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… our own attempts to obtain policies governing assertion of state secrets privilege met with failure, inasmuch as there appear to be no policy guidelines on the use of the privilege in any major department or agency of the executive branch. Freedom of Information Act requests to some three dozen agencies and their various subcomponents yielded nothing in the way of documentation of guidance for use of the privilege. And limitations on assertion of the privilege appear to be self-imposed by the individual agencies, and use of the privilege seems to be carried out ad hoc at the discretion of department heads and their assistants. Perhaps the general feeling of administrators concerning the privilege was summed up in a Department of the Navy memorandum: it concluded that “there is nothing but good news about the state secrets privilege” as a tool to prevent disclosure of information.

* William G. Weaver and Robert M. Pallitto, “State Secrets and Executive Power,” Political Science Quarterly 120 (1).