Washington: A judge is allowing an Army
veteran who says he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by
the US military in Iraq to sue former Defense Secretary Donald
H Rumsfeld personally for damages.
The veteran`s identity is withheld in court filings,
but he worked for an American contracting company as a
translator for the Marines in the volatile Anbar province
before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, a US
military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to
holding "high-value" detainees.
The government says he was suspected of helping get
classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition
forces enter Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime and
says he never broke the law.
Lawyers for the man, who is in his 50s, say he was
preparing to come home to the United States on annual leave
when he was abducted by the US military and held without
justification while his family knew nothing about his
whereabouts or even whether he was still alive.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly
abused, then suddenly released without explanation in August
2006. Two years later, he filed suit in US District Court in
Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous
interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and
controlled his detention without access to courts in violation
of his constitutional rights.
Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing
the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his
client behind bars so he couldn`t tell anyone about an
important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping
collect intelligence in Iraq.
"The US government wasn`t ready for the rest of the
world to know about it, so they basically put him on ice,"
Kanovitz said in a telephone interview. "If you`ve got
unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?"
The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld
through the US Justice Department and argued that the former
defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official
The Justice Department also argued that a judge cannot
review wartime decisions that are the constitutional
responsibility of Congress and the president.
And the department said the case could disclose
sensitive information and distract from the war effort, and
that the threat of liability would impede future military
But US District Judge James Gwin rejected those
arguments and said US citizens are protected by the
Constitution at home or abroad during wartime.