No Comment

Context, No Comment — August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

No Comment, Six Questions — June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

No Comment — March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

No Comment — November 4, 2013, 5:17 pm

The Torture Doctors

An expert panel concludes that the Pentagon and the CIA ordered physicians to violate the Hippocratic Oath

No Comment — August 12, 2013, 7:55 am

Obama’s Snowden Dilemma

How will the Obama Administration handle Edward Snowden’s case in the long term?

No Comment — July 29, 2013, 11:36 am

The G.O.P.’s Surveillance Judiciary

Is it possible to simply disband the partisan FISA court?

No Comment — July 18, 2013, 8:47 pm

Back in the G.D.R.

What the United States can learn from the East German surveillance experience

No Comment — July 10, 2013, 10:44 pm

Spotlighting the Surveillance Court

Why has a secret court been permitted to place America at the center of a new global panopticon?

No Comment — July 3, 2013, 2:16 pm

The Real Insider Threat

Will the NSA’s surveillance program threaten the Atlantic Alliance?

No Comment — April 12, 2013, 11:11 am

A Final Act for the Guantánamo Theater of the Absurd?

A new report from Seton Hall University exposes government surveillance of attorney–client conversations

No Comment, Six Questions — March 18, 2013, 9:00 am

Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East

Rashid Khalidi on how the United States sustains the failure of the Israel–Palestine peace process

No Comment, Six Questions — February 4, 2013, 9:00 am

Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Alex Gibney on his documentary investigating the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of child sex-abuse cases

No Comment — January 18, 2013, 12:43 pm

Carmen Ortiz Strikes Out

Congress prepares to slap down prosecutors linked to the suicide of Aaron Swartz

No Comment — January 14, 2013, 11:13 am

Aaron Swartz, RIP

A leading cyberactivist commits suicide at twenty-six. Was he hounded to death by federal prosecutors?

No Comment — January 11, 2013, 3:28 pm

The DOJ’s Torturer-Protection Program

By sending a decorated intelligence officer to prison, the Justice Department shields torturers in the ranks of the CIA

No Comment — January 7, 2013, 12:14 pm

The Pardons Turkeys

The Department of Justice is strangling the pardons process — again

No Comment — December 14, 2012, 9:12 am

European Court Condemns CIA Extraction Techniques as Torture

A European human rights court hands down the first binding decision against Bush-era rendition techniques

No Comment, Six Questions — December 3, 2012, 2:23 pm

D For Deception

Tina Rosenberg on the British spy novelist who hoodwinked Hitler

No Comment — September 13, 2012, 2:24 pm

Boss Rove’s Justice

“There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money, and I can’t remember the second.” That quip was offered by Mark Hanna during the first modern professional presidential campaign, that of William McKinley in 1896. But it could just as easily have been voiced by Hanna’s modern understudy, Karl Rove, the man who emerged as the undeniable mastermind of the G.O.P. following their recent convention in Tampa. As Rove understands it, electoral politics has little to do with policy and everything to do with money—in particular with ensuring that his side has a massive advantage over …

No Comment — September 7, 2012, 1:12 pm

A Stinging Rebuke of the DOJ on Access to Counsel at Gitmo

The Bush Administration originally created special-detention facilities at Guantánamo on the theory that—given the unique historical provenance of the base, which was secured under a lease at the end of the war with Spain on terms Havana no longer recognizes—no court anywhere in the world would have jurisdiction to deal with the complaints of prisoners held there. Consequently, it would be easier to subject the prisoners to torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment the likes of which America’s prisoners in wartime had never before experienced. The Supreme Court soon put an end to this exercise, and a series …

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Good Bad Bad Good·

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About fifteen years ago, my roommate and I developed a classification system for TV and movies. Each title was slotted into one of four categories: Good-Good; Bad-Good; Good-Bad; Bad-Bad. The first qualifier was qualitative, while the second represented a high-low binary, the title’s aspiration toward capital-A Art or lack thereof.

Some taxonomies were inarguable. The O.C., a Fox series about California rich kids and their beautiful swimming pools, was delightfully Good-Bad. Paul Haggis’s heavy-handed morality play, Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture, was gallingly Bad-Good. The films of Francois Truffaut, Good-Good; the CBS sitcom Two and a Half Men, Bad-Bad.

