US Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Open Potential Lawsuits Against Chinese Regime Over Pandemic | The Epoch Times

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUSBy Cathy He

A Republican congressman introduced a bill on April 3 that would make it easier for Americans to bring legal action against the Chinese regime for its role in causing the global pandemic.

The Chinese regime currently enjoys protection from lawsuits filed in U.S. courts under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, a legal rule that insulates countries from being sued in other countries’ courts. There are, however, exceptions to this rule found in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

Stop COVID Act, introduced by Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Texas), would amend FSIA to provide another exception to immunity, for any state that is found to have “intentionally or unintentionally, to have discharged a biological weapon … in the United States or such discharge results in the bodily injury of [a] United States citizen.”

The move comes amid growing calls by U.S. lawmakers to hold the Chinese regime accountable for its initial coverup of the CCP virus outbreak in Wuhan, which has since morphed into a global pandemic claiming tens of thousands of lives and devastating the world economy.

The Stop COVID Act will give our legal system the power to investigate the origin of the virus and, if found guilty hold accountable those responsible for creating and releasing it,”  Gooden said in a press release.

The legislation would pave the way for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the source of the virus, and file claims against the Chinese regime in the United States, the statement said.

The origin of the virus is still unknown. While Chinese authorities initially suggested that a live animal market in Wuhan was the source of the outbreak, officials have since steered away from this narrative. The first documented patient, a bedridden man in his 70s in Wuhan who showed symptoms on Dec. 1, did not have any contact with the market.

Meanwhile, Beijing has launched a global disinformation campaign to push the unfounded theory that the virus originated from outside China, in a bid to deflect blame over its mismanagement of the outbreak. One Chinese official has claimed, without providing evidence, that the virus was introduced to Wuhan by U.S. Army personnel.

US Lawsuits

Despite the potential barrier of sovereign immunity, several lawsuits were recently launched in domestic courts against the Chinese regime, seeking to hold it liable for the damage the CCP virus has caused to Americans.

One of them is a class action filed by Florida law firm The Berman Law Group in March. The firm, in a joint statement issued on April 3 with Lucas Compton, a Washington-based lobbying firm hired to do PR for the lawsuit, welcomed Gooden’s bill, saying it would “provide additional firepower to our legal position.”

But the firm maintained that the “lawsuit is not only enforceable in its current state, but addresses key legal components that are exceptions to the Foreign Sovereignty Immunities Act’s (FSIA) jurisdiction.”

The complaint says the action falls under two exceptions to FSIA: the “commercial activity” exception—that is, acts in connection with a commercial activity conducted outside the United States that cause a direct effect on the United States—and the exemption for death or harm caused by negligence or other tortious acts or omissions by a foreign state.

But Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter argued in a recent Bloomberg opinion piece that these exceptions are unlikely to be made out.

“The Florida class action suit asserts that the exception for commercial activities applies, but it’s not easy to see how,” Carter wrote.

With regards to the second exemption, “that section specifically bars any claim ‘based upon the exercise or performance or the failure to exercise or perform a discretionary function regardless of whether the discretion be abused.’ It’s hard to find a way around this restriction,” Carter wrote.

Matthew Moore, Berman Law’s class action attorney, told The Epoch Times that the restriction Carter mentions does not apply here because the regime acted “completely egregiously against humanity.”

“If they’ve hidden something of danger, then they don’t get to say that that was a discretionary act,” Moore said.

Though the first cluster of infections appeared in early to mid-December, Chinese authorities did not confirm the outbreak until Dec. 31, 2019. It was not until Jan. 20 that it confirmed human-to-human transmission of the virus. Prior to that, officials had described the outbreak as “preventable and controllable,” and said the risk of human-to-human transmission was low. Yet a January study of the first 425 cases of the disease in Wuhan found “there is evidence that human-to-human transmission has occurred among close contacts since the middle of December 2019.”

At the same time, authorities also silenced Wuhan doctors who sought to warn their peers about the outbreak in late December. They were reprimanded by local police for “spreading rumors.”

Berman Law also plans on adding another FSIA exception to their lawsuit—the exemption for “terrorism,” Jeremy Alters, the chief strategist and non-attorney spokesperson of the firm’s lawsuit, told The Epoch Times.

“We have a virus that is well known to the Chinese government. They’re aware of its propensity to spread human-to-human rapidly. They’re aware of its propensity to harm people and to kill. They’re aware that it originated in the city,” Alters said. “They hid the information from us.”

