Oral Arguments Complete in “State Secrets” Privilege Cases

Oral arguments in the two “state secret privilege” appeals pending before Ninth Circuit, previously discussed here and here, just concluded.

Many thanks to Ryan Singel and David Kravets for their live blogging over at Threat Level, which is available here.

Update: CNET News has a report here, though its reliability might reasonably be questioned based on the author’s reference to the government’s attorneys as “prosecutors.”

I goddamn jolly well know that predicting the outcome of an appeal based on judge’s statements during oral argument is risky, and downright foolhardy based on second-hand accounts of those statements. Still, you’ve gotta like this:

“The bottom line here is that once the executive declares that certain activity is a state secret, that’s the end of it?” [Judge Harry] Pregerson asked. “No cases, no litigation, absolute immunity? The king can do no wrong?”

I luvs me some Harry Pregerson.

Update II: More reporting, together with a health dose of commentary, from Threat Level’s live-bloggers:

Analysis: Some Secret Documents Are Too Secret Even for Critical Judges

Is The Bush Administration Still Spying?

As the author of the second article notes:

And whatever this San Francisco-based court declares, the litigants on each side are likely to ask the court to rehear the case with [an en banc panel of] 15 judges, a process that could take a year or more. After that, there’s the U.S. Supreme Court.

. . .

Still, however the litigation ends, President Bush will be out of office and Congress will have either renewed or trashed the Protect America Act, which Bush signed two weeks ago authorizing the warrantless interception of Americans’ communications.

All true, of course, but the fact that the Bush Administration will be (or is supposed to be) gone by the time there’s a final resolution of this case isn’t all that important to me at the moment. Someone — anyone — needs to stand up and smack these power crazed cocksuckers in the teeth right now. Congress obviously won’t do it, and the chances of a liberty-favoring decision from the Roberts Court on this issue are slim and none. That leaves only this panel of appellate judges.

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