OPEN GOVERNMENT -- In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for
the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals
judges in San Francisco today by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving
state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration, reports the New York Times.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush
administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that
administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp
at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter,
made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several
judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.   

    “Is
there anything material that has happened” that might have caused the
Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder,
an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.  

    “No, your honor,” Mr. Letter replied.
    Judge Schroeder asked, “The change in administration has no bearing?” Once
more, he said, “No, Your Honor.” The position he was taking in court on
behalf of the government had been “thoroughly vetted with the
appropriate officials within the new administration,” and “these are
the authorized positions,” he said.