A former U.S. military contractor who claims to have been tortured by the U.S. government during his deployment to Iraq can sue the former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
The lawsuit involves a middle-aged civilian contractor and Army veteran who claims to have been tortured while imprisoned for 9 months in Iraq. His name is being withheld for his safety.
The man speaks five languages and worked as a translator for the Marines, The Associated Press reported. According to court documents, the man was allegedly abducted by the military, imprisoned, never charged, and his family never notified of his whereabouts. He was held at Camp Cropper, which is a military facility for high risk suspects.
The U.S. government has insisted that he was detained for leaking classified information to the enemy as well as helping insurgents enter Iraq.
The government said he was suspected of helping get classified information to the enemy and helping anti-coalition forces enter Iraq. But the plaintiff was never charged with a crime and said he never broke the law.
Court papers reveal that he was abused during his time at Cropper and then released in the fall of 2006 without an explanation.
His detention without access to courts is in violation of his constitutional rights. In 2008 he filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court accusing Rumsfield of personally approving his torture.
This is just one of two suits brought against Rumsfield. Two Americans claimed last year that they were tortured illegally by their company. A federal judge also allowed the men to personally sue Rumsfield.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCT) applauds the decision to let these cases be brought against Rumsfield. This can prove to be an important step to figuring out how “a great country like ours has come to participate in the dark side that is torture.”
The Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of NRCT, claims torture is always wrong no matter how great the claim to national security is.
“It’s always a violation of respect and dignity that all people are created with. Human beings are created in the image of God,” said Killmer to The Christian Post. “In all religions there’s something very special and divine in human beings. So when a person is tortured, it’s like you’re violating God.”
“Torture should never be used.”
According to the AP, the military wanted to keep the man locked up so that he could not talk about a valuable contact he made with a sheik while collecting intelligence.
“The U.S. 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 to AP. “If you’ve got unchecked power over the citizens, why not use it?”
The Obama administration backs Rumsfield and says that he cannot be personally sued while he was acting in an official position. The State Department has also condemned the suit, saying it was a distraction from the war effort and that it could lead to valuable information being leaked.
But a U.S. District Judge disagreed and issued this statement:
“The court finds no convincing reason that United States citizens in Iraq should or must lose previously-declared substantive due process protections during prolonged detention in a conflict zone abroad.”
“The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high.”
Although the judge goes on to say that it is unlikely that Rumsfield personally evaluated this plaintiff’s case and authorized torture, the ruling goes on to say, “ it is not implausible that he authorized the use of interrogation techniques on the detainee population at Camp Cropper, or even on specific detainees."
The plaintiff must now factually prove his case.