Obama Raises Bar on What Passes for State Secrets

AG must personally approve all requests to keep programs veiled
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2009 5:58 AM CDT
Attorney General Eric Holder .   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
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(Newser) – The Obama administration will announce much more stringent rules on state secrets today, two Justice Department officials tell the Washington Post, in what amounts to a major shift from Bush-era practice. To keep a program secret, an organization—including intelligence agencies and the military—will have to convince the attorney general and DoJ lawyers that exposure would significantly harm "national defense or foreign relations."

The new policy, which goes into effect next week and has the support of the intelligence community, may have repercussions on several pending lawsuits. Officials have argued in the past that judges should dismiss cases, including ones filed by alleged victims of torture, in order to prevent state secrets from being revealed. The policy could also affect pending bills in both the House and Senate intended to give judges greater access to protected evidence.