Ghailani verdict makes stronger case for military detentions

Posted by , 19th November 2010

Ahmed Khakfan GhailaniBenjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith
11/19/2010

The conclusion of Ahmed Ghailani’s trial has brought forth considerable criticism of President Obama’s insistence that such cases proceed in civilian federal courts. However, the popular alternative of a military tribunal is equally fraught and problematic; the detractors have not considered the unique difficulties of that venue or the likelihood of a similar result. The real alternative is continued military detention without trial. An acquittal outcome, risked in either venue, would present disastrous alternatives and should not be risked when an acceptable course of action is available.

Wittes is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Goldsmith teaches at Harvard Law School and served as an assistant attorney general in the Bush administration. Both are members of the Hoover Institution’s Task Force on National Security and Law.

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The trap of the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate

Posted by , 18th November 2010

Money printingGeorge F. Will
11/18/2010

In 1977 Congress gave the Federal Reserve a “dual mandate” to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.” Given this mandate, the Fed has begun to print $60 billion, essentially creating another stimulus under the name of “quantitative easing.” Will points out that “maximizing employment” is a political role that has expanded to include staving off all the social ills that come with unemployment, from low self-esteem to violent crime. A repeal of the dual mandate is essential to prevent the Fed from becoming ruinously intertwined with politics.

Will is a twice-weekly columnist for The Post, writing about foreign and domestic politics and policy.

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This Lame Duck Session Should Be the Last

Posted by , 18th November 2010

John BoehnerBetsy McCaughey
11/18/2010

In 1933, Americans ratified the 20th Amendment to eliminate lame duck Congresses. Yet McCaughey says Washington has been ignoring its intent for two decades, hurrying back to the capital after Election Day to deal with spending bills and controversial legislation they deliberately had avoided before the election. When John Boehner, the presumptive House speaker, takes charge in January, he should introduce a bill providing that Congress will not meet between the November 2012 election and Jan. 3, 2013. That simple change in the law will put the voters back where they always belong: in charge.

McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York state, is the author of “Obama Health Law: What It Says and How to Overturn It” (Encounter Books, 2010).

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A vote of not much confidence in Nancy Pelosi

Posted by , 18th November 2010

Nancy PelosiDana Milbank
11/18/2010

Nancy Pelosi has won the minority leader post in the incoming Congress through a bruising process. 68 Democrats preferred to postpone the decision in a clear vote of no confidence in the outgoing Speaker. Departing members spoke frankly to the media of the difficulty she presented them in their bids for re-election and the challenges of leading after presiding over such deep losses. Democrats are concerned that her continued leadership will not connect with American voters who have spoken decisively against the Congress’ record under her watch.

Milbank writes about political theater in the nation’s capital.

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In memoir, Bush spins fiscal fiction

Posted by , 17th November 2010

George Bush Jr.Ruth Marcus
11/17/2010

Marcus was surprised not to read any fiscal regret in Bush’s “Decision Points.” In fact, not only does Bush take credit for a budget surplus that was already in place when he took office, but he also claims the surplus didn’t really exist. Bush does admit that he left a legacy of “run-away entitlement spending” but blames that on congressional resistance. Between Bush’s tax cuts, the war, and the Medicare prescription drug plan, President Bush inherited a healthy budget and “left it in tatters,” says Marcus.

Marcus is an editorial writer for The Post, specializing in American politics, campaign finance, the federal budget and taxes, and other domestic issues.

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Has Airport Security Gone Too Far?

Posted by , 17th November 2010

Airport SecurityNoah Shachtman
11/17/2010

Shachtman considers whether the TSA’s tech-centric approach to security makes any sense at all. The TSA is asking for public cooperation in unduly intrusive and revelatory x-ray images in exchange for incremental, uncertain security improvements against particular kinds of concealed weapons. Now pilots and travelers are rebelling against scanners that douse them with radiation and reveal their private parts. TSA has long hewed to an unthinking, unbending approach to security that prompts Shachtman to cast doubt on both the efficacy of the new measures and the agency.

Shachtman is a contributing editor at Wired magazine and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution.

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Pretty Good for Government Work

Posted by , 17th November 2010

Warren E. Buffett Warren E. Buffett
11/17/2010

Buffett writes an open letter to the American government to thank it for working so hard and efficiently to save the economy from meltdown in 2008. He gives a nod to Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner, Sheila Bair, who worked courageously, as well as President George W. Bush, who led through the crisis before the election of President Obama. Buffett notes that the crisis followed a bubble and now there is a fog of panic. People are second-guessing the government’s actions, yet the government was remarkably effective in that dark time.

Buffett is the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, a diversified holding company.

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Is the lame-duck Congress constitutional?

Posted by , 12th November 2010

us-congressBruce Ackerman
11/12/2010

A lame-duck session of Congress is not necessary during times of ordinary legislation. In 1932, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution limited the time for a lame-duck Congress to 7 weeks, during which time it was understood that lawmakers were not to convene except in extraordinary cases, such as war. Since the 1990s, however, lame-duck congressional sessions have become the norm, and often big legislative decisions are made during these sessions. Besides the “utterly undemocratic” fact that defeated politicians are acting as representatives of the American people during a lame-duck session, Ackerman warns that this encourages politicians to escape voter scrutiny by putting put off major legislation until a lame-duck session. Congress should enact legislation prohibiting lame-duck sessions of Congress except in emergencies.

Ackerman is a professor of law at Yale and the author most recently of “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic.”

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The Hijacked Commission

Posted by , 12th November 2010

Obama signing the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and ReformPaul Krugman
11/12/2010

Krugman says he didn’t have much hope when President Obama created a bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, but when it released an outline of its proposal it was worse than he and cynics expected. The co-chairmen are proposing a mixture of tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases for the middle class, resulting in a transfer of wealth upward without any effect on deficit reduction. It also proposes raising retirement age for Social Security as life expectancy increases, but Krugman says that is impractical for laborers, whose life expectancy is not increasing at the same rate as knowledge workers. It seems the commission has been hijacked by a Republican ideological agenda. He doubts anything can be salvaged from the proposal.

Krugman is a New York Times columnist.

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