[Ppnews] Rumsfeld Sued over Prisoner Abuse/Human Rights

PPnews at freedomarchives.org PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 2 08:39:42 EST 2005


Editor's Note: When the Abu Ghraib photographs first surfaced, a wave of 
shock and revulsion rolled across the planet. Subsequent revelations 
indicated that senior Bush administration officials, including Alberto 
Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld, actively pushed for the use of torture 
against individuals detained in the 'War on Terror,' and further sought to 
build firewalls between the administration and any legal consequences 
arising from said torture. Chief among these was the argument, put forth by 
Gonzales, that the President of the United States is for all intents and 
purposes above the law.

In the aftermath of these revelations, not one single senior military or 
civilian leader has been called to account for the torture, rape and murder 
of civilians in Abu Ghraib prison. Several soldiers were hung out to dry, 
but the proponents of this policy have avoided the consequences of their 
actions. With the filing of this lawsuit, however, this shameful fact may 
well be pushed aside. Note well that among the names of the petitioners in 
this matter are Rear Admiral John D. Hutson (Ret. USN), former Judge 
Advocate General of the Navy, and Brigadier General James Cullen (Ret. 
USA), former Chief Judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals. - wrp

Also see below:
<http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/#1>Human Rights First Press Release    •
<http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/#2>DoD Response to Lawsuit    •

     <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/01/terror/main677278.shtml>Go 
to Original

     Rumsfeld Sued over Prisoner Abuse
     CBS News

     Tuesday 01 March 2005
A number of other lawsuits also are pending against Rumsfeld, military 
commanders and civilian contractors in the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal.

     Two human rights groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Defense 
Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on behalf of eight men allegedly tortured by 
U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     "Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility" because he "personally signed 
off" on policies guiding prisoner treatment, said American Civil Liberties 
Union Executive Director Anthony Romero.

     A number of other lawsuits also are pending against Rumsfeld, military 
commanders and civilian contractors in the abuse scandal, which broke last 
spring with the disclosure of photographs showing American military men and 
women abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

     An independent commission agreed in August 2004 that Rumsfeld and 
other top Pentagon leaders contributed to an environment in which prisoners 
suffered sadistic abuse at Abu Ghraib. The members also concluded that the 
officials could be faulted for failed leadership and oversight.

     On Monday the U.S. military appointed a three-star general to lead an 
investigation into abuse allegations at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo 
Bay, Cuba.

     At a Washington news conference, the ACLU and Human Rights First said 
the suit was filed in Rumsfeld's home state of Illinois and alleged the 
eight men suffered physical and psychological injuries while incarcerated 
in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

     In the suit, the two groups said the men were subjected to torture and 
other cruel and degrading treatment while in the facilities, including 
severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and 
assault, mock executions, death threats, and restraint in contorted and 
excruciating positions.

     The ACLU has also filed three similar complaints against Colonel 
Thomas Pappas, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and Lt. General Ricardo 
Sanchez on behalf of detainees who were allegedly tortured in Iraq. The 
three additional complaints were filed in federal courts in Connecticut, 
South Carolina and Texas.



     ACLU and Human Rights First Sue Defense Secretary Rumsfeld over U.S. 
Torture Policies
     Human Rights First | Press Release

     Tuesday 01 March 2005

     Washington - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bears direct 
responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military 
custody, the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First charged 
today in the first federal court lawsuit to name a top U.S. official in the 
ongoing torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan that has tarnished 
America's reputation.

     The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois on behalf of eight 
men who were subject to torture and abuse at the hands of U.S. forces under 
Secretary Rumsfeld's command. The parties are seeking a court order 
declaring that Secretary Rumsfeld's actions violated the U.S. Constitution, 
federal statutes and international law.

     "Secretary Rumsfeld bears direct and ultimate responsibility for this 
descent into horror by personally authorizing unlawful interrogation 
techniques and by abdicating his legal duty to stop torture," said Lucas 
Guttentag, lead counsel in the lawsuit and director of the ACLU's 
Immigrants' Rights Project. "He gives lip service to being responsible but 
has not been held accountable for his actions. This lawsuit puts the blame 
where it belongs, on the Secretary of Defense."

     The groups are joined as co-counsel in the lawsuit by Rear Admiral 
John D. Hutson (Ret. USN), former Judge Advocate General of the Navy; 
Brigadier General James Cullen (Ret. USA), former Chief Judge (IMA) of the 
U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals; and Bill Lann Lee, Chair of the Human 
Rights Practice Group at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and 
former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of 
Justice. Admiral Hutson and General Cullen are "of counsel" to Human Rights 
First.

     "Since Abu Ghraib, we have vigorously campaigned for an independent 
commission to investigate U.S. policies that have led to torture and cruel 
treatment of detainees. These calls have gone unanswered by the 
administration and Congress, and today many of the illegal polices remain 
in place," said Michael Posner, Executive Director of Human Rights First. 
"We believed the United States could correct its policy without resort to 
the courts. In bringing this action today, we reluctantly conclude that we 
were wrong."

     The men represented in the lawsuit were incarcerated in U.S. detention 
facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they were subjected to 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. None of the men were ever charged with a crime. All have been 
released.

     "One of the greatest strengths of the U.S. military throughout our 
history has been strong civilian leadership at the top of the chain of 
command," said Admiral Hutson. "Unfortunately, Secretary Rumsfeld has 
failed to live up to that tradition. In the end, that imperils our troops 
and undermines the war effort. It is critical that we return to another 
military tradition: accountability."

