Not the Change We Need: Part II of a Continuing Series

Yesterday, the Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration position that the state secrets privilege could be used to dismiss a civil lawsuit on the theory that any adjudication would endanger national security. This is a dangerous position that undermines citizen access to the courts. See Gleen Greewald for a more complete discussion of Obama’s flip-flop on this issue. ABC News is reporting the same.

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn’t changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

This is a depressing turn of events. The case revolves around claims made by five men that they were extraordinarily renditioned rendered to prisons overseas where they were tortured. This assertion of the privilege is especially disconcerting in light of the claims coming from Britain that the Obama administration has been pressuring British courts to block the release of information regarding the potential torture of a British national. (Although the Telegraph is reporting that the British Government suppressed the evidence because MI6 was involved in the torture, which included slicing his genitals with a scalpel.)

This is not change, it’s more of the same.