Most Transparent Administration in History Gives Advocacy Group State Secrets Privilege

Back during the Bush Administration, the regime invoked the state secrets privilege to halt a lawsuit against the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program and stop one against the Central Intelligence Agency’s torture of terrorist suspects.


Now Eric Holder’s Justice Department is using the state-secrets privilege to end a lawsuit against a public advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran, that is supposed to be privately funded. The New York Times reports,

The lawsuit, by a Greek shipping magnate, accuses United Against Nuclear Iran of falsely accusing him of doing business with Iran. The businessman, Victor Restis, subpoenaed the group for its donor list and all information it had collected about him. That was when the Justice Department stepped in.

“There is no precedent, literally, for what the government is attempting to do,” said Abbe D. Lowell, a lawyer for Mr. Restis.


Typically, an assertion of the state secrets privilege is accompanied by a sworn public statement from a senior official — the secretary of defense or C.I.A. director, for example. Those statements, while circumspect, help explain the government’s interest.

In this case, however, the Justice Department said that “the concerned federal agency, the particular information at issue and the bases for the assertion of the state-secrets privilege cannot be disclosed” without jeopardizing national security.

This is not the only way in which “the most transparent administration in history” has been abusing the American people. Remember, Eric Holder doesn’t even want you to know who gets defined as a terrorist.

So how can the donor list or other documents of a private advocacy group be protected under the state-secrets privilege? As the Times article notes, the government is “prohibited from secretly trying to influence public opinion.”

I have never seen anything like this,” said Ben Wizner, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who represented clients in other cases that have been quashed because of state secrets. “If there’s something in their files that would disclose a state secret, is there any reason it should be in their files?”

As I see it, one distinct possibility is that government intelligence agencies have been violating the law by funding and forming public advocacy groups that masquerade as grassroots organizations. They cannot afford for their relationship with United Against Nuclear Iran to become known.

Another possibility is that this group was illegally funded and formed by Israel (which has some significant connections to the group) and the Administration is covering for an ally.

Perhaps the reasons are not as serious, but it seems to me that making a “private” organization have states-secret privileges is virtually to assert that it is a wing of the government. I don’t understand what other conclusion could be drawn.