Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Civil Liberties (page 1 / 3)

Thumbs Up to a Justice Gorsuch

Tonight, President Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court. I'll give credit where credit is due: I didn't think President Trump would nominate someone that I liked, but he surprised me. From what I've read, I'll like Justice Gorsuch quite a bit.

I'm basing my opinion on SCOTUSblog's potential nominee profile. First of all, Judge Gorsuch is definitely qualified.

Neil Gorsuch was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush on May 10, 2006, and confirmed shortly thereafter. Both his pre-judicial resumé and his body of work as a judge make him a natural fit for an appointment to the Supreme Court by a Republican president. He is relatively young (turning 50 this year), and his background is filled with sterling legal and academic credentials. He was a Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for prominent conservative judges (Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as well as Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court), and was a high-ranking official in the Bush Justice Department before his judicial appointment.

And he has the potential to live up to Justice Scalia's legacy. Given that Justice Scalia was my second favorite Supreme Court Justice, this is no small thing.

He is celebrated as a keen legal thinker and a particularly incisive legal writer, with a flair that matches — or at least evokes — that of the justice whose seat he would be nominated to fill. In fact, one study has identified him as the most natural successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Trump shortlist, both in terms of his judicial style and his substantive approach.

With perhaps one notable area of disagreement, Judge Gorsuch’s prominent decisions bear the comparison out. For one thing, the great compliment that Gorsuch’s legal writing is in a class with Scalia’s is deserved: Gorsuch’s opinions are exceptionally clear and routinely entertaining; he is an unusual pleasure to read, and it is always plain exactly what he thinks and why. Like Scalia, Gorsuch also seems to have a set of judicial/ideological commitments apart from his personal policy preferences that drive his decision-making. He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia).

​It's especially refreshing to see that Judge Gorsuch shares Justice Scalia's disdain for vague and overly broad criminal statutes. A Justice should be skeptical of the government's position and should demand that criminal law be unambiguous and clearly defined. My biggest complaint with Judge Merrick Garland was that his record showed too much deference to the government. I'll be very happy indeed if a Justice Gorsuch is Scalia's heir on criminal law.

Does The Left Know How To Make An Argument Not Based On Racism? →

Warren Meyer makes a very good point, over at his blog.

An even better example of focusing on all the wrong problems is the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions. If you read pretty much any of the media, you will be left with the impression that the main issue with Sessions is whether he is a racist, or at least whether he is sufficiently sensitive to race issues. But this is a complete diversion of attention from Sessions' true issues. I am not sure what is in his heart on race, but his track record on race seems to be pretty clean. His problems are in other directions -- he is an aggressive drug warrior, a fan of asset forfeiture, and a proponent of Federal over local power. As just one example of problems we may face with an AG Sessions, states that have legalized marijuana may find the Feds pursuing drug enforcement actions on Federal marijuana charges.

Why haven't we heard any of these concerns? Because the freaking Left is no longer capable of making any public argument that is not based on race or gender. Or more accurately, the folks on the Left who see every single issue as a race and gender issue are getting all the air time and taking it away from more important (in this case) issues. The SJW's are going to scream race, race, race at the Sessions nomination, and since there does not seem to be any smoking gun there, they are going to fail. And Sessions will be confirmed without any of his real illiberal issues coming out in the public discussion about him.

Furthermore,

Trump has an enormous number of problems in his policy goals, not the least of which is his wealth-destroying, job-destroying ideas on trade nationalism. But all we get on trade are a few lone voices who have the patience to keep refuting the same bad arguments (thanks Don Boudreaux and Mark Perry) and instead we get a women's march to protest the Republican who, among the last season's Presidential candidates, has historically been the furthest to the Left on women's issues. It is going to be a long four years, even longer if the Left can't figure out how to mount a reasonable opposition.

Texas's Hair Braiders Law is Unconstitutional →

This is a win for economic liberty. It's good to see judges who are willing to protect people's right to earn a living.

