- Published on Friday, 01 May 2009
- Written by ACLU
On Wednesday, the ACLU Human Rights Program and National Security Project won a crucial ruling in our Jeppesen DataPlan "extraordinary rendition" lawsuit, allowing the suit to move forward. This exciting win means that for the first time a U.S. court has held that men who were kidnapped, sent to secret prisons overseas, and tortured at the hands of (or at the behest of) the U.S. government will finally have their day in court.
This lawsuit charges Jeppesen DataPlan (a Boeing subsidiary) with enabling the Bush administration's unlawful "extraordinary rendition" program. Until now, this challenge had been stymied by the Bush and then Obama administration's improper invocation of the "state secrets" privilege.
The court of appeals decision reversed a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit, which upheld the government's position that allowing the case to proceed would undermine U.S. national security interests. This week's ruling categorically rejected that argument and says that the government may only invoke the state secrets privilege with respect to specific evidence, not to dismiss the entire lawsuit from the outset -- a position that we've argued all along.
"This historic decision marks the beginning, not the end, of this litigation," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. "Our clients, who are among the hundreds of victims of torture under the Bush administration, have waited for years just to get a foot in the courthouse door. Now, at long last, they will have their day in court. This ruling demolishes once and for all the legal fiction, advanced by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, that facts known throughout the world could be deemed 'secrets' in a court of law."