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Sunday, February 10, 2008

From Pakistan with love

Pakistan's government routinely hands off her citizens and those of other countries unabashedly to its masters. Remember Aimal Kansi? Here is one more victim nabbed in Pakistan - t

"State Secret" Privilege Used to Block Lawsuit on Behalf of Torture Victims

By Maya Harris, ACLU Northern California.

Is extraordinary rendition really a "state secret" anymore?

Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian citizen and legal resident of the United Kingdom, was abducted in 2002 by masked men and flown, blindfolded, from Pakistan to Morocco. For 18 months, Mohamed was regularly beaten into unconsciousness by his interrogators. After a scalpel was used to cut into his body, hot, stinging liquid was poured into his wounds.

Mohamed is just one victim of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, which the Bush administration has defended openly, yet is now arguing it cannot discuss without endangering national security.

The government is calling for the dismissal of an ACLU lawsuit -- brought on behalf of Mohamed and four other rendition victims -- against the San Jose Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. for its alleged participation in the rendition program. The Bush administration has intervened in the case and is invoking the "state secrets" privilege to avoid accountability for its illegal torture policies. A hearing on the government's motion was held Feb. 5 in San Jose and we are awaiting a decision.

The "state secrets" privilege has historically been used to exclude discrete pieces of evidence from lawsuits in order to protect national security, not to throw out entire cases. But the Bush administration has begun to misuse the privilege by routinely waving the "state secrets" flag in an effort to quash lawsuits that might expose its illegal conduct. In addition to this case, the "state secrets" claim has been raised in an effort to throw out other torture and illegal wiretapping suits.


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