The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would not hear the case of five men who said they had fallen victim to a Central Intelligence Agency practice called "extraordinary rendition," in which suspects are sent illegally to other countries to be tortured for information.
The men, some of whom are still imprisoned, brought the case against Jeppeson Dataplan, a unit of Boeing Inc., which they claim colluded with the U.S. government to illegally transport them to foreign countries for torture.
A San Francisco federal appeals court dismissed the case on a 6-5 vote, which was upheld by the Supreme Court today.
The nation's highest court said that trying the case would inevitably lead to state secrets being aired.
The Associated Press reported that this is not the only case to have been dismissed for fear of disclosing dangerous or top-secret information.
“The government’s interest in national security must be deemed paramount to the interests of private litigants in pursuing civil actions,” acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal argued in court papers, according to Bloomberg.
The men, who hail from Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Morocco and Yemen, are being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. They said they faced torture and sexual abuse in various countries, as well as in the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay military prison.
Beyond this particular case, Congress may soon authorize even broader rights for intelligence gathering. A section of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 would authorize the Executive Branch to "address the continuing and evolving threat posed by these groups," according to The American Prospect, meaning anyone suspected of a terrorist connection, anywhere in the world, would be a fair target for military force or questioning.
Chris Anders, an attorney for the ACLU, told The American Prospect that further authorization for the terrorist hunt would be a bad idea.
"This is a time when I think most Americans are thinking about how to wind down our commitments to the two wars that are out there," Anders said. "This would be declaring a new worldwide war without any limitations by time, geography, or national interest."