Friday, January 26, 2007

Kafka is Alive and Well in Washington, D.C.

A story in today's New York Times describes the Bush Administration's latest attempt to keep the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program in the shadows. According to the author, Adam Liptak, the "Bush administration has employed extraordinary secrecy in defending the...program from civil lawsuits. Plaintiffs and judges' clerks cannot see its secret filings. Judges [yes, judges] have to make appointments to review them and are not allowed to keep copies." Judges even have to use Justice Department computers to write their decisions. At last, some judges are starting to resist, expressing "uneasiness about the procedures" at a private meeting earlier this month. "Judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit asked how the procedures might affect the integrity of the files and the appellate records." In addition, some "legal scholars say the procedures threaten the separation of powers, the adversary system and the lawyer-client privilege." Why does the Bush Administration seem to fear the American legal system? Why does it not trust federal judges to exercise discretion and restraint when dealing with classified materials?

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