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Abu Ghraib Torture Victims May Sue U.S. Corporation, Appeals Court Rules

This story is over a month old, but I don't recall seeing it posted here. It seems pertinent to recent discussions. Of course these are civil rather than criminal proceedings.

June 30, 2014, Richmond, VA – Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that victims of torture and abuse in Abu Ghraib prison could pursue legal claims for their abuse against private military contractors. The appeals court ruling overturned a lower court decision that had barred the survivors from suing U.S. corporations involved in the torture in U.S. courts. U.S. military investigators had determined in 2004 that private U.S.-based contractor CACI Premier Technology, Inc. (CACI) had participated in torture and other “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” of detainees at Abu Ghraib, yet a district judge ruled that the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Kiobel v. Shell/Royal Dutch Petroleum foreclosed claims arising out of Iraq. Today’s decision, by contrast, recognized that CACI could be held liable in U.S. courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) for its role in the torture. The case, Al Shimari v. CACI International Inc., was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of four Iraqi men who were tortured at Abu Ghraib.

Said CCR Legal Director Baher Azmy, “Today’s court ruling affirms that U.S. corporations are not entitled to impunity for torture and war crimes and that holding U.S. entities accountable for human rights violations strengthens this country’s relationship to the international community and basic human rights principles.”

Kiobel recognized a “presumption against extraterritorial application” of the ATS, but explicitly held that the presumption could be displaced in cases that “touch and concern” the United States “with sufficient force.” At Abu Ghraib, the men were subjected to electric shocks, sexual violence, forced nudity, broken bones, and deprivation of oxygen, food, and water. U.S. military investigators concluded that several CACI employees serving as interrogators directed abuse of Abu Ghraib employees in order to “soften” them up for interrogations. The court of appeals found that human rights abuses committed by a U.S. corporation at a U.S.-controlled prison in a conspiracy with U.S. soldiers, does “touch and concern” the United States sufficiently to permit the claims to proceed.

“This is an important ruling not just for our clients, who have sought justice for over a decade; it affirms the vitality of human rights litigation even after the Supreme Court’s decision in Kiobel.” continued Azmy.

Links to this and the previous ruling at: http://ccrjustice.org/newsroom/press-releases/abu-ghraib-torture-victims-may-sue-u.s.-corporation%2C-appeals-court-rules

Obama and War Crimes, 2009, 2011 and 2014

Ever since I saw the fuss on DU on Friday, I've been wondering why people only now are outraged about the Obama administration's decision not to prosecute war crimes, when I recall it's being clear early on, even before his inauguration, that he had decided not to have the Justice Department pursue indictments.

I remember objecting to it at the time, but not many people seemed concerned. Yet suddenly Friday people here began to express outrage due to the comments in the President's press conference. We even have an OP reposting a piece by Charlies Pierce in Esquire, positioned below Cameron Diaz in a wet shirt, declaring the President's statement at the press conference "the single most revolting thing this president ever said in public."

Now I may be at a disadvantage in not having had television the past couple of months, but I am having trouble understanding why those comments were worse than his decision six years ago not to proceed with full investigations and prosecutions of war crimes. Is my lack of outrage due to being deprived a repeat loop on cable television reminding me how this above all else is a seminal moment the Obama Presidency? Did I hallucinate prior press coverage from years ago making clear no prosecutions would take place?

No, it turns out I did not hallucinate. Jan 11, 2009, NYTimes:

President-elect Barack Obama signaled in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was unlikely to authorize a broad inquiry into Bush administration programs like domestic eavesdropping or the treatment of terrorism suspects. . . .

In the clearest indication so far of his thinking on the issue, Mr. Obama said on the ABC News program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that there should be prosecutions if “somebody has blatantly broken the law” but that his legal team was still evaluating interrogation and detention issues and would examine “past practices.”

Mr. Obama added that he also had “a belief that we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

“And part of my job,” he continued, “is to make sure that, for example, at the C.I.A., you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got spend their all their time looking over their shoulders.” . . .

There was no immediate reaction from Capitol Hill, where there has been a growing sense that Mr. Obama was not inclined to pursue these matters. In resisting pressure for a wider inquiry, he risks the ire of influential Democratic lawmakers on Congressional judiciary and intelligence committees and core constituencies who hoped his election would cast a spotlight on President Bush’s antiterror efforts.


Using the Google machine, I found some articles from 2011 maintaining that the President feared a coup if he pressed for prosecutions.

Advisors for President-Elect Barack Obama feared the new administration would face a coup if it prosecuted Bush-era war crimes, according to a new report out this morning.

