• Hanging Out at the Playboy Mansion While Colonel Davis Waits for Justice

    May 20, 2013

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    Posted in: Democracy

    Not to brag (OK, I’m bragging) but I am invited to the Playboy Mansion on May 22 to attend the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Awards. It is as good a place as any to hang out while one of this year’s award winners, Colonel Morris Davis, waits (and waits…) for justice as he struggles to protect his and our right to speak out against the government.

    Morris Davis v. Thomas Jefferson?

    Morris Davis is not some dour civil servant, and for most of his career, unlikely to have been a guest at the Playboy Mansion. Prior to joining the Library of Congress, he spent more than 25 years as an Air Force colonel. He was, in fact, the chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo and showed enormous courage in October 2007 when he resigned from that position and left the Air Force. Davis stated he would not use evidence obtained through torture. When a torture advocate was named his boss, Davis quit rather than face the inevitable order to reverse his position.

    Morris Davis then got fired from his research job at the Library of Congress for writing an article in the Wall Street Journal about the evils of justice perverted at Guantanamo, and a similar letter to the editor of the Washington Post. (The irony of being fired for exercising free speech while employed at Thomas Jefferson’s library evidently escaped his bosses.) With the help of the ACLU, Davis demanded his job back. On January 8, 2010, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Library of Congress on his behalf. In March 2011 a federal court ruled against the Obama Administration’s objections that the suit could go forward (You can read more about Davis’ struggle.)

    Justice Postponed is Justice Denied

    Moving “forward” is however a somewhat awkward term to use in regards to this case. In the past two years, forward has meant very little in terms of actual justice done. At about the same time in 2011 that Colonel Davis notified the government that he was going to be called as a defense witness for Bradley Manning, the Department of Justice filed a motion to dismiss Davis’ lawsuit against the government, actually seeking to make him pay the government’s court costs, and hinted at potential criminal charges because he copied some unclassified files from his office computer. Of course three years had passed since these alleged 2010 criminal acts and DOJ’s 2013 threats, so perhaps the timing was coincidence, but Colonel Davis said in an interview with me that he believes it was an attempt to discredit him and thus negate any help he could offer Manning.

    Despite DOJ’s clumsy efforts, the good news is that at a hearing about a month ago a federal judge denied the government’s stalling motion and the case is moving “forward” again. However, DOJ is again seeking to stall things with multiple delaying motions that require multiple responses, and the motions alone won’t be heard by a court until August. After that comes a lengthy discovery period that will likely take the case to the four year mark. Colonel Davis hopes he’ll get to trial before the five year point. He is a strong man, navigating more successfully between the empowering anger and the consuming bitterness than most people struggling against the government of the United States can manage. Still, it is hard for him to rationalize the amount of time and effort his own government is spending to limit the free speech rights of federal employees.

    Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards

    The government’s ability to limit free speech, to stopper the First Amendment, is perhaps the most critical issue our republic can face. If you were to write the history of the last decade in Washington, it might well be a story of how, issue by issue, the government freed itself from legal and constitutional bounds when it came to torture, the assassination of U.S. citizens, the holding of prisoners without trial or access to a court of law, the illegal surveillance of American citizens, and so on. In the process, it has entrenched itself in a comfortable shadowland of ever more impenetrable secrecy, while going after any whistleblower who might shine a light in. All that stands in counter to the government’s actions is the First Amendment, exactly as the Founders designed it to be.

    The Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards were established in 1979 to honor individuals who make significant contributions to protect First Amendment rights for Americans. Since the inception of the awards, more than 100 individuals including high school students, lawyers, librarians, journalists and educators have been honored. I am very proud that two of last year’s winners, whistleblowers Tom Drake and Jesselyn Radack, are my friends, and that Radack helped defend my right to speak against the Department of State.

    So congratulations to Colonel Davis. He earned this award and I’ll be proud to watch him receive it from Christie Hefner on May 22. He is in good company, as Daniel Ellsberg, the Vietnam War era’s version of Bradley Manning, is also being honored. By standing up against a government that is doing wrong, and seeking to bring those wrongs into daylight, both men have earned the privilege to be called patriots. All that said, it is an odd state of things. The only mainstream introspection of the government takes place on Comedy Central. Of all the possible ways I dreamed of getting into the Playboy Mansion over the years, this was not one of them. Nasty business, fighting for one’s First Amendment rights these days. Strange times make for strange bedfellows, even at the Playboy Mansion.





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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      05/20/13 12:15 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      2

      I only read “Playboy” for the SM photos:

      quote:”If you were to write the history of the last decade in Washington, it might well be a story of how, issue by issue, the government freed itself from legal and constitutional bounds when it came to torture, the assassination of U.S. citizens, the holding of prisoners without trial or access to a court of law, the illegal surveillance of American citizens, and so on.”unquote

      And so on. right. History my ass. Let’s get real. If these things aren’t enough to declare the current USG ILLEGITIMATE…I don’t know what is. Assassination of U.S. citizens alone, is an anathema to the U.S. Constitution, the NDAA notwithstanding. You know it. I know it. And THEY know it. This is exactly why they are trying everything within their power to project fear into Investigative Journalism by virtue of a war on the First Amendment. IF, they succeed..that’s it. We’re finished as a nation. And should that day come..that’s the day I pick up a weapon…2nd Amendment or not. And I’m not alone.

