by Stephen Lendman
A previous article titled Good News and Bad said when something good surfaces, reporting it should follow. There's so precious little around.
Two lawsuits against private military contractors (PMCs) offer encouragement. Both were brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed them on behalf of tortured and abused plaintiffs.
They were held at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison. America mistreats everyone held there. It's official policy in all US torture prisons.
A confidential settlement resolved Al-Quraishi v. L-3 Services, Inc. CCR sued L-3 Services, Inc. (formerly Titan Corp.) and Adel Nakhla, it former employee.
It was brought on behalf of 72 Iraqi plaintiffs. They charged torture, war crimes, and other forms of abuse. On July 29, 2010, Judge Peter Messittee denied Defendants' motions to dismiss.
On September 21, 2011, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals three-member panel reversed the district court and dismissed the case.
On October 5, 2011, plaintiffs petitioned for rehearing en banc (the full court). On November 8, the Fourth Circuit granted a rehearing.
On November 23, L-3 filed its brief. On December 10, plaintiffs filed their own. On December 19 and 20, amicus briefs supported them.
On January 27, 2012, oral arguments were heard. On May 11, the Court dismissed L-3's appeal. It remanded the case to the district court for rehearing. On October 10, a confidential settlement was reached.
Although terms aren't known, plaintiffs won a significant victory. L-3 Services and Nakhla "directed and participated in torture and other illegal conduct." They did so at Abu Ghraib and other Iraq prisons.
CCR charged defendants with "torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; war crimes; assault and battery; sexual assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring and supervision; and negligent infliction of emotional distress."
Other counts included "civil conspiracy," as well as aiding and abetting it. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages. Acts they were subjected to included:
"rape and threats of rape and other forms of sexual assault; electric shocks; repeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects; prolonged hanging from limbs; forced nudity; hooding; isolated detention; being urinated on and otherwise humiliated; and being prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices."
Plaintiff Wissam Abdullateef Sa'eed Al-Quraishi was hung on a pole for seven days. He was also subjected to beatings, forced nudity, electric shocks, humiliating treatment, mock executions, and other forms of torture and abuse.
For over 10 months, plaintiff Mr. Al-Janabi was tortured and abused repeatedly. Treatment included "having his eyes almost clawed out, being stripped naked and threatened with rape, being hung upside down until he lost consciousness, and being deprived of sleep for extended periods of time."
He and other plaintiffs were released uncharged.
CCR represented four other plaintiffs in Al Shimari v. CACI. They charged torture, abuse, and other illegal treatment at Abu Ghraib.
On March 18, 2009, CACI's motion to dismiss in part was denied. On September 21, a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel reversed the district court and dismissed the case.
On October 5, plaintiffs petitioned for an en banc rehearing. On November 8, Fourth Circuit judges ordered it. On November 29, CACI filed its brief. On December 19, plaintiffs filed their own. On December 20, amicus briefs supported them.
On May 11, 2012, the Fourth Circuit ruled for plaintiffs. They remanded their case to the district court for rehearing. On October 11, plaintiffs petitioned to reinstate Alien Tort Statute claims. On November 1, their motion was heard.
Initially, plaintiffs sued L-3 Services, CACI, and its former employee, Timothy Dugan. Both companies conducted interrogation and translation services at Abu Ghraib and other Iraq torture prisons.
L-3 Services and Dugan no longer are defendants. Charges claim CACI "directed and participated in illegal conduct, including torture, at" Abu Ghraib.
CCR filed suit under ATS provisions. Plaintiffs charged:
"torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; war crimes; assault and battery; sexual assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring and supervision; and negligent infliction of emotional distress."
Other counts included "civil conspiracy," as well as aiding and abetting it. Plaintiffs seek compensatory and punitive damages. They were subjected 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."
Plaintiffs are innocent Iraqi civilians. They were released uncharged. They still suffer from physical injuries and mental trauma. They demand redress.
Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari was detained from 2003 until 2008. He endured electric shocks, food deprivation, threats by dogs, and nudity while "forced to engage in physical activities to the point of exhaustion."
Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was detained from 2003 until 2005. He was tortured, humiliated, deprived of oxygen, food, and water, tasered in the head, and severely beaten.
Broken limbs and vision loss resulted. Cuffed and shackled to cell bars, he was forcibly subjected to sexual acts by a female. He was also forced to witness a female prisoner's rape.
Sa'ad Hamza Hantoosh Al-Zuba'e was imprisoned from 2003 - 2004. He endured extremely hot and cold water, beating his genitals with a stick, and detaining him in a solitary cell under conditions of sensory deprivation for almost a full year.
Salah Hasan Nusaif Jasim Al-Ejaili was detained for about four months. He was stripped, kept naked, threatened with dogs, deprived of food, beaten, and kept him isolated under sensory deprivation conditions.
Previous articles discussed private military contractors (PMCs). They're used tactically as combatants, for training, advice, personal security, technical expertise, intelligence gathering, weapons systems management, transportation, and other non-combatant services.
Those performing security functions are hired gun paramilitaries. They're unprincipled for a buck. Most often, they're unaccountable under international and domestic laws. They're licensed to torture, abuse, and kill with impunity. Exceptions prove the rule.
Abuses are widespread. Prosecutions rarely follow. Instead of restoring order, maintaining peace and security, upholding rule of law principles, facilitating reconstruction and development, providing essential needs, they terrorize populations with impunity.
They operate in dozens of countries. Nearly always, torture, abuse of all kinds, rape, human trafficking, and other crimes go unpunished.
Companies like Blackwater (now Academi), DynCorp, CACI, L-3 Services, and others don't show up with olive branches. They come to rape, torture, abuse and kill with impunity and be well-paid for it.
Since the 1990s, hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent outsourcing services military personnel used to perform at far lower cost.
Spending is out-of-control. Waste, fraud, and anything goes malfeasance is commonplace. Profiteering results in vast amounts of money thrown away. Black budgets conceal how much. Minimally, it's in the tens of billions of dollars annually.
Favored companies get no-bid contracts. Oversight is virtually nonexistent. Instead of stopping bad practices, they proliferate. Media scoundrels suppress the worst of what goes on. A culture of impunity combines profiteering with out-of-control criminality.
CCR's work provides a tiny ray of hope. It's mostly lost in an ocean of malfeasance of the worst kinds.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.