The Obama Justice Department has "urged the Supreme Court not to grant the victims' appeal because the illegality of torture was not 'clearly established' [between 2002 and 2004]" (Yes, It was Torture, and Illegal, New York Times, January 4, 2010: A16).
This bizarre position is similar to the continued obdurate defense put forth by the department of the pernicious States Secrets Privilege.
As a student of bureaucracy, I can only attribute these unreasonable positions to the continued lack of full time political appointees at senior levels in the department (e.g., Office of the Legal Counsel, Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy). The present temporary incumbents seem to be continuing to use the Bush play book. It is time that they ceased to do so.
Sent to the New York Times