By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition”


Sometimes a story is so troubling that it takes some time to digest, and the ruling delivered last Wednesday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (PDF), in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of five men subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, is one such story. The men — Binyam Mohamed, Ahmed Agiza, Abou Elkassim Britel, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah and Bisher al-Rawi — claim, with some justification, and with copious amounts of evidence in their possession, that their rendition, and their torture in a variety of countries, was facilitated by Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., a subsidiary of Boeing whose role as “The CIA’s Travel Agent” was first exposed, through statements made by a former Jeppesen employee, in an article by Jane Mayer for the New Yorker in October 2006.

In statements that were later submitted to the court, Sean Belcher, a former employee, said that the director of Jeppesen International Trip Planning Services, Bob Overby, had told him, “We do all the extraordinary rendition flights,” which he also referred to as “the torture flights” or “spook flights.” Belcher stated that “there were some employees who were not comfortable with that aspect of Jeppesen’s business” because they knew “some of these flights end up” with the passengers being tortured, but added that Overby had explained, “that’s just the way it is, we’re doing them” because “the rendition flights paid very well.”

Last Wednesday, however, when asked to rule on whether these five men should have their day in court, or whether the government should be allowed to dismiss their lawsuit by claiming that the exposure of any information relating to “extraordinary rendition” and torture threatened the national security of the United States, American justice contemplated looking at itself squarely in the mirror, telling truth to power, and allowing these men the opportunity to address what had happened to them in a court of law, but, at the last minute, flinched and turned away. By six votes to five, the Court decided that, in the interests of national security, the men’s day in court would be denied.

As Judge Raymond C. Fisher stated in the majority opinion (in which he was joined by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and Judges Richard C. Tallman, Johnnie B. Rawlinson, Consuelo M. Callahan and Carlos T. Bea):

This case requires us to address the difficult balance the state secrets doctrine strikes between fundamental principles of our liberty, including justice, transparency, accountability and national security. Although as judges we strive to honor all of these principles, there are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between them. On those rare occasions, we are bound to follow the Supreme Court’s admonition that “even the most compelling necessity cannot overcome the claim of privilege if the court is ultimately satisfied that [state] secrets are at stake.” After much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude this is such a case, and the plaintiffs’ action must be dismissed.

This is an extraordinarily depressing result, because the Jeppesen case, which had been dismissed by the District Court in 2008, had then been won on appeal before three judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2009. On that occasion the judges in question — Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Mary M. Schroeder and William C. Canby, Jr. — had thoroughly demolished the government’s claim — first submitted by the Bush administration, and then, to the judges’ great surprise, slavishly copied by President Obama’s Justice Department — that it could dismiss the case by invoking the “state secrets” doctrine.

Unlike last Wednesday, when the majority agreed with the government regarding the “state secrets” doctrine, the panel of judges in April 2009 had no hesitation, in reviewing what they described as the “relatively thin history” of the doctrine, in dismissing the government’s reliance on two precedents because of their irrelevance to the Jeppesen case. One, Totten v. United States, involved a secret agreement between the government and a spy in the nineteenth century, and the other, United States v. Reynolds, from 1953, dealt with the prevention of “discovery of secret evidence when disclosure would threaten national security.”

As I explained in an article at the time:

[The judges, in an opinion written by Judge Hawkins] did this first by pinpointing the “clear error” the District Court made when it initially dismissed the case, when the court declared, “inasmuch as the case involves ‘allegations’ about the conduct of the CIA, the privilege is invoked to protect information which is properly the subject of state secrets privilege,” and also declared that “the very subject matter of this case is a state secret.” In contrast, the Appeals Court judges insisted that “The subject matter … is not a state secret, and the case should not have been dismissed at the outset.”

Dismissing the government’s arguments, they concluded that, although the government may be entitled to protect certain evidence in the interests of national security, it has no justification for suppressing judicial scrutiny of the case as a whole, particularly because some information relating to the case is already publicly available, and also because what the government is actually trying to do, with no legal precedent whatsoever, is to impose a blanket ban on all discussion of potential government wrongdoing.

