This Week in Corruption: Abu Ghraib Torture Victims Ordered to Pay Interrogators' Legal Fees


Torture in Abu Ghraib by American soldiers was a "more serious blow to the United States than September 11, 2001 attacks. Except that the blow was not inflicted by terrorists but by Americans against themselves." – Archbishop Lajolo

From urinating on prisoners, to sexually assaulting them in public, employees of CACI International Inc. have been long suspected of involvement in shaming America before the global community in 2004. After 256 Iraqis accused them of torture, CACI employees were investigated by the Department of the Army, and were found to have misled investigators after endorsing abuse of Iraqi inmates at the hands of military police.

Sadly, it didn't take long for America to forget and forgive these grievances. Barely a decade from the horrifying revelations, we are silent as four released inmates are coerced into paying $14,000 each to CACI after U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee dismissed separate lawsuits filed by them in 2008 against CACI employees. The reason? According to Lee, the alleged acts took place on foreign soil, rendering CACI "immune from suit" in U.S. court. Not only are they denied the possibility of an impartial investigation, inmates who according to their plaintiffs "have very limited financial means" must now pay exorbitant fees for inconveniencing their potential torturers.

Interestingly, the U.S. District Court of Virginia made no attempt to answer the real question: how deeply were CACI employees involved in the Abu Ghraib abuse?

For all we know, not long before generating their $3.6 billion revenue for 2011, CACI may have broken every international law in Iraq on the treatment of prisoners.

In its public statements, CACI is vehement in taking strict action if its employees are found guilty of "acting improperly." But evidently, suing dirt-poor, tortured prisoners for large sums while making billions of dollars a year, not to mention shrugging off charges of abuse and torture, is not improper enough for CACI's radar.

That's right. We're talking about people hired by the U.S. government to safeguard our interests and protect the country.

As we are poised on the brink of launching another military operation in the Middle East, this ruling should come as a failing of the U.S. law system for every American citizen. The evidence is stark and ugly. The government and its contractors can successfully shield terrible war crimes with no ownership or accountability whatsoever.

True, war has become relatively less relevant to the our day-to-day lives, with no formal 'war tax' or military draft in contemporary America.

But just because we may not directly pay for or fight in a military operation, we cannot afford to silently condone the abuse of humans and laws by other Americans.