In re Iraq and Afghanistan Detainees Litigation

Decision Date27 March 2007
Docket NumberNo. CIV. 05-1379(TFH).,No. CIV. 05-1378(TFH).,No. CIV. 05-1377(TFH).,No. CIV. 05-1380(TFH).,No. 06-0145 (TFH).,06-0145 (TFH).,CIV. 05-1377(TFH).,CIV. 05-1378(TFH).,CIV. 05-1379(TFH).,CIV. 05-1380(TFH).
Citation479 F.Supp.2d 85
PartiesIn re: IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN DETAINEES LITIGATION This document relates to: Ali v. Pappas Ali v. Rumsfeld Ali v. Karpinski Ali v. Sanchez.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Columbia

Lucas Guttentag, Cecillia D. Wang, Jennifer C. Chang, Monica M. Ramirez, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation Immigrants' Rights Project, San Francisco, CA, Steven R. Shapiro, Amrit Singh, Omar C. Jadwat, Steven Watt, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York, NY, Michael H. Posner, Hina Shamsi, Priti N. Patel, Law & Security Program, Human Rights First, New York, NY, Arthur B. Spitzer, American Civil Liberties Union, Washington, DC, Bill Lann Lee, Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson, P.C., Oakland, CA, Paul L. Hoffman, Schonbrun Desimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, Venice, CA, Chimene I. Keitner, Nirej S. Sekhon, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, San Francisco, CA, David Rudovsky, Kairys, Rudovsky, Epstein & Messing LLP, Philadelphia, PA, Erwin Chemerinsky, Duke University School of Law, Durham, NC, Deborah N. Pearlstein, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton, NJ, for Plaintiffs.

Marcus Meeks, Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Defendant Rumsfeld; Stephen L. Braga, Mark Thomas Stancil, Ryan E. Bull, Joshua Klein, Baker Botts L.L.P., Washington, DC, for Defendant Sanchez, Michael L. Martinez, Aryeh S. Portnoy, David E. Bell, Matthew F. Scarlato, Rhonda M. Galaz, Crowell & Moring, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendant Karpinski, Mark E. Nagle, Tracy P. Varghese, Eileen Moorhead, Troutman Sanders, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendant Pappas.

Sidney Samuel Rosdeitcher, Douglas M. Pravda, Carmen K. Cheung, Judd S. Harvey, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, New York, NY, James J. Silk, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, for Amici Curiae.


THOMAS F. HOGAN, Chief Judge.

This is a lamentable case in which the Court has been called upon to determine whether the plaintiffs may pursue monetary damages and declaratory relief against the former Secretary of Defense and other high-ranking military officers who the plaintiffs allege are liable for torture and abuse inflicted on them while detained by the United States military during ongoing hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Pending before the Court are the defendants' motions to dismiss the plaintiffs' Consolidated Amended Complaint for Declaratory Relief and Damages (the "Amended Complaint"). Despite the horrifying torture allegations, after a searching and careful review of the relevant case law, and thorough consideration of the' parties' legal briefs and the arguments presented during the hearing held on December 8, 2006, the Court has determined that the motions to dismiss filed by the defendants, Colonel Janis Karpinski, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, and Colonel Thomas Pappas shall be granted in part and denied in part as moot, and the motion to dismiss filed by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the United States shall be granted in its entirety, thereby resolving all claims pending before the Court.


Nine plaintiffs filed these lawsuits claiming they are innocent civilians1 who were tortured and abused while detained by the United States military at various locations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-25; Pls.' Consol. Opp'n to Defs.' Mots. to Dismiss 4 ("Pls.'s Opp'n Br. ___"). Plaintiffs Arkan Mohammed Ali, Thahe Mohammed Sabar, Sherzad Kamal Khalid, Ali H., and Najeeb Abbas Ahmed are Iraqi citizens (collectively referred to as the "Iraqi plaintiffs") who were detained at Abu Ghraib prison or other military facilities in Iraq. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-25. Plaintiffs Mehboob Ahmad, Said Nabi Siddiqi, Mohammed Karim Shirullah, and Haji Abdul Rahman are Afghani citizens (collectively referred to as the "Afghani plaintiffs") who were detained at military facilities in Afghanistan. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-25; Pls.' Opp'n Br. 4. The plaintiffs were detained for varying durations ranging from one month to one year, and several plaintiffs were detained on multiple occasions. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-25. Each plaintiff ultimately was released from custody without ever being charged with a crime. Am. Compl. ¶ 1.

