Tell The Truth: The Obama DoJ

Recently the Obama DoJ seriously misstepped by maintaining Bush's position on Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen, invoking the state secrets privilege and attempting to get the case dismissed.  What followed was a great deal of rationalization and interpretation.  

Ambinder, for instance, saw what the Obama DoJ did and thought it wise:

It wouldn't be wise for a new administration to come in, take over a case from a prosecutor, and completely change a legal strategy in mid-course without a more thorough review of the national security implications.

In another article he quoted an anonymous Obama administration official:

Officials decided that it would be imprudent to reverse course so abruptly because they realized they didn't yet have a full picture of the intelligence methods and secrets that underlay the privilege's assertions, because the privilege might correctly protect a state secret, and because the domino effect of retracting it could harm legitimate cases, both civil and criminal, that are already in progress.

"If you decide today precipitously to waive this privilege, you can't get it back,' an administration official said. 'If you decide to assert it, you can always retract it in the future."

Which basically echoed the statement of DoJ spokesperson Matt Miller, who said this at the time:

"It is the policy of this administration to invoke the state secrets privilege only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases," he said, adding that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had asked for a review of pending cases in which the government had previously asserted a state secret privilege.

"The attorney general has directed that senior Justice Department officials review all assertions of the state secrets privilege to ensure that the privilege is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations," he said. "It is vital that we protect information that, if released, could jeopardize national security."

Well, of course that sounded like B.S. then, but it certainly is now.  Charlie Savage this morning quotes White House counsel Greg Craig, who justified invoking the state secrets privilege, and suggested that the Obama DoJ did so for reasons that they are not likely to reverse:

Mr. Craig said Mr. Holder and others reviewed the case and "came to the conclusion that it was justified and necessary for national security" to
maintain their predecessor's stance. Mr. Holder has also begun a review of every open Bush-era case involving state secrets, Mr. Craig said, so people should not read too much into one case.

"Every president in my lifetime has invoked the state-secrets privilege," Mr. Craig said. "The notion that invoking it in that case somehow

means we are signing onto the Bush approach to the world is just an erroneous assumption."

To me, this isn't just about triangulation anymore.  The Obama DoJ wants this case tossed out and wants to hide the details of the extraordinary rendition flights conducted by Jeppesen.  They do actually think this is justified and necessary.  We've heard all their B.S. but it seems like reality is that the Obama DoJ wants to continue down the tyrannical path of the Bush DoJ.  And now that the Obama DoJ is justifying their position not in terms of "we need further review," but in terms of "we need this for national security," it is hard to imagine how they even could reverse their position.  National security in their eyes was endangered yesterday, but not today?  In front of this court, but not the next?  Now reversing their position would be political suicide.

It is time to hold Obama accountable.

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    I think (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by jbindc on Fri Feb 20, 2009 at 03:23:18 PM EST
    It's smart to come in and review what's going on in every department, instead of throwing things together, like, oh, say, an $800 billion stimulus package.  Thoughtfulness is appreciated.

    That being said, however, from what we see in news reports, the Obama administration is running around acting like they have to be careful and review everything because they had absolutely no idea what was going on and hadn't had time to even start thinking about it.  Seems to me when you take 2 years off your job as Senator and want to run the country, you should have people looking into this kind of thing and formulating plans, and once you win the election and start transitioning, and being allowed to have higher clearances, then this is something that should have had a little more forethought put into it.

    Looks like hesitation now.  They got power and they don't want to give it up. Would you?

    The Eternal Candidate (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Jacob Freeze on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 01:56:48 PM EST
    Seems to me when you take 2 years off your job as Senator and want to run the country, you should have people looking into this kind of thing and formulating plans.

    It's also possible that Obama has never thought seriously about anything except getting himself elected, and he's really beginning from the beginning with every question that isn't directly connected with selling himself to the public.


    I think, too. (none / 0) (#5)
    by norris morris on Thu Oct 08, 2009 at 07:54:19 PM EST
    As you say, Obama is running around. But he's clueless.  Certainly about the pathetic state of our own American Olympic Committee and his lack of knowledge and preparation in hustling off to Denmark, Oprah aboard, hoping that the charm offensive would bring the party to Chicago. This after spending over $50 million for this dud.

    Obama's lack of experience and  lack of leadership leave the democrats on the high seas inspite of their majority. The Democrats don't even know they have a majority. The healthcare fiasco with Obama MIA, and a few conservative red state,blue dogs running the show with no intervention allow us to witness a debacle of non governance. The Democrats we voted for are showing us they cannot govern as a party.

    The healthcare bill will be a giveaway to Insurance and big pharma. Forget a real public option. It's disgusting.  Obama has prepared millions of new victims for big insurance and big pharma.



    Greenwald (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Jacob Freeze on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 02:03:10 PM EST
    I think that Glenn Greenwald really nailed the core of this issue in his column February 10.

    What was abusive and dangerous about the Bush administration's version of the States Secret privilege -- just as the Obama/Biden campaign pointed out -- was that it was used not (as originally intended) to argue that specific pieces of evidence or documents were secret and therefore shouldn't be allowed in a court case, but instead, to compel dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance based on the claim that any judicial adjudication of even the most illegal secret government programs would harm national security.  That is the theory that caused the bulk of the controversy when used by the Bush DOJ -- because it shields entire government programs from any judicial scrutiny -- and it is that exact version of the privilege that the Obama DOJ yesterday expressly advocated (and, by implication, sought to preserve for all Presidents, including Obama).  

    Its not just the flights (none / 0) (#4)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 11:05:29 AM EST
    Extraordinary rendition also involved Navy ships:

    Bush Renditions Even Uglier Than Imagined

    US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

    and the inevitable:

    "The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantanamo."

    I warned Obama and the transition team not to keep Gates, because of the potential war crimes involvement.

    I also told them not to withdraw the insane Bush legal theories, but to proceed on and get binding precedent that could be used against future jackasses that try this. At least they listened to me 50% of the time.