(CN) – The D.C. Circuit agreed to reconsider its dismissal of a $50 million defamation claim against the U.S. government over a 1998 missile attack on a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant.
A three-judge panel declined to rule on the case in March, saying it raised political questions that would require courts to second-guess national security decisions.
The missile strike had been ordered by then-President Bill Clinton, in response to al-Qaida’s 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
The target, a pharmaceutical plant in North Khartoum, Sudan, was owned by El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Industries Co. and Salah El Din Mohammed Idris.
The owners said members of the Clinton administration justified the attack by falsely claiming that the plant was a “terrorists’ base of operation,” was “associated with the bin Laden network” and was secretly a chemical weapons plant.
But the company said it had no connections to al-Qaida and insisted that the plant produced only drugs, including more than half the pharmaceuticals used in the Sudan.
Seeking to recoup their losses from the attack, the owners filed a $50 million claim against the United States, alleging defamation and violations of international law.
Both the district court and the appellate panel dismissed the case under the political question doctrine.
But a majority of D.C. Circuit judges on Monday agreed to rehear the case before the full court. The order also vacated the panel ruling and scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 16.