563 F.3d 992 (9th Cir. 2009), 08-15693, Mohamed v. Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.

Docket Nº:08-15693.
Citation:563 F.3d 992
Party Name:Binyam MOHAMED; Abou Elkassim Britel; Ahmed Agiza; Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah; Bisher Al-Rawi, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. JEPPESEN DATAPLAN, INC., Defendant-Appellee, United States of America, Intervenor-Appellee.
Case Date:April 28, 2009
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

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563 F.3d 992 (9th Cir. 2009)

Binyam MOHAMED; Abou Elkassim Britel; Ahmed Agiza; Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah; Bisher Al-Rawi, Plaintiffs-Appellants,


JEPPESEN DATAPLAN, INC., Defendant-Appellee,

United States of America, Intervenor-Appellee.

No. 08-15693.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

April 28, 2009

Argued and Submitted Feb. 9, 2009.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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Ben Wizner, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York, NY, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

Daniel P. Collins, Munger, Tolles & Olson, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendant-Appellee.

Douglas N. Letter and Michael P. Abate, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Intervenor-Appellee.

Andrew G. McBride, Wiley Rein, LLP, Washington, D.C., for Amicus The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Support of Appellees Supporting Affirmance.

Richard A. Samp, Washington Legal Foundation, Washington, D.C., for Amici Washington Legal Foundation and Allied Educational Foundation.

William J. Aceves, California Western School of Law, San Diego, CA, for Amici Redress and The International Commission of Jurists.

Natalie L. Bridgeman, Law Offices of Natalie L. Bridgeman, San Francisco, CA, for Amici Professors of Constitutional Law, Federal Jurisdiction, and Foreign Relations Law.

Jean-Paul Jassy, Bostwick & Jassy, Los Angeles, CA, for Amici Professors William G. Weaver and Robert M. Pallitto.

James M. Ringer, Clifford Change US, New York, NY, for Amici Commonwealth Lawyers Association and Justice.

Barbara Moses, David J. Stankiewicz, Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer, New York, NY; Aziz Huq, Jonathan Hafetz, Brennan Center for Justice, NYU School of Law, New York, NY, for Amicus Former United States Diplomats.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, James Ware, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 5:07-CV-02798-JW.


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HAWKINS, Circuit Judge:

Plaintiffs Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, and Bisher Al-Rawi (" plaintiffs" ), appeal the dismissal of this action, brought under the Alien Tort Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1350, against Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. (" Jeppesen" ), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Boeing Company. Before Jeppesen filed an answer to the complaint, the United States intervened, asserting that the state secrets privilege required dismissal of the entire action on the pleadings. The district court agreed and dismissed the complaint. On appeal, plaintiffs argue the district court misapplied the state secrets doctrine and erred in dismissing the complaint.

Concluding that the subject matter of this lawsuit is not a state secret because it is not predicated on the existence of a secret agreement between plaintiffs and the Executive, and recognizing that our limited inquiry under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) precludes prospective consideration of hypothetical evidence, we reverse and remand.


A. Factual Background

At this stage in the litigation, we " construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff[s], taking all [their] allegations as true and drawing all reasonable inferences from the complaint in [their] favor." Doe v. United States, 419 F.3d 1058, 1062 (9th Cir.2005).

1. The Extraordinary Rendition Program

Plaintiffs allege that the United States Central Intelligence Agency (" CIA" ), working in concert with other government agencies and officials of foreign governments, operated an " extraordinary rendition program" to gather intelligence by apprehending foreign nationals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and transferring them in secret to foreign countries for detention and interrogation by United States or foreign officials. According to plaintiffs, this program has allowed agents of the United States government " to employ interrogation methods that would [otherwise have been] prohibited under federal or international law."

Citing publicly available evidence, plaintiffs, all foreign nationals, claim they were each processed through the extraordinary rendition program.

Plaintiff Agiza, an Egyptian national who had been seeking asylum in Sweden, was captured by Swedish authorities, transferred to American custody, and flown to Egypt. In Egypt, he was held for five weeks " in a squalid, windowless, and frigid cell," where he was " severely and repeatedly beaten" and subjected to electric shock through electrodes attached to his ear lobes, nipples, and genitals. Agiza was held in detention for two and a half years, after which he was given a six-hour trial before a military court, convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years in Egyptian prison. According to plaintiffs, " [v]irtually every aspect of Agiza's rendition, including his torture in Egypt, has been publicly acknowledged by the Swedish government."

