Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Oh yeah, right, it's all Obama's fault, Part Eins

No, it isn't. He certainly - to be more exact, his DOJ - does bear a significant portion of the blame, but not all of it. To illustrate once:

Back in May, the Obama administration did a good thing by deciding not to appeal a Second Circuit Appeals Court decision from 2008 that struck down part of the Traitor - excuse me, "Patriot" - Act as unconstitutional.

The case involved a suit filed by the ACLU on behalf of an ISP that had been served a so-called "national security letter," or NSL, demanding information and which contained a gag order requiring the ISP to keep the matter secret, including even saying it had received such a letter - which is why the suit, which challenges the gag order, was filed under seal and is known as Doe v. Holder.

The lack of an appeal meant the case went back to District Court, where the government had to justify the gag order. Which it did, in June - in a secret submission that even the ACLU lawyers in the case were not allowed to see. An unclassified "summary" was prepared, but most of the evidence used to justify the gag order remains secret.

So maybe it's no surprise that just over two weeks ago the District Court upheld the gag order, ruling that the DOJ can continue to order the ISP (and as its lawyers, the ACLU) to keep silent even about its identity.

What makes this even more bizarre, if there can be something more bizarre than NSLs themselves, which amount to secret, extra-judicial warrants issued without even a facade of court oversight, is that the original NSL in the case was issued longer than five years ago and the government gave up trying to get the information in question over two years ago.

So a dead case has a live gag order on a secret party based on a secret warrant justified by a secret filing. Land of the free.

Oh, wait! The District Court is who I was pissed at here, but let's not forget, the decision was based on a secret filing from the Obama DOJ in June. So yeah, to a significant degree, this one is Obama's fault.

Hang on, I can do better.

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