It’s a measure of the uselessness of American media that I had to learn about the following atrocity from an article in The New Zealand Herald:
[United Against Nuclear Iran] was founded in 2008 by a former CIA director and a group of retired diplomats to advocate against the nuclear Iran.
Its board includes former directors of foreign intelligence services including the U.K.'s MI-6, Germany's BND - and Israel's Mossad.
One of the strategies pursued by United Against is a campaign to "name and shame" entities that trade with Iran.
The organization named [Greek Shipping magnate Victor] Restis, who in turn sued United Against for falsely claiming his companies were "front men for the illicit activities of the Iranian regime."
So far, nothing out of the ordinary, right? Ladies, hold on to your boyfriends: This is where things get really interesting. When the suit reached the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, a third player emerged:
The Department of Justice intervened in September, asserting the state secrets privilege.
That so-called privilege doesn't come from the Constitution or from statute.
It's an unwritten judicial rule that allows the Government to block discovery of information through ordinary litigation "when disclosure would be inimical to national security," as the district court described it.
What followed would be comical if it weren't so serious.
The government asserted privilege "by submitting classified declaration by the head of the department which has control over the matter."
But even the identity of that official is itself a secret that the court declined to reveal.
The Government said that "disclosing even the identity of the agency involved creates an unwarranted risk of exposing the information it seeks to protect."
The court accepted that argument.
That’s right. Restis was denied access to the one and only legal path to restitution because Uncle Sam has secrets that might be “endangered.” What secrets? About what subjects? Collected by whom? You’re not cleared to know that.
But we’re not quite done yet:
Having barred access to information, the court went on to dismiss the case altogether.
Even if Restis could prove his case without the excluded evidence, the court said, it was "convinced that further litigation of this action would impose an unjustifiable risk of disclosing state secrets."
That is, even if the court were to block discovery of any actual state secret, the mere fact of the lawsuit would have a tendency to endanger national security - even if the trial took place entirely in secret.
The court thus came perilously close to saying that the case should be dismissed because it might be embarrassing to the Government.
The trial judge, Edgardo Ramos, admitted that the outcome was "harsh."
As he put it, "plaintiffs not only do not get their day in court, but cannot be told why".
Time was, we thought of the great judicial dangers to the private citizen as arising from such outrages as the Star Chamber, wherein an individual could be put at hazard of his life and freedom for “offenses” that fell under no statute, or for unspecified offenses. In the case above we have an almost perfectly opposite example: an individual is denied access to the courts because the State deems it contrary to its interests to allow it, but declines to say why.
That happened in the United States, Gentle Reader. In my home state of New York.
If the government can demand such a thing in a civil matter and have the demand honored by a supposedly independent court, it can do so in any matter whatsoever: civil, criminal, or petition for redress of grievances. The courts, supposedly the people’s defense not only against the predators among us but also the predators above us, have been nullified as instruments of justice. Their first obligation is to defer to the demands of the State.
The needs of the State come first, don’t y’know.
Why hasn’t this story appeared in an American organ? Do the barons of the Main Stream Media think it insignificant? Do they consider it perilously inflammatory? Or do they deem it not of interest to the majority of their dwindling readerships?
I can easily imagine some publisher saying “Well, it’s a marginal defamation suit filed by a non-citizen, and the slanders hadn’t gotten around yet, and besides, this sort of government interference with the courts doesn’t happen all that often anyway, so what’s the big deal?” Minimization tactics. Keep the sheeple docile by reducing the destruction of justice to a minor matter, a triviality. The hell of it is, that’s a rationalization a lot of people would accept. “Wouldn’t happen to an American.” “Practically no one’s heard the slanders, so it’s almost as if they never happened.” “Protecting state secrets? Well, if they’re important enough, I suppose.”
I think of this as the “hole in the leather” principle. Leather garments are altered only at great risk, because a hole in leather is forever. You can’t fix or patch such a hole. Neither can you fix or patch a gap in the legal system that allows the government to demand that a suit be dropped without saying why. Once that State privilege has been accepted—even once—it cannot be repaired.
In the absolute monarchies, a king could get away with this...for a while. But kings are mortal and vulnerable. Charles I of England was beheaded for similar crimes. It’s a bit more difficult to behead the federal government of the United States. Granted that the notion has a lot of appeal.
There is no law. Barack Hussein Obama has demonstrated this.
There is no justice. The dismissal of Restis v. United Against Nuclear Iran has demonstrated this.
There is no redress of grievances against the State. This has been demonstrated too many times to require examples.
Panama’s looking better all the time. I’m told the politicians there stay bought.
Have a nice day.
[Applause to Keith at Crusader Rabbit for the original link.]