For Immediate Release
Appeals Court Decision Denies Extraordinary Rendition Victims Their Day in Court
SAN FRANCISCO - A
federal appeals court today dismissed a case against Boeing subsidiary
Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc. for its role in the Bush administration's
extraordinary rendition program. The American Civil Liberties Union 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. The Bush administration
intervened in the case, improperly asserting the "state secrets"
privilege in an attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out.
In April 2009, 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 pieces of evidence - not over an entire lawsuit. The Obama
administration appealed that ruling, and in December the appeal was
heard by an en banc panel of all 11 Ninth Circuit judges. According to
the ACLU, today's ruling all but shuts the door on accountability for
the illegal program. The ACLU intends to seek Supreme Court review of
The following can be attributed to Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU, who argued the case before the Ninth Circuit:
"This is a sad day not only for the
torture victims whose attempt to seek justice has been extinguished, but
for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation's
reputation in the world. To date, not a single victim of the Bush
administration's torture program has had his day in court. If today's
decision is allowed to stand, the United States will have closed its
courtroom doors to torture victims while providing complete immunity to
their torturers. The torture architects and their enablers may have
escaped the judgment of this court, but they will not escape the
judgment of history."
Attorneys on the case are Wizner,
Steven Watt, 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.
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.