CHICAGO - Donald Rumsfeld, the former secretary of defense, must face a lawsuit filed against him by two American men contending they were wrongfully held and tortured by US forces in Iraq.
The US Court of Appeals in Chicago yesterday upheld a lower court ruling last year allowing the men, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, to pursue claims that Rumsfeld should be found personally liable for their treatment.
Ertel and Vance said they were taken into custody at the Army’s Camp Cropper after they had reported to US forces what they believed was illegal activity by their employer, Iraqi-owned Shield Group Security, and American personnel.
“We conclude that plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged that Secretary Rumsfeld acted deliberately in authorizing interrogation techniques that amount to torture,’’ US Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote for the three-judge panel.
Whether Vance and Ertel can prove that assertion “remains to be seen,’’ the court said.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said by phone he could not immediately comment on the decision.
“They had an important decision to make involving the constitutional rights of citizens in the difficult context of a wartime, which is when constitutional rights get strained,’’ said Michael Kanovitz, a lawyer for Vance and Ertel. “It made the correct choice to protect those rights.’’