It’s been discovered that a 1953 Supreme Court decision relied on false information provided by the government. The United States v. Reynolds provides the basis for asserting that there are “military matters which, in the interest of national security, should not be divulged,” even to a federal court and is one of the foundations of government secrecy. Now it turns out that the government documents that influenced that ruling were fraudulent.
The Reynolds case was decided over 50 years ago when the widows of three crew members who died in a 1948 crash of a B-29 bomber requested accident reports on the crash. The Air Force denied the request and filed affidavits with the Supreme Court claiming that the reports contained classified information about the aircraft’s secret mission and describedsecret electronic equipment. The court ruled in favor of the Air Force and established the state secrets privilege.
But a new petition filed by the surviving widows and their heirs says, “It turns out that the Air Force’s affidavits were false.” The Air Force accident reports have now been declassified and there?s nothing in them about a secret mission or sensitive electronic equipment. The petitioners say, “In telling the court otherwise, the Air Force lied.”
When we look at history, it’s hard to tell what really happened in the past.
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