State Secrets Breakthrough

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

On Wednesday, a British court ruled that the British government must release evidence of torture in the case of Binyam Mohamed. Mohamed is also one of the plaintiffs in a US court case, Mohamed et. al. v. Jeppesen. Mohamed and several other men who allege they were subjected to “extraordinary rendition”—that is, sent to other countries to be tortured—are suing Jeppesen Dataplan, the Boeing subsidiary they say was used to “render” them. But the Obama and Bush administrations have invoked the controversial state secrets privilege to try to prevent the case from even being heard in US courts. The British decision blows a hole in that strategy. Here’s why: The UK court has ordered the British government to release, among other things, records of the US government informing the British that Mohamed was tortured. Marc Ambinder explains why that’s crucial:

[T]he government routinely insists on the distinction between public information and publicly confirmed information. That is—just because some bit of classified information is widely known does not mean that the government has acknowledged it. And only information that the government has acknowledged can beat, in US courts, a state secrets claim.

Now the plaintiffs have exactly what they need to beat the state secrets claim—an acknowledgement by the US government that Mohamed was illegally interrogated. That will have huge implications for the Jeppesen lawsuit.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend