Scottish Census contractor and human rights abuser CACI has won its battle for immunity from US law. On 21 September 2011 a US Federal Appeals Court in Virginia dismissed the case brought against CACI by 4 former Abu Ghraib prisoners ("Al Shimari v CACI International"). They did so not because they rejected the evidence against CACI, but because they believed CACI's integration into the US military renders it immune to this sort of lawsuit. The ruling follows the pattern set by a US Supreme Court ruling in June.
At the end of June 2011 the US Supreme Court refused to overturn a decision by a federal appeals court preventing former Abu Ghraib detainees from bringing a lawsuit ( "Saleh et al v. Titan et al ") against CACI International Incorporated and Titan Corporation (now L-3 Services) over their alleged torture.
The appeals court had ruled in January 2010 that contractors are shielded from lawsuits for wartime activities that are closely supervised by the military. In April 2010 lawyers for the former detainees filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court. On October 4, 2010, the Supreme Court invited the Acting Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the views of the US administration. Unsurprisingly, the Solicitor General took the view that the petition should be denied. On June 27, 2011, the Supreme Court issued an order denying the petition for certiorari, thereby ending this case and allowing the earlier appeals court ruling to stand.
More about the case
Members of the military have faced court-martial proceedings for events at Abu Ghraib, but no private contractors have faced criminal charges.
A second closely-related case ("Al Shimari v. CACI et al.") was ordered in March 2011 to be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the Saleh v Titan case. On 21 September 2011, the Appeals Court in Virginia the case in a 2-1 majority ruling, saying that the claim by the former prisoners was "preempted by federal law." The dissenting judge, Robert King, was sharply critical of the majority view, saying "The majority makes no attempt to conceal the sweeping breadth of the preemption doctrine it adopts today."
Read the full ruling
The US has now blocked all forms of redress in U.S. courts for hundreds of victims of the U.S. torture program. To date, no victim of post-9/11 policies has been allowed his day in court.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the former Abu Ghraib detaineees, said after the June Supreme Court ruling:
"... this marks an end to the U.S.’s claim that no other country may exercise jurisdiction over crimes of torture perpetrated by Americans. Where justice is denied in the United States, universal jurisdiction and the Convention Against Torture allow prosecutions in other nations."
So now it's up to us. CACI doesn't deserve to chalk up a successful census in Scotland and return to business as usual.
Many people in Scotland have protested at CACI's involvement in the census either by failing to complete their census forms or by returning their forms partially completed. They may now face prosecution. We need to make sure that every case that goes through the courts in Scotland serves to highlight CACI's involvement in torture and abuse.
More information: www.ethicalcensus.org.uk