A Jordan-based Iraqi rights group announced this week it has filed 200 lawsuits against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and US security firms for their roles in torturing Iraqis. Ali Qeisi, head of the Society of Victims of the US Occupation in Iraq, said the cases, relating to abuse of prisoners, have been filed in federal courts in Virginia, Michigan and Maryland. “Around 30 lawsuits have been accepted so far,” Qeisi told AFP. The others are still under consideration. “The torture was systemic, and those responsible for it should be punished and the victims should be compensated,” he said. Qeisi said he himself was tortured by US troops in Iraq during a six-month detention.
Last year, French, US and German rights groups filed suits for torture against Rumsfeld, who was accused by a Senate Armed Services Committee report last week of being to blame for abuse of detainees in US custody. “Rumsfeld’s authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there” and “influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques…in Afghanistan and Iraq,” the report concluded. (IHT, Dec. 18; AFP, Dec. 16)
The report, released by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), identified a memo signed by President Bush on Feb. 7, 2002, declaring that the Geneva Convention’s standards for humane treatment did not apply to captured al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. As early as that spring, the panel said, top administration officials, including National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, participated in meetings in which the use of coercive measures was discussed. (AP, Dec. 11)
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