Obama Plans Broader Use of Clemency to Free Nonviolent Drug Offenders
Peter Baker of The New York Times:
In his second term, Mr. Obama embarked on an effort to use clemency and has raised his total commutations to 43, a number he may double this month. The initiative was begun last year by James M. Cole, then the deputy attorney general, who set criteria for who might qualify: generally nonviolent inmates who have served more than 10 years in prison, have behaved well while incarcerated and would not have received as lengthy a sentence under today’s revised rules.
Overincarceration is a real problem. Like any decent lawyer, I’ll cite a few reliable sources.
I don’t have an answer. Longtime readers will know I’m a cynical bastard, despite my best efforts to the contrary. It seems to me like this move is more for the “optics” and less for real effect, but I’d love to be wrong.
Primary source: White House press release
Photo by me
On Law, Policy, and (Not) Bombing Syria
Ian Hurd, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University, writing at preeminent international law blog Opinio Juris:
It is well known that the [U.N.] Charter forbids the use of force except as self-defense or as sanctioned by the UN Security Council. Everything else amounts to aggression and is illegal.
The issue of whether and how the U.S. and/or the rest of the world should react to the use of chemical weapons in Syria is open to debate on ethical, moral, political, and practical levels.
But it is not open to any debate from an international law perspective: the U.S. proposal, whether approved and implemented by President Obama or the Congress to which he has deferred on the decision, is prohibited generally by international law and specifically by the United Nations charter.
A Map Of America’s 284 Drone Strikes Against Pakistan
Cliff Kuang of Co.Design:
Whatever your stance on drone killings, the fact remains that there’s been very little national dialogue on the topic. Indeed, some would say that’s a direct result of the main problem with the policy: Its complete lack of transparency.
Mr. Kuang points to the New York Times piece from this past June. It’s a good place to start, and taken along with this the infographic, starts to bring the severity of the issue into focus.
Perhaps reasonable people will come to different conclusions, but if you don’t at least have an opinion on this, get one.
I am Barack Obama, President of the United States — AMA
His most vulnerable answer (in my opinion) was with regard to a question about his most difficult decision so far as President:
The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban’s momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead – so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.
The session may have lasted only thirty minutes, and he may have only answered ten questions, but the President of the United States’ taking questions over Reddit will be seen by history as a bold and positive statement about the importance of the internet and its native communities.