      05/20/13 2:36 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      3

      oops..sorry..I forgot to reply to the quote from Rich’s post. Damn. Now I forgot what I was going to say…geeezus. Getting old sucks. 🙂

      05/20/13 2:49 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      4

      “All that stands in counter to the government’s actions is the First Amendment…”

      Actually, no, because civil liberties are impotent without potentially violent force to back them up.
      You can “speak truth to power” until you turn blue, and then power will still just laugh in your face unless you can confront power with potential violence.

      In that light, Mao was mostly correct when he said “political power grows from the muzzle of a gun”.

      Yes it’s fashionable for Westerners to fetishise Gandhi – mostly because they fetishise his being non-White and non-Christian – but Gandhi’s method of non-violence worked in British-rule India only because the British had some cultural residue of Christian conscience. If Gandhi’s imperial masters had been Communists, they would have just killed him long before he became famous.

      There is SOME truth in the effectiveness of non-violence, but only in the spiritual dimension, NEVER in the POLITICAL dimension! The Kingdom of the Prince of Peace is not of this world. In THIS world, the rule remains that the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer what they must.

      05/20/13 5:09 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      5

      MLCLT- Agreed- to riff on a biblical parable- everyone in DC took the offer that Jesus is reported to have rejected. The practitioners of terrestrial power feel quite assured that they are bound for the next realm in good standing. That wasn’t the message but they are quite confident of their final destiny,

      05/20/13 11:27 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      6

      “In THIS world, the rule remains that the strong do what they will, and then lie through their teeth about it.”

      There..fixed it. Living proof is Benghazi. Here’s the brutal truth..Part 1. finally. Read this and see how dirty and rotten to the core these lying bastards really are….

      http://junipersec.wordpress.com/

      What difference does it make. right. Clinton..you lying fuck. I hope you die in the worst pain possible cause you deserve it. Obama..I hope you live forever..with a Perineal abscess between your ears. You deserve it.

      05/20/13 11:30 PM | Comment Link

    • JVC said...

      7

      PVB… Congratulations to you. Keep up the fight & supporting all those who have the balls to tell the truth and stand with their conscience. @MLCLT…very much agree with you and I’m not even concerned… I have no doubt that sooner or later urban liberals in the US will get their way & either get a gun ban, ammo ban or both but it won’t matter with literally 10’s of millions of guns, unregistered, in circulation. There are about 1 million LEO’s in the US. State, local, federal. Everybody. There are probably something on the order of tens of millions of gun owners. Do the math. Even if all 1 million LEO’s honored an order to abscond with the citizenry’s arsenal they would still be outnumbered tenfold. Bring in the military? Sure. But anecdotally I suspect that easily half if not more of the enlisted would refuse and I believe, a very large number of the officer corps, particularly if such an order were to transpire during a democratic presidency. I don’t care for either party but I hate a hypocrite. Spare me the “I feel your pain” & stay the hell away from the guns. Children cannot be allowed access to firearms, that’s why I cringe when I see Feinstein wielding AK’s @ her press outings. “Laws fall silent in the face of arms” -Cicero

      05/21/13 7:25 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      8

      JVC wrote scarastically: “Children cannot be allowed access to firearms, that’s why I cringe when I see Feinstein wielding AK’s @ her press outings”

      Agreed, and furthermore re children and firearms, as I grew up in a rural area where guns are commonplace and necessary tools for pest control (killing rabid raccoons for example), I learned how to shoot AND learned firearms safety, at age ten. And so at age ten, in our house a .22 rifle was always propped in one corner of the den, and I had access to it AND to the ammunition, but I never even imagined using it to shoot a Human…

      …simply because I was taught that there are some things you just don’t do. Basic morals and common sense.

      05/22/13 12:18 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      9

      quote:” Basic morals and common sense.”unquote

      right. I wouldn’t be spouting that around the net. After all.. DHS might label you a “terrorist”.

      05/22/13 2:38 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      10

      “After all.. DHS might label you a “terrorist”.”

      They’ve probably already done so, based on my exposing a Russian honeypot who went around sucking American cock until she finally immigrated to America by wrecking an American woman’s family, all sponsored by Bureau of Consular Affairs.

      05/23/13 2:54 AM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      11

      Google “John Stepanchuk” + “Yekaterinburg” + “collusion in passport fraud”

      05/23/13 3:35 AM | Comment Link

    • JVC said...

      12

      @ MLCLT… agreed again… my sarcastic analogy re Feinstein was flawed because as you wrote and indeed, where I am from, back in the day children were brought up to respect & use firearms and they had their place in rural households, farms, etc., for more than self defense. Still do. The split between urban and rural values is an ongoing point of contention in this country though I see it addressed less as “rural/urban” and more along the lines of “red/blue”.
      I have no knowledge of the Bureau of Consular Affairs but I’m sure they must be worse than my agency just based on their title.

      05/25/13 3:45 AM | Comment Link

    • 1st Amendment Justice Delayed is Justice Denied for Col. Morris Davis | emptywheel said...

      13

      […] get an idea of just what is going on here, a little background is in order. Peter Van Buren gives a good, and relatively brief synopsis: Morris Davis is not some dour civil servant, and for most of his career, unlikely to have been a […]

      02/20/14 8:45 PM | Comment Link

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