Obama administration wins state secrets lawsuit

Updated below.

The Obama administration won its case today in which it invoked “state secrets” as a defense against extraordinary rendition and torture. The 9th Circuit of Appeals essentially agreed with the government that the lawsuit against Jeppesen Dataplan could not proceed. This was the airline company contracted by the Bush administration to carry out its extraordinary renditions. The ruling was 6-5.

This is essentially what the geographer/artist Trevor Paglen has covered in his work on covert landscapes. His book on rendition is Torture Taxi where they tracked down some of these off-the-grid airlines.

You might remember the plaintiff is Binyam Mohamed, who was released to the UK in 2009 after four years of imprisonment.

Update (Sept. 9). The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer who often writes on intelligence and military issues, has a piece up today, which notes in part:

Much has been written about the denial of due process for the five plaintiffs who claim to have been victims of the extraordinary-rendition program. But equally disturbing is the message that this verdict sends to individual American citizens, like the former Jeppesen employee, who felt a call to conscience that made him speak out, even at the risk to his own future employment, because he believed that secret kidnapping and torture were crimes in a country founded on the idea that all people, not just Americans, have inalienable rights, including protection from cruel and inhumane punishment. That his allegations could receive a public hearing in the press, but not a legitimate hearing in the American system of justice—even under an Administration headed by a former professor of constitutional law—is a daunting reflection of the clout wielded by the national-security bureaucracy in Washington, in the age of the Long War.


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