Friday, March 4, 2011

Massive blast in Benghazi rips arms depot key to Libya rebels

Blast at Libyan weapons depot
Flames are seen after an explosion at an ammunition storage facility at a military base in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. | AP Photo/Hussein Malla
BENGHAZI, Libya — A massive explosion ripped through a major weapons depot for Libyan rebels outside this rebel-held city Friday, killing dozens and possibly dealing a major blow to the ongoing battle to topple Moammar Gadhafi.

The explosion leveled nearby buildings and overturned cars in the town of Rajma and could be felt through this city. Flames shot hundreds of feet into the air.

Medical officials said the death toll was unknown, but would be high. Other reports said at 60 had been killed, including 17 firefighters who reportedly died trying to extinguish the flames.

"We've got pieces, arms and legs, so we don't know how many people were killed," said an official at the Harwadiya Medical Center, one of the facilities where casualties were rushed for treatment.

"There must be a lot of dead not discovered yet in the nearby houses because the explosion was so big. You should look for bodies outside the base," said Bashir Ahmed Madani, 26, who was guarding the military camp entrance that led to the weapons depot and spoke from his hospital bed, where he lay covered with a bloodied pre-Gadhafi Libyan flag.

It was unknown what caused the explosion. Pro-Gadhafi war planes had tried to bomb the depot twice in recent days, without success, and there were no reports of air attacks when the explosion occurred at about 7 p.m. local time.

Whatever its cause, the timing of the blast couldn't have been more inopportune for the rebels.
For the first time since they took control of much of eastern Libya, the rebels on Friday had gone on the offensive, seizing the key oil town of Ras Lanouf on Libya's coastal highway, and moving their frontline 70 miles to the west in what appeared to be the first step in a long-promised march to Tripoli, where Gadhafi forces are in firm control.
Whether the rebels would be able to continue their westward movement without the depot was unclear. On Wednesday, the depot had been a primary source of arms for the ragtag rebel army that rushed from Benghazi to the port city of Brega to rebuff an assault by Gadhafi loyalists.

In the west, Gadhafi forces continued their siege of rebels in Zawiya and Misrata as the battle for control of Libya became a two-front war.

In Zawiya, Gadhafi forces blocked injured rebels from entering a hospital. In Misrata, residents finally gained enough ground to recover the body of a fighter killed four days ago. Fighters in both towns said they're running out of ammunition for their Kalashnikov assault rifles and other small weapons as they faced pro-Gadhafi forces equipped with tanks and artillery.
Rebels appeared hopeful they would prevail, especially a if the West imposed a no-fly zone, keeping Gadhafi from using his air force.

"We are waiting for a no-fly zone," said a rebel fighter. In the meantime, "we are fixing a lot of wapons and machine guns, but it is going to take time. We can defeat him, but it is going to take time."

In Benghazi, there were also hope that a no-fly zone would be imposed. Tellingly, a large "No Foreign Intervention" sign that hung over the courthouse in the early days of liberation had been taken down.

Essam Gherani, a volunteer and spokesman for the newly formed provincial council responsible for the east, said he now would welcome precision strikes at Gadhafi and his forces.

"If these bastions were hit, this would be done in 24 hours," Gherani said. "The will (of the rebel forces) is there, but the means is something else."

(Hannah Allam in Cairo and Jonathan S. Landay in Washington contributed to this article.)

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Verne Strickland Blogmaster

FBI: 100 percent chance of eventual WMD Attack on U.S.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

Written by  Ronald Kessler / Newsmax
Thursday, 24 February, 2011

The probability that the U.S. will be hit with a weapons of mass destruction attack at some point is 100 percent, Dr. Vahid Majidi, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, tells Newsmax.

Such an attack could be launched by foreign terrorists, lone wolves who are terrorists, or even by criminal elements, Majidi says. It would most likely employ chemical, biological, or radiological weapons rather than a nuclear device.

 As it is, Majidi says, American intelligence picks up hundreds of reports each year of foreign terrorists obtaining WMD. When American forces invaded Afghanistan, they found that al-Qaida was working on what Majidi calls a “nascent” weapons of mass destruction effort involving chemical and biological weapons.
In every other case so far, the reports of foreign terrorists obtaining WMD have turned out to be unfounded. However, Majidi’s directorate within the FBI investigates more than a dozen cases in the U.S. each year where there was intent to use WMD.

