Adam Serwer

Dept. Of "Awesomely Bad" Pushback.

Yesterday Spencer Ackerman paraphrased what he called the intelligence community's "awesomely bad" pushback against Dana Priest and William Arkin's first story on the national-security industrial complex, which was basically to cite a government regulation preventing contractors from performing “inherently governmental” activities:


Time to rethink the implicit secrecy bargain.

Pat Buchanan really is racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic, but he's a member of the right tribe, so it's OK.

The shrink-ray theft scene in Despicable Me was racist, but the minions seemed to me to be unionized, genetically altered corn pops and not really racialized. What does it say that supervillains allow their employees to bargain collectively but Republicans won't?

What Is The NBPP Story Really About?


Eisenhower signing the 1957 Civil Rights Act, creating the Civil Rights Division.

Top Secret America.

When the Umar Abdulmutallab incident happened, I was among those (Sanchez, Greenwald, Ackerman) pointing out that "we need to consider that part of the problem is the sheer volume of information being gathered almost indiscriminately, making it difficult to divine real threats from false ones." The broad

The Misleading "Political Appointees" NBPP Argument.

So, with the idea of outside pressure on the Civil Rights Division to drop the New Black Panther Case unsubstantiated, the exposure of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' investigation of the case as politically motivated, and the Justice Department's intervention on behalf of white voters in Noxubee County, Mississippi, there's really only one part of the conservative narrative of the NBPP case that remains -- the accusation that "political appointees" overruled career attorneys and were pursuing a political/partisan interest in deciding to narrow the case.

Table Scraps.

Pivoting off a 2000 speech in which Pat Buchanan accused Ivy League schools of discriminating against "white Christians," Ross Douthat writes that "it’s worth recognizing what Pat Buchanan got right." Douthat isn't too specific on what Buchanan got right, and he never actually makes the claim that Ivy League schools aren't mostly made up of white Christians, but he does conclude that "lower class whites" are being harmed by affirmative action.

"Refudiating" The Ground Zero Islamic Center.

Yesterday, Sarah Palin wrote an inflammatory tweet about the planned Islamic Center at Ground Zero, which she then promptly deleted:


She actually doubled-down on the sentiment later, in a fashion that was only slightly less embarrassing.

Mark Williams Loses At The Satire Game.

So there's a game Rush Limbaugh likes to play, where he'll express a sentiment he actually holds in the form of a joke, and when called out on it he'll remind everyone that it was intended as "satire." He calls it "illustrating absurdity by being absurd." Often the idea is that you're accusing liberals of holding the abhorrent belief in question. In practice both Limbaugh and his audience understand that this is actually a way for him to express something offensive without taking responsibility for it.

The Day The Controversy Over The New Black Panther Case Fell Apart.

So, a number of things have happened in the past few hours that should really discredit the entire conservative conspiracy theory behind the New Black Panther Party case.

Earlier today, I reported that J. Christian Adams, in his testimony to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said that there was no indication of pressure from outside the Civil Rights Division to dismiss the civil complaint against the other two plaintiffs named in the original complaint -- meaning that even Adams admits there's no evidence Barack Obama or Eric Holder had anything to do with deciding to narrow the case.


It's really astonishing that David Vitter is still a senator.

Tim Geithner vs. Elizabeth Warren?

Just read this.

Ann Friedman explains that the way to make friends of other races is not to treat them as anthropology projects.

Ben Smith destroys the NBPP story.

Distinguishing Between Violent And Nonviolent Islamism.

Yesterday I wrote that countering domestic radicalization will often involve people who are conservative or political in ways the government won't necessarily like, because those people will have a kind of theological and cultural credibility more liberal Muslims won't. Matt Duss, pivoting off a Washington Institute for Near East Policy report on the administration's national-security strategy, makes that point better than I did, but applied to the world as a whole.

Man's Inhumanity To Bybee.

Jay Bybee on the torture memos he helped write:

He said he was “proud of our opinions” at the Office of Legal Counsel, too, calling them “well researched” and “very carefully written.”

Still, he said the controversy surrounding his tenure there had been difficult.

“I have regrets because of the notoriety that this has brought me,” he said. “It has imposed enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally. It has had an impact on my family. And I regret that, as a result of my government service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family.”

Gov. Paterson To Sign Bill Ending Stop-and-Frisk Database.


New York Gov. David Paterson has terrible approval ratings, he is mired in a domestic violence and cover-up scandal involving one of his aides, and he's just generally considered a failure as a governor. But for civil libertarians concerned about criminal justice issues, he's really come through.

Adams: No Indication Of Pressure From Outside The Division On NBPP Case.

The decision to drop two defendants from the New Black Panther case and focus solely against the individual who held the baton has been presented as proof positive that the Obama administration is racist.

Bybee Vindicates Holder's Torture Probe.

Jay Bybee, the former Bush-era head of the Office of Legal Counsel who helped craft the legal justifications for torture, admitted that some interrogators went beyond the guidelines laid out in the torture memos, reports Jason Leopold:

Bybee, whose responses to questions appears to be an attempt to absolve himself of culpability, told House Judiciary Committee members that interrogators who employed techniques that deviated from the guidelines contained in the torture memos he signed acted without the approval of OLC.