The Obama administration increased its defense Friday of secrecy surrounding an alleged CIA program of torture flights, asking a federal appeals court to set aside its ruling allowing foreign captives to sue a Bay Area company that reportedly helped plan the flights.
The so-called extraordinary rendition program, and a private contractor's alleged relationship with the CIA, are so sensitive that any legal proceedings "would pose an unacceptable risk to national security," Justice Department lawyers said in a filing to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Government lawyers said the court's April 28 ruling reinstating the lawsuit was both legally flawed and dangerous. They asked the court to reconsider the decision or order a new hearing before an 11-judge panel.
The attorneys said their position has been reaffirmed by a review "at the highest levels of the Department of Justice" and was consistent with President Obama's pledge, in a speech last month, that his administration would not use secrecy to conceal "the violation of a law or embarrassment to the government."