Plaintiff Britel, a forty-year-old Italian citizen of Moroccan origin, was arrested and detained in Pakistan on immigration charges. After several months in Pakistani detention, Britel was transferred to the custody of American officials. These officials dressed Britel in a diaper and overalls, and shackled and blindfolded him for a flight to Morocco. Once in Morocco, he was detained incommunicado by Moroccan security services at the Temara prison. There, he was beaten, deprived of sleep and food, and threatened with sexual torture,

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including sodomy with a bottle and castration. After being released and re-detained, Britel was coerced into signing a false confession, convicted of terrorism-related charges, and sentenced to fifteen years in Moroccan prison.

Plaintiff Mohamed, a twenty-eight-year-old Ethiopian citizen and legal resident of the United Kingdom, was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, on immigration charges. Mohamed was flown to Morocco under similar conditions, where he was transferred to the custody of Moroccan security agents. Moroccan authorities subjected Mohamed to " severe physical and psychological torture," including routinely beating him and breaking his bones. Authorities also cut him with a scalpel all over his body, including on his penis, and poured " hot stinging liquid" into the open wounds. He was also blindfolded and handcuffed while being made " to listen to extremely loud music day and night." After eighteen months in Moroccan custody, Mohamed was transferred back to American custody and flown to Afghanistan. There he was detained in a CIA " dark prison" where he underwent further torture, including being kept in " near permanent darkness" and subjected to loud noise, such as the screams of women and children, for twenty-four hours per day. His captors also deprived him of food. Eventually, Mohamed was transferred to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he remained for nearly five years. He was released and returned to the United Kingdom during the pendency of this appeal.

Plaintiff al-Rawi, a thirty-nine-year-old Iraqi citizen and legal resident of the United Kingdom, was arrested in Gambia while traveling on " legitimate" business. Like the other plaintiffs, al-Rawi was placed in a diaper, overalls, and shackles and placed on an airplane, where he was flown to Afghanistan. Detained in the same " dark prison" as Mohamed, loud noises were played twenty-four hours per day to deprive him of sleep. Al-Rawi was eventually transferred to Bagram Air Base, where he was " subjected to humiliation, degradation, and physical and psychological torture by U.S. officials," including being beaten, deprived of sleep, and threatened with death. Al-Rawi was eventually transferred to Guantanamo; in preparation for the flight, he was " shackled and handcuffed in excruciating pain" as a result of his beatings. Al-Rawi was eventually released from Guantanamo and returned to the United Kingdom.

Plaintiff Bashmilah, a thirty-nine-year-old Yemeni citizen, was apprehended by agents of the Jordanian government while he was visiting Jordan to assist his ailing mother. After a brief detention during which he was " subject to severe physical and psychological abuse," Bashmilah was given over to agents of the United States government, who flew him to Afghanistan in similar fashion as the other plaintiffs. Once in Afghanistan, Bashmilah was placed in solitary confinement, in twenty-four-hour darkness, where he was deprived of sleep and shackled in painful positions. He was subsequently moved to another cell where he was held in twenty-four-hour light and loud noise. Depressed by his conditions, Bashmilah attempted suicide three times. Later, Bashmilah was transferred by airplane to an unknown CIA " black site" prison, where he " suffered sensory manipulation through constant exposure to white noise, alternating with deafeningly loud music" and twenty-four-hour light. Bashmilah was transferred once more to Yemen, where he was tried and convicted of a trivial crime, sentenced to time served abroad, and released.

2. Jeppesen's Involvement in the Rendition Program

According to plaintiffs, publicly available evidence establishes that Jeppesen provided

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flight planning and logistical support services to the aircraft and crew on all of the flights transporting the five plaintiffs among their various locations of detention and torture. According to the complaint, " Jeppesen played an integral role in the forced" abductions and detentions. It " provided direct and substantial services to the United States for its so-called ‘ extraordinary rendition’ program," thereby " enabling the clandestine and forcible transportation of terrorism suspects to secret overseas detention facilities." Jeppesen furthermore provided this...

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