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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Holder Announces DOJ Policies re: State Secrets Privilege

Attorney General Eric Holder today released new policies and procedures for the Department of Justice regarding the invocation of the state secrets privilege in litigation. The policies go into effect on October 1.

The policies are designed to "strengthen public confidence that the U.S. Government will invoke the privilege in court only when genuine and significant harm to national defense or foreign relations is at stake and only to the extent necessary to safeguard those interests."

Under the new policies, the Justice Department will not defend an assertion of the privilege from a government department or agency without the personal approval of the Attorney General. It also establishes a State Secrets Review Committee comprised of senior DOJ officials designated by the Attorney General.

When seeking to invoke the privilege, the department or agency must make a sufficient showing that the privilege is necessary to protect information that could lead to significant harm to national defense or foreign relations.

The new policies announce that the Justice Department will not invoke the privilege to conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment; to restrain competition; or to delay the release of information undeserving of the state secrets privilege.
More from the Washington Post here and The Hill here.

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