Christopher Edley Jr., law dean at the University of California and a high-ranking member of the Obama transition team, made the revelation during a 9/11 forum at his law school on September 2. Andrew Kreig, director of the D.C.-based Justice Integrity Project, reports that Edley's comments were in response to questions from Susan Harman, a long-time California peace advocate.

Edley apparently tried to justify Obama's "look forward, not backwards" policy toward Bush-era lawbreaking. Instead, Kreig writes, Edley revealed the Obama team's weakness in the face of Republican thuggery:

Edley's rationale implies that Obama and his team fear the military/national security forces that he is supposed be commanding--and that Republicans have intimidated him right from the start of his presidency even though voters in 2008 rejected Republicans by the largest combined presidential-congressional mandate in recent U.S. history. Edley responded to our request for additional information by providing a description of the transition team's fears, which we present below as an exclusive email interview. Among his important points is that transition officials, not Obama, agreed that he faced the possibility of a coup.


I don't know if those fears about a coup were legitimate. They strike me as exaggerated, and I certainly can't comment on what actual threat might have existed. However, my question to DU is the following: Where were you on this issue in Jan. of 2009? Were you outraged then? Did you communicate those views to the President? Or did you wait until this past Friday to become upset? Why did it take six years? And why was the speech Friday worse than the interview on ABC's This Week in Jan. 2009 when it was clear he had decided not to move forward on prosecutions? Did you think he would magically change his mind over those six years? Or did you just not think about it until Friday's press conference? How is it possible that the statement on Friday can actually be worse than the decision not to prosecute six years ago?

Since WWII?

Why the limit? Most of the most contentious crises were in the nineteenth century, the Bank and Nullification being commonly cited. Ultimately the Secession of Southern States would prove to be the ultimate Constitutional Crisis, leading to Civil War.

Constitutional Crisis is a term greatly overused. Conflicts between branches of governments emerge that are not crises. While I would think it clear that the CIA's spying of the senate violated the constitution, a violation is not the same as a crisis. For it to be a crisis, the Executive and Congressional branches would both have to assert their actions were justified and that they each in turn had authority over the issue. The CIA and the White House are not claiming that to be the case. They admit it was a violation. Therefore no constitutional crisis is triggered. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.law.upenn.edu%2Flive%2Ffiles%2F104-levinsonbalkin157upalrev7072009pdf&ei=yn7cU9zKMoydyAT374KgAg&usg=AFQjCNECWsJN5yPSZcbzU8-8FViORj2riQ&sig2=zfq9x53DDQST5jv6vHQqBA

The author of the article above cites Little Rock in 1957 as an example of a type of constitutional crisis where different branches of government each assert authority and refuse to acknowledge the authority of the other.

I can tell you of constitutional violations I consider more concerning than spying on congress: NSA surveillance and effective nullification of the Fourth Amendment. I do not consider spying of congress more serious than of ordinary Americans. I am relieved to know that you discovered congress exists, however. You have spent at least a year focusing entirely on the Presidency and it's potential occupants.

I would also say suspension of Habeas Corpus during the war on terror is of greater concern.

In terms of the CIA particularly, involvement in the assassination of Americans on US soil in furtherance of a brutal right-wing dictatorship strikes me as more serious. http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB199/ As well as Americans and Chileans killed in the aftermath of the US sponsored coup that overturned the oldest democracy in Latin America. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=newssearch&cd=1&ved=0CBsQqQIoADAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpeoplesworld.org%2Fjudicial-finding-in-chile-says-u-s-complicit-in-death-of-young-americans%2F&ei=1XPcU-HTMpOHyATVvoGQBw&usg=AFQjCNHAJIes8opvby8KPstz1HGrc1ZY9A&sig2=iD3l6HWU3ehcfP8B2OVyWw

The Iran Contra affair violated congressional authority since the White House and CIA broke the the Boland Amendment that made it illegal to arm the contra rebels seeking to overturn the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

The US sponsored coup against Arbenz in 1954 was atrocious. US action was influenced by the fact that both the Director of the CIA and Secretary of State were major stock holders in United Fruit, a US company whose holdings were threatened by land reform proposed by the Arbenz government (only lands not currently cultivated). That coup led to the installation of a series of military dictatorships that would, with military aid and instruction by the US military (in the School of the Americas) and CIA, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans, mostly indigenous, over the subsequent four decades. That included torture of Guatemalans and Americans, like Sister Diana Ortiz, who wrote about her torture at the hands of an American. http://www.amazon.com/The-Blindfolds-Eyes-Journey-Torture/dp/1570755639

Other horrors by the CIA included the overthrow in 1953, of the Mosaddegh administration in Iran. That would set the conditions that would lead to the Iranian revolution of 1979, whose consequences we continue to face, including through the arming of Hamas and the conflict going on this very moment.

