Second Democrat Hits Obama Over Defending Bush’s State Secrets Claim

The Obama administration recently made the dismaying decision to defend the Bush-era Justice Department’s use of the “state secrets” privilege in a lawsuit filed by alleged victims of extraordinary rendition. As TPM alum Greg reported yesterday, Sen. Russ Feingold (WI) was the first Democratic lawmaker to openly criticize the Obama DoJ’s decision … and now we have a second.Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), joined by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), an Tom Petri (R-WI), just introduced a bill that would reform the state secrets privilege by requiring judges to assess whether a blanket claim of secrecy by the government is necessary to protect national security. And as he offered the bill, Nadler rightly took the opportunity to rap the Obama legal team:

The administration’s decision this week to adopt its predecessor’s argument that the state secret privilege requires the outright dismissal of a case challenging rendition to torture was a step in the wrong direction and a reminder that legislation is required to ensure meaningful review of the state secret privilege.

A little constructive criticism might be the best medicine for the administration in this case.