Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Obama Adopts Bush's State-Secrets Policy

The president tends to blame every mishap on "the last eight years," but he apparently seems to have a new-found regard for certain Bush-era legal policies:
In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.
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.
The full article can be found here.

Border Jumpers Sue Rancher

This is what you might call creative lawyering--except it's far more serious than a spilled coffee cup at a fast-food drive in.
An Arizona man who has waged a 10-year campaign to stop a flood of illegal immigrants from crossing his property is being sued by 16 Mexican nationals who accuse him of conspiring to violate their civil rights when he stopped them at gunpoint on his ranch on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Roger Barnett, 64, began rounding up illegal immigrants in 1998 and turning them over to the U.S. Border Patrol, he said, after they destroyed his property, killed his calves and broke into his home.
According to the news account, the defendant has been responsible for turning over over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol since 1998. The plaintiffs seek $32 million in civil damages. The trial is expected to run through Friday in Arizona federal court.