News & Politics

Why Are Obama Lawyers Sticking to the Same Positions as Bush's DOJ?

In cases involving torture, rendition and Bush's 'lost' emails, Obama lawyers are making the same arguments as Bush's.

Investigative reporting website ProPublica has been tracking the lawsuits brought forth against Bush's national security apparatus and, this week, it published its findings thus far. The good news is that it is all put together in a handy chart. The bad news: "In a half-dozen national security lawsuits … the Obama administration has so far largely stuck by the positions taken by the Bush administration."

"These decisions may be a temporary fix that will buy the administration time to think through its views," writes Christopher Weaver. "Or, it could indicate that the new administration simply doesn't want to be squeezed into making policy in the court room."

Among the cases is a habeas petition filed on behalf of four prisoners at Bagram Air Base, in which, last month, lawyers for the Obama administration denied them the right to challenge their detention (a right granted to prisoners at Guantanamo last year). "Having considered the matter," Obama's Department of Justice lawyers said, "the Government adheres to its previously articulated position."

"That position," according to ProPublica, "includes the concept of a global battlefield that would allow indefinite detention of prisoners like the petitioners, who say they were picked up outside Afghanistan, far from any traditional battlefield."

Other important cases include a National Security lawsuit into the the Bush administration's "lost" e-mails (Obama's DOJ is trying have the case thrown out) and the ACLU-led civil suit on behalf of five victims of extraordinary rendition against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. (Obama lawyers stuck to the Bush tactic of asserting the government's "state secrets" privilege in order to block the suit).

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.
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