Posts Tagged ‘Guantanamo Bay’

Obama’s Record On Guantanamo Just As Shoddy As Bush’s

April 16, 2010

By Lt. Col. Barry Wingard,  The Public Record, April 14, 2010

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised the country “change we can believe in.” Yet, more than a year into his administration, he has delivered “more of the same” on issues pertaining to Guantanamo Bay. The island prison is still open, detainees still await trials, and officials have recommended the worst of George W. Bush’s policies — indefinite detention.

Continues >>

Advertisements

George Bush’s former aide defends waterboarding of terrorism suspects

March 13, 2010

Karl Rove is proud that the US used water torture to break the will of prisoners and foil terror plots

Adam Gabbatt, The Gurdian/UK, March 12, 2010
76062138

George Bush and Karl Rove embrace at the White House after Rove announced his resignation from the Bush administration in 2007. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A senior adviser to former US president George Bush has said he is proud that the country used waterboarding to elicit information from terrorism suspects.

Karl Rove, Bush’s chief political strategist for much of his presidency, defended the interrogation approach authorised during Bush’s tenure, saying he was “proud we used techniques that broke the will of these terrorists”.

Last year President Barack Obama banned waterboarding, stating: “I believe that waterboarding was torture and, whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.”

Continues >>

Torture is a crime, not a state secret

February 14, 2010

It’s a convenient argument for both governments, but the Binyam Mohamed ruling will not harm UK-US intelligence co-operation

The UK court ruling in the case of Binyam Mohamed demonstrates once more that judges on both sides of the Atlantic have had enough of governments hiding behind national security “secrets” to shield themselves from their many trespasses in the “war on terror”.

The court’s decision to publish a seven-paragraph summary of intelligence given to MI5 by the CIA has been met by the convenient, and wholly unbelievable, argument from British and American officials that the release could damage intelligence co-operation and sharing between the two allies.

The British foreign secretary, David Miliband, has argued that keeping the summary secret was vital to ensuring that the US continues to share vital intelligence with the British security services. The White House only played up this threat after the decision was handed down.

“We’re deeply disappointed with the court’s judgment because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said. “As we warned, the court’s judgment will complicate the confidentiality of our intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK, and it will have to factor into our decision-making going forward.”

There are two important things to remember when analysing Miliband and the White House’s arguments concerning the “intelligence” released on the treatment of Ethiopian-born British resident Binyam Mohamed while he was in US custody.

First, the seven-paragraph summary details that the interrogation practices endured by Mohamed while in American custody during 2002 constituted “at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. It reveals nothing besides the fact the US and its proxies resorted to barbarous methods to extract information from captives they believed were al-Qaida terrorists.

Second, far more damning information on Mohamed’s torture was published last year by a US court. In November 2009, US District Judge Gladys Kessler granted the habeus corpus petition of Gitmo detainee Farhi Saeed Bin Mohammed – another indicator of the cross-Atlantic return of the rule of law. The prisoner had been held indefinitely without charge at Guantánamo Bay since 2002, based partly on Mohamed’s confessions to US interrogators. There was one problem, however: US interrogators coerced Mohamed’s allegations against Mohammed through torture. “The government does not challenge Petitioner’s evidence of Binyam Mohamed’s abuse,” Kessler wrote in her decision. It’s important to note that the “abuse” Mohamed says he endured during his detention included having his genitals slashed by a razor.

In short order, the information the British court ordered released yesterday was neither intelligence nor secret. What it did show, however, was what we already knew. The US had systematically tortured detainees it deemed terrorists without due process, and British intelligence was complicit.

Therefore the probability the United States would jeopardise its intelligence-sharing relationship with the United Kingdom over the Mohamed release is remote. It would demonstrate that the United States values protecting its lawless practices overseas more than the national security of its greatest ally. Imagine the public relations disaster if the British public learned the United States did not share intelligence of an imminent terrorist attack because of this judicial decision. Fortunately, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the head of the US intelligence community, has already played down any break in the cross-Atlantic alliance. “This court decision creates additional challenges, but our two countries will remain united in our efforts to fight against violent extremist groups,” yesterday’s statement read.

