Protecting Classified Information and the Rights of Criminal Defendants: The Classified Information Procedures Act [April 2, 2012]   [open pdf - 231KB]

"A criminal prosecution involving classified information may cause tension between the government's interest in protecting classified information and the criminal defendant's right to a constitutionally valid trial. In some cases, a defendant may threaten to disclose classified information in an effort to gain leverage. Concerns about this practice, referred to as 'graymail,' led the 96th Congress to enact the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) to provide uniform procedures for prosecutions involving classified information. The Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA) provides criminal procedures that permit a trial judge to rule on the relevance or admissibility of classified information in a secure setting. It requires a defendant to notify the prosecution and the court of any classified information that the defendant may seek to discover or disclose during trial. During the discovery phase, CIPA authorizes courts to issue protective orders limiting disclosure to members of the defense team that have obtained adequate security clearances, and to permit the government to use unclassified redactions or summaries of classified information that the defendant would normally be entitled to receive. If classified information is to be introduced at trial, the court may allow substitutes of classified information to be used, so long as they provide the defendant with substantially the same ability to present a defense and do not otherwise violate his constitutional rights."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R41742
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