View Full Version : U.S. Asserts State Secrets, Seeks To Dismiss CIA Case

10-22-2007, 08:35 AM
U.S. Asserts State Secrets, Seeks to Dismiss CIA Case


By Joel Rosenblatt

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit claiming a Boeing Co. unit falsified flight plans to disguise the Central Intelligence Agency's transporting of terrorism suspects to secret prisons overseas.

The Justice Department today asked to intervene in the case to protect state secrets. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in May, claims Jeppesen Dataplan helped to transport terrorism suspects on more than 70 flights to countries where they weren't protected by U.S. law and were tortured during interrogation.

"Although the president and other officials have acknowledged that the CIA operates a terrorist detention and interrogation program, these officials have specifically refused to confirm or deny any operational details concerning that program,'' the Justice Department said in court filings. "This information remains properly classified as sources and methods of intelligence gathering.''

President George Bush acknowledged the program in 2006 and has defended its legality, ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said in a phone interview. U.S. District Judge James Ware in San Jose, California, who's handling the case can separate "legitimate secrets'' from other evidence in the suit and "permit the case to go forward,'' he said.

'Extraordinary Rendition'
"When it suits the Bush administration they acknowledge the extraordinary rendition program and even defend it,'' Wizner said. "But when they're challenged in a court of law, they insist that the cases must be dismissed.''

The ACLU, citing a Council of Europe report, claims Englewood, Colorado-based Jeppesen, a provider of navigation charts, refueling plans and route planning, misled European officials on the flights' destinations.

Natalya LaBauve, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Scott Schools in San Francisco, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

John Dern, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The ACLU sued under a law allowing non-citizens to bring claims against the U.S. government for violating laws of other nations or American treaties.

The case was filed on behalf of Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a Yemeni living in Indonesia who the ACLU argues was flown to, and tortured at Bagram air base in Afghanistan; Italian citizen Abou Elkassim Britel, who it claims was kidnapped in Pakistan and sent to be tortured in Morocco; and Ahmed Agiza who it says was transported to and tortured in Egypt after applying for asylum in Sweden.

The ACLU also represents Binyam Mohamed, who it argues was kidnapped in Pakistan, tortured in Morocco and sent to the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Also named as a plaintiff is Bisher al-Rawi, who the ACLU claims was kidnapped in Africa, transferred to Guantanamo and released without being charged.

The case is Mohamed v. Jeppesen, 07-2798, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).