Jose Padilla's Torture Suit Dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed Jose Padilla's torture lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates saying he has no right to sue for money damages.

The ACLU says:

The court today held that Donald Rumsfeld is above the law and Jose Padilla is beneath it. But if the law does not protect Jose Padilla, it protects none of us, and the executive branch can simply label citizens enemies of the state and strip them of all rights — including the absolute right not to be tortured. If Jose Padilla is not allowed his day in court, nothing will prevent future administrations from engaging in similar abuses.

Jose Padilla is an American citizen. He was arrested on American soil. He is serving his 17 year sentence, imposed by a federal court, at Supermax in Colorado. The decision is here. [More...]

Therefore, to the extent that a viable cause of action were found to exist under the Constitution, the Court finds that all defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on all issues relating to Padilla's designation and detention as an enemy combatant.

And, even if his allegations of torture are true, they may not really be torture, and even if they are, the officials are entitled to qualified immunity:

Taking the allegations of the Plaintiffs' Complaint as true for purposes of this motion, the Court finds that it was not clearly established at the time of his designation and detention that Padilla's treatment as an enemy combatant, including his interrogations, was a violation of law. Therefore, to the extent a viable claim under the Constitution were found to exist, the Court finds that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity regarding all claims of alleged constitutional violations arising out of Padilla's detention as an enemy combatant.

Putting the final nail in the coffin, the Court says:

This conclusion appears to the Court to be particularly appropriate where the original detention decision was a direct order of the President of the United States, who is entitled to absolute executive immunity; the challenged interrogation methods were sanctioned at the time by the United States Department of Justice, which has sovereign immunity; and the enemy combatant designation was ultimately approved by Article III judges, who have absolute judicial immunity.

A truly bad decision.

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  • Display: Sort:
    This was a very disappointing, if not (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 09:03:46 AM EST
    totally expected, decision - one that will no doubt be repeated in every instance where someone we detained and tortured seeks redress.

    I don't know how we can continue to claim that we have a superior system of justice in this country, when it is giving the government carte blanche to do whatever it wants, with no accountability or consequence.

    Nor do I know how we prevent our leaders from continuing to do whatever they want if they know there is no penalty for doing so.

    We should be ashamed to be enabling more of this kind of behavior, but apparently, it is more important to put the actions of people ahead of the principles those people were and are supposed to be upholding.

    Makes me feel sick inside.

    This should send chills down the spine... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 11:17:55 AM EST
    ...of every American citizen.  Now YOU can be disappeared too.  And you have no recourse at all.  

    America is dead.  Forget the coffin, she's already in the process of being cremated.

    This is just sickening.

    Don't judges have to pass some kind of basic tie-your-shoes while reciting the ABC's test? 'Cause if they did, we'd never have this fool to worry about.  What a disgrace to supposedly free American jusidprudence.

    Would be interested in (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by oculus on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 01:24:48 PM EST
    opinion of centrist BTD.

    Also, how does U.S. Executive branch have the churzpah to preach to ME regimes about how to treat their citizens?

    Now that's just silly (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by NYShooter on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 09:10:57 PM EST
    They have corrupt leaders,


    ALL our institutions: Presidency, Legislature, and Judiciary are corrupt.

    And that's what we mean by "Majority Rule," and that makes anything they do legal.

    I hope I cleared that up.


    Excellent question, and exactly my (none / 0) (#7)
    by Anne on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 02:57:49 PM EST
    thoughts as various members of the administration issued statements about the situation in Egypt, and now, on other fronts in the region.

    Lectures about the wonders of democracy and protecting the rights of citizens ring hollow in light of our own actions - which I guess no one is supposed to pay any attention to.

    I turly have no idea why their rhetoric does not turn to sawdust in their mouths.


    Richard Gergel violated Nuremberg Principles (none / 0) (#1)
    by Andreas on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 07:15:48 AM EST

    The name of that "judge" is Richard Gergel. He has violated the Nuremberg Principles.

    Principle III

    The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

    Principle IV:

    The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him

    Nor does it relieve them under US law (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 04:28:48 PM EST
    The "Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment" treaty which was signed April 18, 1988 and ratified by the Senate on October 21,  1994, which states in Article 2, Clause 1 "Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction." - a mandatory duty. Mr. Holder has declined to prosecute torturers, stating "It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department." Article 2, Clause 2 requires "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture." - a mandatory duty. Article 2, Clause 3 requires "An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture." - a mandatory duty.

    You are correct - no Nuremburg defenses allowed.


    This same absolute executive immunity (none / 0) (#3)
    by Edger on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 10:27:33 AM EST
    should protect any President who would decide at any time to have Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al picked up and indefinitely detained while undergoing 'enhanced' interrogations, shouldn't it?

    I'm fairly sure Yoo and Bybee, at least, would agree, anyway...

    Nah, because they had pure intentions (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Dadler on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 11:14:50 AM EST
    Don't you understand? They were protecting free America from unadulterated evil.  And, worse, our current President believes that line.  We can't look back, ever apparently, lest we forget to keep standing in place and rotting.

    They were protecting free America from themselves? (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 06:25:05 PM EST
    Come on! I don't believe that for a minute. ;-)

    Not when Ultra Vires (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 04:30:16 PM EST
    Their immunity goes bye-bye when their acts are outside the law, outside the Constitution, outside the Treaties of the US - as these acts were.

    versus (none / 0) (#8)
    by dandelion on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 03:22:14 PM EST
    Versus the news that Anthony Mozillo won't face criminal charges.  Because, apparently, while he might have some criminal liability, that liability is too widely shared.

    And, just where (none / 0) (#16)
    by NYShooter on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 09:23:17 PM EST
    are the "justice" Dept. prosecutors supposed to get 7-8 figure incomes after their "public service" days are over?


    Furthermore, where would our Constitutional Law Professor get the billion dollars for his re-election campaign if all his "contributors" are doing deep knee bends at Super Max?

    Just keep looking forward; nothing to see behind you.


    Did anyone expect the current administration (none / 0) (#9)
    by beefeater on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 03:31:41 PM EST
    to be setup for a subsequent administration to prosecute Obama for the Drone bombing attacks on civilians inside Pakistan's borders? I don't recall a Joint Resolution being passed, by an overwhelming vote BTW, similar to what Bush was operating under.

    what does this have to do with (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Feb 19, 2011 at 04:27:18 PM EST
    Jose Padilla? Please stay on topic. An open thread will be up soon.

    Can there be a reliance opinion that violates the clean hands doctrine that is valid when issued by a member of a criminal conspiracy to commit torture? Can the executive repeal a law? Can the executive refuse to obey the law, and still be absolutely immune? Are government agents absolutely immune for their criminal acts?

    Courts I read say no.