Rumsfeld can be sued for torture

I have a number of questions about law after reading this article from the Christian Science Monitor: Appeals court allows US citizens’ torture suit against Rumsfeld

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be held personally responsible in a civil lawsuit for the alleged torture of two American citizens held without charge in a US military prison in Iraq in 2006, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday.

That sounds like a positive development.

Government lawyers argued that the suit must be dismissed based on rulings in earlier cases by appeals courts in New York and Washington, D.C. The Chicago-based appeals court panel said the Vance/Ertel lawsuit was different because the two earlier decisions involved noncitizens.

Why does that matter?

[Judge Hamilton] added: “The wrongdoing alleged here violates the most basic terms of the constitutional compact(Ed. note: WTF?) between our government and the citizens of this country…. There can be no doubt that the deliberate infliction of such treatment on US citizens, even in a war zone, is unconstitutional.”

That’s funny, I don’t remember signing that compact.

While I whole-heartedly agree that the plaintiffs should have the right to sue Rumsfeld for their torture, I’m at a loss as to why that right is not extended to non-citizens. Can someone help me out?


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