Farris Hassan’s Day Off

This story is just odd:

The mother of a 16-year-old prep school student who journeyed to Iraq on a journalistic whim hasn’t decided how her son will be punished. She’s just relieved he’s on his way home. Farris Hassan left Baghdad Friday to begin traveling home, drawing to a close an adventure that could have cost him his life. The high school junior took the trip without telling his parents.

“When he first gets off the plane, I’m going to hug him,” said his mother, Shatha Atiya. “Then I’m going to collapse for a few hours and then we’re going to sit down for a long discussion about the consequences.”

Shehnaz Hassan, Farris Hassan’s sister, said as of Saturday morning that her brother was in Kuwait City and was scheduled for a return flight Monday, although they hoped to secure an earlier flight on Sunday. She said her mother spoke with her brother and a U.S. official over the phone. No further details were provided.

I was unaware minors could take international flights.

Pet Blogging

Some more commenters pets, and first up is one of the Jeff’s (I forget which Jeff, as we have five) pets:

Roxi (dog) and Felix have it out on the couch. I was promised no cats were hurt making that photo.

Cali (tortoise colored) and Felix (black) play in the sink.

Next up, from Katinula, our second cat named Cali:

Cali girl, relaxing underneath the Christmas Tree.

If you haven’t already, send your pics in. Please make sure you put your alias that you use to comment in your email.

Justice Is Funny

Amusing piece in the NY Times on the funniest SCOTUS justice.

The Investigation

By now you have all read this:

The Justice Department said on Friday that it had opened a criminal investigation into the disclosure of classified information about a secret National Security Agency program under which President Bush authorized eavesdropping on people in the United States without court warrants.

The investigation began in recent days after a formal referral from the security agency regarding the leak, federal officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the investigation.

The program, whose existence was revealed in an article in The New York Times on Dec. 16, has provoked sharp criticism from civil liberties groups, some members of Congress and some former intelligence officials who believe that it circumvents the law governing national security eavesdropping.

President Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales have vigorously defended the program as a legal, critical defense against terrorism that has helped prevent attacks in this country. They say Mr. Bush’s executive order authorizing the program is constitutional as part of his powers as commander in chief and under the resolution passed by Congress days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That resolution authorized the use of force against terrorists.

The White House said on Friday that it had played no role in the Justice Department’s decision. But in Crawford, Tex., where Mr. Bush has been all week, a spokesman was sent to talk to reporters with a prepared statement about the decision.

Does this mean the Justice Department has taken the position that the Bush wiretapping bit was legal? The ACLU has taken the position (and I am sure it will soon be echoed around the left wng of the blogosphere) that the leakers are heroes and whistleblowers. If they are in fact whistleblowers, how can an investigation go forward? It would seem to me the first thing that needs to be done is that Justice has to determine the law was or was not broken, then they can investigate.

And since I am asking so many damned questions, do lions and big game cats purr like domesticated cats?

*** Update ***

A GINORMOUS round-up of reactions to the investigation can be found here.

More Abramoff Fun

The WaPo reports that Tom DeLay, who recently denied Jack Abramoff three times to Sue Schmidt, basically worked as head prep cook in Abramoff’s high-volume kitchen of sleaze. Josh Marshall outlined this controversy before anybody else, combining insider sources and reporter’s intuition to define a massive clandestine network that basically operated as a money-laundering nexus and slush fund for the modern Republican party, and he has the best commentary on the latest scoop.

Threatening to ramp up this story from a slow burn into a full-fledged forest fire, rumors about Abramoff announcing a plea agreement have fixed on Tuesday as the likely announcement date.

As I’ve pointed out before, this story threatens to become the consuming scandal of 2006. Numerous informed sources have said that this could become the biggest criminal case against Congress since and possibly including Abscam. Fasten your seatbelts.

I Have Nothing To Say

It is a slow news day, I am unmotivated, and there is football on. Consider this an open thread. My apologies for not putting anything up today, but I just don’t have it in me today.

The War on Flour

Via Talk Left, the latest in the War on Your Neighbor Drugs:

When college freshman Janet Lee packed her bags for a Christmas trip home two years ago, her luggage contained three condoms filled with flour — a stress-relief contraption that she and some friends made as part of a dorm project.

Philadelphia International Airport screeners found the condoms, and their initial tests showed they contained drugs. The Bryn Mawr College student was arrested on drug trafficking charges and jailed. Three weeks later, she was released after a lab test backed her story.

Lee filed a federal lawsuit last week against city police, seeking damages for pain and suffering, financial loss, and emotional distress. She was arrested on Dec. 21, 2003, and was held on $500,000 bail and faced up to 20 years in prison had she been convicted of the drug charges.


Airport screeners found the condoms filled with white powder in Lee’s checked luggage shortly before she was to board a plane to Los Angeles to visit her family. She said she told city police they were filled with flour and that they were stress-relievers, not drug packages.

Police told her a field test showed that the powder contained opium and cocaine, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. A lab test later proved the substance was flour — and prosecutors dropped the charges, the newspaper reported Thursday.

I hope she wins (despite how mind-bogglingly stupid I think it is to have four condoms filled with flour), and wins everything she is asking for. I do take issue with this aspect of the Penn Live write-up:

Many records in the case remain confidential, inaccessible even to Lee’s lawyers.

“I believed her story because things just didn’t add up,” Oh said.

The field tests were odd because they detected the presence of not one drug but three, he said.

“People don’t mix drugs like that,” Oh said.

Oh yeah? Explain this:

In all seriousness, though, I hope she wins. Big.