Thursday, February 6, 2014

State Secrets Privilege Doctrine: Invitation To Abuse

Government invoked state secrets privilege to hide mistake that put innocent student on no-fly list
This is encouraging news.

I wrote a paper about this miserable piece of jurisprudence in law school (the State Secrets privilege, not this  particular case) based on the revelations (after 50 years) that the landmark case United States vs. Reynolds was a straight-up abuse of the doctrine. 

The Executive lied, and the Judiciary branch refused to question it, formalizing the State Secrets doctrine. It's led to an ongoing series of abuses ever since, as the Exec branch was given carte blanche. 
"He checked the wrong boxes, filling out the form exactly the opposite way from the instructions on the form," U.S. District Judge William Alsup wrote (.pdf) today. The decision makes Ibrahim, 48, the first person to successfully challenge placement on a government watch list. Much of the federal court trial, in which the woman sought only to clear her name, was conducted in secret after U.S. officials repeatedly invoked the state secrets privilege and sought to have the case dismissed.
That kind of indifference to justice, to truth, and to accountability is exactly what the State Secrets doctrine breeds.  Reynolds was wrongly decided and should be repudiated.

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