For example, in 2008, the FBI arrested Roger Bergendorff, who was found to have ricin and anarchist literature. Ricin kills cells by inhibiting protein synthesis. Within several days, the liver, spleen, and kidneys of a person who inhales or ingests ricin stop working, resulting in death.

“The notion of probability of a WMD attack being low or high is a moot point because we know the probability is 100 percent,” Majidi says. “We’ve seen this in the past, and we will see it in the future. There is going to be an attack using chemical, biological or radiological material.”

Even a WMD attack that does not kill a great number of people would have a crushing psychological impact.
“A singular lone wolf individual can do things in the dark of the night with access to a laboratory with low quantities of material and could hurt a few people but create a devastating effect on the American psyche,” Majidi says.

As described by Majidi, who was previously the chemistry division leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the WMD Directorate was established in 2006 to coordinate all elements of the FBI that deal with WMD cases.

Regarding a subject that is full of hype and misinformation, it is rare for an official who is an expert in the field and has full access to current classified information to talk about it for publication.

Majidi says the kind of threat that keeps him awake at night is one from a lone wolf. That’s because the FBI, along with the CIA and foreign partners, has developed a number of ways to detect plots by al-Qaida and other foreign terrorists. Besides intercepting their communications and infiltrating their organizations, the FBI gets reports when people purchase materials that could be used in a WMD attack. These techniques are known as trip wires.

For my book “The Terrorist Watch: Inside the Desperate Race to Stop the Next Attack,” Arthur M. “Art” Cummings II, who headed FBI counterterrorism and counterintelligence investigations, gave an example of the FBI’s use of trip wires.

When the FBI got a report of a man buying chemicals that could be used for explosives, it investigated. In this case, it would have been easy to dismiss the purchases as innocent, since the man was buying the supplies from a swimming pool company, and his business shipped pool supplies.

“That explanation wasn’t good enough,” Cummings says. “It’s not OK to say, It looks like pool supplies, we’re done. You don’t finish there. Who at the pool company, specifically, did he buy them from? What specifically was the transaction, and what happened from there? Is it a friend; is it an associate; is it somebody who wants to do us harm? There was a day we would have said, It’s a commercial transaction, don’t worry about it. Each and every lead is followed all the way down to the most minute detail.”

Majidi says three agents from his directorate have been assigned to FBI offices overseas — known as legal attaché offices or legats — in countries like Georgia to work with foreign intelligence authorities on possible attacks.

Currently, Majidi is working to develop ways to detect development of new organisms that could be used in a biological attack. By definition, there would be no way to detect a new organism or to develop an antidote before it is unleashed.

“We are not sitting on our hands waiting to predict what will happen based on what happened yesterday,” Majidi says. As an example, he says, “You can design an organism de novo that never existed before. While there is no known articulated threat, this is something that we feel is a technology or science that potentially can be misused, either accidentally or on purpose.”

The FBI is working with the synthetic biology community to develop ways to zero in on any hint that someone could be developing such an organism that could become a threat.

“We’re not there to stop the science but to integrate our activities within their portfolio so that when the threat does develop or may develop over a long arc of time, we are ahead of those issues,” Majidi explains.

Majidi says the most remote threat is an attack with a nuclear device. A terrorist bent on detonating a nuclear weapon would have to successfully negotiate a series of steps, Majidi says. He would have to find an expert with the right knowledge. He would have to find the right material. He would have to bring the device into the country, and he would have to evade detection programs.

“While the net probability is incredibly low, a 10 kiloton device would be of enormous consequence,” Majidi says. “So even with those enormously low probabilities, we still have to have a very effective and integrated approach trying to fight the possibility.”

Experts are constantly being quoted with estimates of the amount of enriched uranium that could be unaccounted for from Soviet Union stockpiles and could be used to make nuclear weapons. Majidi says no one knows the actual amount.

“I know there is a hobby of guessing, and different folks give you a different number,” he says. “All I can tell you is that from the interdictions that we have had in the past decade, the quantities have been sufficient of highly enriched uranium that I clearly worry about this material on a global scale. How much is there? Any amount is too much.”

