The first case against Donald comes from Germany. Will there be more to follow?

Time has the exclusive

New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany’s top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The plaintiffs in the case include 11 Iraqis who were prisoners at Abu Ghraib, as well as Mohammad al-Qahtani, a Saudi held at Guantanamo, whom the U.S. has identified as the so-called “20th hijacker” and a would-be participant in the 9/11 hijackings. As TIME first reported in June 2005, Qahtani underwent a “special interrogation plan,” personally approved by Rumsfeld, which the U.S. says produced valuable intelligence. But to obtain it, according to the log of his interrogation and government reports, Qahtani was subjected to forced nudity, sexual humiliation, religious humiliation, prolonged stress positions, sleep deprivation and other controversial interrogation techniques.

So why in Germany?

Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides “universal jurisdiction” allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. The case provoked an angry response from Pentagon, and Rumsfeld himself was reportedly upset. Rumsfeld’s spokesman at the time, Lawrence DiRita, called the case a “a big, big problem.” U.S. officials made clear the case could adversely impact U.S.-Germany relations, and Rumsfeld indicated he would not attend a major security conference in Munich, where he was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, unless Germany disposed of the case. The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint.

In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld’s resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor’s reasoning for rejecting the previous case â€â€? that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue â€â€? has been proven wrong.

It’s going to be an interesting couple months…and I wonder what Christopher Hitchens has to say…

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  • Bob J Young

    Well I guess that means no German oktoberfest for Rummy!
    Unless someone Photoshops him into a picture of one, for a “Find Waldo� kind of experience.

  • wj

    Well, without taking a position on the merits of their case, if they are going to do it I hope they remember to get John Yoo also. He’s at least as culpable as Gonzales for the legal position paper which claimed that torture was acceptable and legal.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    And people wonder why the U.S. is so hesitant to sign onto the World Court idea.

    I hope the German courts have the good sense to ignore this.

  • Ed

    What bothers me the most is that people from our country do seem horrified to what the enemy is doing to our civilians and military personel. They are only concerned about what the think and cannot prove what we have done. You are more concerned about what someone from a military prison has stated.

  • “The first case against Donald comes from Germany.”

    No case yet. And certainly not from Germany.

    The plaintiffs are Iraqis, not Germans. The plaintiffs are supported by an American NGO, not a German NGO. They want to have a criminal investigation in Germany, but it is doubtful whether they will get one.
    German prosecutors have dismissed similar cases in the past.

    This is explained in more detail here:

  • Paul

    Funny. German lawyers want to go after Rummy but not a single mention of the war crimes commited by the douche bags that hack of peoples heads in the name of religion. Hey Germany, it won’t buy you any favors in the eyes of extremists! Just look to the south and see what pandering will get you. The French have bent over backwards for years and now they are being bent over forwards for some of that extremist backside lovin’. Burn Paris, burn.

    I have heard of venue shopping but isn’t this getting a bit rediculous? Terrorist are caught on the battlefield, ignoring any of the rules of war and somehow this is acceptable? I am happy that I’m young and will be able to witness all of this come back to bite the Euros in the ass.

  • Rob

    So are you people saying that there were no war crimes committed at Abu Ghraib? Or that if there were, they were thought up and committed by a privates from WV.

    People were water boarded, we prosecuted Japanese as war criminals after WWII for water boarding. So I don’t think it is unreasonable to look in to this.

  • John

    There is no doubt that war crimes were committed by U.S. operatives. Does the blinding glory of neo-con virtue nullify them? I don’t think so. Let the trial go forth. Let the evidence speak for itself.

  • Bob Dog

    Where do so many US citizens get the notion that their people and their leaders are incapable of committing war crimes, that “Our country can do no wrong”? Your flag was not sewn by Betsy Ross but by Pollyanna.

