Nicholas Confessore

Nicholas Confessore is a reporter for The New York Times. Previously he was an American Prospect senior correspondent and an editor of The Washington Monthly.

Recent Articles

Rwanda, Kosovo, and the Limits of Justice

In late March, as NATO bombs rained across Kosovo, Justice Louise Arbour of the Hague-based International Crim inal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) faxed a letter to Slobodan Milosevic and 12 other senior Yugoslav officials. "Sir," the letter read. "It is my intention to investigate all serious violations of international humanitarian law that merit prosecution in the international forum, particularly those involving attacks on the civilian population." Arbour encouraged each man to do everything in his power to "prevent the commission of further crimes" and to "punish any of your subordinates who commit serious violations of international humanitarian law in Kosovo.

The Judicial Vigilantes

It was an altogether scholarly collection of professors, lawyers, policy analysts, journalists, and concerned citizens—among them such prominent conservative legal scholars as Robert Nagel, Steven Calabresi, Christopher Wolfe and Hadley Arkes—that gathered at Washington's Sheraton City Center Hotel last October to discuss the matter of "judicial imperialism." But at the conference dinner, as attendees cracked Clinton jokes over filet mignon and merlot, they were treated to a speech from the singularly unscholarly Tom DeLay—former exterminator, bombastic representative from Texas, and by most accounts the most powerful man in the House.

Commission Impossible

All successful commissions are the same; all unsuccessful
commissions are unsuccessful in their own way. This is how the President's
Commission to Strengthen Social Security marked its singular sort of failure: A
few days after being summoned to the White House for a chat with George W. Bush,
co-chair Robert Parsons announced that the commission would not be putting out a
single, robust plan to reform Social Security--"the kind of plan the president
can sell to the Congress," as Bush economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey promised
last May. Instead, the commission would be putting out a "set of recommendations,
each of which raises different policy issues"--which is, politically speaking,

Feeding Time:

These days, a Democratic president who proposes $8 billion in new federal spending on after-school programs, drug treatment, prisoner rehabilitation, and welfare-to-work initiatives is likely to be laughed out of Washington. After all, there are only two kinds of politicians who propose that kind of thing anymore: loony, unreconstructed, quasi-socialist left-liberals -- and Republicans.

Prisoner Proliferation

When most of us think of convicts at work, we picture them banging out license plates or digging ditches. Those images, however, are now far too limited to encompass the great range of jobs that America's prison workforce is performing. If you book a flight on TWA, you'll likely be talking to a prisoner at a California correctional facility that the airline uses for its reservations service. Microsoft has used Washington State prisoners to pack and ship Windows software. AT&T has used prisoners for telemarketing; Honda, for manufacturing parts; and even Toys "R" Us, for cleaning and stocking shelves for the next day's customers.