So when the Milibands and White House apparatchiks of this world claim that exposing state crimes jeopardises the government’s ability to protect its citizens from terrorist atrocities, it’s important to remember the words of the radical political philosopher Michael Bakunin:

“There is no horror, no cruelty, sacrilege, or perjury, no imposture, no infamous transaction, no cynical robbery, no bold plunder or shabby betrayal that has not been or is not daily being perpetrated by the representatives of the states, under no other pretext than those elastic words, so convenient and yet so terrible: ‘for reasons of state’.”

Torture is a crime; it is not a state secret.

Four US soldiers cast doubt on Gitmo ‘suicides’

January 19, 2010
By Daniel Tencer, The Raw Story, January 19, 2010

Four members of a US military intelligence unit assigned to Guantanamo Bay are questioning the government’s official version of the deaths of three detainees in the summer of 2006.

The soldiers are offering a very different version of events than the one provided by the official report carried out by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. Their stories suggest the three inmates may not have killed themselves — or, at least, not in the way the US military claims.

Continues >>

U.S. battling CIA rendition case in 3 courts

August 10, 2009

The Obama administration is fighting on multiple fronts – in courts in San Francisco, Washington and London – to keep an official veil of secrecy over the treatment of a former prisoner who says he was tortured at Guantanamo Bay.


The administration has asked a federal appeals court in San Francisco to reconsider its ruling allowing Binyam Mohamed and four other former or current prisoners to sue a Bay Area company for allegedly flying them to overseas torture chambers for the CIA.

Continued >>

President Obama ignores torture

July 29, 2009

By Helen Thomas | Times Union, July 29, 2009

Secrecy is endemic in all governments. It goes with the turf, especially if their leaders hope to hide illegal or immoral behavior, such as torture of foreign prisoners.

Many Americans heaved a sigh of relief last January when President Barack Obama banned the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

It made the administration look more humane than the Bush-Cheney team. But that is not the whole story.

Obama left unaddressed the possibility of torture in secret foreign prisons under our control as in Abu Ghraib in Iraq or Bagram in Afghanistan, not to mention the ‘black sites” sponsored by our foreign clients in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Thailand and other countries.

“The United States will not torture,” Obama said in his directive. But he has been silent on the question of whether the U.S. would help others do the torturing.

Members of Congress knew a lot about U.S. torture practices. But Republicans loyal to the Bush administration and Democrats, too, played along and kept silent at the horror of it all.

Why did no bells ring for the U.S. lawmakers — particularly those privy to the brutality — when briefed on the abusive treatment of the captives. Did they owe more allegiance to the CIA than to the honor of our country?

There are hair-raising reports of methods that Americans — including private contractors — have used to coerce information from our prisoners.

They include slamming a prisoner against a wall; denying him sleep and food; waterboarding him under so-called enhanced interrogation; and keeping him in a crate filled with insects.

I remember when President Ronald Reagan, marveling at the courage of American soldiers, used to say: “Where do we get such men?” And I have to ask: “Where did we get such people who would inflict so much pain and ruthlessness on others?”

William Rivers Pitt, a best-selling author who wrote “The Greatest Sedition is Silence,” recently raised the emotional question of whether U.S. adoption of torture has debased the international standards for treatment of prisoners and that our enemies may now feel that they can torture Americans. Pitt specifically expressed concern about Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan last month.

American military leaders had warned President Bush over and over that U.S. torture of prisoners could boomerang against our troops. But he would not listen.

Obama has blocked publication of pictures of the harsh treatment of prisoners from our two ongoing wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — but the word still gets around.

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com.

Bagram is Now Obama’s Guantanamo

June 25, 2009
By William Fisher | The Public Record, June 25, 2009

While millions know that the administration of George W. Bush has left Barack Obama with the job of closing the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, relatively few are aware that the new president will also face a similar but far larger dilemma 7,000 miles away.

