For all his experience and sophistication, that grimly blank expression -- calmly unflinching gaze, slightly lopsided frown -- embodied a philosophy of power unapologetically, brutally simple: attack, crush enemies; cause others to fear, submit. Power from time to time must be embodied in vivid violence, like Voltaire's executions, pour encourager les autres.
On Monday U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the NSA surveillance program was unconstitutional. The gist of his ruling is that collecting data on the telephone calls of every American violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. It should be pretty obvious to most Americans that collecting data in this way is not compatible with the values and laws governing our democracy, but it is still good to have that confirmed by a federal judge. The ruling itself is interesting, but the question of how any administration, Democratic or Republican believed that surveillance of that kind was, or should be legal, is more significant.
When Col. John Bogdan took the witness stand at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he'd been called to testify about the strict limits he's imposed on defense attorneys' visits with their death penalty clients. The attorneys representing the defendants accused of masterminding the 9/11 terrorist attacks claim his rules make their jobs unreasonably onerous.