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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Jun > Jun 9

Federal Judges To Hear Area 51 Case

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@privat.dk>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2002 02:25:39 +0200
Fwd Date: Sun, 09 Jun 2002 22:51:56 -0400
Subject: Federal Judges To Hear Area 51 Case

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal,




Tuesday, June 04, 2002
Copyright =A9 Las Vegas Review-Journal


Federal judges to hear case involving Area 51



A panel of federal judges in San Francisco will hear arguments
this month about ballegations that Department of Justice
attorneys improperly used national security to hide embarrassing
statements when a Las Vegas judge heard complaints filed in 1994
by Area 51 workers.

The hearing is scheduled for June 14 before a three-judge panel
in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It
stems in part from a request by the Review- Journal for the
panel to determine whether the Justice Department abused the
state secrets privilege when it convinced U.S. District Court
Judge Philip Pro to allow redactions in previously sealed court

"Our basic position is that the court has to review the redacted
information and make a determination as to whether or not the
government's justifications are legitimate and whether the
government's claims to national security are supported by the
material," said attorney Roger Myers, who is representing the
Review-Journal in the case.

Other than acknowledging the existence of a classified
installation, the government argues presidential orders keep
secret all information about what is commonly known as Area 51,
the Air Force's Groom Lake base located 90 miles north of Las

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley also
had claimed previously that government attorneys improperly used
the military secrets privilege. He said overly broad standards
were being used to suppress information.

Turley filed lawsuits in 1994 against federal defense,
environmental and intelligence agencies on behalf of two widows
and some former workers from Area 51. The workers claimed they
were injured from inhaling toxic chemicals that were burned at
the base during the 1980s in defiance of environmental laws that
prohibit open-pit burning of hazardous wastes.

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal in
those cases, upholding a ruling by the 9th Circuit that the
workers and widows were not entitled to learn what hazardous
substances existed at the installation or how they were handled.

On Aug. 17, the Review-Journal filed a motion to unseal the
court record. The 9th Circuit instructed Pro to release the
record, and the judge did so. However, large portions of the
transcripts contained in the 8-inch-high stack of documents were
blacked out.

The Review-Journal's motion also challenged the redacting,
arguing that information in the court briefs has "been litigated
in open court for more than six years."

The court documents obtained by the Review-Journal show much of
the dialogue and particularly statements made by Justice
Department attorney Stephen Samuels are blacked out of the
transcript. Some of his comments were made at the onset of the

In an interview Monday, Turley said he was privy to all the
information at issue.

"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," Turley said.

He noted that "the false statements in question make no
reference whatsoever to any program or component of Area 51."

Later, Turley said although he couldn't discuss specific
redactions, "we have supplied the court with literally dozens of
redactions of material that the government has left unredacted
either in the court transcript or other documents."

He said he hopes this most recent challenge will resurrect
previous issues in the Area 51 workers' cases.

"We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will again reverse
Judge Pro and require the unsealing of some of this information
as well as other issues on appeal," Turley said.

"The workers remain committed to show the public what the
government did in this case," he said.

One argument in the case centers on a widely circulated Air
Force manual about the base, where former workers have said
high-tech U.S. aircraft have been tested against foreign planes
and radar systems.

"The manual had been circulating publicly for at least a year
with no hint of protest from the government," according to the
Review-Journal's Aug. 17 motion. With the manual still posted on
the Internet and not marked "classified" or "secret" the
government classified it in the court record.

A Justice Department spokeswoman had no immediate comment when
asked late Monday about the allegations and the June 14 hearing.

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