Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The First Test: Failed?

On Mark Crispin Miller's page today, he c&p'd Glen Greewald's Salon column in which Greenwald levels some pretty serious criticism against Prez.O's decision to embrace a 'state secrets' position to deny evidence to plaintiffs who were tortured in US custody:
Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability–resoundingly and disgracefully
Glenn Greenwald

The Obama DOJ today embraced one of the most abused Bush weapons — the “state secrets” privilege — in order to block torture and rendition victims from their day in court.

Two weeks ago, I interviewed the ACLU’s Ben Wizner, counsel to 5 individuals suing the subsidiary of Boeing (Jeppesen) which had arranged the Bush administration’s rendition program, under which those 5 plaintiffs had been abducted, sent to other countries and brutally tortured. Today the Obama administration was required to file with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals its position in this case — i.e., whether it would continue the Bush administration’s abusive reliance on the “state secrets” privilege to prevent courts from ruling on such matters, or whether they would adhere to Obama’s previous claims about his beliefs on “state secrets” by withdrawing that position and allowing these victims their day in court.

Yesterday, enthusiastic Obama supporter Andrew Sullivan wrote about this case: “Tomorrow in a federal court hearing in San Francisco, we’ll find out if the Obama administration intends to keep the evidence as secret as the Bush administration did.” As I wrote after interviewing Wizner two weeks ago: “This is the first real test of the authenticity of Obama’s commitment to reverse the abuses of executive power over the last eight years.” Today, the Obama administration failed that test — resoundingly and disgracefully:

“Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ Lawsuit
“The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush
Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.
PS> It's not a misunderstanding:
UPDATE: I just spoke with Wizner about today's court hearing. It's really remarkable what happened. One of the judges on the three-judge panel explicitly asked the DOJ lawyer, Doug Letter, whether the change in administrations had any bearing on the Government's position in this case. Letter emphatically said it did not. Instead, he told the court, the new administration -- the new DOJ -- had actively reviewed this case and vetted the Bush positions and decisively opted to embrace the same positions.
The entire claim of "state secrets" in this case is based on two sworn Declarations from CIA Director Michael Hayden -- one public and one filed secretly with the court. In them, Hayden argues that courts cannot adjudicate this case because to do so would be to disclose and thus degrade key CIA programs of rendition and interrogation -- the very policies which Obama, in his first week in office, ordered shall no longer exist. How, then, could continuation of this case possibly jeopardize national security when the rendition and interrogation practices which gave rise to these lawsuits are the very ones that the U.S. Government, under the new administration, claims to have banned?

What this is clearly about is shielding the U.S. Government and Bush officials from any accountability. Worse, by keeping Bush's secrecy architecture in place, it ensures that any future President -- Obama or any other -- can continue to operate behind an impenetrable wall of secrecy, with no transparency or accountability even for blatantly criminal acts.
Meme chose, or sumpin, I guess...

I mean, I didn't really expect better of 'em.


Liberality said...

but I'm still disappointed nevertheless.

Mr. Pelican said...

And so Hope Dies,
The same old same old continues.
go figger.
We are all chumps for believing it could be anything otherwise.
The insiders got to the Wizard
(Woody is pro'bly saying that the Wiz always was a complicit insider, just by virtue of his presence and participation in the US Sewage.) and told him it was in the "best interests" of all the dripping doodles in power if the status quo remained. Goddamn it Woody, why the fuck can't you be wrong once in a while!
Still, the wiz, what ever his faults has to be better than Droopy Dawg McCain. ( NSM)