Obama Administration: Continuing the Bush Abu Ghraib Torture Cover Up

By Kenneth J. Theisen 

The Obama Administration has once again taken a stand in favor of covering up the crimes of the Bush regime.

On May 27, 2011 in an amicus brief, Obama’s Acting U.S. Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, advised the Supreme Court not to hear a 2004 lawsuit that claims employees of U.S. corporate military contractors CACI and Titan (now L-3 Services) participated in torture and other heinous and illegal acts committed against Iraqi detainees while they were employed to provide interrogation and interpretation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq. The case is Haidar Muhsin Saleh, et al. v. Titan Corporation, et al.

The lawsuit was brought by some 250 civilians tortured and seriously harmed by the defendant contractors at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the detainees’ legal team.

This suit was brought under the “Alien Tort Statute”. According to the plaintiffs, defendants committed violations of state, federal and international law, including torture; cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment; war crimes; crimes against humanity; negligent hiring and supervision, and sexual assault and battery. 

The plaintiffs claim they were subjected to rape and threats of rape and other forms of sexual assault; being forced to watch a family member being tortured and abused so badly that he died; repeated beatings, including with chains, boots and other objects; forced nudity; hooding; being detained in isolation; being urinated on and otherwise humiliated; and being prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices. The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants.

Plaintiffs’ Attorney Susan L. Burke stated, “This litigation should be allowed to contribute to the true history of Abu Ghraib. These innocent men were senselessly tortured by U.S. companies that profited from their misery. These men came to U.S. courts because our laws, as they have for generations, should allow their claims to be heard here.”

The detainees’ lawyers argued that the U.S. Supreme Court should hear the case because a previous September 2009 appellate decision, which dismissed the suit in a 2-1 decision, gave the corporate defendants even more protections than U.S. soldiers enjoy and constituted judicial overreaching. The plaintiffs’ brief further argued that military investigations had found the contractors participated in torture at Abu Ghraib. In October 2010, the Supreme Court invited the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief in this case expressing the views of the U.S. Government.

Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights Katherine Gallagher stated, “The Obama Administration’s brief acknowledges the serious flaws in the lower court’s decision that cost the Abu Ghraib victims their day in court, but it ultimately says that justice for torture victims is not worth the Supreme Court's time. The torture survivors are entitled to have their claims against U.S. corporations heard on the merits in a U.S. court.”

The two corporate defendants in this case are just two of the many corporations contracted to assist the U.S. government in its war crimes in the Iraq war and other imperialist adventures. These companies made hundreds of billions in profits and continue to do so in U.S. imperialist wars.

The Obama administration, like the Bush regime, has done all in its powers to protect its corporate partners in crime.  Previously the government went out of its way to protect telecommunications companies from lawsuits for their cooperation in massive spying on Americans in an expansion of the FISA statute.  In still another example, the government under Obama asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit against the airline that participated in extraordinary rendition kidnappings. This latest “advice” to the Supreme Court is part and parcel of government’s policy.

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