Classified Information Procedures Act

Classified Information Procedures Act

The Classified Information Procedures Act or (CIPA, Pub.L. 96-456, 94 Stat. 2025, enacted October 15, 1980 through S. 1482), is codified as the third appendix to Title 18 of the U.S. Code, the title concerning crimes and criminal procedures. The U.S. Code citation is 18 U.S.C. App. III. Sections 1-16.


Legislative Revision History

The hidden table below lists the acts of Congress that affected the Classified Information Procedures Act directly. The years in which the legislative revisions were made appear in bold text preceding the Public Laws that enacted them. The links to the codification and section notes may provide additional information about the legislative changes as well.

Applicable Presidential Executive Orders


The primary purpose of CIPA was to limit the practice of graymail by criminal defendants in possession of sensitive government secrets. "Gray mail" refers to the threat by a criminal defendant to disclose classified information during the course of a trial. The gray mailing defendant essentially presented the government with a "Hobson's choice": either allowed disclosure of the classified information or dismiss the indictment.

The procedural protections of CIPA protect unnecessary disclosure of classified information. [2][3]

CIPA was not intended to infringe on a defendant's right to a fair trial or to change the existing rules of evidence in criminal procedure[citation needed], and largely codified the power of district courts to come to pragmatic accommodations of the government's secrecy interests with the traditional right of public access to criminal proceedings.[citation needed] Courts therefore did not radically alter their practices with the passage of CIPA; instead, the Act simply made it clear that the measures courts already were taking under their inherent case-management powers were permissible.[citation needed]

CIPA, by its terms, covers only criminal cases. CIPA only applies when classified information is involved, as defined in the Act's Section 1.

See also

  • Silent witness rule - evolved from the CIPA in the late 1900s/early 2000s
  • Venona (problems of using decrypted Soviet messages as evidence at court)
  • State Secrets Protection Act
  • Federal Tort Claims Act
  • Thomas Andrews Drake (Espionage Act case involving CIPA arguments)


  • Brian Z. Tamanaha, A Critical Review Of the Classified Information Procedures Act, 13 Am. J. Cr. L. 277 (1986).

External links

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