Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Getting away with torture

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A bad court decision, subject of a NY Times editorial:

In a decision that ignored a 41-year-old precedent and American obligations under international law, a United States appeals court has ruled that American civilians who are tortured by the American military cannot recover damages from the people responsible.

The 8-to-3 ruling by the full United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit overturned an important ruling last year by a three-judge panel of the same court, which held that two Americans who say they were tortured by American military forces in Iraq could sue former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for violating their constitutional rights. That ruling relied on a landmark 1971 ruling by the Supreme Court known as Bivens, under which government officials could be held accountable for the intentional mistreatment of American citizens, even if that conduct happened in a war zone.

Reversing that decision, the full court’s majority incorrectly joined the Fourth Circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit in rejecting damage suits against American officials based on torture claims. But its ruling was much broader and a lot worse. The court held that all military personnel are exempt from civil liability for breaching civilians’ rights. “Unless there is a right of action against soldiers and their immediate commanders,” it said, “there cannot be a right of action for damages against remote superiors such as former Secretary Rumsfeld.”

The majority talked derisively about lawsuits causing “other problems, including diverting cabinet officers’ time from management of public affairs to the defense of their bank accounts.” It is a bizarre argument for a cabinet officer who developed policies that permitted torture.

Mr. Rumsfeld and other defendants made an argument limited by place: . . .

Continue reading.

Think of what this ruling permits and protects.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 November 2012 at 11:09 am

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