Obama and his successors in the White House would be banned from using false claims of national security to conceal “embarrassing or unlawful conduct” by the government, under new legislation proposed by lawmakers on both sides of the House.
The proposed State Secrets Protection Act, H.R. 5956
, introduced by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-New York), would be the first law to rein in the president’s “state secrets privilege,” a nearly limitless power to kill litigation by claiming a lawsuit would expose national security information to the benefit of America’s enemies. First recognized by the US Supreme Court in a McCarthy-era lawsuit in 1953, the privilege
(.pdf) has been increasingly and successfully invoked in the post-9/11 era to shield the government and its agents from court scrutiny in cases involving rendition, torture
, warrantless wiretapping, and the lethal targeting of U.S. citizens