ACLU Statement on Ruling in Padilla v. Rumsfeld Appeal
Court Dismissed Case Seeking to Hold U.S. Officials Accountable for Torturing American Citizen
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NEW YORK – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today affirmed the dismissal of 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. The U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina ruled in February that an American citizen designated an “enemy combatant” by the executive branch and tortured by government officials could not bring suit to vindicate his constitutional rights.
“Today is a sad day for the rule of law and for those who believe that the courts should protect American citizens from torture by their own government,” said ACLU National Security Project Litigation Director Ben Wizner, who argued the appeal in court. “By dismissing this lawsuit, the appeals court handed the government a blank check to commit any abuse in the name of national security, even the brutal torture of a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil. This impunity is not only anathema to a democracy governed by laws, but contrary to history’s lesson that in times of fear our values are a strength, not a hindrance.”
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