    Every brutal regime that was guilty of mass murder thought they were acting in their country’s best interests before they fell, and that includes Bush, Pol Pot, the Ceacescus, the Marcoses, Stalin, the PRC, the Nazis, the catholic church and many others. Even previous US governments should have been prosecuted; just look at the actions toward Native Americans.

    To be “surprised” or “appalled” at members of the two Bush misadministrations is beyond naivete and is better termed infantilism.

    Were the US to turn over members of its own government – Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, Gonzalez, Yoo, Tenet and the generals – for war crimes trials, it would go a long way to restoring the US’s credibility as a “world leader”. The show trials and kangaroo courts arising out of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal did not assuage any resentment in muslim nations, it inflamed such people’s anger.

    If you disagree, remember that it is Germany which is filing these charges. They file not out of some petty Nazi revenge, but out of a clear conscience that was regained after the Nuremburg trials.

  • Bob Dog

    Whoops. That should read:

    To be “surprised� or “appalled� at members of the two Bush misadministrations _facing trial_ is beyond naivete and is better termed infantilism.

  • Mark

    Rush Limbaugh says the torture at Abu Ghraib was like a frat party, with US troops just “letting off steam”.

    What a party! With 26 people tortured to death, they must have really been having a good time!

  • DosPeros

    Only the Germans (maybe the Russians) would be audacious and aggressive enough to establish “universial jurisdiction.” I’m sure that makes the Poles sleep well at night — you know, remembering the last time the Germans claimed “universal jurisdictions.”

  • Lewis

    I say skip the trial. Take Rummy, Bush, & Chenney out to the woodshed and shoot them. That is the only appropriate justice. My God, they actually ordered our troops to force prisoners to go naked and wear female panties on their heads.

    Even young and dumb college guys know you should never force anybody to do that. Just get em drunk first, then they’ll do it all by themselves.

  • western_crusader

    I’m really disheartened by the fact that Liberals refuse to see what evil is taking place right in front of their own eyes. Maybe you don’t remember our soldiers being hacked to pieces and dragged through the streets in Iraq. We have to coddle this type of people?? If it will stop one of this religious imbeciles from blowing up my kids on the way to school or in the mall, I say let the brutal interrogations begin. They do unspeakable things to our soldiers and their fellow Muslims in the name of their religion. We should do the same in defense of our kids and future. If it comes down to my kids or them, too bad for them.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Yes, people, let’s have a world where any country can bring up charges against any citizen of any other country for any and all perceived wrongs that didn’t even happen within the jurisdiction of the prosecuting nation or involve citizens of that nation. That’s a workable system.

  • Bruce

    People should watch Aaron Russo’s film From freedom to Fascism.
    The income tax is illegal. It explains a lot of what is going on.
    That’s why I include it here.

    Rumsfeld is a war criminal. John Yoo likes to crush children’s testicles.
    What a sick bunch of criminals. Anybody who supports Rumsfeld or Yoo is discredited in my view.

  • Alan Stewart Carl

    Justin, do we have to allow links to conspiracry theory b.s. to be posted on this site? This is a site for reasoned thinking, not the sort of junk Bruce is sending us to.

  • Free America

    You cant blame an entire ethnic group for the actions of a few wackos. I just cant wait for them to go after Bush when his term is over. Its interesting to me that when we were part of the world court we rarely (if at all) heard of “War-crimes” occuring. If accidents happened (and they definitly did) generally our military took the heat for them.

    Now we’ve got some self-rightious draft-dodge who believes that the US is the world police and has the right to dictate what everyone else does but which refuses to take blame for its mistakes. What happens? We withdraw from the world court, withdraw (essentially) from the geneva conventions, and what to we get? Abu-graib, secret prisons, the whole premise of “enemy combatants”, indefinite detention without trial, the destabilization of a country/goverment that had nothing to do with the “War on Terror” (oh boo hoo that Saddam tried to kill my daddy boo hoo), the persecution against the black, the muslim, and the homosexual the list (sadly) can go on forever. And guess who approved them all? BUSH.

