Abu Ghraib Litigation Comes Back to the U.S.

Abu Ghraib Litigation Comes Back to the U.S.

I hadn’t known about these cases, which I suppose were inevitable.

If Iraqi farmer Suhail Najim Abdullah al-Shimari is telling the truth, he was repeatedly tortured at Abu Ghraib and other prisons near Baghdad for more than four years by U.S. military contractors paid with your tax dollars.

With neither military nor civilian courts having yet to charge any private contractors with criminal charges stemming from the alleged torture, al-Shimari and three other men detained at Abu Ghraib are getting personal.

The former prisoners — three Iraqis and one Jordanian — filed civil lawsuits June 30 in four U.S. District Courts that have jurisdiction where each of their alleged torturers live or were hired: Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; Maryland; and Michigan.

The four complaints can be found here. Interestingly, they are not limited to international law claims under the Alien Tort Statute, but appear to also allege state law torts, such as negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. This looks like a complex choice of law fight, since all the alleged activities occurred in Iraq. Still, these are sophisticated lawsuits and the defendants are going to have a serious fight on their hands.

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Benjamin Davis
Benjamin Davis

Yes, I wonder if persons really thought that those who were tortured and released would just “go away.” I understand that in Amman, Jordan an organization of former detainees is being created (some of them having been examined by Physicians for Social Responsibility). It will be interesting to see how these cases play out – I suspect that there will be a “government contractor immunity” defense argued like the Agent Orange cases from the Vietnam days – though I wonder if the court’s will be so sanguine as they were in the Agent Orange cases about these cases.