Donald Rumsfeld and a number of other Bush administration figures will be the object of a lawsuit seeking the bringing of criminal charges stemming from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo under a German law "allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world," Time magazine's web site reported Friday. -- BBC reported Saturday that charges will be filed in Germany on Tues., Nov. 14. -- Bloomberg News reported that "Eleven Iraqis who were held at the Abu Ghraib prison and other U.S.-run facilities in Iraq and a Saudi former detainee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay," and that those against whom action is sought include not only Rumsfeld but also "George J. Tenet, former Central Intelligence Agency director; Stephen A. Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence; David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of US forces in Iraq; and Colonel Thomas Pappas, the former top intelligence official in Iraq." -- (Time's account also mentions former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee, former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo, General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II, Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo, and senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski.) -- On Saturday, Bhuwan Thapaliya wrote that the 2007 elections are evidence that "the American people are fed up with Bush administration's unpopular foreign policy and its inhumane treatment of prisoners." -- The notion of "universal jurisdiction" is an emerging concept in international law; it was defined in the Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction (2001) as "criminal jurisdiction based solely on the nature of the crime, without regard to where the crime was committed, the nationality of the alleged or convicted perpetrator, the nationality of the victim, or any other connection to the state exercising such jurisdiction" (Crimes of War: Iraq, ed. by Richard Falk, Irene Gendzier, & Robert Jay Lifton [New York: Nation Books, 2006], p. 146)....
CHARGES SOUGHT AGAINST RUMSFELD OVER PRISON ABUSE
By Adam Zagorin
November 10, 2006
A lawsuit in Germany will seek a criminal prosecution of the outgoing Defense Secretary and other U.S. officials for their alleged role in abuses at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo.
Just days after his resignation, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a "special interrogation plan," personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation, and other controversial interrogation techniques.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq. Karpinski -- who the lawyers say will be in Germany next week to publicly address her accusations in the case -- has issued a written statement to accompany the legal filing, which says, in part: "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ."
A spokesperson for the Pentagon told TIME there would be no comment since the case has not yet been filed.
Along with Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, the other defendants in the case are Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; former deputy assisant attorney general John Yoo; General Counsel for the Department of Defense William James Haynes II; and David S. Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff. Senior military officers named in the filing are General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top Army official in Iraq; Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of Guantanamo; senior Iraq commander, Major General Walter Wojdakowski; and Col. Thomas Pappas, the one-time head of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib.
Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides "universal jurisdiction" allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld's spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a "a big, big problem." U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.
In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case -- that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue -- has been proven wrong.
"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor's previous inaction no longer hold up.
Whatever the legal merits of the case, it is the latest example of efforts in Western Europe by critics of U.S. tactics in the war on terror to call those involved to account in court. In Germany, investigations are underway in parliament concerning cooperation between the CIA and German intelligence on rendition -- the kidnapping of suspected terrorists and their removal to third countries for interrogation. Other legal inquiries involving rendition are underway in both Italy and Spain.
U.S. officials have long feared that legal proceedings against "war criminals" could be used to settle political scores. In 1998, for example, former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet -- whose military coup was supported by the Nixon administration -- was arrested in the U.K. and held for 16 months in an extradition battle led by a Spanish magistrate seeking to charge him with war crimes. He was ultimately released and returned to Chile. More recently, a Belgian court tried to bring charges against then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for alleged crimes against Palestinians.
For its part, the Bush administration has rejected adherence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on grounds that it could be used to unjustly prosecute U.S. officials. The ICC is the first permanent tribunal established to prosecute war crimes, genocide and other crimes against humanity.
RUMSFELD MAY FACE CHARGES
November 11, 2006
Donald Rumsfeld, who quit as U.S. defense secretary this week, may face criminal charges in Germany for alleged abuses in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq.
A complaint has been launched by the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a Saudi detained in Cuba and 11 Iraqis held in Baghdad.
German law allows the pursuit of cases originating anywhere in the world.
The center made a similar request in 2004 but German prosecutors dropped that case.
The Center for Constitutional Rights argues that Mr. Rumsfeld was instrumental in abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad.
The lawyer group alleges that. Mr Rumsfeld personally approved torture to be used to extract information from the prisoners.
It is also seeking to prosecute U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and former CIA director George Tenet, among others.
The group's complaint will be filed to German federal prosecutors on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the group said.
The prosecutors will have to again decide whether the complaint should be heard.
Mr. Rumsfeld resigned on Wednesday following Republican losses to the Democrats in the U.S. mid-term elections.
The Pentagon has not yet commented on the issue.
The U.S. denies any torture has taken place at Guantanamo Bay and has defended its interrogation techniques.
Abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was brought to world attention after photographs of the incidents were released and published.
