Dear ACLU Supporter,
Yesterday, ACLU lawyers encountered a recurring -- and troubling -- obstacle in our lawsuit seeking justice for torture victims caught up in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. But this time, the objections were not coming from the Bush administration.
To our surprise and disappointment, the new Justice Department urged a federal appeals court to dismiss our lawsuit charging a Boeing subsidiary with providing critical support for the CIA’s rendition program based on the same “state secrets” claim that the Bush administration had repeatedly invoked to avoid any judicial scrutiny of its actions. During the course of the argument, one judge asked twice if the change in administration had any bearing on the Justice Department’s position. The attorney for the government said that its position remained the same.
This isn’t the kind of change we need if we want an America we can be proud of again.
If the judges rule in the government’s favor, our clients -- who were tortured as part of the government’s rendition program -- will never get their day in court.
We’re still hoping the court will rule in our favor and allow our case to move forward. But, in the meantime, we must do everything we can to end the abuse of the “state secrets” doctrine both in the courts and on Capitol Hill.
Senators Kennedy, Leahy, Specter and Representative Nadler introduced legislation in 2008 to narrow the scope of the state secrets privilege -- and open the courthouse doors to people who have suffered real and legitimate harm by the government. Clearly, this legislation is needed now more than ever.
Send a message to these members of Congress to let them know you support the State Secrets Protection Act.
This crucial civil liberties bill recognizes the need to take precautions when it comes to national security. But, it also acknowledges that courts have been competently managing the balance between the security of classified information and the right to a fair trial in criminal cases for years. And, most important of all, it makes it much more difficult for the government to abuse the state secrets doctrine to escape accountability for illegal behavior.
We can’t allow any administration to invoke state secrets to hide a reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations.
Send a message to support the State Secrets Protection Act.
Yesterday, the Obama administration had an opportunity to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition. But, instead, the Justice Department opted to stay the course.
Now, we must hope that the court will assert its independence, reject the government’s false claims of state secrets, and allow victims of torture and rendition their day in court.
Thanks for standing with us as we work to pursue justice on this critical civil liberties issue.
Anthony D. Romero
P.S. The ACLU has been working on this case for years. To learn more about rendition and the people impacted, watch our short video:
Yes - "disappointment" - that is exactly the word I would have chosen to convey my outrage that, once again, Obama reneged on a MAJOR campaign promise. Just like the "disappointment" people in my family felt when Obama voted for FISA, after promising to filibuster it and ensure it did NOT pass. No reason for him to have voted for it - Clinton sure didn't. Heck, even McCain didn't. But Obama? Oh, yeah - he threw that campaign promise away like yesterday's garbage. I can only assume it was because he wanted to make sure he got to have ALL the same abilities to spy on us and sneak people away in the dead of night that Bush had. How else to explain his readiness to do a 180 on something so important? Oh, besides his being a liar, that is. Ahem.
And the NY Times finally weighed in on this, too (you know this happened earlier in the week. You may not have known because the MSM is continuing its pathetic journalism when it comes to Obama - protect and divert.), in an Editorial entitled, "Continuity of the Wrong Kind." Ya know, I have been saying for months and months and months that Obama was another Bush. Nice of him to prove me right, isn't it? Though, for the sake of the COUNTRY, I would have been happier to be proved wrong...
Apparently, the Editors at the Times feel similarly:
The Obama administration failed — miserably — the first test of its commitment to ditching the extravagant legal claims used by the Bush administration to try to impose blanket secrecy on anti-terrorism policies and avoid accountability for serial abuses of the law.
On Monday, a Justice Department lawyer dispatched by the new attorney general, Eric Holder, appeared before a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. The case before them involves serious allegations of torture by five victims of President Bush’s extraordinary rendition program. The five were seized and transported to American facilities abroad or to countries known for torturing prisoners.
Incredibly, the federal lawyer advanced the same expansive state-secrets argument that was pressed by Mr. Bush’s lawyers to get a trial court to dismiss the case without any evidence being presented. It was as if last month’s inauguration had never occurred.
Voters have good reason to feel betrayed if they took Mr. Obama seriously on the campaign trail when he criticized the Bush administration’s tactic of stretching the state-secrets privilege to get lawsuits tossed out of court. Even judges on the panel seemed surprised by the administration’s decision to go forward instead of requesting a delay to reconsider the government’s position and, perhaps, file new briefs.
And not to harp, but honestly - if the people who voted for Obama really, really believed he was a man of his word, it is their own fault. He made it abundantly clear, time and time again, that he would say or do whatever needed to be said or done, to get what he wanted. They just refused to believe their own eyes and ears.
Back to the editorial:
The argument is that the very subject matter of the suit is a state secret so sensitive that it cannot be discussed in court, and it is no more persuasive now than it was when the Bush team pioneered it. For one thing, there is ample public information available about the C.I.A.’s rendition, detention and coercive interrogation programs. The fact that some of the evidence might be legitimately excluded on national security grounds need not preclude the case from being tried, and allowing the judge to make that determination. More fundamentally, the Obama administration should not be invoking state secrets to cover up charges of rendition and torture.
President Obama has taken some important steps to repair Mr. Bush’s damaging legacy — issuing executive orders to prohibit torture, shut secret prisons overseas and direct closure of the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It would have been good if he and Mr. Holder had shown the same determination in that federal court, rather than defending the indefensible.
Um - do they realize Obama hasn't actually CLOSED Gitmo?? I'm just asking, because they seem to think it is a done deal. And given their frustration over Obama's actions in this very piece, WHY would they think that? It just defies logic! Sheesh!
And I do have a question - if the CIA can still carry out rendition, how is it that the secret prisons are shut down? I mean, isn't that just mincing words? Seriously, that seems a bit counter-intuitive to me.
How many times, and in how many ways, does Obama have to repudiate his campaign promises before the MSM and his followers stop carrying water for him? After three weeks, it is just laughable. Or it WOULD be if this wasn't such a serious issue. One widely decried when Bush did it. So where the hell are all the folks who screamed about it then? Sure would love to know. Maybe they have changed their minds now that Obama wants to do it, because obviously, if The One wants it, it has to be A-okay, right? Right?
Wrong. It just makes them hypocrites.