Really, Brenner has nothing on Allen Dulles, head of CIA during both of the above coups as well as the Bay of Pigs.

So it's one thing to say the spying on congress is bad and to give reasons why, but your ahistorical hyperbole irritates me. It seems the point as ever is to pretend Obama is the worst President in history. I have long grown weary of it.

On Banning, Criticism, and Liberalism

I was engaged in a discussion about why some people mistake criticism with calls for banning. The question about distinctions of liberalism vs. libertarianism also emerged. Unfortunately, as I was writing my response, that thread was deleted, so I will post it here, along with some context for clarification.

Essentially the other thread, as best as I can recall, asked why people support banning of books and how they see resistance to banning as being libertarian as opposed to liberal.

I noted that people mistake dissent for calls for banning. They seem to think any criticism of anything related to sex is the same as banning. Every time anything related to sex is discussed, a good portion of members insist on bringing out the banning canard, when in fact no one that I've seen has promoted banning. I have to wonder why it is so many have trouble with dealing with dissent as actually articulated and why they time and time again ignore those arguments and instead create false charges of banning? I also noted that most of the criticisms made were not in fact about consensual sex but rape, or what they believed to be rape.

When scolded for refusing to address the question of libertarianism, I wrote this reply (before the thread was deleted). The OP seemed more interested in definitions of libertarian vs. liberal, whereas I was more concerned with substance of arguments being made.

Since most DUers do not describe themselves as libertarian. I choose to avoid such labels whenever possible. A strawman about banning has been set up. NO ONE has proposed banning. No one I have seen, and whenever I have asked for examples they provide none. The question is why is it that people cannot honestly deal with the arguments people make without falsely attributing entire positions people have not taken?

I choose to avoid such labels because people have such widely different understandings of them. As one poster noted, they serve to insult more than anything. However, someone did send me these definitions from Wikipedia:

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a political philosophy or worldview founded on the idea of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and a right to life, liberty, and property.

Libertarianism is the group of political philosophies which advocate minimizing coercion and emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with significantly less government compared to most present day societies

I have encountered one person on DU who used the term libertarian to describe himself and insisted it could be a leftist ideology. That has not been my understanding, so I cannot speak to that point of view.

I think what is happening is that people have very different understandings of liberalism and ultimately maintain differing core values. Some focus to a large extent on the rights of the individual, while others care more about equal rights, on racial and gender equality in particular. It is my view that many are not aware of the extent to which their conception of liberty is bound by race, gender, and class. The emphasis on sex as inviolate is built around a male-gendered conception of rights in which women are extensions of male desire. Yes, many women maintain similar views, just as many poor people uphold the rights of the wealthy without understanding they undermine their own position in the process. The notion that everything in society having to do with sex is good and should never be criticized ignores the extent to which cultural representations serve the interests of capital and patriarchy. Rape, "elastic" notions of consent, and objectification are examples.

If you want to understand libertarianism or why someone calls others libertarian, you will need to engage with someone who uses that label.

NOTE: This is not an OP to discuss the much referenced book but rather the general ideas outlined above.

Someone mentioned furries!

and I got all excited!

Them's fighing words

I find this thread disturbing

The number of recs makes it more so. Using the Holocaust as a point of reference for discussing Israeli actions in Palestine is just wrong. The Holocaust was an event unparalleled in human history. That it sought the extinction of the Jewish people makes this analogy all the more troubling. Israel is engaged in an occupation and war on Palestine. It does not have gas chambers set up; they are not using Arab skin to make trophies, or any of the other horrific actions that was the Holocaust. However unjust you find Israel's actions in Palestine, it does not approach that level, and I consider this sort of equivalency disturbing.

I am of the view that the Holocaust and Hitler should not be used as reference points for any current event. But to then use it to refer to Israel, a nation that is overwhelmingly Jewish, is particularly disturbing. We do not see Schindler's List referenced in regard to the US invasion of Iraq, to Assad's battle against insurgents (the majority of whom are not, like him, Alawite). We don't see it used to reference the detention and rounding up of immigrant children along the border or Muslims picked up after 9/11. Nor do we see it as a comparison with the Mexican War, in which it is possible to argue that the US took a position similar to Israel toward Palestine.

Why do we see it in this instance? Because Israel is a nation of Jews, and Jews were the target of the Holocaust. Think about that.

