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State secrets abuse continues under Obama
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, September 29, 2009
Posted: October 3rd, 2009

One of the ways that the Bush administration tried to avoid accountability for its serious misconduct in the name of fighting terrorism was the misuse of an evidentiary rule called the state secrets privilege. The Obama administration has essentially embraced the Bush approach in existing cases, trying to toss out important lawsuits alleging kidnapping, torture and unlawful wiretapping without any evidence being presented. The other day, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. issued new guidelines for invoking the state secrets privilege in the future. They were a positive step forward, on paper, but did not go nearly far enough. Mr. Holders much-anticipated reform plan does not include any shift in the Obama administrations demand for blanket secrecy in pending cases. Nor does it include support for legislation that would mandate thorough court review of state secrets claims made by the executive branch. It remains to be seen whether, and to what extent, the new regimen will succeed in avoiding flimsy claims of secrecy. Much depends on how the rules are interpreted and enforced, and the Justice Departments willingness to stand up to insistent intelligence agency demands. Since assuming office, Mr. Holder has reviewed the administrations position in ongoing cases and has continued broad secrecy claims of the sort that President Obama criticized when he was running for president. Senator Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat, noted that without a clear, permanent mandate for independent court review of the administrations judgment calls, Mr. Holders policy still amounts to an approach of just trust us.

Note: For more on the Obama administration's proposed rules, click here.

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