Boston Globe letter: Under Obama, war, and terror, go on

Responding to an extensive Boston Globe article on President Obama, I point out in a Letter-to-the-Editor published in today's Globe that the article's author erred in crediting Obama with rolling back President Bush's War on Terror. Far from it, in fact:

The national security state has continued to make gains under Obama, and it surely has kept the inroads it made under George W. Bush. Secrecy is the order of the day, including the administration’s self-protective invocation of so-called national security to thwart court cases seeking money damages and answers by victims of our security agencies and those they surreptitiously fund in dark corners around the world.


In terms of civil liberties, there may be some change on the margins here and there, but by and large, “change you can believe in’’ has shown its true colors: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"Under Obama, war, and terror, go on," Boston Globe, January 31, 2011

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Are you a real doctor?

Or, how I almost got a degree in nuclear physics.

Comments (0) Bullying Free Speech

On, I take on the renewed effort by federal lawmakers to ratchet-up anti-harassment measures on campus. As FIRE has learned in its decade of experience, charges of "harassment" are already easily the most abused tool to punish speech on campus. Even if well-intentioned (and, alas, much of the ruination of today's liberal arts institutions of higher education have resulted from initially good intentions), this proposal, with restrictions that are redundant and broad, will doubtless serve to further impede student discourse.

"Bullying Free Speech," (January 6, 2011)

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Wall Street Journal editorial shines light on overcriminalization, statutory vagueness

Three Felonies a Day is front-and-center in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal today, "A Fewer Felonies Rule." Underscoring the need for more common sense in the federal criminal code, the editorial praises a bipartisan effort to require all bills to be reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, after a study found that some 450 new federal laws were created from 2000-2007, many of which lacked basic mens rea requirements.

In his book "Three Felonies a Day," attorney Harvey Silverglate describes how the proliferation of criminal statutes has made every American an unwitting felon. That's one reason some prominent legal minds want House Republicans to make a simple rule change to subject new criminal laws to greater scrutiny.

Read the full editorial here.

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Citing Three Felonies a Day, Wall Street Journal columnist criticizes options backdating cases

What was once described as the business crime of the century has now become yet another series of questionable prosecutions, writes Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins in today's paper. Options backdating, described as a fairly meaningless violation of accounting rules, was once trumpeted as a serious defrauding of a company's shareholders. In response to this media-fueled fire, prosecutors indicted scores of executives. As has been made clear after a series of recent judicial rebukes, prosecutors often went to great lengths--including pressuring witnesses to tailor testimony to fit prosecutors' preferred version of events--to prove their case. Writes Jenkins:

Meanwhile, the larger lessons of the backdating furor were drawn in an epic piece in May in the American Bar Association's ABA Journal. By freelance reporter Anna Stolley Persky, the piece connected the dots between (among other things) the backdating witch-hunt, the tainted prosecution of Sen. Ted Stevens, and the government's use of the vague "honest services" statute to criminalize various kinds of behavior post hoc (a practice the Supreme Court finally curbed earlier this year).

One critique can be found in the title of a book by Boston defense attorney Harvey Silverglate: "Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent." Mr. Silverglate believes that only a mobilization of "civil society" can stop what he calls rampant abuse of prosecutorial discretion.

Click here to read the full column on

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