Groups Urge DOJ to Follow Its State Secrets Policy

On May 16, OpenTheGovernment.org joined the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and approximately two dozen other organizations and individuals in publicly asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to implement the state secrets policy it announced over a year and a half ago.

One notable provision of the state secrets policy announced by the DOJ on September 23, 2009, which was welcomed by OpenTheGovernment.org and others, requires DOJ to make referrals to the Inspector General (IG) of the appropriate department or agency with oversight for further investigation of credible allegations of government wrongdoing when the state secrets privilege prevents a lawsuit from proceeding.  This referral, while not a substitute for civil litigation of valid claims, does enable the IG to document and expose government wrongdoing, and prescribe corrective actions.
 
In December of 2010, the groups and individuals wrote privately to high-ranking officials at DOJ to ask whether or not IG referrals had been made in response to credible claims of wrongdoing related to the post-9/11 extraordinary rendition program. Unfortunately, during the intervening five months, DOJ has neither answered nor acknowledged receipt of that letter. The groups and individuals have decided to make the letter public now in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to not take up Mohamed et al. v Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., a decision that shuts the door on both justice for victims of rendition and torture and on accountability for the government officials who designed and carried out these programs.
 
When the Administration announced its policy on September 23, 2009, OpenTheGovernment.org praised the policy, but noted questions remained over the way the policy would be implemented. According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "The Administration has issued several policies that re-affirm their commitment to transparency and accountability. However, their refusal to comment on whether or not they have referred these claims to the relevant IGs undermines both their policies and the public’s trust in government. We urge DOJ to follow-through on its commitment to encourage a thorough investigation of credible allegations of government wrongdoing where invocation of the state secrets privilege has blocked a lawsuit for redress."

 

Categories: Uncategorized