Monday, May 22, 2006

Bush hiding.....


The state secrets privilege has been invoked by the Bush
Administration with greater frequency than ever before in American
history in a wide range of lawsuits that the government says would
threaten national security if allowed to proceed.

In virtually every case, the use of the privilege leads to dismissal
of the lawsuit and forecloses the opportunity for an injured party
to seek judicial relief.

Most recently, a lawsuit brought by Khaled El-Masri, a German
citizen who alleged that he was kidnapped by the CIA and tortured
over a five month period, was dismissed after the CIA invoked the
"state secrets" privilege.

The dismissal was not based on a finding that the allegations
against the CIA were false.

"It is in no way an adjudication of, or comment on, the merit or
lack of merit of El-Masri's complaint,
" wrote Judge T.S. Ellis, III
in a May 12 order.

In fact, "It is worth noting that ... if El-Masri's allegations are
true or essentially true, then all fair-minded people... must also
agree that El-Masri has suffered injuries as a result of our
country's mistake and deserves a remedy,"
he wrote in the order
dismissing the case.

"Yet, it is also clear from the result reached here that the only
sources of that remedy must be the Executive Branch or the
Legislative Branch, not the Judicial Branch,"
he suggested.

But in this case the executive branch is the alleged perpetrator of
the offense, and the legislative branch has no procedures for
adjudicating allegations such as El-Masri's, even if it had an
interest in doing so. That's what courts are for.

Terrorists can kill people and destroy property. But they cannot
undermine the rule of law, or deny injured parties access to the
courts. Only the U.S. government can do that.

The state secrets privilege has been invoked lately in a remarkable
diversity of lawsuits. See this selection of case files from
recent state secrets cases:

Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive reflected on the
growing use of the state secrets privilege and how it relates to
the larger climate of secrecy in "The lie behind the secrets," Los
Angeles Times, May 21:

Recently introduced legislation would "provide protection from
frivolous government claims of state secrets,
" the Project on
Government Oversight noted:

Wired News today published documents pertaining to the alleged role
of AT&T in NSA warrantless surveillance related to another lawsuit
in which the state secrets privilege has been invoked. See:,70947-0.html


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