Private Lawsuit Dismissed Because of State Secrets Privilege

The New Zealand Herald brings us the story of a lawsuit between a Greek shipper and an advocacy group which was dismissed by a Federal court in New York after the Department of Justice invoked the state secrets privilege. Neither party to the lawsuit is a part of the government or a contractor known to be conducting national security work on behalf of the United States Government. For a lawsuit between private parties to end upon the invocation of the State Secrets privilege is unprecedented.

The defendant in the lawsuit is an advocacy group named United Against Nuclear Iran. Founded in 2008 the Group counts among its members and directors retired diplomats and intelligence professionals from The United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Israel. Greek shipping tycoon Victor Restis sued United Against Nuclear Iran for defamation because the group published accusations that Restis was operating a front that allowed Iran's government to engage in "illicit" activities.

Given the circumstances of the case it is likely the situation is such that the Government moved to invoke the State Secrets privilege because United Against Nuclear Iran is in fact a product of the Government. The court decided after meeting with Justice Department lawyers that even restricting discovery to information not protected by the privilege would be insufficient protection and that further the only method to insure the integrity of State Secrets was to dismiss the case as the mere act of litigating it would introduce too much risk.

The United States Government is either suffering from the embarrassment of having its ties to an intelligence or propaganda operation exposed by this litigation and the extreme measures required to squash it, or the United States judiciary in the form of this court has completely abdicated its independence. Neither situation breeds any reason to have the slightest confidence in the judiciary of the United States when even a wealthy shipping magnate can not afford the opportunity to have their grievance of defamation litigated in court.

A system of jurisprudence as inept and bereft of the independence to adjudicate cases as the United States fiat courts can not be trusted to protect any value, real or abstract. Commerce is impossible on any scale in an environment where the venues for dispute resolution are entirely dependent on the whims of the one party who happens to be involved in most of the disputes the judiciary can hear. The legal environment of the United States and its incompatibility with the possibility of conducting commerce is an inoperable cancer that undermines the bodily and moral integrity of the fiat system.

2 thoughts on “Private Lawsuit Dismissed Because of State Secrets Privilege

  1. Is this really unprecedented? I mean, how are we to know how many similar situations might have been covered up? settled out of court? undocumented?

    These pseudo-governmental agencies are everywhere. The incestuous relationship between the banks, corporations, and government has really blurred the lines.

    • Well, unprecedented is the part where it got any coverage at all… Even though it took a paper halfway across the world from the court to cover it first.

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