CHARGES SOUGHT AGAINST RUMSFELD
By Jeff St. Onge
** Groups allege he had role in torture **
November 11, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Twelve former detainees in the U.S. war on terror will ask German prosecutors next week to indict Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials on charges related to torture and other war crimes, a lawyer for the group said yesterday.
Eleven Iraqis who were held at the Abu Ghraib prison and other U.S.-run facilities in Iraq and a Saudi former detainee at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will file a criminal complaint Nov. 14, said Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
"I don't think there's any doubt anymore that Rumsfeld and these guys authorized torture," Ratner said in a telephone interview.
He said the criminal complaint will ask the German federal prosecutor to begin an investigation into what role Rumsfeld, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and other high-ranking U.S. officials may have had and to charge them as war criminals.
Air Force Major Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment. "We have not seen the lawsuit itself [and] have nothing to provide," he said.
Photos of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees sparked worldwide outrage when they were made public in April 2004. Rumsfeld and other members of the Bush administration said in congressional hearings in 2004 that prisoner abuses were confined largely to a group of soldiers on the night shift for a few months at Abu Ghraib prison.
The suit will allege that the administration officials ordered, assisted, or failed to prevent war crimes. German law provides "universal jurisdiction," allowing for the prosecution of war crimes committed anywhere, said Ratner, who is in Berlin preparing the case.
George J. Tenet, former Central Intelligence Agency director; Stephen A. Cambone, undersecretary of defense for intelligence; David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, former commander of US forces in Iraq; and Colonel Thomas Pappas, the former top intelligence official in Iraq, will also be named in the suit, Ratner said.
Now that Rumsfeld has resigned, he no longer has the type of immunity typically given to heads of state and high-ranking government officials, Ratner said.
AFTER SADDAM, NOW RUMSFELD?
By Bhuwan Thapaliya
** Former defense secretary may face criminal charges in Germany **
November 11, 2006
America is at a turning point, but this turnabout is not a complete surprise. It has been clear for a while that there is a pattern behind the Bush administration's administrative failure.
One excusable reason for the failure is that the Bush administration has been rushing to fight its "War on Terror" but less excusable is the administration's murky record in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib jail.
In yet another blow to President Bush after the Democrats triumph in last week's midterm elections, it has been reported that Donald Rumsfeld, a polarizing figure in the face of Iraq War, who resigned as U.S. defense secretary earlier this week, may face criminal charges in Germany for alleged abuses in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq.
A complaint has been launched by the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights, representing a Saudi detained in Cuba and 11 Iraqis held in Baghdad, according to a BBC report.
The Center for Constitutional Rights strongly argues that Rumsfeld was "instrumental" in cold-blooded abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay and at Abu Ghraib jail in Baghdad by the American troops.
Meanwhile, the lawyer group has created a political sensation by stating that Rumsfeld "personally approved the use of torture as a means to extract necessary information from the prisoners."
The group's complaint will be filed with German federal prosecutors on Nov. 14, a spokesperson for the group told the BBC. German law allows the pursuit of cases originating anywhere in the world.
Meanwhile, how the Bush administration will react is far from clear, as the Pentagon has not yet commented on the issue.
A few months earlier, succumbing to the public pressure, President Bush admitted the existence of secret CIA prisons for terror suspects. He said the prisons were an invaluable tool in the war on terror and that lives had been saved by the intelligence gathered.
The U.S. denies any torture has taken place at Guantanamo Bay and has defended its interrogation techniques. But analysts wonder why if secret prisons didn't use torture, then would they have to remain secret?
Paradoxically, now everyone knows what Guantanamo Bay is all about as the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was brought to world attention after photographs of the incidents were released and published by the media.
Legal analysts agree that every nation has a right to defend itself, and should. On the other hand, however, the citizens of the country have a right to know the truth which is supposed to protect them from the supposed enemy.
But why was the Bush administration hiding the existence of these illegal secret prisons not only from the world but from its own public? This in itself casts a shadow of suspicion over the Bush administration's fight on terror.
Besides, how many tens of thousands have been killed and tortured to death by the U.S. and its allies in the name of counter terrorism -- we will never know.
Meanwhile, observers say, what makes the prison illegal and why it should be closed down is because since those people in secret prisons are held outside law, they have no right to defend themselves, no right to fair court, and no protection against inhuman treatment.
Considering this grave fact, most don't agree with the U.S. tactics for the "War on Terror." Critics say there should be a greater transparency into how these prisons operate. Furthermore, it is an open secret that Iraq and the numerous CIA secret cells all over the world were key factors in the Republican defeat in mid-term polls and Rumsfeld's resignation.
This goes a long way in explaining how the American people are fed up with Bush administration's unpopular foreign policy and its inhumane treatment of prisoners.