In U.S., Victims Continue To Be Denied Their Day In Court
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NEW YORK – According to news reports, the British government will announce today that it will pay compensation to British nationals who were unlawfully transferred to U.S.-run prisons and tortured with the cooperation of British officials. The U.K. is one of several nations that have taken responsibility for their role in the Bush administration's illegal torture program by initiating investigations or public inquiries into the role their officials played in the program and by paying reparations to victims.
The American Civil Liberties Union represents two of the likely recipients of the reparations in a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the U.S. extraordinary rendition program. Binyam Mohamed and Bisher Al Rawi were kidnapped, forcibly rendered to U.S.-run prisons overseas and tortured. The Obama administration asserted the state secrets privilege to have the case thrown out, and a federal appeals court dismissed the case in September. The ACLU has asked the Supreme Court to review that decision.
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU:
"We welcome reports that the British government will compensate prisoners who were transferred illegally to the prison at Guantánamo Bay. It's commendable that the U.K. is addressing the role that its own officials played in enabling the Bush administration's torture and indefinite detention policies. It's deeply troubling, though, that while the U.K. and many other countries are now acknowledging and addressing their official complicity in the Bush administration's human rights abuses, here in the United States the Obama administration continues to shield the architects of the torture program from civil liability while Bush-era officials, including former President Bush and former Vice President Cheney, boast of their crimes on national television. If other democracies can compensate survivors and hold officials accountable for their endorsement of torture, surely we can do the same."
The following can be attributed to Steven Watt, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program and attorney on the Jeppesen case:
"The Obama administration continues to shield Bush-era torturers from accountability in civil proceedings by blocking judicial review of their illegal behavior. To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration's torture program has had his day in a U.S. court. The U.S. can no longer stand silently by as other nations reckon with their own agents' complicity in the torture program. Reckoning with the legacy of torture would restore our standing in the world, reassert the rule of law and strengthen our democracy."