Handling Classified Info in Chicago

March 30, 2010

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Tahawwur Rana appeared in court earlier this year (AP/File)
Chicago's top federal prosecutor says the terror case of a Chicago man includes a substantial amount of classified information.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is a member of the trial team prosecuting Tahawwur Rana for allegedly supporting the Mumbai terror attacks that killed more than a 160 people. Rana is also accused in a plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

Fitzgerald says he hopes much of the information that's currently classified in this case can be declassified. The rest would be handled according to rules laid out in CIPA, the Classified Information Procedures Act. That Act allows prosecutors to use secret evidence in a public trial without really making the evidence public. For example, instead of using classified documents in court, prosecutor can use summaries of the documents. It's possible defense attorneys might not even get to see the original documents making them hard to challenge.

The American Civil Liberties Union supports the use of the CIPA. A spokesman says it allows the government to try terrorism cases in courts instead of military tribunals, or instead of simply holding suspects indefinitely.