The anti-government occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge appears to be winding down this week with The Oregonian reporting here that the “ragtag remnants” of the occupying group seem to be surrendering or leaving. The dissolution of the occupation follows the arrests earlier this week of the group’s leaders and the killing of the group’s de facto spokesman. In other news:
Plea Deals of the Rich and Famous. The Charlotte Observer has a report this week about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that resulted in a misdemeanor plea bargain for retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus. Petraeus faced federal criminal charges after a 2012 scandal where he was accused of providing classified information to and having an extramarital affair with his biographer. The report indicates that some people in government and law enforcement viewed Petraeus’s deal as unusually lenient while others saw potential hurdles to obtaining a felony conviction at trial.
The Man Who Knew Too Little. Speaking of mishandling classified information, the Washington Post reports here that the Navy’s current intelligence chief, Vice Admiral Ted “Twig” Branch, has for years been barred from accessing classified information because of the possibility that he may be indicted in a corruption investigation. The situation is described by one senior Navy official as “not optimum.”
Retroactivity of Substantive Rules. Jamie blogged earlier this week about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Montgomery v. Louisiana that Miller v. Alabama announced a substantive rule of constitutional law that applies retroactively to cases on collateral review. Before reaching the question of whether Miller’s rule was substantive or procedural, the court also held that the Constitution requires state collateral review courts to give retroactive effect to new substantive rules. The Court had appointed amicus curiae to argue against that holding and the Court’s discussion of the issue is worth a read for retroactivity analysis enthusiasts.
FBI Shares Child Pornography. USA Today reports here that the “FBI operated what it described as one of the Internet’s largest child pornography websites” for nearly two weeks last year. The site in question was tracked to computer servers in North Carolina prior to being moved by the FBI to its own servers in Virginia. The report indicates that the FBI took control of the child pornography website but left it online in an effort to identify and apprehend users of the site. The FBI apparently has deployed this tactic on prior occasions, but this case represented a “significant departure” from prior efforts because some files could be downloaded directly from the FBI. Orin Kerr opines here that the F.B.I. faced a “trolley problem” dilemma in deciding whether to keep the site up.
Federal Government Wants its Bayonets Back. The New York Times reports here that the Obama administration is requiring local law enforcement agencies across the country to return certain federal military surplus equipment. Sheriffs quoted in the report lament the loss of their departments’ 14-ton M-113 armored vehicles, but are especially annoyed at having to return their bayonets. The bayonets reportedly had proven effective at cutting seatbelts in car wrecks and decorating the barrels of assault rifles during parades. President Obama famously remarked in 2012 that because of the changed nature of the military, the Government had “fewer horses and bayonets” than in the past. There’s no word on how many horses are headed back to the federal stable, but sixteen bayonets are on their way courtesy of a Michigan Sheriff’s Department.