From the Center for Constitutional Rights (h/t Anderson):
"The Second Circuit Court of Appeals issued an extremely rare order that the case of Canadian rendition victim Maher Arar would be heard en banc by all of the active judges on the Second Circuit on December 9, 2008. For the court to issue the order sua sponte, that is, of its own accord without either party submitting papers requesting a rehearing, is even more rare. (...)
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) case seeks to hold accountable the high level administration officials responsible for sending Maher Arar to be tortured and interrogated in Syria for a year – a practice known as an extraordinary rendition. Based on faulty information, Mr. Arar was detained as he was changing planes at JFK airport on his way home to Canada from a family vacation. A Canadian citizen, he pled with officials not to send him to Syria, the country of his birth, because he would be tortured there.
After nearly two weeks in New York, with access to counsel and the court obstructed, he was flown to Jordan on a chartered jet in the middle of the night and taken by land to Syria. Mr. Arar was tortured, interrogated and kept in a 3x6x7-foot underground cell for a year until the Syrian government, finding no connections to terrorism, released him home to Canada.
CCR originally filed the case in the Eastern District of New York in January 2004; the first ruling, in February 2006, dismissed the case on the grounds that allowing it to proceed would harm national security and foreign relations. CCR appealed the decision, arguing before a three-judge panel in November 2007, but the Court of Appeals issued a 2-1 decision in June 2008 along similar lines."
What this means is: a panel composed of three judges on the Second Circuit ruled against Maher Arar in June. The entire Second Circuit Court has just issued an order saying: wait, we want to rehear this case -- all of us, not just a panel of three. It's unlikely that they would have done that if they didn't disagree with the panel in some way, and still more unlikely that they would have decided to rehear the case without waiting to be asked, as they did here.
This could be very good news. I hope so: it just should not be possible for our government to kidnap someone, ship him off to Syria knowing that he will be tortured, and then have no one be in any way accountable.