In a particularly powerful passage, Judge Hawkins stated:

At base, the government argues … that state secrets form the subject matter of a lawsuit, and therefore require dismissal, any time a complaint contains allegations, the truth or falsity of which has been classified as secret by a government official. The district court agreed, dismissing the case exclusively because it “involves allegations” about [secret] conduct by the CIA.” This sweeping characterization of the “very subject matter” bar has no logical limit — it would apply equally to suits by US citizens, not just foreign nationals; and to secret conduct committed on US soil, not just abroad. According to the government’s theory, the Judiciary should effectively cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its partners from the demands and limits of the law (emphasis added).

Elsewhere, as I also explained:

[T]he judges drew on Boumediene [v. Bush, the 2008 ruling granting the Guantánamo prisoners constitutionally guaranteed habeas corpus rights], in which the Supreme Court stated that, while “[s]ecurity depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus,” it “subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles [including] freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by the adherence to the separation of powers.” They also drew on Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, another important Guantánamo case in the Supreme Court (in 2004), in which the justices stated, “Separation-of-powers concerns take on an especially important role in the context of secret Executive conduct. As the Founders of this nation knew well, arbitrary imprisonment and torture under any circumstance is a ‘gross and notorious … act of despotism.’”

I was also particularly impressed by the following passage:

If the simple fact that information is classified were enough to bring evidence containing that evidence within the scope of the [state secrets] privilege, then the entire state secrets inquiry — from determining which matters are secret to which disclosures pose a threat to national security — would fall exclusively to the Executive branch, in plain contravention of the Supreme Court’s admonition that “[j]udicial control over the evidence in a case cannot be abdicated to the caprice of executive officers” without “lead[ing] to intolerable abuses.” … A rule that categorically equated “classified” matters with “secret” matters would, for example, perversely encourage the President to classify politically embarrassing information simply to place it beyond the reach of judicial process.

As I also explained:

What was notable about this passage was that it succinctly encapsulated the entire approach to “classified” information that was maintained by the Bush administration, and also mentioned invoking national security to prevent embarrassment — or, it could be said, to prevent the disclosure of crimes.

Sixteen months on, it is clear from reviewing Judge Hawkins’ opinion that nothing has fundamentally changed, and that therefore the majority that prevailed last week has simply repeated the “clear error” the District Court made when it initially dismissed the case, and has endorsed the President’s right to “classify politically embarrassing information simply to place it beyond the reach of judicial process,” albeit with more obvious hand-wringing.

If justice does still mean anything under the cowardly Obama administration, then the Jeppesen case will proceed to the Supreme Court, although, since Justice John Paul Stevens retired (PDF), there is no longer much hope for justice there either. Justice Stevens’ replacement, Obama’s former Solicitor General Elena Kagan, is contaminated by her involvement in national security arguments on behalf of her former boss, and will have to recuse herself from anything touching on the Bush administration’s toxic legacy. As a result, the Supreme Court is likely to split 4-4 on issues like the Jeppesen case, handing victory back to the senior administration officials who so desperately crave blanket immunity for the Bush administration’s torturers.

This is a profoundly depressing thought, especially as so many commentators have expressed their disgust at last week’s ruling. In an editorial entitled, “Torture Is a Crime, Not a Secret,” the New York Times lamented, “The decision diminishes any hope that this odious practice [“extraordinary rendition”] will finally receive the legal label it deserves: a violation of international law,” and the Los Angeles Times declared, “The decision to short-circuit the trial process is more than a misreading of the law; it’s an egregious miscarriage of justice. That’s obvious from a perusal of the plaintiffs’ complaint. One said that while he was imprisoned in Egypt, electrodes were attached to his earlobes, nipples and genitals. A second, held in Morocco, said he was beaten, denied food and threatened with sexual torture and castration. A third claimed that his Moroccan captors broke his bones and cut him with a scalpel all over his body, and poured hot, stinging liquid into his open wounds.”

For the ACLU, Ben Wizner stated:

This is a sad day not only for the torture victims whose attempt to seek justice has been extinguished, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation’s reputation in the world. To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court. If today’s decision is allowed to stand, the United States will have closed its courtroom doors to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers. The torture architects and their enablers may have escaped the judgment of this court, but they will not escape the judgment of history.

