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A man held for years as an "enemy combatant" is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate a lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other government officials of torturing him in a South Carolina military prison.

The American Civil Liberties Union is representing Jose Padilla in his appeal of a decision of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in January that Congress, not the court system, has jurisdiction over military detention cases.

The appellate panel also found the judiciary should defer to Congress and the executive branch in cases such as Padilla's because litigation could potentially compromise military operations and national security issues.

Padilla had argued that he was entitled to sue Rumsfeld, current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, former brig commander Catherine T. Hanft and several other officials because the government deprived him of other ways to seek remedies for his treatment, even under military code. He also argued that Congress never specifically barred civilian U.S. citizens deemed "enemy combatants" from pursuing civil actions, as it did for non-citizens.


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