KJP Repeatedly Pressed on the Timing of Biden's Latest Amnesty Handout
LIVE RESULTS: Elections in Virginia, Georgia, and Oklahoma
Israel Approves Plans for Offensive Against Hezbollah in Lebanon
911 Services Down Statewide in Massachusetts
Trump Campaign Blasts Biden's Latest Amnesty Attempt
The White House Correspondents Did Not Toss Biden Under a Bus, He Once...
WH Fact Sheet on VP Harris' 'Actions to Address Conflict-Related Sexual Violence' Had...
Is There Another Trump VP Name Not on the List?
Biden Suffers Another Brain Fart When Announcing Amnesty Plan
Several School Districts Across One State Help Children Change Their Gender Without Parent...
Why Is Putin Visiting North Korea?
Illegal Alien Arrested in Connection With Sexual Assault of 13-Year-Old Girl in NYC
This Stunner of an Iowa Poll Is Another Loud Alarm Bell for the...
'Sanctuary City' Swallows Massive Red Pill After Illegal Alien Child Sex Offender Was...
Police in This Democrat City Will Begin Recruiting Illegal Aliens

Torture Tort Terror

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama criticized the Bush administration for its excessive secrecy, noting that it had "invoked a legal tool known as the 'state secrets' privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court." Obama also promised to end "extraordinary rendition," a practice through which "we outsource our torture to other countries."


But last week the Obama administration used the state secrets privilege to block a lawsuit by five former captives who say they were tortured as a result of extraordinary rendition. Although candidate Obama surely would have been outraged, President Obama is for some reason less concerned about abuses of executive power.

"To build a better, freer world," Obama the candidate wrote in a 2007 Foreign Affairs essay, "we must first behave in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. This means ending the (practice) of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries."

It turned out Obama meant that he, like his predecessor, would seek assurances that detainees transferred to other countries would not be mistreated. After all, why would governments that routinely torture their prisoners lie about it?

Obama's broken promise sheds light on his determination to suppress a lawsuit by five men who sued the Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen DataPlan over its role in helping the CIA arrange prisoner flights during the Bush administration. The lead plaintiff, Binyam Mohamed, is an Ethiopian citizen and legal British resident who was arrested in Pakistan on immigration charges in 2002. He says he was turned over to the CIA, which flew him to Morocco, where he was held for 18 months and subjected to "severe physical and psychological torture."


Mohamed, who was later imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay without trial for five years before being released, says Moroccan security agents beat him, broke his bones and cut him with a scalpel all over his body, including his genitals, after which they would pour a "hot, stinging liquid" into the wounds. His four co-plaintiffs tell similar stories of abuse at the hands of Moroccan, Egyptian, Jordanian and American officials.

Even if every word these men say is true, the Obama administration argues, they cannot be allowed to pursue their claims because doing so might endanger national security. Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit narrowly accepted this maximalist position, dismissing the lawsuit rather than letting it proceed based on publicly available evidence.

An administration that was truly concerned about excessive secrecy would have waited to see if either side in the lawsuit actually needed privileged information to make its case. Instead, Obama -- like George W. Bush before him -- insisted that the mere possibility was enough to deprive torture victims of a legal remedy.

In May, the Obama administration used a similar argument to block a lawsuit by Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer whom U.S. officials erroneously identified as a member of Al Qaeda and sent to Syria, where he was imprisoned for a year and repeatedly beaten. Although the details of Arar's case have been public for years, Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal nevertheless urged the Supreme Court not to hear his appeal, citing "significant national security concerns."


Specifically, Katyal worried that addressing Arar's claims would require courts to "review sensitive intergovernmental communications, second-guess whether Syrian officials were credible enough for United States officials to rely on them and assess the credibility of any information provided by foreign officials concerning petitioner's likely treatment in Syria, as well as the motives and sincerity of the United States officials who concluded that petitioner could be removed to Syria consistent with (the Convention Against Torture)."

Given President Obama's plans to continue extraordinary rendition under a different name, you can see why he'd rather not delve into questions like these. But candidate Obama told us to be wary of presidents who use national security as a cover for violating people's rights.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member


Trending on Townhall Videos