Federal judge dismisses Gitmo detainee wrongful death suit

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Feb. 16 that claims of unlawful treatment and wrongful death brought on behalf of two former Guantánamo Bay detainees are barred by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). The two men, Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami, were among three detainees who allegedly hanged themselves in their cells in July 2006. The claim was brought against former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and more than 100 military officers and personnel under the Alien Tort Claims Act. The defendants moved to dismiss the suit based on section 7 of the MCA, which removes the ability of federal courts to hear challenges to the treatment of aliens who have been "properly detained" as enemy combatants. Judge Ellen Huvelle found that since the two men had been properly detained, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. (Jurist, Feb. 17)

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Bush 'knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent'

From the London Times, April 9:

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell's chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was "politically impossible to release them".