In Torture Case Against Rumsfeld, Lawyers Cite “Widespread Pattern” of Abuse

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody. That was the argument made last week by the ACLU and Human Rights First before a federal court.

The hearing marked the first time a federal court has considered whether top U.S. officials can be held legally accountable for the torture scandal in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“There must be legal accountability in a court of law for high-ranking government officials who order or allow torture in violation of the most fundamental legal norms that govern our society,” said ACLU attorney Lucas Guttentag, who is lead counsel in the case. “Torture is universally prohibited but Secretary Rumsfeld and the other defendants have not been held responsible for the orders they gave and the abuse they permitted.”

The groundbreaking lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine innocent civilians who were detained by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. While in U.S. custody, the men were subjected to abuse, 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. All of the men were released without charge.

Retired military officers and military legal experts have filed a legal brief in support of the lawsuit. According to the military law experts, “It was the essence of Secretary Rumsfeld and other defendants’ scope of employment to educate and train those within their command responsibility to adhere to domestic and international standards and to do everything within their power to prevent and punish deviations from them.” The experts urged that allowing the federal case to proceed would not intrude into matters of military decision-making, but would reinforce the military’s interest in command responsibility.

Read legal briefs filed in the case, as well as information on the former detainees, online.
//action.aclu.org/site/R?i=jW0D0uwWtZ1mF9PxUx-EKA..



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