News & Politics

Why Is Mukasey Trying to Derail the State Secrets Bill?

The AG says legislation to curb the constant use of state secret privilege would "result in the harmful disclosure of national security information."
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in a letter Monday that the State Secrets Protection Act currently before Congress, introduced by committee leaders to enact a "safe, fair, and responsible" state secrets privilege, would needlessly and improperly interfere with the appropriate constitutional role of both the Judicial and Executive branches in state secrets cases; would alter decades of settled case law; and would likely result in the harmful disclosure of national security information that would not be disclosed under current doctrine.

He noted that President George W. Bush would likely veto the bill in its present form.

In February, the committee held a hearing on the bill, specifically meant to curb the use of the state secrets privilege in lawsuits involving the federal government that may reveal government misconduct. The Bush administration has frequently invoked the privilege, a Constitutional protection, in cases accusing the U.S. government of extraordinary rendition, torture in interrogation of terrorists, and the NSA domestic surveillance program.
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