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State Secrets Privilege

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OPINION
December 14, 2009
At the beginning of this year, just as President Obama was taking office, a lawsuit was heading to court in California in which the Bush administration had invoked what's known as the "state secrets privilege." The administration wanted the case, which had been brought by five alleged victims of torture, dismissed on the grounds that if it went forward, it would require the disclosure of sensitive classified information. The Bush administration loved to invoke the state secrets privilege, and did so more than any previous administration.
ARTICLES BY DATE
OPINION
January 3, 2013
Re "It's 2013, when dreams may yet come true," Editorial, Jan. 1 I'd like to add the following wish to The Times' list: That a meaningful dialogue on stopping the abusive application of the state secrets privilege and related policies take place. We need as a start a grass-roots effort to get the equivalent of 2012's H.R. 5956 passed. Can you imagine if religious clergy, Boy Scouts leaders and educational institutions had the state secrets privilege doctrine to hide behind?
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OPINION
April 3, 2010
Four and half years after the Bush administration was caught eavesdropping on Americans without court approval, a federal judge in San Francisco has ratified a conclusion many Americans reached long ago: that the administration exceeded its legal authority in the war on terror. But U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker's ruling does more than that. It also reminds the Obama administration, which too often has echoed Bush-era positions on national security issues, that the "state secrets privilege" can cover a multitude of abuses.
NEWS
October 31, 2012 | By Michael McGough
Civil libertarians are upbeat after an argument in the Supreme Court this week over whether lawyers, activists and academics can challenge the constitutionality of a law authorizing the wiretapping of potential terrorists abroad -- who may be conversing or swapping emails with Americans. The plaintiffs, who carry on confidential conversations with foreign clients and sources, say the law chills them in the exercise of their rights. As is often the case, the civil liberties groups are pinning their hopes on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has voted with liberals on the court in previous cases arising from the war on terrorism.  Kennedy seemed receptive to the plaintiffs' argument that they have standing to sue because they fear that their confidential conversations with sources and clients are being monitored.   “I think the lawyer would engage in malpractice if he talked on the telephone with some of these clients, given this statute,” Kennedy told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
OPINION
January 3, 2013
Re "It's 2013, when dreams may yet come true," Editorial, Jan. 1 I'd like to add the following wish to The Times' list: That a meaningful dialogue on stopping the abusive application of the state secrets privilege and related policies take place. We need as a start a grass-roots effort to get the equivalent of 2012's H.R. 5956 passed. Can you imagine if religious clergy, Boy Scouts leaders and educational institutions had the state secrets privilege doctrine to hide behind?
NATIONAL
July 21, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has ruled that CIA officials committed fraud to protect a former covert agent against an eavesdropping lawsuit and may sanction as many as six who have worked at the agency, including former CIA Director George J. Tenet. According to unsealed court documents, Lamberth referred a CIA attorney, Jeffrey Yeates, for disciplinary action. Lamberth also denied the CIA's efforts under the Obama administration to keep the case secret because of what he called the agency's "diminished credibility" and the "twisted history" in the case.
OPINION
September 16, 2007 | Barry Siegel, Barry Siegel, a former Times national correspondent, directs the literary journalism program at UC Irvine. His book on U.S. vs. Reynolds and the state secrets privilege, "Claim of Privilege," will be published next year.
On Aug. 15, before an overflow crowd at the federal courthouse at 7th and Mission in San Francisco, three judges from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals listened to lawyers argue whether the once-obscure "state secrets privilege" gives the government an absolute right to withhold documents, bury evidence and block lawsuits.
NEWS
October 11, 2007 | ROSA BROOKS
Score one more for the White House, which may keep its secrets to the bitter end. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case of El-Masri vs. United States.
OPINION
February 15, 2009 | Nicholas Goldberg, Nicholas Goldberg is the deputy editor of The Times' editorial pages.
Last Monday in a San Francisco courtroom, the Obama administration faced a crucial early test -- and, in the view of many liberal supporters, failed miserably. Four alleged victims of the government's "extraordinary rendition" program -- each of whom says he was seized, flown to a foreign country and tortured at the behest of the U.S. government -- were appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., the San Jose company that they say helped organize the flights.
