San Francisco Chronicle

Obama sticks to Bush stance on torture suit
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama’s Justice Department signaled in a San Francisco courtroom Monday that the change in administrations has not changed the government’s position on secrecy and the rights of foreign prisoners – and that lawsuits by alleged victims of CIA kidnappings and torture must be dismissed on national security grounds.

« Judges shouldn’t play with fire, » Justice Department lawyer Douglas Letter told the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is considering a suit accusing a San Jose company, Jeppesen Dataplan, of arranging so-called extraordinary rendition flights for the CIA.

Letter said the Justice Department’s position, previously argued by the administration of former President George W. Bush, has been « thoroughly vetted with appropriate officials of the new administration. »

« Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on this important civil liberties issue, » the American Civil Liberties Union executive director, Anthony Romero, said after the hearing.