He added that by the time the Chinese regime alerted the United States and other countries about the severity of the outbreak and initiated lockdown measures, it was already too late—5 million people had already left Wuhan, spreading the virus to other parts of China and overseas.

“How is that not … an act of intentional terror?” Alters said. “This is an act of bioterrorism.”

Source: The Epoch Times

I am an American constitutional lawyer – and I see our government using Covid-19 to take away our fundamental rights | Ron Paul Institute

lockdown

Johnny Liberty, Editor’s Note: For almost thirty years we fought to preserve your freedoms in America from the encroachment of national, state and local governments only to have one, overstated “pandemic” destroy all of them in one large swath of overreaching power. Americans are still asleep at the wheel and have lost the enthusiasm for preserving their freedoms. The U.S. Constitution and your Bill of Rights has been quarantined. 

By Robert Barnes

Do we really think “it can’t happen here” in America? Could we quarantine the constitution? Are we doing it already?

Panics from pandemics unleash unchecked governmental power. The very premise of popular films like V for Vendetta reveal this: a group uses a virus to seize power and create a totalitarian society. Anyone could witness this from far-off lands, watching the news about China locking people up in their own homes and then removing them screaming from those homes whenever the state wanted. World War I and the Great Depression birthed virulent forms of governments with leaders like Hitler, Mao, Mussolini and Stalin.

Governments across America already used the pandemic, and the media-stoked panic around the pandemic particularly, to limit, restrict or remove First Amendment freedoms of speech and free association, with officials complaining about the potential restraints the freedom of religion imposed upon them. Others denied or declared the right to deny Second Amendment rights of gun purchase for personal safety (at a time governments are issuing no-arrest and no-detention orders for a wide range of crimes in their community while publicly freeing inmates from jails and prisons). They want to coordinate with tech companies to surveil and spy on your everyday movements and activities, in violation of the Fourth Amendment and potentially waive, unilaterally, your medical right to privacy in multiple contexts. Stay-at-home orders deprive you of your profession, occupation, business and property, without any due process of law at all beyond an executive fiat in violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. Governments request the authority to involuntarily imprison any American on mere fear of infection without any probable cause of crime or clear and present danger of harm by that person’s volitional conduct, deny access to personal counsel in an unsupervised, un-surveilled manner in violation of the Sixth Amendment, and act as judge, jury and executioner in violation of the Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury, as jury trials themselves get suspended around the country in the nation’s quieted courts and fear-muted public.

The real pandemic threat is here. It’s the panic that will quarantine our Constitution.

First Amendment Quarantined?

Already, governments in America suspended the First Amendment freedom of millions of citizens with shutdown, stay-at-home, curfew orders that prohibit obtaining a petition for a public protest, or even being physically present for a public protest. Indeed, even meetings in “more than ten” are prohibited by various governing jurisdictions within the United States. Surprising places like Missouri did so. Towns like Hartford did so. Maryland soon followed suit. The effect of the stay-at-home orders of New YorkCaliforniaNevadaIllinois and Pennsylvania effectively achieve the same outcome. Other governing officials recognized the dubious lawlessness of these orders, but remain outliers. Remember the Hong Kong protests? Gone. Remember the Yellow Vest protests? Soon to be gone. Seen any protests on American streets today? A pandemic is here. Protests gone. Constitution quarantined.

Second Amendment Quarantined?

But that is not all. Under the guise of “unnecessary businesses,” “emergency powers,” or simply by furloughing or reducing staff in the background checks department, governments show the willingness to limit Second Amendment rights as well as First Amendment protections. Mayors declare the right to ban gun sales, governments declare no background-check personnel to process a background check, delaying gun sales indefinitely, and other governments simply shut down all gun sales businesses entirely. Most worrisome, this happens while governments release inmates into the streets, and discuss releasing even more, and, at the same time, issue no-arrest and no-detention orders from Philadelphia to Fort Worth for a wide range of criminals. Want to defend yourself, give yourself a deep sense of personal protection that comes with gun ownership for many, as the Second Amendment safeguards? Well, no luck, according to too many of our governing overlords. A pandemic is here. Self-protection sacrificed. Constitution quarantined.

Fourth Amendment Quarantined?

