“Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld

August 9 2011

Two American men can go ahead with civil lawsuit over allegations they were tortured in Iraq at the hands of US forces.
A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US secretary of defence, must face a lawsuit filed against him by two American men claiming they were wrongfully held and tortured by US forces in Iraq.

The US Court of Appeals in Chicago on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling last year allowing the men, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, to pursue claims that Rumsfeld and unnamed others should be found personally liable for their treatment – despite efforts by the former Bush and current Obama administration to get the case dismissed.

The two men worked for a private security company in Iraq in 2006 and said they became concerned the firm was engaging in illegal bribery or other corruption activities. They notified US authorities and began co-operating with them.

Emotional abuse

In early 2006, they were taken into custody by US military forces and eventually taken to Camp Cropper near Baghdad’s airport. Vance and Ertel claimed they were subjected to harsh interrogations and physical and emotional abuse.

Months later they said they were unceremoniously dropped at the airport and never charged with a crime.

They sued, seeking unspecified damages and saying their constitutional rights had been violated and US officials knew they were innocent.

The appeals court ruled that while it may have been unusual for Rumsfeld to be personally responsible for the treatment of detainees, the two men had sufficiently argued that the decisions were made at the highest levels of government.

We agree with the district court that the plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to show that Secretary Rumsfeld personally established the relevant policies that caused the alleged violations of their constitutional rights during detention,” the court ruled in a split decision.

The three-judge panel voted 2-1 to affirm the lower court ruling. Judge Daniel Manion dissented, saying Congress has yet to decide whether courts should have a role in deciding whether such claims against the US military can be pursued.

A lawyer representing Rumsfeld said the appeals court decision was a blow to the US military.

“Having judges second guess the decisions made by the armed forces halfway around the world is no way to wage a war,” attorney David Rivkin said in a statement on Monday.

“It saps the effectiveness of the military, puts American soldiers at risk, and shackles federal officials who have a constitutional duty to protect America.”

A spokesman for the US Justice Department, which has been representing the former defense secretary, had no immediate comment. The Justice Department could appeal to the full appeals court or to the US Supreme Court.

There have been other lawsuits against Rumsfeld and the US government over allegations of abuse and torture overseas, but most involved foreigners, not US citizens, so federal courts have typically dismissed those cases.

A district judge in Washington last week allowed a similar case to proceed involving an American translator who worked in Iraq with the US military and who said he was later detained and subjected to harsh interrogation techniques and abuse.

Source

I hope Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel win their case.

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Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 6:03 am  Comments Off on “Tortured” veterans to sue Donald Rumsfeld  
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Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes/UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files

UN official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes

David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
January 26, 2009

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”

Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”

At issue, however, is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.

It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002.

There is a video at the source as well.

Source

UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files

January 28, 2009

The British government has been ordered to release the minutes of crucial ministerial meetings from 2003 at which the United States-led invasion of Iraq was discussed.

The information tribunal, which hears appeals under Britain’s data protection act, backed a decision to disclose minutes of cabinet meetings from March 13 and 17, where ministers held talks about whether the decision to go to war was allowed under international law.

The tribunal said: “We have decided that the public interest in maintaining the confidentiality of the formal minutes of two cabinet meetings at which ministers decided to commit forces to military action in Iraq did not… outweigh the public interest in disclosure.

The cabinet office has 28 days to decide whether to appeal against the ruling.

Announcing its decision on Tuesday, the tribunal said: “The decision to commit the nation’s armed forces to the invasion of another country is momentous in its own right, and… its seriousness is increased by the criticisms that have been made  of the general decision-making processes in the cabinet at the time.”

A spokesman for Gordon Brown, the British prime minister, said: “We are considering our response”.

Blair criticised

Tony Blair, prime minister at the time of the invasion, was widely criticised for backing George Bush, the then US president, in invading Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein despite failing to secure a second United Nations resolution on the matter.

Ministerial discussions focused notably on Peter Goldsmith’s, the then attorney general, advice on the legality of war.

Blair’s government strongly resisted demands for the advice of its most senior legal adviser to be made public, until a large section was leaked during the 2005 general election campaign.

Goldsmith then denied ministers pressured him into changing his mind to rule that invading Iraq would be legal in international law even without a second UN security council resolution.

The information tribunal said that “there has… been criticism of the attorney general’s legal advice and of the particular way in which the March 17 opinion was made available to the cabinet only at the last moment and the March 7 opinion was not disclosed to it at all.”

The tribunal ruling backed up an earlier decision by Richard Thomas, the information commissioner.

Thomas said: “I am pleased that the tribunal has upheld my decision that the public interest in disclosing the official cabinet minutes in this particular case outweighs the public interest in withholding the information.

“Disclosing the minutes will allow the public to more fully understand this particular decision.”

Source

Blair and his cohorts  should be tried for war crimes as well.

Others in the Bush Administration as well as Bush, should also be charged with war crimes and crimes against Humanity.

The weapons alone that were used, are one good place to start.

The war was based on fabricated information and lies.

Torture was condoned. Killing over a million people is Genocide.

Also there are the deaths an injuries suffered by the soldiers who were sent to the illegal war.

The list of crimes is quite extensive.

There is also the abuse of power. I would even call it treason.

No one should ever again, be allowed to commit these types of crimes and those who did, certainly should not go free. They are criminals.

