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USA: Court decides that tortured contractor can sue Rumsfeld personally

last updated Aug 08, 2011

A U.S. District Court in Washington has ruled that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be personally sued by an Army veteran who claims he was tortured by the U.S. military in Iraq. The judgment came after the veteran, whose identity has not been revealed, filed a suit in 2006 arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation methods and that his detention without access to courts violated his constitutional rights.

Donald H. Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, November 2006
Donald H. Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, November 2006; Source: White House photo by Paul Morse

The veteran worked as a translator for the Marine in the Iraqi province of Anbar before he was detained and brought to Camp Cropper near Baghdad for allegedly passing on classified information to the enemy. He was never charged with any of the suspected crimes. The contractor says he was the first to establish direct contact to Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, who became an important ally for the U.S. military.

During the nine months in detention he says he was repeatedly tortured by guards who choked him, exposed him to extreme cold and continuous artificial light and deprived him from sleep. For the first three months he was allegedly held incommunicado in solitary confinement with a hole in the ground for a toilet. Later, he claims, he was physically abused by cellmates who were suspected of terrorism.

Rumsfeld has been represented by the Obama administration throughout the case. The Justice Department argued that a judge cannot review wartime decisions since these are the responsibility of Congress and the president. It also stressed that the case could lead to the disclosure of sensitive information. The judge refused these arguments by emphasising that U.S. citizens are protected by the constitution inside and outside of the United States of America.

Washington Post: Judge says American defense contractor can sue Rumsfeld personally over torture allegations

BBC News: Rumsfeld Iraq 'torture' suit given go-ahead

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