Court Requires Review of State Secrets Documents

Over the objections of government attorneys, a federal judge said yesterday that he would require in camera review of documents that the government says are protected by the state secrets privilege. The issue arose in the case of Gulet Mohamed v. Eric Holder, challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The government had argued that it is “inappropriate” for a court to review such records to verify that they are validly privileged, and that […]

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Private Lawsuit Jeopardizes State Secrets, US Says

The U.S. Government asserted the state secrets privilege last week in a private lawsuit to which the government is not a party and moved for dismissal of the case. Greek businessman Victor Restis had filed a lawsuit last year against the private advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), alleging that the group had falsely and maliciously accused Restis of engaging in illict commerce with Iran. UANI, whose advisory board includes numerous former government officials, […]

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PDD 62: Counterterrorism Policy Prior to 9/11

According to a newly declassified White House policy directive, counterterrorism policy has yielded “an increased rate of renditions, apprehensions, and convictions of terrorists,” as well as “a significant expansion of counterterrorism legislative authorities” and “a large increase in counterterrorism funding.” But that White House directive — Presidential Policy Directive 62, Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas — was issued by President Bill Clinton, and dates from May 22, 1998. Even the […]

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Iraqi and Afghan Immigrant Visa Programs, and More from CRS

New products from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from online public distribution include the following. Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Programs, September 12, 2014 The Federal Trade Commission’s Regulation of Data Security Under Its Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices (UDAP) Authority, September 11, 2014 Diplomatic and Embassy Security Funding Before and After the Benghazi Attacks, September 10, 2014

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Special Operations as a Technology Driver

The continuing prominence of special operations as an instrument of U.S. force projection is creating requirements for “revolutionary, game changing” new technologies and fostering the development of solutions to those requirements. Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command until last month, told the House Armed Services Committee in two newly published hearing volumes that a range of new technologies are under development by SOCOM, including laser weapons, new emergency medicine techniques, color […]

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Military Action Against the Islamic State, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service considers the legal underpinning of U.S. military action against the so-called Islamic State, including the sources and limits of presidential authority, and the relevance of past Authorizations for Use of Military Force. See U.S. Military Action Against the Islamic State: Answers to Frequently Asked Legal Questions, September 9, 2014. See also Considerations for Possible Authorization for Use of Military Force Against the Islamic State, CRS Insights, September […]

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New Exemptions from 50 Year Declassification Approved

Most of the national security agencies in the executive branch have now been granted approval to exempt certain 50 year old classified information from automatic declassification. The national security classification system normally requires declassification of classified documents as they become 25 years old, with several specified exemptions to allow continued classification up to 50 years. Only “in extraordinary cases” may agency heads propose to exempt information from declassification when it is 50 years old, says […]

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“Ingenuity” Could Not Prevent Atom Bomb Espionage

When the internal history of the Manhattan Project was written in 1944, officials still believed — mistakenly — that the atom bomb program had evaded the threat of foreign espionage. “Espionage attempts were detected but it is felt that prompt action and intensified investigative activity in each case prevented the passing of any substantial amount of Project information,” according to a previously overlooked page from the Manhattan District History that was declassified yesterday. Although declassification […]

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Court Urged to Review State Secrets Documents

It is entirely proper for a court to conduct in camera review of documents and testimony that the government asserts are subject to the state secrets privilege, said the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the “no fly” list. The Justice Department had argued that judicial review of privileged documents was “inappropriate” and asked Judge Anthony J. Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia to reconsider his order requiring such review. (Gov’t Resists […]

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The Constitution’s Take Care Clause, and More from CRS

The so-called Take Care Clause in the U.S. Constitution (requiring that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….”) “would appear to stand for two, at times diametrically opposed propositions–one imposing a ‘duty’ upon the President and the other viewing the Clause as a source of Presidential ‘power’,” according to a new study from the Congressional Research Service. See The Take Care Clause and Executive Discretion in the Enforcement of Law, September […]

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