[Trigger warning for torture.]
To wit: The New York Times reports on a federal appeals court's ruling yesterday that found "former prisoners of the CIA could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information." The case, which was brought by the ACLU on behalf of five former detainees who reported being tortured in captivity, was originally allowed to proceed by a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court, was appealed by the Obama administration, who have now won the appeal after a majority on the federal appeals court concluded "that the lawsuit represented 'a rare case' in which the government's need to protect state secrets trumped the plaintiffs' need to have a day in court."
The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration's efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers.The ACLU filed the case in 2007, at which point the Bush administration petitioned for a dismissal using their oft-invoked argument that allowing the case to proceed "would jeopardize national security." The case was dismissed. Obama—who, as you may recall, campaigned on strong criticisms of the Bush administration's incessant invocation of the state-secrets privilege—was elected as an appeal was pending, and—poof!—within one month of taking office, "his weeks-old administration told the appeals court that it agreed with the Bush view in that case."
...While the alleged abuses occurred during the Bush administration, the ruling added a chapter to the Obama administration's aggressive national security policies.
...Its counterterrorism programs have in some ways departed from the expectations of change fostered by President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, which was often sharply critical of former President George W. Bush’s approach.
Among other policies, the Obama national security team has also authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.'s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers — though the administration has forbidden torture and says it seeks assurances from other countries that detainees will not be mistreated.
Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder "issued a new state-secrets privilege policy requiring high-level approval, instructing officials to try to avoid shutting down lawsuits if possible, and forbidding its use with a motive of covering up lawbreaking or preventing embarrassment."
The directive apparently did not say anything about protecting the government's corporate masters.
The worst thing about this case, you see, is that the Obama administration is not merely invoking the so-called state-secrets privilege in defense of the CIA, but in defense of the powerful leviathan of the military-industrial complex against which the case was brought: Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary who allegedly facilitated the flights integral to the CIA's extraordinary rendition program and were thus complicit in the alleged torture of the detainees they were contracted to relocate.
Jeppesen Dataplan and the C.I.A. referred questions to the Justice Department, where a spokesman, Matthew Miller, praised its new standards.The Obama administration evidently doesn't have a problem with the CIA being totes BFFs with influential contractors, but I sure as fuck do.
"The attorney general adopted a new policy last year to ensure the state-secrets privilege is only used in cases where it is essential to protect national security, and we are pleased that the court recognized that the policy was used appropriately in this case," Mr. Miller said.
And so does the ACLU. Their senior lawyer, Ben Wizner, who argued the case, notes:
To this date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court. That makes this a sad day not only for the torture survivors who are seeking justice in this case, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation's reputation in the world. If this decision stands, the United States will have closed its courts to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers.That, care of the Obama administration, my friends.
Emphasis mine throughout.
[Previously in Third Term of Bush: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, and there are about a zillion more, but you get the drift.]