A terrorist who stole a nuclear weapon from a country that has one would have an easier time than if he tried to make one. “One of the things you have to understand is that nuclear markets are very ambiguous markets,” Majidi says. “There are as many bad guys trying to sell material as there are good guys trying to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

While terrorists talk about using WMD, the preferred method for attack so far has been explosives. Majidi cites two examples: the Christmas Day bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian citizen who boarded a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009, and tried to detonate explosives sewn into his underwear; and the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani immigrant who attempted to set off a car bomb in Times Square.

“While all of these guys are still interested in potentially using chemical, biological, or radiological weapons wherever it is possible, the pragmatic approach that they have taken is to use what has worked for them best, which is various forms of explosives and improvised explosives,” Majidi says.

“The latest round is concealing explosives coming through the commercial shipping environment,” Majidi notes. “That brings to the fore the fact that explosives are something that we’re not going to get away from any time soon. It’s the modality that is most often preferred by a pragmatic adversary.”

Given the sensitivity and complexity of the subject, Majidi says he tries to present all the issues in context: “One of my jobs is to make sure I put all of these things in an appropriate light, because if you were in my job you would see that everyone always tries to elevate things to a tremendous level.”

Of one thing Majidi is sure: “There’s a probability of 100 percent that a WMD event will happen.”!/

Thursday, March 3, 2011

2012 Redistricting in NC: Who gets hit, who gets bit, and who's left standing when the music stops.

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

March 03, 2011
Aaron Blake, one of the savvy political commentators for The Fix, published  in The Washington Post, is a savvy political commentator in my book. At least he would be, if I had a book.
Barring that, he did a tantalizing overview of how the complex dynamics of redistricting might play out in North Carolina. The Fix has previously examined how the fickle pen of political mappers might chart the future of twelve other states.
These are choice parts of Blake's analysis of probable scenarios in North Carolina – who gets hit, who gets bit, and who’s left standing when the music stops.
North Carolina was one of just a few states where Republicans missed their chance at big gains in the 2010 midterms. Which makes it one of the only states in the country where Republicans could well make big gains in redistricting.

The Tarheel State stands out as the one state where Republicans will be expecting to gain multiple seats in the election following redistricting, and they could gain three or four if things pan out close to perfectly.
Republicans in November secured control of both chambers of the state legislature for the first time since the 1800s, and even though the state has a Democratic governor -- Bev Perdue -- she has no veto power over whatever map the Republicans draw.
The U.S. Census Bureau released detailed population data for the state Wednesday, but we've already got a good idea about what the GOP will try to do and what big gains are possible.
The reason for all that opportunity is two-fold.
One is that the current map was drawn by Democrats in 2001, which means many of the marginal districts were drawn to their liking. "Ten years ago, Democrats drew the most perfect map in the history of gerrymandering," remarked one Republican familiar with the state's lines.
Two is that Democrats stood tough in the state in 2010. While Democrats in swing and conservative-leaning districts across the country went down to defeat, North Carolina Democratic Reps. Heath Shuler, Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell all won -- though Republicans did unseat Rep. Bob Etheridge.
The result is a map on which Democrats maintain a majority -- seven to six -- of congressional seats in the state. Of the 17 states where Republicans control redistricting, North Carolina is the only state where that is the case.
Because of those two factors -- the Democratic-drawn map and the continued Democratic majority -- there is plenty of room for improvement for the GOP. And the most likely Democrats to bear the brunt are McIntyre, Kissell and Rep. Brad Miller.