    I just cant wait for Chancellor Bush’s term to be up so he can get tried too. I think that if the troops want to fight a war on terror, they should bring that fighting home and oust these militants, after all its Bush that approved sending our brave men and women ill equipped into battle without a plan resulting in the whole mess called the war in Iraq. Our troops didnt and dont deserve the deplorable treatment they are getting from the current administration. And maybe, just maybe if they had more sensitivity/cultural training on the various ethnic groups in Iraq, maybe our men would be safer for in instead of Rumsfeld and Cheney’s “Shoot them if they look at you funny” kind of training. I dont blame the troops who are actually doing their jobs, but I do think that its not just following orders that make you a good soldier, its knowing when to stand up for your beliefs and defy orders that you know are morally wrong.

    All the best to our fighting men and women, stay safe.

  • drphonic

    Donald Rumsfeld IS a war criminal. What is it about the war crimes act that you people don’t understand? The only reason this piece of crap hasn’t been tried in the U.S. is because our congress is still controlled by republican stoolies. That is obviously changing. Stay tuned for well deserved executions…..—-000-.html

  • DosPeros

    Alan – The historical legitimacy of the income tax is hardly a new topic and doesn’t fall under the b.s. catagory in my mind. That being said, I did not watch that video, because I don’t have the time. Have greater faith that the readership of Donklephant can sift through b.s. without an overseeing filter.

  • sleipner

    Unfortunately I doubt much will actually come from this, but if nothing else it will shed light on the reprehensible actions of this administration.

    Neocons continually blame this sort of horrific behavior on the “bad guys”…saying things like, “We had to torture them because they were beheading Americans.”

    However, when we stoop to using evil people’s tactics against them we become evil people ourselves. The end does not automatically justify the means. And Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, Rove, and most of the rest of their flunkies deserve jail time, at the very least.

  • Amazing.
    “Only the Germans (maybe the Russians) would be audacious and aggressive enough to establish “universial jurisdiction.â€Â?
    [and the Americans, of course]
    “Yes, people, let’s have a world where any country can bring up charges against any citizen of any other country for any and all perceived wrongs that didn’t even happen within the jurisdiction of the prosecuting nation or involve citizens of that nation. That’s a workable system.”
    [if not, why did we legalize it?]
    Our “Military Commissions Act” says we can imprison and hold without trial or rights, any citizen of any country, on the sole authority of our President. Perhaps now you can see what a bad idea this is.
    “Maybe you don’t remember our soldiers being hacked to pieces and dragged through the streets in Iraq. We have to coddle this type of people??”
    No, we don’t have to “coddle” them. We have to regain the moral high ground by refusing to act outside law and morality. Yoo, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Bush have publicly ridiculed the anti-torture provisions of the Geneva convention, and legitimized the abrogation of human and legal rights.

  • Mark

    Very sad to hear my fellow Americans trying to justify and rationalize something as un-American as torture!

    We were once a truly great nation, with moral leadership admired around the world. Now we have been led down the slope to barbarism, and these people, who somehow still claim superiority to others in the world, openly advocate torture-unto-death, with the same mind-set as demented Muslim terrorists!

  • Andy from Virginia

    This goes to show what happens when countries expand their concept of jurisdiction beyond what happens within their own borders or to their own citizens. I trust that the German prosecutor will have the sense not to go forward with this. Having the U.S. sign on to the International Criminal Court is a very tough sell, and the idea that high-level American officials could be subject to trial in a foreign country for defending America in a way they believed to be legal would kill the idea of joining the ICC for years to come.

    I understand that the rationale the prosecutor has used before was that the American legal system had yet to consider these cases, and the theory was that he was deferring to American courts. That rationale, however, is not enough — under the U.S legal system, there will be no prosecution because it is unwarranted. There is a big difference between a judicial system that does not work, and a judicial system that does not work the way another country wants it to.

