Tuesday morning Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, who sits on the House Oversight Committee, had the opportunity to question MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber about the lack of transparency and deception used to get the healthcare legislation passed in 2010.
Throughout the hearing, Gruber claimed infamous comments he repeatedly made about "stupid American voters" and hiding a redistribution of wealth in Obamacare came after he attempted to "make himself look smart by insulting others." He also argued he isn't a political person and isn't well versed in the politics surrounding the passing of Obamacare. Gowdy wasn't buying it.
"You're a professor at MIT and you were worried about not looking smart enough?" Gowdy asked.
"Yes," Gruber said.
The release of this report has been in the works for many years. Republicans, of course, refused to participate in the investigation, so before you continue reading be aware that some have already shrugged it off as a partisan witch-hunt. The timing is certainly suspicious, too. Nevertheless, the revelations from the report are exceedingly disturbing, as captured in the must-read executive summary page.
On the techniques' overall effectiveness:
The Committee finds, based on a review of CIA interrogation records, that the use of the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of obtaining accurate information or gaining detainee cooperation.
On the kinds of techniques used:
Beginning with the CIA's first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, and continuing with numerous others, the CIA applied its enhanced interrogation techniques with significant repetition for days or weeks at a time. Interrogation techniques such as slaps and "wallings" (slamming detainees against a wall) were used in combination, frequently concurrent with sleep deprivation and nudity. …
At least five CIA detainees were subjectedto "rectal rehydration" or rectal feeding without documented medical necessity.
The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaydah, for example, became "completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth.'" Internal CIA records describe the waterboarding of Khalid Shaykh Mohammad as evolving into a "series of near drownings."
On the “conditions” at "detention sites":
Conditions at CIA detention sites were poor, and were especially bleak early in the program. CIA detainees at the COBALT detention facility were kept in complete darkness and constantly shackled in isolated cells with loud noise or music and only a bucket to use for human waste. Lack of heat at the facility likely contributed to the death of a detainee. The chief of interrogations described COBALT as a "dungeon."
There are also three separate and additional sections about how the CIA lied to -- or misled -- the Department of Justice, members of Congress, and the White House. There are “20 points” listed in the executive summary page. As a result, I have only excerpted selectivity. So be sure to read the entire report here.
It’s also worth addressing, however, some of the concerns CIA officials and supporters of enhanced interrogation techniques have with it. For example, the report itself concludes these controversial methods were “not an effective means of acquiring intelligence” during the years in which they were employed. This is a contention CIA operatives say is a lie. Not surprisingly, these charges have been challenged by none other than Jose A. Rodriguez, who explained in a recent Washington Post op-ed he would know better than most because, well, he was the very “guy" who oversaw the program:
…The report’s leaked conclusion, which has been reported on widely, that the interrogation program brought no intelligence value is an egregious falsehood; it’s a dishonest attempt to rewrite history. I’m bemused that the Senate could devote so many resources to studying the interrogation program and yet never once speak to any of the key people involved in it, including the guy who ran it (that would be me).
He also called out members of the US Congress for their hypocrisy:
The interrogation program was authorized by the highest levels of the U.S. government, judged legal by the Justice Department and proved effective by any reasonable standard. The leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees and of both parties in Congress were briefed on the program more than 40 times between 2002 and 2009. But Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried to deny that she was told in 2002 that detainees had been waterboarded. That is simply not true. I was among those who briefed her.
He also -- and especially -- skewers Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). In any case, on "Fox & Friends" this morning, a former CIA legal expert called the report shortly before it was released “unfair and preposterous”:
President George W. Bush, who in many ways is the face of enhanced interrogation techniques, also defended the practice last Sunday on CNN:
There are good people on both sides of this debate. What's clear, however, is that this report, if anything, has done nothing to resolve it.