Few protections are more American than the right to privacy against coerced, compelled, secretive, subversive invasion. The government operates like a virus in a case of a pandemic panic, infecting our minds and bodies, monitoring speech, association and movement, with tools of surveillance unthought-of to the founders. Coordinating with private companies (unrestrained by the Fourth Amendment; why do you think NSA uses them to gather all your emails, conversations, texts, and internet searches, at the first stage?), governments used the panic about the pandemic, a panic the government itself stoked with aid of a compliant, complicit press, to waive your medical privacy and invade your personal privacy, looking for tools to monitor your every movement, associations, activities, and behavior. The watching eye in the sky can now be the Alexa in your home, the camera on your computer, and the phone in your hand. A pandemic is here. Privacy ended. Constitution quarantined.

Fifth Amendment Quarantined?

The protection for our right to make a living arises from the Fifth Amendment right to property without deprivation by due process of law, and the obligation for the government to compensate any such takings. Yet, governments across America did just that to millions of businesses, workers, and property owners, stripping them of their ability to make a living, or even to engage in a free market of commerce, by shutdown orders, curfews, and stay-at-home orders. The political and professional class ensconced in its work-from-home environs fails to appreciate the hardship this imposes on working people. No compensation. No substitution. No wages. No revenues. No opportunity. Labor lost that can never be recovered, ever, while it leaves our economy teetering on the edge of a worst-ever depression. The foundation of government is to protect the pursuit of happiness. Now all we get to pursue is Netflix-and-chill and hope miracles happen to pay next week’s bills, and pray the market doesn’t crash like in 1929. A pandemic is here. Opportunity & property gone. Constitution quarantined.

Conclusion

Our founders were intimately familiar with pandemics, viruses and plagues, yet they did not allow any to suspend our Constitutional liberties. Not one word in the Constitution about plagues or pandemics to exempt the government from any of our Bill of Rights. Why do our current courts allow it? Because the public is asleep at the wheel. Think the pandemic threatens to kills us all? A review of the data shows the pandemic is more panic than plague.

Time to wake up. Maybe it is time in the motto of V for Vendetta, to “Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot.” As that film’s lead character well said: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.” Only when an awake public asserts their human liberties to protest the loss of their liberties will, then, governments quit using public health crises to seize power that does not belong to them. The answer to 1984 is still 1776.

Reprinted with permission from RT.

The author is an American constitutional lawyer representing high-profile clients in civil and criminal trials, and known for his prescient political prognostications in American and international elections.

Source: Ron Paul Institute

Does Gov. Newsom Have the Power to Shut Down Private Businesses Because of Coronavirus? | California Globe

HM_JF19_Page_37_Image_0001_0Editor’s Note: Finally, a constitutional attorney studies the California Governors martial law powers distinct from emergency powers. The State of California has declared a state emergency on the heels of a national emergency so as to cash in on federal funding  available to the state, but the Governor has not declared martial law. His orders are recommendations with no force of law.

Do counties really have the authority to order everyone to stay at home? Are Shelter in Place Laws Valid?

By Katy Grimes

California Constitutional-Election Law Attorney Attorney Mark Meuser has been questioned so much about the Coronavirus shelter in place orders, and social distancing, he prepared a video and comprehensive explanation of the executive Orders issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and California counties public health officials’ orders.

Mark Meuser:

I have been asked by numerous people to help them understand what is going on in the state of California regarding the shutting down of businesses and shelter in place laws. Does the governor really have the power to shut down private businesses? Do counties really have the authority to order everyone to stay at home? This video is my attempt to provide some basic understanding about the difference between martial law and the governor declaring a state of emergency. In this video, we will look at California statutes, the Governors Executive Orders, and the subsequent county health orders of shelter in place. Hopefully as we go through all these documents, you will gain a better understanding of what exactly is going on in this state.

Because of all the misinformation and a lack of information regarding what is going on, if you find this video helpful, can I ask you to share this video on your social media. Tell your friends and family to watch this video so that they can be better educated on what exactly is going on legally that led to all these shelter in place laws.

Please remember that things are changing by the minute and as such, it may not necessarily reflect the most current legal developments. As such, all the information presented here is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should seek the advice of legal counsel of your choice before acting upon any of the information contained in this video.

First off, let’s start off with the term Martial Law. What is Martial Law, and when can the governor declare Martial Law?