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Long Shot·

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Ihave had many names, but as a sniper I went by Azad, which means “free” or “freedom” in Kurdish. I had been fighting for sixteen months in Kurdish territory in northern Syria when in April 2015 I was asked to leave my position on the eastern front, close to the Turkish border, and join an advance on our southwestern one. Eight months earlier, we had been down to our last few hundred yards, and, outnumbered five to one, had made a last stand in Kobanî. In January, after more than four months of fighting street-to-street and room-by-room, we recaptured the town and reversed what was, until then, an unstoppable jihadi tide. In the battles since, we had pushed ­ISIS far enough in every direction that crossing our territory was no longer a short dash through the streets but a five-hour drive across open country. As we set out to the north, I could make out the snowy peaks in southern Turkey where they say Noah once beached his ark. Below them, rolling toward us, were the wide, grassy valleys and pine forests of Mesopotamia, the land between the Euphrates and the Tigris where our people have lived for twelve thousand years.

The story of my people is filled with bitter ironies. The Kurds are one of the world’s oldest peoples and, as pioneers of agriculture, were once among its most advanced. Though the rest of the world now largely overlooks that it was Kurds who were among the first to create a civilization, the evidence is there. In 1995, German archaeologists began excavating a temple at Göbekli Tepe in northern Kurdistan. They found a structure flanked by stone pillars carved with bulls, foxes, and cranes, which they dated to around 10,000 bce. At the end of the last Ice Age, and seven thousand years before the erection of Stonehenge or the pyramids at Giza, my ancestors were living together as shamans, artists, farmers, and engineers.

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Constitution in Crisis·

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America’s Constitution was once celebrated as a radical and successful blueprint for democratic governance, a model for fledgling republics across the world. But decades of political gridlock, electoral corruption, and dysfunction in our system of government have forced scholars, activists, and citizens to question the document’s ability to address the thorniest issues of modern ­political life.

Does the path out of our current era of stalemate, minority rule, and executive abuse require amending the Constitution? Do we need a new constitutional convention to rewrite the document and update it for the twenty-­first century? Should we abolish it entirely?

This spring, Harper’s Magazine invited five lawmakers and scholars to New York University’s law school to consider the constitutional crisis of the twenty-­first century. The event was moderated by Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and the author of How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon.

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Life after Life·

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For time ylost, this know ye,
By no way may recovered be.
—Chaucer

I spent thirty-eight years in prison and have been a free man for just under two. After killing a man named Thomas Allen Fellowes in a drunken, drugged-up fistfight in 1980, when I was nineteen years old, I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Former California governor Jerry Brown commuted my sentence and I was released in 2017, five days before Christmas. The law in California, like in most states, grants the governor the right to alter sentences. After many years of advocating for the reformation of the prison system into one that encourages rehabilitation, I had my life restored to me.

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Power of Attorney·

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In a Walmart parking lot in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 2015, a white police officer named Stephen Rankin shot and killed an unarmed, eighteen-­year-­old black man named William Chapman. “This is my second one,” he told a bystander seconds after firing the fatal shots, seemingly in reference to an incident four years earlier, when he had shot and killed another unarmed man, an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Rankin, a Navy veteran, had been arresting Chapman for shoplifting when, he claimed, Chapman charged him in a manner so threatening that he feared for his life, leaving him no option but to shoot to kill—­the standard and almost invariably successful defense for officers when called to account for shooting civilians. Rankin had faced no charges for his earlier killing, but this time, something unexpected happened: Rankin was indicted on a charge of first-­degree murder by Portsmouth’s newly elected chief prosecutor, thirty-­one-year-­old Stephanie Morales. Furthermore, she announced that she would try the case herself, the first time she had ever prosecuted a homicide. “No one could remember us having an actual prosecution for the killing of an unarmed person by the police,” Morales told me. “I got a lot of feedback, a lot of people saying, ‘You shouldn’t try this case. If you don’t win, it may affect your reelection. Let someone else do it.’ ”

Cost of renting a giant panda from the Chinese government, per day:

$1,500

A recent earthquake in Chile was found to have shifted the city of Concepción ten feet to the west, shortened Earth’s days by 1.26 microseconds, and shifted the planet’s axis by nearly three inches.

A federal judge authored a 69-page ruling preventing New York City from enforcing zoning laws pertaining to adult bookstores and strip clubs.

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“Nowadays, most states let just about anybody who wants a concealed-handgun permit have one; in seventeen states, you don’t even have to be a resident. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans carry guns, because not all states release their numbers, and even if they did, not all permit holders carry all the time. But it’s safe to assume that as many as 6 million Americans are walking around with firearms under their clothes.”

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