Category Archives: DOJ
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Wednesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a district court’s dismissal of a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against a Boeing subsidiary in connection with its alleged role in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] extraordinary rendition program. The plaintiffs, Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmaad Bashmilah and Bisher al-Rawi, alleged that San Diego-based Jeppesen Dataplan knowingly aided in the rendition and subsequent torture of terror suspects by the CIA. Before Jeppesen could file an answer to the original complaint, the Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened and asserted the state secrets privilege , arguing that fact-finding in the case could jeopardize national security. The district court dismissed the case and a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit overturned the ruling on appeal. The DOJ then asked the Ninth Circuit to reconsider the case with a full panel, and was granted an en banc rehearing. The original Ninth Circuit panel ruled that the state secrets privilege can only be invoked in relation to established evidence in the case, not just at the possibility that such evidence may be uncovered should the case proceed, but Wednesday’s 6-5 opinion reverses that position, holding that in some “rare” circumstances, it may be impossible for a suit to proceed at all without inevitably compromising national security:
[T]here are times when exceptional circumstances create an irreconcilable conflict between [liberty, justice, transparency, accountability and national secuirty]. 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.’ … Here, further litigation presents an unacceptable risk of disclosure of state secrets no matter what legal or factual theories Jeppesen would choose to advance during a defense. Whether or not Jeppesen provided logistical support in connection with the extraordinary rendition and interrogation programs, there is precious little Jeppesen could say about its relevant conduct and knowledge without revealing information about how the United States does or does not conduct covert operations. … We … acknowledge that this case presents a painful conflict between human rights and national security.
The majority said that other avenues may be available for the plaintiffs to address their claims, including Congressional investigation of alleged wrongdoing, monetary reparations and the possibility that the executive may “determine whether the plaintiffs’ claims have merit” and voluntarily choose to “honor the fundamental principles of justice.” The five-judge minority chastised the proposal, saying that “[n]ot only are these remedies insufficient, but their suggestion understates the severity of the consequences to plaintiffs from the denial of judicial relief” and “elevate the impractical to the point of absurdity.” ACLU staff attorney Ben Wizner also decried the ruling. “This is a sad day not only for the torture victims … but for all Americans who care about the rule of law,” he said. “To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court.”
That last line – To date, not a single victim of the Bush Administration’s torture program has had his day in court really chaps my friggin ass. Seriously…wtf Holder? Where is the accountability dude? Where the fuck IS it? All this shit is…is an extension of the Bush43 policies…and you fuckers want MY vote in November? Kiss my brown ass boys…both cheeks…cuz it ain’t gonna happen..nope…it just friggin ain’t. There are more negatives to this administration then there are positives…and that makes me sick to my stomach as I voted for you fuckers last time around. Again from the Jurist article:
The state secrets privilege, which allows the exclusion of evidence based on a government affidavit that such evidence may endanger national security, has been highly criticized by rights groups and others. Julian Sanchez [Cato profile] of the Cato Institute [advocacy website] argued [JURIST comment] last October that Congress should implement state secrets reforms, rather than relying on the DOJ to increase oversight. Last year, Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] announced [JURIST report] a number of new state secrets policies seeking to increase government accountability and oversight. Also last year, OpenTheGovernment.org [advocacy website] released a report [text, PDF] examining the privilege and other transparency issues, concluding that the current administration has improved transparency [JURIST report], but more should be done.
As the song says: I won’t be fooled again.
Is the fix in? I believe so…or the governments lawyers are retarded. From TPM:
A judge suspended the trial of Sen. Ted Stevens today, while he considers the request of the defense for a mistrial.
The defense’s motion stems from the prosecutions’ failure to turn over FBI reports of interviews with their star witness, former VECO CEO Bill Allen, until late Wednesday night. Stevens’ attorneys claimed the prosecutors were withholding evidence that would help the defense.
From the AP:
Judge Emmet Sullivan lashed out at prosecutors, asking them, “Why shouldn’t I dismiss the indictment?” He then ordered a recess.
Prosecutors said it was an honest mistake when they waited until late Wednesday night to turn over FBI reports about interviews with the government’s star witness, oil pipeline contractor Bill Allen.
Mukasey Recognizes Contribution of Gay Justice Department Employees at DOJ Pride Awards Ceremony. From the BLT:
About 150 people gathered at Main Justice’s Great Hall today for the annual awards ceremony of a Department of Justice group representing gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans-gendered employees. For the first time in six years, DOJ Pride was allowed to use the hall.
Under Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales, the group had not been permitted to meet in the Great Hall or to use government computers to communicate with its members.
Kudos to Mukasey on this issue. He said at the ceremony:
Amen Mr. AG.
As EmptyWheel notes…Isn’t that nice? I concur with the following addition:
WTF changed your minds gents? As this AP writeup states:
Federal prosecutors are no longer seeking stiffer prison sentences for former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy, but have not said why.
Prosecutors filed a motion this week with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asking that their appeals of the sentences be dropped. Their appeals had called for a longer prison term than Siegelman’s more than seven-year sentence and Scrushy’s almost seven-year sentence .
Personally, I think the damn Judge needs to ask them why the change of heart on this case. It couldn’t possibly be all the interest in it from the Congress critters all the way down to me and you..everyone is looking at this case and wondering who was involved in pushing this to a trial. As Siegelman’s chief attorney, Vince Kilborn said when informed of the new development:
“To write an appeal to justify that sentence would take someone with the creative writing ability of John Grisham,”
Touche’ Mr. Kilborn…lets hope this case goes away completely.
This makes an even dozen I believe..or damn close to it. From WaPo:
The head of the Justice Department’s embattled Civil Rights Division is to resign at the end of August, officials said yesterday, making him the latest in a series of senior political appointees to leave the agency amid continued controversy over Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Wan J. Kim, the assistant attorney general for civil rights since November 2005, has been closely questioned by congressional Democrats about the administration’s policy decisions and allegations by former career officials of improper hiring within the division, mostly under his predecessor.
The hits just keep on coming at the DoJ…who’s running the fucking place now? Is anyone home? Christ, it’s a mess at our nations highest law office. The NYT gives us their spin here.