Thursday, December 19, 2013

Federal Judge Slaps Down President Obama For Governing By "Secret Law" In Document Disclosure Case

For the second time this week, a federal district court in D.C. has issued a stinging opinion against the Obama administration. On Monday, a federal district court judge appointed by President George W. Bush ruled that the NSA's bulk gathering of telephonic metadata involving the telephone records of all Americans violated the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. Yesterday, a federal district court judge appointed by former President Bill Clinton ruled that the Obama administration's claim of executive communications privilege in refusing to release a document pertaining to foreign aid amounted to governing by "secret law."

The case involved a single document containing a presidential directive titled "Presidential Policy Development on Global Development" that was widely distributed within the executive branch of government. The White House had released a detailed fact sheet on the document "touting it as a 'first of its kind by a U.S. administration' that 'recognizes that development is vital to U.S. national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States" and the President had spoken publicly about its contents Judge Ellen Huvelle noted in her opinion. The directive purported to "communicate policy relevant to national security and foreign relations" even though no part of the document was deemed classified or was there a claim of national security made when the Center for Effective Government filed a FOIA request with the State Department seeking its release. Instead, the administration claimed a presidential communications privilege exemption from disclosure when the group made its FOIA request in 2011.

In ruling against the claim of privilege, Judge Huvelle criticized the government for adopting "a cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public oversight . . . to engage in what is in effect governance by 'secret law'" by claiming privilege under an exemption that was only intended for communications with the President's closest advisers. The administration's position conflicted with "the very purpose of FOIA . . . to permit access to official information long shielded unnecessarily from public view." To hold otherwise, she said would allow "no effective limitation on a President's ability to engage in 'secret law.'"


Pete Boggs said...

Unauthorized / illegal capture & storage of these records is also negligent; exposing citizens to illegal hacking & abuse of their property / their information...

Anonymous said...

I personally believe Obama's crew has the goods on many in Government including Congress, Supreme Court.
His people used the NSA and other means to gather information, now their being blackmailed!
John Roberts abrupt turnaround in the Obamacare decision.
My mom says something stinks in Denmark!!
Many Congressmen, have rolled over to issues unimaginable. I'm thinking this doesn't make any sense!!
Again, just my own opinion.
Does anyone else feel the way I do with what is happening in Washington? and the behaviors of our public servants?

Gary R. Welsh said...

There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Roberts was blackmailed over the circumstances of the adoption of his two white children in Guatemala. There were many questions about the legality and the manner in which their adoption occurred. When the justices conferenced, he voted to strike down the law. He wrote the majority opinion to do just that and then changed his mind at the last minute, resulting in a sloppily written majority opinion that clearly had been hacked up at the last minute to reach a different result that belied its underlying tenor. Scalia's dissent made no attempt to hide Roberts' last-minute sell-out.