To his defenders former CIA officer John Kiriakou is a whistleblower who revealed the use of torture on terror suspects, but the government says that when he leaked the identity of a covert agent he was motivated by ego and money, seeking to “raise his media profile”.
In a deal with prosecutors Espionage Act charges were dropped and Kiriakou became only the second person ever convicted under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Also part of the deal was a prison sentence of 30 months instead of the eight years he faced under sentencing guidelines.
Supporters who signed a letter to President Obama asking that the sentence be commuted include NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Government Accountability Project director Jesselyn Radack who were seated in the courtroom today.
WaPo story here.
A large group of lawyers from the National LGBT Bar Association were introduced by Paul Smith before being sworn in to the bar of the Supreme Court.
Openly gay lawyers practice before the Supreme Court, but yesterday marks the first time lawyers have been identified as LGBT Bar members at the ceremony. The times they are a changing.
Clerk Willam K. Suter gives an informal, even entertaining, orientation to lawyers about to be sworn to the bar of the Supreme Court. This morning he pointed to the adjacent bench where the press would soon be taking their seats and said, “the press sits over here, so keep your hands on your wallets”.
General Suter – he is a former Army major general – will be retiring at the end of this term after 22 years as Clerk of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in City of Arlington, Texas v. FCC, a case concerning the deference due an agency in interpreting the statute that it administers and more specifically in this case whether it can determine its own jurisdiction. (Am I starting to sound like a lawyer yet?)
Thomas Goldstein, pictured above, argued for the petitioner. Solicitor General Verrilli, shown seated, responded for the FCC.
NYT story here.
A group of Navy lawyers picked the right day, yesterday, to be sworn in to the Supreme Court bar. The first case argued, Levi v. United States, involved a malpractice and medical battery suit against a Navy surgeon. But first, the Court had an opinion to announce that might have touched on Admiralty law, but didn’t.
In Lozman v. Riviera Beach the Supreme Court ruled that a houseboat is not a vessel subject to maritime law. In his opinion Justice Stephen Breyer noted that not every floating structure is a vessel. “To state the obvious, a wooden washtub, a plastic dishpan, a swimming platform on pontoons … or Pinocchio (when inside the whale) are not ‘vessels'”, Breyer said, “even if they are ‘artificial contrivances’ capable of floating, moving under tow, and incidentally carrying even a fair-sized item or two when they do so.”
The Court also heard arguments in a “takings” case, Koontz v. St. Johns River, of which I’ve posted a sketch below.
Not sure why the lawyer for the petitioner looks so happy. According to Lyle the argument did not seem to go his way.
Lyle Denniston’s take on the “takings” case here.