from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 2
January 5, 2007

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Declaring that the need to protect government secrets overrides all other considerations, a federal court yesterday dismissed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency filed by family members of a former CIA clandestine officer who alleged injuries that are largely classified.

The CIA invoked the state secrets privilege in its motion for dismissal, and the court said it had no choice but to grant the Agency's motion.

Relatively little about the case -- captioned Jane Doe, et al v. Central Intelligence Agency -- is on the public record. The plaintiffs are the wife and children of a former CIA officer who remains under cover. According to the heavily redacted complaint, the officer was "summarily separated from his CIA employment." He and his wife both suffered symptoms of severe depression, but CIA "refused to provide any assistance, medical or otherwise." The lawsuit sought compensation for loss of income and other damages.

Last March, then-CIA Director Porter Goss invoked the state secrets privilege in opposing the lawsuit.

"No procedures exist that can adequately safeguard the sensitive classified information implicated in this case and prevent its unauthorized disclosure during the course of litigation," Director Goss wrote.

Plaintiffs disputed that uncompromising assertion. It's "yet another example of an abuse of the privilege," said Mark S. Zaid, attorney for Jane Doe.

But yesterday the court sided with the CIA.

"Although the claims that Plaintiffs have attempted to litigate are... very serious ones that appear to go to matters fundamental to the lives of the plaintiff family members, the Court is constrained to dismiss this case," wrote Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the Southern District of New York in a January 4, 2007 order.

"Even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that... secrets are at stake," the Judge wrote, quoting from the 1953 Supreme Court case U.S. v. Reynolds.

An earlier stage of the Doe case was reported in "Citing Security, C.I.A. Seeks Suit's Dismissal" by Julia Preston, New York Times, April 18, 2006. Selected case files from Jane Doe et al v. CIA are posted here:

"Plaintiff Jane Doe alleges that she ... 'lives in constant fear'," Judge Swain's new order noted in passing. But "the reason for her alleged fear is redacted as classified."


Last October the Environmental Protection Agency closed five of its libraries, including the headquarters library in Washington DC, and limited public access at four others.

EPA said the closures were part of an ongoing restructuring and that public demand for EPA records would be increasingly satisfied online. Public interest groups and librarians warned that valuable documentary resources were in danger of being lost or destroyed.

A report from the Congressional Research Service fleshes out some new details of the library closures and finds some cause for concern.

"EPA determined that the utility of some of its libraries had declined as the agency has made more information available through the Internet, and as heightened security at its facilities has led to fewer public visitors," CRS observed.

But "Which materials will be retained, dispersed, or discarded, and the amount of time and funding needed to complete this [restructuring] process, are uncertain."

See "Restructuring EPA's Libraries: Background and Issues for Congress," updated January 3, 2007:


Some other recent products of the Congressional Research Service that are not readily available in the public domain include the following.

"U.S. Army and Marine Corps Equipment Requirements: Background and Issues for Congress," December 20, 2006:

"U.S. Arms Sales: Agreements with and Deliveries to Major Clients, 1998-2005," December 15, 2006:

"'Terrorism' and Related Terms in Statute and Regulation: Selected Language," updated December 5, 2006:

"Incapacity of a Member of the Senate," December 15, 2006:


National Security Agency director Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander answered dozens of questions for the record related to NSA surveillance activities following a September 6, 2006 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "FISA for the 21st Century." That hearing record has not yet been published, but General Alexander's 35-page response to Senators' questions is available here:

A new report from the Congressional Budget Office "examines the costs and potential performance of four possible designs for a Space Radar system." See "Alternatives for Military Space Radar," Congressional Budget Office, January 2007:

"Joint Operation Planning" is a new publication from the Joint Chiefs of Staffs that "reflects the current doctrine for conducting joint, interagency, and multinational planning activities across the full range of military operations." See Joint Publication 5-0, December 26, 2006:

A newly released opinion from the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel advises that the open meeting requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act do not apply when government officials consult non-governmental individuals (as opposed to committees). Nor do they apply to government meetings with non-governmental groups, says OLC, as long as the members of the groups only provide their opinions as individuals, and not as a collective. See "Application of Federal Advisory Committee Act to Non-Governmental Consultations," Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel, December 7, 2001 (released January 3, 2007):

A conference entitled "Covering the New Secrecy: The Press and Public Policy" sponsored by the Knight-Wallace Fellows will be held at the University of Michigan on January 8:


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

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