February 9th, 2009
05:31 PM ET
9 years ago

Attorney general orders review of 'state secrets' claims

Attorney general Eric Holder has instructed the department's top lawyers to begin the review promptly.

Attorney general Eric Holder has instructed the department's top lawyers to begin the review promptly.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Attorney General Eric Holder Monday ordered a complete review of all cases in which the Justice Department under his Republican predecessors had invoked claims of a "state secrets" privilege to protect classified government programs from lawsuits.

Holder has instructed the department's top lawyers to begin the review promptly "to ensure that it is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations," department spokesman Matt Miller said..

Holder's instructions stressed, "It is vital that we protect information that if released could jeopardize national security, but the Justice Department will ensure that it is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government's actions that they have a right to know," Miller said.

Holder's action came as his prosecutors were in a federal appeals court in San Francisco to argue in support of the Justice Department's previous invocation of the state secret defense in a legal challenge to the government's "extraordinary rendition" program in which foreign terrorism suspects were flown from one country to another for questioning, sometimes where harsher procedures could be used.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been pressing the Obama administration to drop the state secrets claim, issued a blistering statement Monday.

"Eric Holder's Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition, and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is more of the same," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.

"Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama's Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue," Romero said.

Filed under: Eric Holder
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. justme

    ACLU will not be happy until anything that ressembles a democracy or representative republic and wiped from the face of the earth. These guys should al be "secreted" away.

    February 9, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  2. Sye the Pychic

    Yes lets open the can of worms and see what we had going on.

    February 9, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  3. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hey Alberto, you're in trouble....

    February 9, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    As funny as this is...and as happy as it makes me that the GOP will be scared senseless by it...it's probably bad timing. Get the GOP cornered on the stimulus package first, then announce this. Doing it now will just get their backs up and they'll be more inclined to hold the bill hostage as a result.

    February 9, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |

    No more torture or extraordinary rendition. Civil liberties are crucial !!!

    February 9, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  6. Capt Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    And it's Show Time!

    February 9, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  7. David from Germany

    Good Job Holder!

    February 9, 2009 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. Sammy

    Obama hasnt even been in office a month yet and the ACLU complains things arent moving fast enough to suit its liking? They need to chill and give some time to figure things out. The secrecy of the last 8 years also means it was all secret to the people now in power. Does anyone really expect they should know everything yet and/or how to deal with it right now?

    February 9, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. Change is coming!

    Yeah.... clean house PLEASE!

    February 9, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  10. raagos



    February 9, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  11. Sam Jones

    This is great – I hope he goes after Gonzales ultimately. I don't understand how the GoP have been allowed so much influence in deciding who can hold this administration's posts when they allowed such incompetent or corrupt people as Gonzales in.

    February 9, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  12. Meka




    February 9, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  13. American Future

    Truth Commision Yes

    February 9, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  14. JSU-TIGER99

    American Civil Liberties Union, Think something is going to come out the bag that should stay in the bag, Well the AG want it all to come out and it will.

    February 9, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Will this include or preclude investigations into all the other things that were swept under the rug with "Executive Priviledge?" Oh, how I wish....

    February 9, 2009 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  16. Ron


    February 9, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  17. arithmetic is liberal

    A Few Good NeoCons, starring Dick Cheney as Colonel Jessop.

    February 9, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  18. Alex

    Ummm, a little late don't you think CNN? The DoJ already held on to the Bush administration's imperial claims of state secrets in court today, and said that they had already reviewed the issue in this case... Change we can believe in? More like chump change!

    How could it possibly endanger national security to let torture renditions that are public knowledge already be discussed in open court? Well, it might cost a Boeing subsidiary money and it might make the CIA look bad... And it might cover Bush admin officials from potential prosecution. Apparently some "state secrets" have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with shielding the rich and the powerful from the consequences of their undemocratic, illegal, and unethical actions.

    February 9, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. S Callahan

    Ohhhhhh Eric is not playing around....nice move

    February 9, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  20. jaye

    Thank you Mr. Holder..... investigate everyone from the Bush Administration. We want every law breaker to go to jail.

    February 9, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Steve (the real one)

    jaye February 9th, 2009 7:38 pm ET
    Thank you Mr. Holder….. investigate everyone from the Bush Administration. We want every law breaker to go to jail.
    I second that. Just make sure guilty democrats are tossed in as an added bonus! We want EVERY law breaker to go to jail

    February 9, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |