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Is This the Accountability We Were Promised?

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It would be a slam dunk.

If there were a Nobel Prize for Tenacity, I would nominate half a dozen organizations that, in the face of years of lost court cases and rapidly graying hair, continue to seek justice for some of the most egregious victims of the Bush/Obama "war on terror."

These legal bulldogs keep getting their lawsuits bounced out of one federal court after another -- and keep coming back for more. They have names like the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty USA, and literally hundreds of others.

Consider this: The despicable practice of "extraordinary rendition" began in the Clinton Administration, expanded during the eight years of George W. Bush, and remains alive and well under President Obama.

At its most fundamental level, extraordinary rendition means the CIA kidnaps people it believes are terrorism suspects and ships them off, drugged and blindfolded, to the CIA'S own secret prisons or those operated by allied countries who have long and well-documented histories of systematically torturing prisoners.

For years, small groups of people who have survived the waterboarding and the electric shocks and the sleep deprivation have, with the help of human rights organizations, filed lawsuits against the US government, seeking to hold top American policy-makers accountable for their years of pain.

And each time the survivors bring such an action, the courthouse doors are slammed in their faces. Typically, the government invokes what is known as the "State Secrets Privilege." This once-little-used legal quirk holds that disclosure of any of the secret evidence would compromise national security.

Some lawmakers have been discussing in committees revisions to this statute since the beginning of the Obama Administration, but no one has taken any action despositive whatever.

Consequently, not a single victim of the "war on terror" has had the opportunity to tell his story in a court of law and not a single senior US official has been held accountable.

Who are these victims who keep banging on the courthouse doors?

Here are three of the most prominent:

Jeppesen DataPlan is a subsidiary of The Boeing Company, and specializes in flight planning and logistical support services for aircraft and crews, including those used by the CIA to transport victims to U.S.-run prisons or foreign intelligence agencies overseas, where they were subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and torture.

In the Jeppesen case, five British residents -- all of whom were imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay -- sued Jeppesen for assisting the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) with logistics for the flights to Afghanistan and CIA secrets prisons where they were held incommunicado and tortured. The men claim they were victims of the U.S. "extraordinary rendition" program -- and that Jeppesen was complicit in the process.

The judge rejected the ACLU's claim that "abundant evidence" was already in the public domain, including a sworn affidavit by a former Jeppesen employee and flight records confirming Jeppesen's involvement.

The ACLU appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court, which declined to hear it.

Khalid El-Masri: El-Masri, a German citizen, was on vacation in Macedonia. The Lebanese-born Al-Masri says he took a bus from Germany to Macedonia, where Macedonian agents confiscated his passport and detained him for 23 days, without access to anyone, including his wife.

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http://billfisher.blogspot.com

William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)
 
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