Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Appeals court revives Iraq contractor torture cases

Rueters  May 11, 2012

A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived two lawsuits accusing employees of two defense contractors of conspiring to torture and abuse Iraqis detained at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and at other locations.

A 14-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, based in Richmond, Virginia, refused to intervene and dismiss the suits against CACI International Inc and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc, sending the cases back to district courts for further proceedings.

After the military invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States hired contractors from U.S.-based CACI and L-3 to provide translators and help conduct investigations. In 2004, photographs emerged depicting the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. A number of military personnel were disciplined, but no contractors were charged.

In 2008, a number of Iraqis filed suits against CACI and L-3, accusing their employees of inflicting physical and sexual abuse, electric shocks and mock executions on prisoners.

District courts in Virginia and Maryland rejected the companies’ attempts to dismiss the suits. The companies had filed an interim appeal, before the cases could proceed, asking the 4th Circuit to throw out the claims. They pointed to a 2009 ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., that had dismissed a similar suit against the companies — a decision the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand.

In September 2011, a split three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit ruled in the companies’ favor, finding that the companies had immunity as government contractors and that the claims were pre-empted by U.S. national security and foreign policy law.

But after agreeing to reconsider the appeal, a larger panel of the 4th Circuit reached the opposite

conclusion on Friday in a 12-2 decision that splintered the court, drawing five separate opinions. The companies did not qualify for an immediate appeal, and their claims of immunity needed to be developed through the discovery of evidence, the majority concluded.

Accepting the early appeal would “undermine efficient judicial administration and encroach upon the prerogatives of district court judges, who play a special role in managing ongoing litigation,” Judge Robert King wrote for the majority.

Two judges dissented in separate opinions. The majority’s ruling “inflicts significant damage on the separation of powers, allowing civil tort suits to invade theaters of armed conflict,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson wrote, arguing for the defense contractors’ immunity.

A spokeswoman for CACI said the company was reviewing the ruling and declined to comment. L-3 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Baher Azmy, a lawyer for the Iraqi plaintiffs with the Center for Constitutional Rights, described the ruling as a significant jurisdictional decision that would provide the Iraqis with their day in court.

The Justice Department had filed an amicus brief in the appeal, arguing that the Iraqis should be allowed to sue the contractors for damages.

The case is Al Shimari et al v. CACI International Inc et al, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, No. 09-1335

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, L-3 | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Government Upholds Accountability for Contractors Who Torture

Human Rights First  January 27, 2011

Today, the U.S. government exercised moral leadership when it argued before a full panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that private military contractors who commit torture should not be immune from civil suits.

The companion cases—Al Shimari v.CACI and Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla—were brought by 76 Iraqis who allege they were tortured and abused by U.S. private military contractors at Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq. Among the alleged heinous acts: electric shocks, repeated brutal beatings, sleep and sensory deprivation, forced nudity, stress positions, sexual assault, mock executions, humiliation, hooding, isolated detention, and prolonged hanging by the limbs.

CACI International, Inc. and L-3 Services, Inc.—contracted to provide interrogation and interpretation services at Abu Ghraib—argued that they should be immune from civil suit. They relied on a “battlefield preemption” theory created by the D.C. Circuit in Saleh v. Titan, which held that where a civilian contractor engages in combat activities under the command of the military, a tort claim arising out of the contractor’s engagement is preempted.

On September 21, 2011, a 2-1 majority of the Fourth Circuit panel adopted that position, but in November the ruling was vacated so that a full panel could hear the case. Today, the full panel heard oral arguments from both parties as well as the U.S. government, which was invited by the Court to express its views.

In its brief, the United States says it has “significant federal interests at stake: ensuring that state-law tort litigation does not lead to second-guessing military judgments, protecting the primacy of existing tools for the government to regulate the conduct of contractors working on behalf of the United States (especially where civilian contractors work alongside service members in the military’s conduct of combat-related activities), and ensuring that military detention operations are conducted in a manner consistent with humane treatment obligations and the laws of war, and ensuring that contractors are held accountable for their conduct by appropriate means.” (emphasis added).

Taking all its interests into account, the U.S. government concludes that in circumstances where contractors have committed torture, they should not be immune from civil suits. By taking this position, not only does the United States meet its international human rights and law of war obligations but also advances its own interests. Specifically, it protects U.S. troops and civilians accompanying them abroad and bolsters national security.

