- May 19, 2004
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
- Libertarian - Right
Give me a flippin' break.WASHINGTON -- Seeking to link the U.S. military command to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, the American Civil Liberties Union and a human rights organization sued Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and three Army commanders Tuesday on behalf of former detainees, charging that the military authorized illegal interrogation techniques.
The federal lawsuit charges that Rumsfeld ordered the "abandonment of our nation's inviolable and deep-rooted prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of prisoners.
The legal action stems from some of the well-documented instances of prisoner mistreatment in the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, Iraq. However, it also includes less-known examples of abuse at other sites in Iraq and in Afghanistan. The lawsuit was filed in on behalf of four Iraqis and four Afghanis by the ACLU and the group Human Rights First.
The civil liberties groups face considerable obstacles to success under the Alien Tort Claims Act -- among them establishing that Rumsfeld and the others are not protected by official immunity and that the former prisoners have grounds to sue in U.S. courts.
"The lawsuit is not frivolous. But it is unlikely to prove successful in the long run," said Jonathan Turley, an expert on international law at the George Washington University law school. "The Supreme Court has been extremely hostile toward the application of U.S. laws outside of our borders."
Nevertheless, if the federal courts allow it to proceed, the suit could bring further attention to the abuse of prisoners at the hands of U.S. soldiers and force the Pentagon to disclose additional details from its own investigations of the abuse.