This may ultimately come as no surprise, but yet another party connected to the torture and abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib circa 2004 may get off with little more than a slight taint on their reputation.
At this point it is part of the record in at least two official investigations including the Taguba Report and the commonly known “Fay Report,” that that the Arlington, Va.-based private contractor CACI had fielded interrogators who helped to intimidate, harass and physically assault prisoners at Abu Ghraib. That much was detailed in the official military investigations, no matter what CACI says, and everyone can access them easily enough.
But like most of the high-hats involved in the evil culture and brutal behavior we will forever associate with Abu Ghraib, CACI was never held accountable for its part (there were never any formal criminal charges brought against them). A small group of four former detainees who say CACI employees “directly” participated in their torture are trying to sue the company in civil court, but even that effort seems increasingly stacked against them. The case has already been dismissed once and is in appeals.
According to The Washington Post this morning, U.S District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee “is weighing whether a Supreme Court ruling in April (Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell),” and the failure of three plaintiffs to appear in court in the United States “should bring an end to the case.” The decision in Kiobel basically held that the Alien Tort Statute, on which much of the CACI case is being argued, only applies to conduct taking place in the U.S or on the high seas.
CACI says the Kiobel ruling means the Iraqis’ case no longer has jurisdiction in the the U.S court. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Baher Azmy, who works for the Center for Constitutional Rights, says the Abu Ghraib detention center under U.S command constituted a “U.S territory,” and furthermore, argues that unlike Kiobel, this case deals directly with “an American entity” and cannot be compared.
Even more outrageous is the idea that the case might be shut down if three of the Iraqis cannot make it to court in Virginia in person. Apparently, they’ve been trying to get here, but — surprise — some sort of bureaucratic snafu is preventing them from leaving Iraq. From The Washington Post, which was covering the court proceedings, in April:
Despite having visas and airline tickets, they were not permitted to travel to the United States last month, according to the same court document.
“There is some inexplicable block by some agency in the U.S. government that’s preventing them from coming here,” said Baher Azmy, an attorney for the detainees and legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “We’re trying to expedite the process.”
But May is winding down and they still can’t come over and there seems to be no relenting from the court in its insistence that the plaintiffs cannot participate in the proceedings via video. CACI actually has the nerve to say the plaintiffs’ inability to get here is “self-inflicted” because they have “detention records” with “ample evidence of derogatory information that would disqualify them from entering the United States.”
Since we have “ample evidence” that 70 to 90 percent of the detainees at the worst U.S operated detention centers including Abu Ghraib were arrested by mistake, it is hard to take CACI’s argument seriously. In fact it’s just another slap (punch?) in the former detainees’ faces. Best remember where they came from before raising up their “detention records” against them:
In January, Engility Holdings, on behalf of its subsidiary L3 — a U.S contracting company that provided translators to the U.S military in Iraq at its detention centers — paid over $5.2 million in settlement money to 71 former detainees who accused them of conspiring to abuse and torture them at Abu Ghraib and other U.S detention centers. CACI however is holding out, and sadly from the looks of it, it may pay off.