     In legal papers, the groups charged Secretary Rumsfeld with violations 
of the U.S. Constitution and international law prohibiting torture and 
cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. The lawsuit also seeks compensatory 
damages for the harms suffered as a result of torture and other abuse.

     According to the complaint, Secretary Rumsfeld "authorized an 
abandonment of our nation's inviolable and deep-rooted prohibition against 
torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of 
detainees in U.S. military custody." The complaint further charges that 
brutal and illegal interrogation techniques were personally approved by 
Secretary Rumsfeld in December 2002. Those techniques included the use of 
"stress positions," 20-hour interrogations, the removal of clothing, the 
use of dogs, isolation, and sensory deprivation.

     Although some of these techniques were later rescinded, Rumsfeld 
personally approved a new list in April 2003, which included dietary 
manipulation, sensory deprivation and "false flag" (leading detainees to 
believe that they have been transferred to a country that permits torture). 
He also made clear that harsher techniques could be used with his personal 
authorization.

     "Human rights law and military rules prohibit torture at all times and 
in every circumstance, a principle that applies to the highest commander as 
well as the lowest subordinate," said co-counsel Lee, the former Justice 
Department official.

     Official government reports have documented many horrific abuses 
inflicted on detainees in U.S. custody. They have shown that the abuse was 
ongoing and was not limited to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The ACLU 
and other advocacy groups have obtained over 23,000 pages of documents 
concerning abuses through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, online at 
www.aclu.org/torturefoia. As these documents indicate, the FBI began to 
complain about the interrogation techniques used by the military on 
detainees in Guantánamo as early as 2002, techniques that spread to 
Afghanistan and Iraq. Media reports have also brought many disturbing 
incidents to light, including the deaths of detainees in custody.

     The ACLU and Human Rights First have created a detailed timeline of 
the various actions that Secretary Rumsfeld took and the points at which he 
was informed of the abuses that resulted, online at 
<http://www.aclu.org/rumsfeld>www.aclu.org/rumsfeld and 
<http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/lawsuit>http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/lawsuit.

     "The effects of Rumsfeld's policies have been devastating both to 
America's international reputation as a beacon of freedom and democracy, 
and to the hundreds, even thousands of individuals who have suffered at the 
hands of U.S. forces," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

     Details about the clients in the case can be found in the legal 
complaint and in individual biographical statements online at 
<http://www.aclu.org/rumsfeld>www.aclu.org/rumsfeld and 
<http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/lawsuit>http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/lawsuit. 
Due to safety and privacy concerns, the individuals named in the complaint 
are not currently available for interview.

     The ACLU has also filed three similar complaints against Colonel 
Thomas Pappas, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and Lt. General Ricardo 
Sanchez on behalf of the torture victims who were detained in Iraq. These 
three additional complaints were filed in federal courts in Connecticut, 
South Carolina and Texas, respectively, due to court requirements regarding 
jurisdiction.

     The case is Ali et al., v. Rumsfeld, filed in U.S. District Court in 
the Northern District of Illinois. In addition to Guttentag, Adm. Hutson, 
Gen. Cullen, Posner and Lee, the attorneys in the case are: Steven R. 
Shapiro, Cecillia Wang, Amrit Singh and Omar Jadwat of the ACLU; Deborah 
Pearlstein and Fiona Doherty of Human Rights First; Chimène I. Keitner and 
Nirej S. Sekhon of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP; Paul Hoffman of 
Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP; Erwin Chemerinsky of Duke 
University School of Law; David Rudovsky of Kairys, Rudovsky, Epstein & 
Messing LLP; and Harvey Grossman, Legal Director of the ACLU of Illinois.

     All counsel are representing the plaintiffs on a pro bono basis.



     <http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2005/nr20050301-2149.html>Go to 
Original

     DoD Comment on ACLU and Human Rights First Lawsuit
     The Department of Defense

     Tuesday 01 March 2005

     There are 4 civil complaints are under review within this Department 
and at the Justice Department.

     We vigorously dispute any assertion or implication that the Department 
of Defense approved of, sanctioned, or condoned as a matter of policy 
detainee abuse.

     No policies or procedures approved by the Secretary of Defense were 
intended as, or could conceivably have been interpreted as, a policy of 
abuse, or as condoning abuse.

     There have been multiple investigations into the various aspects of 
detainee abuse.

     None has concluded that there was a policy of abuse.

     The Department of Defense has demonstrated a record that credible 
allegations of illegal conduct by U.S. military personnel are taken 
seriously and investigated.
    * There have been 8 major reviews, inspections, and investigations; 
three more are in progress.
    * To date, more than 100 individuals have undergone, or are undergoing, 
disciplinary proceedings. We anticipate there may be additional proceedings 
against additional individuals.

     U.S. policy as expressed in relevant Defense Department orders, 
techniques, and procedures requires that detainees be treated humanely and 
in accordance with the law.
    * The Geneva Conventions apply to the conflict in Iraq.
    * The Al Qaeda and Taliban are unlawful enemy combatants who fail to 
comply with the laws of war.
    * The President has ordered and Defense Department policy emphasizes 
that Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees be treated humanely and, to the extent 
appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent 
with the principles of Geneva.



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