The ‘‘state secrets privilege’’ is a common law rule of evidence
that the Federal Government can invoke to prevent materials from
being publicly disclosed in civil court proceedings, if the Government establishes that such disclosure would harm the Nation. In
the early 1970s, Congress considered including a state secrets provision in the Federal Rules of Evidence, but it ultimately decided
not to include any privileges. Although numerous laws govern the
handling of classified documents and other information that may
implicate state secrets in specific contexts, the state secrets privilege has never been codified in statute.