Saddam Saleh, a former prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison shows a picture, showing himself in the middle of the group of prisoners, during an interview with Reuters, in Iraqi capital Baghdad on May 17, 2004. Imprisoned at Abu Ghraib for four months, Saleh spent 18 days, 23 hours a day, chained naked by his arms and legs to the bars of his prison cell, and it was Charles Graner, he says, who meted out the worst of the torture, humiliation and abuse. Picture taken May 17, 2004. REUTERS/Oleg Popov OP/WS
Will US contractor CACI finally be punished for Abu Ghraib torture?

There still might be justice for three detainees who say private interrogators were on site and complicit in the heinous acts.

Who could possibly forget the infamous dog leash photo? The human pyramid? The female soldier posing with a “thumbs up” in front of a dead Iraqi prisoner?

The names Lynddie England, Janice Karpinksi and Charles Granier became synonymous with the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. But we know now that those who directed the torture from the Pentagon, who set the conditions on the ground in that prison, were never held truly accountable. The only ones who did time were the low ranking National Guardsmen and intelligence officers. Then-Brigadier Gen. Karpinski (who didn’t go to jail but was relieved of her command and was demoted in rank) was clearly the scapegoat among the top brass. 

Karpinksi always contended that she was sacrificed (and revelations since bear her out) and that the torture in part had been put into motion in part by interrogators supplied by the private defense contractor CACI. There is still hope, a thin thread, however, that CACI will be punished for its complicity in the torture, which not only included the aforementioned, Geneva Convention-violating atrocities, but according to the 13-year-old Center for Constitutional Rights suit on behalf of three former detainees: sensory deprivation, beatings, tasering, withholding of food and water, electric shocks, and sexual abuse.

We know that the so-called “torture memos” drafted by John Yoo, then-Assistant Attorney General in the Bush Administration, were used to set the gears in motion for what was called “harsh interrogation techniques” and U.S. detention centers across the Global War on Terror. We know Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller oversaw the Guantanamo Bay prison, at which there was widespread accusations of similar abuse. Evidence suggests that his deployment to Abu Ghraib to “Gitmoize” the Iraqi hellhole was instigated by none other than Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Apparently, mission accomplished.

CACI has denied all allegations and has contended that as a government contractor it is immune from lawsuits anyway, but in June the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear its appeal and the case is finally headed to trial. CACI had managed to get this case tossed out at least twice but it was reinstated upon appeal. They are trying for a third time, but at a hearing on Friday, the U.S. District Court judge overseeing the case seemed skeptical. So are we. We know how much the contractor has benefitted from our wars after 9/11 and how much money it put into lobbying for the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, the Center for International Policy and the Costs of War Project issued a new report finding that defense contractors received upwards of half of taxpayer-funded Pentagon budgets over the last 20 years. It is time they are held accountable for what they did with it.

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