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Published:March 21st, 2007 06:18 EST
Navy Takes Legal Steps to Safeguard Classified Information

Navy Takes Legal Steps to Safeguard Classified Information

By SOP newswire

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In order to prevent disclosure of certain classified and sensitive national security information, the Department of the Navy announced on March 20 that they have asserted the state secrets privilege in Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., et. al v. Donald C. Winter, Secretary of the Navy.

The plaintiffs made discovery requests for information identifying by latitude, longitude, time and date, duration, and name of exercise (if any) every non-combat use of mid-frequency active sonar by the Navy anywhere in the world.

The Navy decided that complying with the plaintiffs’ discovery requests in this case would require the disclosure of classified and sensitive national security information that could cause exceptionally grave damage to our country’s security.

Asserting this privilege does not change the Navy’s focus on long-term compliance with environmental laws nor the Navy’s commitment to studying the relationship between sonar and marine mammals. The Navy will also continue to employ stringent mitigation measures to protect marine mammals during all sonar activities.

The state secrets privilege is well-established in federal law. It has been recognized by U.S. courts as far back as the 19th century, and allows the Executive Branch to safeguard vital information regarding the nation’s security or diplomatic relations.

This privilege has been applied numerous times in the past to protect our nation’s secrets from disclosure, and to require dismissal of cases when other litigation mechanisms would be inadequate. It is an absolute privilege that renders the information unavailable in litigation.

For additional information, contact the Navy Office of Information at (703) 697-5342 or visit the Navy’s Web site concerning sonar and marine mammals at http://www.whalesandsonar.navy.mil.

Story Number: NNS070320-13

From Navy Office of Information