ACLU responds to dismissal of CIA torture lawsuit
"The court's decision allows the government
to engage in torture"
Since 2001, a Gulfstream V turbojet has been seen at military
airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being
boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers. U.S. District Court
Judge James Ware dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed by the ACLU
against Jeppesen Dataplan, citing information about the CIA's
"rendition'' program is a state secret.
Photo courtesy washingtonpost.com
By Jason Bennert
February 15, 2008
The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday criticized a San
Jose-based federal judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit regarding
the CIA's secret program to transport terrorist suspects overseas
for interrogation and alleged torture.
U.S. District Court Judge James Ware dismissed the lawsuit against
Jeppesen Dataplan, a San Jose-based subsidiary of aerospace giant
Boening, late Wednesday afternoon. He ruled that information about
the CIA's "rendition'' program is a state secret and cannot
be revealed as part of the lawsuit.
"Continuing the case would jeopardize national security
and foreign relations and ...no protective procedure can salvage
this case,'' Ware wrote is his ruling dismissing the case.
Ware is the latest in a string of federal judges that have ruled
actions by the Bush Administration since the terrorist attacks
of Sept. 11, 2001 are state secrets and not subject to litigation.
In a statement issued yesterday, ACLU attorney Ben Wizner said
Ware's ruling means the administration's controversial anti-terrorist
programs effectively have little or no oversight.
"The court's decision allows the government to engage in
torture, declare it a state secret, and thereby escape any legal
scrutiny for its actions,'' Wizner said.
Wizner also accused the administration of having a double standard
when it comes to state secrets.
"Government officials are quite willing to discuss the CIA's
detention and interrogation of other prisoners, most notably the
six Guantanamo detainees charged this week with capital murder.
Apparently, the government believes such activities are state
secrets only when that claim will help the administration avoid
accountability for illegal programs, but not when it will help
seek the death penalty for alleged terrorists. Depriving torture
victims of their day in court to prevent disclosure of information
that the entire world already knows only compounds the brutal
treatment our clients endured,'' Wizner said.
The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of five individuals
who were allegedly transported overseas and tortured as part of
the rendition program. Jeppesen Dataplan allegedly provided logistical
and planning support for the flights.