Sunday, March 06, 2005
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is aggressively wielding a rarely used executive power known as the state-secrets privilege in an attempt to squash hard-hitting court challenges to its anti-terrorism campaign.
How the White House is using this privilege, not a law but a series of legal precedents built on national security, disturbs some civil libertarians and open-government advocates because of its sweeping power. Judges almost never challenge the government's assertion of the privilege, and it can be fatal to a plaintiff's case...
...The secrets privilege is an especially powerful weapon because federal judges, reluctant to challenge the executive branch on national security, almost never refuse the government's claim to confidentiality.
That is true even though a growing body of declassified documents suggests that the privilege has been used in the past to protect presidential power, not national secrets, according to Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at the George Washington University, which works to expand public access to government documents.
No snide commentary needed, I presume.