Federal judge dismisses Rumsfeld torture lawsuit

[JURIST] The US District Court for the District of Columbia Tuesday dismissed [press release] a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; ACLU case file] against former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] for authorizing torture and abuse of detainees by US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. The suit asserted that Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility for detainee abuse and that his actions violated the US Constitution, federal statutes and international law. Chief Judge Thomas Hogan [official profile] based the dismissal on the immunity of government officials from lawsuits and the premise that US constitutional rights do not apply overseas. While noting that the allegations of torture were "horrifying," Hogan concluded that policy considerations counsel against permitting government officials to be sued for political decisions.

The suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights First [advocacy websites], which had previously sued Rumsfeld [JURIST report] and other military officials in 2005 on behalf of eight former detainees [ACLU profiles]. A war crimes action [JURIST report] is also pending against Rumsfeld in Germany, where the German Federal Prosecutor [official website] is using Germany's universal jurisdiction law [AI backgrounder] to investigate similar allegations. AP has more.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.