Judge: State Secrets Privilege Is Not Sovereign Immunity

Court explains to U.S. Government that their states secret privilege is not the same as blanket immunity from prosecution.

Scales of Justice

So the government is being sued and they have been appealing to the “states secret” doctrine to try to make the case go away. The judge is not buying it. He is quoted at Techdirt.com:

… the state secrets privilege is a judicially created rule of evidence, not a doctrine of sovereign immunity or non-justiciability, whose applicability and consequences, where applicable, are best considered within a specific context during the actual adjudication of any claims to which it may apply.

Mike Masnick interprets:

That’s a bit of a complex sentence, but it’s basically saying that state secrets may apply to specific bits of evidence, but shouldn’t be used to just toss out an entire case. 

The Department of Justice (so-called) was trying to invoke the states secrets privilege in order to get an entire case thrown out. The Judge has denied that motion, saying that there is enough allowable evidence to move forward.

[See also, “Most Transparent Administration in History Gives Advocacy Group State Secrets Privilege.”]

At issue is a lawsuit from a man put on the no-fly list by U.S. bureaucrats.

Gulet Mohamed [is] a US citizen who was put on the no fly list and ran into some issues in the Middle East because of that (and by “issues” we mean he was beaten by Kuwaiti officials for wanting to fly home to Virginia).

You may remember that, under the Obama Administration, even the way the administration identifies someone as a terrorist is kept secret, though it is not classified information according to the law. The Executive Branch is plainly opposed to an open society. Also, in a trial involving another no fly list victim, the Feds actually put a key witness on the no fly list to obstruct the plaintiff’s case.

This judge’s ruling is wonderful, but there is a great deal more work to be done.