US court denies suit against Rumsfeld for torture of US citizens in Iraq

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 November, 2012, 3:27am

Two American citizens cannot sue former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over allegations that they were tortured by the American military in Iraq, a federal appeals court ruled.

Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel had said Rumsfeld and unnamed others allegedly developed, authorised and used harsh interrogation techniques against them in Iraq.

In an 8-3 ruling, the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago on Wednesday found that the two men had no right to sue Rumsfeld and others in the military chain of command for damages.

The decision overturned decisions by a three-judge panel of the same appeals court and a federal judge in Illinois, which had allowed the suit to proceed despite efforts by the former Bush and current Obama administrations to get the case dismissed.

The ruling brings the 7th Circuit in line with two other federal courts of appeal, the 4th Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit, which have also rejected suits for damages against US officials over allegations of torture.

In the latest case, 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 corrupt activities.

They notified US authorities and began co-operating with them.

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.

They said that months later they were unceremoniously dropped at the airport and never charged with a crime. They sued, seeking unspecified damages, saying their constitutional rights had been violated and US officials knew they were innocent.