683 F.3d 390 (D.C. Cir. 2012), 11-5209, Doe v. Rumsfeld

Docket Nº:11-5209.
Citation:683 F.3d 390
Opinion Judge:SENTELLE, Chief Judge:
Party Name:John DOE, Appellee v. Donald H. RUMSFELD, Appellant. Michael Chertoff, et al., Appellees.
Attorney:Henry C. Whitaker, Attorney, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney, and Robert M. Loeb, Attorney. Michael I. Kanovitz argued the cause for appellee John Doe. With him on the brief were Gayle Horn and ...
Judge Panel:Before: SENTELLE, Chief Judge, BROWN and GRIFFITH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:June 15, 2012
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
 
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683 F.3d 390 (D.C. Cir. 2012)

John DOE, Appellee

v.

Donald H. RUMSFELD, Appellant.

Michael Chertoff, et al., Appellees.

No. 11-5209.

United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.

June 15, 2012

Argued March 19, 2012.

Page 391

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:08-cv-01902).

Henry C. Whitaker, Attorney, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney, and Robert M. Loeb, Attorney.

Michael I. Kanovitz argued the cause for appellee John Doe. With him on the brief were Gayle Horn and Jesselyn Radack.

Debra S. Katz was on the brief for amicus curiae Project on Government Oversight in support of appellee John Doe.

Before: SENTELLE, Chief Judge, BROWN and GRIFFITH, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

SENTELLE, Chief Judge:

Appellee, a government contractor identified herein as John Doe, underwent military detention in Iraq. After his release, he filed this action in the district court against, inter alia, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld alleging claims under the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000dd et seq., and a Bivens action for violation of his due process rights. Secretary Rumsfeld moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court granted the motion as to the claims under the DTA and some other claims, but did imply an action under the Bivens due process theory and denied Rumsfeld's motion to dismiss as to those claims. Secretary Rumsfeld appeals from the denial of his motion, arguing both that the claims are barred by qualified immunity and that the court erred in implying such a cause of action in the first instance. Because we agree that the district court erred in implying such a cause of action, we reverse the order of the district court.

Background

Because this case arises out of a motion to dismiss, we, like the district court, accept the well-pleaded factual allegations set forth in Doe's complaint as true for purposes of this stage of the litigation and construe reasonable inferences from those allegations in Doe's favor, although we are not required to accept Doe's legal conclusions as true. See, e.g., Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 173 L.Ed.2d 868 (2009). Doe's complaint alleges the following facts:

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In December 2004, Doe, a United States citizen and employee of an American-owned defense contracting firm, traveled to Iraq to work as a civilian Arabic translator and was detailed to a United States Marine Corps Human Exploitation Team operating along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Doe's job was to develop intelligence through contacts with local Iraqis and to discover threats to the Marine unit. In July 2005, he made contact and developed a relationship with Iraqi Sheikh Abd AlSattar Abu Risha. Doe maintains that he became the unit's point of contact with Al-Sattar and that, through a series of secretive meetings, he cultivated Al-Sattar as a United States " ally."

On October 20, 2005, Doe returned to a United States military camp in preparation to depart for his annual leave. There, a Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agent asked to interview Doe. Doe agreed and discussed his work with the agent.

Two weeks later, Doe traveled to Al Asad, a United States military base, from which he was scheduled to depart for his leave. At that point, three NCIS agents, including the one who previously interviewed him, along with another United States official, detained Doe and interrogated him for four hours. Doe alleges that the agents denied his requests to have an attorney, a company representative, or a member of the Marine unit present for his questioning. Doe states that the agents confiscated his luggage, blindfolded him, kicked him in the back, and threatened to shoot him if he tried to escape.

Doe was transferred into the custody of the Marine Corps. After seventy-two hours of solitary confinement, he was blindfolded, hooded, and flown to Camp Cropper, a United States military facility near Baghdad International Airport used to hold high-value detainees, where he was confined for nine months. For the first three months, Doe alleges he was kept in solitary confinement; thereafter, he was transferred into a cell housing suspected hostile al Qaeda and Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party members. Doe alleges that the military officers publicized his affiliation with the Department of Defense to encourage his cell mates to attack him and that the prison guards mistreated him by exposing him to extreme temperatures and depriving him of sleep. He alleges that one guard choked him repeatedly. During his detainment, United States government officials interrogated Doe multiple times and denied his requests for an attorney to be present at those interrogations.

In December 2005, the Detainee Status Board held a hearing and deemed Doe a threat to the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. In July 2006, the Board held a second hearing, after which Doe was transported to Jordan and ultimately to the United States, where he was released. Doe was never formally charged with a crime. He alleges that his property was not returned to him and that he has been placed on watch lists, preventing contracting firms from hiring him and causing customs officials to interrogate him when he returns from international travel.

Procedural History

In November 2008, Doe filed this action against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, other United States government officers and agents, and the United States government. Relevant to this appeal, Doe asked the district court to hold Secretary Rumsfeld personally liable for violating Doe's rights under the DTA and for violating Doe's constitutional rights guaranteed under the Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments on the theory that Secretary Rumsfeld developed, authorized, and implemented the policies that caused Doe harm.

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Secretary Rumsfeld moved to dismiss Doe's claims against him...

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