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Monday, August 15, 2011

New York Times applauds Seventh Circuit ruling allowing torture suit to proceed

On Sunday, an editorial in the New York Times applauded a recent Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which allows two Americans to sue former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others for violating their rights. Alliance for Justice also wrote about the case, focusing on the fact it was a 2-1 decision written by President Obama’s first circuit court nominee, Judge David Hamilton of the Seventh Circuit. In its strongly-worded editorial, the Times explained:

The case is important because it makes clear – for the first time – that government officials can be held accountable for the intentional mistreatment of American citizens, even if that conduct happens in a war zone. (Sadly, there remains no accountability for the abuse, and torture, of foreigners by American jailers and interrogators, which Mr. Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush personally sanctioned.)

In allowing the suit to go forward, the court said the plaintiffs had alleged facts showing “that it is plausible, and not merely speculative, that Secretary Rumsfeld was personally responsible for creating the policies that caused the alleged unconstitutional torture,” and that he “acted with deliberate indifference by not ensuring that the detainees were treated in a humane manner despite his knowledge of widespread detainee mistreatment.”

The court rejected what it called the “unprecedented breadth” of the argument put forward by Mr. Rumsfeld and other defendants — that no government or military employee could ever be sued by American civilians for torture or even murder in a war zone. The court made plain that the wrongdoing alleged “violates the most basic terms of the constitutional compact between our government and the citizens of this country.”

Alliance for Justice applauds the New York Times editorial, as we continue to demand accountability for torture. To learn more about the issue and our efforts, click here.

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