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Eric Holder Vows End to ‘Inappropriate’ Secrecy

The Secrecy News Blog, published by the Federation of American Scientists, notes that Attorney General Eric Holder has made some promising statements on the issue of government secrecy.

In response to questions from Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), Holder wrote:

I will review significant pending cases in which DOJ has invoked the state secrets privilege, and will work with leaders in other agencies and professionals at the Department of Justice to ensure that the United States invokes the state secrets privilege only in legally appropriate situations.

And also:

I firmly believe that transparency is a key to good government. Openness allows the public to have faith that its government obeys the law.

As for the disclosure of Office of Legal Counsel opinions, which the ACLU, among others, has been pushing the Justice Department to turn over, Holder wrote:

“Once the new Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel is confirmed, I plan to instruct that official to review the OLC’s policies relating to publication of its opinions with the [objective] of making its opinions available to the maximum extent consistent with sound practice and competing concerns.”

Last week, the ACLU made its case for disclosure in a letter the Justice Department:

Releasing the memos would [...] signal to Americans, and to the world, that you intend to turn the page on an era in which the OLC served not as a source of objective legal advice but as a facilitator for the executive’s lawless conduct.

We’ll see how Holder and the Obama administration live up to those promises when they respond to the Jeppesen case I wrote about last week – scheduled for oral argument on Monday — as well as several important FOIA cases that I’ll be writing more about soon. Stay tuned.

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