from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 74
August 3, 2005


The state secrets privilege asserted by the Director of Central Intelligence is sufficient grounds for dismissing an employment discrimination lawsuit brought against the Central Intelligence Agency, a federal appeals court ruled today.

The ruling reinforces the government's increasing reliance on the state secrets privilege as a means of evading legal challenges.

Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, an African American, sued the Agency in 2001 claiming that he had been the object of unlawful racial discrimination. His case was dismissed after the Central Intelligence Agency asserted the state secrets privilege, contending that the lawsuit threatened to result in exposure of classified information.

Upon appeal to the Fourth Circuit, the dismissal was upheld today.

See a copy of the Fourth Circuit ruling here:

"This decision reflects yet another example of the Judiciary's abdication of its responsibility or simple unwillingness to challenge broad national security assertions invoked by the Executive Branch in civil litigation," said Mark S. Zaid, Sterling's attorney.

A press release from Mr. Zaid commenting on the case may be found here:


"A hostile and unwavering crowd clashed with officials from the U.S. Department of Energy at the Sun Valley Inn Wednesday night, turning the DOE's first public hearing regarding the proposed production of plutonium-238 at the Idaho National Laboratory into a verbal slugfest," the Idaho Mountain Express reported vividly on July 22.

For some reason, members of the public expressed skepticism towards the government officials.

"You've really insulted my intelligence with your graphs and inability to answer my questions," said resident Richard Gouley of Bellevue. "But coming to us under the current administration, I don't expect anything but lies from you."

Plutonium 238 heat sources have been used to generate electrical power in some deep space probes such as Galileo and Cassini, and in various, mostly unacknowledged national security missions.

The Department of Energy is proposing to produce 330 pounds of plutonium (Pu) 238 in Idaho over the next 30 years (as first reported in the New York Times on June 27).

"Valley says pee-eww to plutonium plan" by Steve Benson was published in the Idaho Mountain Express on July 22. It can be located through the paper's archive for that date here:


"If secrecy on nuclear space projects made no sense a year ago..., it makes even less sense in the world of today," according to an editorial in that appeared in the journal Nucleonics -- in 1964.

See "Nuclear Space Secrecy -- An Outdated Policy," Nucleonics, March 1964:


Reports of the Congressional Research Service are increasingly available (without official authorization) through the Center for Democracy and Technology ( and the State Department's Foreign Press Center (

A few CRS reports that do not appear to be readily available elsewhere include:

"Navy DD(X) and CG(X) Programs: Background and Issues for Congress," updated May 31, 2005:

"Consular Identification Cards: Domestic and Foreign Policy Implications, the Mexican Case, and Related Legislation," updated May 26, 2005:

"Vaccine Policy Issues," updated May 19, 2005:

"Islam: A Primer," February 19, 2003:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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