Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dept. of Justice tightening "State Secrets"

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department will continue Bush administration attempts to block certain lawsuits by claiming they threaten state secrets, but the agency announced Wednesday it will try to curb the use of such claims in the future.
Attorney General Eric Holder said he and a group of Justice Department lawyers will personally review such claims.
During the Bush administration, the so-called state secrets privilege was invoked to quash lawsuits filed by people claiming they had been tortured or illegally wiretapped.
The Bush administration argued in those cases -- and the Obama administration still argues in a few cases alive in the courts -- that the lawsuits must be dismissed because evidence in the case would harm national security.
In a statement, Holder said the new policy ''sets out clear procedures that will provide greater accountability and ensure the state secrets privilege is invoked only when necessary and in the narrowest way possible.''
The administration's move could quell efforts in Congress to pass a law curbing the use of state secrets claims.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, praised Wednesday's announcement, but added he remains ''especially concerned'' that the government should be required to show significant evidence to a judge when seeking to assert the privilege, and said he hoped the Obama administration would work with Congress to establish such a requirement.
Under the new approach spelled out by Holder, an agency trying to hide such information would have to convince the attorney general and a panel of Justice Department lawyers that its release would compromise national security.
In the past, such government claims of state secrecy required a lower standard of proof that the information was dangerous, as well as the approval of fewer officials.
The Justice Department press release said the government will also submit evidence to a judge to buttress its claims of state secrets, but Holder's actual legal memo to department lawyers makes no mention of sharing information with judges.
That has been a highly contentious issue in previous state secrets cases.
Asked why Holder's memo does not instruct government lawyers to share evidence with judges, Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said the new policy will be conveyed internally.
The Bush administration was criticized for invoking state secrets claims in lawsuits challenging post-Sept. 11 anti-terrorism programs, and the incoming Obama administration had promised a thorough review of such claims.
Yet in conducting its review, the Obama administration has continued to assert the privilege in all the current cases.
In one lawsuit brought by a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent, government lawyers changed their reasoning for invoking the state secrets privilege, but are still asserting it.
The judge in that case ridiculed the effort as two-faced.
''The government's new refrain is heads you lose, tails we win,'' U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth wrote in a recent decision, which was overturned on appeal.


Two things I put emphasis on. First: Obama is a hypocrite. As Tao says, Obama really isn't much different from Bush on most major issues. Iraq withdrawal timetable? Bush's. The Afghanistan war? Bush's. The Bailouts? A continuation of Bush's. Guantanamo Bay? Kept it open, just like Bush did. States Secrets? Just like Bush.

Really, Obama is the democrat version of G.W.B.

Second: In our Federal Government, we have always had checks and balances. States Secrets should be no different. Otherwise, the Executive Branch can (and did) just use it to cover their backsides. We need a judge to review the evidence and decide whether or not it is actually sensitive. If not, then proceed with the case. If it is sensitive, throw the case out. 'Nuff said.


TAO said...

There really is no difference between Obama and Bush other than one is black and the other is white...and of course one gives better speeches...

So, that basically makes all of the hysterics from the right about a loss of their freedoms, socialism, and communism all that much more absurd...

Since there were no tea bag parties under Bush its got to be race or we have to believe that Americans are much more gullible than we thought...

Anonymous said...

I agree that they were a lot alike. I remember how vehemently I opposed the bailout Bush pushed through at the end of his term.

That being said, as much as they are alike, they are also very different in other aspects. I don't remember Bush trying to nationalize health care or pushing through cap and trade.

TAO....For Pete's sake, stop with the race crap! You cannot blame everything on race and you know it. I agree that the hysterics are a bit much, but race is not the underlying factor. I am to the point when someone brings up the fact that opposing Obama is because of their race, they lose all credibility with me. I'm not saying that racism doesn't happen, but to play the race card over and over again, is getting old. You are so much better than that!

TAO said...

Oh Jenn honey, you have no sense of humor!

Good Lord, all the hysterics over Obama...its absurd! He's killing terrorists, sending drones into Pakistan, going all out in Afghanistan, then he has destabilized Iraq with one speech and the healthcare reform thing will be a real payday to health insurers just like the prescription drug program was to drug companies...

Oh, and Glenn Beck goes on and on about getting our country back, Hannity was at it again tonight...

Where were these fools back during Bush's term? THEY WERE ALL ABOUT SUPPORTING THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF!

Its either race or we are the dumbest bunch of folks on the face of the earth....

So, its either racism or just plain stupidity! personally I would rather be a racist than a dumb ass... :)

Buck Ofama said...

That's too bad - since you appear to be the latter.

Anonymous said...

"Its either race or we are the dumbest bunch of folks on the face of the earth...."

Well damn, TAO, I don't like those two choices even though I am leaning toward dumb myself. Can't we make up a third like temporary insanity?

I have a wonderful sense of humor it just deserted me for a moment.......There see, it's back again. :-)