No Comment — September 1, 2007, 12:13 am

The State Secrets (Public Corruption) Exception

There are four separate cases out there that I have been tracking where the Bush Administration appears to be evolving a truly novel version of the state secrets exception. In each of these cases, a state secrets defense is being interposed for the purpose of blocking the disclosure of claims of gross corruption surrounding public contracts. Why are these matters state secrets? That indeed is the riddle. The Government says they can’t tell us. Apparently if they told us, they’d have to kill us to prevent further exposure of the state secrets.

One of these cases emerges in the pages of yesterday’s Reno Gazette-Journal:

In a ruling that could make it difficult for former eTreppid software designer Dennis Montgomery to argue his lawsuit against the company, a federal judge Wednesday granted a Department of Defense request for a protective order to ensure no material involving national security is released. All sides in the lawsuit involving eTreppid Technologies, the Reno company Gov. Jim Gibbons is accused of helping obtain defense contracts in exchange for gifts and trips, are prohibited from sharing certain information that is subject to the state secrets privilege, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro said in his order.

The information also cannot be used as evidence at trial, Pro said. Disclosure of certain materials “could be expected to cause serious, and (in) some cases exceptionally grave damage to national security,” he said. Pro made a number of exceptions. He said the two sides can discuss the “Big Safari” contract between eTreppid and the Air Force, “including but not limited to the fact that the Big Safari contract required eTreppid to perform data analysis,” and involved “image identification technology.”

They also can acknowledge that the people involved in the contract had to sign secrecy agreements with the defense department, and that the technology might have commercial or government applications.

This all makes perfect sense to me. Of course when the deals were done, there were no concerns about secrecy, and the Defense Department didn’t ask anybody to commit to keep anything secret. But that was before they understood that Nevada’s former Republican Congressman and current Governor, Jim Gibbons, was going to get his teeth caught in a corruption ringer. Now the objective of law enforcement machinery in the Gonzales Justice Department, of course, is not to pursue public integrity cases if they involve Republicans. Cases are pursued only if they involve Democrats. Indeed, they’re not just pursued, they’re fabricated. When Republicans are involved, we need to find a way to shield them from all suspicion and inquiry, especially by pesky people like journalists. What could possibly work better than declaring that everything is radioactive and has to be sealed off?

The beauty of it is that you just make this stuff up whenever it suits you, and you insist that no court has the power to second-guess what you’re doing.

Of course, the real state secret that is being protected is that the Bush Administration is corrupt to its innermost core. And the fact that it’s common knowledge doesn’t stop it from being a state secret. Moreover, if you find it out–they may still have to kill you.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

From the April 2015 issue

Company Men

Torture, treachery, and the CIA

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2015

Loitering With Intent

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Polite Coup

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Findings

What Went Wrong

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Shooting Down Man the Hunter

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
What Went Wrong·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“In the seventh year of his presidency, Barack Obama was presenting himself as a politician who followed the path of least resistance. This is a disturbing confession.”
Photograph by Pete Souza
Article
Surviving a Failed Pregnancy·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If this woman — who spent her days studying gray screens for early signs of gestation — could not see my pregnancy, what were the chances that anyone else would?”
Illustration by Leigh Wells
Article
Interesting Facts·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“My husband is forty-six. I am forty-five. He does not think that, in my forties, after cancer, chemotherapy, and chemically induced menopause, I can get pregnant again, but sisters, I know my womb. It’s proven.”
Photograph by McNair Evans
Post
Kid Chocolate’s Place·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Cuban eyes often look close to tears.”
Illustration by the author
Article
Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“If you short-circuit the bottom, you threaten the entire cycle,” Joye told me. “Without a healthy ocean, we’ll all be dead.”
Illustration by John Ritter

Length in days of the sentence Russian blogger Alexei Navalny served for leading an opposition rally last year:

15

Israeli researchers developed software that evaluates the depression of bloggers.

A teenager in Singapore was convicted of obscenity for posts critical of Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding father, that included an image of Lee having sex with Margaret Thatcher.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today