Jacob Sullum

Posted September 17, 2014

A few years ago, when President Obama unilaterally decided to get involved in Libya's civil war, he argued that he did not need approval from Congress because bombing military targets does not constitute "hostilities" under the War Powers Resolution. That argument was so laughable that even the war's supporters in Congress and the press, not to mention Obama's own Office of Legal Counsel, rejected it.

Posted September 10, 2014

President Obama concedes that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) does not pose a direct threat to our country, but argues that one day it might. That is the core of the case for the new war in the Middle East that Obama announced this week, although it's easy to forget amid all the other rationales.

Posted September 03, 2014

In an interview with The New York Times last month, President Obama confessed that when he decided to help rebels overthrow Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, he "underestimated" the ensuing chaos. "That's a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, 'Should we intervene militarily?'" Obama said. "Do we have an answer (for) the day after?"

Posted August 27, 2014

Contrary to what you may have heard, the armored vehicles that appeared on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., during the unrest that followed the police shooting of Michael Brown did not come from the Pentagon. "Most of the stuff you are seeing in video coming out of Ferguson is not military," Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Defense Department's press secretary, told reporters last week. "The military is not the only source of tactical gear in this country."

Posted August 20, 2014

Running for the U.S. Senate in 2010, Rand Paul became known as that crazy right-winger who expressed reservations about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But in the past two years, the Kentucky Republican has emerged as his party's most passionate voice on criminal justice reform, explicitly decrying the system's disproportionate impact on African Americans.

Posted August 06, 2014

In 1996, Eric Holder urged the D.C. Council to reinstate mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Two decades later, as an attorney general who has repeatedly criticized "draconian" mandatory minimums and sought to limit their use, he faces resistance from the federal prosecutors he oversees.

Posted July 30, 2014

In 2003, a Nebraska state trooper stopped Emiliano Gonzolez for speeding on Interstate 80 and found $124,700 inside a cooler on the back seat of the rented Ford Taurus he was driving.

Posted July 23, 2014

As thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America seek refuge in the United States, some commentators are blaming American drug users.

Posted July 16, 2014

?Given the link between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and birth defects, should expectant mothers who drink be arrested for assault? If not, it is hard to see why Mallory Loyola is in jail.

Posted July 09, 2014

As an Illinois senator running for president in 2008, Barack Obama promised there would be no more "wiretaps without warrants" under his administration.

Posted July 02, 2014

In 1878, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected a Mormon's First Amendment challenge to the federal ban on bigamy. Because marrying more than one person is a crime, the court reasoned, allowing it for religious reasons would be akin to allowing human sacrifice by someone who sincerely believes his deity demands it.

Posted June 25, 2014

"I should warn you that emotionally I'm on edge," Jay Rockefeller announced as he convened a Senate hearing last week. He was not kidding.

Posted June 18, 2014

Do you know how your cellphone works? If not, it's probably best not to find out. You can lose your constitutional rights that way.

Posted June 11, 2014

Are people who assert their Second Amendment rights by bringing rifles and shotguns into stores and restaurants "weird" and "scary?"

Posted June 04, 2014

When Alecia Phonesavanh heard her 19-month-old son, Bounkham, screaming, she thought he was simply frightened by the armed men who had burst into the house in the middle of the night. Then she saw the charred remains of the portable playpen where the toddler had been sleeping.

Posted May 28, 2014

The day after his 20-year-old son, Christopher, was shot down at a deli in Isla Vista, Calif., Richard Martinez blamed his death on "craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA."

Posted May 21, 2014

Since the European Union's top court endorsed "the right to be forgotten" last week, Google has received more than 1,000 requests to remove links to embarrassing information from its search results.

Posted May 14, 2014

A year before most of us knew that the National Security Agency was routinely collecting our phone records, Ron Wyden warned that the Obama administration would regret keeping us in the dark.

Posted May 07, 2014

Sixteen minutes into last week's botched lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, the warden closed the blinds on the windows to the execution chamber and turned off the sound so that witnesses could not see Clayton Lockett writhe or hear him moan. The procedure, designed to resemble a medical treatment -- albeit one with an involuntary patient and a very low probability of recovery -- had begun to look uncomfortably like the cold-blooded killing of a helpless person.

Posted April 30, 2014

As an Illinois legislator, a U.S. senator and a presidential candidate, Barack Obama repeatedly criticized our excessively punitive criminal justice system. But after he was elected to the White House in 2008, the Obama who worried about nonviolent offenders serving outrageously long prison terms seemed to disappear, replaced by a president with one of the weakest clemency records in U.S. history.