James Risen v. Mukasey et al.
So what are we to make of all this?:
- James Risen is being subpoenaed by a grand jury to reveal who hos sources were for his book "State of War". Conservatives are giddy at the thought that Risen might be imprisoned.
- Conservatives flocked to defend "Scooter" Libby for outing an undercover CIA operative. They were happy that "Scooter" was given a commutation by Preznit Dubya and avoided jail time.
- Congress subpoenas various maladministration officials, and the maladministration tells Congress to "go Cheney yourself". Conservatives cheer the maladministration.
- The maladministration insists on a "state secrets" privilege in case after case after case. Conservatives applaud this.
- The premiere Suprem Court court case establishing the "state secrets" privilege turns out to show a gummint more interested in covering up possible wrongdoing or limiting liability, rather than actually protecting any "state secrets".
- The maladministration pushes for immunity for telecommunications companies that have engaged in illegal wiretaps on the maladministration's request, meaning that the suits that might uncover the extent and nature of such wiretapping would be barred outright.
Conclusion #1 is that conservatives are more interested in saving their own behinds than they are in the truth, honesty, principle, or logic. But that's hardly news (though it needs documentation on a per-violation basis).
Conclusion #2 is that the maladministration looks like they really have something to hide (and their conservative enabler know it, which is why they're flocking to the defence). I think that BlaineKinsey is on to something here:
"... Mr. Mukasey and Mr. McConnell know that current court cases involving the allegedly defunct Terrorist Surveillance Program have foundered due to the inability of plaintiffs to obtain information necessary to establish their right to sue the Federal Government and/or the owners of the information technology through which the Federal Government obtains intelligence."And Mukasey knows that he'll need another line of defence if the first wall ("state secrets") is breached, and that he'll have to shore up the walls on the other sides of the battle as well. The maladministration (and those politically dependent on the maladministration's keeping out of jail) are in a full-court press to cover up wrongdoing:
- The "state secrets" privilege is used (when possible) to limit the ability of citizens to air out (or prove) illegal behaviour (and to get compensation; see the el-Masri and Arar cases).
- If (or when) the "state secrets" privilege is breached, the maladministration wants a second line of defence; the telecom immunity provisions that foreclose civil discovery which might unearth wrongdoing.
- Congress is stiff-armed, to forestall any inclinations any wayward Congressperson might get to uncover the facts on that front through compelled testimony of the maladministration flacks.
- To prevent any less-than-obsequious and more-competent-than-lazy journalists -- who actually think their job is to dig stuff up -- from doing so, they are threatened with imprisonment, and any potential whistle-blowers are dissuaded from revealing anything that might be embarrassing by strong-arming journalists into revealing names of sources (the maladministration has also opposed enhanced protections for whistle-blowers).
And as the "Scooter" Libby case shows, they really don't give a damn about the harm of actual disclosures of real secrets; the only "secrets" they care about are the ones that would hurt them if disclosed.