Obama Gets a 'D' on State Secrets from Democratic Senator

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold grades the president on the "rule of law."

ByABC News
April 27, 2009, 8:30 PM

April 28, 2009 -- President Obama is receiving a "D" for his handling of state secrets in a "rule of law" report card prepared by fellow Democrat Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin senator who heads a subcommittee on the Constitution.
"Restoring the rule of law is not a partisan issue," Feingold told ABC News. "One hundred days into this administration, it's appropriate to assess how well the president has done so far. I recognize that some of these issues will take time, but given how important these issues are to the country, Americans deserve a fair assessment of the administration's progress."
Obama's "D" on state secrets, which Feingold characterized as "troubling," is a timely reminder that this is one area where the new president has raised concern among some progressives.

In the first 100 days, the Obama administration has invoked the state secrets privilege in three cases: Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, Mohammed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, and Jewel v. NSA.

Obama's record in this area has drawn fire from civil liberties groups, even though many of them cheered his election in November. The Justice Department has responded to the criticism by saying that Obama is only invoking the state secrets privilege in cases where it is necessary.

Low as Obama's grade is in this area, Feingold's report says that the president would have received an "F" had it not been for the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that he hopes to make public the result of his review of all the cases in which the state secrets privilege was used by the Bush administration.

"Only the glimmer of hope offered by that ongoing review saves the Obama administration from a failing grade," reads the report card.

Feingold is hoping the attention that surrounds publication of his report will pressure Obama to get behind the State Secrets Protection Act, legislation co-sponsored by the Wisconsin senator that would provide guidance to federal courts considering cases in which the government has exercised the state secrets privilege.