Moreover, on Monday, Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine not only pointed out that the facts of the case “were established beyond any reasonable doubt without the need to turn to classified information,” but also reminded readers that, “Under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which adopts the position that the US Justice Department took in 1946, the crime of disappearance connected to torture is a crime against humanity, with no statute of limitations and no defense of superior orders applicable.” Horton also reminded readers that, by signing the UN Convention Against Torture in 1987, the United States “made an unequivocal commitment to the international community to compensate those who are tortured by its agents” — and also, it should be noted, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In addition, Horton pointed out that, in February this year, the Court of Appeal in London, which “had already viewed the formidable evidence” in Binyam Mohamed’s case, had brought to an end 18 months of Obama-style stonewalling by foreign secretary David Miliband regarding British knowledge of Mohamed’s torture by US agents, and had ordered the information to be publicly released, leading to a criminal investigation, which is ongoing, and, with a change of government, the announcement of a judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture — something that many of Obama’s supporters had hoped would happen in the US. As Horton explained, “The British court concluded, just as the Ninth Circuit was legally obligated to do, that state-secrecy claims could not be used to block discovery of evidence of crimes.”

Horton also explained that, although the position taken by Eric Holder’s Justice Department — that it is “protecting state secrets essential to our security” — is “risible, and half of the court saw through it,” what is really at stake is the possibility that evidence produced in the US could be used elsewhere. As he stated:

Twenty-three US agents have already been convicted for their role in a rendition in Milan. Prosecutors in Spain have issued arrest warrants for a further 13 US agents involved in a botched rendition case that touched on Spanish soil. Prosecutors in Germany have opened a criminal investigation into the use of Ramstein [Air Force Base] in connection with torture and illegal kidnappings. Prosecutors in Poland are pursuing a similar matter. And Prime Minister David Cameron was recently forced to brief President Obama on his decision to direct a formal inquiry which could lead to prosecutions tied directly to the subject matter of the Mohamed case. This is the remarkable background to the case decided by the Ninth Circuit, and remarkably not a single word about this appears anywhere in the opinion — or even in most of the press accounts about it.

While we wait to see what — if anything — happens next, I’d like to leave you with some sensible words regarding the legitimate scope of the “state secrets” doctrine, as written by Judge Hawkins in the opening paragraphs of his dissenting opinion last week, in which he was again joined by Judges Schroeder and Canby, and also by Judges Sidney R. Thomas and Richard A. Paez:

The majority dismisses the case in its entirety before Jeppesen has even filed an answer to Plaintiffs’ complaint. Outside of the narrow Totten context, the state secrets privilege has never applied to prevent parties from litigating the truth or falsity of allegations, or facts, or information simply because the government regards the truth or falsity of the allegations to be secret. Within the Reynolds framework, dismissal is justified if and only if specific privileged evidence is itself indispensable to establishing either the truth of the plaintiffs’ allegations or a valid defense that would otherwise be available to the defendant.

This is important, because an approach that focuses on specific evidence after issues are joined has the benefit of confining the operation of the state secrets doctrine so that it will sweep no more broadly than clearly necessary. The state secrets doctrine is a judicial construct without foundation in the Constitution, yet its application often trumps what we ordinarily consider to be due process of law. This case now presents a classic illustration. Plaintiffs have alleged facts, which must be taken as true for purposes of a motion to dismiss, that any reasonable person would agree to be gross violations of the norms of international law, remediable under the Alien Tort Statute. They have alleged in detail Jeppesen’s complicity or recklessness in participating in these violations. The government intervened, and asserted that the suit would endanger state secrets. The majority opinion here accepts that threshold objection by the government, so Plaintiffs’ attempt to prove their case in court is simply cut off. They are not even allowed to attempt to prove their case by the use of non-secret evidence in their own hands or in the hands of third parties.

