Thursday, July 16, 2009

"The Crown Jewel of the United States National Security Administration"

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a brief news story on the Obama administration's effort to undermine and destroy an attempt to sue the government over the Bush administration's illegal wiretapping program:

"Obama 'does not intend to use the state-secrets privilege to cover up illegal activities,' said Justice Department attorney Anthony Coppolino. But in exceptional circumstances, he said, the president will invoke secrecy to protect 'the sources and methods of detecting terrorist attacks... the crown jewel of the United States national security administration.'

"Coppolino said the administration will cite national security in seeking dismissal of a lawsuit by telephone customers accusing the government of illegally intercepting phone calls and obtaining phone company records."
And we get this, a little later:
"The Justice Department lawyer replied that the plaintiffs will have to air classified information in court about 'the nature and scope of the government's surveillance program' to prove their case, and the government will have to do the same to defend itself. That "would risk exceptional harm to the national security," Coppolino said."
It would be bad enough that The Obama, who vigorously condemned the behavior of the Bush administration on such matters right up until he was elected, has shown absolutely no inclination toward any effort to bring to justice those in the previous administration but he's done far worse--he's actively obstructed every effort by anyone else to try to do so. It's becoming a depressingly familiar story. In this case, the surveillance program in question was both 100% illegal and 100% unconstitutional, a top-to-bottom criminal enterprise operating out of the White House. That, alone, should strip away any pretense that revealing information about it could endanger "sources and methods" relating to "national security" (a nonsense concept in the first place). Instead, we get a representative of the Obama administration branding these sources and methods "the crown jewel of the United States national security administration."

I get a peculiar smell from that crown--somehow, I don't think it's gold.


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