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Torture Suit Against Rumsfeld Can Go Forward: Fed. Judge

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on August 05, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

U.S. District Judge James Gwin has given another Rumsfeld torture suit the go ahead, allowing an army veteran and American contractor to sue the former Defense Secretary for torture the plaintiff underwent while being held captive in Iraq.

Reiterating that the Supreme Court has long held that United States citizens are entitled to constitutional protections abroad, the judge blasted the government's arguments against the suit, finding that the plaintiff has no other legal recourse.

At the time of the detainment, the plaintiff, known only as John Doe, was a civilian contractor hired to be an Arabic translator with the Marine Corps Human Exploitation Team, reports the New York Times.

Right before he was to return home, the paper reports that he was abducted by the American military, and then held in Baghdad's Camp Cropper, where he was tortured for 9 months.

He was released in August 2006.

John Doe brought a Bivens suit against Donald Rumsfeld, which allows plaintiffs to recover monetary damages when a federal official violates their constitutional rights in situations where no other remedies exist.

Asserting that "the war power ... does not remove constitutional limitations safeguarding essential liberties," Judge Gwin determined that the torture suit did not violate the separation of powers.

He then found that a Bivens lawsuit is John Doe's only remedy, as no current statute or regulatory scheme covers such a situation.

Even though this Rumsfeld torture lawsuit is being allowed to proceed, it doesn't mean that it will be easy to win.

To successfully bring a Bivens lawsuit, a plaintiff must provide evidence of the government official's personal involvement in the alleged conduct.

It's going to be very difficult to show that Donald Rumsfeld directly had a hand in ordering John Doe's torture.

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