It is true that, judicial construct though it is, the state secrets doctrine has become embedded in our controlling decisional law. Government claims of state secrets therefore must be entertained by the judiciary. But the doctrine is so dangerous as a means of hiding governmental misbehavior under the guise of national security, and so violative of common rights to due process, that courts should confine its application to the narrowest circumstances that still protect the government’s essential secrets. When, as here, the doctrine is successfully invoked at the threshold of litigation, the claims of secret are necessarily broad and hypothetical. The result is a maximum interference with the due processes of the courts, on the most general claims of state secret privilege. It is far better to require the government to make its claims of state secrets with regard to specific items of evidence or groups of such items as their use is sought in the lawsuit. An official certification that evidence is truly a state secret will be more focused if the head of a department must certify that specific evidence sought in the course of litigation is truly a secret and cannot be revealed without danger to overriding, essential government interests. And when responsive pleading is complete and discovery under way, judgments as to whether secret material is essential to Plaintiffs’ case or Jeppesen’s defense can be made more accurately. […]

This is an appeal from a Rule 12 dismissal, which means that the district court was required to assume that the well-pleaded allegations of the complaint are true, and that we “construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff[s].” The majority minimizes the importance of these requirements by gratuitously attaching “allegedly” to nearly each sentence describing what Plaintiffs say happened to them, and by quickly dismissing the voluminous publicly available evidence supporting those allegations, including that Jeppesen knew what was going on when it arranged flights described by one of its own officials as “torture flights.” Instead, the majority assumes that even if Plaintiffs’ prima facie case and Jeppesen’s defense did not depend on privileged evidence, dismissal is required “because there is no feasible way to litigate Jeppesen’s alleged liability without creating an unjustifiable risk of divulging state secrets.” But Jeppesen has yet to answer or even to otherwise plead, so we have no idea what those defenses or assertions might be. Making assumptions about the contours of future litigation involves mere speculation, and doing so flies straight in the face of long standing principles of Rule 12 law by extending the inquiry to what might be divulged in future litigation.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

As published on the Huffington Post. Cross-posted on Common Dreams, The Public Record, Uruknet, CageprisonersUnited Progressives, The Progressive MindDandelion Salad and New Left Project.

For a sequence of articles discussing the use of torture in secret prisons, see: Rendered to Egypt for torture, Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni is released from Guantánamo (September 2008), A History of Music Torture in the “War on Terror” (December 2008), Seven Years of Torture: Binyam Mohamed Tells His Story (March 2009), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part One), Ten Terrible Truths About The CIA Torture Memos (Part Two) (April 2009), Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi Has Died In A Libyan Prison (May 2009), WORLD EXCLUSIVE: New Revelations About The Torture Of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi (June 2009), What The British Government Knew About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed (August 2009), UK Judges Order Release Of Details About The Torture Of Binyam Mohamed By US Agents (October 2009), Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List (January 2010), UN Secret Detention Report Asks, “Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?” (January 2010), Mohamedou Ould Salahi: How a Judge Demolished the US Government’s Al-Qaeda Claims (April 2010), Judge Rules Yemeni’s Detention at Guantánamo Based Solely on Torture (April 2010), UN Human Rights Council Discusses Secret Detention Report (June 2010), UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq (June 2010), UN Secret Detention Report (Part Three): Proxy Detention, Other Countries’ Complicity, and Obama’s Record (June 2010), and also see the extensive Binyam Mohamed archive.

40 Responses

  1. Norwegian Shooter says...

    Troubling, to say the least. Sickening is even mild.

    Horton has also noted the federal judiciary has actually become more Republican during Obama’s term in office. (Due to lack of confirmations). I think he highlighted the very conservative nature of the DC Circuit, where the habeas appeals will be held.

    Glennzilla highlighted the damage Kagan’s frequent recusals will allow.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks again. Great links. And here are a few paragraphs from a HuffPo article today by Caroline Fredrickson, discussing the shockingly large number of judicial vacancies, as a result of political obstruction:

    There are currently 104 vacancies out of the 876 seats on the federal bench. Of those, 49 are deemed by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to be so debilitating that they are considered judicial emergencies. A high-ranking Department of Justice official predicted that if the current rate of replacing judges continues, nearly half of the 876 judgeships could be vacant by the end of the decade.

