The administration is using this tactic at a rate of three lawsuits per year–purportedly to keep national security information safe. But one expert says that in cases like these, “the principal concern of the classifiers is not with national security, but with governmental embarrassment of one sort or another.”

Political Animal:

STATE SECRETS….Yesterday I mentioned that Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen who was kidnapped, drugged, flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan, and held for five months ? despite the fact that he was entirely innoncent and was merely the victim of mistaken identity ? had his lawsuit turned down on Thursday after the government asserted the state secrets privilege. Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, comments:

When the government claims the “state secrets privilege,” the courts tend to look no further, and the cases are dismissed. It was invoked only four times in the first 23 years after the U.S. Supreme Court created the privilege in 1953, but now the government is claiming the privilege to dismiss lawsuits at a rate of more than three a year. The Justice Department describes this tactic as an “absolute privilege” ? in effect, a neutron bomb that leaves no plaintiff standing.



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