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Federal judge urged to dismiss el-Masri CIA rendition lawsuit

[JURIST] US government lawyers urged a federal judge Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit [JURIST report] filed by Khalid el-Masri [ACLU case materials] against former CIA director George Tenet and other CIA officials. El-Masri is a German national who alleges he was kidnapped in Macedonia in 2003, held by the CIA in Afghanistan and finally released [JURIST report] in 2004 and dropped off in Albania. The US Attorney defending the government in the lawsuit argued that the lawsuit could jeopardize US national security interests by exposing CIA methods and activities to the general public. El-Masri's ACLU counsel said that the only details that would be exposed in the trial are already well known.

The government supported the motion to dismiss [PDF text] with a classified affidavit [public version, PDF text] filed in the case by former CIA director Porter Goss that assert the executive privilege of the president to protect US state and military secrets. Goss's affidavit emphasizes that "by their very nature, clandestine intelligence activities are not acknowledged by the United States." The US Supreme Court established the state secrets privilege in the 1953 case United States v. Reynolds [opinion text]. The government invoked the privilege [News Media & The Law commentary] in only four cases between 1953 and 1976, but it was invoked 23 times in the four years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and at least five times in the past year, counting the el-Masri case. El-Masri, a father of five, seeks $75,000 in damages, which his lawyer has suggested could be dropped in exchange for a personal apology from Tenet. Reuters has more.

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