President Obama’s administration is moving aggressively to protect what the government insists are “state secrets” from a Bush-era wiretapping program.
Justice Department lawyers filed an emergency motion Friday with a federal appeals court in an effort to block a lower court’s order that the government must show lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation a copy of a document indicating that the group’s communications were being intercepted. The document has been the subject of a running legal battle since the papers were accidentally sent to attorneys for the group in 2004 and subsequently retrieved.
“Disclosure of the material at issue here would cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security and result in irreparable injury to the United States,” the Justice Department wrote. It said information about the surveillance program is considered “Top Secret — Sensitive Compartmented Information.”Attorney General Holder evidently did a 180 in this case:
Attorney General Eric Holder promised during the confirmation process to conduct a review of the Bush administration’s frequent use of the state secrets privilege. However, the emergency appeal in the al-Haramain case signals that Holder concluded the controversial privilege was correctly asserted there. Earlier this month, civil libertarians were disappointed when the Justice Department stood by the “state secrets” tactic in opposing a suit brought by men who claim they were abducted by the Central Intelligence Agency.