Despite renouncing torture, the Obama administration continued to defend alleged torture perpetrators from civil liability yesterday. Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the administration again invoked the "state secrets" privilege, attempting to scuttle litigation brought by persons claiming to have been victims of the Bush administration's torture program.
The plaintiffs allege that they were kidnapped and transported to CIA black sites -- a practice known as "extraordinary rendition." At the black sites, the plaintiffs assert that they were tortured in the Bush administration's pursuit of the "War on Terror." They filed suit against a Bay Area subsidiary of Boeing for helping arrange the flights on which they were transported. The Justice Department promptly intervened on behalf of the company.
"The Obama administration, following the legal strategy of its predecessor, asked the court to throw out the suit - and insisted that even the question of whether the company, Jeppesen Dataplan, was working with the government could threaten national security," reports The New York Times. "'We are not asking you to do anything radical here,' insisted Douglas Letter, the lawyer for the Justice Department. 'This case cannot proceed without getting into state secrets.'"
According to the San Francisco Chronicle's Bob Egelko, "Several judges noted that most of the essential facts of the case have been widely aired -- the existence of the 'extraordinary rendition' program under President George W. Bush, the five plaintiffs' accounts of their abduction and torture, and the alleged participation by Jeppesen Dataplan of San Jose," a Boeing subsidiary.