Isis Brantley, an entrepreneur who runs a hair braiding school in Dallas, sued the state in 2013, citing the laws that pertained to hair braiding schools to be unreasonable. Under Texas laws, hair braiding schools must first be a fully equipped barber college before turning into a facility that teaches students how to braid hair. In the case of Brantley, she had to first convert her small business into a barber school that had at least 10 student chairs that reclined back and a sink behind ever work station before being allowed to teach hair braiding.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled the laws against hair braiders to be “irrational,” citing the fact that braiding salons don’t need sinks to do hair because hair washing is not a part of the braiding process. Judge Sparks also reasoned that the state cannot force entrepreneurs to do meaningless things before starting their own business and challenged the state to find a single hair braiding school that met their requirements.

The Perils of Police Cameras →

The BloombergView editorial staff:

First, the potential for cameras to impartially resolve disputes shouldn't be oversold. Videos often lack critical context, and studies have repeatedly shown that jurors can be misled by variables such as a film's angle or focus, which can unduly sway perceptions of guilt. That cuts both ways: Footage of a protester bumping into a cop, devoid of context, could make life much easier on a prosecutor.

Finally, equipping police with cameras and audio recorders means that they're constantly conducting surveillance on innocent civilians -- and potentially storing it all. Police frequently enter private homes and encounter people in medical emergencies who may not want to be filmed. Some officers may be tempted to record people on the basis of race or religion. And some departments have asserted that the public has no right to see such footage.

In short, a policy intended to empower the public and monitor the police could have precisely the opposite effect.

It's thought provoking. It reminds me that, once again, there are no easy fixes for life's problems. The 24-hour surveillance angle is the most interesting. What if it's combined with FOIA requests? Allow it, and you could request footage of any encounter, both to look at a troubling incident and to snoop on other citizens. Deny it and police and prosecutors get something to hide behind.

Black Residents Armed With Assault Rifles Stand Guard Outside White-Owned Business During Ferguson Riots →

A group of black Ferguson residents armed with high-powered rifles stood outside a white-owned business in the city during recent riots, protecting it from rioters that looted and burned other businesses.

… a group of heavily armed black men stood outside a Conoco gas station.

One of the residents, a 6-foot-8 man named Derrick Johnson, held an AR-15 assault rifle as he stood in a pickup truck near that store’s entrance. Three other black Ferguson residents joined Johnson in front of the store, each of them armed with pistols.

The men said they felt indebted to the store’s owner, Doug Merello, who employed them over the course of several years.

I said before that I didn't like the rioting and looting that was going on in Ferguson. This story is both a good example of why not and a good antidote to the riots.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Ferguson

I find the entire situation in Ferguson to be infuriating and frustrating. I'm furious that a police officer got into an altercation with a young, black man and shot and killed him. I'm furious that the police department's first response was to suit up and bring out the tactical military gear. I'm furious that MRAV's, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers are considered appropriate tools for America's civilian police force.

I was frustrated that it took 3 nights of standoffs, tear gas, and rubber bullets before Missouri governor Jay Nixon decided that something was wrong and relieved the police of responsibility for Ferguson. I was elated when the Missouri State Highway Patrol was given responsibility and responded by leading protestors through town, listening to protestors, and being photographed hugging protestors instead of pointing guns at them.

I was confused when I heard that protestors, on the very first night, had reacted to the shooting by looting and trashing a local convenience store. Looting, in general, confuses me. Who does that? Who responds to a tragedy by saying, "Screw it. I'm mad and I'm going to respond by beating up this other innocent bystander."

Make no mistake, that's what looting and vandalism is. It's violence against the innocent and the uninvolved. Most stores that are looted are owned by local community members. They're staffed by local community members. They provide goods, services, jobs, and incomes to local community members. By destroying them, you're destroying local incomes, services, jobs, and wealth. You're depriving the owner of a livelihood. You're depriving the workers of an income. You're depriving the people who live and work near that store of the services that that store provided.

I've heard that protestors are claiming that they looted because that was the only way to draw attention to their cause. That's stupid. Protest marches, sit-ins, and rallies draw attention to your cause. Practicing non-violent resistance draws attention to your cause and generates sympathy from those watching. Looting and vandalism is a senseless act of violence and rage directed against those unfortunate enough to be located too close to the scene of tragedy. It's violence for violence's sake, responding to injustice by multiplying injustice.

