Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Obama administration: Federal court has no power to compel us

Forget about signing statements.

The Obama administration has just declared that any actions it takes via national security are above the law:

Late on Friday, the Justice Department’s lawyers filed a brief with a federal district court in California challenging the court’s power to carry out its own order. The government lawyers insisted that the court has no right to make available to the opposing lawyers in the case a classified document regarding the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, even though the document is critical to the lawsuit, the lawyers can obtain the necessary top-secret security clearances, and the document would not be released publicly.

As TWI reported on Friday, the case of Al-Haramain v. Obama presents one of the first direct challenges by a victim of the Bush National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program against government officials. But the government has argued vigorously to have the case dismissed, invoking the so-called “state secrets privilege” to refuse to turn over information about the program, and has refused to provide the organization’s lawyers use of a document that reportedly reveals that Al Haramain was one of the program’s victims. Although U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker has repeatedly rejected the Justice Department’s argument, DOJ lawyers filed an emergency appeal; on Friday afternoon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected it.

So on Friday, in a move that Al-Haramain’s lawyer called “mind-boggling”, the Obama administration told the federal court, once again, that it did not have the authority to order the government to make the critical document in the case available to the organization’s lawyers. The decision to reveal the document, wrote the government, “is committed to the discretion of the Executive Branch, and is not subject to judicial review.”

What's truly bizarre is that the court already has possession of the document, and attorneys for the defense have already seen it:

Not only does that defy the court once again, but there’s a catch: the court already has the document, which was filed months ago under seal. What’s more, the lawyers for Al-Haramain have already seen it; it was inadvertently turned over to them back in 2004, when the government was busy trying to prove that Al-Haramain was funnelling money to terrorists. Weeks later, the government, realizing its mistake, sent FBI agents to the lawyers’ offices to retrieve the document. But the cat was out of the bag: the lawyers had seen evidence that the foundation, and two of its lawyers, had been wiretapped. And that same document has already been filed, along with several other classified, sealed and secret filings, with the U.S. district court.

Separation of powers...

Judicial review....

The national security state rolls on.

1 comment:

Tyler Nixon said...

Maybe the power of Christ will compel them.

But I am not holding my breath...