[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] Wednesday applauded the resignation [JURIST report] of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] as a "step in the right direction" and urged Congress to launch an investigation [press release] into his alleged abuses of power. ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement:
Rumsfeld is responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees in U. S. military custody and must be held accountable for the failures that occurred on his watch. He has placed the blame on junior military members and has been nothing but derelict in his duty. Congress must initiate an immediate and exhaustive investigation into his six-year-long record of unlawful activity, violations of the rule of law and complicity in the executive branch abuse of power.The ACLU filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] against Rumsfeld in March 2005 alleging he was directly responsible for the torture and abuse of detainees in US military custody. While a hearing in Ali v. Rumsfeld [ACLU backgrounder] is set for December 8, the ACLU claims that as a result of a separate lawsuit "more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released detailing the torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay." In Iraq, although there has not yet been an official announcement of Rumsfeld's resignation, some Iraqis are welcoming the change in Pentagon leadership and are even calling for an investigation [AP report] into Rumsfeld's responsibility for the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal [JURIST news archive] and other crimes committed by US soldiers against Iraqi citizens.
The ACLU has also asserted that Rumsfeld abused his power through the Defense Department's use of a terrorist database to spy on organizers of demonstrations against military recruiters on college campuses in April 2005. In response to an ACLU lawsuit [complaint, PDF], a federal judge in May ordered [JURIST report] the US Department of Defense to expedite processing of a request submitted by the ACLU under Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [text; DOJ materials] regarding the use of the TALON database to spy [ACLU backgrounder] on student protest organizers. The ACLU filed another lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] in June seeking to force the DOJ [JURIST report] to reveal documents it collected by TALON. The Washington Times has more.