Monthly Archives: May 2009

THE NEW DECISION IN THE COURT OF APPEALS

Below is the link to full text of the new ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the ACLU/Boeing case.
Note that the decision is by a panel of three judges, not the full appeals court: there could be a Justice Department appeal to the full court (with Bybee participating unless he is impeached), and even after that possibly to the Supreme Court.  Nevertheless, this new decision is a milestone in state secrecy litigation and a major step toward learning the truth about extraordinary renditions and the role played by Boeing/Jeppesen.
Even if you skip the parts of the decision on state secrecy law, please read the summaries of what happened to the plaintiffs:  a strong example of the axiom that “the Devil is in the details,” in this case the gruesome details of diabolical torture with help from Boeing/Jeppesen.
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Fed court revives rendition lawsuit against Boeing

By PAUL ELIAS | Associated Press Writer

5:34 PM CDT, April 28, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that a subsidiary of Chicago-based Boeing Co. can be sued for allegedly flying terrorism suspects to secret prisons around the world to be tortured as part of the CIA‘s “extraordinary rendition” program.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a lower court judge wrongly tossed out the lawsuit after the government asserted the case was a “state secret” that would harm national security if allowed to go forward.

The trial court judge dismissed the case before the prisoners could present evidence allegedly showing that the company’s participation in the program was illegal. The Bush administration and then the Obama administration argued that the lawsuit should be thrown out before the government turns over any evidence because the nature of the legal action is itself a classified matter.

The federal government inserted itself into the lawsuit on the company’s side because it said feared top-secret information would be disclosed.

The appeals court, however, said the five prisoners suing San Jose-based Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. can try to prove their case without using top-secret information that legitimately needs protection from disclosure.

“Only if privileged evidence is indispensable to either party should it dismiss the complaint,” Judge Michael Hawkins wrote for the appeals court.

The prisoners’ attorney, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the ruling will give his clients a chance to prove their case, which was filed in 2007 and alleged torture in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.

“It is now 2009 and no torture victim has achieved justice or compensation,” Wizner said. “This finally puts us at the starting line.”

The government or the company could appeal the decision to a bigger panel of the 9th Circuit or ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling.

The company referred comment to the government. U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Charles Miller said “the United States is reviewing the court’s decision.”

The Bush administration was widely criticized for its practice of extraordinary rendition — whereby the CIA transfers suspects overseas for interrogation. Human rights advocates said renditions were the agency’s way to outsource torture of prisoners to countries where it is permitted practice. Some of the prisoners allege they were tortured.

The Bush White House had said the U.S. does not engage in torture.

The Obama administration says it will continue to send foreign detainees to other countries for questioning but only if U.S. officials are confident the prisoners will not be tortured. The White House is reviewing the entire detention and rendition program.

THE FIELD MUSEUM DEMONSTRATION AT BOEING ANNUAL MEETING

Monday, 27 April 2009: a small but determined group of our coalition demonstrators assembled on the public sidewalk south of the Field Museum, at the point where Boeing shareholders had to pass to attend their annual meeting.
Despite powerful gusts of wind, we held up the striking banner and placard used last year, this time in full view of shareholders arriving in taxis, vans, and limousines.  Various protesters, including renowned mystery novelist and civil libertarian Sara Paretsky, handed out fliers.  By my count, at least two and possibly three dozen of these strong indictments of Boeing’s role in the torture renditions must have made their way into the meeting in the hands of shareholders.
ACLU, with our agreement, had notified the Chicago Police Department that we would be present on the sidewalk without need of a permit to exercise our constitutionally protected right of expression.  ACLU attorney Khadine Bennett was present to monitor the event.
Boeing security guards, including one who masqueraded last year as a Chicago Park District official, came up to the boundary between us and “their” territory but merely took video and still photos of us – thereby failing to intimidate anybody.  Most significantly, the Chicago police officers present kept their distance and did not, as last year, herd us into a distant “First Amendment Zone,” far from the Boeing visitors.
In short, we scored a victory for the First Amendment and got our message to some of Boeing’s owners.  The frosting on the cake was the Appeals Court decision the very next day.
Unfortunately, my photos did not turn out very well, though I have some video of the Boeing security personnel (not exactly a rainbow diversity crowd, by the way).  A reporter from the new Medill news service took numerous photos and promised to email them to me but so far has not done so.
Thanks to everyone who joined us and helped us.
Bob