Lawsuit Seeks War Crimes Prosecution of Rumsfeld

Nov 14, 2006 3:17pm

A complaint alleging that now-resigned Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high ranking U.S. officials committed war crimes in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay was filed today in Berlin, Germany. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs, 11 Iraqis and Mohammed Al-Qahtani, the alleged "20th hijacker" of the 9/11 attacks, say they believe Rumsfeld’s recent resignation may improve the chances that German judges will issue arrest warrants. The formal complaint submitted to German federal prosecutors also requests that the criminal investigation cover the actions of former CIA Director George Tenet, recently retired Iraq commander Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other senior government lawyers. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS He’s Out, But Some Still Want Rumsfeld to Face War Crimes Charges Report: Detainee Abuse Is ‘Standard Operating Procedure,’ Say Soldiers Click Here to Check Out More of the Brian Ross Page If an investigation is launched and evidence of criminal actions is found to have occurred under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits torture and other cruel or degrading treatment, prosecutors could bring formal charges. Furthermore, under Germany’s "universal jurisdiction" law, federal prosecutions can be launched against accused war criminals, regardless of a defendant’s location or nationality, and irrespective of where any alleged crime was committed. Gitanjali Guiterrez, an attorney from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) who represents Mohammed Al-Qahtani, claims that Rumsfeld personally authorized a new set of harsh interrogation techniques on Dec. 2, 2002. The complaint claims that this Rumsfeld memo led directly to Al-Qahtani’s enforced isolation at Guantanamo Bay for 160 days, various forms of religious humiliation and, at one point, a fake rendition flight designed to disorientate the prisoner. Michael Ratner, President of the CCR, said that the timing of Rumsfeld’s resignation might embolden German prosecutors. "Rumsfeld now seems to be less protected than he was before," said Ratner. Lawyers for the 12 men have been joined in their complaint by former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who commented today on the case. "I think that the resignation of the Secretary of Defense came at an opportune moment," she said. She placed much of the blame for Iraq prison abuses on another defendant, Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo Bay. Miller replaced Karpinski when President Bush demoted her to the rank of Colonel, following the Abu Ghraib scandal. A spokesperson for the Department of Defense sad he hadn’t seen the complaint, but said it sounded like a frivolous case. A spokesman for the Department of Justice has not returned calls for comment.

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