By denying the government’s motions to dismiss their complaints, two federal court decisions made at the beginning of the month, Vance v. Rumsfeld (7th Circuit 2011) and John Doe v. Rumsfeld (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 2011), allowed three U.S. citizens to proceed with their civil lawsuits against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
The plaintiffs allege that while Rumsfeld was still Secretary of Defense, he was directly involved “in creating and carrying out policies that caused” their torture while in U.S. custody in Iraq. But how can Rumsfeld be sued for the crimes perpetrated by unnamed torturers? Finding the answer to that question provides a look at how civil liberties are faring under Obama’s presidency. (Note: I will only be discussing the Vance decision here.)