That dilemma is what to do with the what has become known as “the other GITMO” – the U.S.-controlled military prison at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in Afghanistan – and the estimated 600-700 detainees now held there.

The “other GITMO” was set up by the U.S. military as a temporary screening site after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan overthrew the Taliban. It currently houses more than three times as many prisoners as are still held at Guantanamo.

In 2005, following well-documented accounts of detainee deaths, torture and “disappeared” prisoners, the U.S. undertook efforts to turn the facility over to the Afghan government. But due to a series of legal, bureaucratic and administrative missteps, the prison is still under American military control. And a recent confidential report from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has reportedly complained about the continued mistreatment of prisoners.

The ICRC report is said to cite massive overcrowding, “harsh” conditions, lack of clarity about the legal basis for detention, prisoners held “incommunicado” in “a previously undisclosed warren of isolation cells” and “sometimes subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions”. Some prisoners have been held without charges or lawyers for more than five years. The Red Cross said that dozens of prisoners have been held incommunicado for weeks or even months, hidden from prison inspectors.

“When prisoners are in American custody and under American control, no matter the location, our values and commitment to the rule of law are at stake,” said Jonathan Hafetz, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project in response to a new report published by the BBC documenting the torture of more than two-dozen former detainees. “Torture and abuse at Bagram is further evidence that prisoner abuse in U.S. custody was systemic, not aberrational, and originated at the highest levels of government. We must learn the truth about what went wrong, hold the proper people accountable and make sure these failed policies are not continued or repeated.”

In April, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records pertaining to the detention and treatment of prisoners held at Bagram, including the number of people currently detained, their names, citizenship, place of capture and length of detention. The ACLU is also seeking records pertaining to the process afforded those prisoners to challenge their detention and designation as “enemy combatants.”

“The U.S. government’s detention of hundreds of prisoners at Bagram has been shrouded in complete secrecy,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “The American people have a right to know what’s happening at Bagram and whether prisoners have been tortured there.”

In a related case, the ACLU is representing former Bagram prisoner Mohammed Jawad in a habeas corpus challenge to his indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay. The Afghan government recently sent a letter to the U.S. government suggesting Jawad was as young as 12 when he was captured in Afghanistan and taken to Bagram, where he was tortured. Despite the fact that the primary evidence against Jawad was thrown out in his military commission case at Guantánamo because it was derived through torture, the U.S. government continues to rely on such evidence – including evidence obtained during interrogations at Bagram – in Jawad’s current habeas case to justify holding him indefinitely.

According to Hina Shamsi of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “Bagram appears to be just as bad as, if not worse than, Guantanamo. When a prisoner is in American custody and under American control, our values are at stake and our commitment to the rule of law is tested”.

She told us, “The abuses cited by the Red Cross give us cause for concern that we may be failing the test. The Bush administration is not content to limit its regime of illegal detention to Guantanamo, and has tried to foist it on Afghanistan.”

She added: “Both Congress and the executive branch need to investigate what’s happening at Bagram if we are to avoid a tragic repetition of history.”

But most observers believe the solution is more likely to come in the courts and to be inextricably linked to recent judicial decisions affecting prisoners at Guantanamo.

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that foreign nationals held as terrorism suspects by the U.S. military at Guantanamo have a constitutional right to challenge their captivity in U.S. courts in Washington. Last week, a federal judge began exploring whether this landmark decision also applies to Bagram.

Like Guantanamo, Bagram was set up as a facility where battlefield captives could be held for the duration of the “war on terrorism” under full military control in an overseas site beyond the reach of U.S. courts.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly thwarted the campaign to insulate Guantanamo from the courts’ review.  But the Justice argument is that none of those rulings has any application to Bagram, and that the federal judge should dismiss the legal challenges by Bagram detainees by finding that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over them.

But lawyers for four Bagram prisoners who have been held in detention since at least 2003 contend that recent Supreme Court Guantanamo decisions also apply to Afghanistan. They are also arguing that another Supreme Court decision — Munaf v. Geren — extended habeas rights to a U.S. military facility in Baghdad.

