Obama Justice Department Supports Bush ‘State Secrets’ Claims

By
Monday, February 09, 2009 at 3:24 pm

In a move that’s sure to dismay some of President Obama’s faithful, the new administration today stood up in a federal appeals court and reiterated the Bush administrations’ arguments that victims of “extraordinary rendition” and torture should not be allowed to bring their claims in federal court because doing so would reveal “state secrets” and harm national security.

As we first reported in late January, the Bush administration had succeeded in getting the case, Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, dismissed by arguing that subject of the lawsuit — the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program — was itself a state secret, regardless of how many times President Bush and various CIA directors had talked publicly about it.

Countering the arguments of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented five victims of the program who all claim they were abducted abroad and shipped to a foreign country to be brutally tortured, the government claimed that even allowing the federal judge overseeing the case to review any classified evidence behind closed doors would endanger national security.

The ACLU, the bipartisan Constitution Project and others have been watching this case closely. Since we first reported on it, in the past week The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times‘ editorial boards have both weighed in, urging the Obama administration to reconsider the Bush Justice Department’s claims.

Today, we got our answer: Obama’s executive orders and presidential memoranda on ending needless government secrecy notwithstanding, the Bush administration’s view that allowing torture victims to have their day in court is a danger to national security still stands.

It’s worth noting that while it’s still early in the new administration and Attorney General Eric Holder was just recently confirmed, the Justice Department did NOT ask the court for more time to consider its views on the case. Instead, it supported the Bush administration’s position that the case should be dismissed.

The Obama administration took a similar position in a related British case that I wrote about last week.

None of this bodes well for the likelihood of obtaining additional information about the Bush administration’s interrogation policies in the future.

Update: Here’s what ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero had to say after today’s hearing:

Eric Holder’s Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.

I’ll be writing this week about an important FOIA case in which the Obama Justice Department will soon have to take a stand as well. Stay tuned.

Comments

20 Comments

arturo
Comment posted February 9, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would ask whether Obama's DOJ is purposely taking a dive in these cases in order to establish some anti-state secrets precedent.


Rick Cain
Comment posted February 9, 2009 @ 2:28 pm

Unfortunately Obama doesn't want to go “off message” and have the focus on the economy get derailed by this contentious issue. A shame really, Obama will be blamed for Dubya's mess because he refuses to deal with it. We all know Obama has been handed the worst bunch of crises since Roosevelt so its hard to be critical. I think a better tack would have been to defer this until later.

A very disappointing position to take, which reinforces the public's suspicions that this government will turn out to be scant better than the last one.


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[...] the Washington Independent finds that Obama’s promises in this area were false, false, false. The article begins: In a move that’s sure to dismay some of President Obama’s faithful, the new [...]


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Pingback posted February 9, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

[...] That’s not change we can believe in. No, really. 9.February.09 Posted by checkypantz in Uncategorized. trackback Well, I’m now officially disheartened and disappointed by the prospects of an Obama presidency that stands for True Change in Washington: Obama Justice Department Supports Bush ‘State Secrets’ Claims [...]


runescape gold
Comment posted February 9, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would ask whether Obama's DOJ is purposely taking a dive in these cases in order to establish some anti-state secrets precedent.


Michael Haas
Comment posted February 9, 2009 @ 10:50 pm

Obama has committed a war crime. Failure to prosecute those who commit torture is a violation of Article 6 of the Torture Convention and Article 31 of the Third Geneva Convention. He should be sued.


ANdrea
Comment posted February 10, 2009 @ 8:41 am

This is insane! I am deeply disappointed. Obama seems to not understand that Ameria will not regain its dignity if things are just left as they now are.


Joshua Stang
Comment posted February 10, 2009 @ 10:26 am

How about actually investigating the real crimes of the Bush Administration such as how the Presidential Identity Theft Task Force was created and used to steal and cover up the stealing of nearly 20 million Americans Identities? Or how about looking into the BIGGEST REAL ESTATE SCAM of all time, beter known as Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc.? For more information on this scam, go to http://www.ripoffreport.com and type the company name in to box. Are you at all curious as to how the banking industry seemed to have “lost” $780 billion? Well look no farther than Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. and there is your answer. FYI- It is being run by the same scoundrels that created and pulled off the Enron scam!!! The TRUTH is out there folks!!! But will the “Law” actual stand up for “Justice”? Or are they all “insiders” in this systematic raping of America?


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Pingback posted February 10, 2009 @ 11:17 am

[...] Obama Justice Department Supports Bush ‘State Secrets’ Claims The Washington Independent ,February 10, 2009 Jeppesen Dataplan, dismissed by arguing that subject of the lawsuit — the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program — was itself a state secret, regardless of … [...]


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Hawaiianstyle
Comment posted February 18, 2009 @ 10:59 am

What???!!! After all the words about a change in Washington. A Change in the culture of secrecy, and abuse and all the Bush stuff?

Talk is cheap and campaign promises cheaper.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Mr. President if you are going to abandon the moral high ground in you actions at least be honest in your words.


darkeyes
Comment posted February 24, 2009 @ 11:26 am

When President Obama chose his Press Secretary,I was impressed by his easy style.He reminds me of the people who were on TV at the beginning of that era.His smile is like that of a little boy who overtakes his naughty deeds. Moms can always be twisted from a lecture or punishment with that smile.His answers impress the questioner or maybe his wife.He doesn't have that hard heart look that some politicians have.He gives us hope even when the answers are sometimes depressing.


darkeyes
Comment posted February 24, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

When President Obama chose his Press Secretary,I was impressed by his easy style.He reminds me of the people who were on TV at the beginning of that era.His smile is like that of a little boy who overtakes his naughty deeds. Moms can always be twisted from a lecture or punishment with that smile.His answers impress the questioner or maybe his wife.He doesn't have that hard heart look that some politicians have.He gives us hope even when the answers are sometimes depressing.


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Pingback posted April 28, 2009 @ 11:48 pm

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Pingback posted April 30, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

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Pingback posted April 30, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

[...] his administration made in the warrantless wiretapping and rendition cases, Al Haramain, Jewel, and Jeppesen. In these cases, the administration forwarded the same state secrets privilege argument that the [...]


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