Federal Court Will Hear Government Appeal In Rendition Case
Government Claims “State Secrets” To Deny Torture Victims Day In Court
NEW YORK – A federal appeals court today announced that it will hear the government’s appeal of an earlier ruling that allowed an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit to go forward against a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan Inc., for its role in the Bush administration’s unlawful “extraordinary rendition” program. The government claims that allowing the case to be heard would endanger national security.
In April, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a lower court dismissal of the lawsuit, brought on behalf of five men who were kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. The lawsuit charged that Jeppesen knowingly participated by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to aircraft and crews used by the CIA to forcibly disappear these men to detention and interrogation. The Bush administration had intervened, improperly asserting the “state secrets” privilege to have the case thrown out. The appeals court ruled, as the ACLU has argued, that the government must invoke the “state secrets” privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire suit. The Obama administration’s appeal of that decision will be heard by an “en banc” panel of 11 judges.
The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project:
“We are disappointed by the court’s decision to re-hear this case, but we hope and expect that the court’s historic decision to allow the lawsuit to go forward will stand. The CIA’s rendition and torture program simply is not a ‘state secret.’ In fact, since the court’s decision in April, the government’s sweeping secrecy claims have only gotten weaker, with the declassification of additional documents describing the CIA’s detention and interrogation practices. The Obama administration’s embrace of overbroad secrecy claims has denied torture victims their day in court and shielded perpetrators from liability or accountability. We hope that the court will reaffirm the principle that victims of torture deserve a remedy, and that no one is above the law.”
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