Well, we’ve now got an active administration facing one of the most challenging periods in American history, and there are bound to be plenty of compromises, and the occasional out-and-out… Letdown.
February and March have been filled with news, some of which hasn’t gotten much buzz. Here is a dump of my backlog of Letdowns from the past several weeks:
1. Justice Department Stands Behind Bush Secrecy In Extraordinary Rendition Case
The Justice Department today repeated Bush administration claims of “state secrets” in a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the extraordinary rendition program. Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen was brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The Bush administration intervened in the case, inappropriately asserting the “state secrets” privilege and claiming the case would undermine national security. Oral arguments were presented today in the American Civil Liberties Union’s appeal of the dismissal, and the Obama administration opted not to change the government position in the case, instead reasserting that the entire subject matter of the case is a state secret.
Glen Greenwald’s coverage:
- “Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability — resoundingly and disgracefully”
- Is Obama Embracing The Lawless, Omnipotent Executive
The sad saga continues through January. From a Salon Column by Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation Inc. v. Bush plaintif lawyer Jon B Eisenberg:
In yet another public filing with Judge Walker on Feb. 27, the government lawyers informed him that the government’s previous secret filings in the Al-Haramain case contain “an inaccuracy” that “cannot be set forth on the public record.” The “inaccuracy” is described only in secret filings accompanying the public filing. It appears that high officials in the Bush administration asserted a falsehood or falsehoods in their previous secret filings with the court, which the Obama administration is attempting to keep secret. What could that “inaccuracy” be? We haven’t a clue, because … it’s a secret!
2. Obama Administration Declares Proposed IP Treaty a ‘National Security’ Secret
…like Bush before him, Obama is playing the national security card to hide details of the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement being negotiated across the globe.The White House this week declared the text of the proposed treaty a “properly classified” national security secret, in rejecting a Freedom of Information Act request by Knowledge Ecology International.
If ratified, leaked documents posted on WikiLeaks and other comments suggest the proposed trade accord would criminalize peer-to-peer file sharing, subject iPods to border searches and allow internet service providers to monitor their customers’ communications
(Be sure to go view the Wired story — you don’t want to miss the heartbreaking graphic at the top)
3. An Enemy Combatant by any other name still does not have civil liberties
The Obama administration said Friday that it would abandon the Bush administration’s term “enemy combatant” as it argues in court for the continued detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in a move that seemed intended to symbolically separate the new administration from Bush detention policies.
But in a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects there without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.
Also see Glenn Greenwald’s coverage.