The jury didn't buy the twisting words argument

as the results above clearly show. In fact, at least one juror noted that what I was doing was quoting you. You apparently don't like to be reminded what you say. Typically I might say that if someone finds that objectionable, they should probably think more carefully about what they post, but you are consistent in your arguments. What you object to is being called on it. Well that's too bad because I'm not concerned about whether you respond. I don't document this for your benefit but so that others understand the context for your posts.

Besides, you rarely have responded to me in the past anyway, or to others who shows your arguments to be unsound. You didn't respond when I showed your claim that Sweden and the US were the same in terms of the gender gap, an argument you made to suggest their was something immutable about the gender gap in pay: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4868023

Most revealingly, you refused to respond when I and another member caught you red-handed trying to deny what you had just written. (This will be a bit long winded because I need to provide adequate evidence so as to not distort your words.)
I and others have seen thread after thread in which you showed great concern for the legal rights of accused rapists whose victims were girls or women.
Or that there should be no prosecution of those who cyberbullied a 14 yr old rape victim who attempted suicide, whom you compared to George Zimmerman. http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024296858#post5
Or that rape is an "individual" rather than a "societal problem" http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024706865#post43
Or the version of consent you insisted was the only one that mattered:
The way the law works is that if the woman is sober and awake, she needs to give some type of indication that she doesn't want the act to occur. If she's screaming "no," that's rape. If she's trying to push the guy away, that's rape. But if she's a willing participant and gives no indication of trying to stop the act, every court and jury in the land will consider that consensual sex.http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1905247
(The OP was in fact not talking about the law but how decent men treat their partners. The standard for legal prosecution and being a decent human being rather the opposite are not the same. Decent men do not take the absence of screaming as sufficient to have sex with a woman).

Given a long history of such responses, we could not help but notice your response differed in the case of a male victim. When confronted on that, you claimed:
I dont know anything about this case
I dont even know the sex of the victims. The article in the OP doesn't really give much information.

The article did in fact give the sex of the victims, which is why you had previously said this before posting a South Park cartoon:
If the victims are male, she'll probably get a slap on the wrist and the victims will be told that they are supposed to like it and were crazy to say anything.

That was the moment I knew without doubt exactly what I was dealing with.

BTW, YOU made this thread about feminists when you decided to edit the OP to whine about how mean a "certain clique" were mean to you. Be certain this member of said clique pays attention. I know your posting history, and I will continue to provide it when I think appropriate. I need not twist your words or even characterize them. Quoting them is more than sufficient. Readers can come to their own conclusions about their meaning.

Twist words?

The only words that are necessary is what you yourself say. You have accused me of twisting words when I quoted you, and let your own words do the talking. An example: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4833133

When in fact my response was to quote you:
Star Member BainsBane (24,836 posts)

3. THIS is rape culture

For all those who deny it's existence. Stories that show short sentences, cops not bothering to investigate, or serial rapists being released from jail to reoffend crop up all the time.

davidn3600 (2,729 posts)
10. Our recidivism is nearly 60% across the board of practially all crimes

The problem isn't just rapists...its the whole system. Our prison system does not fix people, it only makes them harder criminals. Our recidivism is among the worst in the modern world.

And please don't bring up this crap about men serving light sentences...it's been shot down.. Studies show women get up to 63% lighter sentences for the exact same crimes....

You want men to serve even longer? Where are you going to put them? We already have 5 times more prisoners per capita than China! And our state governments are out of money. In fact, California is now be ordered by the feds to release 10,000 prisoners because their prisons have reached 170% of capacity.

Im sorry...but prison is not going to solve your rape culture.


Above you write:
Nothing about being mean. It's just not a good way to get more people on your side. When you attack rather than engage, people will just dig their heels in deeper

On our side? There is no part of this universe where you are on the side of the feminists you so regularly malign. You have made that abundantly clear. You don't even make the slightest effort to pay attention to what feminists here write. You instead repeat arguments by anti-feminists. One clear example:
And that's where feminism loses me. Because I don't really feel like it's attacking what needs to be attacked. The focus seems to be simply to put women into male roles and then call that equality. That strategy will not crush the patriarchy. The only way to crush the patriarchy is to make femininity equal to masculinity. And when you look at JUST THAT...we really haven't moved much from the 1950s. But in the future, if we make femininity and masculinity equal...the categories cease to exist. That's when you have true gender equality.

