from the cc:-NSA dept
Pretty much everyone was astonished this week by former NSA lawyer Stewart Baker's remarks blaming civil libertarians for 9/11 and claiming that the current hype about the NSA could lead to another such event. Unsurprisingly, both of this week's most insightful comments are responses to Baker, with Jeff winning first place:
Wow... just wow... shameful doesn't even begin to describe this man's behavior. Petty tyrants will always try and justify their actions - "BECAUSE THE LAW ALLOWS IT". However, through the use of secret interpretations, and secret courts, it dodges a fundamental guiding principle of the founding of the United States - the will of the governed. That's not to say the will of the governed wouldn't agree to being monitored and watched, but we haven't even been given the chance to debate the matter - because we don't matter. The autocratic - "TRUST US WE'RE WITH THE GOVERNMENT" has been completely worn thin, and the American public is waking up to the fact that an unfettered, unaccountable government is a dangerous thing.
Close behind, and also scoring lots of funny votes, we've got Ima Fish with a response to the idea that civil liberties caused 9/11:
Baker's actually absolutely right. If this country had no civil liberties and was the police state he dreams about, Islamic militants never would have attacked us in the first place. They hate us for our freedom, right? Take away the freedom, you get rid of the hate.
For editor's choice, we start out with a comment from OldMugwump, who clarified some nuances in the debate about Homeland Security internally enforcing the classified status of documents that have been leaked and gone public, in response to commenters who defended the practice:
Greg (and Jeremy),
I think you're correct that asking employees to NOT read classified info, even when it's public, is not stupid. (Or not entierly stupid, anyway.) Random DoD employees/contractors shouldn't be making decisions about what is/isn't public "enough".
But - NOT DE-CLASSIFYING info as soon as it becomes public IS STUPID. Internal policy should be to routinely declassify things as soon as they become generally known. Otherwise you put people in impossible and stupid situations.
Also, don't forget that, to those who work professionally with classified info, THE FACT that certain info is public can be highly relevant to their work. If you're spying on a terrorist (I'm being charitable here) using Method A, it seems to me rather important to know that the Bad Guys already know about Method A, so maybe that won't work so well...
And up next, we've got GMacGuffin, who offered a possible explanation for how lawyers as comically inept as those at Prenda come to exist:
A Theory on the Seeming Ubuiquity of Bad Lawyering
Thing is, in law school they teach you the law, and if you're lucky, some practical skills for the real world. But it's all rather abstract until you are actually in the litigation trenches.
Used to be that most law students would get a clerking job or internship while in school, where they would be mentored by a practicing attorney on how things actually work; what kind of arguments or motions you can actually bring without looking like an idiot or failing the laugh test; and how to go about doing it. Or, would get a job at a law firm after graduation, obtaining the same guidance.
Last five years or so, I have increasingly been astounded by incomprehensible arguments, bizarre motions, and all sorts of litigation weirdness that only frustrates and wastes the time and resources of the Court and all others involved.
When looking at the attorneys' backgrounds, these are often fairly new attorneys, with no boots-on-the-ground practical law firm experience. This trend's timing ties into that whole economic crash business and law firms downsizing, and the like. So these kids just go into business for themselves right out of school, and are wreaking bizarre havoc in the Courts.
This theory was recently buttressed by the California Bar, who is working up proposed CLE practical experience requirements for new lawyers. (OK, so it isn't just me who is seeing this trend.)
An old adage was that a person who graduates from law school then hangs out a shingle should put the word "Malpractice" on it as well.
You damn sure don't want a doctor just out of school cutting into you based on his test scores. Similarly, you probably don't want a fresh new lawyer on his own representing you on anything, you know, important.
I frankly don't know what practical experience the Prenda-related lawyers had prior to opening up their own shops, but I can sure see the correlation to the above theory (with an added extra dose of ethical bankruptcy).
That same comical ineptitude is also the source of our funniest comment of the week, courtesy of an anonymous quipper. When Judge Wright took a not-so-subtle shot at John Steele by encouraging him to "visit the clinic" for advice, this AC got the message:
I hope they have a burn ward.
As hard as it must be for Wright to resist taking even more shots at Steele, it's even harder for everyone to resist making jokes about the now-infamous "Sum Ting Wong" prank that humiliated a Bay Area Fox affiliate. When Asiana Air announced that it would bring a lawsuit over the pranked broadcast, Akari Mizunashi understandably gave in to temptation and delivered the second funniest comment of the week:
Wi Su Yoo...
This week on Hoarders...
And finally, we've got an anonymous commenter experiencing a revelation at the hands of Pippa Middleton's inane life tips, and the parodies thereof:
Ah, now I know where e-how gets its articles.
That's all for this week, folks!