Not content to leave any doubt that President Obama concurs with the transparently bogus claims being made in the ongoing lawsuit over warrantless wiretapping of American citizens under George W. Bush, the Administration today removed any doubts over their commitment to Bush era secrecy.
Responding to a question at Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed Obama stands firmly behind a Justice Department pleading filed last week asking the Electronic Freedom Foundation's lawsuit be dismissed.
Glenn Greenwald has blogged frequently on the Administration's continuing efforts to preserve Bush-era secrecy claims, and in fact has claimed the latest filing goes BEYOND the Bush DoJ's claims of sovereign immunity and state secrets:
Every defining attribute of Bush's radical secrecy powers -- every one -- is found here, and in exactly the same tone and with the exact same mindset. Thus: how the U.S. government eavesdrops on its citizens is too secret to allow a court to determine its legality. We must just blindly accept the claims from the President's DNI that we will all be endangered if we allow courts to determine the legality of the President's actions. Even confirming or denying already publicly known facts -- such as the involvement of the telecoms and the massive data-mining programs -- would be too damaging to national security. Why? Because the DNI says so . . . What's being asserted here by the Obama DOJ is the virtually absolute power of presidential secrecy, the right to break the law with no consequences, and immunity from surveillance lawsuits . . .
Obama apologists have come up with elaborate and contrived scenarios to justify the pleading, from it's just the lawyers doing their job to it's a secret plan to make assertions so outrageous they intentionally lose the case.
Alas, Robert Gibb leaves little doubt as to the Obama Administration's belief the American public can't take the truth, as reported here.
George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr seems to demolish the DoJ argument of sovereign immunity here:
. . . the Justice Department [argues] the statutory claims against the government for the NSA warrantless surveillance program cannot proceed because the causes of action under the Wiretap Act, the Stored Communications Act, and FISA are barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity . . .
This strikes me as a terrible argument. 18 U.S.C. § 2712 -- titled "Civil actions against the United States" -- is about as clear as you can get on this issue, it seems to me. It states:
Any person who is aggrieved by any willful violation of this chapter [the Stored Communications Act -- Ed.] or of chapter 119 of this title [the Wiretap Act -- Ed.] or of sections 106(a), 305(a), or 405(a) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) may commence an action in United States District Court against the United States to recover money damages.
Had Gibbs only held his tongue, at least we could have preserved the illusion of the prospect of greater transparency in government, and the dream of the prosecution of torturers and wiretappers that is clearly mandated in the circumstances.