The New York Times is reporting in tomorrow’s print edition that Douglas N. Letter, a Justice Department attorney, has indicated to a panel of judges that the Obama Administration shall continue the practice of invoking the “State Secrets” doctrine to force dismissals in civil cases brought by foreign nationals sucked up into “extraordinary rendition” flights, and allegedly tortured once transport to less-legal jurisdictions was effected.
Some of the judges on the panel were surprised at the position.
Judge Schroeder asked, “The change in administration has no bearing?”
Once more, he said, “No, Your Honor.” The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been “thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration,” and “these are the authorized positions,” he said.
The most telling bit from the really excellently bite-sized but nutritious piece from The Times came here:
But Mr. Letter said that the lower court judge, James Ware, did receive classified information and came to the correct conclusion in dismissing the case last year. He urged the judges to pore over the same material, and predicted “you will understand precisely, as Judge Ware did, why this case can’t be litigated.”
I’m completely nonplussed by this argument and rhetoric. It’s begging historians and journalists to FOIA up right now in preparation for the eventual declassification of whatever the heck it is that the judges get to see/read. This, in my opinion, is not a tack taken by an attorney who’s operating under protest or for political cover; this sounds like a dude who’s got genuine pictures of JFK making out with an alien or something.