ACLU Suit Sought to Hold U.S. Government Officials Accountable for Torture of American Citizen José Padilla
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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it would not review the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit against current and former government officials for their roles in the unlawful detention and torture of U.S. citizen José Padilla. In January, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s ruling that an American citizen designated an “enemy combatant” by the executive branch could not sue to vindicate his constitutional rights based on a claim that he was tortured at the direction of senior government officials.
“The Supreme Court’s refusal to consider Jose Padilla’s case leaves in place a blank check for government officials 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’s lead counsel on the case. “To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture regime has received his day in court. 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.
More information and case documents are available at: