Obama administration seeks to block lawsuit over illegal wiretapping

Original article, By John Burton and Marge Holland, via World Socialist Web Site:

For the second time in less than a week, lawyers from the Justice Department headed by Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder have embraced the Bush administration’s pseudo-legal argument that the “state secrets” doctrine bars civil lawsuits challenging the methods used in its so-called “war on terror.”

Dissapointing? Yes. After all, Obama was all about change and hope. Surprising? Not really. After all, there is an axiom that governments tend not to give back power once they have it. Threatening? Of course.

On February 9, Obama administration lawyers argued before the United States

Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit, headquartered in San Francisco, that the

maintenance of “state secrets” mandates the dismissal of cases challenging

“extraordinary rendition” – that is kidnapping and torture – by the US

government. (See “Obama administration defends torturers“)

Here’s something to think about.  If the Obama administration is in court seeking to maintain state secrets over extraordinary rendition, do you actually think they’re going to end it?  Now, it’s possible that they might.  Will they?  It’s not likely.  Will the Congress force them to?  Once again, it’s possible, but once again it’s not likely.

The most recent intervention also occurred in San Francisco, with the filing of papers February 11 to block an order by United States District Judge Vaughn R. Walker reinstating the claim of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation that it was the target of government wiretapping. The surveillance was carried out without the required court approval, under the “Terrorist Surveillance Program.” The blatantly illegal electronic surveillance took place before the Bush administration made the Ashland, Oregon-based charity a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” organization and froze its assets.

The authors point out that this arises from a case where sensitive documents were handed over to the defense and then the government forced the defense team to give back those documents.  It’s the status of those documents which the Obama administration has decided to use the state secrets canard to try to keep the documents from being used by the defense.  Nifty, eh?

That the Obama administration would intervene to block confidential judicial review of illegal Bush administration wiretapping exposes the futility of attempting to defend fundamental liberties through the Democratic Party.

The only way to get the Dems to defend fundamental liberties is to change the Democratic Party.  ‘More and better Democrats?’  So far, it seems that the equation has been heavily sided toward more.  It’s time for better Democrats.  Period.

The Obama administration lawyers are expected to appeal again to the Ninth Circuit, and repeat their arguments that federal judges cannot review cases challenging the legality of Bush administration wiretaps.

Let’s hope this is not the case.  Let’s hope that Obama himself intervenes with the Justice Department and orders that the ruling stands.  Let’s hope that Obama actually believes in his catch phrase ‘Change You Can Believe In.’  If he doesn’t, or AG Holder doesn’t, then we’ll know it’s just that: A Catch Phrase which doesn’t mean squat.

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  1. Is anyone else not surprised?

  2. Lawyers for 911 truth!


    The newest to be added to the growing list.





  3. with his voting for FISA during the election. This administration seem to be operating with the illegal powers that can be cloaked by state secrets. This won’t do. The excuse of terrorism to fundamentally destroy our civil and human rights which are the principle in our foundation and codified by law, is unacceptable. Nothing trumps these documents, no change is possible if they are allowed to stand as law. The change already happened it must be repudiated and in the case of the odious Patriot’s Act and other illegal legislation repealed. National security is a catch all for the fascists  embedded in our system. The secrets that are being protected are crimes against humanity and when the spooks get this much power it’s all over for a democracy.      

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