So I was frustrated and angry when I heard that the night of calm in Ferguson was followed up with a night of renewed fighting and renewed vandalism. I was angry when I heard that the police stood back and allowed the looting to happen, forcing store owners to defend their own businesses. First the police over responded by armoring up and acting worse than most occupying forces. Then they under responded by allowing thugs to destroy community businesses. I'm angry because they don't understand—and can't perform—their own jobs.

I want justice in Ferguson. I want the police officer responsible for the shooting to be arrested and tried for murder, treated the same as any other civilian assailant. If a jury determines that his actions were justified, he can walk free and resume his job, the same as everyone else. If the jury determines otherwise, he can suffer the penalty, the same as everyone else.

And I want the looters to be arrested, charged, and tried as well. Their actions are neither necessary nor useful. They're criminal and should be treated as such.

One final note. I've seen people on Twitter questioning why second amendment anti-tyranny gun nuts haven't had anything to say about Ferguson. As one such nut, here's my response.

The citizenry of Ferguson absolutely have a right to own weaponry sufficient to defend themselves from criminals, whether vandals or an overreaching police force. The police force certainly seems to have given sufficient provocation for these Americans to justify an armed response. It was just such provocations, in Boston, that ultimately led to the War for Independence.

That doesn't mean that now is the right time for an armed response or that an armed response is the wisest course of action, at this time. I won't absolutely advise against it, and I won't absolutely advise it. I'm not on the ground in Ferguson, I don't know all of the facts, and I don't have the knowledge to speak wisely about the situation.

But the citizens of Ferguson, as citizens of the United States, have the right to assemble, to speak, and to petition for redress of grievances by any means necessary, either First or Second Amendment. But they don't have the right to claim that violence against local property owners is one such means of redress. That's why I'm increasingly angered with, and frustrated by, both sides of this standoff.

Peru cop who Tased Alzheimer's patient won't get his job back

This closes the loop on a story that I first noted back in July 2012.

According to police reports, Officers Gregory Martin and Jeremy Brindle entered Howard’s room in the locked-down Alzheimer’s unit and told him to enter the ambulance.

When Howard did not respond to commands, Martin unholstered his Taser and told him he would be Tased if he didn’t comply.

Brindle attempted to gain control of Howard’s arms to restrain him, and a struggle ensued. When Howard turned towards Brindle, Martin then Tased him, which caused Howard to drop to the floor.

Howard was then Tased by Martin two more times while on the ground after ordering him multiple times to roll onto his stomach. Police said Howard resisted constraint and attempted to fight them while on the floor.

Brindle then handcuffed Howard, which left a large, bloody gash on his wrist and escorted him to Duke’s Memorial Hospital. Officers said he was combative in the ambulance until his wife arrived at the hospital and calmed him down.

Howard’s wife, Virginia, ... said her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 13 years ago and doesn’t understand the simplest directions or commands like “sit down or pick up a book.”

In August 2012, the Peru, IN police department fired Gregory Martin. Martin immediately appealed his firing and the case went to court. On September 5 2013---more than a year later---the appeals court denied Martin's appeal. It's now official that Martin won't be going back to the Peru, IN police force.

I'm glad this case is finally over and that justice ultimately was served. But this case illustrates why I believe that police unions are a bad idea. In a normal business, you could fire an employee for this kind of overreaction and walk away, confident that the firing would stick. The city of Peru fired Martin and then had to fight multiple battles to ensure that the firing would stick.

This kind of long drawn process gives too much power to the police department, to our civil "servants". It mights it too costly to get rid of bad actors and makes it more likely that the bad actors stick around, causing more problems down the road.

Union defenders claim that the government unions are necessary, to protect employees against abusive employers and managers. But the city of Peru is ultimately responsible to its citizens. Police who think they are wrongly treated can make their case at the ballot box. They shouldn't be able to use the coercive power of unionization to dictate terms to the citizens who ultimately pay their salaries and employ them.

John Yoo on the Manning verdict

Last weekend, Bush torture lawyer John Yoo wrote about his disgust with the Manning verdict.

