Gibbs: Obama “absolutely” agrees with DoJ “states secrets” filing

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According to White House Press Secretary Gibbs, who spoke yesterday to reporters, President Obama agrees with the position taken by his DoJ.

Responding late Friday afternoon to a suit filed by the EFF against the NSA, the Justice Department

argued that the case should be dismissed because information surrounding the program was a “state secret” and therefore couldn’t be litigated or discussed. It also proposed that the government was protected by “sovereign immunity” under federal wiretapping statutes and the Patriot Act, arguing that the United States could only face lawsuits if they willfully elected to disclose intelligence obtained by wiretapping.

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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.”

Pretty tough to take this in any way except that which is stated. President Obama agrees with the Bush administrations claims for immunity and “states secrets” in the case of clear FISA violations and illegal wiretapping.

From Electronic Frontier Foundation’s website, reaction to Friday’s filing reflected disappointment at the Obama administration’s stance:

It’s an especially disappointing argument to hear from the Obama Administration. As a candidate, Senator Obama lamented that the Bush Administration “invoked a legal tool known as the ‘state secrets’ privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.” He was right then, and we’re dismayed that he and his team seem to have forgotten.

Sad as that is, it’s the Department Of Justice’s second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying – that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one – not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration – has ever interpreted the law this way.

And yes, I AM a f#$@ing Democrat DFH. A very disappointed one. One who is a plaintiff in this case, and who will continue to support transparency and the rule of law with my last breath. Cuz that’s what I was told a good citizen should demand.

So sue me.

38 comments

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  1. one pissed off citizen, with apologies to OPOL for messing with his riff.

    • quince on April 10, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    And yes, I AM a f#$@ing Democrat. A very disappointed one.

    But I sure hope that disclaimer isn’t needed here like it seems to be at that other blog.  

    • Edger on April 10, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    yesterday…

    This controversy is clearly growing, as well it should.  These radical theories were not ancillary to the liberal critique of Bush/Cheney lawlessness but central to it.  Last night on CBS News, Katie Couric repeatedly asked Eric Holder about this issue, and — as The Washington Independent‘s Daphne Evitar noted — Holder was forced to say that he has reviewed the cases where the Obama administration invoked “state secrets” and agreed with virtually everything the Bush administration did in those cases with regard to that doctrine, making clear (as Evitar put it) “that the Obama administration [with the possible exception of one unnamed case] is unlikely to depart dramatically from the Bush administration’s position on the use of the state secrets privilege.” 

    The Bush administration’s use of the “state secrets” privilege was the linchpin of its efforts to shield its criminality from judicial review and — as Democrats, progressives and other Bush critics repeatedly argued — was one of the principal prongs of its lawlessness and radicalism.  Yet here is the Obama administration doing exactly the same thing and now admitting that they intend to continue to do so.  Relatedly, Jim White digs up some election year Obama quotes to underscore what a betrayal of Obama’s constant commitments these actions are.  

  2. Sad as that is, it’s the Department Of Justice’s second argument that is the most pernicious. The DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying – that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

    President Obamination is out doing dubya now. I am more than a little ashamed I voted for him. I guess that I was suckered in by that 1000 watt smile myself, and I thought myself to be enough of a cynic to be immune to such BS marketing. Of course the only other option forced me to support him, but even so….

    I am close to dropping out of the political process completely, I have close to no piss left.

  3. Cant say Im suprised, disapointed but not suprised.  People think Im a ‘far left’ liberal Dem.  I see myself as a ‘moderatly left’ leaning Dem whos being forced farther to the left by actions like these by DOJ and White House.  

    As far as I’m concerned Ive got the entire history of the United States of America, the Constitution, morality, reason, religon and common sence on my side of this arguement and what there doing spits in the face of all of em  

  4. I’m writing about this today too, just to give you a heads up

    • TomP on April 10, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    It is tuly disappointing.

    • Viet71 on April 11, 2009 at 12:05 am

    Forge on.

  5. you really earned your salary today! ha ha…  (I keed, I worked in non-profits for so long…)

    no, seriously, in the month or so that I have been here I have never heard any pitch or anything but I do see that little jar over there>>>  If I could, Id love to make a $ contribution to the ongoing continuation of this site… its really an important and valuable effort. ( And Buhdy, it seems like the rest really did you good. THANK YOU.)

    just sayin’.

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