Barbara Olshansky of the Stanford Law School represents three of the four men who brought the court action. She said “there is no more complete analogy or mirror to Guantanamo than this (case).”

While U.S. District Judge John D. Bates has not ruled on the government’s motion to dismiss the four Bagram cases, he said during the court hearing, “These individuals are no different than those detained at Guantanamo except where they’re housed.”

In its motion to dismiss the cases, the Justice Department argued that Bagram is so much a part of ongoing military operations that there simply is no role for U.S. courts to play. “To provide alien enemy combatants detained in a theater of war the privilege of access to our civil courts is unthinkable both legally and practically,” the government’s brief claimed.

The government claims the U.S. does not have nearly the control over the Bagram Airfield as it does over Guantanamo Bay, and thus the reasoning of the Supreme Court in extending habeas rights to Guantanamo should not apply to Bagram.

It also noted that Bagram is in the midst of a war zone; Guantanamo is not.  It asserted that civilian court review of Bagram detentions would actually compromise the military mission in Afghanistan.

The Munaf decision also has no application to Bagram, the government’s motion contended, because that involved U.S. citizens, not foreign nationals.

Lawyers for the Bagram detainees noted that some of them have been held for more than six years, so any argument the Justice Department might have made against habeas rights abroad has now lost its force “after so much time has passed.”

They say the issue “is whether the Executive can create a modern-day Star Chamber, where it can label an individual an ‘enemy combatant’ or ‘unlawful enemy combatant,’ deny him any meaningful ability to challenge that label, and on that basis, detain him indefinitely, virtually incommunicado, subject to interrogation and torture, without any right of redress.”

The lawyers note that the Supreme Court has rejected such efforts at Guantanamo on three occasions.  But it added that the government is now seeking “to revive their effort to create a prison beyond judicial scrutiny by arguing that habeas does not extend to Bagram because they have deliberately located their Star Chamber in an airfield they contend is outside their ‘realm,’ for the express purpose of avoiding compliance with domestic civil, criminal, military, and international law.”

Bagram, their brief contended, “is not a temporary holding camp, intended to house enemy soldiers apprehended on the battlefield, for the duration of a declared war, finite in time and space.”  It said the “war on terror” as conceived by the government is “unlimited in duration and global in scope.”

It also noted that, unlike Guantanamo, Bagram is a permanent prison. Thousands of individuals from all over the world have been taken to the airfield prison, and nearly 700 remain there now, and it is being expanded with a new prison to hold more than 11,000. Moreover, they argued, Bagram detainees do not even have the minimal procedural guarantees to have their captivity reviewed that Guantanamo prisoners have in the so-called “Combatant Status Review Tribunals.” The military does not operate CSRTs as Bagram.

Lawyers for the four men — two Yemeni, one Tunisian and one Afghan – said none was captured while in battle or otherwise directly aiding terrorist groups.

The Justice Department argued that releasing alleged enemy combatants into the Afghan war zone, or even diverting U.S. personnel there to consider their legal cases, could threaten security.

“What evidence is there to believe they would return to the battlefield?” Judge Bates asked Deputy Assistant Attorney General John O’Quinn. “They were not on the battlefield to begin with.”

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now writes on a wide-range of issues, from human rights to foreign affairs, for numerous newspapers and online journals. He blogs at The World According to Bill Fisher.

Detainee says he gave false story after harsh interrogation

June 17, 2009

Suspected Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told U.S. military officials he gave false information to the CIA even after undergoing…

By Julian E. Barnes and Greg Miller |  The Seattle Times, June 16, 2009

Tribune Washington Bureau

Sept. 11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Sept. 11 suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

WASHINGTON — Suspected Sept. 11 organizer Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told U.S. military officials he gave false information to the CIA even after undergoing punishing bouts of interrogation, according to documents made public Monday, a claim likely to intensify the debate over the Bush administration’s use of harsh techniques to gain information from terrorism suspects.

Mohammed made the assertion during hearings held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the militant leader was transferred in 2006 after being held at secret CIA sites since his capture in 2003.