Miller is probably the most endangered. His north-central 13th district went 60 percent for President Obama in 2008, but a line tweak here or there, and all of a sudden it's a Republican-leaning district.
The district currently reaches awkwardly into Greensboro and Raleigh -- the two areas that allowed Miller to win reelection last year. Those areas could easily be handed off to nearby Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield in the 1st district, David Price in the 4th, and Mel Watt in the 12th, while Miller could pick up some GOP-leaning territory from Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx in the 5th district and GOP Rep. Howard Coble in the 6th -- both who are very safe. Miller could also add some of the GOP-leaning Raleigh suburbs from Rep. Renee Ellmers's (R) 2nd district, though Republicans will want to help Ellmers too.
Ellmers is the second easy call for the GOP. After beating Etheridge in November, her marginal 2nd district in the center of the state will need to be shored up. The most likely solution would be to, like with Miller's district, give some black and Democratic areas of Raleigh to Butterfield to the north, while picking up more of the Republican-leaning Fayetteville/Fort Bragg area to the south.
These two scenarios work because Butterfield's district will need to expand and pick up black voters. It is currently in danger of losing its majority-black status, and the Voting Rights Act requires that a majority-minority district be drawn where possible.
Butterfield's massive and awkward northeastern 1st district is one of two majority-black districts in the state, along with Watt's serpentine 12th district that runs from Greensboro to Charlotte. Those two districts and Price's Research Triangle-based seat are the only three safe Democratic districts in the state.
With those three safe and Miller likely in a heap of trouble, that leaves Shuler, McIntyre and Kissell as potential targets. And that's where things get a little uncertain.
Republicans have a number of options when it comes to targeting McIntyre and Kissell; with Shuler, it will be more difficult.
Shuler's 11th district is nestled in the western corner of the state, landlocked by Rep. Patrick McHenry's (R-N.C.) 10th district, and the only way to make it more Republican is to trade territory with McHenry. But Shuler's district is already pretty conservative -- going easily for the last two GOP presidential candidates -- so it's not clear that shifting even more GOP-aligned voters into it would make much of a difference.
If Republicans are going to beat Shuler, it will have to be in a district pretty close to what he has now. But moving some of Asheville into McHenry's district could only help, and McHenry, who has his eyes on moving up the leadership ladder, may be willing to play ball.
McIntyre and Kissell, meanwhile, border each other in the southern part of the state -- Kissell in the 8th district east of Charlotte and McIntyre in the Wilmington and Fayetteville-area 7th district along the southern tip of the state.
McIntyre's district went for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) by five points in the 2008 presidential race, while Kissell's went for Obama by five.
Republicans could either try to make both incumbents more vulnerable or focus on completely dismantling one and allowing the other Democrat to survive.
Considering that, there are basically four scenarios here.
The first would be the creation of a third majority-black district. Provided that the Census data will support it, this district would take in the black and more Democratic parts of McIntyre's and Kissell's districts, making both incumbents pretty beatable. But it would also force big changes elsewhere on the map, because another district would have to be eliminated. (For example, do Republicans then try to dismantle Price's district in order to keep the state at three safe Democratic seats? It might not be easy.)
Under the second scenario, Republicans could weaken both McIntyre and Kissell without creating a new majority-black district. They could give McIntrye some territory from Rep. Walter Jones's safe Republican 3rd district to the east, while Kissell could pick up GOP-friendly territory from Coble's 6th to the north and Rep. Sue Myrick's (R-N.C.) 9th district to the west.
In that case, though, neither district would be a whole lot more winnable. And given that both men have proven solid campaigners -- McIntyre especially -- victory wouldn't be assured.
The better option may be to focus on one or the other.
A third option is for Republicans to pack McIntyre's district with Democrats from Kissell's district and Ellmers's 2nd district, allowing McIntyre to survive but giving the GOP a great shot at winning Kissell's seat and holding Ellmers's.
A more devious, fourth option would be to move McIntyre's home county of Robeson, along the western border of his district, into Kissell's district. That would effectively make Kissell's 8th district more Democratic, but it would also leave McIntyre with a tough decision -- run in a tough district where he doesn't live, or challenge Kissell in a primary. Republicans would have a good shot at winning McIntyre's current district either way.
Barring the unforeseen, Republicans should have a real good chance to take Miller's district and one of either Kissell's or McIntyre's. That would give them an eight-to-five advantage in the state's delegation.
A more ambitious map could land Republicans as many as three or even four seats and a nine-to-four or 10-to-three edge. But a lot of pieces will need to fall into place.
"Republicans would be disappointed in North Carolina if they didn't pick up two seats," said Dallas Woodhouse, the state director for the conservative group Americans for Prosperity. "Three would probably be the maximum."
Either way, North Carolina would likely constitute the GOP's biggest gains in 2012. And much of the GOP's redistricting energy will be spent in this state.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

U.S. assault vessels clear Suez, enter Mediterranean. These ain't cruise ships.

