|The plaintiff argues that former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogations.|
American once held in Iraq can sue Rumsfeld, judge rules
Ex-contractor says he was tortured by US
WASHINGTON - A federal judge has ruled that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld can be sued personally for damages by a former US military contractor who says he was tortured during a nine-month imprisonment in Iraq.
The suit lays out a dramatic tale of the disappearance of the then-civilian contractor, an Army veteran in his 50s whose identity is being withheld from court filings for fear of retaliation.
Attorneys for the man, who speaks five languages and worked as a translator for Marines collecting intelligence in Iraq, say he was preparing to go home to the United States on annual leave when he was abducted by the US military and held without justification while his family knew nothing about his whereabouts or whether he was alive.
The government says he was suspected of helping pass classified information to the enemy and helping anticoalition forces get into Iraq. But he was never charged with a crime, and he says he never broke the law and was risking his life to help his country.
Court papers filed on his behalf say he was repeatedly abused while being held at Camp Cropper, a US military facility near the Baghdad airport dedicated to holding “high-value’’ detainees, then was suddenly released without explanation in August 2006.
Two years later, he filed suit in US District Court in Washington arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torturous interrogation techniques on a case-by-case basis and controlled his detention without access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.
Chicago attorney Mike Kanovitz, who is representing the plaintiff, says it appears the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so he couldn’t tell anyone about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq.
The Obama administration has represented Rumsfeld through the Justice Department and argued that the former defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official conduct.
The Justice Department also argued that a judge cannot review wartime decisions that are the constitutional responsibility of Congress and the president.
But Judge James Gwin rejected those arguments and said US citizens are protected by the Constitution at home or abroad during wartime.