Private Contractor Stephen Stefanowicz Sued For Abu Ghraib Torture
Former Iraqi detainees sue U.S. military contractors
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Four Iraqi men are suing U.S. military contractors who they say tortured them while they were detained in Abu Ghraib prison, according to lawsuits being filed at U.S. federal courts on Monday.
The lawsuits allege the contractors committed violations of U.S. law, including torture, war crimes and civil conspiracy.
The four plaintiffs, all later released without charge, described their experiences to Reuters on Monday at an Istanbul hotel, where they periodically meet their U.S. legal team. They gave accounts of beatings, electric shocks and mock executions.
The first suit was filed on Monday in Seattle, Washington, and the others were being filed in Maryland, Ohio and Michigan, where the contractors reside.
CACI provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib and L-3 provided translators at the prison.
Iraqis alleging Abu Ghraib abuse file first in series of lawsuits
Among the former prisoners who allege abuse is Emad al-Janabi. He is not one of the four civilians who are part of the initial series of lawsuits, but his allegations are similar to those of the other Iraqi men.
"They tried to pull my eyes out, the interrogator's fingers were in my eyes putting pressure," he told CNN in May. "I screamed and begged them to stop, but they wouldn't let go."
The 43-year-old said he was later released without charge, and now lives outside the country.
"The worst moment was when they took my clothes," he also told CNN. "And with their hands they would pinch me ... in my private parts. ... They asked me to stand motionless facing the wall and said if I moved I would be shot."
Abu Ghraib inmates sue contractors, claim torture
Allegations of abuse at the Baghdad prison first erupted in 2004 with the release of pictures of grinning U.S. soldiers posing with detainees, some naked, being held on leashes or in painful and sexually humiliating positions. Eleven U.S. soldiers were convicted of breaking military laws, and five others were disciplined in the scandal.
The contractors named as defendants in the lawsuit are CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and New York-based L-3 Communications Corp., formerly Titan Corp.
Three of the complaints were filed in U.S. district courts in Seattle, Greenbelt, Md., and Columbus, Ohio, jurisdictions where three former workers reside. The fourth was filed in Detroit, where L-3 recruited heavily for translators, according to that complaint.
Three of the lawsuits name individual employees of those companies as defendants. They are Adel L. Nakhla, a former L-3 translator, of Montgomery Village; Daniel "DJ" Johnson of Renton, Wash., who worked as a CACI interrogator, and Timothy L. Dugan of Pataskala, Ohio, who also worked as a CACI interrogator, according to the complaints.
Burke said all four plaintiffs were released from Abu Ghraib without charges after they were held for as long as four years and four months in the case of Dugan's accuser, Suhail Najim Abdullah Al Shimari, an Iraqi farmer.
Al Shimari claims he was subjected to electric shock, beaten, deprived of food and sleep, threatened with dogs, stripped naked, forcibly shaved and forced to watch Dugan and others choke another prisoner.
He claims Dugan, 48, beat an Iraqi civilian suspected of terrorism, threw him handcuffed and hooded from a vehicle, and dragged him across rocks.
Nakhla's accuser, Wissam Abdullateff Sa'eed Al-Quraishi, 37, of Amman, Jordan claims that Nakhla held Al-Quraishi down while a coconspirator poured feces on him.
Al-Quraishi also claims Nakhla and others stripped Al-Quraishi and other prisoners naked and piled them atop one another, separated by boxes.
Al-Quraishi also claims he watched Nakhla hold down a 14-year-old boy while an unidentified coconspirator sodomized the boy with a toothbrush.
Sa'adoon Ali Hameed Al-Ogaidi, a 36-year-old Arabic teacher from Baghdad, claims he was beaten by an unidentified L-3 translator, threatened with execution and stripped naked and paraded before other prisoners.
Johnson's accuser is Mohammed Abdwaihed Towfek Al-Taee of Baghdad. He claims an unidentified L-3 translator forced him to consume so much water that he vomited blood several times and then fainted. He claims the translator and others later tied a plastic line around his penis, preventing urination, and made him drink more, nearly killing him.
Meanwhile, the Uighurs in Guantanamo are still there, but a have been declared to have been improperly held there as enemy combatants by a federal appeals court::
Court Is Skeptical of U.S. Evidence in Guantánamo Case
In the first case to review the government’s secret evidence for holding a detainee at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, a federal appeals court found that allegations against an ethnic Chinese man held for more than six years were based on bare and unverifiable claims, according to the decision released Monday.
With some derision for the Bush administration’s arguments, a three-judge panel said the government contended that its allegations against a detainee should be accepted as true because they had been repeated in at least three secret documents.
The court compared that to the absurd declaration of a Lewis Carroll character: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”
“This comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true,” said the panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The unanimous panel overturned as invalid a Pentagon determination that a detainee, Huzaifa Parhat, a member of the ethnic Uighur Muslim minority in western China, was properly held as an enemy combatant.
Uighurs at Guantanamo
Walking in Circles
The appellate court’s opinion in Parhat’s case has not yet been released because it, too, contains classified information, but a redacted version is being prepared. Importantly, in the one-page order that has so far been released, the court told the government either to release or transfer Parhat, or—in what would be a pointless and agonizing exercise at this point—to hold a new set of administrative proceedings for him.
In the meantime, Parhat is living a life of useless tedium. He recently described his daily routine to his lawyer, who wrote:
Wake at 4:30 or 5:00. Pray. Go back to sleep. Walk in circles—north, south, east, west—around his 6-by-12 foot cell for an hour. Go back to sleep for another two or more hours. Wake up and read the Koran or look at a magazine (written in a language that he does not understand). Pray. Walk in circles once more. Eat lunch. Pray. Walk in circles. Pray. Walk in circles or look at a magazine (again, in a foreign language). Go back to sleep at 10:00 p.m.
Abdusemet, another Uighur at Guantanamo, has described days on end of doing nothing more than eating, praying, pacing, and sitting on his bed. “I am starting to hear voices, sometimes. There is no one to talk to all day in my cell and I hear these voices,” Abdusemet told his lawyer, worriedly.
“What did we do?” he asked. “Why do they hate us so much?”
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Here's a slight technical note. The D.C. Circuit didn't say that Parhat was improperly held; instead, they said the government presented insufficient evidence at the tribunal for the tribunal to have properly determined that Parhat was an enemy combatant. The court gave the government three options: "to release Parhat, to transfer him, or to expeditiously convene a new Combatant Status Review Tribunal to consider evidence submitted in a manner consistent with this opinion." At the same time, the court said Parhat could go ahead with a habeas petition in federal district court, as provided for by the Supremes recently in Boumediene.
by coyote @ Mon Jun 30, 2008 at 19:35:43 PM PDT