Frank Askin

Recent Articles

Secret Justice: When National Security Trumps Citizen Rights

A series of recent court decisions upholds star-chamber proceedings.

"The proceedings were not only kept secret from the general public, but from the accused as well. . . . For even the accused had no access to the Court records, and to guess from the course of an interrogation what documents the Court had up its sleeve was very difficult." --Franz Kafka's description of Joseph K.'s ordeal in The Trial CIA agent Aldrich Ames, accused of selling top-secret intelligence to the Russians, has made an ominous threat. According to his lawyer, Plato Cacheris, Ames's defense will try to force the government to divulge even more sensitive intelligence during a potential trial. Something of the same gambit was tried by Oliver North in the Iran-contra affair. This tension between the right of the accused to a fair trial and the state's need to protect legitimate secrets is all too real. Yet there is a troubling pattern in a series of recent civil cases that suggests an opposite abuse: in more obscure cases, government is often able to hide behind a national...