SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Thursday, October 14, 2004

APPEALING TO THE VOTERS. I almost forgot to mention yesterday's excellent op-ed by Boyden Gray at OpinionJournal. It is a well-written, hard-hitting piece. The obstructionist tactics of a minority of Democrats hurt them in the 2002 mid-term elections, and it will likely come to bite the even-smaller Democratic minority this time around. Their filibuster of the President's nominees is unprecedented and unconstitutional. Come November, they will reap what they sow.

Also, once I heard there was a Committee to Tell Senator Kennedy NO, I literally JUMPED at the chance of joining. His personal vendetta against Judge William Pryor, an upstanding man and outstanding legal mind, must stop. Sen. Kennedy has resorted to filing a shaky legal brief opposing the President's recess appointment of Judge Pryor. But plenty of people got his back--including me.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
BUSH vs. KERRY III: THE REAL DEAL DEFEATS THE PANDERER. President Bush turned in a solid performance, doing all he needed to do in this debate. He emerged victorious and heads into the final days of the campaign with good momentum. As with this past debate, I followed the debate while watching the running commentary by David Limbaugh and the folks over at The Corner, with a post-debate trip to Hugh Hewitt's blog to view his debate scorecard.

The President was spot on in calling Sen. Kerry for his subordination of America's national security interests to foreign elitists. Indeed, the President rightly chastised Kerry for his "Global Test" and for viewing terrorism as a "nuisance." The best Kerry could muster was cheap shots comparing the President to a TV mob boss or by bringing up Vice President Cheney's daughter in a failed, feeble attempt at a zinger. But, of course, Kerry bit it hard on the marriage issue. You know where the President stands. Kerry waffles.

Also, the personal differences between the two candidates was as stark as their policy differences, as reavealed by their respective discussions of the strong women in their lives. President Bush spoke, as always, from the heart. He speaks this same way in talking about the war and in defending America. When the President speaks about the First Lady and his daughters, you see him as the genuine American he is--as a man you would like to have as a friend and neighbor. Kerry, on the other hand, even appeared rehearsed--if not phony--in his comments on this subject.

By the way, not even the bias implicit in most of Bob Schieffer's questions were able to help Kerry overcome the President in this debate.

Mindy Belz at WorldMagBlog lists some editorial comments on the recent debate, with many commentators concluding that the President won this last debate, putting in his best performance yet.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
MLB PLAYOFFS CONTINUE. As I predicted, the New York Yankees have jumped out to a 2-0 advantage over the Boston Red Sox for the ALCS. It will be difficult for the BoSox to overcome this--but then, it IS the playoffs, so you can't count them out. Also, John Olerud is a good man, and so at the very least I am pleased to see him turn in some solid performances.

With the ALCS featuring a classic rivalry, the NLCS is barely registering headlines. Yet, I have decided to pull for the St. Louis Cardinals and I am pleased to see them win the first game of the series. With the Presidential debate on last night I did not get a chance to view the game, but hope to catch some innings this evening.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

MY TAKE ON THE 9/11 REPORT. Below is the review I originally submitted to Amazon.

THE 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT: FINAL REPORT OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON TERRORIST ATTACKS UPON THE UNITED STATES
By The National Taskforce on Terrorist Attacks
Norton (2004)


Important Reading for an Informed Citizenry! (4 Stars)

The 9/11 Report is an important document that every citizen who is particularly concerned about our national security should read.

To be sure, the Report does not make for pleasant reading: it focuses upon a horrific attack upon our nation, provides a brief dossier of our terrorist enemies, and discusses the shortcomings of our federal government’s intelligence, law enforcement and national security apparatus. It provides a narrative of the events of that morning and later chronicles the actions undertaken by emergency response crews in New York immediately following the attacks. Nonetheless, save for the Islamic/Arabic names that are often difficult to pronounce and distinguish, the text of the narrative and background information is easy to follow. The Report is rather lengthy and lengthier still if one examines the corresponding footnotes (as this reviewer has), but provides a wealth of information about the 9/11 plot, the plotters themselves, the ideology of Islamicist terrorists, a brief history of that movement, as well as the origins of al Qaeda. The end of the book contains the recommendations of the Commission.

It must be borne in mind that we are dealing with a hindsight evaluation. The Commission takes note of this and appears intent to place blame upon any one individual, group, agency, branch of government, or administration. That being said, the narrative presentation of the facts actually presented appears neutral and even-handed. The Commission stated that it submitted the Report “…as a foundation for a better understanding of a landmark in the history of our nation.” In that modest sense, it surely succeeds.

This reviewer is an attorney, and thus paid particularly close attention to those portions of the Report touching upon the pre-9/11 response to terrorism posed by the legal and law enforcement communities. One thing is certain: terrorism cannot be treated as a mere law enforcement matter. Terrorism is an act of war and must be dealt with as such. The Report does point to the shortcomings of treating terrorism as something the courts can deal with effectively.