    Unfortunately this crisis is one of partisanship, rather than principle. Even as many of these judicial nominees have been voted out of committee unanimously, or nearly unanimously, by both Democrats and Republicans, a small minority in the Senate have chosen to delay their consideration, through the use of arcane and regressive procedural devices such as secret holds and the filibuster. This new approach is unprecedented. Consider, by comparison, the way in which the nominations of the previous president, who faced a Senate controlled by the opposing party, were handled. According to a recent analysis, President George W. Bush’s nominees waited an average of 16 days for confirmation following approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee. As of July, the average wait for President Barack Obama’s nominees was 82 days.

  3. By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition” « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] on September 15, 2010 by dandelionsalad by Andy Worthington Featured Writer Dandelion Salad 15 September, 2010 Image via […]

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Here are some comments from the Huffington Post:

    alan2a wrote:

    Does anybody else want to throw up realizing that this is the Obama Administration, a supposed Democratic “change you can believe in” liberal Administration. What’s the difference between these criminals and the last ones? Don’t bother to answer with nonsense rationalizations as in point of fact there are none. Period.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    William Shepherd wrote:

    I guess Change was from Bush to Obama. Everything else has stayed the same. What do you get when you have hope in one hand and sh*t in the other? Exactly.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    billstewart wrote:

    As a Libertarian in a solidly Democratic district and state, I didn’t vote for Obama, but I was really looking forward to some Hopey Changey Stuff once he got into office. I wasn’t expecting him to fix Bush’s economic damage overnight or to have Bill Clinton’s sense of fiscal responsibility, but at least the basic stuff he’d been promising about closing the illegal prison in Gitmo and stopping torture.

    Well, Obama’s administration has probably stopped torturing prisoners in Gitmo, though we can’t tell about Baghram, but his “Look Forward, Not Backward” policy not only isn’t prosecuting the Bush-era war criminals, it’s actively defending the policies they implemented. Secret prisons? Cool! Extraordinary rendition? Extraordinary! Habeas Corpus? Purely optional! Warrantless wiretapping? Not as much fun, but it’s got a shiny high-tech ring to it.

    Bush said “Fool me twice, uh, er, we won’t be fooled again”, and well, here we are with the New Boss, same as the Old Boss.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    garyg210 wrote:

    This article is an excellent discussion of the issue.

    I disagree, however, with the implication that the result to follow in the US Supreme Court might be different if Justice Stevens had not retired or if Justice Kagan would not likely recuse herself. I predict at least a 5 vote majority: Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito will certainly vote to affirm the 9th Circuit and Justice Kennedy likely will.

    The fact is that much of the protection against government abuse promised by the “Bill of Rights” no longer really exists. On the core protections of due process of law, the prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, and even free speech, the government can trump the Bill of Rights anytime it wants to play the “state secrets” card. So much for the “Land of the Free”.

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    wrightj wrote:

    These people will not escape the Justice of God. God does not want us to torture anyone not even our enemies.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Zach Stein wrote:

    That’s not good enough. We live in a secular society, we need real concrete consequences beyond theoretical consequences in the afterlife.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    ms winkle wrote:

    every day I get more upset as one story after another shows that our govt and its servants are running amok and abusing the rights of individuals, and to add insult to injury they use our tax dollars to pass these rulings that strip us of our rights.

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Aneesia wrote:

    Agree with the Corporatocracy or die ! This is no longer a democracy. The powers that be have sold the people out for $$$.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    bakuca wrote:

    Where is our shame? What happened to our sense of justice? I thought President Obama would put an end to this kind of stuff. It’s very disturbing to learn that it still continues.

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    wkb2texans wrote:

    Scenario ….

    You learn from a captured terrorist leader that a group of terrorists is going to try and destroy your city with a nuclear weapon … wanting to kill every man, woman, child and pet. What you don’t know, is when they’re going to do it … it could happen any time. The guy you’re interrogating knows the answer, but won’t tell. What do you do?

    a. Continue to follow the same interrogation processes you’ve been following and hope he gives up the information …
    b. Give up and try to get as many people out of the city as you can before the nuclear bomb blast hits?
    c. Use “torture” techniques that have been proven effective in makeing terrorist hand over such vital information.

