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Obama Consults with Congress

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Yes, I know. The video is from Faux News. But if you ignore the scrolly bit at the bottom it's okay. Barack Obama is going to be the President of the United States in 14 days! Someone pinch me.


In Mexico, Gays Defend Their Right to be Catholic

In Mexico, Gays proclaim a "right to be who we are, and demand to be respected and acknowledged as part of the Catholic community."

By Diego Cevallos
IPS News via AlterNet

Social activists and members of "unusual couples," as the Catholic Church calls gay, lesbian and transsexual unions, are discussing possible actions to be taken on Jan. 13-18, 2009 when Mexico hosts the Sixth World Meeting of Families organised by the Vatican.

Many ideas are being considered, but the actual actions, which will include "some very important ones," will only be announced in early January, Víctor Espíndola, director of the Mexican Sexual Diversity News Agency, a non-governmental organisation specialising in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual community-related issues, told IPS.

The World Meeting of Families in the Mexican capital will be the sixth edition of an event organised by the Catholic Church since 1994 -- the previous editions were held in Italy, Brazil, the Philippines and Spain -- that revolves around the concept that a family can only be formed by a man, a woman and their children.

"They say we’re not a family, but we are, and we’re also Catholic and proud of it," Esteban Castillo, an electronics specialist who lives with another man, told IPS.

Carrillo and a group of friends plan to gather with signs and a "surprise" element in front of the meeting’s venue -- the City Banamex bank convention centre in Mexico City -- and loudly voice their "right to be who we are, and demand to be respected and acknowledged as part of the Catholic community," as Carillo put it.

Espíndola, for his part, preferred not to reveal what his organisation is planning, but he did say that the very dynamics and diversity of the activists are a sure indication that there will be a wide variety of actions, even some decided on the very eve of the meeting, which, he says, will be no less important because of their spontaneity and improvisation....(Click for remainder).


Steve Benen's Chutzpah Watch

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

John Bolton, the former ambassador to the U.N., and former deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo, best known for his torture memos and creative ideas about the "unitary executive," have a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times today. Now that Bush is leaving office, Bolton and Yoo believe -- get this -- the president should have less authority and discretion when it comes to international affairs.
The Constitution's Treaty Clause has long been seen, rightly, as a bulwark against presidential inclinations to lock the United States into unwise foreign commitments. The clause will likely be tested by Barack Obama's administration, as the new president and Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton, led by the legal academics in whose circles they have long traveled, contemplate binding down American power and interests in a dense web of treaties and international bureaucracies.

Like past presidents, Mr. Obama will likely be tempted to avoid the requirement that treaties must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate.... By insisting on the proper constitutional process for treaty-making, Republicans can join Mr. Obama in advancing a bipartisan foreign policy. They can also help strike the proper balance between the legislative and executive branches that so many have called for in recent years.
As Bolton and Yoo see it, Obama might pursue international treaties that "subordinate" the United States to "international control" under the auspices of the "'global governance' movement." As such, they argue, Obama must only enter into international agreements that have the support of two-thirds of the Senate.

Reading this, I had to double check to make sure we were talking about the same Bolton and Yoo. After all, John Yoo has spent most of the last eight years arguing that the president has an unfettered power to do as he pleases on the international stage. Indeed, Yoo argued that the president can literally ignore any law he chooses -- including the Constitution -- if he decides it's in the nation's interests....(Click for remainder).


Obama announces key Department of Justice posts

WASHINGTON—Today, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he intends to nominate the following individuals for key posts at the United States Department of Justice: David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General; Elena Kagan, Solicitor General; Tom Perrelli, Associate Attorney General; and Dawn Johnsen, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel.

President-elect Obama said, “These individuals bring the integrity, depth of experience and tenacity that the Department of Justice demands in these uncertain times. I have the fullest confidence that they will ensure that the Department of Justice once again fulfills its highest purpose: to uphold the Constitution and protect the American people. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

The announcements made today are below:

David Ogden, Deputy Attorney General
Ogden is currently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr and serves as the Department of Justice Agency Review lead for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Ogden was nominated by President Clinton to serve as Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division from in 1999 and served in this capacity until 2001. He was awarded the Edmund J. Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in 2001. From 1998 – 1999, he served as Chief of Staff to Attorney General Janet Reno and as Counselor to the Attorney General from 1997-1998. From 1995-1997, Ogden served as Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Department of Justice, and from 1994 -1995 served as Deputy General Counsel, Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Defense. Ogden was a partner at Jenner and Block in Washington, DC from 1988-1994 and worked at the law firm of Ennis Friedman & Bersoff from 1983-1988. He clerked for Associate Justice Harry A. Blackmun in the U.S. Supreme Court from 1982-1983 and for Judge Abraham D. Sofaer in the Southern District Court of New York from 1981-1982. He received his B.A. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 (summa cum laude) and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1981 (magna cum laude). He served on the Harvard Law Review from 1979-81.

Elena Kagan, Solicitor General
Kagan, the Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law, is currently the 11th Dean of Harvard Law School. Kagan first came to Harvard Law School as a visiting professor in 1999 and became Professor of Law in 2001. She has taught administrative law, constitutional law, civil procedure, and seminars on issues involving the separation of powers. She was appointed Dean of the Law School in 2003. From 1995 to 1999, Kagan served in the White House, first as Associate Counsel to the President (1995-96) and then as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council (1997-99). In those positions she played a key role in the executive branch’s formulation, advocacy, and implementation of law and policy in areas ranging from education to crime to public health. Kagan launched her scholarly career at the University of Chicago Law School, where she became an assistant professor in 1991 and a tenured professor of law in 1995. Kagan clerked for Judge Abner Mikva of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1986 to 1987. The next year she clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. She then worked as an associate in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly from 1989 to 1991. Kagan received her bachelor’s degree from Princeton in 1981 (summa cum laude). She attended Worcester College, Oxford, as Princeton’s Daniel M. Sachs Graduating Fellow, and received an M. Phil. in 1983. She then attended Harvard Law School, where she was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude in 1986.

Tom Perrelli, Associate Attorney General
Perrelli is currently Managing Partner of Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office. He is Co-Chair of the Firm’s Entertainment and New Media Practice and is a member of the Firm’s Litigation Department. From 1997-99, Mr. Perrelli served as counsel to Attorney General Janet Reno, supervising a variety of civil matters at the Department of Justice. He subsequently rose to Deputy Assistant Attorney General (1999-2001), supervising the Federal Programs Branch of the Civil Division. In 2005, Perrelli was named one of the nation’s 40 most promising lawyers under 40 by The National Law Journal for exhibiting “extraordinary achievements” in his career. He has been recognized as one of the leading media and entertainment lawyers in the United States by Chambers & Partners USA, named as one of 500 “New Stars” by Lawdragon in 2006, and named Best Intellectual Property Lawyer in Washington D.C. by the Washington Business Journal in 2008. Prior to joining Jenner & Block, in 1991-92, Perrelli clerked for the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Perrelli graduated from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, in 1991, where he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. He received an A.B. in History from Brown University in 1988.

Dawn Johnsen, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel
Johnsen is currently a Professor of Law at the Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington, where she teaches and writes about issues of constitutional law. Her recent publications on issues of presidential power include Faithfully Executing the Laws: Internal Legal Constraints on Executive Power, 54 UCLA L. Rev. 1559 (2007) and What’s a President to Do? Interpreting the Constitution in the Wake of the Bush Administration’s Abuses, 88 Boston U. L. Rev. 395 (2008). She serves on the board of directors of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. She served in the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice, as the acting assistant attorney general heading that office (1997-98) and as a deputy assistant attorney general (1993-96). In that capacity, she provided constitutional and other legal advice to the attorney general, the President, and the general counsels of the various executive branch agencies. From 1988-93, she was the legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). She clerked for the Honorable Richard D. Cudahy, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She received a B.A from Yale University in 1983 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1986.


Leon Panetta Short on Experience

By Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama's decision to fill the nation's top intelligence jobs with two men short on direct experience in intelligence gathering surprised the spy community and signaled the Democrat's intention for a clean break from Bush administration policies.
Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta, an eight-term congressional veteran and administrative expert, is being tapped to head the CIA. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair is Obama's choice to be director of national intelligence, a selection expected for weeks, according to two Democrats who spoke on condition of anonymity because Obama has not officially announced the choices.

The Obama transition team's long delay in selecting CIA and national intelligence directors is a reflection of the complicated demands of the jobs and Obama's own policies and priorities.

Obama is sending an unequivocal message that controversial administration policies approving harsh interrogations, waterboarding and extraordinary renditions _ the secret transfer of prisoners to other governments with a history of torture _ and warrantless wiretapping are over, said several officials.

The search for Obama's new CIA chief had been stalled since November, when John Brennan, Obama's transition intelligence adviser, abruptly withdrew his name from consideration. Brennan said his potential nomination had sparked outrage among civil rights and human rights groups, who argued that he had not been outspoken enough in his condemnation of President George W. Bush's policies.

And despite an internal list of former and current CIA officials who had impressive administrative credentials, all either worked in intelligence during the Bush administration's development of controversial policies on interrogation and torture or earlier, during the months leading up to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Neither Panetta nor Blair are tainted by associations with Bush administration policies, in large part because they both come from outside the intelligence world. Blair was posted at the CIA for about a year....(Click for remainder).



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