For Immediate Release
Constitution Project Commends Introduction of State Secret Protection Act
The Legislation Should Be Quickly Enacted to Protect Actual National Security Secrets and Respect the Right to Have Courts Decide Disputes
WASHINGTON - The following statement can be attributed to Virginia Sloan, President of the Constitution
"The Constitution Project welcomes the introduction of the
State Secret Protection Act in the House today. We call upon
Congress to pass this legislation quickly. The State Secret Protection Act
would protect actual national security secrets from public disclosure and
respect the right to have the courts decide legal disputes.
In the wake of the Justice Department's disappointing
decision on Monday to reassert the Bush administration's overbroad secrecy
claims, the need for this legislation is apparent and compelling. We urge
Congress to act quickly to preserve access to the courts and uphold our
constitutional system of checks and balances.
The State Secret Protection Act would ensure that trial
judges independently examine the evidence claimed to be subject to the state
secrets privilege to determine whether the claim is valid. The legislation also
includes critical safeguards necessary to ensure the proper balance of constitutional
liberties, national security, and the interests of private parties."
The state secrets privilege is a legal doctrine whose
purpose is to prevent public disclosure of particular evidence when the
disclosure would threaten our national security. In Monday's oral argument in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, held
before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Justice Department
continued to press the Bush administration's broad claim for dismissal of the
entire lawsuit, claiming its subject matter is a state secret. The suit
involves the CIA's program of extraordinary rendition, which has been widely
reported in the media.
Last week, the Constitution Project released a letter
calling on the Obama administration to allow the Jeppesen lawsuit to go forward. In
2007, the Constitution Project released a report signed by a bipartisan
coalition that endorsed reforming the state secrets privilege. To speak with our policy expert, please
contact Daniel Schuman, Director of
Communications and Counsel, at dschuman@constitutionproject.
The Constitution Project is a politically independent think tank established in 1997 to promote and defend constitutional safeguards. More information about the Constitution Project is available at http://constitutionproject.org/.