Something To Give You A Head (or Heart) Ache (updated)

The March 2003 Yoo Memo Emerges! (not an April Fool’s Joke): The Torture Memo to Top All Torture Memos (part 1 and part 2)

As Slate’s Convictions blog puts it:

If you want evidence of how the law was badly twisted and misused in the Bush Justice Department, you need look no further than here.

Later: The WaPo’s piece — Memo: Laws Didn’t Apply to Interrogators (pdf)

Much later, Dahlia Lithwick calls it like it is in Yoo Talkin’ to Me?

In his book The Terror Presidency, my friend Jack Goldsmith—who prescribes some fixes for the legal war on terror elsewhere in Slate today [Ed. note: including a perpetuation of the dangerous and nonsensical argument the President and his administration have been giving in favor of telecom immunity]—depicts the paralyzing effect of something called “lawfare.” Lawfare was described by Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Dunlap as “the strategy of using or misusing law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective.” Ordinary acts of foreign policy become bogged down in a maze of after-the-fact legal consequences. Donald Rumsfeld saw this form of warfare as a limit on American military authority. He was determined to find a solution to what he called “the judicialization of international politics.”

[…] But that choice also assumes lawyers engaged in sober reflection, and that may be assuming too much. Indeed, if anything, Goldsmith and others may have understated the dangers of “lawfare”—if the lawyers tasked with working around the web of international laws begin from the premise that laws are just obstacles. As we are beginning to learn, the growing tendency to conduct wars in the courtroom hasn’t actually constrained anyone at all over the past seven years. The expanded role of all these laws and lawyers in the war on terror has had the opposite effect: The Bush administration has proven time and again that the Rule of Law is only as definitive as its most inventive lawyers.

In short, the Bush solution to the paralysis of lawfare seems to be to hire lawyers who don’t believe in the law.

[…] A lot of folks are inclined to write off the news of the torture memo today because: (i) we already knew this; (ii) it’s no longer the law; and (iii) David Addington won’t be allowed to listen in on their phone calls in seven months. I respectfully dissent. We should be thinking long and hard about how this memo came to be our interrogation policy, even for a few months. Now is the time to question the wisdom of trusting the policing of the boundaries in the war on terror to a swarm of anonymous midlevel lawyers whose minds may just be too open for our own good. We need to get away from the wrongheaded notion that a war on terror is the same thing as a war against the law.

Also Memo Sheds New Light on Torture Issue

Some legal experts and advocates said Wednesday that the document, written the month that the United States invaded Iraq, adds to evidence that the abuse of prisoners in military custody may have involved signals from higher officials and not just irresponsible actions by low-level personnel.

Informational House Hearing On Virtual Worlds

Avatars at House hearing on virtual world (pdf)

Second Life founder Philip Rosedale and a handful of other virtual reality experts, testified at a House of Representatives hearing that was also attended by on-line personas, or avatars, portrayed on a video screen in the hearing room.

“It is likely that virtual world activities are somewhat more policeable and the law somewhat more maintainable within virtual worlds,” said Rosedale, chief executive of Linden Lab, the company that runs Second Life.

[…] “The virtual world has a degree of accountability … and traceability which actually in many ways is better than the real world,” Rosedale said.

Well, duh! Rep Markey’s press release/opening statement (pdf); Markey and his avatar (local copy); the House WWW page for the hearing, with statements.

Later — the LATimes’ House panel takes a whirl in virtual world (pdf)

Later: The Washington Post lets a columnist loose — Goofy Characters and Weird People — Sounds Like a Hearing (pdf)

Actually, maybe Congress should get an online life. In Second Life, participants create fake personas and spend endless hours interacting in a fantasy world with few tangible results to show for it — kind of like, well, Congress.

“Some might also think of Congress as a virtual world,” a self-aware [Rep. Jane] Harman observed. “Many think we have little connection to the real world. . . . We fly into and out of town so quickly that we might as well send avatars to the floor to vote in our stead.”

A Look At Free Press

Net Neutrality’s Quiet Crusader (pdf)

Bearing video cameras, laptops and cellphones, a small army of young activists flooded into a recent federal meeting in protest.

Members of public-interest group Free Press weren’t there to support a presidential candidate or decry global warming. The tech-savvy hundreds came to the Federal Communications Commission’s hearing at Harvard Law School last month to push new rules for the Internet.

For the first time, Congress and the FCC are debating wide-reaching Web regulations and policies that would determine how much control cable and telecommunications companies would have over the Internet. The issue has given rise to a new political constituency raised on text messaging and social networking and relies on e-mail blasts and online video clips in its advocacy.

User-Generated Content Keeps On Expanding

Outsourcing Music Videos to the Fans (pdf)

The music video has sometimes seemed like a dying medium; one or two small record labels even discourage their artists from making the things nowadays, arguing that they’re expensive and don’t tend to sell a lot of music.

But as online video sites have taken off and editing tools have become easy for even novices to use, some bands are starting to see the music video as a fresh way to build a stronger bond between artist and listener. R.E.M.’s make-your-own-video project for “Supernatural Superserious” feels like something of a lark, with the band getting some use out of leftover footage that didn’t make it into the song’s “official” video. Some other bands, meanwhile, are going even further and outsourcing the entire video-making process to their biggest supporters.

A Look at the Disney Media Machine

Disney machine working for Jonas Brothers (pdf)

Television has long propelled the careers of cute, harmonic boy bands. The Fab Four crossed the Atlantic for their fateful Feb. 9, 1964, appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The Osmonds got their start on “The Andy Williams Show.”

The Disney Channel reincarnated “The Mickey Mouse Club” in 1989, launching the careers of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and half of ‘N Sync: Justin Timberlake and J.C. Chasez.

Since the January 2001 debut of “Lizzie McGuire,” the Disney Channel has become a powerful creative engine for its Burbank entertainment parent, producing a string of bankable names such as the Cheetah Girls, “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana.” The latter two are each expected to reap $1 billion in retail sales this year.

“They own the talent, they own the distribution, they can promote it all the time on television,” said David Smay, co-editor of the book “Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears.”

“It’s almost impossible not to have a hit,” he said.

A “Rogue?”

BusinessWeek really piles on here in this cautionary tale: Busting a Rogue Blogger (pdf)

Troll Tracker gained repute as a forum for information, not invective. But its more volatile content would eventually combine to blow up the blog and land its creator and Cisco in legal hot water. A reader comment in December contained a death threat against Chicago attorney Raymond Niro Sr., who has long represented trolls. Two Texas attorneys were enraged by Troll Tracker reports suggesting that the lawyers may have had dates altered on a court document—a felony. By the end of last year, Niro had put up a $15,000 bounty to unmask the anonymous blogger, and Internet sleuths had tried to track him.

On Feb. 23, in what turned out to be his final post, Troll Tracker outed himself with an entry titled “Live by anonymity, die by anonymity.” According to the post, he had received an anonymous e-mail that told him to declare his identity or the e-mailer would do it for him. “Let me introduce myself,” Troll Tracker wrote. “My name is Rick Frenkel.”

The fallout was swift. […]

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