 Verne Strickland Blogmaster

March 02, 2011

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. amphibious assault ships have reached the Mediterranean Sea, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, as Washington intensifies pressure on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to end his four-decade rule.

The USS Ponce and the USS Kearsarge, assault ships that typically carry Marines, cleared the Suez Canal from the Red Sea and entered the Mediterranean, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The United States also has an aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, in the Red Sea but military
 officials have not said whether it will be sent to the Mediterranean.

The Obama administration has said all options are on the table to deal with the Libya crisis but the Pentagon may be reluctant to launch any new military action as it grapples with the costs of ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Farrakhan: Mideast-Like Revolution Headed for US (and he's happy!)

Verne Strickland Blogmaster
Monday, 28 Feb 2011
Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam and self-avowed pal of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, contends that the revolutionary onslaught enveloping the Mideast will be coming soon to the United States. If Gadhafi were persecuted for crimes against humanity, then President George W. Bush should be, too, Farrakhan told followers Sunday in Rosemont, Ill., according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Louis Farrakhan, Islam, Gadhafi, Bush
Louis Farrakhan

Gadhafi has ordered supporters to kill protesters as Libya has imploded with escalating demonstrations against his regime.

The 77-year-old Farrakhan, who addressed nearly 18,000 followers during a four-hour talk at the annual Saviours' Day convention, said he still counts Gadhafi among his friends, the Sun-Times reported.

After all, Farrakhan said, no leader ever gains the allegiance of 100 percent of the people. And, Gadhafi were prosecuted for crimes against humanity, so should Bush for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he alleged.

Farrakhan, who visited Gadhafi in the 1980s and even accepted a humanitarian award from him in 1996, warned Sunday that the Mideast revolution will land in the United States sooner rather than later, the Sun-Times reported. “What you see happening there, you’d better prepare because it will be coming to your door, America.”

Farrakhan added, “I hope that President Obama will remember his instructions to all nations — be careful how you attack and kill innocent people who are protesting. Take your own words into your bosom and be reminded when it comes to your home.”

Monday, February 28, 2011

NC Legislature begins redrawing district maps this week for 2012

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

By David N. Bass
Associate editor of Carolina Journal.
February 28, 2011

RALEIGH — After spending most of the session bickering over fiscal matters, the General Assembly is set to begin the grueling task of redrawing state and federal district maps for the 2012 election — a process sure to generate controversy.

A joint House and Senate redistricting committee will convene immediately following the close of session on Tuesday. Legislators are taxed with the responsibility of drawing district lines for the state’s 170 legislative districts and 13 congressional districts.

Republicans, in control of the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, will direct the process and can draw lines to their advantage. Republican leaders hope to have the maps in place by May, although a court challenge is likely.

In addition to redistricting and continued budget deliberations, lawmakers will tackle other issues this week.

On Monday, the Senate will vote for a final time on Senate Bill 34, the Castle Doctrine, after giving tentative approval to the measure last week. S.B. 34 would expand protections for individuals who use deadly force in threatening situations.

A bill that would put a moratorium on forced annexations until 2012 might get brought up in the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday. The measure has passed committee twice and reached the Senate floor, only to be referred back to committee.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, will hold a press conference to discuss House Bill 188, Taxpayer Bill of Rights. The measure, which has been filed but not assigned to a committee, would put a ceiling on new expenditures by state government. A two-thirds vote of the General Assembly would be required to exceed the limit.

The Senate might take action on a budget-cutting bill that Republicans introduced last week after Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed a previous bill for taking too much money from economic incentives funds. The legislation — Senate Bill 109, Spending Cuts for the Current Fiscal Year — would place the burden on Perdue to find additional cuts to help plug a $2.4 billion budget hole.

Additionally, the House could take up Senate Bill 8, No Cap on Number of Charter Schools. It passed the Senate mostly along party lines last week.