UPDATE: President Obama has issued a statement:
Throughout our history, the United States of America has done more than any other nation to stand up for freedom, democracy, and the inherent dignity and human rights of people around the world. As Americans, we owe a profound debt of gratitude to our fellow citizens who serve to keep us safe, among them the dedicated men and women of our intelligence community, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the horrific attacks of 9/11, these public servants have worked tirelessly to devastate core al Qaeda, deliver justice to Osama bin Laden, disrupt terrorist operations and thwart terrorist attacks. Solemn rows of stars on the Memorial Wall at the CIA honor those who have given their lives to protect ours. Our intelligence professionals are patriots, and we are safer because of their heroic service and sacrifices.
In the years after 9/11, with legitimate fears of further attacks and with the responsibility to prevent more catastrophic loss of life, the previous administration faced agonizing choices about how to pursue al Qaeda and prevent additional terrorist attacks against our country. As I have said before, our nation did many things right in those difficult years. At the same time, some of the actions that were taken were contrary to our values. That is why I unequivocally banned torture when I took office, because one of our most effective tools in fighting terrorism and keeping Americans safe is staying true to our ideals at home and abroad.
Today’s report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence details one element of our nation’s response to 9/11—the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which I formally ended on one of my first days in office. The report documents a troubling program involving enhanced interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects in secret facilities outside the United States, and it reinforces my long-held view that these harsh methods were not only inconsistent with our values as nation, they did not serve our broader counterterrorism efforts or our national security interests. Moreover, these techniques did significant damage to America’s standing in the world and made it harder to pursue our interests with allies and partners. That is why I will continue to use my authority as President to make sure we never resort to those methods again.
As Commander in Chief, I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of the American people. We will therefore continue to be relentless in our fight against al Qaeda, its affiliates and other violent extremists. We will rely on all elements of our national power, including the power and example of our founding ideals. That is why I have consistently supported the declassification of today’s report. No nation is perfect. But one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better. Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong—in the past. Today is also a reminder that upholding the values we profess doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us stronger and that the United States of America will remain the greatest force for freedom and human dignity that the world has ever known.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has accomplished quite a lot over the past four years. He's won three elections; getting elected in 2010, decisively defeating a recall effort that attracted national attention, and prevailing by a fair comfortable margin in November's (re)-re-election campaign. On a policy level, he's won the two biggest fights he's picked, enacting his controversial and successful 'Act 10' budget reforms in 2011 -- which touched off massive protests and the ill-fated recall push -- and signing a large tax cuts package earlier this year. Now that he's been handed his third mandate in four years, Walker has a decision to make: Will he follow the lead of Republicans in the state legislature and champion a right-to-work law? The governor has labeled the initiative "a distraction," but hasn't ruled out signing a bill if it ends up on his desk. The Washington Examiner's editors urge Badger State leaders to follow through on the idea:
Elections have consequences, and Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican leader of Wisconsin's state Senate, wants one of those consequences to be a state right-to-work law. Wisconsin is one of three states without such a law where Republicans have effective control over the legislative process for at least the next two years. Right-to-work, which lets workers choose whether to pay for union representation without risking their jobs, is a good idea in Wisconsin, and a good idea everywhere else it can be tried. According to data from the Labor and Commerce Departments, both wage and job growth were significantly larger in right-to-work states between 2003 and 2013. Right-to-work states also experienced twice as much growth in real manufacturing GDP as other states. The flight of America's manufacturing base to southern right-to-work states further illustrates the point...Right-to-work, which is currently the law in 24 states, partially levels the playing field. Workers who do not want to join unions can still be forced to accept union representation, but they cannot be forced to pay for it as a condition of employment.
Act 10’s dynamite, however, was the provision ending the state’s compulsory collection of union dues — sometimes as high as $1,400 per year — that fund union contributions to Democrats. Barack Obama and his national labor allies made Wisconsin a battleground because they knew that when Indiana made paying union dues optional, 90?percent of state employees quit paying, and similar measures produced similar results in Washington, Colorado and Utah.
In elections that ended last Tuesday, government workers voted to decertify 25 school district unions that sought recertification. Plus, 100 fewer unions than last year chose to seek recertification. Last year, 408 units sought recertification. This year, the number was down to 305. Under the 2011 Act 10 reforms, the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) is required to hold annual recertification elections for unions associated with school districts. Unions must attain "yes" votes from 51 percent of eligible union members to continue serving as an authorized collective bargaining unit - making a non-vote essentially a vote against union recertification...While a majority of unions that sought recertification gained more than 51 percent of support in their elections, a large number of union members chose to vote against or not vote for their collective bargaining unit. In total, 14,820 union members did not vote in favor of recertification.
