We give way too much deference to federal judges.
What exactly were you going for with your comment? What sort of illicit pressure were you suggesting?
It seems to be an open secret that UANI is a front for the CIA and/or Mossad. Until now, that info only appeared in fringe blogs. Now it's in the mainstream press. So the coverup effort may have backfired.
It's sad that we've gotten this bit of public policy wrong.
We have standards for the willful destruction of evidence; the same could apply directly to secrets. "Okay, if the secret is serious enough-- you can keep it, but we're going to interpret that in a manner which is against your interests."
This allows for a reasonable decision to take place over what should and shouldn't be kept from the courts. No one expects national security to be cheap, if the government needs to lose some cases to keep its secrets then so be it.
Otherwise, the outcome we have now where the state claims secrecy at every point it can possibly get away with it is inevitable: it's the best strategy because there is no cost to it. Arguably, government attorneys wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't try for it. It's the job of the public, congress, and the judiciary to tell them no in the interest of having a functioning legal system.
So should the government.
Problem is... the government is not even a party to the case! They can't win or lose; they're like the guy objecting at someone else's wedding.
Similarly, if A is constantly harassing B, B should just shut up and take the money the government pays him in compensation, along with the harassment that isn't being stopped?
Are you sure that is the outcome you are advocating for?
Can you come up with a concrete example of how such a court order might come about in a case that the government is intervening in in this manner?
> Similarly, if A is constantly harassing B, B should just shut up and take the money the government pays him in compensation, along with the harassment that isn't being stopped?
> Are you sure that is the outcome you are advocating for?
It's difficult to know, since these seem to have no relationship to any hypothetical case I can come up with.
My example is: A sues the NYT, demanding that they rescind something.
Your solution: The government steps in and takes the action itself.
You want the government to get involved. I don't. I want A and the NYT to fight it out in court.
I was presenting an alternative on the assumption the government would anyway.
You have expressed your desire to not have any judgments except monetary compensations.
And I'm pointing out that harassment victims would rather live in peace than get some money in exchange for their state-sanctioned(!) victimhood.
Actually, that is the core premise of the conversation I am having.
You probably have a reasonable point, but I'm disinclined to discuss it if we're not actually having the same conversation. All the more so since you have made a false accusation about my desires.
> United Against was founded in 2008 by a former CIA director and a group of retired diplomats to advocate against the nuclear Iran.
Nobody, let alone a former director, retires from the CIA. They just get a cushy desk job in some off-book toe-the-company-line operation.
The real point is... we have no idea why the government cares. Don't assume it's the most obvious reason.
"You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
As terrible as I, too, think this decision was, it was a decision by a trial court judge. "Precedents" don't attach to trial court decisions, only to appellate court decisions.
If Restis appeals, and the dismissal is upheld by the appellate courts, then there will be a precedent, with everything that implies. Similarly, if he appeals and the dismissal is reversed, a much more favorable (to your and my tastes, anyway) precedent will attach, which can be used to argue against any other attempts to toss suits to which the government isn't even a party on the basis of the State Secrets Privilege.
For the moment, however, this is an "isolated" incident, and can't be used precedentially in any similar cases.
EDIT: Yes, follow-ups, there are other definitions of the word "precedent". In the discussion of a legal decision, however, the legal definition takes ... well, precedence.
That precedent only applies to appellate court decisions is not true. There's persuasive precedent applies amongst courts of the same level.
It the facts and law are the same, a similar lower court decision could indeed be introduced in a similar case. The precedent isn't necessarily binding, but courts will generally defer unless there is a pervasive reason not too.
This is seen when the Supreme Court defers to its previous decisions (stare decisis)
If so, you're right that it's not binding. Higher courts can, and do, defer to lower courts — where the higher court concurs with the lower court's legal reasoning. But that requires the case to have appeared before an appellate court.
The reason for this is simple: trial courts consider questions of fact, while appellate courts consider questions of law.
Similarly, so-called "horizontal precedent" applies between peer appellate courts — and, again, isn't binding.
To my understanding, the only way this becomes more than informally precedential is if it's legitimately a "case of first impression" — and that would apply IFF this case is legitimately the first place this question of law was asked, and only until it's heard and ruled upon (or not taken up) by an appellate court.
Non-binding precedent is still precedent. And as you've said, in the absence of an higher court opinion to the contrary, lower court decisions can be taken as precedent and can be considered at the lower court (trial court level).
Lower courts consider new questions of law, otherwise new questions would never be able to be addressed (with some state level advisory opinions aside)
You keep saying "You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.". I do not think it means what you think it means.
"Precedent" as a term is wider than the specific US legal meaning.
preceding in time, order, or importance.
"a precedent case"
So this IS a precedent, and it is an important and frightening one, even if some other judge isn't technically allowed to cite it.
an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.
But then it becomes clear that maybe this case is not yet a precedent.
Oftentimes people get lost too much in the legalese to see the big picture of what this decisions means.
