Ambassador Vernon Walters aka “The General” fervently believed that once a country lost its democracy it could never return. I thought the General meant Communist block countries, but I'm beginning to think he was referring to US. It would help explain Barack Obama's embrace of Bush's state secrets privilege in the torture/rendition cases and his position in the Al-Haramain case -- the only remaining case against the Government with any real chance of resulting in a judicial ruling on the legality of Bush's NSA warrantless eavesdropping program.
"Dick, Get Brent ." - Brent Scowcroft said when Dick Cheney became VP that he was not the person that he knew. Brent never elaborated. Was Dick brainwashed one weekend at Camp David? If so, perhaps that may explain Barack Obama's complete turnabout on his position on one of the worst abuses of the Bush administration and its endless reliance on vast claims of secrecy to ensure that no court could ever rule on the legality of the President's actions.
As Glenn Greenwald (Salon) reports:
"Why is the Obama administration so vested in preventing that from happening, and -- worse still -- in ensuring that Presidents continue to have the power to invoke extremely broad secrecy claims in order to block courts from ruling on allegations that a President has violated the law? The Obama administration now asserts the same Bushian state secrets argument, provoking outrage from civil libertarians."
"Whatever the Case May Be": The Bush administration succeeded in blocking all other judicial challenges to its illegal NSA eavesdropping because (a) nobody knows on whom the Bush administration spied without warrants (precisely because eavesdropping without warrants assumes the targets are concealed even from a court) and (b) that information cannot be disclosed to anyone (including courts) because it's a "State Secret," no individual party has "standing" to sue because nobody can prove that they were actually subjected to the illegal eavesdropping. A federal appeals court dealt a blow to the Obama administration Friday when it refused to block a judge from admitting top secret evidence in a lawsuit weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress, as President George W. Bush did, and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.
Are we as “LOST” in the lies and deception of our government as Jack and the gang are numbed by Ben Linus’s endless lies and deception? Are we are growing immune to just how outrageous and destructive it is, in a democracy, for the President to violate federal statutes in secret?
"We still don't know the full extent of our government's illegal surveillance or illegal interrogations despite Congress's failed efforts to get to the bottom of it. Congress instead resorted to enacting new legislation on both issues largely in the dark. Yet here we have the Obama DOJ doing exactly this -- not merely trying desperately to keep the Bush administration's spying activities secret, and not merely devoting itself with full force to preventing disclosure of relevant documents concerning this illegal program, but far worse, doing everything in its power even to prevent any judicial adjudication as to whether the Bush administration broke the law by spying on Americans without warrants."
As Obama's hand-picked OLC chief put it: "I'm afraid we are growing immune to just how outrageous and destructive it is, in a democracy, for the President to violate federal statutes in secret."
Not in Portland: Will our "LOST" democracy ever be found? Perhaps. A federal appeals court on Friday allowed a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. illegally eavesdropped on two American attorneys and an Islamic charity in Portland, Oregon to proceed despite a last-minute plea from the Obama administration to delay the case. The order, by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, means that U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker can grant the plaintiff's lawyers access to top secret documents under secure conditions and allow them to litigate their case against the administration.
The Justice Department had argued that the lawsuit jeopardized national security, and the ruling puts the Obama administration in the awkward position of defending the Bush administration's secret warrantless surveillance program, which began shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Perhaps not. Signaling that the Justice Department had no immediate plan to back down, department lawyers late Friday told the district judge that he didn't have the authority to override the executive branch's determination that the plaintiffs' lawyers had "no need to know" the information. Instead, they said, the judge should review the documents himself in his chambers to determine the merits of the lawsuit. Before issuing any ruling on the record, they asked the court to give the department time to appeal. If the judge was determined to grant access, the government lawyers demanded to be given notice so they could determine whether to withdraw the information from the court.
The defendents' attorney called the government lawyers' threat of taking the documents from the court's custody "astounding." "That would be a shocking violation of the constitutional separation of powers — the sort of thing that just doesn't happen in America," he said.
Oh really? The General would disagree.