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Abu Ghraib

Rumsfeld may be charged with war crimes by German courts

Tuesday, November 14, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: Abu Ghraib, Donald Rumsfeld, war crimes


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(NewsTarget) Donald Rumsfeld -- who just last week resigned as U.S. Defense Secretary -- may be facing more scrutiny now that he's about to leave his official Washington duties. New legal documents that originated with Germany's top prosecutor will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld in addition to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers.

The investigation is based on the their alleged roles each of the men had in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The plaintiffs in the German case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib in addition to Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi citizen held at Guantanamo whom the U.S. has named as the "20th hijacker" and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings.

Qahtani was allegedly subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques, according to the legal documents. The attorneys for the various plaintiffs say that one of the witnesses who will testify on their behalf is former Brig. General Janis Karpinski -- a one-time commander of all U.S. military prisons in Iraq.

A recent statement written by Karpinski and published in a recent edition of TIME Magazine states "It was clear the knowledge and responsibility [for what happened at Abu Ghraib] goes all the way to the top of the chain of command to the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld."

Germany was chosen for the court filing against all the defendants due to the fact that German law provides "universal jurisdiction" -- which allows for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. The plaintiffs argue that Rumsfeld's resignation means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded to high government officials.

"The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer," said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights -- a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany.

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