Thank you, Glenn Greenwald, for taking Marc Ambinder out to the woodshed in respect of his shameless stenography, and granting of anonymity, on the
February 11, 2009


Thank you, Glenn Greenwald, for taking Marc Ambinder out to the woodshed in respect of his shameless stenography, and granting of anonymity, on the Obama administration's weak excuses as they try to justify perpetuating their continuance of Bush's blanket state secret defense.

As Glenn, a lawyer, points out to ( self-confessed Halperin-wannabe) Ambinder:

If, as Obama's Atlantic spokesman claims ... the Obama DOJ needed more time to review what they wanted to do -- then the solution is easy and obvious: you ask the court for more time. You don't march into court and explicitly advocate a Bush weapon that you've spent the last several years excoriating as a dangerous abuse of power.

...the alternative to Bush's lawsuit-killing use of the privilege is not to waive the privilege entirely. Everyone -- including the ACLU -- acknowledges that the Government should have the right to assert the State Secrets privilege on a document-by-document basis. The controversy was and is only about one thing: the use of the privilege to compel the dismissal of entire lawsuits in advance -- in other words, to convert the State Secrets privilege from what it always was (a focused evidentiary privilege) to what it was never intended to be (full-scale immunity for government lawbreakers from all judicial accountability).

...Obama has banned rendition to countries (such as Egypt and Jordan) where torture is likely. If there are still specific rendition agreements that the Obama DOJ thinks are secret and need to be protected, then they can and should assert the privilege as to those documents. That has nothing to do with demanding that the entire lawsuit be dismissed in advance.

As Wizner told me this morning, there is no reason why the ACLU would even need those supposedly secret documents to make their case. Whether the U.S. has rendition agreements with Jordan or Morocco, or what the content of those agreements are, is irrelevant. Besides, other countries -- such as Sweden, which already investigated these claims and fully disclosed their involvement in the CIA's rendition program when awarding the victims compensation -- have already made certain that many of these facts are disclosed.

Them's the facts, unspinnable.

But unfortunately Ambinder is only one among several who seem to be vying to become the next generation of stenographers with access, and thus secure their places among the journalistic elite alongside Thomas Ricks, David Sanger, George Will and Mark Halperin. They know from those previous alumni's examples that the only way to get seriously good insider access is to faithfully copy down and report the news in exactly the way unofficially officials ask them to - no attribution required. They've been called "lapdogs" of democracy rather than the watchdogs they should be, and they are a bipartisan breed.

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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