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Mukasey warns against bill curbing state secrets privilege

[JURIST] US Attorney General Michael Mukasey [official profile] told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) in a letter [PDF text] Monday that the State Secrets Protection Act [S 2533 summary] currently before Congress, introduced by committee leaders to enact a "safe, fair, and responsible" state secrets privilege [JURIST news archive], would

needlessly and improperly interfere with the appropriate constitutional role of both the Judicial and Executive branches in state secrets cases; would alter decades of settled case law; and would likely result in the harmful disclosure of national security information that would not be disclosed under current doctrine.
He noted that President George W. Bush would likely veto the bill in its present form.

In February, the committee held a hearing [committee materials; JURIST report] on the bill, specifically meant to curb the use of the state secrets privilege in lawsuits involving the federal government that may reveal government misconduct. The Bush administration has frequently invoked the privilege, a Constitutional protection, in cases accusing the US government of extraordinary rendition, torture in interrogation of terrorists, and the NSA domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archives].

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