Appeals Court Reinstates Torture Case Previously Dismissed on ‘State Secrets’ Grounds

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Despite the Obama administration’s surprisingly vigorous arguments that the case had to be dismissed to prevent disclosure of “state secrets,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today reinstated the case of Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, in which five victims of the CIA’s notorious “extraordinary rendition” (transfer to torture) program sued Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing, for assisting the CIA with the rendition flights.

The three judge panel reversed the lower court’s decision, which had accepted the government’s argument (then made by the Bush administration) that allowing it to move forward would endanger national security.

The logic of the state secrets privilege, the appeals court panel writes (pdf), “simply cannot stretch to encompass cases brought by third-party plaintiffs against alleged government contractors for the contractors’ alleged involvement in tortious intelligence activities. Nothing the plaintiffs have done supports a conclusion that their ‘lips [are] to be for ever sealed respecting’ the claim on which they sue, such that filing this lawsuit would in itself defeat recovery.”

In other words, as the the American Civil Liberties Union had argued on behalf of the five victims, there is no reason to prevent the victims from having their day in court against a government contractor that they claim knowingly assisted in their torture. Pursuing those claims don’t have to reveal any secret evidence about the CIA program that could be dangerous to disclose.

This is a huge victory, not only for the five victims themselves, but also for many civil liberties advocates. The Obama administration first asserted the “state secrets” privilege in January, upsetting many of the president’s supporters who had hoped that his earlier promises of more open government would put an end to unnecessary secrecy.

Although the Obama administration didn’t change its mind, the federal court has now taken that argument out of its hands.

It remains to be seen whether Justice Department will seek re-hearing from the full court of appeals, or review by the Supreme Court.

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Comments

9 Comments

Good news: Appeals Court Reinstates Torture Case Previously Dismissed on ‘State Secrets’ Grounds « Later On
Pingback posted April 28, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

[...] in Bush Administration, Government, Law, Obama administration, Torture at 1:56 pm by LeisureGuy Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Independent: Despite the Obama administration’s surprisingly vigorous arguments that the case had to be [...]


Stan Flatley
Comment posted April 30, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

On the one hand, Obama's justice department argued the same “States secrets” doctrine that the Bush administration had. On the other hand, at his press conference, Obama seemed to back away from that. This site had an interesting piece about it http://tinyurl.com/ddgps8 but still I remain a little confused–and hopeful that Obama soon clarifies (and ultimately backs away from) his current stance on the states secrets” doctrine.


Stan Flatley
Comment posted April 30, 2009 @ 8:07 pm

On the one hand, Obama's justice department argued the same “States secrets” doctrine that the Bush administration had. On the other hand, at his press conference, Obama seemed to back away from that. This site had an interesting piece about it http://tinyurl.com/ddgps8 but still I remain a little confused–and hopeful that Obama soon clarifies (and ultimately backs away from) his current stance on the states secrets” doctrine.


Hoisted from [someone else's] Comments | ???
Pingback posted May 7, 2009 @ 1:36 am

[...] supported at the appeals level, given the repudiation of Bush called the 08 election. And one would assume correctly: The logic of the state secrets privilege, the appeals court panel writes (pdf), “simply cannot [...]


British Foreign Secretary: Clinton threatened to cut-off intelligence-sharing if torture evidence is disclosed « Dr Nasir Khan
Pingback posted August 1, 2009 @ 6:27 am

[...] to argue that the torture program which victimized him must be kept secret, and then after the Obama DOJ lost in the Ninth Circuit, trying to get that decision reversed by the full Circuit [...]


Obama Still Fighting to Cover Up Rendition-to-Torture « freedetainees.org
Pingback posted October 29, 2009 @ 3:12 am

[...] torture victims won a big victory when a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit court of appeals reinstated their lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary for allegedly flying them to other countries to be tortured under the [...]


British Foreign Secretary: Clinton threatened to cut-off intelligence-sharing if torture evidence is disclosed
Pingback posted August 17, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

[...] to argue that the torture program which victimized him must be kept secret, and then after the Obama DOJ lost in the Ninth Circuit, trying to get that decision reversed by the full Circuit [...]


British Foreign Secretary: Clinton threatened to cut-off intelligence-sharing if torture evidence is disclosed - Salon.com
Pingback posted May 21, 2011 @ 8:31 am

[...] to argue that the torture program which victimized him must be kept secret, and then after the Obama DOJ lost in the Ninth Circuit, trying to get that decision reversed by the full Circuit [...]


1347281
Comment posted September 7, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

1347281 beers on the wall. sck was here


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