California Military and Veterans Code Section 143 is the statute that gives the Governor authority to proclaim Martial Law. This statute reads:

Whenever the Governor is satisfied that rebellion, insurrection, tumult or riot exists in any part of the state the Governor may, by proclamation, declareto be in a state of insurrection, and he or she may thereupon order into the service of the state any number and description of the active militia, or unorganized militia, as he or she deems necessary, to serve for a term and under the command of any officer as he or she directs.

As you can see, we are not currently in a state of rebellion, insurrection, tumult or riots and as such, the Governor of the State does not have the power to declare martial law. However, that being said, the Governor does have broad powers under the California Emergency Services Act. The California Emergency Services Act can be found starting in California Government Code section 8550.

There are three main types of emergencies that enable a governor to declare a state of emergency.

  1. State of War emergency.
  2. State of Emergency
  3. Local Emergency

I think we all agree that we do not currently have a state of war emergency since neither California or the United State are not under an attack or threat of attack by an enemy of the United States.

As such, that leads us to state of emergency or local emergency. A local emergency deals with disasters that are contained within the limits of a county. Since the Corona virus effects the entire state of California, we are currently dealing with the second option, a State of Emergency.

Under California Government code section 8558, a governor can call a state of emergency when there is an “existence of conditions of disaster or of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the state caused by conditions such as air pollution, fire, flood, storm, epidemic, riot, drought, cyberterrorism, sudden and severe energy shortage, plant or animal infestation or disease, …earthquake, or other conditions, other than conditions resulting from a labor controversy or conditions causing a state of war emergency ….”

California Government Code section 8567 states that all orders under the California Emergency Services Act must be in writing and they take effect immediately. When the governor calls a state of emergency, he may suspend any state statute, rule or regulation. (Cal. Gov. § 8571). Please notice that the governor does not have the authority to suspend the California Constitution. As such, any rights contained in the Constitution are still in force. In fact, to make sure the government understands that there are limits to their authority, Cal. Gov. § 8571.5 expressly states that nothing in the California Emergency Services Act gives the government the right to seize or confiscate any firearm or ammunition unless an officer is arresting someone pursuant to an investigation for the commission of a crime.

When a governor calls a state of emergency, this gives him the authority to commandeer or utilize any private property or personnel deemed by him necessary in carrying out the responsibilities. However, the state is liable for the reasonable value of what it uses. (Gov. Code § 8572).

Gov. Newsom’s Executive Orders

Now that we have discussed the law, let’s now talk about what the Governor of California has actually done.

On March 4, 2020, Governor Newsom Declared a State of Emergency.

On March 11, 2020, Governor Newsom’s office published the fact that it was California Department of Public Health’s policy of preventing gatherings of groups larger than 250 people “should be postponed.” This was not an executive order by the governor, instead it was a California Department of Public Health policy. This policy does not cite a single law that gives the California Department of Public Health authority to shut down events of 250 people or require social distancing of more than 6 feet. While these may be good guidelines to follow, they are simply policies, they are not the law.

To emphasize that this was just a policy and not a law, on March 12, 2020, Newsom issues his next executive order (N-25-20). This executive order states that “All residents are to heed any orders and guidance of state and local public health officials, including but not limited to the imposition of social distancing measures, to control the spread of COVID-19.”

Notice the language of this order. “All residents are to heed any orders and guidance …”. If you look up the word heed in the dictionary, you will discover that it means “to give consideration attention to.” It does not say you must obey. Gavin Newsom in his executive order utilizing his powers granted him after declaring a state of emergency told the citizens of California that Californians should takes the advice given by the California Department of Public Health into consideration when making decisions.

Thus, contrary what you may have been led to believe, Gov. Newsom did not actually issue an executive order requiring Californians to practice social distancing, nor did he actually order gatherings of over 250 people to shut down. All he did was order people to pay attention to what these organizations were saying. These were merely recommendations.

Understand, a policy is different from a regulation. While I was able to find authority that allowed the California Department of Health Services to issue emergency regulations after they jumped through a few hoops, I have been unable to find where their policies would have the full force of law. Laws are passed by the legislature, or under the state of emergency, via executive order by the governor.

Before I move on to what the counties have done with their shelter in place laws, I want to quickly let you know that Gov. Newsom has issued five other executive orders in the last several days regarding the Corona virus.

