Abu Ghraib Torture Victims Sued by Their Torturers
Defense contractor's move follows judge's dismissal of victims' charges of war crimes; lawyers say counter-suit is form of 'intimidation and punishment'
'Defense' contractor CACI International has taken the shocking step of suing four former Abu Ghraib detainees who are seeking redress in U.S. courts for the company's role in torturing, humiliating and dehumanizing them, with the U.S. corporation recently requesting that the judge order the plaintiffs—all of whom are Iraqi—to pay CACI for legal costs.
CACI is demanding over $15,000 in compensation, mostly for witness fees, travel allowances and deposition transcripts, according to court documents.
"Given the wealth disparities between this multi-billion dollar entity and four torture victims, given what they went through, it's surprising and appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their rights to sue in U.S. courts," Baher Azny, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is working on the case, told Common Dreams.
Just weeks ago, a federal judge dismissed the former Abu Ghraib prisoners' lawsuit against CACI International on the grounds that because Abu Ghraib is oversees, it is beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts.
The plaintiffs are appealing the decision, with their lawyers arguing that a U.S. corporation operating in a U.S. military prison should be subject to U.S. law.
The ruling is expected to have far-reaching ramifications for the shadowy networks of private contractors who operate in war-torn Iraq under veils of secrecy and with near-immunity, despite widely documented war crimes.
The plaintiffs charge that CACI was part of a conspiracy to subject the defendants to "electric shocks; repeated brutal beatings; sleep deprivation; sensory deprivation; forced nudity; stress positions; sexual assault; mock executions; humiliation; hooding; isolated detention; and prolonged hanging from the limbs."
All of the Iraqi plaintiffs were released without charges, and they continue to suffer severe physical and psychological effects from their torture.
Their lawyers say they will appeal the dismissal of a case they say is rock-solid.
"Our case is based on reports and investigations by high-level U.S. military investigators, recognizing CACI's role in conspiracy to torture detainees," Azny told Common Dreams. "Once we get past legal obstacles and present the case to a jury, we are hopeful justice will come to these Iraqi victims."