Today Steven Watt, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, will participate in Firedoglake’s First Monday chat at 3 p.m. He’ll be joining Vince Warren, Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, where they’ll discuss torture, detention, and extraordinary rendition.
Steven’s just returned from observing some procedural hearings at Guantanamo. But his specialty, however, is mounting legal challenges to the U.S. rendition program: Steven represented Khaled El-Masri in El-Masri v. Tenet, a lawsuit against former CIA director George Tenet. The lawsuit charged that Tenet and several U.S.-based aviation corporations violated U.S. and universal human rights laws when they abducted El-Masri, beat him, drugged him, and transported him to a secret CIA prison in Afghanistan. El-Masri, a German national, was never charged with any crime, and after five months of detention, was dumped on a hillside in Albania and left to find his way back to his family in Germany, without explanation or an apology. After his case was dismissed in federal court, and the Supreme Court’s refused to review that decision in October of last year, the ACLU filed a petition in April with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of El-Masri. The petition asks the IACHR to declare that the extraordinary rendition program violates the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man; to find the U.S. responsible for violating El-Masri’s rights under that Declaration; and to recommend that the U.S. publicly acknowledge and apologize for its role in violating El-Masri’s rights to be free from arbitrary detention and torture.
Steven is also the attorney behind Mohamed v. Jeppesen, the lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan, which the CIA contracted to provide flight services for its rendition program. (You can watch a video of Steven talking about the Jeppesen lawsuit on YouTube.) In February, a district court in San Jose bowed to the Bush administration‘s claim that litigation of this case would threaten state secrets. The ACLU is now appealing this case to the 9th Circuit.
Join us this afternoon at 3 p.m. (EDT) on Firedoglake for what promises to be a fascinating discussion!