State Secrets Privilege

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The State Secrets Privilege is the rule embodied in a series of U.S. legal precedents that gives the Federal government the ability to argue for the dismissal of legal cases by claiming that foreign policy, military intelligence or national security is threatened. The privilege was first recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1953 decision, United States v. Reynolds (345 U.S. 1) during the height of the Cold War. After the privilege is properly invoked, the privileged material is completely removed from the litigation, and the court must determine how the unavailability of the privileged information affects the case.

The Bush administration is using the claim of state secrets to interfere with a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T, regarding the NSA's illegal wiretapping program. Reuters

It also used this privilege to argue that a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit against it should be dismissed. The lawsuit, by German citizen Khaled al-Masri, claims that he was kidnapped by the CIA, and held in Afghanistan for five months, even though he was completely innocent.

"The Bush administration asked federal judges in New York and Michigan to dismiss a pair of lawsuits filed over the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program, saying litigation would jeopardize state secrets. " Source: White House Wants NSA Lawsuits Nixed - CBS


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