Obama officials toe Bush Administration secrecy line in rendition lawsuit

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last Monday it emerged that the new US Attorney General, Eric H. Holder, ordered “a review of all claims of state secrets used to block lawsuits into warrantless spying on Americans and the treatment of foreign terrorism suspects”. US Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, said the directive “will ensure the [state secrets] privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government’s actions that they have a right to know”. Despite Mr. Holder’s review order, however, the Obama Administration has chosen to retain the previous government’s “state secrets” clause to block a lawsuit filed by victims of CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The case is Binyam Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen Dataplan, a Colorado-based Boeing Corporation subcontractor that provided logistical support to the CIA’s prisoner transfer scheme. It was originally filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in May of 2007, on behalf of five CIA prisoners who were transported in Morocco, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere, where they were allegedly brutally tortured while legally under the custody of the US government. In February of 2008, the case was dismissed after Bush Administration lawyers argued that the lawsuit “threatened America’s national security interests”. Encouraged by Eric Holder’s recent review order, ACLU lawyers requested at the federal appeals court in San Francisco that the lawsuit be promptly reinstated. However, when the court’s judges asked the US Justice Department whether it was prepared to revise its earlier “national security threat” claim, in light of the new Attorney General’s order, the Department simply responded that “the government stands by its brief”. In reporting on this development, The Washington Post cited an anonymous Justice Department official who confirmed that “the new administration decided the lawsuit involves state secrets that need to be protected”. A few days ago, a parallel case launched by Binyam Mohamed in the UK, of which he was a legal resident when he was abducted by the CIA, was dismissed on similar grounds. The two high court judges in charge of the UK case issued a scathing statement, accusing the British government of keeping “powerful evidence” secret after being threatened by Washington that it would “stop sharing intelligence about terrorism with the UK”. In a written statement on the US lawsuit, ACLU’s Executive Director, Anthony Romero, wrote: “[t]his is not change. This is definitely more of the same […]. If the Obama administration, so early on, is toeing the Bush line, that speaks volumes for where we might end up years from now”.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

2 Responses to Obama officials toe Bush Administration secrecy line in rendition lawsuit

  1. Anonymous says:

    How could anyone think that extraordinary rendition justifies ‘state secrets’?!? How long will the rest of the world tolerate the US speaking out of both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, we are a beacon on the hill. On the other hand–oh, wait–that one just got chopped off by allies in Egypt so the investment banks could continue paying themselves billions. So, I guess there really is just the one hand.

  2. Andrew Yu-Jen Wang says:

    Speaking of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder:

    Eric Holder is a racial-minority individual, and in his heart and mind he inevitably does not endorse hate crimes committed by George W. Bush.

    George W. Bush committed hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism (indicated in my blog).

    George W. Bush did in fact commit innumerable hate crimes.

    And I do solemnly swear by Almighty God that George W. Bush committed other hate crimes of epic proportions and with the stench of terrorism which I am not at liberty to mention.

    Many people know what Bush did.

    And many people will know what Bush did—even to the end of the world.

    Bush was absolute evil.

    Bush is now like a fugitive from justice.

    Bush is a psychological prisoner.

    Bush has a lot to worry about.

    Bush can technically be prosecuted for hate crimes at any time.

    In any case, Bush will go down in history in infamy.

    Submitted by Andrew Yu-Jen Wang
    B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
    Messiah College, Grantham, PA
    Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

    I am not sure where I had read it before, but anyway, it is a linguistically excellent statement, and it goes kind of like this: “If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Oh wait—off the top of my head—I think the quotation came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

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