CRS on the Classified Information Procedures Act

05.07.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) was enacted in 1980 to provide a mechanism for handling classified information that was likely to arise in criminal trials.  The Act provided for the identification of such information, provisions for establishing its relevance and admissibility, and for introducing unclassified substitutions that could be openly discussed at trial.

The CIPA has figured prominently in numerous trials, most recently in the now-concluded case against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  It also serves as a possible model and inspiration for resolving other conflicts between national security secrecy and due process in civil cases, such as those involving state secrets.

“As Congress recognized when it passed the Classified Information Procedures Act, courts have many tools at their disposal to move litigation forward even when some of the evidence cannot be disclosed,” said Sen. Russ Feingold earlier this year in endorsing the State Secrets Protection Act (S.417).

A report on the CIPA, including discussion of its shortcomings and limitations, was prepared by the Congressional Research Service in 1989.  That report has not been updated to include recent developments, and it has been withdrawn from distribution by CRS.  A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

See “Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA): An Overview,” March 2, 1989.