Court Approves Ex-Inmates' Suit Against CIA

Torture allegations trump state secrets argument, panel rules
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 29, 2009 7:24 AM CDT
Binyam Mohamed, 30, a British resident freed from Guantanamo Bay prison returns to Britain a free man Monday Feb. 23, 2009, after nearly seven years in US captivity.   (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
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(Newser) – Five men who allege they were kidnapped and tortured on the orders of CIA agents may bring suit in federal court, an appeals panel ruled yesterday. Presidents Bush and Obama both contended that the case should be dismissed to protect classified evidence. But a federal appeals court panel ruled presidential powers to guard state secrets "are not the only weighty constitutional values at stake."

Yesterday's ruling is the first to reject a White House assertion of state secrets privilege to block inquiries into abuse allegations. The case now goes to district court for trial, unless the attorney general decides to appeal. Lead plaintiff Binyam Mohamed spent more than 6 years in US custody, most recently at Guantanamo. Agents allegedly sliced his genitals with a scalpel to extract information he did not have.