Like Causes?

Install the App
TRY NOW

house Bill H.R. 4767

Should it be Harder for the Feds to Claim State Secret Privilege in Court?

Argument in favor

If the federal government wants to claim state secrets privilege to suppress evidence in a trial, it needs to demonstrate that it would actually damage the national defense or U.S. diplomacy. This bill allows courts to overrule the government’s privilege claims if they’re invalid.

Ryan's Opinion
···
10/07/2016
The government like to tell the people "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" as justification for surveillance on the American people. Perhaps it is time they be put to the same test? Read the Constitution, and stop violating our Liberty.
Like (37)
Follow
Share
···
10/07/2016
Accountability of power is essential to democracy.
Like (33)
Follow
Share
Loraki's Opinion
···
10/08/2016
Countable member David said: "The federal government has become extremely secretive and distant from the American public. Citizens are being put on secret lists (no fly list), groups are being singled out due to their political affiliation (IRS and the Tea Party). The FBI demands unlimited access to citizens personal information (Apple iPhones). Due process of law is being eroded by our politicians and bureaucrats. We the people is becoming a meaningless phrase in our Constitution – our Constitution is being de facto nullified." David, I couldn't have said it better myself!
Like (15)
Follow
Share

Argument opposed

There may have been some excessive use of state secrets privilege, but that’s no reason to try and prevent the federal government to use it in cases where national defense or diplomatic relations may be hurt by disclosing certain evidence publicly.

MICKEY's Opinion
···
10/08/2016
This is the wrong avenue to address this problem. The level of classification determines the sensitivity of the material as it pertains to the national defense. (TOP SECRET = Grave Harm) thus the classification by itself should be the proof to the court. The issue to be addressed is the over classification of material.
Like (3)
Follow
Share
Michael's Opinion
···
10/07/2016
Most of you can't handle the truth. Bunch of paranoid idiots.
Like (1)
Follow
Share
Julie's Opinion
···
10/11/2016
No, people like the Clinton's will abuse the privilege at every chance they have if they are doing something they don't want the rest of us to know about.
Like (1)
Follow
Share

What is House Bill H.R. 4767?

This bill would require the federal government to demonstrate that public disclosure of information would significantly damage the national defense or diplomatic relations of the U.S. before using “state secrets privilege” to withhold evidence in legal proceedings. Courts would be responsible for determining if privilege is appropriate in a certain case and creating standards by which the government would produce adequate substitutes through redactions or summaries.

The federal government could still assert state secrets privilege in litigation it is involved in or civil cases that could lead to the revelation of sensitive information, as it’s allowed to do currently. Once the government has asserted that privilege, the court — before it has decided whether privilege is valid in the case — would undertake a review of the information and give the government an opportunity to seek protective measures (like redactions or summaries).

If the court finds that privilege isn’t valid as requested by the government, it would require the release of the information to the non-governmental parties to the case and allow its admission at trial. If state secrets privilege is found to be valid, disclosure or admission of that information would be prohibited.

Courts of appeal would have jurisdiction for hearing an appeal of a decision or order from a district court determining that the state secrets privilege isn’t valid in a case, allowing the federal government to avoid providing an adequate substitute, or refusing protective measures requested.

Impact

Litigation involving the potential disclosure of sensitive information that may or may not be covered by state secrets privilege; and district and appeals courts.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4767

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced this bill to prevent the federal government from abusing state secrets privilege to withhold evidence from trials:

“Ultimately, the only defense we have of any right is the ability to enforce it in court. The state secrets privilege has been interpreted in such a way as to enable the government to kill any lawsuit simply by invoking the magical incantation ‘state secrets’. Doing so is very dangerous to our democracy and eliminates any ability to hold the government accountable… This bill will bring some balance to [the] process and provide a needed check on abuse of power by the government.”

In 2011, the Washington Post editorial board authored an op-ed calling for Congress to take action on this bill’s predecessor to prevent the federal government from abuse state secrets privilege. The op-ed said the bill “appropriately balances the rights of litigants with the imperative of national security.”

This legislation has the bipartisan support of two cosponsors in the House, one Democratic and one Republican.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Acid the meme machine / Creative Commons)

AKA

State Secrets Protection Act

Official Title

To provide safe, fair, and responsible procedures and standards for resolving claims of state secret privilege.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedMarch 16th, 2016
    The government like to tell the people "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" as justification for surveillance on the American people. Perhaps it is time they be put to the same test? Read the Constitution, and stop violating our Liberty.
    Like (37)
    Follow
    Share
    Accountability of power is essential to democracy.
    Like (33)
    Follow
    Share
    Countable member David said: "The federal government has become extremely secretive and distant from the American public. Citizens are being put on secret lists (no fly list), groups are being singled out due to their political affiliation (IRS and the Tea Party). The FBI demands unlimited access to citizens personal information (Apple iPhones). Due process of law is being eroded by our politicians and bureaucrats. We the people is becoming a meaningless phrase in our Constitution – our Constitution is being de facto nullified." David, I couldn't have said it better myself!
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    What diplomatic relationship could be damaged based on information one judge would see? And I believe even the judge would only get a redacted version or summary. Transparency should be ubiquitous for a democracy to function unless that transparency puts American interest in danger. Like I said I believe a judge reviewing a document and sealing it if it's found to be compromising does not put the U.S. in any danger.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    The government classifies far too much material. They need to prove their need for secrecy, not just declare it.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    The state is forever the enemy of the people. If knowledge is power, and our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, then the people, not the state, should maintain the secrets. The people, not the state, gets the knowledge and the power. There's no "right to privacy" for the state.
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    We have a long history of seeing the Feds misuse the Patriot Act to destroy democracy instead of preserving it. The Feds should be held to the same standard as citizens!
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    It's time to throw open the doors of government secrecy. How else can we reestablish trust in our government?
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    As well as their usual bs phrase, "national security."
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Public knowledge of government, and the accountability that that creates, is essential for our republic to operate.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Absolutely, no question.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    It limits the power of government in certain situations, especially during trial. Protects our democracy as well.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Based on the level of corruption taken to the extreme by the Obama administration, and the manipulation of the DOJ and FBI, it's time the government answers to the people.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Our corporate congress and government keeps way too many secrets from our citizens.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    This is the wrong avenue to address this problem. The level of classification determines the sensitivity of the material as it pertains to the national defense. (TOP SECRET = Grave Harm) thus the classification by itself should be the proof to the court. The issue to be addressed is the over classification of material.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    The federal government has become extremely secretive and distant from the American public. Citizens are being put on secret lists (no fly list), groups are being singled out due to their political affiliation (IRS and the Tea Party). The FBI demands unlimited access to citizens personal information (Apple iPhones). Due process of law is being eroded by our politicians and bureaucrats. We the people is becoming a meaningless phrase in our Constitution – our Constitution is being de facto nullified.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Yes so that we can hold them accountable
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    3 branches of government need to hold each other in check.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    Let's just call this "full disclosure." Certainly there will be times when National Security concerns will need to either be cleared or hidden via a judge. "Facts" can become very messy for the most "transparent" administration in US history. You may get dirty wallowing with Chicago pigs.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    The excuse of state secrets and national security in withholding any information when not necessary is the seed of totalitarianism. If the state needs that many secrets, it's clearly doing something wrong.
    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
    MORE