Today: May 24, 2024
Today: May 24, 2024

Abu Ghraib military contractor warned bosses of abuses 2 weeks after arriving, testimony reveals

Share This
LA Post: Abu Ghraib military contractor warned bosses of abuses 2 weeks after arriving, testimony reveals
April 17, 2024
MATTHEW BARAKAT - AP

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A civilian contractor sent to work as an interrogator at Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison resigned within two weeks of his arrival and told his corporate bosses that mistreatment of detainees was likely to continue.

Jurors saw the October 2003 email from Rich Arant, who worked for military contractor CACI, during testimony Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by three Abu Ghraib survivors. The former prisoners are suing CACI, alleging that the Reston-Virginia based company shares responsibility for the mistreatment they endured.

CACI had a contract to supply interrogators to the Army after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and scrambled to supply the needed personnel. The first CACI interrogators arrived at Abu Ghraib on Sept. 28 of that year.

Arant sent his resignation letter to CACI on Oct. 14. He informed his bosses about his concerns over the handling of prisoners, including what he described as an unauthorized interview of a female inmate by male interrogators. He wrote that “violations of the well-written rules of engagement will likely continue to occur.”

CACI senior officials took no action in response to Arant's resignation letter, according to CACI's lawyers. Subsequent investigations showed that horrific abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, including physical and sexual assaults of inmates, continued for months until the Army launched an investigation in January 2004.

Shocking photos of the abuse became public in April 2004, resulting in a worldwide scandal.

The trial now going forward in U.S. District Court in Alexandria has been delayed by 15 years of legal wrangling and multiple attempts by CACI to have the case dismissed. It is the first lawsuit brought by Abu Ghraib detainees to be heard by a U.S. jury.

In a 2021 pretrial hearing, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema warned CACI that Arant's email “would be a smoking gun in almost any piece of litigation.”

“I’m amazed that nobody at CACI would have wanted to follow up on that type of a memo,” Brinkema said, according to a transcript of that hearing. “Did anybody probe the Arant e-mail? Did anybody speak with him and find out exactly what it was about Abu Ghraib that was troubling him?”

CACI's lawyers have acknowledged that Arant's resignation did not prompt any type of follow-up. But they have said his email doesn't actually detail any abuses by CACI interrogators, only the misconduct of Army soldiers over which the company had no control.

“That is somebody saying, ‘I don’t like the way that soldiers are doing interrogations, but CACI people are clean as a whistle here,'" CACI lawyer John O'Connor said at the 2021 hearing.

Subsequent investigations conducted by the Army found that three CACI interrogators — among dozens who were sent to Abu Ghraib — had engaged in detainee abuse. The interrogators used unauthorized dogs, humiliated inmates by forcing them to wear women's underwear, forced detainees into stress positions, and directed a military police sergeant to push and twist a nightstick into a detainee's arm, the investigations found.

On Wednesday, jurors heard videotaped testimony from retired Maj. Gen. George Fay, who led one of the investigations.

On cross-examination, CACI lawyers asked Fay whether he could link any of the abuses involving CACI contractors to any of the three plaintiffs in the case. Fay said he could not. Many of the specific instances of abuse outlined in Fay's report were inflicted on Iraqi police officers who were thought to have been involved in smuggling a gun into the prison. None of the plaintiffs were police officers.

CACI has argued that even if the plaintiffs suffered abuse, the company should not be held liable unless there's proof that CACI interrogators were directly involved.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that issue is irrelevant, because they argue that CACI's interrogators played a key role in creating the overall abusive environment at Abu Ghraib by encouraging military police to “soften up” detainees for questioning.

Popular

Singapore says investigators have data for flight hit by turbulence

Singapore investigators examining flight SQ321 that was hit by severe turbulence have obtained data from the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, Singapore Transport

Singapore says investigators have data for flight hit by turbulence

Kabosu, the face of cryptocurrency Dogecoin, dies at 18, owner says

Kabosu, the Japanese dog that became a global meme and the face of alternative cryptocurrency Dogecoin has died at 18, her owner announced in a blog post on Friday.

Kabosu, the face of cryptocurrency Dogecoin, dies at 18, owner says

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who skewered fast food industry, dies at 53

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, an Oscar nominee whose most famous works skewered America’s food industry and who notably ate only at McDonald’s for a month to illustrate the dangers of a fast-food diet, has died of cancer

Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who skewered fast food industry, dies at 53

New lawsuit accuses Sean 'Diddy' Combs of sexually abusing college student in the 1990s

A woman who says Sean “Diddy” Combs subjected her to violence and abuse over several years in the 1990s has filed a lawsuit in New York accusing the rapper of sexual assault, battery and gender-motivated violence

New lawsuit accuses Sean 'Diddy' Combs of sexually abusing college student in the 1990s

Related

Workers at Georgia school bus maker Blue Bird approve their first union contract

Workers at Georgia school bus maker Blue Bird approve their first union contract

Stocks slip as inflation fears eclipse AI fever

Stocks slip as inflation fears eclipse AI fever

Siemens likely to transfer Siemens Energy stake to pension fund, CFO says

Siemens likely to transfer Siemens Energy stake to pension fund, CFO says

Walmart, Capital One end consumer credit card agreement

Walmart, Capital One end consumer credit card agreement
- Advertisement -
Advertisement: Limited Time Offer