Last week saw a burgeoning controversy develop over the Obama administration’s decision to invoke the state secrets privilege in a case being brought by a handful of people who claim their constitutional rights were violated by warrantless wiretapping under the Bush administration. The filing claims that to address the very subject in court would endanger national security, and has the potential to forestall all lawsuits on the program. While the Bush Justice Department had made similar filings in the past, which their Obama successors had chosen to defend, on April 3, the Obama administration made the claim for the first time on its own accord.
Following up on that development, Greg Sargent of the Washington Post’s Plum Line checked with the White House to see if the administration supports the State Secrets Protection Act, a senate bill aimed at curtailing broad claims of the privilege. (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden had endorsed the legislation as senators in the last session.) The White House declined to answer.Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.