ACLU Favors American Rights for Dangerous Foreigners

A test case on “rendition,” sending potentially hostile foreigners to foreign destinations for investigation, is now pending in both US District Court in San Francisco, and the US Court of Appeals there. The ACLU is representing five of the plaintiffs, and hoping that the Obama Administration will “reverse course” and favor the plaintiffs, rather than the interests of the people of the US.

The facts for this article, but not its legal conclusions, come from an article in the Law Blog of the Wall Street Journal on 9 February, 2009. The article concerns a lawsuit brought by five foreign nationals against an American subsidiary of Boeing, Co., for flying them to places where they claim to have been tortured.

The article is sloppily written since it does not specify the citizenship of the five plaintiffs, nor where they were taken from and to. Since the case that the ACLU bought against Jeppesen Dataplan claims illegal “rendition,” it is a near certainty that these plaintiffs are foreign citizens who have been flown from one foreign destination to another, without coming into the United States.

According to the article, one of the plaintiffs is now in Guantanamo, one is in Egypt, one in Morocco, and two have been released without charges.

Last February, the US District Judge who has this case, dismissed it after the Bush Administration represented to the court that allowing it to proceed would expose state secrets and harm national security. There are Supreme Court precedents upholding the idea that foreigners captured in warlike situations, who have never been brought to any US territory, are beyond the jurisdiction of ordinary US civil or criminal courts.

The ACLU has appealed the dismissal to the frequently-reversed Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But in the meantime, according to the article, it is “looking for President Obama to reverse course” through his newly appointed Attorney General, Eric Holder. So far, Mr. Holder has not withdrawn the pleadings filed by the Bush Administration, nor has he asked for time to reconsider.

In these articles, the American Civil Rights Union has previously made the point that any nation which fights a war with judges and lawyers controlling its military, is a nation that will lose the war it is fighting. What happens in this case in San Francisco will be bellwether for the Obama Administrations understanding of the world position of the US.

Are we engaged in a war with Islamofascists as they and the governments they control repeatedly assert? Or, are we engaged in merely a legal contest, our lawyers against their lawyers? Briefcases at 20 paces, at dawn?

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