Newsom has signed an executive order on March 13 ensuring funding for schools even if the schools are closed. He has issued an executive order on March 16th on how the state must focus on protecting the health and safety of the most vulnerable. And on March 16th, his executive order dealt with suspending the laws allowing landlords and banks from removing individuals who have not been able to pay their bills until May 31st. On the 17th he signed an executive order to ensure that key commodities can be delivered to California retailers. Finally, on the 18th he issued an executive order to protect ongoing safety net services for the most vulnerable Californians.

Shelter in Place Laws

So now let’s move to the issue of shelter in place laws being issued by the counties. I have not looked at every county’s shelter in place law, but I have looked at several and they are very similar.

California law allows counties to declare a health emergency when the local health officer determines that there is a threat of the introduction of any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease. (California Health and Safety Code § 101080). It appears that this power was not given to the California Department of Health Services but instead, this power was left in the hands of local Health Officers.

Cal. Health & Safety § 101040 permits local health officers to take any preventive measures that may be necessary to protect and preserve the public health from any state of emergency declared by the governor. After a local health emergency has been declared, “The sheriff of each county .. may enforce within the county … all orders of the local health officer issued for the purpose of preventing the spread of any contagious, infectious, or communicable disease.” (Cal. Health and Safety Code 101029). Cal. Health & Safety § 101030 specifically gives the county health officer the authority to order quarantines.

However, the question arises, does a county health officer have the authority to order a quarantine of healthy people, or just those who are sick? What laws are in place in the state of California regarding the stopping of disease through quarantine?

The statutes are very broad in their wording. Cal. Health & Safety § 120175 says that the health officers “shall take measures as may be necessary to prevent the spread of the disease or occurrence of additional cases. Cal. Health & Safety § 120200 indicates that a health officer shall establish and maintain places of quarantine. But this still does not answer the question, can a health officer issue a quarantine of everyone in the county?

In 1921, Laura Culver petitioned the courts to be released from a quarantine. The Court’s held that the law permitted public health officials to quarantine individuals who have come in contact with cases and carriers of contagious diseases.

As one studies California law, it is clear that the law used to be very explicit that a quarantine was only applicable to those who had a contagious disease or those who had come in contact with someone who had a contagious disease.

While most of the laws regarding quarantine are very broad, Cal. Health & Safety § 120215 appears to have limiting language. This statute reads: Upon receiving information of the existence of contagious, infectious, or communicable disease for which the department may from time to time declare the need for strict isolation or quarantine, each health officer shall: (a) Ensure the adequate isolation of each case, and appropriate quarantine of the contacts and premises. (b) Follow the local rules and regulations, and all general and special rules, regulations, and orders of the department, in carrying out the quarantine or isolation.

Let’s look at this for a minute. I think we can all agree that the health officers have sufficient information that there is a communicable disease. However, where we disagree is that the Health Officers are ordering a county wide shelter in place law where the law only allows “adequate isolation of each case, and appropriate quarantine of the contacts.” This is where the local health official appears to have overstepped their authority. The counties are not looking at this on a case by case bases. Instead, they are issuing broad orders that affect both the healthy and the sick. They are not ordering a quarantine of those who have been in contact with someone who has the virus.

Cal. Health & Safety § 120225 also has some instructive language. This statute says that “A person subject to quarantine …”. The quarantine laws where designed to quarantine an individual or a location, not an entire community or organization.

Finally, Cal. Health & Safety § 120235 makes clear that the quarantine powers of the local health officer were never intended to be a community lock down. Cal. Health & Safety § 120235 clearly states that “no quarantine shall be raised until every exposed room, together with all personal property in the room, has been adequately treated, or, if necessary, destroyed, under the direction of the health officer, and until all persons having been under strict isolation are considered noninfectious.”

The quarantine laws are clearly intended to be applied to individuals not to the entire county. The quarantine laws are designed to stop those who might have been infected from passing the disease onto others. Absent the local health officers finding that an individual has the disease or is likely to have the disease, California law does not give them broad authority to quarantine the entire county.

As such, it appears counties such as San Francisco that have issued broad shelter in place laws may be violating California law.

If you feel like the state of emergency called by the governor or these shelter in place laws have adversely effected your business and/or violated your constitutional rights, I would encourage you to seek competent legal counsel to examine your individual case.

In conclusion, we are living in very interesting times. There are those who feel like government officials are in a contest to see who can be the most aggressive in upending the lives of its citizens over the Corona virus. The great debate of today seems to be, is the government doing too much or is the government not doing enough. Regardless of the answer to that question, there are going to be some serious financial ramifications as a result of this virus.

