Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Man detained at Abu Ghraib files suit against two American military contractors

An Iraqi man who claims he was tortured while being held for ten months in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison has sued two U.S. military contractors for damages.
Emad al-Janabi's federal lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles, claims that employees of CACI International Inc. and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. punched him, slammed him into walls, hung him from a bed frame and kept him naked and handcuffed in his cell beginning in September 2003.

Also named as a defendant is CACI interrogator Steven Stefanowicz, known as "Big Steve." The suit claims he directed some of the torture tactics.

Phone messages left for Arlington, Va.-based CACI and New York City-based L-3 Communications, formerly Titan Corp., were not immediately returned Monday. There was no phone number listed for Stefanowicz at his Los Angeles address.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles because Stefanowicz lives there, seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The companies named provided interrogators and interpreters to assist the U.S. military at the notorious prison. When photos came out that showed horrific scenes of prisoner abuse and humiliation, the whole world reacted with horror. (The military promptly got down to business and scapegoated some low-level, undertrained and inexperienced reservists, and effectively ended to career of a female one-star, then "move along, nothing to see here" kicked in, and the idiots of the press complied.)

The investigation undertaken by the military determined that the abuse took place in 2003, and that timeline puts interrogators from both L-3 and CACI on site during that time.

Interviewed by the AP on Monday in Istanbul, al-Janabi said he hopes that he hopes the lawsuit serves to bring to light what happened to him and many others who were detained at the prison. "God willing the righteousness will emerge and God willing the criminal will receive his punishment," al-Janabi said. Al-Janabi, 43, said he was detained by U.S. troops during a late-night raid in which he and his family were beaten by their captors. He said he was taken to a military base where he was stripped naked, a hood was placed on his head and his hands and legs were chained.

"They (U.S. troops) did not tell me what was the reason behind my arrest ... during the interrogation, the American soldier told me I was a terrorist ... and I was preparing for an attack against the U.S. forces," said al-Janabi, who denied the accusation and claims he was forced to give confessions under "savage" intimidation.

The lawsuit also claims the contractors conspired in a cover-up by destroying documents and other information, hid prisoners during periodic checks by the International Red Cross and misled military and government officials about what was happening at Abu Ghraib.

Al-Janabi was released in July 2004 and wasn't charged with any crime, according to the lawsuit. He also was forced to form a human pyramid in the nude with other prisoners, according to the lawsuit, but his Philadelphia-based attorney Susan Burke said it wasn't known if he was in the infamous photo that became public.

"Most of this conduct was repeated on more than one occasion," Burke said.

At one point after passing out, al-Janabi said, he was told by an L-3 translator "welcome to Guantanamo." He said he even asked a cellmate whether he could see the ocean from a window.

"I lost the sense of time after the prolonged hours of abusive interrogation and thought that I was transported to Guantanamo," al-Janabi told the AP.The dehumanizing treatment these people were subjected to is a stain on our national honor, and the photos that emerged destroyed any chance we had of winning hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

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