filed in the Northern District of Illinois and assigned to Judge Shadur, reassigned to Judge Andersen on February 21st. The amended complaint, filed on February 12, 2007, is available here (470 kb pdf). Without looking at the case, the government's defense is "state secret." Vance loses again. HaHa!

[Off to get the docket ... the government moved to transfer the case out of Illinois, and the most recent action, September 19th, is a Court Order denying the Motion to Transfer. The government hasn't yet answered the complaint, being granted an extension until 30 days after the venue decision was rendered, and no Discovery Order has been issued. It's not yet time to find a substantive objection, on grounds of state secret or anything else. On reading a number of the hearing transcripts, the government's defense appears to be more rooted in inability to bring civil rights actions (Bivens) against the military, than in state secret.]

The devil in me is contemplating dropping a hint that this case, being in the Northern District of Illinois, is in Patrick Fitzgerald's jurisdiction. I wonder how many people will, independently of any instigation, "blame Fitzgerald" for this case. Makes as much sense as blaming Fitzgerald for classified information being inadvertantly disclosed to defense in the Holy Land Case in Texas.

Interesting coincidence? or a different Donald Vance? Ahhh ... looks to be an older, therefore different Donald Vance.

BLITZER: .. in addition to being a good friend, you of course have been the [Chandra Levy] family's longtime personal attorney

The law firm representing the Iraq-incarcerated Donald Vance? Loevy and Loevy.


S.456 - Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 was "debated" and passed. More gang-related activity being made a federal offense. When I was a kid, we used to joke "Don't make a federal offense out of it!" This passage is an early step in the legislative process. The House's counterpart, H.R.1582, is still in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security. If you read through the bill, note that Senator Feinstein's S.Amdt.3022 strikes all of Section 215, on prohibition of firearms possession.


Monday schedule:

  • 2:00 p.m. - Open for morning business
  • 3:00 p.m. - Take up H.R.1495 - Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)
  • 5:45 p.m. - Vote on passage of WRDA Conference Report
Tuesday schedule:
  • 10:00 a.m. - Open and move immediately to H.R.1585 - Defense Auth
  • Debate Biden/Brownback #2997, "political-federalism surge," for 30 minutes
  • Vote on Biden/Brownback with 60 vote threshold
  • Debate Kyl/Lieberman #3017, to express the sense of the Senate regarding Iran

Senate Judiciary Committee
Tuesday September 25, 9:30 a.m.: Strengthening FISA: Does the Protect America Act Protect Americans' Civil Liberties and Enhance Security?
Thursday, September 27, 10:00 a.m.: Hearings to examine S.1267, S.2035 (both are press shield measures) and other proposed legislation

House Committee on Armed Services
Wednesday, September 26, 10:00 a.m.: to mark up H.R. 2826, to restore habeas corpus for individuals detained at GTMO


Donald Vance, move over, you have company. Sort of.

Feds Target Blackwater in Weapons Probe - AP

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether employees of the private security firm Blackwater USA illegally smuggled into Iraq weapons that may have been sold on the black market and ended up in the hands of a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, officials said Friday. ... two former Blackwater employees - Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth "Max" Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. - are cooperating with federal investigators.

The North Carolina investigation was first brought to light by State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, who mentioned it, perhaps inadvertently, this week while denying he had improperly blocked fraud and corruption probes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WH Presser of Sept 21 - mostly about Blackwater