by John Grooms
Yesterday, the Ninth District Court of Appeals, in a sharply divided decision, ruled against former prisoners of the CIA who say they were flown to foreign countries and tortured. The Court made its decision on the grounds that the former prisoners could not sue because their lawsuit might expose secret government information. This decision is a terrible disappointment to all who have hoped that the policy of rendition in which people are, as these men attest, flown to overseas prisons and tortured would finally be ruled against, as a violation of international law. Its an even bigger disappointment, if thats possible, that the Obama administration is not only defending, but continuing, this outrageous policy, begun by the Bush administration.
Under Bush, the former prisoners cases were never given a real hearing, as Bush & Co. argued that even talking about the cases in court would violate the state secrets privilege. During his campaign for the presidency, Obama said over and over that he opposed Bushs rendition policy and what he called a government cult of secrecy. After he was inaugurated, though, Obamas conviction on that issue lasted all of a week, and he was soon defending Cheney/Bushs radical interpretation of executive powers.
Unlike many of my fellow lefties, I didn't think Obama was a full-fledged progressive (much less the socialist many Republicans see when they look at him), so I wasnt expecting miracles ... but DAMN. Continuing rendition? Letting the CIA loose to do whatever it wants in Afghanistan? Damn. I think Obama is a better president than do many of his liberal supporters, and hes done some very good things that have flown under the media radar. But yesterdays court victory for his administration isnt just a disappointment for progressives its bad news for that nation of laws we keep hearing about.