During sworn congressional testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee Tuesday, MIT Professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber attempted to distance himself from the Obama administration as lawmakers grilled him with questions about the deception used to pass the legislation. He also tried to distinguish his comments about deception from the content and impact of the Affordable Care Act.
“I did not write Governor Mitt Romney's health care plan. I am not the architect of Obamacare,” Gruber said. "I behaved badly, and I will have to live with that, but my own inexcusable arrogance is not a flaw in the Affordable Care Act."
"Let me be very clear, I do not think that the Affordable Care Act was passed in a non-transparent fashion. The issues I raised in my comments, such as redistribution of risk through insurance market reform and the structure of the Cadillac tax, were roundly debated throughout 2009 and early 2010 before the law was passed. Reasonable people can disagree about the merits of these policies, but it is completely clear that these issues were debated thoroughly during the drafting and passage of the ACA," he added.
Before Obamacare was passed and when it was in the process of being written, Gruber visited the White House 21 times and met directly with President Obama in the Oval Office. He was praised by a number of Democrats, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as the expert media should talk to about the legislation. He's known as "the man" on the Obamacare. Back in 2007 during a Brooking's Institute event, then Senator Obama said he "liberally steals ideas" from Gruber.
In his opening statement, Gruber addressed "inexcusable" comments that landed him on Capitol Hill in the first place about "stupid Americans," a lack of transparency and deception in the language of Obamacare to hide the redistribution of wealth. He issued multiple apologies throughout the hearing and attempted to claim he isn't an expert when it comes to the discussion of the healthcare law, despite being paid millions of dollars as an Obamacare consultant to the government.
"In excerpts of these videos I am shown making a series of glib, thoughtless, and sometimes downright insulting comments," Gruber said. “I tried to make myself seem smarter by demeaning others.”
“I made a series of inexcusable comments,” he added. "I apologize."
When pressed on the amount of money he received for his work on Obamacare, Gruber refused to state how much taxpayer funding from both the state and federal governments he personally received as payment for his work on the Affordable Care Act.
One of the main missions of the Oversight Committee is to ensure taxpayer money is being spent properly. When Gruber was pressed by different Republican Congressmen, including Chairman Darrell Issa, Jason Chaffetz and Jim Jordan, he referred questions about income statements related to taxpayer money to his legal counsel.
According to various media sources and government documents, Gruber was paid more than $5 million in taxpayer money for his work and consultation on Obamacare through state and federal government contracts.
The odds that President Obama's executive amnesty will be stopped by a federal court before it starts went up Monday when U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen was assigned to hear a challenge to the policy brought by Texas and more than 15 other states.
While Obama may have announced his new immigration policy in November, the federal agency implementing the policy, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office, has notified potential beneficiaries of the program that they will not be issuing any documents for at least six months.
This implementation delay gives opponents of the program, including the state of Texas, a window of opportunity to get a court order stopping Obama's plan before it even starts. Texas filed for such a preliminary injunction motion Friday.
Hanen, who was appointed to the bench in 2002 by President Bush, is no stranger to immigration-related cases. In 2013, Hanen issued an order in a child smuggling case castigating the Obama administration for completing a "criminal conspiracy."
In that case, U.S. v Nava-Martinez, an illegal immigrant living in Virginia paid defendant Mirtha Veronica Nava-Martinez $6,000 to smuggle her child from El Salvador to Virginia. Nava-Martinez, who had no relation to the mother or the child, was then caught at the border with the child by Customs and Border Protection agents.
Department of Homeland Security officials then notified the mother that they had her child and arranged for the child to be delivered to her at taxpayer expense, "thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy," Judge Hanen wrote. "[DHS] did not arrest her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings against her. This DHS policy is a dangerous course of action."
