SAN JOSE, CA - A federal court yesterday bowed to pressure from the Bush administration and dismissed a case against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. for the company's role in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program. The lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, charged that Jeppesen knowingly aided the program by providing flight planning and logistical support services for aircraft and crews used by the CIA to transport victims to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas, where they were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and torture.
The government intervened in an attempt to block the case, contending that litigation of the case would reveal "state secrets" and harm national security. However, the ACLU's lawsuit cited abundant evidence that was already in the public domain, including a sworn affidavit by a former Jeppesen employee and flight records confirming Jeppesen's involvement.
In another development, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday held a hearing on the bipartisan State Secrets Protection Act, introduced by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), The ACLU urges passage of this law, which would require courts to examine classified evidence instead of dismissing cases on the word of the perpetrators themselves, and would prohibit any dismissal prior to discovery.
The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union:
"The court's decision allows the government to engage in torture, declare it a state secret, and thereby escape any legal scrutiny for its actions. Government officials are quite willing to discuss the CIA's detention and interrogation of other prisoners, most notably the six Guantánamo detainees charged this week with capital murder. Apparently, the government believes such activities are state secrets only when that claim will help the administration avoid accountability for illegal programs, but not when it will help seek the death penalty for alleged terrorists. Depriving torture victims of their day in court to prevent disclosure of information that the entire world already knows only compounds the brutal treatment our clients endured."
"Shielded by Secrecy," LA Times Op-ed (Feb 14, 2008)
Memo Opposing Dismissal Motion (Dec 14, 2008)