State Department declines LTTE request
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 03 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
In responding to the Liberation Tiger's procedural motion, filed on the 10th February 1998 in the D.C Court of Appeals, seeking access to the classified portions of the administrative record, the State Department has stated that neither the LTTE nor its counsel is entitled access to the classified portions of the record.
The Response further states that "the Supreme Court has made clear, based on the President's authority as head of the Executive Branch and as Commander in Chief, that the Executive Branch has control over access to classified information under our constitutional scheme and has 'compelling interest' in withholding national security information from unauthorized persons in the course of executive business."
To the LTTE's alternate request that if it denied access its counsel be permitted to review the classified material, the State Department responds that the national security is "too important to be entrusted to the good faith and circumspection of a litigant's lawyer."
For the LTTE's argument that this Court itself should review the propriety of the Executive Branch's classification determinations concerning the administrative record, order disclosure of any portions improperly withheld and direct the GOvernment to give the LTTE a summary of the remaining withheld portions or prohibit considerations of those withheld portions on review of the Secretary's designation, the State Department has responded that the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) which the petitioner refers to applies only to criminal cases and that since this is a civil case CIPA does not apply.
For the LTTE's argument that its constitutional due process will be violated if the Secretary's designation is upheld based on classified information contained in the administrative record, the State Department states that "this is one of the issues to be decided by this Court after full briefing in this appeal. Petitioner can raise these issues when it files its brief challenging the validity of the Secretary's designation."
In responding to LTTE's claim that the government conceded the "untenable" nature of its initial position, the State Department states that "Much of the material in the record was never classified in the first place and the State Department press release was mistaken to the extent it appeared to state otherwise. While the State Department's press release may have overstated the situation, in fact, all appropriately classified information will remain classified."
The State Department's response further notes, "throughout the motion, the LTTE attempts to portray itself as a de facto government conducting a justified war of liberation against the Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan Government. The Secretary of State does not agree with that characterization and believes that briefing on the merits will demonstrate the reasonableness of the Secretary's contrary determination - to the extent it is reviewable at all - that the LTTE is a foreign terrorist organization."
12.02.98 LTTE seeks access to "secret" records