A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit rejected April 24 a lawsuit by four UK citizens and former Guantánamo Bay detainees against former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other military officials. The opinion affirmed a district court decision dismissing illegal detention and mistreatment charges under the Alien Tort Statute, the Geneva Conventions, and the Fifth and Eighth Amendments of the US Constitution against Rumsfeld and other military officials—but reversed the lower court’s decision to reject a motion for dismissal of two additional charges against the defendants.
The ruling comes after the US Supreme Court vacated and remanded to the district court the DC Circuit’s 2008 decision in the same case, which also dismissed the lawsuit against Rumsfeld and the other defendants. In vacating and remanding the first case, the Supreme Court ordered the district court to reexamine the lawsuit in light of the Court’s July decision in Boumediene v. Bush. While the district court found that Boumediene applied to two of the charges, the DC Circuit rejected the lawsuit on the grounds that the actions taken by the defendants were not illegal at the time they were committed.
UK citizens Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith were released from Guantanamo in March 2004. In May 2004, Rasul and Iqbal said in an open letter to US President George W. Bush that they had suffered abuse at Guantánamo similar to that perpetrated at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit on their behalf in October 2004 against Rumsfeld, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard Meyers, and others alleging “deliberate and foreseeable action taken … to flout or evade the United States Constitution, federal statutory law, United States treaty obligations and long established norms of customary international law.” (Jurist, April 23)
See our last post on Gitmo and the detainment scandal.