Recently in International Category

Alexandra Petri has this column in the WaPo on what crooked soccer executive Chuck Blazer (who has already pleaded guilty) chose to do with his ill-gotten gains.  For background on the more general story, see this article in the WSJ.

These international stories often involve questions of the reach of U.S. law.  Devlin Barrett, Christopher Matthews, and Aruna Viswanatha have this story in the WSJ.
Punishment for crime involves both judicial and executive discretion.  The sentence in years (or life) is imposed by the trial court, but where the convict actually is in those years is typically an executive decision.  That may involve which prison he is sent to, whether he is inside or outside prison (i.e., parole), or even which country he is in.

Khalid Al Fawwaz was sentenced today for his part in the 1998 Embassy Bombing plot.  He received three life sentences and a ten-year sentence, concurrent.  And Judge Kaplan added this:

The Court makes the following recommendation to the Department of Justice: The Court is mindful of the fact that defendant may have the ability to apply to the U.S. Department of Justice under the international prisoner transfer program to be allowed to serve some or all of his sentence in another nation. Although a decision on any such application, if one is made, would be up to the Department of Justice, the Court strongly recommends that any such application be denied. The defendant has been convicted of very serious crimes against American citizens. His punishment ought to be served in, and more particularly, always remain under the control of the United States of America.
Now that's refreshing to hear from a federal judge.

European Political Developments

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Here are a few notes from across the pond.
Pablo Gorondi reports for AP that the prime minister of Hungary is in hot water with the European Union over the death penalty.  What did he do, you might ask.  Did he restore it in Hungary?  Did it propose its restoration?  No, he did not.

He only suggested that the topic be up for debate.  And that is enough to produce a thunderstorm of condemnation in today's PC EU.

"In relation to Brussels, a debate about democracy has come about," Orban said in an interview on Echo TV. "Where are we living? In the Middle Ages, where they declare that there are taboos which are not worthy of debate?"
It is quite bad enough that the EU has bludgeoned smaller and poorer countries into abolition as a part of the price for the economic advantages of joining the big EU market, but to dictate to countries what they are even allowed to discuss -- and then claim that this censorship is in the name of "human rights" -- is gross hypocrisy.  When did freedom of speech stop being a human right?

The WSJ discusses the prosecution of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, illustrating why the pardon I predict (at a politically convenient moment for the Commander-in-Chief) will be a betrayal of duty and honor by the President even more stunning than Bergdahl's embrace of Jihad:

[T]he bigger story [in the Bergdahl case] is the extravagant price the U.S. has paid because President Obama wanted to score political points.

Readers will recall that then-Private First Class Bergdahl went missing from his post in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009. Fellow soldiers suspected desertion, though the Army conducted a risky manhunt to recover him...

The Associated Press has reported that an internal Pentagon investigation in 2010 found "incontrovertible" evidence that he had walked away from his post. Journalists also uncovered an exchange of letters in which the soldier wrote to his father "the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools," that he was "ashamed to even be american," and that "the future is too good to waste on lies." Replied father Robert: "OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!"

All of this would have been known to President Obama and National Security AdviserSusan Rice when the Administration decided to swap Sgt. Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees--all top Taliban leaders--in May 2014. Mr. Obama even invited Sgt. Bergdahl's parents to a [chipper  --  ed. addition] Rose Garden ceremony to announce the swap, while Ms. Rice declared on a Sunday talk show that the soldier had served his country with "honor and distinction."



Murder By Alpha

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Sohrab Ahmari has this article in the WSJ:

"It has been described as one of the most dangerous post-mortem examinations ever undertaken in the Western world, and I think that's probably right."

So testified forensic pathologist Nathaniel Cary on Wednesday, the second day of the inquiry into the 2006 poisoning death of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko. The proceeding, held at the Royal Courts of Justice, aims to examine the circumstances under which Litvinenko was murdered with radioactive polonium-210, a highly unusual poison and one of many Hollywood-ready elements of the case that has made it a tabloid fixture for nearly a decade.
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The details of the case largely are more prosaic, when they're not confusing for a lay audience. The top-secret Scientist A1 was there to tell the inquiry that "one gram of polonium-210 emits one-six-six, zero-zero-zero, zero-zero-zero, zero-zero-zero, zero-zero-zero alpha particles per sec--"

"Pausing right there," an exasperated barrister interrupted, inadvertently triggering laughter in the courtroom and the press annex. "I may be wrong, but 166 quadrillion per second?"
A scientist talking to other scientists would have said 1.66 x 1014 emissions per second, but you have to dumb it down for lawyers.*  Emissions per second is actually a poor way to express radiation exposure.  Better ways involve rads, rems, or grays.

