Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Challenges brew over 'state secrets'

Sometimes I'm surprised by what seems to go unnoticed by bloggers.

Take this story for example. Taking a closer look at Bush's invoking of the "state secrets" doctrine could have monumental consequences in what he can continue doing, do in the future and what future presidents can do.

Yes, its very early in this game, but to ignore the game has started seems queer.
In federal courts and on Capitol Hill, challenges are brewing to a key legal strategy President Bush is using to protect a secret surveillance program that monitors phone calls and e-mails inside the United States.

Under grilling from lawmakers and attack by lawsuits alleging Bush authorized the illegal wiretapping of Americans, the White House has invoked a legal defense known as the "state secrets" doctrine — a claim that the president has inherent and unchecked power to shield national security information from disclosure, either to plaintiffs in court or to congressional overseers.

The principle was established a half-century ago when, ruling in a wrongful-death case brought by the widows of civilians killed in a military plane crash, the Supreme Court upheld the Air Force's refusal to provide an accident report to the plaintiffs. The government contended releasing the document would compromise information about a secret mission and intelligence equipment.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the senior Republican on the Judiciary Committee, believes the White House has gone too far in invoking state secrets to halt civil lawsuits.

"We have the authority to define the state secrets doctrine," Specter says. "I don't think that the simple assertion of state secrets ought to be the end of the matter."

Specter, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and others are working on legislation that would direct federal judges to review the president's state secrets claims and allow cases with merit to go forward.

Practices among judges vary. Some accept state secrets claims outright, dismissing cases on the government's word. Others read the privileged information and decide for themselves, but almost invariably side with the government, according to legal scholars.

If I don't fall back into my normal lazy ass mode, I'll try to keep up on this story for ya.

Via BlackListedNews.

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Blogger Lisa said...

Spiider, and why wouldn't federal judges side with the federal government. Federal courts are punitive tools to hammer the common man. The judges are appointed by ---yep the president.The word justice and federal court should not occupy the same sentence. jim

11/29/2007 07:35:00 AM  

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