Federal Court to Obama DOJ: 'State Secrets' Excuse is Bogus, Torture Victims' Lawsuit Can Proceed
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In February, lawyers for the Obama administration dismayed many of his supporters by attempting to block a lawsuit on behalf of five victims of extraordinary rendition on the same bogus "state secrets" grounds so often invoked by his predecessor.
"This case cannot be litigated," Department of Justice lawyer Douglas Letter argued at the time. "The judges shouldn't play with fire in this national security situation."
This claim, a throwback to the shameless secrecy and fearmongering of the Bush era, was devastating to those who had hoped that the Obama presidency would mark a shift towards seeking justice for the countless men wrongfully swept up in the early days of the so-called "war on terror" -- and accountability for those who sanctioned their torture.
As I explained at the time:
The case was Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a lawsuit originally brought in 2007 by the ACLU on behalf of five victims of extraordinary rendition, the notorious CIA program in which terror suspects are kidnapped, thrown on a plane and flown to another country to be tortured and interrogated.
Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing, is said to have provided the logistical support for the rendition of all five plaintiffs, among them, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national who, in July 2002, was taken from Pakistan to Morocco, where for 18 months he was imprisoned and brutally tortured, including being cut with razorblades on his testicles. Mohamed was later sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he supposedly awaits imminent plans for his release. He has never stood trial.
Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet's Rights and Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage.