FEBRUARY 23, 2011
The most transparent administration in history is abusing a secrecy privilege to cover up embarrassing details of how the U.S. government got duped into wasting $20 million on bogus intelligence technology from a bankrupt computer programmer with a gambling addiction.Rather than dedicate resources to recovering lost funds or punishing the scam artist who fleeced taxpayers, Obama’s Justice Department is focusing only on hiding information by invoking a controversial “state secrets privilege” justified only in cases that could compromise national security. In fact, the feds have severed all ties with the con man—who faces criminal charges for unrelated crimes in Nevada—and are going to “extraordinary lengths” to keep his dealings with the government from becoming public.This mission to conceal government incompetence was first reported by a mainstream newspaper that reveals the feds had an eight-year relationship with theCalifornia man (Dennis Montgomery) who somehow convinced intelligence officials that his technology could catch terrorists. The unbelievable story features terrorism scares, secret White House briefings, support from prominent Republicans and backdoor deals.No wonder the government wants to hide the gory details of how it got hoodwinked into investing millions on software that had been flagged as dubious years earlier. In the last few months alone, the Justice Department has obtained protective orders from two federal judges in different parts of the country to keep records private.The effort to suppress information in this case actually started in the George W. Bush Administration, which was notorious for invoking the state secrets privilege to keep government records from going public. President Obama vowed not to abuse the exemption, however, and Attorney General Eric Holder issued new rules ordering agency heads to invoke it only when “genuine and significant harm to national defense or foreign relations is at stake.”Holder’s 2009 directive was designed to “strengthen public confidence” and provide “greater accountability and reliability” in the invocation of the state secrets privilege in litigation. It also specifically says that the Justice Department will not defend an invocation of the privilege in order to conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error or to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States government.
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