ACLU Argues Case Against Rumsfeld

Today, in federal court, the ACLU and Human Rights First argued its case that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody.

Today’s hearing marked the first time a federal court has considered whether top U.S. officials can be held legally accountable for the torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The ACLU and Human Rights First filed the lawsuit in March 2005 on behalf of nine innocent civilians who were detained by the United States military in Iraq and Afghanistan. While in U.S. custody, the men were subjected to abuse, torture and other cruel and degrading treatment, including severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and assault, mock executions, death threats, and restraint in contorted and excruciating positions. All of the men were released without charge.

“Our clients’ case is about ensuring that there’s meaningful accountability, to create an effective deterrent against future violations and to ensure the courts’ ongoing role in enforcing the law against torture,” said Deborah Pearlstein, director of Human Rights First’s Law and Security program. “The Supreme Court has made it clear that wartime does not create a law-free zone.”

Rumsfeld moved to dismiss the lawsuit, hence, the hearing today.

Today’s hearing addressed the defendants’ claim that they cannot be held legally liable for the torture of civilians in U.S. custody. The ACLU and Human Rights First argued that the Constitution and international law clearly prohibit torture and require commanders to act when they know or should have known of abuses. In addition to the orders they gave directly, Secretary Rumsfeld and the other defendants were repeatedly notified of abuse and torture at detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan by military reports, the International Red Cross and other reports and complaints by human rights organizations.

The groups further charge in the lawsuit that Secretary Rumsfeld personally approved brutal and illegal interrogation techniques in December 2002. Those techniques included the use of “stress positions,” the removal of clothing, the use of dogs, and isolation and sensory deprivation.


The ACLU also brought three related lawsuits against Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, former Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and Colonel Thomas Pappas. The four cases were consolidated and transferred to Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. All of the defendants have moved to dismiss the suits in their entirety.

The lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages for the plaintiffs and a court order declaring that the actions of Secretary Rumsfeld and the other officers violated the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes and international law.

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    Hang 'em high (none / 0) (#1)
    by Kitt on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 11:39:09 AM EST
    I want yu'll to see something else Rumsfeld did (in some relation to this case).

    Via NewsCloud from Commondreams.org

    Abu Ghraib Whistleblower Worries

    "Like most soldiers serving in Iraq, Joe Darby just wanted to go home when his time was up. But blowing the whistle on his unit members for abusing Iraqi prisoners changed all that, and now the former military police specialist lives in an undisclosed city with his wife, still worried for their safety......Darby relaxed a bit when the abusers were taken off base, but was shocked when, after 60 Minutes II broke the story, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld mentioned his name in front of Congress. To keep him safe, the military flew him out of Iraq. But when he landed back in the states and asked to go home, officers told him he wouldn't be safe there, either. "[An officer] said, `Well, son, that's not an option.' He said the Army Reserve had done a security assessment of the area and 'it's not safe for you there. You can't go home.'"

    If that is NOT a passive-aggressive tactic to show all whistleblowers they will not be tolerated, I don't know what is.

    Wow.... (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 04:45:15 PM EST
    I really hope I would have the guts to do the right thing in the face of those repurcussions.

    That's a brave, righteous soldier right there.  


    You can't go home (none / 0) (#2)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 11:55:52 AM EST
    You can't go home

    Because the US Army can't protect one of it's own, in his own home, from it's own, because the Secretary of Defense, Bush's best buddy, was a cheap, deceitful amoral little killer.


    It's breathtaking (none / 0) (#6)
    by aw on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 12:16:40 PM EST
    and heartbreaking.

    Shades of Serpico... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Bill Arnett on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 12:05:51 PM EST
    ...Warning sent and received, speak up about our government's illegal activities and you will be outed and BTW, there can be no guarantee you will ever be safe again - from your own government or its agents.

    Mornin', edger, aw, everybody.

    Morning, Bill (none / 0) (#4)
    by Edger on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 12:08:44 PM EST
    Good day, Bill (none / 0) (#5)
    by aw on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 12:11:58 PM EST
    and everyone.

    Human Rights First...Don't make me laugh (none / 0) (#7)
    by bx58 on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 03:28:12 PM EST
    This is a clone of "Human Rights Watch" a bogus human rights organization so pro-Israel it isn't funny.

    Is there outrage about the thousands of Palestinians being held without trial or charges?Of course not.

    Don't parade these pretenders in front of us and expect us not to google their lying a**es.

    How do you know? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Kitt on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 12:52:45 AM EST
    Human Rights First...Don't make me laugh..
    by bx58 on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 03:28:12 PM EST
    This is a clone of "Human Rights Watch" a bogus human rights organization so pro-Israel it isn't funny.

    The names seem pretty innocuous. I don't know much about either group.


    These are the same Palestinians... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Bill Arnett on Sun Dec 10, 2006 at 01:03:00 PM EST
    ...that recently held democratic elections, which bush was all for UNTIL they elected leadership not acceptable to Israel and bush, so they cut off all funding, broke the back of the newly elected government, and have virtually imprisoned the Palestinians on the Gaza Strip?

    It's pretty obvious to the rest of the world that in America and Israel the word democracy isn't defined as it is elsewhere in the world.


    The big chill in here (none / 0) (#9)
    by bx58 on Fri Dec 08, 2006 at 06:51:14 PM EST
    Kdog I voted for you too.

    I can't imagine being a Zionist(who wants peace)and have to put up with the last 40 yrs of this BS.

    We pay-off everybody in the region with hundreds of billions of dollars and we still have to topple this tin-horn dictator to get at the oil?

    Back on topic, Abu Graib, Valerie Plame,Gitmo...it's all a smokescreen. TL knows that.

    Out of control (none / 0) (#11)
    by plumberboy on Sat Dec 09, 2006 at 05:28:33 AM EST
    The United states goverment has been out of control for a long while.This goverment is no longer for the people by the people.I have said this before and it's true.These terrible events just validate that truth.The goverment has a trust rating of less than 20%according to a cbs poll I saw on the news several months ago.I hope the ACLU wins this trial on top of giving these men some sort of relief for the gross torture they endured,It will also send a clear message to Washington no one is above the law in America. To many times the legal system has two sets of law those for the rich and powerful who can afford high dollar attorney fees.The other set of laws the rest of us live with which says hang em every chance you get because they can't afford a team of lawyers to do anything about it anyway.