  • Dos,

    I’m all for a nice historical discussion about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the income tax and its amendment — what I’m objecting too is the Illuminati like conspiracy theory advanced by the video. It’s like “Loose Change” for the tax set.

  • sambo

    When someone is being tortured, will their screaming echo throughout the entire building? Then we have to think about Iraq vs. U.S.A.
    Smart Bomb vs. Machete
    Cluster Bomb vs. Large Stone
    Phosphorous Bomb (used in Fallujah) vs.
    What would you do if a bomb killed your whole family?

  • Lewis

    Oh please spare me. This thread contains some of the worst “I am holier than thou” moralistic BS. Moral high ground my ass. “America used to be great” and “never tortured”. It makes me want to hurl chunks. PLEASE people, grow up – get out of the ozone – get rid of the blind hate – get real.

  • Yeah, I am all in favor of war crimes trials for Rumsfeld, Cheney, et. al.

    If found guilty, I would advocate no jail time, no physical punishments…just return all the money to the US treasury and listen to the victims say whatever they need to say.

    By the way, I am well aware that there are other criminals out there that are not American, but identify as muslim. More violence is not the answer.

  • Marcus Bowman

    If they want to pass laws to prevent future problems I say great. Liberals are the same as sheep. Feed me, shelter me, and I don’t care if you kill me. JUST DO NOT TELL ME THINGS I WONT LIKE. Bush won the elections? Yes, despite liberals throughing out military votes. John kerry Wanted to go to war with iraq and the camel humpers. Liberals supported him, Bush Went to war and got sadam. If you don’t like america then go worship mo mo and ali (the pedophile). Islam has created nothing. Islam takes over and claims everything good is there doing. Islam is for powermongers, pedophiles, sadist, and eliteist. I think any one who hides in a hospital and shoots at people are cowards and should be killed. The people responsible for 911 should be fucked by pigs. Then killed? YES!!!
    America is for those who want freedom and liberty. Those who march in the streets and follow with out question and sheep. Sheep are to be slaterd. Look in the peaceful countrys islam. They raise children to think of dieing and not living. The more you kill the more women you have to serve you in the hereafter. In america we are angerd be children being hurt or harmed. We in america do not ever think killing prostitutes is ok. Sadly you wish to follow the group and say we are right you are wrong. Both sides are corrupt. Chose the lesser of to evils? Yes.
Americas military is volintary. Theese MEN & WOMEN piss me of all the time for their bravery and courage. I think theese people are heros. Buricrates are worthless. Hitler was a nice friendly guy just like north koreas head pedophile and dictaor. You have the ability to change things by your vote and actions. Yet you bitch and moan. Spread your ideas. Talk to people, be friendly and look for solutions. Do not stick your head up your ass or keep it there. People will listen but not when you act like a petulant child.
    If you want to change things then do so. Do not help enemys to harm others, like jane fonda. Support your country and try your best to make it better. Do you want to be remembered as a screamer or as a calm and thoughtful person. Will you want to have children who scream and rant or listen and respond by trying to find and implement solutions

  • Marcus Bowman

    Dear bill,

    I remeber watching tv a few years ago and it was a french prison the grauds were acuased of all kind of things. The sad think is it turned out to be true. The gaurds were jailed themselves after raping a girl who was the dauther of a italian offical who was drunk and disorderly. It was her 17th brithday and the trip was her gift. France what a great country. (p.s. The gaurds are serving life after being convicted of over 40 seperate cases. Remember the speacils about max prisions in the US. The gaurds were acused of the same the things. Just didn’t happen. You must have met at least one person that they were completely framed and did nothing. Then you happend to be the one that they wronged????

    Do you think it is acceptable to spit in a cops face? If so then why have them? Do you want to live with out governments and laws? If so then do you think rape or pedioplia is OK? If you do not think rape or pedioplia is ok then what should be done.

    Do you believe that what is wrong for one person might be right for another? Then HItler and Stalin were GOOD GUYS? If you don’t think so then why.