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March 7, 2010
Torture Case Against Rumsfeld to go Forward
Judge Wayne R. Anderson of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on Friday denied former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's motion to dismiss and allowed the case for authorizing cruel and inhuman treatment to go forward.
The case, Vance v. Rumsfeld, involves two American employees of a private Iraqi security firm who alleged that they were wrongly held and mistreated by the U.S. military for revealing questionable payments and purchases by their firm. Judge Anderson ruled that the plaintiffs sufficiently plead their case against Rumsfeld to overcome the pleading standards set in Twombly and Iqbal:
According to plaintiffs' allegations in their second amended complaint, Rumsfeld was personally involved in their unconstitutional treatment by his decision to approve the adoption of harsh treatment methods that were utilized at Camp Cropper during plaintiffs' confinement.
The ruling goes on to recount those allegations in some detail. (Pages 9 through 12.) (We've posted quite a bit on Twombly and Iqbal, most recently here.)
Judge Anderson wrote that "[t]wo federal courts forced to address similar issues share our conclusion": the courts in al-Kidd v. Ashcroft (9th Cir.) and Padilla v. Yoo (N.D. Cal.) both denied motions to dismiss based on Iqbal.
Judge Anderson also ruled against Rumsfeld on his qualified immunity defense (page 15) and argument that there was no Bivens remedy for the plaintiffs (page 26). On the latter issue, Judge Anderson rejected Rumsfeld's argument that separation-of-powers provided a "special factor" counseling against a Bivens remedy.
Judge Anderson, citing Hamdi, dismissed the plaintiffs' procedural due process claim. He also dismissed their access-to-courts claim, writing that the period of detention--six weeks for one plaintiff, three months for the other--were unreasonable amounts of time to make status determinations in Iraq.
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