Looking at Surftrail
Steamy Thursday Morning

The Center for Constitutional Rights Doing Ashcroft's Job for Him

Here is a terrific approach to the problem of what to do about errant private military firms. The Center for Constitutional Rights has filed suit. While it would have been nice if the Justice Department had made some effort to file criminal charges against civillian contractors involved in the torture scandal and maybe even make a few arrests, there are other avenues to justice. And even if the government chooses not to pursue it, laws against torture are on the books here. So I think this is an approach with some real teeth to it:

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.Ý 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 and John Israel of CACI, Inc. and Adel Nahkla of Titan, directed and participated in illegal conduct at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.Ý Further it alleges that CACI International and Titan created a joint enterprise with a third party that became known as Team Titan.Ý The joint enterprise was hired by the U.S. 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.ÝÝ

According to the Complaint, the plaintiffs in the case suffered at the hands of Defendants and their co-conspiring government officials.Ý Plaintiffs endured the following:Ý
€ÝBeing hooded and raped
€ÝBeing forced to watch their father tortured and abused so badly that he died
€ÝRepeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects
€ÝBeing stripped naked and kept in isolation
€ÝBeing urinated on and otherwise humiliated
€ÝBeing prevented from praying and otherwise abiding by their religious practices

The Financial Times has a story on the suit: Contractors in Iraq face class-action lawsuit

The suit is noteworthy . . . in that it accuses the companies not merely of being negligent in supervising its employees, but of using torture as part of their business strategy.

Let's all give CCR money to pursue this. DONATE HERE!

(See also my post John Israel Has Been Found. Will Ashcroft Prosecute?.)

UPDATE: Fox News makes an interesting point about the suit, namely that it makes use of laws previously used to prosecute organized crime:

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego, where Titan, the larger of the two defendants, is headquartered. It alleges violations of theÝRacketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (search), the 1970 law that often is used by government prosecutors to go after organized crime.

As I have remarked before, it is very difficult to distinguish an errant private military firm from organized crime.

I do wonder why SOS, John Israel's employer was not named in the suit. They should be.

MEANWHILE, memorial services shown on a big screen TV in the elemenatry school cafeteria. Peter took a very pragmatic attitude: Well, if he died and he has a son, then his son can have his stuff. I replied that yes, he had a son and that his son grew up to be a ballet dancer. I Peter found this a truly fascinating fact.

(I wonder if this son is dead, since he doesn't seem to be part of this celebration. From the media coverage, one would think George W. Bush was Reagan's son.)

From the coverage on the CNN web site, I can only imagine what their TV coverage is like. I'm really glad we don't have cable. Why, exactly, are pictures of a plane taking off carrying Reagan's corpse or of people standing in line newsworthy?

But since the Reaganfest will be on all week, my friend Ken Houghton is taking suggestions for music to mourn Reagan by. Here is his list so far:

1. Bonzo Goes to Washington, "Five Minutes"
2. Don Henley, "The End of the Innocence" (may replace with "If Dirt were Dollars" for the Fawn Hall reference)
3. Earth, Wind, and Fire, "System of Survival"
4. The Ramones, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg"
5. The Dead Kennedys's "California Uber Alles."

Further suggestions are welcome.