Unproductive Outrage

This morning’s Politico Playbook has some advance excerpts from Jonathan Alter’s The Promise, our next big Obamabook. Here’s one:

When Obama picked up the New York Times and learned that Justice Department lawyers had invoked the Bush-era ‘state secrets’ privilege when contesting a lawsuit alleging torture, he was livid. He exclaimed angrily to aides, ‘What the fuck? This is not the way I like to make decisions.’

That’s all we’ve got on that for now, so it’s hard to tell what about the decision or decision making process sent Obama swearing. But whatever it was, Obama’s outburst didn’t lead to the administration actually doing anything different in the case. The administration has held fast to the Bush Administrations’ expansive usage of the state secrets doctrine to argue that some subjects are so sensitive that they cannot be litigated in our courts.

That position has left many transparency advocates and civil libertarians asking the same salty question as Obama.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.