State Secrets, The USA Patriot Act And The War On Terrorism

The state secrets previledge is basically an evidentiary rule which was created by the legal precedent in the United States. Application of such a case often involves the excusing of some of the evidence from a legal case which is purely based on affidavits which is submitted by the government indicating that sensitive information bight be disclosed from the legal proceedings which might cause national unrest(Chesney, 2007)

As part of the rules of state secrets previledge, the court thus rarely conducts and in camera investigation thus so as to protect the evidence. This leads to insufficient information and evidence to support the case. This leads to a court proceeding where the judge handles a case and provides a ruling where he/she has not verified the case. In this case, the previledge material is thus eliminated from the litigation. It is then the court’s mandate to determine ways in which the elimination of the previledge material might affect the case (McCarthy,2002).

The privileged material can lead to a wrong ruling. This is because not all evidence is produced in a court proceeding thus the ruling won’t be fair. Sometimes the documents that are held as a secret contain no secret at all. An example is a case of US v. Reynolds.  The government at that time claimed that the evidence withheld was holding very critical info which could lead to national unrest. In 2000 when the document was declassified, it contained no secret but only revealed government’s negligence (Karich, 2011). This was quite unfair as it would have validated plaintiff’s case.

The purpose of the state secrets previledge is prevent any state secret information from being exposed to the public. In these cases, the government might interrupt any civil case and ask the court to exclude any state secrets(Fisher,2008).

Since the 9/11 terror attack, some of the American presidents such as Bush and Obama have used the state secrets previledge so aggressively that they end up insisting that the entire case be dismissed if at all it will touch on the country’s security. This has ended up denying justice to millions of Americans who have been violated their rights. These administrations have argued that these cases be totally dismissed even when they have leaked to the public(McCarthy, 2002). This is because the judge’s conclusion might end up confirming the allegations which could be problematic.

According to this theory. The government can thus break the law and even the constitutional rights of the citizens as it pleases. The CIA is thus immunized from the limits and the demands of the law. By stating some critical evidences as “STATE SECRET”, the affected individuals are thus denied justice(Chesney, 2007)

The government withholding some information especially about terrorism from the public could be quite disturbing. This is because the public might be having some useful information that could be collected to aid in combating terrorism. By withholding this information, the country might still remain vulnerable to terror attacks. During terror attacks, the public are the ones who suffer most during and after the attack. They may need some answers to the questions they may be having as well as justice to the affected groups. This can’t be achieved if some of the evidence is withheld. The affected persons thus are left unsatisfied by the court’s ruling on the cases and also on the government on not handling the issue well.

It is thus evident that state secret’s previledge is an unfair act as it does not benefit the citizens but the government only. It also puts the state at risk of more terror attacks.

 


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