ACLU Asks Supreme Court To Hear Extraordinary Rendition Case

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

ACLU Asks Supreme Court To Hear Extraordinary Rendition Case

Government Has Abused "State Secrets" Privilege To Prevent Accountability For Torture, Says Group

WASHINGTON - The
American Civil Liberties Union late last night asked the U.S. Supreme
Court to review a lower court decision dismissing its lawsuit against a
Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc., for the company's role in
the Bush administration's extraordinary rendition program. The ACLU and
the ACLU of Northern California filed the lawsuit in May 2007 on behalf
of five men who were kidnapped by the CIA, forcibly disappeared to
U.S.-run prisons overseas and tortured. Although the federal government
was not initially named in the lawsuit, it intervened for the sole
purpose of arguing that the case should be dismissed based on the "state
secrets" privilege.  

"To date, not a single victim of the
Bush administration's torture program has had his day in a U.S. court,"
said Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the ACLU National Security
Project. "The government has misused the 'state secrets' privilege to
deny justice to torture victims and to shield their torturers from
liability. The Supreme Court should reaffirm our nation's historic
commitment to human rights and the rule of law by allowing this case to
go forward."

In April 2009, a three-judge panel
of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the
government could not invoke the state secrets privilege over the entire
lawsuit, but, instead, could only invoke the privilege with respect to
specific evidence. The Obama administration appealed that ruling, and in
December the case was reargued in front of a panel of 11 Ninth Circuit
judges. The appellate court upheld the dismissal of the case 6-5.

"The government's continued
assertion of 'state secrets' to avoid judicial scrutiny of 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
Supreme Court should take this case and affirm that victims of torture
are entitled to a remedy."

"The Supreme Court has not reviewed
the government's use of the 'state secrets' privilege in more than half a
century. In recent years, we have seen the executive branch engage in
grave human rights violations, declare those activities 'state secrets,'
and thus avoid any judicial oversight or accountability," said Steven
R. Shapiro, Legal Director of the ACLU. "As the executive branch asserts
the 'state secrets' privilege more and more often, for more and more
reasons, it is critical that the Court examine its use. Under a system
predicated on respect for the rule of law, the government has no
privilege to violate fundamental human rights and evade judicial
review."

Attorneys on the case are Wizner,
Watt, Shapiro and Jameel Jaffer of the national ACLU, Alan L. Schlosser
and 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 of the International Human Rights Clinic of
New York University School of Law and Clive Stafford-Smith of Reprieve
represent plaintiffs in this case.

The ACLU's cert petition to the Supreme Court is available online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/mohamed-et-al-v-jeppesen-dataplan-inc-petition-certiorari

More information about the case 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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