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Issue Position: Accountability of the Executive Branch

Issue Position

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Date:
Location: Unknown

No matter who holds the White House, citizens should be able to have their legal grievances with the federal government fairly adjudicated in a court of law. Under current law, the Federal government, when it is a
defendant in a civil case, may assert a defense known as the "State Secrets Privilege". Under this privilege, the Executive Branch can make the judge dismiss any civil case, without even presenting any evidence, by claiming that the case involves classified information. In the 20th Century, this privilege was used sparingly. However, from 2001 through 2008, U.S. government agencies asserted it frequently to block a wide variety of private citizen lawsuits. We must make sure the government asserts the "State Secrets Privilege" reliably and in a limited manner. That is why I will again join with my colleague Rep. Jerrold Nadler to introduce the State Secret Protection Act. This bill will enable judges to examine, in a secure area, the government's evidence in asserting the "State Secrets Privilege". And, it will allow the government to assert the privilege only if the government shows that public disclosure of the information that the government seeks to protect would be reasonably likely to cause significant harm to the national defense or the
diplomatic relations of the United States.


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