Invoking Secrets Privilege Becomes a More Popular Legal Tactic
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: November 11th, 2006
Facing a wave of litigation challenging its eavesdropping at home and its handling of terror suspects abroad, the Bush administration is increasingly turning to a legal tactic that swiftly torpedoes most lawsuits: the state secrets privilege. Officials have used the privilege...to ask the courts to throw out three legal challenges to the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. The privilege claim, in which the government says any discussion of a lawsuit's accusations would endanger national security, has short-circuited judicial scrutiny and public debate. While the privilege...was once used to shield sensitive documents or witnesses from disclosure, it is now often used to try to snuff out lawsuits at their inception. "If the very people you're suing are the ones who get to use the state secrets privilege, it's a stacked deck," said Representative Christopher Shays, Republican of Connecticut. Robert M. Chesney, a law professor at Wake Forest University...said the administration's legal strategy "raises profound legal and policy questions." Under Mr. Bush, the secrets privilege has been used to block a lawsuit by a translator at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sibel Edmonds, who was fired after accusing colleagues of security breaches. Two lawsuits challenging the government's practice of rendition, in which terror suspects are seized and delivered to detention centers overseas, were dismissed after the government raised the secrets privilege.
Note: Sibel Edmonds is one of several whistleblowers with powerfully incriminating information on 9/11 who have been silenced with tactics like those mentioned above. To learn more about this critical case which has been blocked, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/050131sibeledmonds