Judge unseals censored transcript in Area 51 case


The following article from "Las Vegas Review-Journal", February 26, 2000, was brought to our attention by Devin Loving from Las Vegas, NV.


   A federal judge has unsealed a censored transcript from a 1995 court hearing in a case involving workers who claimed they were harmed at Area 51, the classified base at Groom Lake in the Nellis Air Force Range.
   In the same ruling, entered Thursday, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro ordered the payment of about $200,000 in attorneys' fees to plaintiff Stella Kasza, a widow of one of the workers.
   Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who represents the plaintiffs, said the decision delighted him. Turley said the attorneys' fees will be used to fund additional Area 51 litigation.
   Pro previously awarded Kasza about $99,000 in attorneys' fees, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, sent the case back to him for further consideration of the amount.
   Turley said he has not seen the redacted transcript from the June 20, 1995, telephone hearing in which he participated with Pro, the judge's staff and government attorneys.
   Pro allowed the government's attorneys to redact portions of the transcript that contain classified information. Turley claims no classified information was discussed during the hearing.
   If government attorneys released classified information during the hearing, they committed a criminal act, he said, "because the hearing occurred over an unsecured telephone line, and the hearing was composed of a number of uncleared parties, including plaintiffs' counsel."
   Turley said he will review the censored transcript before deciding whether further litigation on the matter is warranted.
   The attorney said he has long argued that even a redacted transcript would show that government attorneys had lied about what happened during the hearing.
   "There are certain aspects of this hearing that are grossly embarrassing to either the government or government's counsel," Turley said. He said he could not elaborate.
   Several current and former Area 51 workers sued the federal government in 1994 because of illnesses they blame on the burning of hazardous wastes at the base.

By Carri Geer
From "Las Vegas Review-Journal", February 26, 2000


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