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Indiana law experts comment on Supreme Court refusal to hear Khaled el-Masri appeal

Professor Fred H. Cate and former head of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel and Professor Dawn Johnsen are available to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to hear rendition case of Khaled el-Masri, a German man who claims the CIA kidnapped and tortured him. Both are faculty members at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington.

Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen

Johnsen: "Khaled el-Masri's appeal, in his claim of abduction and torture by the CIA, would have provided a much-needed check on the Bush administration's coercive interrogation policy. The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case is particularly alarming in light of last week's revelations that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel once again issued secret legal memos giving the legal green light to the most extreme forms of interrogation. The new legal opinions, still being kept from the public by the Bush administration, reportedly twist federal law beyond recognition, interpreting the McCain-sponsored ban on cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment as not even prohibiting simulated drowning through waterboarding. The Senate has a critical opportunity in (attorney general nominee Michael) Mukasey's upcoming confirmation hearing to explore how to restore desperately needed integrity and independence at the Department of Justice."

Johnsen served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice (1993-98), including as head of that office (the acting assistant attorney general, from 1997-98), where she advised the president, the attorney general and the general counsels throughout the executive branch on questions of law. Her research includes separation of powers and, especially, presidential power. She teaches Constitutional Law, the First Amendment, and seminars on Congress, the President and the Courts and Sexuality, Reproduction and the Constitution. Johnsen can be reached at 812-856-4984 or by e-mail at

Cate: "In the realm of national security, where much of the information about government activities and terrorist threats is necessarily secret, the public depends on the courts to ensure that the executive branch is acting appropriately (for example, targeting real security threats) and legally. When deferring to the executive branch and refusing to even consider Khaled el-Masri's case, the Supreme Court has not only weakened public confidence and distorted the system of oversight that the Constitution creates, but also undermined national security as well."

Cate is the director of the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. He specializes in information privacy and security law issues, testifying frequently before Congress and regularly speaking for industry, professional and government groups. Cate is a member of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board, the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and Other National Goals, and the Research Steering Committee of the Center for Identity Management and Information Protection. He also serves as reporter for the American Law Institute's project on Principles of the Law on Government Access to and Use of Personal Digital Information. He can be reached at 812-855-1161 or by e-mail at