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DNI Haines Asserts State Secrets Privilege in Civil Lawsuit Involving Saudi Arabia

Bryce Klehm
Friday, September 3, 2021, 2:48 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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In a court filing on Aug. 27, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines asserted state secrets privilege in a civil lawsuit filed by Sakab Saudi Holding Company against Dr. Saad Aljabri, a former Saudi Arabia government official, and two of his sons. The lawsuit alleges that Aljabri defrauded the Sakab Saudi Holding Company and was filed in Massachusetts state court on March 21 and has since been brought before Massachusetts District Court.

As the motion argues, Director Haines has asserted the privileged “over certain information, the unauthorized disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to cause serious, and in some cases exceptionally grave, damage to national security.” More detail on that information is available in “classified submissions,” but Director Haines described it as “Information concerning source, methods, capabilities, activities, or interests of the [U.S Intelligence Community], as well as information that might tend to reveal or disclose the identities of U.S. Government employees, affiliates, or offices with whom one or more of the parties or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may have had certain interactions and the disclosure of which would be damaging to U.S. national security interests.”

The government’s filing includes two exhibits. Exhibit A includes a written declaration from Director Haines. Exhibit B contains a proposed protective order and further procedures “to guard against disclosure of privileged information.” You can read the motion and Exhibits A and B below.

Bryce Klehm is a first year law student at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He is a former associate editor at Lawfare.

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