Faces of Justice Denied - Victims of the U.S. Torture Program
Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Bashmilah, and Bisher al-Rawi, victims of the U.S. torture program denied any day in U.S. court because the government claims that their torture is a “state secret”
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The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing Company, on behalf of five survivors of the extraordinary rendition program. The suit charges that Jeppesen knowingly participated in these renditions by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to aircraft and crews used by the CIA to forcibly disappear these five men to torture, detention and interrogation.
According to published reports, Jeppesen had actual knowledge of the consequences of its activities. A former Jeppesen employee informed The New Yorker magazine that, at an internal corporate meeting, a senior Jeppesen official stated, “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights—you know, the torture flights. Let’s face it, some of these flights end up that way.”
Shortly after the suit was filed, the government intervened and asserted the “state secrets” privilege, claiming further litigation would undermine national security interests, even though much of the evidence needed to try the case was already available to the public. Two years ago, the trial court accepted Bush Administration claims that the “state secrets” privilege allowed them to put an end to the entire proceedings. In April 2009, however, three judges from the 9th Circuit federal appeals court reversed that ruling, over Obama Administration objections. The administration subsequently asked for a hearing before the full court, asserting again the right to crush a lawsuit against a company that was a knowing accomplice to torture. In September 2010, the full bench of the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court reversed the April 2009 decision and dismissed the lawsuit, accepting the Obama Administration’s argument that the case could not be litigated without disclosing state secrets. On December 7, 2010 the ACLU filed a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the lower court’s decision dismissing the lawsuit against Jeppesen.