03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Officials Defend Controversial State Secret Decision

The State Secret Privilege is perhaps the most powerful executive tool available for any president to use, and thus the Obama administration's decision to preserve its invocation, in Mohamed v. Jeppesen, was immediately interpreted by the vocal civil libertarian community as a betrayal of its basic principles. During the campaign, Obama had criticized its use to preemptively dismiss civil lawsuits against the government. Adding to the current agitation, Obama aides have been silent about its reasoning and the process.

But based on interviews with current administration officials involved in the case, with Bush administration officials, as well as with national security law experts, a clearer explanation emerges.

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