Discovering Your Inner Constitutionalist
A Los Angeles filmmaker who was imprisoned in Iraq for 55 days sued Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking military officials Friday, alleging that his detention violated his civil rights, the law of nations and the Geneva Convention.Remember the old law-and-order saw about how "a conservative is a liberal who got mugged"? How about this: A liberal is a conservative who got thrown in jail without charge. An update to reflect the times....
Cyrus Kar, 45, of Los Feliz was freed a year ago, just days after the American Civil Liberties Union sued seeking his release. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, seeks damages for Kar and broad changes in the government's detention policies.
On May 17, 2005, the taxi he was riding in was stopped at a Baghdad checkpoint and authorities found components in the trunk that are commonly used in improvised explosive devices. The taxi driver told military authorities that Kar and his cameraman knew nothing about the items, which the driver said he was bringing to his brother-in-law.
Kar also submitted to a polygraph examination and allowed the FBI to search his apartment. They found nothing incriminating, but he was held for many more weeks in various prisons around Iraq, including the notorious facility at Abu Ghraib.
Even after he was cleared by a military court at Camp Cropper, Kar was held another week. Eventually, the camp commandant gave him a letter stating that military judges found him to be an "innocent civilian" under the Geneva Convention.
While in confinement, the suit states, Kar was at various times hooded, restrained "in painful flexi-cuffs" and "repeatedly threatened, taunted and insulted" by U.S. soldiers.
At one point, according to the suit, a U.S. soldier slammed Kar's head into a concrete wall at Abu Ghraib.
"Mr. Kar was and remains traumatized by his indefinite and virtually incommunicado detention, in solitary confinement, by the U.S. military without charge," the suit says.
What happened to him in Iraq was "a life-altering experience," Kar said. "I am not a left-wing liberal. I agree with many of George Bush's policies."
But, he added, "I don't think the Constitution has to be gutted to achieve our objectives" in the war on terrorism. "I felt it was my duty as an American to take a stand for the constitutional rights guaranteed to all Americans."