Read Human Rights First’s amicus brief on Al Shimari v.CACI and Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla, and the letter HRF sent to the U.S. government’s Solicitor General regarding these cases.

January 27, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Department of Defense, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-CIA officer’s role in Abu Ghraib death probed

(AP) at CBS News   July 13, 2011

WASHINGTON – A CIA officer who oversaw the agency’s interrogation program at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and pushed for approval to use increasingly harsh tactics has come under scrutiny in a federal war crimes investigation involving the death of a prisoner, witnesses told The Associated Press.

Steve Stormoen, who is now retired from the CIA, supervised an unofficial program in which the CIA imprisoned and interrogated men without entering their names in the Army’s books.

The so-called “ghosting” program was unsanctioned by CIA headquarters. In fact, in early 2003, CIA lawyers expressly prohibited the agency from running its own interrogations, current and former intelligence officials said. The lawyers said agency officers could be present during military interrogations and add their expertise but, under the laws of war, the military must always have the lead

Yet, in November 2003, CIA officers brought a prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, to Abu Ghraib and, instead of turning him over to the Army, took him to a shower stall. They put a sandbag over his head, handcuffed him behind his back and chained his arms to a barred window. When he leaned forward, his arms stretched painfully behind and above his back.

The CIA interrogated al-Jamadi alone. Within an hour, he was dead

Please read the entire story at CBS News

July 13, 2011 Posted by | CIA, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , | Leave a comment

Abu Ghraib Inmates Lose U.S. High Court Bid to Sue Contractors

by Greg Stohr at Bloomberg News  June 27, 2011

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a lawsuit that accused two military contractors of abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, turning away an appeal by 26 onetime prisoners.

The inmates sought to sue CACI International Inc. (CACI), which helped interrogate prisoners at the facility, and Titan Corp., which provided translation services. Titan has since been renamed and is now part of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL)

The inmates, who were civilian detainees, said they were subjected to abuses by CACI and Titan employees including beatings, sexual humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures and rape. In court papers, the inmates said some prisoners were tortured into unconsciousness and several were murdered.

Abu Ghraib became an international embarrassment for the U.S. in 2004, when photographs surfaced showing guards mistreating inmates.

Please read the entire report at Bloomberg News

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Public urged to boycott census over contractor’s alleged torture link

The Guardian UK The Observer March 6, 2011

The public are being urged to boycott the census in Scotland over allegations that the parent company of a UK firm contracted to gather information has been linked to the torture of prisoners at Iraq‘s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Protesters say they are willing to break the law and face a criminal record and a £1,000 fine in an attempt to force the Scottish government to cancel the £18.5m contract it awarded to CACI (UK).

The London-based company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US contractor CACI International, which provided interrogators who worked at Abu Ghraib prison at the height of the prisoner abuse scandal. The prison became infamous in 2004 when disturbing images emerged of US soldiers abusing prisoners. The pictures included naked Iraqi detainees cowering from dogs, and US soldiers were later found to have perpetrated widespread torture.

Civilian staff working for private US security companies specialising in interrogation techniques were alleged to have been involved in some of the human rights abuses.  Please see the original article here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Department of “Little Justice”

Maybe the Department of Justice should be renamed the

Department of “Little” Justice

from Ms Sparky

MANHATTAN (CN) – After a federal jury convicted an Army captain of corruption with military contractors in Iraq, an attorney who has spent years on such cases said that such prosecutions are rare – and much needed. “For several years, we were very worried because we just saw a complete lack of any sort of fraud prosecution against defense contractors,” said.

“Given the dollars being spent on both these wars, it’s imperative for the United States to continue to root out fraud,” Burke added.

Burke, who has specialized in cases involving misconduct by contractors and military personnel, has represented victims of torture, abuse and murder at prison and Nisour Square in Iraq.

Last year, her Iraqi clients settled seven civil lawsuits alleging “senseless slaughter” by guards of the company formerly known as , now operating under the name Xe.