Judge Hanen then elaborated:
This is the fourth case with the same factual situation this court has had in as many weeks. ... The DHS is rewarding criminal conduct instead of enforcing the current laws. More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to jeopardize the safety of their children. ... Those who hear that they should not fear prosecution or deportation will not hesitate, and obviously have not hesitated, to act likewise.
Hanen then noted that the number of unaccompanied alien children rose 81 percent between 2010 and 2012, adding, "If they persist in this policy, more children are going to be harmed, and DHS will be partly responsible because it encourages this kind of Russian roulette."
History then proved Hanen right. Word did get out both north and south of the border that the Obama administration was helping illegal immigrant children reach their illegal immigrant parents in the United States. The result was a humanitarian crisis at the border of Obama's own making.
In response to Obama's administration claims that "prosecutorial discretion" gave DHS authority to complete criminal conspiracies, Hanen wrote:
Finally, the Court is aware that prosecutors and law enforcement officers, including those here on the border, frequently use their discretion to defer the prosecution or arrest of individuals. This Court is not opposed to the concept of prosecutorial discretion, if that discretion is exercised with a sense of justice and common sense. Nevertheless, it is not aware of any legal principle, including prosecutorial discretion, that not only allows the Government to decline prosecution, but further allows it to actually complete the intended criminal mission. The DHS should enforce the laws of the United States - not break them.
Texas has asked for a hearing on their motion for a preliminary injunction before December 31, 2014. There has been no indication from the court yet when it plans to schedule such a hearing.
In one of the most anticipated hearings on Capitol Hill, Jonathan Gruber's testimony before the House Oversight Committee came with party favors.
The Tea Party Patriots handed out free t-shirts that read, "I'm With Stupid" and point to a picture of Jonathan Gruber's face. According to The Daily Caller, the TPP is handing out 250 shirts around Capitol Hill. I was given one outside the subway station nearest to House office buildings.
Jenny Beth Martin, the cofounder of the TPP, told The Daily Caller:
“With all that’s going on in the Capitol, we didn’t want Mr. Gruber’s curtain call to go unnoticed. We commemorated his appearance, and in the spirit of the Season, we’d like to offer the Obamacare architect a dozen. He can use them as stocking stuffers for the economically unsophisticated.”
Gruber was a major architect in the formation of the Affordable Care Act and made his claim to fame when he was caught calling the American voters stupid for allowing the ACA to pass.
Did you get your new Gruber "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt on Capitol Hill yet this morning? pic.twitter.com/Q565khgWme— Tea Party Patriots (@TPPatriots) December 9, 2014
New documents obtained through a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act lawsuit show former IRS head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner met with the Department of Justice Election Crimes Division as early as October 2010, just one month before the historic 2010-midterm elections when Republicans regained control of the House and at the peak of the tea party movement.
From Judicial Watch:
As result of a court order, the DOJ last month produced only two pages of heavily redacted emails (832 pages were withheld in entirety) that show the Obama Justice Department initiated an October 8, 2010, meeting between the IRS and top criminal prosecutors at the DOJ Public Integrity Section and Election Crimes Division “concerning 501(c)(4) issues.” On September 29, 2010, a DOJ official (whose name is blacked out) emailed a staff assistant at the IRS (whose name is also redacted):
"As we discussed this afternoon, we would like to invite Ms. Ingram [apparent reference to Sarah Hall Ingram former commissioner, IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities] to meet with us concerning 501(c)(4) issues, and propose next Friday at 10:00 a.m. We are located in the Bond Building, 12th Floor, New York Avenue, NW, Thank you for your assistance."
The document shows that the unknown DOJ official setting up the meeting is with the Election Crimes Division of the Public Integrity Section of the DOJ’s Criminal Division. (Judicial Watch believes the redacted name of the DOJ official is Richard Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Division.) The DOJ email setting up the IRS meeting is cc’d to the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section Chief, Jack Smith, and Principal Deputy Chief Raymond Hulser. The documents show that Ingram was not available but arranged for her deputy, Lois Lerner, then-Director of the IRS Exempt Organizations branch, to meet with the DOJ senior officials.
