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In a half-dozen national security lawsuits we’ve been following, the Obama administration has so far largely stuck by the positions taken by the Bush administration. (The one significant exception has been the recent decision to file criminal charges against the only remaining U.S.-based “enemy combatant.”)
These decisions may be a temporary fix that will buy the administration time to think through its views. Or, it could indicate that the new administration simply doesn’t want to be squeezed into making policy in the court room.
One of the examples offered by ProPublica, which offers a handy chart of the relevant cases:
The Bush position on the habeas petition of four Bagram Air Base detainees:
Four detainees at the prison in Afghanistan asked a federal judge to determine whether they have the right to challenge their detention in a civilian court, like their counterparts at Guantanamo Bay. The judge gave the new administration an extra month to decide whether it would back the Bush administration’s argument for dismissing the case.
The Obama position:
Obama administration lawyers replied last Friday: “Having considered the matter, the Government adheres to its previously articulated position.” That position includes the concept of a global battlefield that would allow indefinite detention of prisoners like the petitioners, who say they were picked up outside Afghanistan, far from any traditional battlefield.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”