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Some news from down south

In related news, earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States sided with the Obama administration’s arguments for a wide-sweeping application of the so-called state secrets doctrine and dismissed a claim for damages brought by individuals alleging to be victims of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.  The majority of the court of appeal held that allowing the plaintiffs’ claims to advance would impermissibly jeopardize national security because prosecution of the claims would involve calling on evidence implicating state secrets.

This is a dismal decision, of course, because it forecloses yet another avenue of redress for individuals who have suffered illegal conduct at the hands of the U.S. government.  It also stands in stark contrast to the Federal Court of Canada’s recent ruling, which permitted Abousfian Abdelrazik to proceed with his claim for damages arising from purported Canadian complicity in his torture at the hands of Sudanese officials, which he has characterized to be an “opportunistic” rendition.  Yesterday, Jane Mayer in the New Yorker provided an excellent piece of commentary on the 9th Circuit’s decision.  Here’s a teaser:

In speeches, President Obama likes to quote something that Martin Luther King, Jr., used to say: that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Yesterday, after the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that people claiming to be torture victims of a U.S.-run intelligence program could get no day in court, it was hard not to feel that the short arc of the Obama Administration has bent, in this instance, toward injustice.
For additional commentary, check out The New York Times, where the editorial board effectively points out that just because something’s embarassing to the government doesn’t mean it’s a state secret.  Also see Glenn Greenwald, SCOTUSBlog, and even Andrew Sullivan.