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U.S. Federal Legislation: National Security

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on the Bush administration’s use of the state secrets privilege. Under the privilege, the government can keep information from becoming public if it believes that the data will harm national security. Witnesses at the hearing discussed  the concept of privilege as well as a bill (S. 2533) introduced by Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) that would require that the executive branch obtain court approval from a federal court each time it invokes the state secrets privilege in a civil action to prevent information from being released. Under the measure, the executive branch would also be required to provide a report to Congress on each item within 30 days of invoking the privilege.