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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Get those potential torture victims off your mother f***ing plane

Thanks to a colleague of mine for pointing me to this story, ACLU Sues Boeing Subsidiary for Participation in CIA Kidnapping and Torture Flights which is available at http://www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/29920prs20070530.html

In a nutshell, the ACLU announced yesterday its suit against a Boeing Subsidiary for their participation in CIA kidnapping and torture flights. The lawsuit charges that Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. knowingly provided direct flight services to the CIA that enabled the secret transportation of three individuals to locations in Morocco and Afghanistan where foreign intelligence officials subjected them to torture. While the ACLU was already active in the rendition debate, most recently petitioning the Supreme Court to review the case of Khaled El-Masri (see www.aclu.org/rendition for more information), I believe this is their first effort to seek corporate liability for actions taken in pursuit of the War on Terror. 

While this lawsuit will likely encounter many of the same legal problems of El-Masri litigation, it may provide the seeds for a shaming campaign of those companies that knowingly participate in the darker side of the war on terror.  For instance, the ACLU and other advocacy groups held a protest rally yesterday outside Jeppesen's offices. You can check out the youtube video discussing Jepperson's involvement in the kidnapping and torture flights here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdLwTu-L4Wo.

Posted by Lesley Wexler on May 31, 2007 at 02:32 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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Tracked on May 31, 2007 9:18:48 PM



I found it yesterday on the ACLU website by following the first link provided by Professor Wexler.

Posted by: Jim Green Jr. | Jun 1, 2007 10:15:30 AM

The news stories are pretty thin gruel to base commentary on - I've been waiting for the actual complaint to show up on PACER, and emailed the ACLU to see if they want to share a copy, but nothing so far. Anyone got it yet and feel like sharing?

Posted by: Simon | Jun 1, 2007 9:22:40 AM

Cripes Lesley, you were the first to introduce yourself, and now you are the first to deploy curse words. But I call dibs on the first troll!

Posted by: Ann Bartow | Jun 1, 2007 8:58:46 AM

What's most interesting to me is that people on both sides of the aisle are seeking to broaden liability to reach at actors that assist in terror (or in prosecuting the war on terror).

The 9th Circuit issued a decision recently that allowed victims of Iranian terror to seek damages from a company that owed the government of Iran money (that was the impression at first glance). (There are a ton of other examples here.) On the flip side, people are seeking to hold liable companies and other actors who have caused injury en route to prosecuting the war on terror. (Blackwater, Boeing, etc.)

It seems tough to accept one without the other.

Posted by: Venkat | May 31, 2007 4:58:16 PM

I should have been clearer: The ACLU brought some of the suits against AT&T.

Posted by: Adam | May 31, 2007 4:56:57 PM


You're certainly right that there have been other suits against corporate entities. I was trying to say that pursuing corporate actors was a change in the ACLU's strategy. This case seems unusual for them (at least in this context, but probably across the board), as they generally focus on safeguarding people's civil liberties against government abuses of power. Here, the corporation is assisting that government abuse, so it's not a huge change, but one I thought worth noting.

Posted by: lesleywexler | May 31, 2007 4:05:48 PM

"... I believe this is their first effort to seek corporate liability for actions taken in pursuit of the War on Terror."

Actually, this lawsuit was preceded by lawsuits against AT&T (and, if I recall correctly, other telecoms) for their role in NSA surveillance. (See, e.g., this site.)

Posted by: Adam | May 31, 2007 3:39:20 PM

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