Different lawyers, same argument

By , February 10, 2009 6:45 am

John Schwartz’s article in the New York Times is cause for concern among those who hoped that some things might change when Obama came into power.   Even the judges seemed surprised:

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

“Is there anything material that has happened that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views,” asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.

“No, your honor,” Mr. Letter replied.

Judge Schroeder asked, “The change in administration has no bearing?”

Once more, he said, “No, Your Honor.” The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been “thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration,” and “these are the authorized positions,” he said.

Kevin Bankston of the EFF had somewhat prepared me that there would probably be no change at all in the government’s arguments in certain existing cases, but even so, it still leaves a sour taste in the mouth. This is no change at all, much less change anyone could begin to believe in.

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