Court Rejects 'National Security' Claim on Secret Trade Docs

May 4, 2011

Environmental reporters sometimes cover claims that international trade treaties are used to circumvent US environmental laws and regulations. Trade law is a pretty obscure topic, and the secrecy that pervades trade policy makes covering it that much harder.

So it came as a welcome surprise when Federal District Judge Richard W. Roberts April 12, 2011, tossed out a claim by the US Trade Representative that some documents should remain secret on the grounds of "national security."

The Trade Representative had denied a Freedom of Information Act request by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) for documents related to the Chile-US Free Trade Agreement. The CIEL challenged that denial in court. The Trade Representative's office had claimed exemption from FOIA on national security grounds.