ACLU Responds to US Government Reluctance
to Defend CIA Torture Program

Written by Susan Vaughan. Posted in News

Published on July 06, 2009 with No Comments

By Susan Vaughan

July 6, 2009

American Civil Liberties Union lawyers representing five victims of a US government clandestine extraordinary rendition and torture program, filed its response yesterday to US Justice Department lawyers seeking to block litigation of plaintiffs’ civil suit against Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing.

The suit, filed in 2007, claims Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., knowingly aided and abetted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in its alleged kidnapping and torture of Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmed Bashmalish, and Bisher al-Rawi, illegally flying them to multiple CIA torture facilities around the world where US laws against torture and kidnapping are unenforceable.

In February 2008 Judge James Ware of the US District Court for Northern California dismissed the suit after then CIA Director Michael Hayden claimed litigation could jeopardize state secrets and national security.

ACLU lawyers appealed Ware’s decision to the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

In April, the court ruled unanimously in favor of plaintiffs, remanding the case back to Judge Ware’s courtroom for adjudication.

Justice Department lawyers immediately filed a second appeal in a further attempt to block the lawsuit.

In their response yesterday, ACLU lawyers argued government lawyers have misinterpreted previous precedents related to state secrets provisions. They argue the government can redact sensitive information that might otherwise compromise state secrets and that information and responses by Jeppesen Dataplan and its lawyers can be kept under seal, vetted and reviewed by the government and the court.

Luke Thomas contributed to this report.

Susan Vaughan

Bio: Sue Vaughan was born and raised in the northeast part of the country. In 1988 she turned down a reporting job at the Boston-area newspaper because accepting the job would have required her to buy a car. In 1990, she finally escaped the bitter northeast winters and sweltering summers by taking a Greyhound bus from the East Coast to the West Coast. She first lived in that suburban "hotbed of social rest" (so described by former SF Chronicle columnist Rob Morse) Palo Alto, which inspired her to commit herself to the car-free existence. She moved from there to the Richmond District of San Francisco, taught on and off for several years, worked on her masters degree, and became a sustainable transportation activist. She now freelance writes, gardens, and draws.

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