A federal judge is allowing a suit brought by a U.S. citizen against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld to proceed. The accuser is a military veteran who claims he was imprisoned unjustly and tortured by the U.S. Army at Camp Cropper, a military facility near Baghdad. Camp Cropper is known for holding “high-value” detainees.
The U.S. government says the man was suspected of transmitting classified information to the enemy and aiding anti-coalition forces. He was, however, never charged with a crime and alleges he never broke the law.
The man, whose identity is withheld in court filings, worked as a translator for the Marines in Anbar province before being detained for nine months at Camp Cropper, where he says he was repeatedly abused.
Two years after he was unexpectedly released in August 2006, he filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington, arguing that Rumsfeld personally approved torture as an interrogation technique on a case-by-case basis. He also argued that Rumsfeld controlled his detention and denied him access to courts in violation of his constitutional rights.
The plaintiff’s attorney believes the military wanted to keep his client behind bars so that he couldn’t transmit information about an important contact he made with a leading sheik while helping collect intelligence in Iraq, the AP reports.
While the Justice Department has argued that the former defense secretary cannot be sued personally for official conduct and cannot review wartime decisions, U.S. District Judge James Gwin contends that citizens are protected by the Constitution at home and abroad during wartime.
Gwin wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday that, “The stakes in holding detainees at Camp Cropper may have been high, but one purpose of the constitutional limitations on interrogation techniques and conditions of confinement even domestically is to strike a balance between government objectives and individual rights even when the stakes are high.”
Just weeks prior to Judge Gwin’s ruling, Human Rights Watch released a report urging the Obama administration to investigate a growing body of evidence that implicates George W. Bush and members of his senior cabinet, including Rumsfeld, for approving the use of torture against detainees.