Rasul v. Rumsfeld

Rasul v. Rumsfeld

Plaintiffs Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith, four former Guantánamo Bay detainees, are suing former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. They charge that illegal interrogation tactics were permitted to be used against them by Secretary Rumsfeld and the military chain of command. The plaintiffs each seek compensatory damages for torture and arbitrary detention while being held at Guantánamo.”Rasul v. Rumsfeld”. Center for Constitutional Rights. http://ccrjustice.org/ourcases/current-cases/rasul-v.-rumsfeld. March6 2008.]

Plaintiffs

The four Britons—Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed, also known as the “Tipton Three,” and Jamal Al-Harith, a Manchester based web designer—are represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal and educational organization devoted to the protection of human rights both in the United States and abroad, and the law firm of Baach Robinson & Lewis.

According to their own report, Rasul, Iqbal, and Ahmed had traveled to Afghanistan from Pakistan to do humanitarian relief work in the wake of September 11, while Al-Harith had gone to Pakistan for a religious retreat.”'Torture' trio lose US appeal; GUANTANAMO: Tipton men accused Rumsfeld of criminal conduct”. Birmingham Evening Mail. January 12, 2008.] Rasul, Iqbal, and Ahmed were captured by an Uzbek warlord and then transferred to U.S. custody in Afghanistan.Seper, Jerry. “Terror suspects can't sue Pentagon; Four say military used torture. The Washington Times. NATION A02. January 12, 2008.] Al-Harith was captured by the Taliban in Pakistan under the accusation that he was a British spy, and ended up in U.S. custody after the fall of the Taliban.Gumbel, Andrew. “Britons held at Guantanamo Bay win right to sue their captors”. The Independent (London). NEWS 35. May 11, 2006.]

None of the plaintiffs had ever taken up arms against the United States, nor been a member of a terrorist group. For more than two years they were imprisoned without charge in Guantánamo by the United States. During their time there they, “were subjected to repeated beatings, sleep deprivation, extremes of hot and cold, forced nakedness, death threats, interrogations at gun point, menacing with unmuzzled dogs, and religious and racial harassment.” In March 2004 they were released and returned to Britain. No charges were ever brought against them.

Shafiq Rasul was also the lead plaintiff in Rasul v. Bush. In this landmark case for detainee rights, the Supreme Court ruled that the detainees in Guantánamo, and foreign nationals in general, have the right to judicial review of their detentions by the U.S. court system.“CCR CASE ARGUED BEFORE COURT OF APPEALS; FIRST CASE FILED BY FORMER GUANTANAMO DETAINEES DEMANDING ACCOUNTABILITY FOR TORTURE”. Center for Constitutional Rights. http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/ccr-case-argued-court-appeals%3B-first-case-filed-former-guantanamo-detainees-. March 7 2008.] Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed were all featured in the The Road to Guantánamo, a documentary about the three’s trip that started when they left Tipton to attend a wedding in Pakistan, and resulted in their capture by the Northern Alliance, and subsequent imprisonment in Camp Delta in Guantánamo.“The Road to Guantánamo: Story. The Road to Guantánamo. www.roadtoguantanamomovie.com/. March 7 2008.]

Charges

The plaintiffs charge that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and senior military officers who are responsible for the treatment of Guantánamo detainees had approved interrogation techniques that were known to violate U.S. and international law. The alleged practices include torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; prolonged arbitrary detention; cruel and unusual punishment; preventing the exercise and expression of religious beliefs, and denial of liberties without due process. These are seen to be in violation of the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), the Fifth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Geneva Conventions, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). "This is the first case demanding accountability from the government officials who condoned and perpetrated torture and abuse at Guantanamo," said CCR attorney Emi Maclean. "Our courts need to show the world - and the U.S. government - that it takes the documented abuse of detainees in U.S. custody seriously."

Timeline

*October 2001: Jamal Al-Harith travels to Pakistan and is turned over to the Taliban.Seper, Jerry. “Terror suspects can't sue Pentagon; Four say military used torture”. The Washington Times. NATION A02. January 12, 2008.]
*November 2001: Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed are arrested.
*January 14, 2002: Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed were flown to Cuba.Grey, Stephen. “Flight logs reveal secret rendition”. Sunday Times (London). HOME NEWS 11. November 25, 2007.]
*March 2004: Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith are released from Guantánamo Bay and returned to Britain.
*October 27, 2004: Rasul v. Rumsfeld was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Baach Robinson & Lewis law firm on behalf of Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed, and Jamal Al-Harith.
*March 16, 2005: Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
*February 6, 2006: D.C. District Court issued a memorandum opinion dismissing both the plaintiffs’ international law and constitutional claims. As administrative remedies had not been exhausted, the international law claims were not ripe. Since the defendants were acting within the scope of their employment, they receive qualified immunity for the constitutional claims.
*May 8, 2006: D.C. District Court issued a memorandum opinion denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) claim, indicating that Guantánamo is subject to the RFRA. In his ruling District Judge Ricardo Urbina addresses the scope of RFRA by saying, "Flushing the Koran down the toilet and forcing Muslims to shave their beards falls comfortably within the conduct prohibited from government action."“ 4 sue over Camp X-Ray”. Birmingham Evening Mail. NEWS 13. May 12, 2006.]
*January 11, 2008: Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit dismissed the case reversing the decision made by the district court that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is applicable to Guantánamo, and affirming the dismissal by the district court of the constitutional and international law claims. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was deemed inapplicable as detainees were ruled not be “persons” for purposes of U.S. law, and claims under the Geneva Conventions and the Alien Tort Statute were dismissed as defendants were immune since, “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants,” and they could not have known that the detainees had constitutional rights.

References


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