February 10, 2009
DOJ Maintains State Secrets Position from Bush Administration
In the first major national security case of the Obama administration, lawyers representing the government took the exact same position as the Bush administration. Government attorneys asked a judge to throw out a torture case, citing the need to preserve state secrets. Some human rights activists now say they feel betrayed by an administration that had promised greater openness and transparency.
Five former terrorism detainees brought the lawsuit, Mohammed et al. vs. Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. The men accuse Jeppesen, a Boeing subsidiary, of providing logistical support to the CIA for "torture flights" to overseas prisons.
Bush administration lawyers had argued there was no way to try this case without revealing state secrets. Activist groups and newspaper editorial pages hammered the Justice Department for taking that position, but a trial judge agreed and threw the case out.
As the government prepared to argue the case again before three judges at an appeals court Monday, observers wondered whether the Justice Department would change course now that there is a new president and a new attorney general. The government did not change course.
ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, who represents the detainees, said in a phone interview after arguments, "The Obama administration, which came to office on a promise of greater transparency — on a promise of ending these practices — stood up and made exactly the same arguments that were made by Bush lawyers to throw out torture victims' lawsuits. And that's a profound disappointment."
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]
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