Burke says she still has three active lawsuits against defense contractors CACI and L-3, on behalf of Iraqis who say they were tortured at detention centers in Iraq.  See the entire post here

January 5, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | 2 Comments

CACI Announces Closing of New $750 Million Credit Facility

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct 22, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) –– CACI International Inc /quotes/comstock/13*!caci/quotes/nls/caci (CACI 45.72, -0.04, -0.09%) , a leading professional services and information technology provider to the federal government, announced today that it has replaced its existing senior secured credit facility with a new $750 million senior secured credit facility. The new facility comprises a $600 million revolver and a $150 million term loan. It enhances the company’s strong capital position and further increases CACI’s financial flexibility to capitalize on attractive opportunities in existing, adjacent, and new markets, organically and through acquisitions.

The five-year secured credit agreement permits revolver borrowings of up to $600 million and has an accordion feature that would allow the facility to be expanded by an additional $200 million. The interest rate for all borrowings under the facility will be at a variable rate initially equal to LIBOR plus 225 basis points per annum and may change based on the company’s total leverage ratio as described in the credit agreement. The new facility is subject to affirmative, negative, and financial covenants that are customary for this type of credit agreement.

Paul Cofoni, CACI’s President and CEO, said, “This new credit facility is an important step in executing our strategy to grow our company. It provides us with additional flexibility to take advantage of opportunities to complement the organic growth of our business and help further shareholder returns. Along with our strong cash flow, the facility enhances our mergers and acquisition program, where we continue to pursue potential candidates in well-funded and high-priority areas, particularly those firms that can bring us new customers and add to our distinctive services.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the administrative agent and joint book runner, with affiliates of JP Morgan Chase Bank, SunTrust Bank, Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, and Wells Fargo Bank also serving as joint book runners in the transaction.

CACI provides professional services and IT solutions needed to prevail in the areas of defense, intelligence, homeland security, and IT modernization and government transformation. We deliver enterprise IT and network services; data, information, and knowledge management services; business system solutions; logistics and material readiness; C4ISR integration services; cyber solutions; integrated security and intelligence solutions; and program management and SETA support services. CACI services and solutions help our federal clients provide for national security, improve communications and collaboration, secure the integrity of information systems and networks, enhance data collection and analysis, and increase efficiency and mission effectiveness. CACI is a member of the Fortune 1000 Largest Companies and the Russell 2000 index. CACI provides dynamic careers for approximately 12,900 employees working in over 120 offices in the U.S. and Europe. Visit CACI on the web at www.caci.com and www.asymmetricthreat.net.

There are statements made herein which do not address historical facts, and therefore could be interpreted to be forward-looking statements as that term is defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are subject to factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from anticipated results. The factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated include, but are not limited to, the following: regional and national economic conditions in the United States and the United Kingdom, including conditions that result from a prolonged recession; terrorist activities or war; changes in interest rates; currency fluctuations; significant fluctuations in the equity markets; changes in our effective tax rate; valuation of contingent consideration in connection with business combinations; failure to achieve contract awards in connection with recompetes for present business and/or competition for new business; the risks and uncertainties associated with client interest in and purchases of new products and/or services; continued funding of U.S. government or other public sector projects, based on a change in spending patterns, or in the event of a priority need for funds, such as homeland security, the war on terrorism or rebuilding Iraq, or an economic stimulus package; government contract procurement (such as bid protest, small business set asides, loss of work due to organizational conflicts of interest, etc.) and termination risks; the results of government investigations into allegations of improper actions related to the provision of services in support of U.S. military operations in Iraq; the results of government audit and reviews conducted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency or other governmental entities with cognizant oversight; the insourcing of contractor positions by the government; individual business decisions of our clients; paradigm shifts in technology; competitive factors such as pricing pressures and/or competition to hire and retain employees (particularly those with security clearances); market speculation regarding our continued independence; material changes in laws or regulations applicable to our businesses, particularly in connection with (i) government contracts for services, (ii) outsourcing of activities that have been performed by the government, and (iii) competition for task orders under Government Wide Acquisition Contracts (“GWACs”) and/or schedule contracts with the General Services Administration; the ability to integrate the operations of our recent acquisitions; our own ability to achieve the objectives of near term or long range business plans; and other risks described in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

SOURCE: CACI International Inc

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight | , , | Leave a comment

WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs: US Troops Abused Prisoners Years After Abu Ghraib

by Marcus Baram at Huffington Post

Stay tuned for more updates

Despite a vigorous attempt by the Pentagon to stop WikiLeaks from releasing 400,000 pages of documents about the Iraq War, the group is going ahead with its document dump on Friday night.

