Namely, it appears that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that folks in Gitmo--and likely at other sites where people have been subject to "extraordinary rendition"--legally are not considered persons under US law and that torture was thus legally justified:
WASHINGTON—On the sixth anniversary of the imprisonment of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed Friday an action brought by four former British detainees against Donald Rumsfeld and senior military officers for ordering torture and religious abuse.
The British detainees – Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, Rhuhel Ahmed and Jamal Al-Harith – spent more than two years in Guantánamo and were repatriated to the U.K. in 2004. In a 43-page opinion, Circuit Judge Karen Lecraft Henderson found that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a statute that applies by its terms to all “persons” did not apply to detainees at Guantánamo, effectively ruling that the detainees are not persons at all for purposes of U.S. law. The Court also dismissed the detainees’ claims under the Alien Tort Statute and the Geneva Conventions, finding defendants immune on the basis that “torture is a foreseeable consequence of the military’s detention of suspected enemy combatants.” Finally, the Court found that, even if torture and religious abuse were illegal, defendants were immune under the Constitution because they could not have reasonably known that detainees at Guantánamo had any constitutional rights.
This is bad, folks. No matter how you may feel about the guilt or innocence of those interred at Gitmo, this is really, really fucking bad.
At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law (and if I must, hopefully I invoke its corollary here), this is pretty much legally what was done with various "undesirables" during not only Nazi Germany (including, most notably and infamously, persons of Jewish heritage but also including LGBT people (despite what Scott Lively and his dominionist-holocaust-revisionist bullshit claims), people with mental and physical handicaps, Rom and Sinti people, and others) but also during the Bad Old Days of the USSR (they even had a specific slang term for essentially making people "unpersons"), Francisco Franco's fascist government in Spain, and Augusto Pinochet's government in Chile (another notable offender rarely mentioned is Gen. Efrain Rios Montt and his neopentecostal-dominionist junta in Guatemala during the 80's).
To put this in perspective--we legally have not had "unpersons" in the United States since 1924 with the Indian Citizenship Act (yes, technically my grandfather, who was born in 1920, would have been considered an illegal alien--Native Americans and persons of Native American descent were not considered citizens--we weren't legally considered people under US law till 1879 with the Standing Bear trial--and were ineligible for citizenship by any means until 1924). People who are not being held under "extraordinary rendition" in out-of-country gulag networks (and yes, I will call it for what it is) who aren't US citizens are still in general considered persons under US law--that's pretty much been continuous court precedent since at least 1879. People in the one United States overseas possession where people are technically not US citizens (namely the folks in American Samoa) are legally considered "US Persons" as is anyone here with a green card. Corporations are in general legally recognised as persons for purposes of law.
The only things not legally recognised as "persons" under law historically in the US have fit into all of five categories: "Indians not taxed" (till 1879 and officially in 1924), slaves (given legal personhood all across the US in 1865, though the Southern states sure did their damndest to make sure freed slaves couldn't use this in practice), women (legally treated as property till the suffrage movement culminating in giving women the right to vote in 1920), kids...and animals.
Suffice it to say that I am officially Very Fucking Disturbed, Very Fucking Afraid for this country, and officially ready to cockpunch people who say "oh, the Russians were worse". At least the Russians merely tried to abuse their commitment laws rather than revoking personhood outright. (I am perhaps even more disturbed by knowing all too well--not just from my own experiences but from some rather public statements by certain neopentecostal dominionists who've been actively trying their own "Church-Hall Putsch" and have even gone to the point of not just calling for progroms against LGBT people but literally beating them to death in some cases and literally throwing shit at them and attempting to destroy their businesses in others. The same guy promoting this--who also happens to be a regional head of the denomination I am a walkaway from--has also called for LGBT people to be forcibly interned and "degayed", has literally compared Fairness supporters to anarchists (of note, anarchists were and are still one of the very few categories of people not allowed entry into the US) and has in fact called for all non-dominionists (including mainstream Christians) to be stripped of US citizenship and treated as "illegal aliens" (presumably targeting all of us who aren't actively "pleading the blood" in a manner suitable to dominionists for "extraordinary rendition"--and yes, they do talk about this sort of thing rather openly in their churches as a desirable thing) and in a followup speech to his fellow hatemongers actively stated that they were pretty much at war with anyone who wasn't a neopente dominionist flat-out.)
A possible novel suggestion for the lawyers--if they won't consider the inmates as "persons", perhaps the same tactic that the RSPCA used back in the 1800s to start up child welfare laws prohibiting 8-year-old kids from working in poorhouse sweatshops could be used? (Yes, there were more laws protecting animals than kids. The legal personhood of children wasn't yet recognised, so they used the existing statutes prohibiting animal cruelty to protect children until proper child welfare laws could be passed in Parliament.) I'm sure there are some sorts of DoD regs on animal welfare and/or federal anti-cruelty laws that could even apply to animals in areas of "extraordinary rendition", yes?