Judge allows Rumsfeld torture lawsuit to proceed
A judge is allowing a man to sue Donald H. Rumsfeld for torture. Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA

A judge has refused to throw out a lawsuit filed by an Army veteran who was imprisoned and tortured by members of the U.S. military in Iraq. The lawsuit personally targets former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

A translator working for the Marines

The veteran, whose identity remains undisclosed, worked as a translator for the Marines in the war-torn Anbar province when he was detained. The man, in his 50s, was held for nine months at a U.S. facility called Camp Cropper. Military officials say he was detained on suspicion of passing classified information and aiding anti-coalition forces to enter the country.

Denies wrongdoing

The man was never officially charged with a crime and denies any wrongdoing. According to court papers, he was tortured repeatedly and then was suddenly released with no explanation in August 2008.

Rumsfeld held personally responsible

The man filed his lawsuit in 2010, holding then Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld personally responsible for damages. The lawsuit argues that Rumsfeld personally approved all interrogations, case-by-case. It further asserts that the man’s constitutional rights were violated because he was detained without access to any court.

Opened talks with sheik

The plaintiff’s attorney, Mike Kanovitz, argues that he was detained because his work as an Arabic translator involved opening talks with Sheik Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who went on to lead a revolt of Sunni sheiks against al-Qaida. He was later killed in a bombing.

“The U.S. government wasn’t ready for the rest of the world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice,” Kanovitz said. “If you’ve got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?”

Detained and tortured

The plaintiff says he was detained in a cell with only a hole in the ground for a toilet. He says he was repeatedly choked and kept awake by music blasting at “intolerably loud levels.” Later he was moved to a group cell with terrorist suspects, who were informed of the work he did for the U.S. military. The man says he lived in constant fear for his life at the hands of fellow prisoners.

Administration backs up Rumsfeld

The federal administration has defended Rumsfeld, arguing that he cannot be held personally liable for official actions. The Justice Department has backed up the administration, saying a judge cannot decide on wartime matters, which are the jurisdiction of the president and congress. But U.S. District Judge James Gwin disagreed Tuesday.

“The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad,” Gwin ruled.

Other suits filed against Rumsfeld

Gwin is not the first judge to make such a decision. Last year, U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen agreed to allow two former Camp Cropper detainees to personally sue Rumsfeld. Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, both contractors in Iraq, were detained and tortured for alleged illegal activity. Rumsfeld is currently appealing that decision.

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/04/donald-rumsfeld-torture-lawsuit_n_917966.html
Cape Ann Online: http://capeannonline.yuku.com/topic/13384/Rumsfeld-Torture-Lawsuit-Allowed-To-Proceed#.TjsPjGWP-_0
Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/13-12

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