Claim of Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets

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9780060777036: Claim of Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets

On October 6, 1948, a U.S. Air Force B-29 Superfortress crashed soon after takeoff, killing three civilian engineers and six crew members. In June 1949, the engineers' widows filed suit against the government, determined to find out what exactly had happened to their husbands and why the three civilians had been on board the airplane in the first place. But it was the dawn of the Cold War and the Air Force refused to hand over any documents, claiming they contained classified information. The legal battle ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which in 1953 handed down a landmark decision that would, in later years, enable the government to conceal gross negligence and misconduct, block troublesome litigation, and detain criminal suspects without due-process protections.

Claim of Privilege is a mesmerizing true account of a shameful incident and its lasting impact on our nation—the gripping story of a courageous fight to right a past wrong and a powerful indictment of governmental abuse in the name of national security.

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About the Author:

The author of five previous books and winner of the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing, Barry Siegel is a former national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He now directs the literary journalism program at the University of California, Irvine, where he is a professor of English. He lives in Los Angeles.

From Publishers Weekly:

In 1948, three civilian engineers died in the crash of an air force B-29 bomber that was testing a missile guidance system; in their widows' lawsuit, the Supreme Court upheld the air force's refusal to divulge accident reports that it claimed held military secrets. But when the declassified reports surfaced decades later, the only sensitive information in them involved the chronic tendency of B-29 engines to catch fire, egregious lapses in maintenance and safety procedures, and gross pilot error. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Siegel (Shades of Gray) ably recounts the case, a scandal and cover-up with grave constitutional implications. The 1953 Supreme Court decision gave the executive branch sweeping authority to conceal information under national security claims without judicial review, a precedent confirmed when the Court refused to reopen the case in 2003. (The author notes the influence of Cold War anxieties and the 9/11 attacks in these rulings.) Siegel insists on decorating the story with often extraneous human-interest profiles of everyone involved. But his is an engrossing exposition of the facts and legal issues in the case, which produced a disturbing legacy of government secrecy and misconduct still very much alive. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. On October 6, 1948, a U.S. Air Force B-29 Superfortress crashed soon after takeoff, killing three civilian engineers and six crew members. In June 1949, the engineers widows filed suit against the government, determined to find out what exactly had happened to their husbands and why the three civilians had been on board the airplane in the first place. But it was the dawn of the Cold War and the Air Force refused to hand over any documents, claiming they contained classified information. The legal battle ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which in 1953 handed down a landmark decision that would, in later years, enable the government to conceal gross negligence and misconduct, block troublesome litigation, and detain criminal suspects without due-process protections. Claim of Privilege is a mesmerizing true account of a shameful incident and its lasting impact on our nation--the gripping story of a courageous fight to right a past wrong and a powerful indictment of governmental abuse in the name of national security. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060777036

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Book Description HARPER PERENNIAL, United States, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. On October 6, 1948, a U.S. Air Force B-29 Superfortress crashed soon after takeoff, killing three civilian engineers and six crew members. In June 1949, the engineers widows filed suit against the government, determined to find out what exactly had happened to their husbands and why the three civilians had been on board the airplane in the first place. But it was the dawn of the Cold War and the Air Force refused to hand over any documents, claiming they contained classified information. The legal battle ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which in 1953 handed down a landmark decision that would, in later years, enable the government to conceal gross negligence and misconduct, block troublesome litigation, and detain criminal suspects without due-process protections. Claim of Privilege is a mesmerizing true account of a shameful incident and its lasting impact on our nation--the gripping story of a courageous fight to right a past wrong and a powerful indictment of governmental abuse in the name of national security. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780060777036

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