The Justice Department reported it has used the state secrets privilege “sparingly and appropriately,” according to a letter to Congress.
The department’s use of the privilege, which allows the government to exclude certain evidence from court proceedings based on danger to national security, came under scrutiny in 2009. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo in September 2009 establishing new standards for the department’s use of the privilege. The standards are “intended to ensure greater accountability and reliability,” the department letter states.
The department created a task force to review how the new procedures had gone into effect, finding the department was warranted in invoking privilege in the two cases since the new procedures were put in place. In Shubert v. Obama, the plaintiffs allege that the National Security Agency engaged in warrantless surveillance of telephone and internet communication. In Al-Aulaqi v. Obama, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, a leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, alleged the U.S. government was unfairly targeting him “without regard to whether he presents a concrete, specific and imminent threat,” according to the letter.
The report, sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, is dated April 29, 2011, but appears to have only now been made available, according to Secrecy News.
The report can be read in its entirety here.