Recently at The Bulwark:
BRENT ORRELL: The Law of the Gift
JVL: Already missing Joan Didion. 🔐
BENJAMIN PARKER: The five worst stories of 2021.
You can support The Bulwark by subscribing to Bulwark+ or just by sharing this newsletter with someone you think would value it.
GINGER QUINTERO-MCCALL argues we need More Transparency for the Capitol Police.
The USCP has a well-earned reputation for secrecy. Being wholly exempt from public records laws is not the norm, even for law enforcement agencies. In fact, most other law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, regularly process public records requests. This transparency helps to ensure that law enforcement agencies are serving the public good and not abusing their authority. Public records requests have a rich history of revealing wastes of taxpayer dollars, agency ineffectiveness, and even agency actions that circumvent or outright violate the law.
Because we have not seen the USCP make any visible progress toward drafting public records regulations, my colleagues and I at Demand Progress Education Fund have released model public records regulations for the agency. If implemented, these regulations would create a FOIA-like process for the Capitol Police.
Hollywood shared its magic with China. Now some of 2021's biggest box office draws were Chinese films. With fewer American movies being shown there, Hollywood's confronting what creative freedoms it gave up to play in China. Author Chris Fenton joins guest host Sonny Bunch on today's episode.
SHAY KHATIRI argues: Defense Against Corruption Is Nice. Offense Against Corruption Is Better.
There is enormous value in exposing the billions of dollars of wealth that Vladimir Putin, Ali Khamenei, Xi Jinping, Raul Castro, and Nicolas Maduro, as well as their cronies, have accumulated as the expenses of their peoples. But that is not enough. Very often, pictures speak louder than words. The U.S. government should work with dissidents, intelligence assets, and civil society groups to investigate and publicize the autocrats’ lavish lifestyles—the palaces, villas, and dachas; the luxury cars and vacations; the children who study at elite, expensive American and British universities.
The damage that exposing corruption can do to the world’s worst regimes is indicated by how far those regimes will go to keep their stolen fortunes secret. Aleksei Navalny became one of the most important political figures in Russia despite holding no office, not by championing the philosophical underpinnings of liberal democracy, but by exposing the corruption of the Putin regime. Silencing him—by intimidation, prosecution, persecution, attempted assassination, and incarceration—has been a years-long effort for the Kremlin. That’s a lot of time, resources, and attention to pay to a guy who makes YouTube videos, but Putin and co., judge the expense worth it, so potentially damaging were his exposés of private palaces and personal duck ponds.
BRIAN STEWART: Julian Assange Deserves Justice, Good and Hard
Assange’s defenders argue that he’s being persecuted for intrepid journalism. Even some of Assange’s critics have lamented that “For most of these charges, the government does not attempt to differentiate Assange’s behavior from that of a national security reporter.” Of course, there’s no reason why the Justice Department’s prosecution of Assange should be subject to less scrutiny than any other prosecution. But the objection that Assange’s “charges. . . seriously implicate U.S. press freedoms” goes too far.
It’s one thing to note, as Jack Goldsmith has, that legally, the delineation between the New York Times and WikiLeaks—both of which have published classified information—is underdeveloped. It’s another to object to the specific prosecution of Assange as if this case specifically were inappropriate. Amnesty International, for example, has condemned the prosecution as “nothing short of a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression,” which is a strange claim to make about a case concerning a single individual.
Merry Christmas! I hope you had a good holiday if that’s what you celebrate.
That’s it for me. Tech support questions? Email email@example.com. Questions for me? Respond to this message.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. For full credits, please consult the article.