The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other employees of the Defense Department and effectively determined that torture or abuse, which Guantanamo Bay prisoners cleared for release may have experienced, was “incidental” and within the “scope of their employment.”
“Authorized or not, the conduct was certainly foreseeable because maintaining peace, security, and safety at a place like Guantanamo Bay is a stern and difficult business,” the court declared in its decision. “We are therefore hard-pressed to conclude the actions leading to the plaintiffs’ treatment were not ‘a direct outgrowth of the [defendants’] instructions or job assignment.'”
The court also found, “The treatment of the detainees in this case appears to be standard for all those similarly situated.”
Six former Guantanamo prisoners represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) alleged in a civil suit that the “Pentagon chain of command authorized and condoned torture and other mistreatment in violation of the Alien Tort Statute, which has historically allowed foreign citizens to pursue cases in courts for human rights abuses. CCR also alleged the chain of command had violated the Vienna Convention, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Federal Civil Rights Act and the US Constitution.
Yuksel Celikgogus, Ibrahim Sen, Nuri Mert, Zakirjan Hasam and Abu Muhammad were subjected to “prolonged solitary confinement, sleep deprivation, exposure to temperature extremes, light and sound manipulation, beatings, threats of transfer to a foreign country for torture, sexual harassment, forced nudity, exploitation of individual phobias, forced stress positions, the removal of ‘comfort items,’ including religious items, deprivation of medical treatment or the provision of medical treatment on the condition of cooperation with interrogators and prolonged ‘short-shackling’ with wrists and ankles bound together and to the floor.”
These six prisoners also were victims of religious and cultural abuse that included “forced grooming, mocking or disruption of prayer or the call to prayer, the removal of religious items and the desecration of their Koran or the Koran of other detainees through intentional touching, dropping, stepping on or throwing it.”