Obama Still Fighting to Cover Up Rendition-to-Torture

Photo by flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/2644034439/">dunechaser</a> used under a <a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a> license.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Back in April, five torture victims won a big victory when a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit court of appeals reinstated their lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary for allegedly flying them to other countries to be tortured under the CIA’s extraordinary renditon program. The Obama administration—and before that, the Bush administration—had unsuccessfully pushed for the case to be rejected under the controversial “State Secrets” doctrine. And now the Obama administration has won a second chance to make that happen. On Tuesday, the full Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear the case, Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, and reconsider whether it should be thrown out after all.

The issue at stake in the appeal is whether the government can declare an entire area of its activity off-limits from judicial oversight because it would expose state secrets. The three-judge panel had argued that the courts are perfectly capable of treating such cases with discretion without throwing out the whole thing in advance. If the government could block Mohamed v. Jeppesen, the panel said, that would effectively “cordon off all secret government actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the CIA and its contractors from the demands and limits of the law.”

The full Ninth Circuit could now reverse that ruling. But why is the Obama administration pushing to keep the rendition-to-torture program secret in the first place? After all, it says the most egregious parts of the program are no longer operative. One possible explanation could be that the administration is worried that exposure of the participating countries—many of which are presumably undemocratic—could make those governments vulnerable and less likely to cooperate with future US intelligence efforts. In other words, in order to continue gathering intelligence about terrorism without torturing people, the Obama administration may be more inclined to cover up the Bush administration’s torture program. This is speculation, of course, but it illustrates one of the many ways in which the Bush administration has put its successor in a real bind. 

One final interesting detail: six of the Ninth Circuit’s 27 judges have recused themselves from the case—including Jay Bybee, who authored several of the Bush administration’s most controversial torture memos.

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate