In an excellent article at Slate magazine, "Secret Guarding: The new secrecy doctrine so secret you don't even know about it," Henry Lanman (Posted Monday, May 22, 2006) discusses the uses and abuses of state secrets to protect the government from law suits. Citing to cases as early as 1953 (U.S. v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1 (1953)), Lanman examines the federal government's use of the state secrets doctrine to shield itself from embarassment. He looks at the current case of Khalid el-Masri, a German citizen who apparently was grabbed under extraordinary rendition and held for months. He was finally released when the U.S. realized they had the wrong guy. Mr. el-Masri's suit was dismissed entirely under the state secrets doctrine. Read the excellent article.