The Obama administration has filed a brief in EFF's lawsuit against the government for its program of illegal, mass wiretapping of Americans, defending the practice, arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed, endorsing the Bush administration's invented "State Secret" theory, and augmenting it with a new theory, that "the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is "willful disclosure" of the illegally intercepted communications." This brief was not written by Bush cronies left behind by the outgoing administration: this is an invention of the Obama administration.
I don't expect the guy to walk on water, but I'd sure like it if he'd stop wallowing in the mud.
Every defining attribute of Bush's radical secrecy powers -- every one -- is found here, and in exactly the same tone and with the exact same mindset. Thus: how the U.S. government eavesdrops on its citizens is too secret to allow a court to determine its legality. We must just blindly accept the claims from the President's DNI that we will all be endangered if we allow courts to determine the legality of the President's actions. Even confirming or denying already publicly known facts -- such as the involvement of the telecoms and the massive data-mining programs -- would be too damaging to national security. Why? Because the DNI says so. It is not merely specific documents, but entire lawsuits, that must be dismissed in advance as soon as the privilege is asserted because "its very subject matter would inherently risk or require the disclosure of state secrets."
New and worse secrecy and immunity claims from the Obama DOJ
What's being asserted here by the Obama DOJ is the virtually absolute power of presidential secrecy, the right to break the law with no consequences, and immunity from surveillance lawsuits so sweeping that one can hardly believe that it's being claimed with a straight face. It is simply inexcusable for those who spent the last several years screaming when the Bush administration did exactly this to remain silent now or, worse, to search for excuses to justify this behavior. As EFF's Bankston put it:
"President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties. But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a "secret" that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again."
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