So basically the defendant, "United Against Nuclear Iran", is an extended branch of several governments' spy agencies and enjoys all the protections that result from that status.
Seemed she worked for them to get everything set up (which makes sense as Wallace seems to describe her as his right-hand woman https://books.google.com/books?id=v5owKbDSg7kC&pg=PA125&lpg=... ), and is now working for the State Department but has a long history of roles high up in the last administration.
Wow. Talk about Kafkaesque justice.
Shortly after filing this complaint, Restis was arrested for money laundering and embezzlement. It's not clear whether those are legitimate allegations or themselves evidence of government gone wrong.
If this were a US citizen and it was clearly a case of the government wanting to avoid some embarrassment, it would be worth getting angry about. But in this case, where it's related to Iran and would have bearing on ongoing dealmaking, etc. it seems like asserting state privilege might actually be a good thing.
Not that I am positing that's what happened... But the last thing I'm willing to do in a case of government front agency vs anyone, in a case where the government had taken extraordinary measures to protect an agency they deny any involvement with... Is assume it's not a move to further discredit their accuser.
But it sure would be nice to for once read a comment section that focus on other interesting aspects, instead of proclaiming for the millionth time that the USA is now a totalitarian dictatorship dystopia, how the rule of law is gone, and how the little guy has been forgotten.
I'm not saying those are unimportant questions, but if I had a nickel for every time one of those same comments was repeated on these types of articles, I would own several islands in the Bahamas.
Instead of simply muttering bitter things about how the world has gone to sh*t.
This is highly misleading, as it ignores the role that court cases play as precedent in common law jurisdictions. United States v Reynolds, for starters.
In actuality, common-law systems draw from additional sources beyond a national/state constitution and statutes. And New Zealand (home of the NZ Herald) is a common-law jurisdiction, so the concept should not be completely foreign.
Sometimes a lower court makes a mistake, since they have a very broad focus handling the trial as a whole. If an appeal is filed to a higher court, they'll have the much narrower focus of determining proper judicial procedures.
I believe a higher court will take this seriously if appealed, and will issue new procedures for handling classified information if this is a serious concern.
I suppose that's a little bit true. They might lose their jobs if they actually spoke for justice.
Prosecutors, and I'm pretty sure judges as well (I am not a lawyer) are officers of the court. They should be held more accountable to their obligations in that capacity.
This is not that different than when we were in a cold war against the Soviet Union. The support structures of our government change slower than world politics and so our efforts against Iran can seem like a farce with us putting the same effort into their defeat.
We lost our chance to bring the Russians in as our allies and we will probably lose a similar chance with the Iranians with the nuclear negotiations happening in Geneva/Lausanne/Montreux right now. The bureaucracy moves too slow.
Look you have to supposedly private, non-government parties. They go to court for some reason. But one of the two parties is actually backed by the government, and the court is influenced by that backing to such an extent that it influences the case.
Not only is this a blatant form of government corruption, with private parties receiving government backing, but it also damages the separation of powers.
If you think it's completely justified to throw out the window many written and unwritten laws, elements of the constitution and basic structures of governance, because of negotiations with Iran, then I think you're willing to give up too many freedoms and rights. The real definition of terrorism to me is not when terror attacks kill as many people in a given year as falling fridges or indeed babies as is indeed the case, but when we're so scared of another cold-waresque threat that we're diminishing our own societies preemptively.
That's what this is about.
That's a naked assertion. Do the thought experiment: What if there was a "super-Snowden" who, after a warning to enable spies to escape, leaked ALL classified information. Everything. The whole ball of wax.
How much day to day security would the US lose? Would the Russian navy land on the shores of Brooklyn? Would the Chinese somehow become an instant dominant power? The fact is, Snowden did not ding our security one bit. The transparency he forced was probably beneficial.
So let's stipulate there is some down-side to total transparency. Would you take the bet that the benefits are greater than the costs?
I hope it's also not lost on you that US history has a fair share of incidents where lack of transparency and honesty led to some of the worst policy one could have imagined. You may think of say, the rise of Iran in an area where its counterweight in Iraq was virtually destroyed, leaving a power vacuum and enough weapons and a lack of proper governance that allowed sectarian violence and the likes of Isis to arise, after a brutal decade long war against people who rightly so viewed the US as invaders into their country. A war which was justified and explained on the basis of evidence that was not public and that a decade later looked unsubstantial and partially fabricated.
But who cares right? We need to elect people who lie to us and keep secrets from us, for our own good. And if we have to let our government affect the courts, the separation of powers, and run policy through supposedly non-governmental government-backed organisations, why the hell not. Not like an independent court or a separation of powers has any value, right?
All governments are corrupt, are you implying governments don't have a need for secrecy?
I don't really have an opinion on this subject, but your response appears to ignore the other side of the issue.
I've said it before, and I'll repeat it here: this claim needs to be justified with actual evidence, not just assertions and speculation.