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Published in: on January 29, 2009 at 4:02 am  Comments Off on Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes/UK ‘must release’ Iraq war files  
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No Amnesty for Cheney , Say Torture Opponents


WASHINGTON

November 25 2008

Judging by the rare leaks from President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, investigations and prosecutions of high-level George W. Bush administration officials for torture and war crimes are a distant prospect. But likely or not, that won’t stop pundits from debating the question of whether those officials responsible should be held accountable.

Irrespective of whether Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld or others are dragged before juries, one glaring change seems absolutely certain: Obama stands unequivocally against torture, and the practice is likely to come to an end under his administration.

“Even though I’ve been disappointed in other presidents in the past, I do listen and I do believe Obama when he says we won’t torture. I think that’s crucial,” said Michael Ratner, the president of the Centre for Constitutional Rights.

But foreswearing controversial and harsh interrogation methods may not be enough to permanently reestablish the moral high ground that the Obama administration has promised to bring back to the U.S.’s interactions with the rest of the world.

If Obama doesn’t take on torture that occurred, as opposed to simply discontinuing the practice, the door may be left open for future administrations to resurrect the harshest of interrogation techniques, said Ratner at a recent forum at Georgetown University Law School.

“If Obama really wants to make sure we don’t torture, he has to launch a criminal investigation,” said Ratner, the author of “The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld: A Prosecution in Book.”

He said that the targets of such an investigation would be the easily identifiable “key players” and “principals” in the Bush administration who hatched plans to allow and legally justify harsh interrogation methods that critics allege are torture, including the controversial “waterboarding” simulated drowning technique.

Those pursued, said Ratner, would include high-ranking administration officials such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, and former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet, as well as the legal team that drummed up what is now regarded as a sloppy legal justification for torture.

Key Bush administration lawyers involved in providing legal cover to harsh practices, including the roundly criticised “torture memo” from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), include former attorney general and earlier White House counsel Alberto Gonzales; Cheney’s chief of staff and former legal counsel to the vice president’s office David Addington; and the University of California, Berkeley law professor and former OLC lawyer John Yoo.

If the characters behind the questionable techniques are not held accountable for violating U.S. and international laws, said Ratner, presidents after Obama may simply say, “well, in the name of national security I can just redo what Obama just put in place. I can go torture again.”

Ratner also spoke to the concern that, from the view of the rest of the world, “to not do an investigation and prosecution gives the impression of impunity.”

But opposing Ratner on the dais, Stewart Taylor, Jr. argued that an investigation and prosecution were not appropriate.

“The people who are called ‘war criminals by [Ratner] and others do not think they acted with impunity,” said Taylor, a Brookings Institution fellow and frequent contributor to Newsweek and the National Journal.

In the Jul. 21 edition of Newsweek, Taylor called for Bush to preemptively pardon any administration official who could be held to account for torture or war crimes. Taylor’s rationale was that without fear of prosecution, a full and true account of what he called “dark deeds” could never come to light.

Furthermore, at the Georgetown Law event Taylor said investigation and eventual prosecution would “tear the country apart”.

That may be the thinking of Obama, who, in addition to hints he wouldn’t investigate Bush administration malfeasance, declared his intention to govern as a political reconciliation president in his election victory speech.

In Grant Park in Chicago on Nov. 4, Obama rehashed a quote from slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., but instead of rhetorically bending the “arc of history” towards “justice”, as King did, Obama called for it to be bent “toward the hope of a better day.”

But Ratner said that the country was already divided, and that divide is exactly what a future administration could politically exploit to reinstate torture. He said that Obama must close the divide and doing so is not rehashing the past.

“You’re making sure that in the future, we don’t torture again,” Ratner said. “This is not looking backwards.”

Another potential problem with investigation and prosecution, says Taylor, is that the Bush administration officials ostensibly had sought to find out whether the methods they were about to approve were justified, and, indeed, they were told they were in the legal clear.

“There is no evidence that high ranking officials acted with criminal intent,” he said. “They were relying in good faith on the advice of legal counsel.”

Taylor said that since the legal advice originated from the Department of Justice, it would be wrong for the same Justice Department to “turn around” and prosecute people for actions that its previous incarnation had explicitly told were legal.

But Taylor’s point misses two issues: that the crimes were allegedly given a legal green light because of collusion with the White House, and that Ratner proposes to investigate those selfsame Justice officials who were involved in giving approval.

Despite referring to John Yoo as a “gonzo executive imperialist”, Taylor said that “those officials, like them or not, were honourably motivated” because they were “desperately afraid” of another terrorist attack.

Ratner insists that the officials, part of a “group, cabal or conspiracy”, may be culpable because they were “aiders and abetters”.

“[OLC] was not giving independent counsel,” insisted Ratner. “They were shaping memos to fit a policy that had already been determined.”

And while Taylor was quick to point out that many U.S. administrations had been accused of war crimes by various sources, Ratner replied that it was the first time that any administration had actually “assaulted the prohibition on torture”.

That could be one reason why, if the U.S. does not take care of its own house, Bush administration officials will likely be pursued on charges in Europe and elsewhere.

In international courts, said Ratner, those officials will not be able to hide behind the legal shields of internal government memos or executive decrees.

“They have no defence in international law,” he said. “They’re finished.”

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Bush trying to Avoid War Crimes Charges

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 10:04 pm  Comments Off on No Amnesty for Cheney , Say Torture Opponents  
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