Message posted by Hank on June 05, 2002 at 10:54:49 PST:

Editorial from this mornings Las Vegas Review Journal:EDITORIAL: Kept secret from whom?

A 1994 lawsuit filed on behalf of two widows and several former workers at Area 51, home of the secret Groom Lake Air Force Base 90 miles north of Las Vegas, contended workers there were injured when they inhaled toxic chemicals burned in open pits in the 1980s, in defiance of environmental laws.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review an appeal in those cases, in effect upholding a ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the workers and widows were not entitled to learn about the hazardous substances or how they were handled.

Last year, responding to a motion from the Review-Journal, the 9th Circuit did instruct U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro to unseal and release the record of the case, which Judge Pro did. But large portions of the documents were first blacked out by the government.

The Review-Journal has challenged those redactions, arguing the information in the court briefs has "been litigated in open court for more than six years."

The government trundles out the old and familiar claim of "national security." And national security can be a legitimate concern. But no one is seeking to publicize flight ceilings or weaknesses of the onboard radars of our advanced aircraft. Are federal agencies trying to keep secret their haphazard methods of toxic waste disposal from our new allies, the Russians? Do they fear Osama bin Laden will use this information to hold the United States up to ridicule at the next Greenpeace world conference?

"There is no question in our mind that the material redacted by the government has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with individual accountability for false statements given to the public," asserts George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who initially filed the lawsuits eight years ago.

On June 14, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit will hear arguments in San Francisco as to whether the government abused the state secrets privilege in this case. We hope the government agents did not. But if it does turn out they wrapped themselves in the flag merely to keep themselves from looking bad, there should be an accounting and some price to be paid.

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In Reply to: Re: AREA 51 COURT CASE posted by Joerg (Webmaster) on June 04, 2002 at 22:22:58 PST:


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