Obama defends Bush-era secrets

President Obama’s administration is moving aggressively to protect what the government insists are “state secrets” from a Bush-era wiretapping program.

Justice Department lawyers filed an emergency motion Friday with a federal appeals court in an effort to block a lower court’s order that the government must show lawyers for the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation a copy of a document indicating that the group’s communications were being intercepted. The document has been the subject of a running legal battle since the papers were accidentally sent to attorneys for the group in 2004 and subsequently retrieved.

The government wants the wiretapping lawsuit thrown out on the basis of the state secrets privilege, but a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the privilege is overruled by a law Congress wrote, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Earlier this month, civil libertarians were disappointed when the Justice Department stood by the “state secrets” tactic in opposing a suit brought by men who claim they were abducted by the Central Intelligence Agency.