The Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings today on the State Secrets Doctrine, intending to mark up legislation that would require in camera reviews and prevent the executive branch from using this executive privilege to throw out entire cases. The hearings have been scheduled since April. The Obama administration has yet to provide guidance, publicly or privately, to committee Democrats about its position. (Soon, soon, says Attorney General Eric Holder.) Democrats anticipate that the White House will object to any legislation that actually reduces the power of the executive branch but would accept legislation that ensures transparency for decisions that the executive branch makes. This could be a real interesting internecine, inter-branch battle.
Marc Ambinder is a senior fellow at the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy.