Prison Operator Demands Compensation from its Victims
Four innocent men are incarcerated in a United States-run prison, where they are tortured by employees of a United States corporation. It seems reasonable that they should seek, and receive, redress under U.S. law, in U.S. courts, right? Well, apparently not, according to a recent federal judge’s decision. On the other hand, the multi-billion dollar corporation in question apparently feels justified in asking the same judge to order the men to reimburse its legal expenses in the case. For a detailed recounting of the long, sorry history of Al Shimari vs. CACI et al, check out the website of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which brought the case on the men’s behalf. Here’s the quick version:
Under various names and corporate identities including “Titan Corporation,” CACI International, Inc. (motto: “Ever Vigilant”), provided interrogation “services” at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. military prison in Iraq. In the case of Mr. Al Shimari and three other prisoners, those services included “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 four were ultimately released without being charged with any crime. They continue to suffer physical and psychological symptoms in the aftermath of their imprisonment and torture.
When the four sued CACI for damages, however, their case was thrown out on the grounds that the U.S. court lacked jurisdiction, since the abuse took place overseas. Needless to say, the men have not the slightest chance of receiving any kind of justice against a U.S. corporation in Iraqi courts or anywhere else, so CACI effectively enjoys total immunity for its torture of these innocent men. As Common Dreams reporter Sarah Lazar wrote: “The ruling is expected to have far-reaching ramifications in the shadowy networks of private contractors who operate in war-torn Iraq under veils of secrecy and with near-impunity, despite widely documented war crimes.”
As to CACI’s insulting and punitive motion to make the four Iraqis pay for the corporation’s legal expenses (the company is demanding roughly $16,000 – undoubtedly far less than it cost for the company’s lawyers to prepare the filing, but a fortune for the Iraqi plaintiffs), Baher Azny, legal director for CCR, said “Given the wealth disparity between this multi-billion dollar entity and four torture victims…[this] appears to be an attempt to intimidate and punish these individuals for asserting their rights to sue in U.S. courts.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights serves all of us by insisting that our country live up to its founding principles. As long as you’re checking out their website, how about making a contribution to support their work.
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