Over on Politico, Josh Gerstein writes:
President Barack Obama’s administration is escalating a legal showdown which has the Justice Department defending official secrecy and executive power with arguments more associated with former Vice President Dick Cheney than the White House’s newest occupants.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Justice Department filed an appeal and a request for emergency stay of a federal judge’s order that security clearances be granted to private attorneys representing parties to a lawsuit over claims that a CIA station chief and a senior diplomat illegally spied on a Drug Enforcement Agency officer while they were stationed in Burma in the early 1990s.
“Is President Bush not still in power?” asked Washington, D.C. attorney Mark Zaid, who regularly pursues national security-related cases on behalf of intelligence community employees. “With respect to national security litigation and plaintiffs’ ability to challenge government misconduct, virtually nothing has changed since President Obama took office. The Executive Branch has continued to seek to ensure its power remains absolute and subject to no outside oversight.”
In pressing its appeal Wednesday, the Justice Department rejected Judge Royce Lamberth’s ruling last week that the lawsuit over the alleged illegal surveillance requires that private lawyers be allowed to learn certain classified information known by their former-government-employee clients.
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