Author Topic: Supreme Court Rules the CIA Can Keep Mouths Shut About Its Post-9/11 Torture Black Sites  (Read 81 times)

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Online Kamaji

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Supreme Court Rules the CIA Can Keep Mouths Shut About Its Post-9/11 Torture Black Sites

All of this is a transparent effort to stop lawsuits from those who have been tortured.


The Supreme Court ruled today that the United States can continue to withhold information about the CIA torture of prisoners at black sites during the early years of the post-9/11 war on terror from lawsuits trying to hold those involved responsible.

In a complex, technical ruling, six justices ruled in the federal government's favor (though there were multiple separate opinions from different justices explaining their reasoning). Justice Elena Kagan agreed with part of the ruling and dissented in part. Justices Neil Gorsuch and Sonia Sotomayor were the only full dissenters.

The case, United States v. Zubaydah, revolved around Abu Zubaydah, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002 and has been held by the U.S. since then under the belief that he was a senior Al Qaeda leader potentially planning further terrorist attacks against the United States. He was tortured extensively by the CIA, waterboarded dozens of times. He's currently a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay.

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Justice Stephen Breyer wrote most of the court's opinion, accepting the government's claim that even just confirming the existence of a black site in Poland is a threat to national security. The ruling is deferential to the authority of the executive branch to decide what falls under a national security interest and, therefore, can be kept secret. In this case, the CIA says that revealing whether we had a black site in Poland could impact intelligence-gathering efforts and "sensitive" relationships.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito concurred separately because Breyer's opinion wasn't deferential enough to the government. The two worried that calling for the court to probe any claim of national security privilege more deeply will lead to "judicial second-guessing of core national-security determinations." Thomas concluded that Zubaydah had demonstrated only "a dubious showing of necessity" and would have dismissed his request for that reason. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by Justice Amy Coney Barrett, similarly wrote that Zubaydah had only demonstrated a "dubious" need for the information. The two, however, are open to a more thorough court review if they find the claims more serious than they did in Zubaydah's situation. Nevertheless, Kavanaugh writes, "In state secrets cases, a court's review from start to finish must be deferential to the Executive Branch."

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