Extraordinary Rendition Case Should Move Forward, Argues ACLU In Court Today

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, ACLU National, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org 
Rebecca Farmer, ACLU of Northern California, (415) 621-2493 x374

Extraordinary Rendition Case Should Move Forward, Argues ACLU In Court Today

Government Continues To Misuse State Secrets Privilege In Attempt To Have Case Against Boeing Subsidiary Thrown Out

SAN FRANCISCO - The
American Civil Liberties Union was in federal appeals court in San
Francisco today to argue that a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary
Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. for its role in the Bush administration's
unlawful extraordinary rendition program should go forward. The
government has repeatedly misused the state secrets privilege in an
attempt to have the case thrown out.

"To this day, not a single victim of
the Bush administration's torture policies has had his day in court.
Across the board, the administration is taking positions that deny
torture victims any chance for justice," said ACLU staff attorney Ben
Wizner. "It is no longer credible to claim that extraordinary rendition
is a state secret. This case should be allowed to move forward without
further delay."

The ACLU and the ACLU of Northern
California brought the lawsuit in May 2007 on behalf of five men who
the CIA kidnapped, forcibly disappeared and secretly transferred to
U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas, where they
were interrogated under torture. The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen
knowingly participated in the forcible disappearance and torture of the
men by providing critical flight planning and logistical support
services to the aircraft and crews used by the CIA to carry out their
extraordinary rendition.

The Bush administration intervened
in the case, improperly asserting the state secrets privilege to have
the lawsuit thrown out, but in April a three-judge panel of the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the government must
invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence –
not over an entire lawsuit. The government appealed that ruling, and
today an en banc panel of 11 judges heard arguments in that appeal.

"The Obama administration's policy
of misusing the state secrets privilege to shelter Bush administration
officials from accountability for torture threatens the fundamental
principle of separation of powers," said Steven Watt, staff attorney
with the ACLU Human Rights Program. "No court has yet fulfilled its
critical constitutional function of ruling on the legality of the Bush
administration's torture policies. The Ninth Circuit should reject this
attempt to avoid judicial scrutiny and affirm the principle that
victims of torture are entitled to a remedy."

In addition to Wizner and Watt,
attorneys in the lawsuit are Steven R. Shapiro and Jameel Jaffer of the
national ACLU, Julia Harumi Mass of the ACLU of Northern California,
Paul Hoffman of the law firm Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris &
Hoffman LLP and Hope Metcalf of the Yale Law School Lowenstein Clinic.
In addition, Margaret L. Satterthwaite and Amna Akbar of the
International Human Rights Clinic of New York University School of Law
and Clive Stafford-Smith and Zachary Katznelson represent plaintiffs in
this case.

More information about the ACLU's lawsuit, Mohamed, et al. v. Jeppesen, is available online at: www.aclu.org/jeppesen

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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