Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Ninth Circuit Dismisses Suit Against Boeing Subsidiary for Allegedly Arranging CIA Flights in "Extraordinary Renditions"
By a one-vote margin (6-5), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against a subsidiary of the Boeing Corporation (Jeppesen Dataplan Inc.). The basis of the dismissal was the "state secrets" doctrine.
The ACLU, on behalf of five clients, accused Jeppesen of arranging flights for the Central Intelligence Agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program, by which the CIA would seize terrorism suspects and transfer them to other countries where they would be imprisoned, interrogated, and tortured.
Here's an excerpt from the opening of the decision:
This case requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security. Although as judges we strive to honor all of these principles, there are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between them. On those rare occasions, we are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s admonition that “even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that [state] secrets are at stake.” United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 11 (1953). After much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude this is such a case, and the plaintiffs’ action must be dismissed.
An article in the New York Times said that the ruling was “a major victory to the Obama administration in its effort to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy.”