Jordan Resumes Executions

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BBC reports:

Jordan has executed 11 men convicted of murder, ending an eight-year moratorium on the death penalty in the country.

The interior ministry said the men, convicted in different cases, had been hanged at dawn on Sunday.

Jordanian authorities gave no reason for the lifting of the 2006 moratorium on capital punishment.

Interior Minister Hussein Majali recently said the public blamed a rise in crime on the non-application of the death penalty, AFP news agency reports.

Pakistan Resumes Executions

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Two convicted terrorists were hanged in Pakistan, AFP reports.

Pakistan hung two convicted militants in the first executions in six years and security forces killed more than 50 suspected militants on Friday (Dec 19) as the country's leaders vowed decisive action in the wake of a Taliban school massacre that left 149 people dead.

The bloody rampage in the northwestern city of Peshawar on Tuesday brought international condemnation and promises of swift, decisive action against militants from Pakistan's political and military leaders.

Pakistan's de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told AFP the attack was his country's own "mini 9/11" and a game changer in its fight against terror.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif relinquished the six-year ban on the death penalty in terror-related cases two days after the school attack.

Two militants convicted of separate terrorism offences were the first to face the noose at a jail in central Punjab province, the province's home minister, Shuja Khanzada, told AFP.


Securing, not sealing, the border

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The Sacramento Bee has this story about President Obama's actions on immigration yesterday.  The article quotes CJLF President Michael Rushford regarding aliens who commit crimes.

The article says CJLF "advocates sealing the U.S.-Mexico border."  Um, no.  We are in favor of having a secure border so that criminals we deport can't just waltz back in.  Questions of how much and what kind of legal immigration we should allow and what kind of trade restrictions we should have are not our field, and we take no position.  We would certainly never advocate the complete cut-off implied by the word "sealing."

Underreporting of Crime

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Last week I had this post on the Uniform Crime Reports, and a commenter noted that skepticism was in order due to underreporting by some police departments.  Across the pond there appears to be a major kerfuffle on this point.  David Barrett reports in the Telegraph:

Almost a million crimes a year are disappearing from official figures as chief constables attempt to meet targets, a study by the police watchdog has disclosed.

Its report exposed "indefensible" failures by forces to record crime accurately, and said that in some areas up to a third of crimes are being struck out of official records.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said violent crimes and sex attacks were particularly vulnerable to being deleted under "inexcusably poor" systems.

Although the report stopped short of accusing police of widespread "fiddling" it said there was an "undercurrent of pressure not to record a crime across some forces" and "wrongful pressure" by managers.

It means violent criminals and even rapists are not investigated, potentially allowing offenders to strike again.
Here in the United States, we get to vote separately for a national legislature, which deals with foreign and military affairs, interstate commerce and other matters which need to be decided on a national level, and for a state legislature which is supposed to have control over those matters that can be handled more locally.  The line isn't as crisp as it used to be, or, in my opinion, as it should be, but it's there, and those separate elections serve to keep government more responsive to the will of the people.  Canada and Australia also have federated governments.

Englishmen, though, only get one legislative vote -- for their representative in the Parliament of the United Kingdom.  That may be about to change, Nicholas Winning and Jenny Gross report in the WSJ.
Sky News is projecting that Scottish voters have chosen to remain in the United Kingdom.

One More Reason to Disdain "International Law"

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When we trust justice to a tribunal whose success depends on the voluntary cooperation of thugs, justice is the one thing we won't get.

Canada's Fairness for Victims Act

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Our northern neighbor's House of Commons commendably passed the Fairness for Victims Act, which among other things allows the parole board to set reconsideration intervals up to five years rather than the current two.  When a rapist or murderer is eligible for parole and the victim or victim's family is opposed, they must go to the hearing and relive the horror.  They ought not have to do that more often than necessary.

In an amazing screw-up, though, the wrong version of the bill was sent to the Senate and referred to committee there, Sean Fine reports in the Globe and Mail.
The Wall Street Journal has this article about the convictions in the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia of Khmer Rouge intellectual and political leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.

Nuon Chea, 88 years old, the Khmer Rouge's chief ideologue and former deputy to late leader Pol Pot, and 83-year-old Khieu Samphan, the former head of state, were sentenced to life imprisonment on Thursday after being found guilty of crimes against humanity--directing murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts related to the mass eviction of city-dwellers and executions of enemy soldiers.

The verdict, coming nearly three years after the trial began, marked the first convictions secured against top-tier regime officials by the United Nations-backed tribunal, long plagued by funding shortfalls and perceived political interference.
The article hails the convictions as justice for the victims of Khmer Rouge murder and pillage (crimes against humanity as the tribunal calls it) at long last, but convictions are not justice. A criminal conviction is merely a prerequisite to justice. It is the sentence that follows a conviction that determines if justice has been served.

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