Regardless of whether the government has over reacted or under reacted, the threat of this virus will end. When it does, our generation will have the opportunity to show how we are able to bounce back, just like we did after the Great Depression or 9/11.

Source: California Globe

Democracy And Corruption: European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights Files War Crimes Charges Against Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld And Other CIA Officials | Liberal America

By Tiffany Willis

BushRumsfeldCheneyThe European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights has filed a criminal complaint against U.S. torture program architects and members of the Bush Administration. The organization has accused CIA director George Tenet and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of war crimes and they’ve called for a German prosecutor to conduct an immediate investigation.

This move follows the release of the damning Senate report on CIA torture that includes the case of German citizen Khalid El-Masri, who was captured in 2004 by CIA agents in a case of mistaken identity. The report revealed the shocking contrast of democracy and corruption.

Bizarrely, the only person involved with the CIA torture program who has been charged with a crime is the man who exposed the war crimes — whistleblower John Kiriakou.

The relevant parties in this case have given an extensive interview to Democracy Now. Some of the important points are below.

Wolfgang Kaleck, the general secretary of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the author of International Prosecution of Human Rights Crimes said this:

“By investigating members of the Bush administration, Germany can help to ensure that those responsible for abduction, abuse and illegal detention do not go unpunished.”

Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and chairman of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said this:

“I strongly disagree that Bush, Cheney, et al., would have a defense. This wasn’t like these memos just appeared independently from the Justice Department. These memos were facilitated by the very people — Cheney, etc. — who we believe should be indicted. This was part of a conspiracy so they could get away with torture. But that’s not the subject here now.”

“Secondly, whatever we think of those memos, they’re of uselessness in Europe. Europe doesn’t accept this, quote, ‘golden shield’ of a legal defense. Either it’s torture or it’s not. Either you did it or you didn’t. And that’s one of the reasons, among others, why we’re going to Europe and why we went to Europe to bring these cases through the European Center.”

Ratner is the author of The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution by Book.

Ratner also said this:

“But, of course, you know, Cheney just showed us exactly why you have to — have to prosecute torture. Because if you don’t prosecute it, the next guy down the line is going to torture again. And that’s what Cheney said: ‘I would do it again.’”

From Addicting Info‘s Ryan Denson:

Khalid El-Masri was on vacation in Skopje, in Macedonia, when he was pulled off of a bus by government agents, sodomized with a drug, and taken to the secret base that was identified only as Cobalt in the CIA torture report. After four months, and after the United States learned of the mistaken identity, they left him there and continued to torture him. They held him further because the U.S. realized they had been torturing the wrong man. Afterwards, they released him, dropping him off somewhere to resume his life.

El-Masri’s comments to Democracy Now highlight the contrast of democracy and corruption:

[translated] I was the only one in this prison in Kabul who was actually treated slightly better than the other inmates. But it was known among the prisoners that other prisoners were constantly tortured with blasts of loud music, exposed to constant onslaughts of loud music. And they were—for up to five days, they were just sort of left hanging from the ceiling, completely naked in ice-cold conditions. The man from Tanzania, whom I mentioned before, had his arm broken in three places. He had injuries, trauma to the head, and his teeth had been damaged. They also locked him up in a suitcase for long periods of time, foul-smelling suitcase that made him vomit all the time. Other people experienced forms of torture whereby their heads were being pushed down and held under water.

“And let me just say, Germany — whatever happened before, between the NSA spying on Germany and the fact that their citizen has now been revealed to have been kept in a torture place, when it was known that he was innocent, I’m pretty sure that Germany is going to take this very seriously.“

We need to throw our full support behind this investigation and our government and the Obama administration needs to not impede it in any way. This is a harsh indictment of our hypocrisy as a nation when it comes to democracy and corruption.

Source: Liberal America

Republican Judge Strikes Down Obama’s Immigration Order | ThinkProgress

By Ian Millhiser

AntiImmigrationIn an extraordinary opinion that transforms a routine sentencing matter into a vehicle to strike down a politically controversial policy, a George W. Bush-appointed judge in Pennsylvania declared President Obama’s recently announced immigration policy unconstitutional on Tuesday. Because the policy “may” apply to a defendant who was awaiting sentencing of a criminal immigration violation, Judge Arthur Schwab decides that he must determine “whether the Executive Action is constitutional.” He concludes that it is not.

