According to Reuters, Iranian companies which have been blacklisted due to EU sanctions are winning in their legal fight against the sanctions in European courts. This is indeed a vindication for the rule of law -- and how ironic is it that in this nuclear dispute. the "rogue" and "pariah" Iran is the one insisting on observing the law whilst the US and EU states, self-designated as "the international community" are the ones violating the law.
The article goes on to mention the procedure used in the UK to present classified information as evidence in the court whilst minimizing the risk of disclosure by allowing the judge to see the "secret' evidence privately. In this case the judge was apparently not terribly impressed by the quality of this evidence since he still ruled in favor of Iran.
The US has a similar procedure ( limited to criminal prosecutions) but I don't know if any such lawsuits in US court would be as successful, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the State Secrets Privilege, which once invoked by the govt has the effect of ending all lawsuits because the govt can prevent the disclosure of any evidence during the trial that it claims would risk exposure of national security secrets. All the govt lawyers have to do is say "State Secrets Privilege" and usually that's the end of the case since crucial information is then prevented from being considered by the court. The government doesn't have to justify their claim in any way -- the judge is not qualified to second-guess the govt decision to make the State Secrets claim. A great number of perfectly valid, legitimate cases against the US -- particularly against Bush and Rumsfeld and his friends -- have been summarily tossed out of courts this way, which is why Bush and Rumsfeld are still walking around as free men rather than being in prison as war criminals as I have written before.
So do you think such a legal principle which has the effect of denying justice to plaintiffs on national security grounds is open to abuse by the government who uses the legal principle to hide its misdeeds instead of actual secrets? Well, let me tell you a story!
The legal concept of "State Secrets Privilege" was first developed by the US Supreme Court in a case called US v. Reynolds, which dated from the early 1950s, during the Cold War. A US military plane crashed and a civilian contractor employee on board, named Reynolds, was killed. His relatives filed a lawsuit against the US military and government, claiming that the accident was due to the negligent maintenance and operation of the military airplane. They demanded to see the accident report. The US government refused to disclose the accident report, and replied that because the airplane and Reynolds were involved in some super-secret electronics experiment, the disclosure of the accident report may risk exposing national security secrets. The courts ruled that in such cases, where national security is at stake, then the government can withhold information and evidence that it would otherwise have to present to the court and the plaintiff. Without an accident report, there was no case. The government gave some money to the relatives and sent them away.
Years later, one of Reynold's daughters was cruising the web, and found the accident report. It has been declassified released to the owner of a website who had a hobby of collecting information about airplane accidents and presenting them on his website, even though throughout the years the government had denied the requests by Reynolds' relatives to get a copy of the same accident report.
And more importantly, the accident report showed that the accident was indeed due to an engine fire and negligence. While the report mentioned the presence of secret electronics, it in no way described them. In other words, the government's claim that a release of the accident report could compromise national security was just a cover-up for its own negligence that had resulted in the deaths of several people on the plane.
So Reynolds' relatives went back to court. And lost.Why? Because the courts still refuse to question government decisions on what is or is not secret, basically. So if the government *says* the accident report contains secret info, that's all there is to it, essentially. The government doesn't have to justify its decision to classify information as secret to the judge. Hell, the judge is not even allowed to see the information.
As a result, today in the US it is perfectly legal of the government to take innocent people from their daily, law-abiding lives, place them inside "black site" prisons, and send them to repressive countries to be abused and tortured in their dungeons. And if they are so lucky as to survive all this and somehow manage to make it back, they have no legal claim. If they try to sue, they'll get the State Secrets beelAkh. And if you think I'm joking or exaggerating, meet Mr Masri and others (And no, this was not just a Bush administration thing. Nor is there any liklihood that the US courts will ever allow a legal challenge to such "anti-terrorism" laws to occur.)
This is America in the 21st Century folks. It wasn't always like this... or was it?