During his campaign to “change Washington,” the Big O frequently accused Bush of wantonly ignoring public disclosure rules and flaunting the state-secrets privilege at will.
Now it appears The Coronated One is doing a bit of that himself.
Obama’s Justice Team is seeking to dismiss a US District court case filed by an Oregon charity accused of funding terrorism on grounds that it threatens state secrets and national security.
It has even intimated it might abscond with classified documents currently in the court’s custody to prevent the charity’s lawyers from perusing them.
The Bush Justice Team regularly invoked “state secrets” to prevent civil liberties groups from accessing sensitive documents regarding offshore prisons for terrorism suspects, warrantless wiretapping of US citizens and other questionable behavior.
The charity, al-Haramain wants damages from the FBI and National Security Agency, alleging the Feds’ illegal eavesdropping of its board members and lawyers violated its freedom of speech and due process rights.
The charity is no longer in business. It claims its purpose was philanthropic and that the Feds have no evidence to support assertions against it.
“There has to be other ways to protect secret information without having to block accountability,” Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at UC Irvine told the Washington Post.
Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller responded that it “has already moved on a number of fronts to ensure Americans have access to information about their government’s actions. With respect to state secrets, the attorney general has ordered a review of pending cases to ensure the privilege is only invoked when absolutely necessary.”
“At this point,” said Jon Eisenberg, the al-Haramain attorney, “I don’t feel like I need to do anything. The outrage speaks for itself.”