Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Backstory on State Secrets

The backstory of U.S. v. Reynolds, the Supreme Court case that gave rise to the modern state secrets privilege, is well known.  But you might want to check out this 14-minute segment on NPR's This American Life.  Host Ira Glass interviews Barry Siegel, author of Claim of Privilege, and Judy Loether, who lost her father in the B-29 crash that formed the plaintiffs' underlying tort claims in the Reynolds litigation.  This very short piece could make a nice supplement to your lessons on the state secrets privilege.

Click on the link above--the one at "14-minute segment"--click on the full episode, and move the cursor in the audio box forward in the program.  This segment begins at 29:05.

Thanks to student Gina LoGalbo for the tip.


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I wonder if the court in Reynolds cared if the classified information was actually secret. It seems they felt the assumption of state agencies not having personal concerns in litigation would prevent dishonesty.

Or perhaps they knew full well that the US was avoiding culpability and wanted to prevent a flood of torte suits. Does the FOIL in a sense conflict with Reynolds and create the possibility of a new doctrine of review?

I think this one is not settled.

Posted by: kai landow | Jul 19, 2009 9:12:50 AM

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