On February 7, The Los Angeles Times also called on the new administration to step back from the brink and work out a way for the trial to proceed:
…[W]e hope the Obama administration lawyers will show up in court Monday and reject the approach of the previous administration, letting the case go forward … the government should not be permitted to kidnap and torture and then simply declare those heinous activities to be “state secrets” and off-limits for discussion.
With the Justice Department’s actions on Monday, the Bush state secrets claim is, now, one and the same as Obama’s claim. Greenwald has presented a variety of reasons why this is, to put it mildly, odd. Past positions and statements from administration officials—including a newly-minted top Justice official and vice-president Biden, as well as Obama’s campaign Web site—make this policy look like a clear reversal. And Obama’s early executive order on detention programs essentially outlawed the program he’s now claiming is a state secret.
On Wednesday, after being rebuffed, The New York Times turned in a new editorial, calling the administration’s decision “indefensible.” The Los Angeles Times has not yet re-editorialized, but if they do, they could go a step further and encourage Congress to examine legislation (once co-sponsored by then-Senator Biden) that would limit broad applications of the state secrets privilege, by statute, no matter who the president is.
It’s a shame that Obama didn’t follow the course outlined in the earlier editorials. But it’s also too bad that no reporter thought to ask the President about his administration’s action at his debut press conference on Monday night. And the White House, presumably due to the President’s Florida trip, skipped Tuesday’s briefing with Robert Gibbs.
Before Monday’s events fade too far away, the press must get a high profile member of the administration on the record about this decision, in a way that probes and exposes the dangerous logic underlaying it. The anonymous sources quoted by The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder just won’t cut it. Luckily, today’s press conference presents a chance to do better.