"US military institutionalized torture"

Two American war veterans can now go ahead with their civil lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld stating they were wrongfully held and tortured by US forces. The lawsuit may lead to similar cases, says an anti-war campaigner.

Donald Rumsfeld, the former US secretary of defense, could be found personally liable for approving the methods for use by the military in Iraq.

On Monday, an appeals court in Chicago rejected arguments that Rumsfeld should be immune from such lawsuits.

The two plaintiffs were working for a private security company in Iraq in 2006 when they became concerned the firm was engaged in illegal activities and blew the whistle on it.

Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel claim they were tortured, subjected to sleep deprivation, blasting music, hunger and various other threats.

Brian Becker, director of the ANSWER anti-war coalition, suggests that it is top priority for former Bush administration officials to get this case dismissed as they also could get stripped of immunity and held liable for the crimes committed during their terms in office.

He claims that the suit against Donald Rumsfeld opens the door for a growing movement inside the United States and internationally for accountability for crimes committed during the Bush era.

Once immunity is stripped from Rumsfeld, once he has to stand trial for torture which these men are alleging, then it opens the door wide not only in the United States, but internationally for similar court actions.”

Becker argues that now there is a possibility that all those who advocated policies like the policy of torture, including Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, could end up in the dock.

This could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the movement for accountability and consequences for torture and other crimes committed during the Bush era.”

Ironically, the lawsuit suggest that the US government is engaging in illegal acts and if anyone holds it accountable, that would be shackling their effort to carry out war.

It’s partly demagogy, but by virtue of the nature of the argument it also reveals that they, in fact, have institutionalized torture, otherwise they would not be afraid of allegations against it.”