CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Federal Court Questioning the Need for Secrecy Concerning Presidential Briefings

From A federal appeals court is expressing skepticism about the CIA's claim that its technique for briefing presidents is so sensitive that it must be protected from public scrutiny, even 40 years after the fact.

Two judges considering a lawsuit seeking access to so-called Presidential Daily Briefs provided to President Johnson during the Vietnam War era cast doubt yesterday on the spy agency's assertion that the way it updates the nation's chief executive is itself an intelligence method entitled to blanket secrecy under the law.

"It just doesn't compute to me," Judge Pamela Ann Rymer of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said as a three-judge panel heard oral arguments on the case.

"It's not as if PDBs have never been made public or they haven't been talked about," Judge Raymond Fisher said. He noted that some have been officially released and that a book, "Bush at War" by Bob Woodward, quotes from a CIA brief prepared on the day after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

A Justice Department attorney, Mark Stern, told the court that disclosing the amount of detail provided to presidents and "what sort of things they care about" could undermine national security. "This is the crystallization of intelligence," he said. Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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