“I make up stories,” Mohammed said, describing in broken English an interrogation likely administered by the CIA concerning the location of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

“Where is he? I don’t know. Then, he torture me,” Mohammed said. “Then I said, ‘Yes, he is in this area.’ ”

The admission could amplify calls for the Obama administration to make public more information about the abuse of detainees or to allow a broader inquiry into the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. Monday’s disclosure, representing the first allegation by a detainee that he lied while being subjected to harsh practices, also could raise more questions about the effectiveness of the techniques.

The transcripts were released as part of a lawsuit in which the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking documents and details of the government’s terrorism-detainee programs.

Previous accounts of the military tribunal hearings had been made public, but the Obama administration reviewed the still-secret sections and determined that more could be released.

Most of the new material centers on the detainees’ claims of abuse during interrogations while being held overseas in CIA custody.

One detainee, Abu Zubaydah, told the tribunal that after months “of suffering and torture, physically and mentally, they did not care about my injuries.”

Zubaydah was the first detainee subjected to Bush administration-approved harsh interrogation techniques, which included a simulated form of drowning known as waterboarding, slamming the suspect into walls and prolonged periods of nudity.

Zubaydah claimed in the hearing that he “nearly died four times.”

Obama dealt Guantanamo setback

May 21, 2009
Al  Jazeera, May 21, 2009

Obama is expected to outline his plan for the 240 Guantanamo detainees on Thursday [EPA]

The US senate has denied funding for Barack Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre by January, voting instead to keep it running indefinitely.

The senate voted on Wednesday to block any transfer of prisoners to facilities on the US mainland, saying they wanted to first see a detailed plan from the president on what would happen to the men.

The crushing 90-6 bipartisan vote comes a day before Obama is scheduled to outline his plan for the 240 detainees still being held at the much-criticised detention centre.

Obama had requested for $80m to transfer the remaining detainees before shutting down the facility at the US naval base in Cuba by January 2010.

The vote comes on the heels of a similar move last week in the House of Representatives.

The Republicans in recent weeks have also called for keeping the Guantanamo prison open.

Plan outline

The White House said after the vote that Obama would reveal details of his plans for the prisoners in a speech on national security on Thursday.

There are concerns over the security risks of bringing the detainees into the US [EPA]

“The president understands that his most important job is to keep the American people safe and that he is not going to make any decision or any judgment that imperils the safety of the American people,” Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said.Gibbs said Obama had not decided where some of the detainees would be sent but added that the president “understands that there aren’t any easy decisions in this” but was determined to work with congress to fulfil his pledge to shut the place down.

Wednesday’s vote drew criticism from the Pentagon which said legislators were making it “exceedingly difficult” to meet the president’s January deadline.

The senate’s vote, however, is not the final word on the matter.

The congress is expected to complete work on the legislation next month, giving the White House time pursue a compromise that would allow Obama to fulfil his pledge.

Earlier the head of the FBI told a congressional panel about the risks involved in bringing Guantanamo detainees into the US.

Security risks

“The concerns we have about individuals who may support terrorism being in the United States run from concerns about providing financing to terrorists, radicalising others with regard to violent extremism, the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States,” Robert Mueller, the FBI’s director, said.

“Guantanamo is used by al-Qaeda as a symbol of American abuse of Muslims and is fanning the flames of anti-Americanism around the world”

Dianne Feinstein, Democratic senator

Mueller said the threat of Guantanamo detainees radicalising others would apply even if they were held in supermaximum-security prisons on the US mainland.Also this week, John Bates, a US district judge, ruled that some of the prisoners could be held indefinitely at Guantanamo without being charged, increasing the pressure on the Obama administration to develop a plan.

The overwhelming senate vote against Obama’s plan was a victory for the Republicans, but Obama’s Democratic allies, even in voting to deny the funds to close the detention facility, insisted the president was fundamentally correct.

“Guantanamo is used by al-Qaeda as a symbol of American abuse of Muslims and is fanning the flames of anti-Americanism around the world,” Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator, said.

