Appeals Court Limits State Secrets Privilege To "Evidence" Not Immunity

A federal appeals court, ruling unanimously, told the federal government today that it could not assert the long-standing "state secrets privilege" to throw out entire civil cases before the discovery phase begins. 

The ruling, in Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, the judges remanded the case back to a lower court and advised the government to delineate more specifically the information it wants kept secret -- but as evidence, not as a reason, in and of itself, to dismiss the case before it begins.

"The United States is reviewing the court's decision," said Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman.

I'm going to talk to the government and to the ACLU and will write more when I can. The White House had no immediate comment.