Friday, April 10, 2009


During the campaign last year, then candidate Obama criticized President Bush for using "state secrets" to get cases for public disclosure of wiretapping filed against his administration thrown out of court. Now Obama is using the same tactic to prevent we citizens from finding out which of us has been spied on illegally.

From Raw Story:

White House: Obama 'absolutely' stands behind
effort to throw out warrantless wiretap suit

President Barack Obama endorsed a Justice Department move to dismiss a case in which the National Security Agency is being sued over its warrantless wiretapping program, because he believes the case presents a risk to national security, the White House told Raw Story Thursday.

In response to a question at Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Obama stands firmly behind a Justice Department brief filed last week which aims to have a civil liberties group’s lawsuit dismissed.

He “absolutely does,” Gibbs said. “Obviously, these are programs that have been debated and discussed, but the President does support that viewpoint.”

During his presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama criticized the Bush Administration for its use of “state secrets” as a legal argument to prevent lawsuits from moving forward. His campaign website listed state secrets under the headline “Problems.”

“The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure and has invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of court,” his campaign site said.

Raw Story questioned Gibbs about the apparent contradiction.

“Before he was elected, the President said that the Bush administration had abused the state secrets privilege,” this reporter asked. “Has he changed his mind?”

“No,” Gibbs replied. “I mean, obviously, we're dealing with some suits, and the President will -- and the Justice Department will make determinations based on protecting our national security.”

“So he still thinks that the Bush administration abused the state secrets privilege?” Raw Story asked.

“Yes,” Gibbs said.


Well I don't know about you, but that aounds like a lot of double-speak to me.

[DoJ] asserts that the United States can’t be sued because it’s specifically excluded under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act. “In the Wiretap Act and ECPA, Congress expressly preserved sovereign immunity against claims for damages and equitable relief, permitting such claims against only a 'person or entity, other than the United States,'” the Department wrote.

In that section of the law, however, the phrase “other than the United States” is there only because those sections specify the penalties to be used in cases in which the law is violated by someone other than the United States. In contrast, another section of the law specifies penalties for violations of the law by the United States. (More on the law can be read at section 2520 (in chapter 119) and section 2707.)

Some legal scholars have raised eyebrows at the claim.

Orin Kerr, professor at George Washington School of Law, believes that the Administration's argument they can't be prosecuted unless they willfully provide wiretapping intelligence seems spurious.

"The statute itself says 'any willful violation,' and it expressly covers all of Chapter 121 (the Stored Communications Act), all of Chapter 119 (the Wiretap Act), and those explicit sections of the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act]," Kerr wrote.


Once again....the more things "change" the more they stay the same. It's sounding more and more like politics as usual in Washington, DC.


Jacob said...

It sounds like double-speak to me, too, GE...but, I'm withholding final judgment for now...I want to believe he has good reason for what he's doing that jibes with his rhetoric...

We'll see.

Grandpa Eddie said...

Jacob - Yeh, I'm not gonna judge him on this quite yet. It's just upsetting that one thing was said during the campaign, and another is being said now. It seems a little two-faced to me.
Obama has to give us the openness that he talked about during the campaign or risk being a one term President, and I don't want to see that.
He has to prove he's above the tactics of the Rethuglicans.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to not judge him. . . but I'm pretty damn disappointed.

Grandpa Eddie said...

jeg43 - I'm trying to not judge him either....and I, too, am getting disappointed.

Gordon said...

I'm not going to judge him just yet either, but I think he's making a mistake. I can see him keeping his options open, and since he's not evil like Bush, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. For now.

Grandpa Eddie said...

"I can see him keeping his options open...."

I hope you're right Gordon.