Interrogation: Abuses

Detainee Suit Against Rumsfeld Allowed to Proceed

By Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 4:18 PM

I have only had a chance to skim this lengthy opinion by U.S. District Judge James Gwin allowing a suit against Don Rumsfeld and others to proceed  on some counts. But it appears to allege quite remarkable facts. The John Doe plaintiff, a U.S. citizen and Army veteran who was serving as a contractor in Iraq in 2004 as an Arabic translator, was "detailed to a United States Marine Corps Human Exploitation Team operating in the United States military bases along the Iraq-Syria border." Doe alleges that he was detained by U.S. forces and held for more than nine months at Camp Cropper and subjected to various coercive interrogation practices there--before being released and allowed to return to the United States. For three months, he was held, he claims, in communicado. At other times, he was held with hard-core Al Qaeda. His personal property, he claims, has never been returned, and he remains on a terrorist watch list that makes him subject to scrutiny whenever he returns to the country from international travel.

Judge Gwin handled Doe's various claims differently. He concludes:

For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Rumsfeld’s motion to dismiss Doe’s substantive due process claim. The Court GRANTS Defendant Rumsfeld’s motion to dismiss Doe’s procedural due process and access to courts claims.

The Court further GRANTS the government’s motion to dismiss Doe’s return of seized property claim; the Court permits Doe leave to amend his complaint if he can plead, in good faith, factual allegations supporting a reasonable inference that the government’s refusal to return his property was a “final agency action.” Finally, the Court DENIES the government’s motion for a more definite statement of Doe’s right to travel claim.