Most shockingly, the documents allegedly show that US troops abused prisoners for years even after the Abu Ghraib scandal and that the US ignored systemic abuse, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to several news reports.

The allegations of prisoner abuse by US troops from 2005 to 2009 occurred despite a crackdown on such behavior that was promised in the wake of the 2004 scandal over abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which reports that “303 allegations of abuse by coalition forces were reported in the military files after 2004.”

The reports date from August 2005 until the end of 2009. They began 16 months after the Abu Ghraib scandal. Forty-two of these involve allegations of serious abuses, including the use of electric shocks, beatings, water torture and mock executions. In nearly half of these, the claims are reported to be backed up by medical examinations carried out by US medical personnel.

The Guardian reports:

• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

Story continues below

The documents include accounts of Iraqi forces sodomizing and electrocuting prisoners, according to Al-Jazeera News, which has been collaborating along with The Guardian and Le Monde with WikiLeaks on the latest document dump.

In addition, Al-Jazeera is reporting that the documents include more revelations about prisoner abuse, the first official civilian deathcount, tales of murder at military checkpoints and the role of Blackwater, the controversial contractor.

The New York Times reports that the documents describe at least 6 deaths of prisoners in the custody of Iraqi military and police forces and a “ground-level look at the shadow war between US and Iraqi militias backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.” In addition to showing how the Iranian paramilitary group and Hezbollah have trained Shiite militia leaders involved in kidnapping and murder in Iraq, the reports demonstrate:

Citing the testimony of detainees, a captured militant’s diary and numerous uncovered weapons caches, among other intelligence, the field reports recount Iran’s role in providing Iraqi militia fighters with rockets, magnetic bombs that can be attached to the underside of cars, “explosively formed penetrators,” or E.F.P.’s, which are the most lethal type of roadside bomb in Iraq, and other weapons. Those include powerful .50-caliber rifles and the Misagh-1, an Iranian replica of a portable Chinese surface-to-air missile, which, according to the reports, was fired at American helicopters and downed one in east Baghdad in July 2007.

A Pentagon spokesman strongly condemned WikiLeaks’s upcoming release, noting that the documents “expose secret information that could make our troops even more vulnerable to attack in the future. Just as with the leaked Afghan documents, we know our enemies will mine this information looking for insights into how we operate, cultivate sources, and react in combat situations, even the capability of our equipment. This security breach could very well get our troops and those they are fighting with killed.”  Please read original here

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq | , , | Leave a comment

Iraqis’ Torture Case Against L-3 Services Proceeds

WASHINGTON, July 30 /PRNewswire/ — A group of 72 Iraqi citizens who allege they were tortured while imprisoned at detention facilities across Iraq can continue with their lawsuit against military contractor L-3 Services, Inc. and a former employee, a federal judge in Maryland ruled Thursday.

In a 92-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss the Iraqis’ federal and state court claims. He wrote, “On the facts alleged, Defendants’ actions arguably violated the laws of war such that they are not immune from suit under the laws of war.” The court also rejected claims of government contractor immunity defense.

“During wartime,” the Court wrote, “‘many things are lawful in that season, which would not be permitted in a time of peace.’ Some actions, however, have been deemed so repulsive to mankind, or so disconnected from prosecuting and winning a war, that they are universally condemned. The law of war attempts to rein in these behaviors. …One such universally recognized rule is that torture is prohibited.”

The former detainees, all of whom were released without charge, are represented by Susan L. Burke, of Burke PLLC in Washington, D.C.; Katherine Gallagher, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights; and Shereef Akeel, of Akeel & Valentine, PLC in Troy, Mich.

Susan Burke, of Burke PLLC, stated, “With the Court’s ruling, these innocent men are a step closer to completing the true history of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. These men were senselessly tortured by a company that profited from their misery. They came to U.S. courts because our laws, as they have for generations, allow their claims to be heard here.”

Katherine Gallagher, of the Center for Constitutional Rights, stated, “This thoughtful and thorough decision makes it crystal clear that when corporations, including those which contract with the government, engage in conduct that it universally condemned, they can be held accountable for their illegal acts. The court rightly found that the defendants’ status as a contractor cannot shield claims of war crimes and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment from review.”