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    edgarcaycedoc replied:

    Addressing c. Torture techniques are notoriously unreliable, as you glean only improper or false information. When I worked in G-2 in the Army, the PRIMARY reason for us to NOT use torture, was that it yields questionable intelligence. Assuming c. also requires us to assume that the one who is being tortured will be honest. Someone dedicated to the destruction of the United States, may give information through torture, but it will either be information already compromised, information partially compromised, or invalid information. It is–according to the Intelligence wing of the US Army–not a viable or actionable source of info.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    edgarcaycedoc also wrote:

    According to S-2, the intelligence branch of the US Army, information derived by torture has little to no actionable content. Anyone dedicated to the destruction of the United States will either a) Give inaccurate information–to stop the torture until a destructive act can be committed, b) Give entirely false information–to take the US in the wrong direction, or c) Give up information that has already been compromised. According to S-2, torture is counterproductive, and as a former soldier and airman, I know it runs contrary to the ethos of the United States.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Bowlingkev wrote:

    Here’s the thing: If the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most liberal bastion of American justice, dismisses this case, might one think that perhaps the ACLU may have gone a little too far?? Seriously! Give it up! Thank Allah there is still a smidgen of common sense left….

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Jibberjabberwocky replied:

    Most of the eleven appellate justices who ruled on this matter en banc are widely regarded as the most conservative of the Appellate Justices in the 9th Circuit.

    I’m not claiming that there was some sort of conspiracy in the selection of this panel, but it is important to recognize that your generalization about the “liberal” nature of the 9th Circuit is certainly hyperbole and obviously misplaced in this case.

    (Further, I have always wondered how a circuit that is more likely to give the Constitution a rigorous application is considered ‘liberal’ when that activity is profoundly conservative.)

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    edgarcaycedoc also wrote:

    Our day will come. I don’t know when. I don’t know where. I don’t know who. But the day will come when we will have troops as prisoners under another authority. If that “authority” uses torture, we will cry about the “Geneva Accords.” We are a signator to the Geneva Accords, and by ignoring the limits imposed under this international agreement, we are placing our troops (and maybe even some private citizens traveling abroad) in mortal danger. What has happened to our ethos when we begin seeing torture as a good thing?

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    viper234 wrote:

    Welcome to the new USSR folks. The KGB would be proud indeed. And no, I’m not a Republican nor a member of the Tea Party but I do have family that emigrated from what was then the USSR and they certainly see the slippery slope this country is on.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    ZiloRS wrote:

    Yep..really think the U.S. needs to get rid of that notion that it’s somehow “special.” We’re really not much better than the nations we hate on.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    And here are some comments from Common Dreams:

    Birdbrain Alley wrote:

    The basic belief of the major courts in the United States of Global Domination is that State Secrets are more important than justice.
    These secrets are the one of the greatest enemies of democracy and they are strongly maintained through another great enemy of democracy, fear, and both of these are used in the service of avarice (which is celebrated under the label “freedom”).

    There are sharks in the aquarium and we are told that they are goldfish.

    We are brainwashed to believe that the people of this nation are the government.

    Clearly, this is a lie.

    Only right-wing corporate controllers have access to the secrets.

    The courts have decided that Abraham Lincoln was a liar.

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Frank Cash wrote:

    Little by little, they take it all away. It will not be long before Americans regret their reticence.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Progressive101 wrote:

    “This won’t affect me”

    One reason this goes on is that the average American that is aware of this has a “this won’t affect me” mentality.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Gailwainwright wrote:

    Hitler is surely chuckling merrily in hell…

    The US has finally, publicly cast aside the cumbersome and inconvenient rule of law, and is now openly a dictatorship, albeit a very subtle one. One with the best Corporate PR firms working night and day for it.

    And don’t for a minute think that these extremes won’t be used on you. It was just earlier this year that the ‘Great WHite Hope’ (as in the hope of the anglo-saxon descended progressives) Obama vindicated the US’s long practice of assassination, and opened up the definition of approved targets to include US citizens.

    Oh well… you get what you pay for.

    Non Serviam – I will not serve.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    John Mitchell wrote:

    Time to place your bets. If a Gallup poll asked Americans if they are concerned about the damage this ruling (and Obama’s “I’ll assassinate any American I choose to” proclamation) does to our country (and the world), I’ll bet that no more than 20% would answer “yes”. I hope I’m wrong, though.