The plaintiffs assert that they were tortured and otherwise subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading acts during their detentions. Pls.' Opp'n Br. 4. To be more explicit, Mehboob Ahmad alleges that a chain was used to hang him upside-down from the ceiling, in which position he remained for several hours while "military personnel slapped and pushed him in order to cause his body to swing ... resulting in his loss of consciousness, then, after providing him with medical attention and reviving him, again hanging him upside-down from the ceiling with a chain for several more hours, again leading to loss of consciousness." Am. Compl. ¶ 174. Mr. Ahmad also was manacled to a chain used to pull him upward and drop him to the ground, repeatedly pushed and kicked, subjected to electrical shocks until he lost consciousness, stripped and anally probed, and forced to hang by his arms while hooded and an aggressive dog "grab[bed] and pull[ed] at his arms and legs." Am. Compl. ¶ 174. Said Siddiqi was forced to remain in a push-up position while doused with water and then beaten if he failed to sustain the position, stripped naked and photographed, anally probed, deprived of water for prolonged periods, and detained in a room flooded with water. Am. Compl. ¶ 178. Mohammad Shirullah was assaulted in the head "so fiercely and repeatedly" that he ruptured an eardrum, and was forced to remain in painful physical positions for prolonged periods, such as sitting in a space with no back support while his wrists and legs were tied and his eyes and ears were covered. Am. Compl. ¶ 182. Haji Rahman alleges that interrogators used a chain to force his arms upward While they were handcuffed behind his back and he was in a kneeling position with blackout goggles on, loud noises and bright lights were used to deprive him of sleep, he was anally probed multiple times, stripped naked in front of other people and photographed, and forced to wear blackout goggles and sound-deadening headphones for prolonged periods to induce sensory deprivation. Am. Compl. ¶ 186. Arkan Ali was beaten to unconsciousness, forcibly restrained and stabbed with a knife in his forearm, burned or shocked, locked for days in a phone-booth-sized wood box while stripped naked and hooded, urinated on, shackled with his hands behind his head while his head was stepped on and the shackles pulled, denied sleep and then dragged face down and beaten for falling asleep, chained to a metal container while kicked, spit on, choked, and threatened with a guard dog, threatened with death by having a gun placed to his head and a round chambered, mock executed by threat of being run down by a military vehicle, threatened with slaughter by sword, and denied food and water. Am. Compl. ¶ 190. Thahe Sabar was severely beaten while handcuffed, hit in the genitals, forced to "run through a gauntlet of 10 to 20 uniformed soldiers who were screaming at [him] and beating [him] with wooden batons," electrically shocked, sexually assaulted by soldiers who inserted their fingers in his anus and fondled his buttocks and penis, placed before a mock firing squad with simulated gunfire, placed in a cage of live lions, hooded and shackled in such a way as to cause breathing difficulties, bleeding and loss of consciousness, deprived of food or fed spoiled food that caused vomiting, denied access to toilets while shackled so he soiled his pants, and subjected to the desecration of the Quran. Am. Compl. ¶ 195. Sherzad Khalid was randomly kicked and punched while shackled and hooded, subjected to simulated anal rape by having a water bottle pressed against the seat of his pants, threatened with sodomy by use of a wooden pole, restrained and hooded in such as way as to impair his breathing and vision, shackled to a fence with his hands behind him in extreme temperatures without food or water, put in a cage of live lions, and placed before a mock firing squad. Am. Compl. ¶ 200. Ali H. was shot when arrested and had the bullets removed without anesthesia, shackled for prolonged periods with his hands behind his back and feet spread, denied medical treatment after sustaining a life-threatening shrapnel wound during a mortar attack while detained, dragged to and from locations after abdominal surgery, refused bandage changes thereby leading to infection, and forced to sleep unsheltered outdoors in extreme temperatures while injured. Am. Compl. ¶ 205. Najeeb Ahmed was subjected to:

[A] scheme to humiliate, sexually assault, and physically injure Plaintiff Ahmed, by throwing him to the ground, stepping on his neck and legs, sitting on his back and feet, tying him with extremely tight restraints on his wrists, then calling a group of 10 to 12 U.S. soldiers to come into the room. The soldiers taped toy animals to Plaintiff Ahmed's head and shoulder and chanted racial epithets at him. A soldier kicked the soles of [his] feet. A soldier put a gun to his head. Another approached him in a menacing way and then spat in his face. A soldier stepped on his head. When Plaintiff Ahmed begged for water because he was sweating and suffering from chest pains, a solder approached him, exposed his penis, told Plaintiff Ahmed to drink, and then unzipped Plaintiff Ahmed's pants. Soldiers shone a bright beam of light in Plaintiff Ahmed's face. During all these proceedings, soldiers videotaped and photographed Plaintiff Ahmed....

Am. Compl. ¶ 209. These are only some of the many examples of abuse allegedly inflicted on the plaintiffs, as described in their Amended Complaint. Each plaintiff avers that he suffered various...

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