The lawsuit alleges that L-3 employees, including Adel Nakhla, a U.S. citizen born in Egypt, tortured and otherwise physically and mentally abused the detainees who were arrested by coalition forces and held for up to four years between July 2003 and May 2008 at various detention facilities in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib.  See the entire press release here

July 30, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Government Made Me Do It?

by David Isenberg at Huff Post

Hmm, CACI can’t be very happy about this development. Almost about two years ago it announced the release of Our Good Name, A Company’s Fight to Defend Its Honor and Get the Truth Told About Abu Ghraib.

Written by company chairman Dr. J. Phillip (“Jack”) London and the CACI team who defended the company during the crisis the book recounted how the Iraqi Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004 dragged the Virginia-based contractor into the spotlight.

For those that have forgotten, CACI was one of two companies implicated in the scandal. CACI, provided interrogators and the other, Titan, provided translators. CACI provided 27 interrogators to work in detention centers in Iraq. Several worked at Abu Ghraib, including Steven Stephanowicz, who was named in General Antonio M. Taguba’s report on events in Abu Ghraib.

Among other things Gen. Tabuba found:

In general, US civilian contract personnel (Titan Corporation, CACI, etc …), third country nationals, and local contractors do not appear to be properly supervised within the detention facility at Abu Ghraib. During our on-site inspection, they wandered about with too much unsupervised free access in the detainee area.

Given that it was written by CACI and published by Regnery a conservative publishing house, it is unsurprising that the book found CACI blameless of all charges and that it was the victim of “erroneous and malicious reports by a rampaging media.”

But that was then and this is now. Most people have moved on and relegated Abu Ghraib to the ash heap of history and CACI had successfully put all this behind it. Indeed, just yesterday its latest quarterly results were announced

We are pleased to report record third quarter net income of $26.7 million, or $0.87 diluted earnings per share. This net income was a 21.6 percent increase over net income of $22.0 million, or $0.72 diluted earnings per share, for the same period last year. The 16.3 percent increase in revenue in the quarter was driven by organic growth of 14.2 percent, reflecting the continued strong performance of our defense and intelligence businesses.

Indeed, it won approximately $65 million in previously unannounced awards from the Intelligence Community.

And so CACI must be very happy; at least it probably was until this past Tuesday when the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) announced that it had asked the Supreme Court to take up the case against CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan).

CCR argues that the Supreme Court should hear the case because the Court of Appeals decision of September 11, 2009, gave corporate government contractors more protections than even U.S. soldiers enjoy, and constituted judicial overreaching. The lawyers also argued that the military’s own investigations had found CACI and L-3 employees participated in the torture, humiliation and dehumanization of the Iraqi civilians detained at Abu Ghraib. Finally, the lawyers argued that corporations could be held liable for war crimes, including torture, under international law.

The case it refers to is Saleh v. Titan, first filed in 2004, which is a federal lawsuit brought by more than 250 former Iraqi prisoners against private contractors CACI and L-3 Services that alleges the companies’ employees 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 suit charges defendants with torture and other war crimes, as well as common law torts including sexual assault and battery, and negligent hiring and supervision. The acts to which the plaintiffs alleged they were subjected at the hands of the defendants and certain government co-conspirators include: rape and threats of rape and other forms of sexual assault; being forced to watch a family member tortured and abused so badly that he died; repeated beatings, including beatings with chains, boots and other objects; forced nudity; hooding; being detained in isolation; being urinated on and otherwise humiliated.

The history of the case thus far is that on November 6, 2007, U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson denied CACI’s motion for summary judgment and ordered a jury trial against CACI. CACI appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In the same Order, Judge Robertson granted Titan’s motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case against Titan.

On September 11, 2009, in a 2-1 decision, a panel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the dismissal of all claims against Titan/L-3, and, reversing the district court’s decision, also dismissed all claims against CACI. Judge Merrick Garland, in his lengthy dissent, critiqued the “breadth of the protective cloak” that the majority “cast over the activities of private contractors.”

When one reads the suit one finds gems like this:

Respondent CACI admitted that CACI management was present at Abu Ghraib, and had the authority to stop their employees from torturing detainees. Respondent CACI claimed that their employees were nonetheless under the military’s command and control.

Of course, one wants to hear what CACI has to say about this new suit but one hope that its defense is something other than they were just following orders. Nuremberg-like defenses do not have much credibility these days. The government made me do it is not a sufficient defense for many regular military personnel and even less so for private contractors.

Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan

April 29, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Wartime Contracting | , , , | Leave a comment