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Court: Alleged torture victims can’t sue Rumsfeld

Posted by The Agonist on November 14th, 2012

From our partners at The Agonist

CNS News, November 9

Chicago — Two American whistleblowers alleging U.S. forces tortured them in Iraq can’t sue former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, according to a federal appeals court in Chicago that found those along the military command chain enjoy broad immunity from such torture claims.

Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel filed a lawsuit claiming they were detained in 2006 and tortured after they accused an Iraqi-owned company they worked for of illegally running guns. They argued Rumsfeld personally approved interrogation methods for use by the U.S. military in Iraq, making him responsible for what happened to them during several weeks they were held in military camps.

The 8-3 ruling by the full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, posted Wednesday afternoon on the court’s website, found there’s no law granting the men rights to sue Rumsfeld or others in the line of military command. In such a vast bureaucracy, the ruling says, he couldn’t be responsible for subordinates who end up crossing legal bounds.

“The secretary of defense has more than a million soldiers under his command,” the ruling says. “People able to exert domination over others often abuse that power; it is a part of human nature that is very difficult to control.”

The ruling overturns one last year by a three-judge panel of the same court, which gave the lawsuit the green light to go forward.

The decision ultimately conveys near-blanket immunity on all levels of military command up to the defense secretary, plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Kanovitz said in a telephone interview Thursday criticizing the finding.

“What comes out is an opinion that’s far broader than what was argued before the court,” Kanovitz said. “It’s a sweeping action.”


Opinion Available Here: Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel vs. Donald H. Rumsfeld And The United States Of America


As Bradley Manning Offers Guilty Plea, Admin Wins Dismissal of Torture Suit Against Donald Rumsfeld

Democracy Now, November 14

Accused U.S. Army whistleblower Bradley Manning has offered to submit a partial guilty plea on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks in return for the government agreeing to pursue lesser charges. Manning is reportedly ready to admit to leaking the documents to WikiLeaks but is refusing to plead guilty to the charges of espionage or aiding the enemy. Manning’s offer comes as a federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for his role in crafting policies that led to torture in Iraq. The ruling marked a victory for the Obama administration, which followed the Bush administration in seeking the lawsuit’s dismissal. We’re joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald.

Video and Transcript at the link.

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