ACLU In Court Today To Hold Former Officials Accountable For Torture Of Jose Padilla

February 14, 2011 10:47 am

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Group Takes Up Lawsuit Charging Rumsfeld And Others Should Be Held Accountable For Unlawful Detention And Abuse Of U.S. Citizen

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CHARLESTON, SC – The American Civil Liberties Union was in federal court in Charleston today to argue that a lawsuit against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other government officials for their role in the unlawful detention and torture of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla should not be thrown out. The ACLU was recently retained to represent Jose Padilla and his mother in the lawsuit.

“Jose Padilla was seized from a New York jail and hidden away in a military brig so that the Bush administration could subject him to brutal abuse without the interference of the courts. Now, the architects of Padilla’s unlawful ordeal are demanding that the courts look away once again,” said Ben Wizner, Litigation Director of the ACLU National Security Project, who argued on Padilla’s behalf. “The court should make clear that Donald Rumsfeld and other officials who abused their authority are not above the law.”

Padilla was seized from a U.S. jail in 2002, declared an “enemy combatant” and secretly transported to a military brig in South Carolina. He was imprisoned for nearly four years, during which he was subjected to extreme abuse and was unable to communicate with his lawyers or family for two years.

“To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court,” said Wizner. “If Jose Padilla’s torturers are permitted to invoke ‘national security’ to avoid any accountability for their unconstitutional conduct, nothing will prevent future administrations from authorizing similar or even worse abuses.”

Lawyers for Padilla filed a lawsuit in February 2007 in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina against Rumsfeld, Catherine Hanft, William Haynes II, Lowell Jacoby, Melanie Marr and Paul Wolfowitz for their role in Padilla’s unlawful detention and abuse. The ACLU has since joined the lawsuit on Padilla’s behalf.

The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Attorneys on the case are Wizner and Alex Abdo of the ACLU; Jonathan Frieman, 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.

More information about the case is available online at:

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