A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
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2dopeboyz: Hip hop. (RSS)

3hive: Sharing the sharing. Free and legal MP3s from over 600 underground and undiscovered artists — new ones added daily. (RSS)

Amazon MP3 Download - Frequency: Weekly. Get the latest on Amazon MP3 music downloads - new releases, freshly ripped hits, and special deals.

Audio Drums - A blog for rare, possibly overlooked, maybe forgotten gems of music with a slight emphasis on electronic and indie genres. (RSS)

Common Folk Music - A blog about music, not just folk music, but all music ranging from indie to alt-country to bluegrass, because music is for the “Common Folk”. (RSS)

Discobelle.net (RSS)

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Muruch (RSS)

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My Old Kentucky Blog - a music blog that parties with unicorns. (RSS)

Nah Right. (RSS)

ninebullets.net. (RSS)

Rollo & Grady: Los Angeles Music Blog, LA Music Blog (RSS)

Said the Gramophone: a music weblog (RSS)

She Makes Music: She Makes Music focuses on the most exciting and impressive new music created by brilliant and talented female musicians. (RSS)


Sounds Better With Reverb (RSS)

Stereogum: All the MP3s on Stereogum.com (RSS)

their bated breath (RSS)

Women of Hip Hop (RSS)

YouKnowIGotSoul (RSS)

Mourn ya till I join ya

The Wheel’s Still In Spin: Focusing on new music releases and reviews of individual albums as original, fictional short stories (RSS)

A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz - This site is just a way for me to have a little fun and share a little music. I’ll highlight some of my favorite artists that I play on the radio and try to expound upon their music in ways I can’t always do on the air. (RSS)

Aminal Sound

Audiofile: Music Blog, Music Articles - Salon.com

Crossfade: The CNET music blog

Direct Current New Music - Adult pop, rock, singer/songwriters, folk, Americana, alt-country, adult alternative, soul, world music, crossover jazz and simply those artists that make us go “hmmm.”(RSS)

GarageBand.com Folk top tracks (RSS)

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Flawless Hustle: Urban culture blog featuring artist interviews, music reviews, legal music downloads, street art, graffiti and more! (RSS)



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Sites participating in blogroll amnesty day

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skippy the bush kangaroo (Co-originator of Blogroll Amnesty Day) (2012)

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Notes From Underground (2012)

Redeye’s Front Page (2012)

Wisdom of the West (2012)

Zen Comix (2012)

pygalgia (2012)

Mikeb302000 (2012)

The Agonist (2012)

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« This Week In Tyranny | Main | ...And In Other News »

Obama's Bid to Bypass Congress on State Secrets

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post

On Monday Adam Liptak reported on a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Obama administration that “argued, though no one had asked, that the state secrets privilege [SSP] was rooted in the Constitution.” The story itself raised some questions to me about the journalistic process: What prompted it to be written now and not when the brief was first filed? Liptak describes the state secrets claim seeming almost tacked on to the end of an otherwise dry and unremarkable document; did its significance escape everyone until recently? Whose attention did it finally come to? There is no note of civil liberties groups raising awareness on it or any other kids of activism. Did someone from such a group become aware of its importance and contact Liptak? Had he been reviewing it himself and finally gotten to the last bit? I would love to know how it came to be published now when it had already been out there and nothing that I am aware of had happened to advance the story. (I mean that sincerely, too, not in the way “interested” is sometimes used to intimate bad practice or dark intentions.)

As for the filing itself, it seems like nothing so much as an attempt to short circuit the early rumblings on the issue in Congress. In February Senators Feingold, Kennedy, Leahy and Specter introduced the State Secrets Protection Act (SSPA), “a bill that provides guidance to federal courts considering cases in which the government has asserted the state secrets privilege.” As Liptak points out, and as can never be pointed out often enough, the SSP was created by the 1953 United States v. Reynolds decision, in which an Air Force accident report was suppressed because the government claimed that public disclosure of the details of the accident would jeopardize national security. Liptak: “When the report was finally released in 1996, it contained no secrets, but it did show that the deaths of nine men in the crash of a B-29 bomber had been caused by the Air Force’s negligence.” In other words, the prototype case for the SSP - the one that established the precedent that has been invoked for SSP claims since - was based on a lie used to cover up politically inconvenient facts.

While the SSP has been invoked by presidents of both parties since 1953, the Bush administration was particularly enthusiastic in claiming it. This made it a much more urgent issue for Barack Obama to address, and as with so many other civil liberties issues he has mouthed happy words for public consumption and done almost precisely the opposite in practice. If the president really thought the SSP was overbroad and over-used then some of the provisions of the SSPA ought to be music to his ears, such as:

  • Codify many of best practices that are already available to courts but that often go unused, such as in camera hearings, non-privilege substitutes, and special masters
  • Require judges to look at the evidence that the government claims is privileged, rather than relying solely on government affidavits
  • Forbid judges from dismissing cases at the pleadings stage, before there has been any document discovery, while protecting innocent defendants by allowing cases to be dismissed when they would need privileged evidence to establish a valid defense
That last point is particularly important in light of the Supreme Court’s recent evisceration of discovery. As a former professor of constitutional law what is there for him to object to? Of course, the key word is former. In his current position the situation obviously looks much differently to him, in the same way that then-Senator Biden was a co-sponsor of the SSPA in the last session of Congress but now-vice president Biden has nothing to say on the subject. But the White House’s friend-of-the-court brief speaks volumes on how the administration views the SSPA. Quite simply, they want it dead before the debate about it can even get underway. With no prompting at all, and in a seemingly strange and random manner that makes it look like a non-sequitur, the president has asked the Supreme Court to issue a ruling that would preemptively nullify the SSPA. If the court complies the whole discussion will be purely academic, and the executive branch will succeed in its latest effort to subvert the legislative. Even if you believe the president acts with only the purest intentions, this has to be seen as an attempt to make the government less accountable and more opaque - and as profoundly undemocratic.

Reader Comments (5)


It may be time to retire that constitutional law professor talking point as just more campaign bullshit:

Helen Thomas to Robert Gibbs: "Why is the president blocking habeus corpus from prisoners at Bagram? I thought he taught constitutional law. And these prisoners have been..."

Robert Gibbs: "You're incorrect that he taught on constitutional law"

I originally read it somewhere else, but here is where I got it tonight.

You know, I was an Obama skeptic, but in retrospect I wasn't nearly skeptical enough. He's so much worse on these issues (as well as others) than even I thought he'd be.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBDBlue

Thanks for passing that along, BDBlue. Gibbs needs to consult with this guy:

I went to law school, because I wanted to understand how the law should work for those in need. I became a civil rights lawyer, and taught constitutional law
God is that annoying. And you're right - he's been much worse than expected. Even the FISA capitulation last year didn't foreshadow just how bad he would be.

August 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterDan

In a million years I never thought his primary plan to improve regulation of the financial sector would be to give control to the Fed. That's the equivalent of putting Dick Cheney in charge of a torture truth commission.

August 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBDBlue

BDBlue, I agree. Also, Dan, glad to find your blog.

August 7, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterpdgrey

Thanks for dropping by, pdgrey!

August 7, 2009 | Registered CommenterDan

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