Tuesday, April 18, 2006

It's Super, Double-Secret...

When it may cost the agencies some monies, and the Prez doesn't want to get even, I guess you can't say anything.

The wife of a former covert CIA operative is suing the federal government for claims of conduct that caused the woman and her family physical and mental suffering.

Because the government has ordered that neither the woman nor her husband can reveal to their caregivers what is causing the anxiety, and the government has not afforded them alternatives, the family is suing for unspecified damages. From the AP story:

The U.S. District Court lawsuit by the mother and three children asserts that they were victims of unlawful conduct, breaches of contract and broken promises by the CIA after the family suffered enormous strain living a “very, very covert life,” said plaintiff attorney Mark S. Zaid.

The family was not identified because the CIA has continued to label their relationship with the CIA as classified, Zaid said.

Defendants in the case are the CIA, the United States and an agency whose name is classified.

In the largely redacted lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, the wife reports that she “remains a virtual prisoner in her home” and is “constantly fearful of eventual detection” for a reason that is classified.
Federal lawyers claim that they should not have to reveal anything about the man's relationship for "national security" reasons, and that the lawsuit not be allowed to go forward.
In arguing that the lawsuit be rejected, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah S.] Normand cited a submission last month by CIA Director Porter Goss, who said state secrets would be divulged that could jeopardize national security if the lawsuit proceeded.

He said it needed to be so secret that the reasons for his assertion of the state secrets privilege cannot be released even to the plaintiffs or their lawyer.
To me this smells just like the case that set the precedent that allows the Federal government to block revelation of material facts -- and I remember that in that case, involving a military aircraft that crashed with civilian contractors aboard, the real reason for the government asserting "national security" was in order to hide incompetence and negligence on the part of the military, not to protect the nation.

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