On September 30, 2010, the Election Crimes prosecutor emails Lerner:
"Hi Lois-It's been a long time, and you might not remember me, I've taken on [REDACTED] duties. I’m looking forward to meeting you, Can we chat in advance? I'm a [REDACTED]"
Lerner responded on October 2, 2010:
"Sure-that's a good Idea [sic]. I have a meeting out of the office Monday morning, but will try you when I get back sometime early afternoon. You can try me at 202 283-8848."
The Justice Department has withheld in full at least 832 additional pages of documents, citing various “taxpayer privacy,” “deliberative privilege,” and other exemptions to keep the records secret.
“These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can’t be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama’s critics. And it is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes. No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department. Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010. Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”
As a reminder, previously reported emails show Lerner was in contact with DOJ officials about criminally prosecuting members of tea party groups for "lying" about political activity, with an end goal of getting at least one person thrown in prison to prove a point.
It wasn't just the IRS targeting conservative groups, DOJ was heavily involved too.
If full-time jobs are ever going to make a comeback, Obamacare will have to be repealed. Townhall Finance's John Ransom reports for the December issue of Townhall Magazine.
If the job for the next Congress is to get the economy moving again, it is almost inconceivable that that task will get done without addressing the biggest problem in our economy: Obamacare.
Obamacare has so distorted the labor markets that even the Keynesians at the Federal Reserve understand that there is a “new” normal in the labor market. And that normal state is a drag on the economy.
“In remarks prepared for delivery to a conference on workforce development, [Atlanta Fed President] Dennis Lockhart said there was likely to be some reduction in the use of part-time workers as the economy strengthens further, but probably not to levels seen before the recession,” according to Reuters.
"In other words, preference for part-time workers is likely to persist," he said.
"For Fed policy purposes, the balance of evidence suggests the labor market is still far from normal, even if normal is not what it used to be."
While the Federal Reserve refuses to pin this “part-time workforce” phenomenon on Obamacare’s provision that redefines full-time work to 29 hours, a review of the Fed’s own research makes it hard to not see the connection.
The Fed made the case last year that part-time employment is not unusually high for a recession. The Fed says “part-time work typically increases in recessions, which reflects the cyclical reduction in labor demand that reduces hours worked along with increasing the unemployment rate.” Given that the 2007-2009 down-leg was unusually large, says the report, it’s not surprising that we’d see an increase in part-time work.
Further, the Fed says that there are some demographic changes, like an aging population and different survey methodologies that confuse the issue.
Since 1994 the BLS has used different criteria to define part-time jobs, which could boost the number of workers who are counted as part-time.
What is unusual, however, and the Fed fails to mention this, is the persistency with which part-time work has remained prevalent in the labor force.
Part-time employment peaked at 3.78 percent of the population in 2009. Since then it has made much slower progress downward, and there are some indications that the trend is enjoying one of the periodic upward reversals that we’ve seen under Obama. Right now the numbers of part time workers stands at 2.98 percent of the population, a decline of only about 20 percent since 2009.
Typically the number of part-time workers spikes as business conditions deteriorate because companies are reducing hours. When the recovery takes hold, part-time work falls off precipitately as companies expand hours.
But not in this recovery.
Part-time work has stubbornly remained above 19 percent of the workforce since 2007, and is not threatening to retreat anytime soon, as it has done during previous recoveries.
In fact, we might see part-time work increasing rather than decreasing.
“In the middle of last year leading up to the mandate’s then-planned 2014 start date, there was ‘a big spike up in part-time work and then a big drop down when it was delayed,’ said Guy LeBas, managing director at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia,” according to Bloomberg.
The surge in part-time work that LeBas noted can be directly tied to Obamacare because the only big change to the labor force composition at the time was the company mandate being delayed. While implementation of the mandate was being contemplated last year, the number of part-time jobs went to an all-time high at a time that normally should see part-time employment plunging according to the previously cited Fed explanation.
Instead, part-time jobs skyrocketed.
“In June , the household survey reported that part-time jobs soared by 360,000 to 28,059,000—an all time record high,” noted Zero Hedge at the time. “Full time jobs? Down 240,000. And looking back at the entire year, so far in 2013, just 130K Full-Time Jobs have been added, offset by a whopping 557K Part-Time jobs.”
