More pols are coming out in favor of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to seek the death penalty against accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev -- breaking with many of the Bay State's hand-wringing Democrats as Congress prepares to release an exhaustive report on the Boston Marathon bombings.
"He should get the death penalty if found guilty," former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown told the Herald yesterday. Brown joins Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch and most of the voters in calling for Tsarnaev's life if he is convicted in the dual bloody bombings that killed three and injured hundreds, as well as the killing of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer.
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For Liz Norden, it's one small step forward.
Her sons, JP and Paul, each lost a leg in the bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 250 at the April 15 race.
"I just am relieved that it's going forward in the right direction, one step forward in the recovery process, just that the option is out there on the table for the jurors, if that's the way it goes," she told CNN's The Situation Room.* * *
"If you don't use it in this kind of case, where someone puts down bombs down in crowds, then in what kind of case do you use it?" asked Aitan Goelman, a former Justice Department lawyer who helped prosecute Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.
* * *Michael Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney in Boston, agrees. "A jury should have the opportunity to consider death. This is a horrific terrorist act that occurred on our soil."
The National Security Agency's bulk collection of data from phone companies is legal, a federal judge has ruled, dismissing a significant court challenge to the practice and setting the stage for a bigger legal battle over secret surveillance programs.
U.S. District Judge WIlliam H. Pauley III in Manhattan sided with the government in his decision Friday, calling the collection program a "vital tool" to combat terrorism and deeming it "the Government's counter-punch."
The ruling stands in conflict with a decision issued earlier this month in a separate case by a federal judge in the District of Columbia who said the program "almost certainly" violated the Constitution.
At the threshold, there are often complicated questions of federalism in a decision to prosecute a murder in federal court rather than state court. Does federal jurisdiction extend to this case under the statute and within the limits of the Constitution? If so, is this a case that should be prosecuted in federal court as a matter of policy?
The policy question was easy in this case. This was an act of terrorism directed at the United States as a nation. In any event, we are past the threshold jurisdiction issue, and that is not what the article claims is complicated.
Given that this is a federal case in which death is an available punishment, should the prosecution seek it? Of course! That is not complicated at all. Death should be sought in cases at the upper end of the heinousness scale, and this case pegs the meter. It was a terrible crime against a great many victims, and no substantial mitigation has come to light. The mere possibility that the younger brother was influenced by the older is not remotely close to outweighing the extremely aggravated circumstances of the crime, and any claim of actual duress is conclusively refuted by the perpetrator's scrawling in the boat after his brother's death.
The ridiculously long time that federal courts are taking to resolve capital appeals is not a complication of the decision to seek the death penalty. It is a failure of the Administration to put the priority on these cases that they deserve. For the collateral reviews, Congress has mandated that "any motion under section 2255 by a person under sentence of death, shall be given priority by the district court and by the court of appeals over all noncapital matters." See 28 U.S.C. §2266(a). The courts are ignoring this law, and the Administration is not pressing them on it.
The Obama administration on Monday pressed a federal appeals court to rule that the U.S. can prosecute foreigners before military commissions for conspiracy even though international law doesn't consider the offense a war crime.
Seeking a reversal of earlier court rulings that threw out convictions at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the government argued that under an "American common law of war" the military could try defendants for conspiracy.
Nidal Malik Hasan was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in a 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood, Tex., the worst mass murder at a military installation in U.S. history.
Dressed in Army fatigues, Hasan, who turns 43 next month, listened impassively as the death penalty was handed down by a panel of 13 senior military officers in a unanimous decision. If even a single panel member had objected, Hasan would instead have been sentenced to life in prison.
The jury deliberated for a little more than two hours.
Two hours strikes me as rather short for a penalty phase deliberation, but folks who do capital trial work and are more knowledgeable about that are invited to comment.
Attorney General Eric Holder -- who had already been held in contempt by he House of Representatives for declining to turn over internal Justice Department documents in the earlier Fast and Furious scandal -- swore to Congress that he had no knowledge of any effort to go after individual reporters. But according to an official Justice Department statement, Holder had in fact signed off on the search warrant to monitor the communications of Fox News reporter James Rosen. In other words, the attorney general of the United States under oath misled -- or lied to -- Congress.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was recently asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) whether the National Security Agency collected the phone and e-mail records of millions of ordinary Americans. Clapper said that it did not. That, too, was an untruth. Clapper's supporters argued that Wyden should not have asked in public a sensitive question that threatened the needed secrecy of the program. But Clapper did not demur or request a closed session. He instead found it easier to deceive, later dubbing his response the "least utruthful" answer possible.
I have explained, here and here, why Holder's testimony was untruthful, and won't repeat it. Hanson is on the mark in going after Clapper as well, although it seems to my friend Paul Mirengoff, and to me, that Clapper was put in a nearly impossible position by a grossly irresponsible question from Sen. Wyden.
Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking disclosure by the Central Intelligence Agency of 52 post-mortem images of Osama bin Laden. The agency refused on the ground that the images were classified Top Secret. Judicial Watch sued, and the district court granted summary judgment for the agency. We affirm because the images were properly classified and hence are exempt from disclosure under the Act.
"F*** America, Boston Marathon Suspect Wrote in Boat."
As police searched for him, and as he lay bleeding in his boat hideout, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev wrote "F*** America" on the side panel of the boat, police in Massachusetts told ABC News.
Officers said they also discovered the phrase "Praise Allah" on the boat's side panels and several anti-American screeds, including references to Iraq, Afghanistan and "the infidels."
A BostonHerald.com story notes that Dzhokhar referred to the victims, including an eight-year old boy, as "collateral damage," echoing Timothy McVeigh's famous phrase.
With any luck, Dzhokhar will be joining Timmy real soon.