Court Urged to Assess State Secret Claims

05.03.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

When the government asserts the state secrets privilege in the course of litigation, the judiciary must independently evaluate the purported secret that is at issue and should not simply defer to the executive branch, several public interest groups argued in an amicus curiae brief (pdf) this week.

The brief, to which the FAS Project on Government Secrecy signed on, was filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a state secrets case involving alleged domestic intelligence surveillance (Hepting v. USA, and related cases).

“The government’s extreme reading of the [state secrets] privilege would thwart government accountability, denying a forum for legitimate claims of government wrongdoing and undermining independent judicial review of executive action,” the brief stated.