17 Feb 2009

Glenn Greenwald Is Not Happy With Obama on Rendition Position

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Despite a campaign that certainly led you to believe otherwise, the Obama Department of Justice has not altered the Bush position on whether victims of rendition could sue the Boeing subsidiary that facilitated their torture. GG is fuming, and rightly so. (HT2SR)

Here’s a great part in one of the updates:

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.

There’s no doubt about that….This was an active, conscious decision made by the Obama DOJ to retain the same abusive, expansive view of “state secrets” as Bush adopted, and to do so for exactly the same purpose: to prevent any judicial accountability of any kind, to keep government behavior outside of and above the rule of law.

Finally, Wizner noted one last fact that is rather remarkable. 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?

I suppose the die-hard Obama fans will say that he needs to placate the right on civil liberties, in order to push through his trillion-dollar spending spree. But notice that’s exactly how Bush partisans excused his capitulation on prescription drug benefits and spending in general: Bush “had” to go along on those matters in order to get the Democrats to go along with national defense.

Wouldn’t it be great if the parties compromised the other way? For example, the Democrats say, “OK we’ll support tax cuts, but only if you join us in insisting that the FBI gets a warrant before tapping an American’s phone.” And the Republicans would say, “OK fine, we’ll have all the troops out of Iraq by 2011, but only if you agree to abolish the Department of Education by the same deadline.” Ahhh…

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