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CIA rendition: US court throws out torture case, citing state secrets

Appeals court judges sound apologetic tone in ruling; plaintiffs say they were tortured overseas in 'extraordinary rendition' program.

By Staff writer / September 8, 2010



Washington

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit seeking to hold a government contractor partly responsible for a secret CIA program to whisk terror suspects to undisclosed prisons overseas for brutal interrogations.

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The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals voted 6 to 5 to dismiss the lawsuit filed on behalf of five individuals who charged they were seized and imprisoned without legal process, and tortured at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The appeals court action ends the litigation before it was able to formally begin. The majority judges said they felt compelled to throw the suit out under legal precedents upholding the so-called state secrets doctrine.

The plaintiffs sued Jeppesen Dataplan, a Boeing subsidiary, that allegedly provided air transport and other international logistical support to the CIA operation. The CIA program, known as “extraordinary rendition,” was instituted during the Bush administration and has continued with some changes under President Obama.

Although the executive branch won in court, the majority judges were troubled by their ruling.

“After much deliberation, we reluctantly conclude … the plaintiff’s action must be dismissed,” wrote Judge Raymond Fisher.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ben Wizner of the American Civil Liberties Union, said it was a sad day. He pledged to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

“To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court,” Mr. Wizner said in a statement. “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.”

Richard Samp, a lawyer with the conservative Washington Legal Foundation, praised the decision.

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