I responded by telling you that you have no understanding of feminism and haven't even paid attention to the arguments made by the certain "clique" you so revile. Radical feminism seeks to uproot patriarchy and undo gender conventions altogether. Naturally you ignored that because you have no interest in listening to what any actual feminist says (or any woman, from what I can tell). Instead, you will repeat what men who despise feminists say because it fits your own political agenda.

Above you repeat the complaint frequently sited by MRAs that feminists only work for women's rights. The very purpose of feminism is to work for women's rights. We don't need to work for men's rights anymore than Occupy needs to work for the rights of the Fortune 500 or Civil Rights activists need to work for the rights of white people. You see, having power and privilege means one already has rights. It is not the responsibility of the subaltern to serve the dominant groups. When did a SCOTUS Justice announce that men are not protected under the 14th Amendment? Never. That you continue to willfully perpetuate the false equivalency between gender-based oppression of women and men shows precisely where you stand ideologically. There is one group that makes that argument and anyone who has browsed their websites knows who they are.

Capitalism and individual rights go hand in hand

(Cont. of my first post to you)
The very notion of rights as resting in the individual is a development of the classical 18th century liberalism that was the political justification of and corollary to capitalism.

Misunderstanding about the Founding Fathers attacking corporations, I believe, comes from confusion over historical context and vocabulary of the era. I provide an example from a leading history of Brazil, now retired from Yale, Emilia Viotti da Costa. She is writing about the ideas underlying Brazilian independence, which shared the same influences as those that gave rise to independence in the American English colonies.

In Europe, liberalism was originally a bourgeois ideology, intimately related to the development of capitalism and the crisis of the seigneurial world. Liberal notions were born out of the struggles of the bourgeoisie against the abuses of royal authority, the privileges of the clergy and the nobility, the monopolies that inhibited production, and traditional obstacles to free circulation, free trade, and free labor. In their struggle against absolutism, liberals defended the theory of social contract, stressed the sovereignty of the people and the supremacy of the law, fought for the division of powers and for representative forms of government. To destroy corporate privilege, they made freedom, equality before the law, and the right to property universal rights of men. And to the traditional regulations that inhibited production and trade they opposed free trade and free labor. Although rooted in an expanding capitalist economy and in the experience of the bourgeoisie, the liberal message was universal enough to appeal to other social groups that, for one reason or another, felt oppressed by institutions of the 'ancien regime' The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories

People see opposition to "corporate privilege" and they think of modern-day multinational corporations. Corporate in that era in fact meant the power of groups, like the Church or royal monopolies. The word first came into use in the 16th century, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary:

Latin corporatus, past participle of corporare to make into a body, from corpor-, corpus
First Known Use: 1512

At that time, nor in the late 18th century, did there exist entities similar to GE or Citgroup. The corporation as we understand it today, as an organ of big capitalist interests, did not exist in that era. The above reference to challenges to corporate privilege refers to exclusive rights wielded by the Church , the Crown, and royal monopolies under mercantilism, not capitalist business corporations as we understand the term today.

Classical liberalism emerged in opposition to mercantilism, economies in which the Crown controlled and benefited from commerce, and granted exclusive licenses to certain businesses (be they slave traders, tobacco monopolies, or other commercial entities) that were allowed to trade with their approval. Any commerce that existed outside of that was illegal, hence piracy. Liberals like Adam Smith championed free trade as a more efficient than mercantilism and free-wage labor as more efficient than slavery. These were fundamental tenets to capitalism, and were at the foundation of the American Republic, hence the Constiution's emphasis on individual rights.

Like you, Smith believed capitalism was natural and would take care of itself (the invisible hand). It's superiority as an economic system was seen as so inevitable, simply removing restrictions would allow free trade, and hence--they believed--liberty, to prevail. (Sounds a bit like George W Bush and the neo-cons, doesn't it? There is a reason that the term neo-liberalism is used to describe privatization).

The US Republic was established according to the liberal ideas of men like Smith and John Locke. Our constitution bears their influence and as such is a quintessential capitalist document. The founding of the US is inseparable from the development of capitalism itself, and its political structures are meant to promote the "free" development of capital and liberty, which are seen as synonymous.

Now, if one does not believe that capital and liberty are synonymous or that capital takes care of itself but is instead carefully nurtured by the state, as I do, then one approach is to examine the structures and consequences of the capitalist state. http://bobjessop.org/2013/11/04/the-capitalist-state-marxist-theories-and-methods/

It is not the only approach, and I do not suggest it as absolute truth, but it is historically grounded . It most certainly is NOT libertarianism. It is how I interpret history, and I cannot present a bourgeois interpretation rooted in American mythology as fact. I must leave that to others who buy into those ideas, of which there are many.

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