Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Obama's State Secrets

Hardly a month into "Change We Can Believe In" and I'm already put off and disillusioned. For anyone wondering what I'm grumbling about this time, I should mention one of my biggest beefs with the Bush Administration was his policy on State Secrets. Barack Obama has evidently decided that instead of Change We Can Believe In, we'll get the same old stuff that Bush threw at us. And it doesn't smell much better.

Read the article here where Obama has upheld and defended the Bush policy on state secrets. To be completely fair things are still very early, and they've hinted that things might change on this. The article cites Obama's pledge of new Freedom of Information Act guidlines soon. It unfortunately also suggests that these may not be retroactive and apply to past FOIA cases. In the article, one Justice Dept. lawyer suggest that, "It is not clear that the new guidelines, once issued, will be retrospective to FOIA requests that the agency already has finished processing." Fair enough, but as this editorial argues, preserving this Bush Administration precedent is unacceptable.

What's really sad about this is most Americans are going to judge and evaluate Obama on whether or not his monster stimulus plan prevents another recession, something he has only limited control over at best. We should instead be judging him and his administration on the things they CAN DO in the interests of democracy and freedom and an open and transparent govt. People should be more concerned about whether Obama governs with wisdom, integrity and honor, not whether he makes or keeps them wealthy.

Despite Obama Pledge, Justice Defends Bush Secrets

Here's a great editorial on the subject too. He does an especially good job of explaining the difference between how past administrations used the state secrets privilege and how Bush changed that. Obama apparently wants to keep this new way of looking at state secrets around.

Perhaps there is some political motive to this or some other thing I'm not aware of. Barack Obama's MO suggests he's very careful and deliberate about any new action. My guess is Obama will phase out its use but slyly try to preserve the precedent. It would certainly be tempting, as the old axiom about power and corruption suggests.

The 180 Degree Reversal of Obama's State Secrets Position by Glenn Greenwald.

Despite Obama Pledge, Justice Defends Bush Secrets

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