Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 6 (2002)

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Opinion of the Court

id., at 34 (¶ 83). All along, however, the Government officials knew that Bamaca had been killed by the Guatemalan army, ibid. (¶ 84), but engaged in misleading statements and omissions because they did not want their complicity in Bamaca's torture and death revealed, id., at 36 (¶ 92). Harbury learned that her husband was dead only in March 1995 when a congressman publicly announced that Bamaca had been killed on the orders of a Guatemalan army colonel who was also a paid agent of the CIA, ibid. (¶ 91).


A year later, in March 1996, Harbury filed suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia against the CIA, the State Department, the NSC, and members of each in their official and individual capacities. The complaint, as amended, listed 28 causes of action under federal, state, and international law. App. 38-62. Although only the access-to-courts counts directly concern us here, it is important to know Harbury's other claims, in order to determine whether she has stated a tenable claim for denial of judicial access.


Harbury's complaint sought relief in four categories other than access to courts. First, on behalf of Bamaca's estate, she raised claims against the CIA defendants under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment for his imprisonment, torture, and execution, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief,2 and money damages against the officials in their individual capacities on the theory of Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388 (1971). App. 38-42 (counts 1-5). Next, on her own behalf, Harbury sued all the Government defendants for declaratory and injunctive relief

2 The injunctive relief Harbury sought in these (and other) counts was disclosure of information "concerning her husband's death and the location of his body" and an order to prevent "[d]efendants from taking such actions in the future." App. 63.

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