Obama's Double Secret State Secrets Strategy

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Everyone is probably aware by now that the government is advancing some pretty far reaching state secret claims. Everyone is probably also aware that this violates the spirit of campaign promises regarding habeas rights. I want to explore the double secret strategies that Obama may or may not be employing in order to secretly assure that Presidential power is restricted and detainees do get habeas rights even though he appears to be doing the exact opposite.

Secret Theory One--Making Congress Do It

Ok it is congress' job to define what are and are not state secrets as far as statutory direction for the courts. This theory states that by advancing theories that are so egregious in their attempts to grab power that it will force congress to act. The people will rise up and hold tea parties against Obama's behavior and force action on the hand of congress. Obama will play the villain to give the democrats in congress the victory of rolling back executive power grabbed under Bush. Obama's refusal to say whether he supports the state secrets act is simply a way to keep the topic in the headlines. By drawing additional press it increases the visibility of the issue and the chances that Congress will act on the issue.

Secret Theory Two--Making the Judiciary Do It

By advancing these claims in the judiciary Obama provides the opportunity for test cases that may establish precedent that rejects the claims that the governments lawyers are making. By doing this in the courts Obama is effectively backdooring law because congress is unreliable. If the courts reject these arguments then future presidents will have little chance of making them stick because of the doctrine of stare decisis.

The state secrets doctrine is a judicial doctrine to begin with so maybe it makes sense to have Obama set up test cases for its reformation there instead of trying to get by the republican's in congress. By playing this out in the courts Obama and the democrats avoid dealing with the consequences of limiting what is and is not secret. This potentially avoids charges that Obama and the Dems are soft on terrorists as the rabid right already hates activist courts. Who are the courts after all to say what should and should not be secret? they lack the competency to make those types of decisions. Obama is simply playing the power grabber so that the courts reject his argument...its brilliant.

Secret Theory Three--He has to do it.

Obama doesnt actually want the power. Its just the job of the lawyers to make these arguments on behalf of their clients. Its their job to advance all possible defenses to these cases instead of admitting that the government spied on these people and owes them damages. Lawyers of course dont have to believe that this is actually the law to make these arguments. There is no ethical problem or penalty for misstating or exaggerating what a case says.

whats your theory?

Seriously though if you read the brief filed by the government it makes a largely procedural and practical argument that it is simply to hard at this time to conduct the type of operations needed to determine if the people held there deserve to be held there. Essentially it stats that because there are ongoing combat operations in that theater these people should be held until such time as the war is over.

The United States and its allies have a “clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” Id. The Court’s ruling, however, likely would divert the military from this critical mission.

its not a compelling argument.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

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