Rumsfeld asked the court to dismiss the case because he is a high-placed governmental official and argued that he was immune from suit even for allegations of torture. Mr. Rumsfeld also argued that due to his position, the Constitution permitted him to order interrogation techniques that are widely considered by human rights experts to be torture. The Court rejected both of Rumsfeld's arguments and held that high-placed placed cabinet officials can be held personally liable if they authorize the use of torture.
While many previous civil suit attempts to prosecute Bush-era cabinet officials for authorizing torture have failed, the suit brought by Chicago-based Loevy and Loevy Attorneys at Law, Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld, United States of America and Unidentified Agents, will now proceed to discovery and a trial.
Donald Vance, a Navy veteran, accuses U.S. forces in Iraq of imprisoning him without charges for over three months in 2006, and torturing him during much of that time. Vance, a private security employee at the time of his arrest in Baghdad, named former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as a defendant for his role in overseeing the military prison system in Iraq.
Rumsfeld allegedly issued orders allowing torture techniques which allowed Vance to be subjected to extreme sleep deprivation, interrogation for hours at a time, held in an extremely cold cell without adequate clothing or blankets, and periodically denied food and water for long periods of time. During virtually Vance's entire three month imprisonment at the notorious Camp Cropper near Baghdad International Airport, he was held in solitary confinement in a continuously lit, windowless cell.