[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
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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