Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss (A Continuing Series)

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on October 31, 2009

We keep running into stories like this one:

The Obama administration invoked the controversial “state secrets” privilege again on Friday, arguing that if U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker were to permit a legal case against the government to proceed, he would be putting national security at risk.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement about the case, Shubert et. al v. Obama, that “there is no way for this case to move forward without jeopardizing ongoing intelligence activities that we rely upon to protect the safety of the American people.”

The case is a class action suit brought by four Brooklynites alleging that the Bush administration engaged in wholesale dragnet surveillance of ordinary Americans in which they were unjustly caught because they regularly made phone calls and sent emails to individuals outside the U.S., specifically in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Egypt, the Netherlands, and Norway.

Obama administration officials argued that even addressing or attempting to refute the plaintiffs’ claim would require the administration “to disclose intelligence sources and methods, or the lack thereof.”

Recall that the Bush Administration regularly got pilloried for invoking the state secrets privilege. A lot of civil libertarians made their bones bashing the Bush Administration on a regular basis for these kinds of invocations, but while they have spoken out at times against the Obama Administration for continuing to invoke the state secrets privilege, their outrage has grown much less distinct.

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