By Christopher Zoukis A few weeks ago I wrote about the passing of a landmark revision to the United Nations’ “Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.” In it, I questioned why the United States, a key player in the revision process, had remained so quiet since the announcement, positing that the silence was in…

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By Derek Gilna / Prison Legal News

In an 8 to 3 decision, the en banc Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by Illinois U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Anderson, as well as an appellate panel that had partly affirmed that ruling, and held the judiciary should not “create a right of action for damages against soldiers who abusively interrogate or mistreat military prisoners, or fail to prevent improper detention and interrogation.”

The three appellate judges who dissented from the majority opinion argued that the plaintiffs, private American security contractors in Iraq, should have been afforded a Bivins remedy to redress their claims.

The dissent noted that both the facts and law provided an avenue by which Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel, employees of Shield Group Security (also known as National Shield Security) stationed in Iraq, could seek damages for what they contended was torture by U.S. military personnel.

According to the en banc decision, “Vance came to suspect that Shield was supplying weapons to groups opposed to the U.S.,” and became an FBI informant. However, after the individuals they had fingered accused Vance and Ertel of “gun-running,” they were arrested by American military officials in April 2006.

They were then “held in solitary confinement and denied access to counsel … [and] interrogators used ‘threats of violence and actual violence, sleep deprivation and alteration, extremes of temperature, extremes of sound, light manipulation, threats of indefinite detention, denial of food, denial of water, denial of needed medical care, yelling, prolonged solitary confinement, incommunicado detention, falsified allegations and other psychologically-disruptive and injurious techniques.’” Vance and Ertel were classified as “security internees.”

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