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State Secrets Privilege Linked to National Security
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times

New York Times, April 30, 2009
Posted: May 3rd, 2009

Of the many ways that the Bush administration sought to evade accountability for its violations of the law and the Constitution under the cover of battling terrorism, one of the most appalling was its attempt to use inflated claims of state secrecy to slam shut the doors of the nations courthouses. Sadly, the Obama administration also embraced this tactic, even though President Obama criticized the cult of secrecy while running for office, leaving it to the courts to stand up for transparency and accountability. And that is just what a panel of the federal appeals court in San Francisco did on Tuesday by firmly rejecting the claim that the government can prevent a judge from even hearing those who say they were hurt by federal policies and actions. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated a civil lawsuit brought against a government contractor by five victims of the extraordinary rendition program, under which foreigners were kidnapped and flown to other countries for interrogation and torture. The panel said the government can ask a judge to decide on a case-by-case basis whether disclosing particular evidence would jeopardize national security. But it recognized the affront to civil liberties and the constitutional separation of powers in the Justice Departments argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever an official makes a blanket claim of national security.

Note: For lots more on government secrecy from reliable sources, click here.

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