Jeppesen DataPlan, an entity known to anyone familiar with aviation, helped the U.S. government plan flights and logistics for its extraordinary rendition program in the earlier part of this decade. A lawsuit brough by five men who say they were unlawfully rendered to torturing countries was dismissed by a judge who agreed with the Bush Administration's claim of a state secrets privilege. Civil rights activists had hoped that the Obama Administration would somehow change its mind at appeal, and argue the case on its merits in open court. That's not going to happen. Today, the Justice Department -- the Eric Holder / Obama Justice Department -- re-asserted the state secrets privilege in Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen. This may be disappointing to civil libertarians, but it shouldn't be surprising.
The case is fairly straightforward, and some of the classified details, like what Jeppesen did for the government, are known, having been disclosed by Jane Mayer and others. The CIA used Jeppesen's unit to coordinate the complex travel arrangements that extraordinary rendition implies; which airports would be available when; how to schedule pilots; fuel requirements, etc. Jeppesen would therefore have access to a lot of data that's not in the public domain, including how many renditions there were, which countries were used as transit points -- CIA Black Sites -- and which countries were rendition partners, whether they tortured or not. Jeppesen ostensibly has a lot of information about countries to whom the U.S. legally renders suspects. We know a lot about this stuff, but we don't know everything.