Bradley Manning caused one of the most harmful leaks in American history. He released into the public eye the identities of foreigners helping the U.S. in war zones, the means and methods of U.S. military operations, and our sensitive diplomatic communications with other nations. Lives — American and foreign — no doubt were lost because of the leaks. If anyone can think of a more harmful blow to U.S. intelligence in our history, let’s hear it. 

I've heard other people refer to the Manning leak as one of the most harmful in American history. But I don't think I've ever seen anyone offer any proof for that assertion. John Yoo needs to do something to prove that it was the most harmful leak in American history. Where's the evidence?

Manning published data that supposedly contained the names and identities of various American (and allied) agents who were working undercover. The data also allegedly contained the names of various Iraqis and Afghanis who were helping us, against the terrorists and the Taliban. I've seen people allege that our enemies would use that data to punish our friends.

It seems like it would be pretty easy to quantify how deadly this leak was, if it was deadly. Which agents and allies, named in the leaked documents, have since been killed, terrorized, or harmed by our enemies? Whose lives were lost because of Manning's leak? If this was a deadly leak, wouldn't that be dramatic proof? Wouldn't something have come out in a Congressional hearing, Department of Defense or Homeland Security press release, or presidential interview? Wouldn't the Administration and its allies constantly trumpet how harmful Manning's leak was?

Unless I've completely missed it, no one has done anything of the sort. I'm not convinced that Manning's leak was the most harmful in American history. And I'm not inclined to take the bald-faced word of a lawyer who thinks that the Constitution places no restraints on the President's powers to order people tortured.

George Will, on Tyranny and Democracy →

I am, somewhat notoriously, not in favor of straight "majority rules" democracy and not in favor of absolute, universal, unfettered suffrage. In a recent op-ed on Egypt's coup, George Will has an apt quote that sums up my distaste for pure democracy.

Lincoln understood that unless majority rule is circumscribed by the superior claims of natural rights, majority rule is merely the doctrine of “might makes right” adapted to the age of mass participation in politics. The idea that the strong have a right to unfettered rule if their strength is numerical is just the barbarism of “might makes right” prettified by initial adherence to democratic forms.

I think that the U.S. Constitution should be far more of a straight jacket than it currently is. It would be limiting and frustrating, even to some of my own policy goals. But that's as it should be. Tyranny is the inevitable result of letting the majority rule simply by virtue of being the majority.

Tsarnaev and Miranda Rights →

Orin Kerr provides an interesting analysis, at the Volokh Conspiracy:

1) A lot of people assume that the police are required to read a suspect his Miranda rights upon arrest. That is, they assume that one of a person’s rights is the right to be read their rights. It often happens that way on Law & Order, but that’s not what the law actually requires. The police aren’t required to follow Miranda. Miranda is a set of rules the government can chose to follow if they want to admit a person’s statements in a criminal case in court, not a set of rules they have to follow in every case.

There are questions of legality and questions or morality. Based on Kerr's analysis, it looks like it's legal to question Tsarnaev without reading him his Miranda rights. But is it moral? I think it is. I don't see the harm in allowing the police and FBI to interrogate Tsarnaev about this attack, if they aren't planning on using his statements against him.

The Republican Party and the African-American Vote →

Rand Paul, speaking at Howard University, passionately appealed to African Americans to support liberty minded Republicans.

The history of African-American repression in this country rose from government-sanctioned racism.

Jim Crow laws were a product of bigoted state and local governments.

Big and oppressive government has long been the enemy of freedom, something black Americans know all too well.

We must always embrace individual liberty and enforce the constitutional rights of all Americans-rich and poor, immigrant and native, black and white. Such freedom is essential in achieving any longstanding health and prosperity.

As Toni Morrison said, write your own story. Challenge mainstream thought.

I hope that some of you will be open to the Republican message that favors choice in education, a less aggressive foreign policy, more compassion regarding non-violent crime, and encourages opportunity in employment.

And when the time is right, I hope that African Americans will again look to the party of emancipation, civil liberty, and individual freedom.

It's a long speech but it is well worth reading.

