OK, this is bothering me. I have let a few things slide but this is not looking good.
According to the NY Times, the current administration is taking the same position as the Bush administration in a rendition/torture case currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California.
"In the case, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian native, and four other detainees filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing for arranging flights for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects were secretly taken to other countries, where they say they were tortured. The Bush administration argued that the case should be dismissed because even discussing it in court could threaten national security and relations with other nations.
During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
'Is there anything material that has happened' that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.
'No, your honor,' Mr. Letter replied.
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."
Adding this tidbit of information along with the fact that the executive order banning torture continued to allow rendition results in a very concerning situation.
Needless to say, the ACLU is very unhappy, according to the article. And so am I. We need to let President Obama know that this is unacceptable.
Although the administration's spokesperson says this defense won't be used a lot, it should not be used at all when it comes to criminal acts peformed by our own government.
"A Justice Department spokesman, Matt Miller, said the government did not comment on pending litigation, but he seemed to suggest that the Obama administration would invoke the privilege more sparingly than its predecessor.
'It is the policy of this administration to invoke the state secrets privilege only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases,' he said, adding that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had asked for a review of pending cases in which the government had previously asserted a state secret privilege.
'The attorney general has directed that senior Justice Department officials review all assertions of the state secrets privilege to ensure that the privilege is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations,' he said. 'It is vital that we protect information that, if released, could jeopardize national security.' "
The article goes on to describe treatment during the rendition of the plaintiffs that certainly qualifies as torture - with no if's, ands or buts. (How would you like to be cut all over your body, including your personal parts, and have a hot stinging liquid then poured over you? Personally, I call that torture. Oh yes, and there were the beatings and threats of death too).
I can't imagine that exposing these crimes to the light of day will violate any state secrets other than the not-so-secret fact that Bush and his cronies allowed our nation to torture prisoners. This case should not be dismissed and the culprits who perpetrated this crime should be brought to justice. And we all know who they are.
Thanks to Annette for "talking me down," as Rachel Maddow would say. In the comments section, she points out that the attorney, Letter, is left over from the Bush administration and it's possible that the Obama administration is just a tad busy right now. So let's keep a close eye on what develops once everything is in place, Eric Holder is Attorney General, and the President and his new administration have more time to start undoing the damage done to our country by Bush and his henchmen.
Politics After 50 has a post about this same issue and it heightened my original concerns about it. Especially check out her links to other articles on this subject. We really do have to hold his feet to the fire on this one. The honeymoon has been very short and I guess it has to end. To the barricades!