Unfortunately, terrorism WAS treated like a mere law enforcement issue by our government before 9/11. For instance, pg. 113 discusses former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger’s worry about not having enough evidence to convict Usama Bin Laden in a court. Excuse me? A court? That man should be put before a military tribunal. He had ALREADY declared war against the U.S. This reviewer is NOT trying to pin all the blame on Berger, by any means, but his concern is paradigmatic of the views of many in our government, as the Report demonstrated. (Reading the report and the involvement of Zacharias Moussoui with al Qaeda also brought home how out of place that man is in federal court. He was attempting to perpetrate acts of war against the United States.)

Unfortunately, in keeping the Report’s page length to what it is, many details had to be omitted. Information about the legal issues surrounding the use of the Predator drones (as mentioned on pg. 189), for instance, would have been helpful. Another example: the Report makes an off-hand remark about mistreatment of detainees on pg. 328, but offers no cite to check on that.

The Report does side-step many issues. Perhaps this was necessary in order to generate a consensus document, with many of the Commission’s members undoubtedly disagreeing on key issues. In the end, little mention is made about “the wall” that prevented the sharing of crucial information between government agencies. The Commission seems to indicate that the barriers had more to do with a cultural feeling in the intelligence community rather than prohibitions in the law, but they do not clearly state what the law is or should be or how the Patriot Act remedies those concerns. I would also have liked to have heard more about their views on the utility of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and its continued utility.

This reviewer is not especially qualified, at this time, to comment on the merits of the various recommendations given at the end of the Report. The recommendations include the creation of a National Intelligence Directorate. The Report does state that those are their recommendations and that they welcome the public debate that their recommendations will generate. Thus, our nation’s leaders should carefully consider and analyze their recommendations, but they and the rest of the citizenry should not be prepared to take them as gospel.

Americans who care about our nation’s security should read this report.


*******
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS. This is not the version of my review that Amazon ultimately posted. Curiously, upon sending it to them and following up, I received an e-mail that contained the following:

Your review of "The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States" was
removed because your comments in large part focused on your personal
opinions of the subject matter, rather than reviewing the title
itself.

While we appreciate your opinions on the subject, the intent of
customer reviews is to assist our customers in making an informed
purchase decision. We provide our customer reviews section for you
to comment on the merits of the book and the author's writing style.
We ask that you not use it as a place for discourse on the subject
matter.


Now, I re-read my review once I received the e-mail. I thought (and still think) their rejection was rather silly. It is pretty hard to review a book on a subject without giving some hint as to one's views. In any case, everything I dealt with was related to the Report and I really did focus upon the Report itself.

I would not have made much of a deal about this, except that I had a similar experience with my review of David Bernstein's You Can't Say That! I received the same boilerplate e-mail in regard to that review and did not get my review posted until I made some edits. Curious indeed.

Also, a related recommended reading is a speech delivered by 9/11 Commission member, Sen. Slade Gorton. I had the pleasure of hearing his insightful remarks, which can be found HERE.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
BASEBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES' UPON US. The playoffs are all set to begin, with the New York Yankees battling the Boston Red Sox and with the St. Louis Cardinals playing the Houston Astros. Personally, I was rooting for the Minnesota Twins to take the AL Pennant in a match-up with the Anaheim Angels. Since the two NL teams I was favoring in the Division Series emerged victorious, I can at least now pull for the NL Champion to take on whomever wins the Yankees/Red Sox series. My expectation is that the Yankees will win, but the fact of the matter is that I am such a hardcore Seattle Mariners fan that it makes no difference to me which of those two teams wins.

I will now go on record in saying that I want St. Louis to take it all in the World Series. It was actually my hope to see Minnesota play St. Louis in a re-match of the 1987 World Series. Granted, none of those same players are still around, but I remember that as being a fun series to watch. To be sure, my aunt from St. Louis will be pleased to hear that I'm rooting for her team. I managed to see Albert Pujols BLAST a home run against the Dodgers from a TV at the weightroom on Sunday evening. I expect to see plenty more of that in the NLCS and I eagerly look forward to some good ballgames.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
FUND STILL HOT ON THE TRAIL! Be sure to read yesterday's column by John Fund, available at OpinionJournal. Fund comes through with another DYNAMITE column!

There has been a recent string of attacks and break-ins and Republican offices across the nation. Just after reading his column, word came to me yesterday that a Bush campaign office in Spokane was broken into and vandalized. The Bellevue office has already been burglarized, as Fund notes.

Near the end of his column, Fund makes a plea for an election that will be decided by VOTERS, and NOT lawyers. He goes on to say:

To prevent that the Justice Department needs to step in now and enforce everyone's civil rights. That means protecting campaign workers from intimidation as well as preventing fraudulent votes from canceling out legitimate ballots. Allowing double voting, ballots to be cast from the graveyard and those who have been disqualified because of criminal convictions to dilute the process only calls into question the sanctity of the election itself.

Exactly.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)