Originally published at Digital Journal
A US defense contractor whose employees tortured Iraqi detainees in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison is suing four of its victims following a federal judge’s dismissal of their torture lawsuit on jurisdictional grounds.
The Washington Post reports CACI International, a Virginia-based corporation that provides information solutions and services in support of national security missions, has requested that a federal judge order the Iraqi plaintiffs in the dismissed torture suit to pay $15,580 to cover witness fees, travel allowances, deposition transcripts and other legal costs.
The plaintiffs argue that they “have very limited financial means, even by non-US standards, and dramatically so when compared to the corporate defendant in this case,” according to a court filing.
Indeed, while the average income in Iraq is under $6,000 per year, CACI’s 2012 profits topped $167 million. The company is among the 20 largest defense contractors in the world, and has been widely accused of war profiteering.
“At the same time, plaintiffs’ serious claims of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and war crimes were dismissed on very close, difficult– and only recently arguable– grounds,” the court filing continues.
CACI employees, who were hired by the US government to handle interrogation and translation in Iraqi prisons including Abu Ghraib, not only tortured detainees but also encouraged US troops at the prison to do likewise. According to the plaintiffs’ lawsuit, CACI employees committed or conspired to commit torture, including “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.”
In a report on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, US Army Major General Antonio Taguba concluded that more than 60 percent of the civilian detainees imprisoned by the US military at Abu Ghraib were innocent.
All of the Iraqi plaintiffs in the CACI case were released from Abu Ghraib without being charged. They still suffer from severe physical and psychological effects as a result of being tortured.
Baher Azny, legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), told Common Dreams that CACI’s countersuit against the tortured Iraqis “appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish” them “for asserting their rights to sue in US courts.”
Gerald Bruce Lee, the federal judge who dismissed the plaintiffs’ case against CACI, did not rule on torture suffered at its employees’ hands. Instead, he rejected the case because CACI’s crimes occurred overseas. While the legal principle of universal jurisdiction has been embraced by jurists in at least 15 nations and has been famously applied in the cases of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, former Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic, former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor and a host of other war criminals throughout the developing world, US courts overwhelmingly reject universal jurisdiction, largely out of fear that it could be used in attempts to bring US war criminals to justice.