Why I'm Teaching My Son To Break the Law →

J.D. Tuccille, writing at Reason.com:

My wife and I used it as a starting point for telling our seven-year-old why we don't expect him to obey the law—that laws and the governments that pass them are often evil. We expect him, instead, to stand up for his rights and those of others, and to do good, even if that means breaking the law.

Read the whole thing.

Minimizing authority of judges →

Senator Rand Paul, at the Washington Times:

For these reasons and others, last week I joined my colleague Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, in introducing a bill that would authorize judges to disregard federal mandatory-minimum sentencing on a case-by-case basis.

Some might think it is unusual for a conservative Republican to join a liberal Democrat on such a bill, but contrary to popular belief, the protection of civil liberties and adherence to the Constitution should be a bipartisan effort.

In my younger days, I would have regarded this as rank liberalism and heresy. Now it just seems like common sense. I'll stand with Rand on this one.

Read the whole thing. His reasons are dead on.

Do Republicans Need a Conservative Version of the Welfare State to Win? →

Shikha Dalmia, at Reason.com:

In short, the ideal conservative welfare state would be a libertarian dystopia of even bigger proportions than the liberal welfare state. There is less welfare and more state in it.

A conservative welfare state is a horrifying idea.

Read the whole thing. If big government Republicans try to push the party in this direction, I don't see any future for the party.

Feds admit FBI warrantless cellphone tracking 'very common' →

From Shaun Waterman, at the Washington Post:

FBI investigators for at least five years have routinely used a sophisticated cellphone tracking tool that can pinpoint callers’ locations and listen to their conversations — all without getting a warrant for it, a federal court was told this week.

The use of the “Stingray,” as the tool is called, “is a very common practice” by federal investigators, Justice Department attorneys told the U.S. District Court for Arizona Thursday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Installed in an unmarked van, Stingray mimics a cellphone tower, so it can pinpoint the precise location of any mobile device in range and intercept conversations and data, said Linda Lye, staff attorney at the ACLU of Northern California in a blog post about the case.

The FBI looks like a criminal organization, not a law enforcement organization. They're okay with spying on anyone and everyone for any reason at all. They don't believe that they're constrained by judges or the law.

Tar, feathers.

Indiana May Soon Mandate Police Training on Alzheimer's Disease

I've been following a story from Peru, IN. In June of last year, we learned that a local policeman had tazered a 64-year old man, suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In late August, we learned that the police departmant had fired the man involved.

Former patrolman Gregory Martin is currently appealing his firing. I'm watching that case, for any developments. Meanwhile, the Indiana legislature has gotten involved. Representative Bill Friend (R-Macy) introduced a bill "requiring all law enforcement officers in the state to receive training regarding people with Alzheimer’s disease". That bill passed the Indiana house unanimously.

I think this is probably a good idea. I know I don't know how to handle a violent Alzheimer's patient. I know that tazering someone with mental dementia is a bad idea, but I don't know what the right approach is. The "peace officers" on call should.

12 Year Old Girl Shoots Home Intruder →

Just last night, I posted that the "gun is civilization" and that "the gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger". This morning, I came across this story, from October, 2012. It perfectly illustrates the point.

A day off for fall break was anything but relaxing for a 12-year old Bryan County girl, when an intruder broke into her home on Michael Avenue.

Deputies say, the girl was home alone when a man she'd never seen before, rang the front doorbell. They say when no one answered the door, the man went around to the back of the house and kicked a door open. That's when authorities say, the girl grabbed a gun and hid in a bathroom closet.

"He had worked his way all the way through the house and into the bathroom. And from what we understand, he was turning the doorknob when she fired through the door." Says Bryan County Under sheriff, Ken Golden.

After the man was shot, The 12- year old ran out of the closet and called for help.

I hope that none of my girls are ever in that kind of situation. And I hope that if they are, that they do as well as this girl did.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Why the Gun is Civilization →

It's been nearly six years since I first read this brief essay, by Marko Kloos. It had a powerful impact on me and the central point has stuck with me ever since. Carrying a gun is not an uncivilized act. It is the ultimate civilizing act.

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Subject or Citizen?

