A New Privilege

Friday, September 25, 2009


The state secrets privilege allows the government to ask judges to dismiss trials for national security reasons. Civil libertarians say the government abuses the privilege in order to avoid lawsuits. On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder laid out the ways President Obama will reform the privilege, but lawyer and professor Jonathan Turley says the reforms don't go far enough.

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Comments [3]

Y Brody

I actually was listening pretty seriously until I heard, "Reporters did, I thought, a very fine job in questioning the Bush Administration about whether fine-sounding words actually had equally fine substance." Why was this hogwash not questioned by Garfield? Is he concerned with maintaining "balance" and not being accused as having the kind of clear liberal bias Turley maintains exists across the news media? Generally, I don't see him falling every week into this trap, however this was unfortunately a missed opportunity by Garfield to 1) get to the facts about the relationship between the press and the government, whether it be a Bush or an Obama, and 2) help listeners to evaluate the credibility of this so-called expert.

Oct. 04 2009 03:45 AM
Melvin Dubnick from Beverly MA

I realize that the new norm is to forget about giving each side of an issue equal coverage -- and I think that is right when it comes to global warming, etc. But as applied here, the new norm is wasted and abused.

Bob Garfield did not provide the kind of balance one expects -- and which we get in other segments. Turley certainly represents one view, and he makes that clear in his explicit self-identification as part of the civil libertarian movement. I am sympathetic with his cause, but also concerned that he was not only not challenged, but also received an unusually strong "thank you VERY much" at the end.

Besides the presentation, another couple of annoyances emerged:
First, on a specific point, Turley's reference to the "federal government" in lieu of "the Obama Administration" or the "executive branch" is misleading at best. It is as if the judges and Congress are not part of the federal govt that has explicitly or implicitly supported these policies -- for decades! But that just flew by without challenge, and perhaps unnoticed. He is playing fast and loose with the biased phrasing, and you let him get away with it.

Second, the very notion that any long-standing policy that has deep roots and much precedent behind it can be radically altered without due consideration for its implications is something only the most naive of analysts reporters can believe. Some changes take time -- or at least more than a few months. Indeed, Turley is a smart man and knows that is the case. What he is doing with his appearances on OTM and MSNBC is using these venues to hype a narrative that will move the process along faster. By accepting his narrative "VERY much" and not challenging his motives (which he happens to articulate quite clearly), you are relegating yourself to being his media agent. As sympathetic as I am with his goal, I do think he is playing you folks like the well-trained advocate he is....

Sep. 27 2009 02:24 PM
John Bastian from Philadelphia, PA

The 27.sep.2009 story regarding the state secret privilege took the usual strange turn when you put Jonathan Turley on to give us an accounting of the differing press treatment between Obama and Bush W. Turley said the press coverage/investigations are weak when it comes to Obama, unlike the strong and vigours type that came to Bush. Regarding W's press coverage: Judith Miller-and all the related press failures, disclosed CIA agent scandle coverage lacking, reasons for starting Iraqi war never looked at, 16-words in a state of the union not looked at, Abu Ghraib and the inability to say or write the word torture, along with power down in California - no look into the energy policy or the Enron-W connections never looked into, football soldiers death in Afganistan whitewash, the 911 commission's slow start, housing bubble and on and on, did I mention that thanks to the press's hard work Katrina could never happen again? As I recall the press spent more time on sports coverage. What I've seen the last nine years is that W was the president while the media was either on vacation or handing that administration favor after favor. You didn't question Turley on it, and that sort of proves the point.

Sep. 27 2009 12:12 PM

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