Schwab spends just five pages discussing his rationale for this conclusion, an unusually short amount of legal analysis for a complex question regarding the scope of the executive branch’s power to set enforcement priorities. Notably, Schwab also spends nearly three pages discussing quotes from President Obama which, the judge claims, indicate that Obama once thought his present actions are illegal — even though Schwab eventually admits that these quotes are “not dispositive of the constitutionality of his Executive Action on immigration.”

Half of Schwab’s analysis of the Executive Action’s constitutionality is devoted to a strawman. Noting that Obama cited Congress’s failure to act on immigration in his speech announcing the new policy, Schwab devotes half of his analysis of the policy’s constitutionality to explaining that “Inaction by Congress Does Not Make Unconstitutional Executive Action Constitutional.” He’s right on this point, just as Schwab would be correct if he argued that President Obama’s authority to create this new policy does not come from a magic hat that Obama keeps in the Oval Office. But it’s somewhat curious that the judge feels the need to present Obama’s political rhetoric as if it were a constitutional argument and then tear that non-argument down.

The remainder of Schwab’s brief constitutional analysis concludes that the new policy “Goes Beyond Prosecutorial Discretion — It is Legislation.” Notably, however, Schwab cites no judicial precedents of any kind to support this conclusion.

One case that Schwab does not cite is Arizona v. United States, where the Supreme Court said that the executive branch has “broad discretion” in matters of deportation and removal. As Arizona explains, a “principal feature of the removal system is the broad discretion exercised by immigration officials.” Executive branch officials, moreover, “must decide whether it makes sense to pursue removal at all.”

Notably, Arizona also indicates that this broad discretion flows from federal immigration law — i.e. laws that were enacted by Congress. This matters because Schwab’s opinion concludes that Obama’s “unilateral” policy “violates the separation of powers provided for in the United States Constitution as well as the Take Care Clause.” In essence, Schwab concludes that the president lacks the authority to act in the absence of authorization by Congress. Schwab does not even discuss the possibility that Obama’s actions may actually be authorized by Congress. Thus, even if Schwab’s reading of the Constitution is correct — itself a questionable proposition — the judge does not even discuss another major source of law that can justify the president’s actions.

Another problem Schwab does not address in his constitutional analysis is how, exactly, the executive branch is supposed to deport the many millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States if it is not allowed to set enforcement priorities among them. As the Justice Department explained in a memo discussing the legality of Obama’s policy, “there are approximately 11.3 million undocumented aliens in the country,” but the executive only “has the resources to remove fewer than 400,000 such aliens each year.”

The fact that Congress only provided sufficient resources to the Obama administration to remove a small fraction of the undocumented immigrants within the United States is itself a legislative judgment that most of these immigrants should not be removed. As the Supreme Court explained in Heckler v. Chaney, because federal agencies typically lack the resources to “act against each technical violation of the statute it is charged with enforcing,” they necessarily must set enforcement priorities. Moreover, these priorities generally should not be second-guessed by judges because “[t]he agency is far better equipped than the courts to deal with the many variables involved in the proper ordering of its priorities.”

So Schwab’s legal analysis is thin. He spends nearly as much time making what appear to be political attacks on the president as he does evaluating actual legal matters. And what little legal analysis he does provide fails to cite key Supreme Court decisions that seem to contradict his conclusion. Judge Schwab traveled far along a very thin branch to reach this decision, and he anchored his decision with little grounding in legal authorities.

Moreover, it’s not clear what effect, if any effect at all, this decision will actually have. The judge does not issue an injunction halting the new immigration policy. Nor does he even state with certainty that the actual defendant in the case before his court will benefit from an order declaring the immigration policy unconstitutional.

Yet, despite these weaknesses in his opinion, immigrant families would be wrong to write off the threat his decision could present. There was a time when the constitutional challenges to the Affordable Care Act were widely dismissed by legal experts — Ronald Reagan’s former solicitor general said he would “eat a hat which I bought in Australia last month made of kangaroo skin” if the Supreme Court struck the law down — yet these challenges rapidly gained momentum after a few Republican judges reached out to strike the law down. The same can be said about the legal theory in King v. Burwell, a lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court that seeks to gut much of Obamacare.

It remains to be seen whether Schwab’s opinion — thin though its reasoning may be — will also grant legitimacy to the case against the president’s immigration policy.

Source: ThinkProgress