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    vdb wrote:

    less than 1% would even understand the question.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Buck wrote:

    Justice is an illusion.
    There is only a legal system.

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Miggy wrote:

    The Illegal Wars can never end. The MIC, CIA, Banksters, Industrialists and Globalists have all seen to that.

    To do so would mean the beginning of investigations into Torture, War Profiteering and the pillage of the last 10 years not to mention last 87 years or so since the creation of The Federal Reserve.

    The incremental “Quiet Fascism” that has seeped into and taken over our once Great Nation is disgusting. We’ve lost our souls.

    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men,
    living together in society,
    they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

    Frederic Bastiat, (1801-1850)

    Please feel free to cut and paste.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Obedient Servant wrote:

    I admit that I’ve only picked at the copy of “The Federalist Papers” I’ve owned for several years. I “mean” to read it from cover to cover, but there are several other unread dust-caked volumes atop it at the moment just now.

    To those more conversant with it:

    Assuming for the sake of argument that the Founders sincerely intended and expected the “checks and balances” incorporated into the federal government’s tripartite structure to actually resist despotism, did the Founders even consider the consequences of the branches broadly colluding AGAINST the unprivileged common citizen?

    In hindsight, they needed to put in a fail-safe. Because once the legislature and the judiciary make common cause in supporting the executive, there seems to be no LEGAL recourse for We the People (or foreign victims of Amerikan oppression).

    Or is the remedy suggested by Jefferson’s oft-repeated quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure”?

    PS: I don’t know how Worthington does it. I actually quail (not “quayle”) when I see his byline, because I know the subject matter will be excruciatingly dismal and depressing. And I’m just sitting here on my fat ass READING about whatever close-up on the horrorshow he’s illuminating. I applaud his courage and endurance.

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    glenn ford wrote:

    How much does it take to Bribe this level judge?

    Not adjudicating this case in the USA gives the legal green light to adjudicate them abroad.

  31. ANDY WORTHINGTON: Introducing the Definitive List of the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo | My Catbird Seat says...

    […] By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition” […]

  32. ANDY WORTHINGTON: Introducing the Definitive List of the Remaining Prisoners in Guantánamo | Dark Politricks says...

    […] By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition” […]


    […] By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition” […]

  34. Elaine Cassel « Antiwar Radio with Scott Horton and Charles Goyette says...

    […] How Bush and Ashcroft have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, discusses the 9th Circuit Court’s decision – based on state secrets privilege – that denies Binyam Mohamed due process for his […]

  35. Antiwar Radio: Elaine Cassel | ScottHortonShow says...

    […] How Bush and Ashcroft have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, discusses the 9th Circuit Court’s decision – based on state secrets privilege – that denies Binyam Mohamed due process for his rendition […]

  36. US Courts Legalize CIA Abduction, Detention, And Torture Of Innocent American Citizens « The Muffin Post says...

    […] National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights Under the Obama Administration (pdf) By One Vote, US Court OKs Torture and “Extraordinary Rendition Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ Ruling […]

  37. People's Blog for the Constitution :: Andy Worthington liveblogging “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week says...

    […] so long as they leave the White House after two terms. He has also, sad to say, perpetuated many of the Bush administration’s crimes, and added some of his own, and, as part of the bigger picture, has presided over what appears to […]

  38. In Upcoming Book Bush Admits to Waterboarding | Watts Cookin' says...

    […] to attempts to investigate torture claims in court – as, for example, in the cases of five men subjected to “extraordinary rendition” and torture, who sought to sue Jeppesen Dataplan Inc., a Boeing subsidiary that acted as the CIA’s […]

  39. Ten Years of Torture: On Anniversary of Abu Zubaydah’s Capture, Poland Charges Former Spy Chief Over “Black Site” « Dandelion Salad says...

    […] all avenues to accountability closed in the US, where President Obama has repeatedly blocked attempts by victims of torture to secure access to any US courtroom, invoking the little-used “state […]

  40. Polish Senator’s Startling New Allegations about the CIA Torture Prison in Poland « Stop Making Sense says...

    […] been shut down within the United States by the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and the courts. The only hope lies elsewhere in the world, and specifically Poland, one of three European […]

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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