Civil Liberties

Gov to Spill Its Secrets

In another reversal from Bush-era policies, the Obama administration will announce new rules on Wednesday that will make it harder for the government to withhold information about programs such as warrantless wiretapping and rendition on the grounds that a revelation would threaten national security. Under the old policy, in order to invoke "state secret" privilege, the government only needed one official to back the claim, The Washington Post reports. Under the new rules, government agencies, including intelligence and military agencies, will have to convince the attorney general and a team of Justice Department lawyers that the release of sensitive info would significantly harm "national defense or foreign relations"—a higher standard of proof that disclosure would be harmful. The change in policy will take effect on October 1, and is supposed to restore public and congressional confidence in the concept of national security privilege, which was invoked dozens of times during the Bush administration.