• S.B. 110, Permit Terminal Groins, Harry Brown, R-Onslow
• S.B. 67, Sunshine Amendment, Debbie Clary, R-Cleveland
• H.B. 8, Eminent Domain, Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake
• H.B. 61, Speaker/Pro Tem Term Limits, John Blust, R-Guilford
• H.B. 41, Tax Fairness in Education, Paul “Skip” Stam, R-Wake

A list of the regularly scheduled House Committee meetings is here.
• Joint House/Senate committee meeting on redistricting will meet immediately following the session on Tuesday, March 1.
• The Senate State and Local Government Committee will hear S.B. 110, Permit Terminal Groins, at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1.
• A joint appropriations subcommittee on Health and Human Services will meet at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1, to review Perdue’s proposed budget.
• The House Insurance Committee will hear H.B. 138, Amend Health Insurance Risk Pool Statutes, at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1.

Senate Bill 97, Clarify Refunds of Tax Overpayments, was introduced and quickly voted on last week. The bill, sponsored by Mecklenburg County Republican Sen. Bob Rucho, would clarify when taxpayers are eligible to receive refunds after overpaying their taxes.

Another measure — Senate Bill 139, Gubernatorial Team Ticket Implementing — would require candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket, like the president and vice president do.

For the fifth session in a row, Republican lawmakers introduced a proposed constitutional amendment — Senate Bill 106, Defense of Marriage — defining civil marriage as the union of one man and one woman only.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chief Justice Barack Obama upstages U.S. Supreme Court on DOMA!

Verne Strickland Blogmaster

           Why Obama Is Wrong on DOMA 

                Adam Winkler.Professor of Law, UCLA / Feb 27 2011
Liberals rejoiced on Wednesday when the Obama Administration, which has often seemed indifferent to gay rights, announced that it would not defend a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act in court. DOMA, as the law is known, establishes that only opposite-sex marriages are recognized by federal law. While DOMA is a discriminatory law and should be repealed, Obama's decision not to defend it should be condemned.

For decades, presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike, have taken the position that it's the executive's obligation to defend the constitutionality of all federal laws. The basis for this view is the Constitution's command that the president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed."

But now Obama has declared that if the president doesn't agree with a law--even if the courts say it's
constitutional--he can choose not to defend it. This sets a terrible precedent that could well come back to haunt those who are cheering the president's decision. Don't be surprised if a President Palin points to Obama's decision when announcing her refusal to enforce and defend the landmark healthcare reform law because, in her view, the individual mandate is unconstitutional.

The administration decided not to defend DOMA on the basis of a controversial reading of the Constitution. Attorney General Eric Holder's letter to John Boehner, in which the announcement was made, stated that discrimination against gays must meet what the courts call "heightened scrutiny." That means that any law singling out gays must have unusually strong justification.

If only that were the case. Twice the Supreme Court has been asked to hold that discrimination against gay people warrants heightened scrutiny. And twice the Supreme Court has rejected that argument. Instead, the Court has suggested that discrimination against gays only needed to meet a lower standard of rationality. The lower courts asked to rule on the constitutionality of DOMA so far have consistently agreed that heightened review is not appropriate.

In my view, the Supreme Court was wrong to reject heightened scrutiny for sexual orientation discrimination. Nevertheless, that's the law of the land and, for better or worse, it's the Supreme Court, not the president, who gets to make that decision.
The administration had other alternatives. It could have continued to defend the relevant provisions of DOMA in court but drop some of the specious arguments traditionally used to support it--that marriage is only about procreation or that gay people aren't good parents.

The administration could even argue that the Supreme Court was wrong to reject heightened scrutiny and that the law should be judged by that higher standard. But to declare unilaterally that the law is unconstitutional, on the basis of an interpretation of the Constitution with little support in Supreme Court doctrine, is a mistake.
Think of the laws that might be undermined by the next Republican president. Senator Rand Paul has argued that the Civil Rights Act may be unconstitutional.

Senator Mike Lee has insisted that the federal laws barring child labor were not within Congress's constitutional authority to enact. Some in Republican circles even suggest that the federal government doesn't have the constitutional power to require background checks on gun purchases.

It should take more than a presidential announcement to repeal these vital and important federal laws. Unfortunately, President Obama's decision on DOMA makes that very threat more of a reality.

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