May 31, 2011, WASHINGTON -- The Obama Administration struck a blow to the protection of fundamental human rights by recommending that the U.S. Supreme Court not hear the case of 250 civilians allegedly tortured and seriously harmed by corporate contractors at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison, according to the detainees’ legal team.
Attorney Susan L. Burke, of Burke PLLC, said, “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.”
On Friday, the Acting Solicitor General advised the Supreme Court not to hear a 2004 lawsuit that alleges employees of U.S. corporate military contractors CACI and Titan (now L-3 Services) participated in torture and serious abuses while they were hired to provide interrogation and interpretation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq.
The detainees’ lawyers argued that the Supreme Court should hear the case because a September 2009 appellate decision, which dismissed the suit in a 2-1 decision, gave corporate contractors more protections than U.S. soldiers enjoy and constituted judicial overreaching. The plaintiffs’ brief noted that military investigations had found 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.
Katherine Gallagher, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, “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.”
Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, P.C., said, “We are very disappointed. By filing this Supreme Court brief, the U.S. is sending the world a terrible message about justice and democracy.”
The Abu Ghraib victims are represented by Burke PLLC, of Washington, D.C.; Motley Rice LLC, of Mt. Pleasant, S.C.; the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Akeel & Valentine, P.C., of Troy, Mich.
The case is “Haidar Muhsin Saleh, et al. v. Titan Corporation, et al.,” No. 09-1313. Filings in the case are available here