ACLU Suit Seeks to Hold U.S. Government Officials Accountable For Torture of American Citizen Jose Padilla
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NEW YORK – The mother of a U.S. citizen accused of being an “enemy combatant” and the American Civil Liberties Union today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other officials for their roles in the torture of her son in a South Carolina military prison.
In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the case brought by Estela Lebron on behalf of her son, Jose Padilla.
“If the appeals court’s ruling is allowed to stand, government officials will have a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of an American citizen in an American prison,” said Ben Wizner, the ACLU attorney who argued the case before the Fourth Circuit. “It is precisely the role of the courts to ensure that allegations of grave misconduct by Executive Branch officials receive fair adjudication. That vital role does not evaporate simply because those officials insist that their actions are too sensitive for judicial review.”
Padilla was taken from a civilian jail in New York in 2002 by military agents, declared an “enemy combatant” and secretly transported to the Naval Consolidated Brig in Charleston, S.C. He was imprisoned without charge for nearly four years, subjected to extreme abuse and was unable to communicate with his lawyers or family for two years. The illegal treatment included forcing Padilla into stress positions for hours on end, punching him, depriving him of sleep and threatening him with further torture and death.
“Tell me where in the Constitution it says that torturing Americans is acceptable,” said Lebron. “You don’t even treat an animal the way my son was treated. If they can do this to Jose, they can do it to anyone. I’m going to continue fighting until justice has been done for my son.”
Attorneys on the case are Wizner, Alexander Abdo, Jameel Jaffer, Hina Shamsi and Steven R. Shapiro, of the ACLU; Jonathan Freiman, Hope Metcalf and Tahlia Townsend of the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School; and Michael O’Connell of the law firm Stirling & O’Connell.
Today’s appeal filing is available at:
More information about the case is available at: