- WASHINGTON - The attorney
for workers at Area 51, the classified base in the Nellis Air Force Range,
has filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a court order
protecting information about the base.
- Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor,
claims two workers died from exposure to toxic waste burning at the base,
90 miles north of Las Vegas.
- "What happened was an outrage, and we will remain
active in pursuing justice," Turley said Monday.
- Turley filed the appeal July 27, asking the Supreme Court
to overturn a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San
- The appeals court, in a 3-0 decision on Jan. 8, upheld
the Air Force's claim that disclosure of the information Turley seeks could
endanger national security and violate a 1995 order by President Clinton.
- The appeals court ruled that five current and former
workers at the base and the widows of the two dead workers, all represented
by Turley, are not entitled to learn whether hazardous substances exist
at Area 51 or how they are handled. The court also ruled that the results
of a federal inspection of the base and even its name could not be disclosed.
Turley's request for a rehearing was rejected on April 24.
- Justice Department spokeswoman Chris Watney said Monday
the department has not been notified of Turley's appeal to the Supreme
Court but would have 45 days to respond "and we will."
- The Supreme Court is out of session until October. When
the justices return, it should take about six weeks for them to decide
whether to consider the Area 51 case.
- Turley acknowledged his appeal is a long shot, noting
that few cases are accepted by the Supreme Court. But he said the issues
in the Area 51 lawsuit should interest some justices.
- "The 9th Circuit's ruling seemed to create new law
in national security as well as environmental law that contradicts past
Supreme Court rulings," he said. "This case has many of the elements
the court looks for. The question is whether a sufficient number of justices
will be interested."
- Turley has raised his national profile in recent weeks
by appearing on several television talk shows to criticize Clinton's actions
in response to allegations of sexual misconduct with former White House
intern Monica Lewinsky.
- "If the president had shown a fraction of the concern
for the workers (at Area 51) that he has shown for his own case, this case
would have ended long ago," Turley said.
- The White House referred a phone call about Turley's
comments to the National Security Council, which did not respond.
- Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1997 - 2002