OPINION
October 31, 2011
One of the most disappointing attributes of the Obama administration has been its proclivity for secrecy. The president who committed himself to "an unprecedented level of openness in government" has followed the example of his predecessor by invoking the "state secrets" privilege to derail litigation about government misdeeds in the war on terror. He has refused to release the administration's secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, which two senators have described as alarming. He has blocked the dissemination of photographs documenting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. service members.
OPINION
October 31, 2011
One of the most disappointing attributes of the Obama administration has been its proclivity for secrecy. The president who committed himself to "an unprecedented level of openness in government" has followed the example of his predecessor by invoking the "state secrets" privilege to derail litigation about government misdeeds in the war on terror. He has refused to release the administration's secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, which two senators have described as alarming. He has blocked the dissemination of photographs documenting the abuse of prisoners by U.S. service members.
OPINION
May 18, 2011
In a perfunctory order, the Supreme Court on Monday denied a day in court to five alleged victims of one of the grossest abuses of the war on terror: "extraordinary rendition. " That's the euphemism for transferring suspects abroad for interrogation and, it's alleged, torture. Besides denying the five any form of redress for their grievances, the court's action endorses the federal government's overuse of the so-called state secrets privilege to short-circuit the judicial process. That makes the court's action doubly shameful.
OPINION
October 12, 2010
Should a federal court have any say over whether a U.S. citizen can be targeted for killing by his own government without due process of law? The Obama administration has submitted a lengthy document to a federal court that can be summed up in one disappointing word: No. The Justice Department's attempt to keep the courts out of the case of Anwar Awlaki, an Al Qaeda propagandist thought to be hiding in Yemen, is reminiscent of the Bush...
OPINION
April 3, 2010
Four and half years after the Bush administration was caught eavesdropping on Americans without court approval, a federal judge in San Francisco has ratified a conclusion many Americans reached long ago: that the administration exceeded its legal authority in the war on terror. But U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker's ruling does more than that. It also reminds the Obama administration, which too often has echoed Bush-era positions on national security issues, that the "state secrets privilege" can cover a multitude of abuses.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 1, 2010 | By Carol J. Williams
In a repudiation of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism surveillance program, a federal judge ruled Wednesday that the government violated federal law when it failed to seek warrants to spy on two lawyers working for an Islamic charity in Oregon. U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected assertions by both Presidents Bush and Obama that their state secrets privilege shields them from lawsuits filed by American citizens investigated under a disputed domestic spying program launched after 9/11.
OPINION
December 14, 2009
At the beginning of this year, just as President Obama was taking office, a lawsuit was heading to court in California in which the Bush administration had invoked what's known as the "state secrets privilege." The administration wanted the case, which had been brought by five alleged victims of torture, dismissed on the grounds that if it went forward, it would require the disclosure of sensitive classified information. The Bush administration loved to invoke the state secrets privilege, and did so more than any previous administration.
NEWS
October 31, 2012 | By Michael McGough
Civil libertarians are upbeat after an argument in the Supreme Court this week over whether lawyers, activists and academics can challenge the constitutionality of a law authorizing the wiretapping of potential terrorists abroad -- who may be conversing or swapping emails with Americans. The plaintiffs, who carry on confidential conversations with foreign clients and sources, say the law chills them in the exercise of their rights. As is often the case, the civil liberties groups are pinning their hopes on Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who has voted with liberals on the court in previous cases arising from the war on terrorism.  Kennedy seemed receptive to the plaintiffs' argument that they have standing to sue because they fear that their confidential conversations with sources and clients are being monitored.   “I think the lawyer would engage in malpractice if he talked on the telephone with some of these clients, given this statute,” Kennedy told Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
NATIONAL
July 21, 2009 | Times Wire Reports
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth has ruled that CIA officials committed fraud to protect a former covert agent against an eavesdropping lawsuit and may sanction as many as six who have worked at the agency, including former CIA Director George J. Tenet. According to unsealed court documents, Lamberth referred a CIA attorney, Jeffrey Yeates, for disciplinary action. Lamberth also denied the CIA's efforts under the Obama administration to keep the case secret because of what he called the agency's "diminished credibility" and the "twisted history" in the case.
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