Thursday, February 12, 2009

Does Obama Intend To Continue Bush's Secrecy?

Andrew Sullivan, Marc Ambinder, and Glenn Greenwald are caught up in something of a bloggy war of words over the Obama administration's handling of the state secrets controversy over the last few days.

Here's how Sullivan sums up his stance:
For my part, I have not changed my mind and never, pace Glenn, stated that the Obama administration was complicit in torture. I said it should be very careful to avoid that. I would prefer that this evidence be released, but I understand that there may be some serious reasons for a holding pattern in the first weeks of a new administration. I'm going to watch this carefully; and I'm happy that Feingold is asking for a briefing.

He also mentions this odd Guardian story, which I highly recommend: "Binyam Mohamed torture evidence 'hidden from Obama'"

Regardless of how it all plays out, Obama's hand is being forced early-on. I remain cautiously optimistic regarding Obama's intentions in the realm of civil liberties. But it's time to start demanding results.


Wired reports:
U.S. Lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation that might make it more difficult for federal judges to scuttle lawsuits in which the government claims state secrets might be exposed.

The proposals in the House and Senate came two days after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder ordered the agency to review litigation inherited from the Bush administration in which the so-called state-secrets privilege was invoked. That same day, however, the Justice Department invoked the privilege before a San Francisco federal appeals court in a bid to block a lawsuit brought by five U.S. prisoners who claim they were kidnapped – or rendered – from the United States and flown overseas where they claim they were tortured.

Continue reading.

Update II:

Glenn Greenwald reacts to Congress' movement to limit the president's power to assert state secrets as a reason to dismiss lawsuits:
Earlier this week, I wrote about the State Secrets Protection Act of 2008, which was co-sponsored by numerous key Senators [including Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Senate Judiciary Committee's Chair (Pat Leahy) and ranking member (Arlen Specter)], and which was approved by the Judiciary Committee last year with all Democrats voting in favor. That bill, in essence, sought to ban the exact abuse of the State Secrets privilege which the Bush administration repeatedly invoked and which, now, the Obama administration has embraced: namely, as a weapon to conceal and immunize government lawbreaking (by compelling the dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance) rather than a limited, document-by-document evidentiary privilege.

Yesterday -- as an obvious response to the Obama DOJ's support for the Bush view of the privilege -- Leahy and Specter, along with Russ Feingold, Claire McCaskill, Sheldon Whitehouse and Ted Kennedy, re-introduced that bill in the Senate.

Continue reading.

No comments: