Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Remember Checks And Balances?

We do!

Whether or not the D.C. people do is doubtful.

TomPaine.com - Remember Checks And Balances?:

The executive branch has relied upon the state secrets privilege to claim that the disclosure of certain evidence in court would jeopardize national security, and therefore cannot be reviewed by private parties, the attorneys or even the judge. As one might expect, without this evidence cases are usually dismissed.

The Supreme Court first recognized this privilege in 1953 in United States v. Reynolds, when it denied the widows of three civilian Air Force contractors access to an accident report. The Air Force had claimed that the report was confidential, noting that the personnel aboard the plane “were engaged in a highly secret mission of the Air Force.” When the report surfaced decades later, it became clear that the only sensitive information therein was evidence of negligence by the Air Force that may have caused the men’s deaths. The lower courts in Reynolds had ordered that the government submit the accident report to the trial court, so it could assess whether the document in fact contained state secrets that could not be disclosed. But the Supreme Court overruled this determination. Sadly, this Supreme Court precedent permitting the executive branch to assert the state secrets privilege without any independent review of the evidence still stands, and judges continue to give the Executive an alarming degree of deference.

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