In a statement announcing the policy, Attorney General Eric Holder said, "This policy is an important step toward rebuilding the public's trust in the government's use of this privilege while recognizing the imperative need to protect national security. It sets out clear procedures that will provide greater accountability and ensure the state secrets privilege is invoked only when necessary and in the narrowest way possible."
Holder also states that the DOJ is committed to ensuring that the state secrets privilege is not used "for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment to government agencies or officials."
In a recent guest article for ACSblog, Professor Amanda Frost critiqued the Obama administration's use of the state secrets privilege, saying it was too similar to that of its predecessor and concluded that Congress should pass legislation to limit the privilege. For more discussion of the state secrets privilege, see video of the ACS event, "The State Secrets Privilege: Time for Reform?"
The Bush and Obama administrations have drawn criticism for invoking the privilege to scuttle litigation over national security policy including rendition and warrantless spying, The Post reports. Some lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, have promoted legislation that would limit the privilege.
Adam Serwer writes on Tapped that the new policy falls "well short of the standards that would be set by Senator Leahy's bill, but they seem more rigorous than I would have expected ...." Serwer concludes that the "guidelines are certainly better than I would have expected from the preliminary reports, but we'll see if they satisfy the senators sponsoring the state secrets bill. Leahy gave some positive feedback, (he also takes credit for some of the changes) but he didn't say that he would abandon the bill."