Two U.S. corporations conspired with U.S. officials to humiliate, torture and abuse persons detained by U.S. authorities in Iraq according to a class action lawsuit filed June 9, 2004, by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Philadelphia law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads. The suit, filed in federal court in San Diego, names as defendants the Titan Corporation of San Diego, California and CACI International of Arlington, Virginia and its subsidiaries, and three individuals who work for the companies. It charges them with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and alleges that the companies engaged in a wide range of heinous and illegal acts in order to demonstrate their abilities to obtain intelligence from detainees, and thereby obtain more contracts from the government.
The lawsuit charges that three individual defendants, Stephen Stephanowicz of CACI, Inc., Adel Nahkla of Titan Corporation, and Titan subcontractor John Israel, directed and participated in illegal conduct at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. CACI and Titan were hired by the United States to provide interrogation services in Iraq.
The action also brings claims under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), and the 8th, 5th, and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as other U.S. and international laws.
According to the Complaint, the plaintiffs in the case suffered at the hands of Defendants and their co-conspiring government officials. Plaintiffs endured the following:
• Being hooded and raped
• Being forced to watch their father tortured and abused so badly that he died
• Repeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects
• Being stripped naked and kept in isolation
• Being urinated on and otherwise humiliated
• Being prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices
CACI and TITAN are publicly traded corporations that provide interrogation and translation services to U.S. government agencies. According to the complaint, beginning in January 2002, and continuing to the present, the two companies began providing services ranging from interrogation and interpretation to intelligence gathering and security. The complaint reveals that both companies were increasingly dependent on government contracts for revenue. Titan, for example, developed a unit known as “National Security Solutions,” which added 21 percent to its revenue growth in 2003.
“We believe that CACI and Titan engaged in a conspiracy to torture and abuse detainees, and did so to make more money,” said Susan Burke of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “It is patently clear that these corporations saw an opportunity to build their businesses by proving they could extract information from detainees in Iraq, by any means necessary. In doing so they not only violated a raft of domestic and international statutes but diminished America’s stature and reputation around the world.”
Jeffrey E. Fogel, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “CACI and Titan perpetrated brutal human rights abuses to obtain information, a practice that is not only barbaric but leads to false confessions. The modern way to describe this is outsourcing torture; in the old days we’d call these people mercenaries.”
Barbara Olshansky, Deputy Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “There is no excuse for delaying an investigation into the actions of corporations acting overseas on behalf of our government. Those involved in these human rights abuses must be immediately called to account for their immoral and illegal actions.”
Shereef Hadi Akeel of Melamed, Dailey & Akeel, said, “America is about accountability, and this lawsuit is intended to hold accountable those who are responsible for the wrongs they committed against our clients.”
Also representing the plaintiffs in this action are: attorneys Michael Ratner, Jennifer Green and Judith Chomsky and human rights fellow Steven Watt of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Joyce S. Meyers of Montgomery, McCracken.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.