Friday, May 29, 2009

Obama Says Government Sanctions Unwarranted in Spy Case

David Kravets writes on Threat Level:

The Obama administration refused to budge late Friday and agree to reveal state secrets in a lawsuit weighing whether a sitting president may lawfully bypass Congress and spy on Americans without warrants as President George W. Bush did following the 2001 terror attacks.

In court briefs filed at nearly midnight White House time, the Justice Department was responding to a federal judge’s week-old inquiry on whether the administration should be sanctioned for “failing to obey the court’s orders” in a key National Security Administration lawsuit. The government, as it has repeatedly, urged U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to allow the government to appeal his January 5 order requiring the government to develop a plan – a so-called “protective order” – that would pave the way to the release of state secrets to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

“The United States again respectfully urges the court to consider that the best way out of the present dispute, in which the position of all sides is preserved, would be to permit appellate review over the fundamental and significant separation of powers questions presented before any disclosure or risk of disclosure in further proceedings,” Anthony Coppolino, special litigation counsel for the justice department, wrote (.pdf) Walker.

Coppolino said sanctions were unwarranted because only the government can decide whether to disclose documents it believes are state secrets.

More here.


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