In a court brief, the Justice Department called for the dismissal of a lawsuit over the wiretaps that were not only illegal but may not have even gained any unusable intelligence. This is not change I was looking for when I voted for Obama. Pundit Keith Olbermann and others on the progressive side have called the President out on this stupid action to continue President Bush’s stupid policy. In fact it seems the Obama administration wants to go further. This is disappointing.
Glenn Greenwald on Salon.com noted:
But late Friday afternoon, the Obama DOJ filed the government’s first response to EFF’s lawsuit, the first of its kind to seek damages against government officials under FISA, the Wiretap Act and other statutes, arising out of Bush’s NSA program. But the Obama DOJ demanded dismissal of the entire lawsuit based on (1) its Bush-mimicking claim that the “state secrets” privilege bars any lawsuits against the Bush administration for illegal spying, and (2) a brand new “sovereign immunity” claim of breathtaking scope — never before advanced even by the Bush administration — that the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is “willful disclosure” of the illegally intercepted communications.
In other words, beyond even the outrageously broad “state secrets” privilege invented by the Bush administration and now embraced fully by the Obama administration, the Obama DOJ has now invented a brand new claim of government immunity, one which literally asserts that the U.S. Government is free to intercept all of your communications (calls, emails and the like) and — even if what they’re doing is blatantly illegal and they know it’s illegal — you are barred from suing them unless they “willfully disclose” to the public what they have learned.
Blogger TocqueDeville has a diary over on DailyKos with video of comments from Keith Olbermann on his show Countdown on Tuesday night. TocqueDeville also notes:
I never thought I would see it, but this move led Keith Olbermann to excoriate Obama on television. You may remember that, after Obama’s complete flip flop on FISA, Olbermann, who had previously likened the proposed FISA law immunizing the telecoms to “the bureaucrats of the Third Reich”, softened his tone dramatically to accommodate the then Democratic candidate for president.
There were no such accommodations tonight
This is pretty much like seeing your favorite hero acting like an ass in public. It hurts a bit.
The Obama administration has some explaining to do on this issue but I have my doubts it ever will.