Thoughts from a Yellow Dog Democrat living in Olympia, in the great BLUE state of Washington

I am a liberal because it is the political philosophy of freedom and equality. And I am a progressive because it is the political path to a better future. And I am a Democrat because it is the political party that believes in freedom, equality and progress. -- Digby

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I'm Disappointed in Obama

In the heat of the presidential campaign, then Sen. Barack Obama cast his lot with major telecommunications companies -- and AT&T specifically -- by voting to give big telecom retroactive immunity for allegedly helping the White House illegally spy on Americans. It was one of the most disappointing moments of the campaign.

However, he did forcefully oppose the Bush administration's use of the "state secrets" privilege to get cases thrown out of civil court. According to the Obama/Biden campaign web site:

Secrecy Dominates Government Actions: The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure rules and has invoked a legal tool known as the "state secrets" privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.

But now, to the dismay of civil liberties groups, President Obama is using the "state secrets" defense to make the case that the United States government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying and can never be sued for surveillance that might violate federal privacy statutes.

That's what happened on April 2, when President Obama's lawyers invoked Bush's radical theory of executive power to argue for the dismissal of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's litigation against the National Security Agency for the warrantless wiretapping of countless Americans.

Of course, the government should be able to argue before a court that the public release of some information would unacceptably damage national security. But many courts have handled national security information with appropriate safeguards, and the mere assertion of "state secrets" without persuading a judge with evidence is just plain wrong.

When it comes to the abuse of "state secrets" defense, we agree with candidate Obama, not President Obama. If EFF's case against the NSA is dismissed, we may never know the extent of the Bush administration's illegal spying on Americans.

Obama isn't going to change things like I hoped. This is really disappointing. I thought he'd at least stand up for the Constitution.

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  • At 12:04 PM , Blogger Rolandovich said...

    I couldn't agree more. There are some degrees of "more of the same" that are not surprising (response to financial issues and general servitude to the entrenched power structures). On the other hand, I figured that what I would consider the obvious and egregious Bush era constitutional violations would cease relatively quickly.

    I guess I am batting .500.

  • At 7:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    If Barack Obama's other orifice could speak, what would he say?(parody) BHO Taileprompter


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