I was struck by this bit from Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, as soon as I read it. A bit of background. Tesh Vorpatril is visiting the planet of Barrayar and is introduced to its ruler, Emperor Gregor. They are both at Vorkosigan House, the home of Lady Ekaterin Vorkosigan.

[Emperor Gregor said] “How do you do, Lady Vorpatril, Mademoiselle Rish. Welcome to Barrayar.”

He said this in the exact same way that Lady Vorkosigan had said, Welcome to Vorkosigan House. It came to Tej that he was the one man here who was not a subject.

Every Barrayaran is a subject of Emperor Gregor, pledged to obey him. With their lives, if necessary. Emperor Gregor was the only Barrayaran "who was not a subject". When I read that, it spent me down a trail of thought. What does it mean to not be a subject? What does it mean to be a citizen, instead?

An emperor is sovereign over many people. Gregor has the power of life and death over his subjects. He can order summary executions at will. A subject holds his own life only at the sufferance of his liege lord.

Gregor is responsible for his subjects. He must protect them, provide for them, care for them. Subjects are dependent on their rulers.

An emperor can seize whatever he wants: property, possessions, or people. Subjects have no legal recourse against this seizure. Subjects enjoy prosperity only at the whim of their sovereigns.

A citizen is sovereign over himself. He holds his life in his own hands. No one has the authority to order his execution. Citizens are independent. A citizen is responsible for himself. He must provide for himself, care for himself, and look out for his own interests. A citizen is entitled to keep what is his. His property is his own and cannot be taken. His possessions are his own and cannot be taken. His family is his own and cannot be taken.

Citizens are not, however, forced to stand alone, live alone, and die alone. A citizen can freely surrender a portion of his sovereignty to another. He can allow another to act as his agent, in all matters. He can allow another to provide for him, defend him, guard his interests, and more. But he retains sovereignty in all things. He can, at any time, fire his agent and either resume excercising sovereignty himself or choose a new agent to act on his behalf.

This is what it means to be an American. We are a nation of 300 million sovereigns. We have delegated a portion of authority to our elected representatives. We allow them to negotiate treaties in our names, to make and conclude war, to levy taxes and spend from the public fisc. But the President is not our ruler. Neither is Congress or the courts. They are merely our delegated agents. We are the rulers.

That is the difference between subjects and citizens. Subjects are ruled by someone else. Citizens rule themselves. Are you a subject? Or a citizen?

Is Obama's relentless use of the espionage act keeping whistle blowers silent? →

Bloomberg News reported on October 17 that Attorney General Eric Holder “prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.” :

The Justice Department said that there are established avenues for government employees to follow if they want to report misdeeds. The agency “does not target whistle-blowers in leak cases or any other cases,” Dean Boyd, a department spokesman, said.“An individual in authorized possession of classified information has no authority or right to unilaterally determine that it should be made public or otherwise disclose it,” he said.

However, when leaks to the press benefit the administration, prosecutions from the Jusitce Department are absent. For example, AG Holder was not prosecuting anyone over who leaked information about the killing of Oasma bin Laden. The Justice Department has yet to charge anyone over leaking information regarding the U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran as well as an al Qaida plan to blow up a U.S. bound airplane. In fact, the Justice Department ended up appointing one of two attorneys to the cyberattacks investigation who was an Obama donor.

“There’s a problem with prosecutions that don’t distinguish between bad people -- people who spy for other governments, people who sell secrets for money -- and people who are accused of having conversations and discussions,” said Abbe Lowell, attorney for Stephen J. Kim, an intelligence analyst charged under the Act, to Bloomberg News.

... On October 10, nearly one month after the deadly Benghazi attack that took the lives of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, President Obama issued a policy directive on whistle blower protections.

The directive expanded the protections of the House’s Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, which was designed to protect federal employees if they reported waste, fraud, or abuse through government officials-- to executive branch agencies. National security and intelligence staffers would be included in the legislation through the directive. It. passed the lower chamber in September. The bill has yet to be passed by the Senate.

Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center of Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, told Bloomberg News that the Obama policy directive does not go far enough, because it “doesn’t include media representatives within the universe of people to whom the whistle-blower can make the disclosure.” Basically, the administration can still continue to prosecute intelligence staffers who disclose information to the media.