from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 61
June 22, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


Former CIA officer John Kiriakou, who is charged with unauthorized disclosure of a covert officer's identity and other classified information, says that the case against him is driven by government animosity, and that he is a target of selective prosecution.

"When White House aides leaked stories about the heroes who killed Osama Bin Laden, they were not prosecuted. When the Washington Post was granted access to the covert director of the CTC for a profile of those directing America's 'war on terror,' no one was prosecuted," his attorneys wrote in a newly disclosed motion for dismissal.

"But when John Kiriakou gave an interview where he admitted the United States used waterboarding and when he further opined that waterboarding was ineffective, the government went after him," the motion stated.

"The United States has improperly selected him for prosecution based on his exercise of his constitutional rights and on the animus the United States holds toward him" while "the government has tolerated other disclosures because they resulted in press favorable to the government."

A copy of the June 12 defense motion was cleared for public release yesterday.

In a separate motion for dismissal, Mr. Kiriakou's attorneys challenged the constitutionality of the statutes under which he is being prosecuted, including the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and section 793(d) of the Espionage Act, which they argued are "unconstitutionally vague and overbroad."

Furthermore, because overclassification is rampant, they said, the classification status of any particular information is not a reliable index of its sensitivity.

"The government's acknowledged practice of over-classification means that not all classified information actually has the potential to damage national security if released.... The fact that information is classified does not actually clarify whether its disclosure... could cause any injury to the United States."

A government response to the defense motions is due by July 2.


New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service obtained by Secrecy News include the following.

Rio+20: The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, June 2012, June 18, 2012:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): A Legal Analysis, June 7, 2012 (published June 20):

Job Creation in the Manufacturing Revival, June 20, 2012:

Double-Dip Recession: Previous Experience and Current Prospect, June 19, 2012:

Morocco: Current Issues, June 20, 2012:


A bill "to provide safe, fair, and responsible procedures and standards for resolving claims of state secrets privilege" was introduced in the House of Representatives this week by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and several Democratic colleagues.

Essentially, the bill (HR 5956) would require courts to render an independent assessment of the validity of a government assertion of the state secrets privilege, rather than simply deferring to the claim. When the privilege is properly asserted, courts would be required to consider the feasibility of introducing non-privileged substitutes for privileged evidence.

Such measures would make it more likely that cases could proceed to adjudication even when discrete pieces of evidence are found to be privileged.

"The ongoing argument that the state secrets privilege requires the outright dismissal of a case is a disconcerting trend in the protection of civil liberties for our nation," said Rep. Nadler in a news release. "This important bill recognizes that protecting sensitive information is an important responsibility for any administration and requires that courts protect legitimate state secrets while preventing the premature and sweeping dismissal of entire cases. The right to have one's day in court is fundamental to protecting basic civil liberties and it must not be sacrificed to overbroad claims of secrecy."


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

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