Britain Tries to Block CIA Rendition Case

May 5, 2009
by William Fisher | Antiwar.com,  May 05, 2009

British High Court judges are expected to rule this week on whether a document by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency can be publicly disclosed, thus opening the courthouse door to a lawsuit charging that the British government was complicit in facilitating the rendition of a British resident by the CIA, which tortured and secretly imprisoned him at Guantánamo Bay.

Lawyers acting for David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, last week made a last-ditch attempt to block the release of the CIA information, which reportedly shows what British authorities knew about the mistreatment of British resident Binyam Mohamed.

The information is a seven-paragraph summary of CIA documents, described earlier by Lord Justice Thomas and Mr. Justice Lloyd Jones as containing nothing which could “possibly be described as ‘highly sensitive classified U.S. intelligence.’”

In a ruling earlier this year, the High Court judges said: “Indeed we did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials … relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it might be.”

However, David Mackie, a senior government lawyer, told the two judges that Miliband had been told by Obama administration officials that the disclosure of the seven paragraphs “could likely result in serious damage to UK and U.S. national security.”

The claim was made despite Obama’s recent decision to release detailed information about CIA interrogation techniques, including waterboarding.

Lawyers for Mohamed say Obama’s action means it is highly unlikely that the president would object to the disclosure of the CIA summary.

This latest move in the long-running case in the High Court comes as a federal appeals court in the U.S. gave the legal green light to a case brought there by five men including Mohamed and another British resident, Bisher al-Rawi, who say they were tortured under the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.

The five former Guantánamo Bay detainees are suing Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan for allegedly providing flights to secret prisons overseas, where the abuse is said to have happened.

In what may become a landmark decision, a federal appeals court recently ruled that the “state secrets privilege” – routinely used by the government to block lawsuits against its officials – can only be used to contest specific evidence, but not to dismiss an entire suit.

The ruling, which was hailed by human rights advocates, came in connection with a lawsuit against a company known as Jeppesen DataPlan for its role in the government’s “extraordinary rendition” program during the administration of former President George W. Bush.

“This is a tremendous step forward,” said Mohamed’s lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, director of the Britain-based legal charity Reprieve, referring to the decision in the U.S. case.

“Binyam Mohamed, Bisher al-Rawi [another plaintiff] and perhaps many others are one step closer to making the CEOs of these companies stop and think before they commit criminal acts for profit,” he told IPS.

Reprieve’s renditions investigator Clara Gutteridge said: “It is inconceivable that Jeppesen acted alone. People in the highest echelons of the U.S. – and in some cases the UK– governments have authorized illegal rendition flights and must also be held accountable.”

The U.S. suit charges that Jeppesen knowingly participated in the rendition program by providing critical flight planning and logistical support services to aircraft and crews used by the CIA to forcibly “disappear” the five men to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas where they were interrogated under torture. Jeppesen is a subsidiary of aerospace giant Boeing. The lawsuit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

During the Bush administration, the government intervened when the case first came before a lower court in 2007, successfully asserting the “state secrets” privilege to have the case thrown out in February 2008. On appeal, the administration of President Barack Obama followed the same road as its predecessor. The appeals court has now reversed that decision.

But lawyers for the men who brought the case also sounded a note of caution. “This historic decision marks the beginning, not the end, of this litigation,” Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, told IPS. Wizner argued the case for the plaintiffs.

The U.S. appeals court ruling means that the government can assert the “state secrets” privilege for specific pieces of evidence, but not to end a case before it begins.

That means that the privilege is primarily an evidentiary privilege, a definition civil libertarians have long sought. The State Secrets Protection Act, now pending in Congress, would turn that definition into law.

The Obama administration now has three options. It can do nothing, which will mean the case will finally go before a U.S. court. It can ask the entire Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear the case. Or it can appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

If the case goes to trial, the government can still argue that disclosing anything about Jeppesen’s relationship with the United States government would jeopardize national security secrets. But now it can no longer simply “assert” that privilege; it will have to convince a judge by arguing the point in court.

(Inter Press Service)


%d bloggers like this: