On August 5, President George W. Bush signed into law legislation that amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). This new legislation authorises the electronic surveillance of international telephone conversations and e-mails, even if one of the participants is an American citizen on American soil, as long as the intercept is undertaken for foreign intelligence purposes and is “directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States.”
Continue reading "Despite it All, U.S. Civil Liberties Strong" »
Last November, after my daughter Mollie informed me that she and Andrea had gotten engaged, I was moved to post an entry on this site ("Marriage: Scripture v. Morality" [November 14, 2006]). “Mollie and Andrea,” I wrote “are deeply committed to one another. They want to spend their lives together. Watching them over the past few years, it is easy to see why. They complement each other, take care of one another, respect each other, and love one another. They want to have children, for all the right reasons. In my experience, they are no different in their love, commitment, and aspirations than any of the other young couples whose weddings I have attended over the past half-century. But Mollie and Andrea cannot marry.”
Continue reading "Mollie and Andrea's Wedding" »
1. On August 2, a Russian mini-sub planted a titanium flag on the seabed of the North Pole. The sub’s voyage was supposedly a part of a scientific mission to determine whether Russia’s claim to an enormous portion of the Arctic seabed is valid. But if the science is in doubt, why plant a flag?
Continue reading "The Race to the Arctic and International Law" »
Recent headlines have been full of references to “constitutional showdowns,” as the President asserts executive privilege against a Congressional investigation of the firing of U.S. Attorneys, and as Congress threatens to restrict the President’s discretion to deploy troops in Iraq. See (for example) here, here, and here.
The constitutional showdown is a category with real-world importance, but no theoretical backbone. What is a showdown, and are they bad, or good? Why and under what conditions?
Continue reading "Showdown!" »
What is at stake in the legislation, signed into law last weekend by President Bush, amending the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA)? To answer this question, it’s necessary to review how we came to this point.
Continue reading "The New FISA" »
Not long ago, a wild-eyed man came up to me in a large city, pushing a piece of paper into my hand and saying, in an alarmingly loud voice, "DO YOU KNOW WHERE THE IDEA OF THE UNITARY EXECUTIVE COMES FROM?" I couldn't help but laugh, because I do know (more or less), and the answer isn't quite what he said (which was Hitler, or it might have been Stalin). Because the idea of the unitary executive is so much in the news, and because it is creating a lot of confusion, it might be useful to set out some of the basics here.
Continue reading "What the "Unitary Executive" Debate Is and Is Not About" »
Melting polar ice and the high cost of energy are creating a new battleground at the top of the world. Yesterday a Russian mini-sub released a capsule containing a Russian flag onto the seabed at the North Pole. This was the climax of a research expedition whose purpose is to support Russia's claim to what could be billions of tons of oil and gas reserves in an area of the Arctic twice the size of France. Russia has already been setting up new military and civilian posts, such as in the Zemlya Frantsa Iosifa archipelago in the northeastern Barents Sea.
Meanwhile, Canada has reasserted its claim over the melting Northwest Passage, a portion of the Arctic Ocean linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Its recent announcement that it will build patrol vessels in order to establish sovereignty over the passage had a belligerent tone uncharacteristic of our peaceful neighbor.
Continue reading "The New Race for the Arctic" »