Last week, 71 former inmates of Abu Ghraib, the infamous prison in Iraq, were awarded $5.28 million in compensation for the inhumane torture they received during their incarceration, following their 2008 lawsuit. This is the first case of former prisoners at Abu Ghraib being awarded financial compensation from a US defense contractor in lawsuits alleging torture.
Baher Azmy, who served as a lawyer for the ex-detainees, stated that each of the 71 Iraqis would receive a portion of the settlement; however, there was an agreement to keep the details of the allocation confidential. The lawsuit found that L-3 Services, US defense contractor, which has an ironically detailed Code of Ethics and Business Conduct available on its website, “permitted scores of its employees to participate in torturing and abusing prisoners over an extended period of time throughout Iraq.”
When L-3 services were accused of such allegations in 2008, they stated there were no facts or evidence to support the claims. Conveniently, now in 2013, Jennifer Barton, a spokeswoman for L-3, said the company does not comment on legal matters.
Still, no employee from L-3 Services has been charged with a crime, nor has the US military stopped the company from working for the government.
It has now been almost 9 years since the graphic photos were leaked from Abu Ghraib, showing only some of the barbaric torture techniques of certain US soldiers. Many horrendous stories have arisen from the torture prison over the years, several inmates stating they were raped, beaten and kept naked for extended periods of time.
Another contractor, CACI, is expected to go to trial over similar allegations this summer. Four Iraqis allege to have been tortured in Abu Grahib by interrogators that CACI provided to the U.S. military. CACI refuses to pay the demanded compensation and has chosen to continue its fight against the lawsuit.
In May of 2004, British journalist Robert Fisk wrote an article entitled, “Follow Torture Trail at Abu Ghraib,” which included a detailed account of CACI’s role in the prison.
According to J.P. London’s company, CACI International, the visit of London — sponsored by an Israeli lobby group and including U.S. congressmen and other defense contractors — was to promote opportunities for strategic partnerships and joint ventures between U.S. and Israeli defense and homeland security agencies.
His article also mentions that the Pentagon insisted to have only U.S. citizens be allowed to question prisoners in Abu Ghraib, but overlooked the cases of many American interrogators who hold dual citizenship.
Another incredibly brave report, the Taguba report, specifically references Steven Staphanovic and John Israel as people who should be held accountable for abuses at Abu Ghraib. Staphanovic, who worked for CACI, was said to have”allowed and/or instructed MPs (military police), who were not trained in interrogation techniques, to facilitate interrogations by ‘setting conditions’ … he clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse.”
In 2004, CACI stated that they “do not condone or tolerate or endorse in any fashion any illegal, inappropriate behavior on the part of its employees in any circumstances at any time anywhere.”
However, as Fisk put forth nine years ago, this is clearly not the case.
– Danielle Morland
(Featured image : slagheap, Creative Commons, Flickr)