[Ppnews] Supreme Court revives lawsuit by former detainees

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue Dec 16 12:49:55 EST 2008

 From the Los Angeles Times

Supreme Court revives lawsuit by former detainees

Four British Muslims who spent more than two 
years at Guantanamo want top Pentagon officials 
held responsible for their treatment.
By David G. Savage

December 16, 2008

Reporting from Washington ­ The Supreme Court 
revived a lawsuit Monday by four British Muslims 
who said they were tortured and abused at the 
prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and harassed and 
humiliated during daily prayers.

The former prisoners are attempting to hold top 
Pentagon officials responsible for the abuse, 
including former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The lawsuit was thrown out last year by the U.S. 
Court of Appeals in Washington, which concluded 
that the Guantanamo prisoners had no rights under 
the Constitution because they were foreigners held by the military.

In a one-line order Monday, the justices set 
aside the appeals court's decision and ordered 
the judges to take a new look at the case.

In June, the Supreme Court rejected the premise 
that all Guantanamo prisoners had no rights. In a 
5-4 ruling, the justices said the Constitution's 
protection for the right of habeas corpus 
extended to all Guantanamo detainees. The 
decision cleared the way for prisoners to sue for their freedom before a judge.

Citing that ruling, lawyers for the former 
prisoners at the U.S.-run detention center in 
Cuba appealed to the high court in August.

"The torture, abuse and religious humiliation of 
Muslim detainees at Guantanamo Bay stands as a 
shameful episode in our history," their lawyer, 
Eric Lewis, wrote in his appeal.

The four British men include Shafiq Rasul. He was 
the lead plaintiff in the 2004 ruling that first 
granted the right of habeas corpus to prisoners held at Guantanamo.

Rasul, a native of Tipton, England, traveled to 
Pakistan in 2001 to study computer science. He 
and three other men went to Afghanistan a few 
months later to help with a humanitarian crisis. 
The men were captured by warlords and turned over 
to U.S. forces. They spent more than two years at 
Guantanamo before they were freed and returned to England.

In their suit, the men say they were shackled in 
painful positions, threatened by dogs, subjected 
to extremes of hot and cold, and harassed during their daily prayers.

Their suit named Rumsfeld and top generals who were in charge of Guantanamo.

Bush administration lawyers had urged the high 
court to reject the appeal and dismiss the suit.

U.S. Solicitor General Gregory G. Garre said the 
appeals court had correctly concluded "that 
military detainees could not impose personal 
monetary liability on the nation's military 
commanders for overseas conditions of confinement during a time of war."

The justices rejected that idea Monday.

Lewis, the lawyer for the British men, said the 
court's action was "a clear signal to the Court 
of Appeals that its decision . . . was wrong and should be overturned."

Savage is a writer in our Washington bureau.

<mailto:david.savage at latimes.com>david.savage at latimes.com

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