Bush Administration Claims New Privileges in Renewed Effort to Conceal Contacts with Jack Abramoff

The Bush Administration is seeking to use a new privilege argument to try, again, to withholding records of the visits of convicted lobbyist jack Abramoff to the White House.  The new claims mirror the so-called secret service privilege that failed during the Clinton Administration.

The Bush Administration has been trying continually to withhold evidence from a court on the many and embarrassing visits of Abramoff to the White House.  In filings last week, the Justice Department claimed that releasing the information would reveal aspects of the the secret service methods.  This belated claim was made despite the fact that last year it agreed to release the material. 

According to the DOJ, releasing the information is no longer possible because “[t]he simple act of doing so … would reveal sensitive information about the methods used by the Secret Service to carry out its protective function.” 

This is very similar to the secret service privilege argued in the Clinton Administration. At the time, I represented five former attorneys general in opposing the privilege.  We argued successfully against the privilege in federal court with Ken Starr arguing the same position as independent counsel.  See Jonathan Turley, Praetorian Privilege, Wall Street Journal, April 27, 1998. 

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2 thoughts on “Bush Administration Claims New Privileges in Renewed Effort to Conceal Contacts with Jack Abramoff”


  2. Perhaps it is time for Professor Turley to take up the cudgels again and offer his experience (in litigating this type of action) to the Congress….

    Another thing…

    It would be nice to get to the bottom of the many and mysterious visits of Jeff Gannon to the White House in former times. Or is that covered by secret privilege also?

    Honestly these repeated claims of state secrets and hidden process are becoming outrageous. That’s why I was only half-facetious in suggesting the federal rules of evidence could be made state secrets.

    Obviously, obviously, ANY knowledge of governmental functions from where the limousines get their tire pressures checked, to who supplies the brass polish for the door knobs, could, in some alternate universe, be used by malefactors to the furtherance of their evil schemes.

    Do we seal up the whole government and all its processes in a Black Box therefore to frustrate the imagined plotters?

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