When the employer mandate comes back, companies will likely shift more workers to part-time status in order to avoid triggering provisions that require them to pay for health insurance for full-time employees.
The important thing is that in 2015 we will have a chance once again to test the hypothesis of whether Obamacare is dislocating the labor market. If in the first part of 2015 we see a radical shift in employment from part-time to full time, I think it would be time for even Obamacare supporters—the increasingly few of them left—to admit that whatever value Obamacare might have is being overshadowed by the disgorgement of the labor markets.
More importantly it’s incumbent upon the GOP in Congress to present an effective plan to counter the deleterious effects that several provisions of Obamacare, including the part-time work provision, is having on workers.
It will be the first time since passage of the ACA that our representatives in Congress will have a legislative majority sufficient to enact legislation that can counter the side effects of Obamacare at a time that the news cycle will likely be unkind to it.
It will be a great opportunity to get the economy righted, with the support of voters.
And we have to prepare to take advantage of it right now.
Americans and CIA operatives working on counter terrorism operations around the world are bracing this morning ahead of the release of a report produced by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques to gather intelligence after 9/11/2001. When President Obama took office in January 2009, he issued an executive order banning the techniques, which included waterboarding, from further use. The techniques used have been credited by the CIA and intelligence operatives for locating and killing Osama bin Laden.
The report, which contains information that was previously classified, is expected to be nearly 500 pages long and was put together by Democrats without any Republican input. Republicans have been critical of Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Intelligence Committee, for her plans to move forward with its release no matter what the consequences.
“We are concerned that this release could endanger the lives of Americans overseas, jeopardize U.S. relations with foreign partners, potentially incite violence, create political problems for our allies, and be used as a recruitment tool for our enemies,” Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Jim Risch said in a statement late Monday, adding that the move to release the report is "reckless and irresponsible.”
Yesterday White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the administration has been planning for the release of this report for months and understands that although the release of the report could endanger American lives overseas, President Obama fully supports its release. Secretary of State John Kerry made a phone call to Feinstein late last week asking her to seriously consider the timing of the release, especially with the current level of instability in the Middle East.
Meanwhile President George W. Bush, who has made it a point to stay out of the current public debate on a number of issues, is standing by the men and women working in the CIA to keep Americans safe from terror.
Not The Onion: Columbia Law School has decided to postpone final exams for this semester for students who claim to be distressed by the recent grand jury decisions in Ferguson, MO and New York City in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.
Robert E. Scott, interim dean, emailed students the following on Saturday:
“The grand juries’ determinations to return non-indictments in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand jury system and in the law more generally,” Mr. Scott’s letter said. “For some law students, particularly, though not only, students of color, this chain of events is all the more profound as it threatens to undermine a sense that the law is a fundamental pillar of society designed to protect fairness, due process and equality.”
As a result, “students who feel that their performance on examinations will be sufficiently impaired due to the effects of these recent events may petition [head of registration services] Dean Alice Rigas to have an examination rescheduled,” he wrote.
Another letter sent Monday, from the vice dean for curriculum, said that students should talk to their professors before asking for an exam to be delayed.
“Unless time pressure is severe, meeting with an academic counselor is the preferred alternative, in case our student services staff can offer support or other resources that may be helpful,” wrote the curriculum dean, Avery Katz, who said an extension request must include an “individual explanation” for why it’s necessary.
Faculty members said they couldn’t recall the last time the law school offered students an exam extension due to a highly charged public event.
Students at comparable prestigious law schools are also asking for a similar exam delay policy.
I would perhaps be more understanding if the incidents or some kind of vandalism related to intense protests had happened directly on campus, or if the grand jury decision was concerning the death of a member of the Columbia community, but this just seems a tad absurd. Yes, the grand jury's decisions raised questions for many people—myself included—but delaying exams seems to be a bit of an overreaction. Granted, the follow-up letter effectively discouraging exam postponements seems to be a bit of a mea culpa by the Columbia Law School administration.
It's unclear if anyone has actually delayed their exams.