The Associated Press reported Wednesday that 71 torture victims at Abu Ghraib, the infamous U.S. prison in Iraq, have agreed to a $5 million settlement as a result of a lawsuit against Engility Holdings, a US contractor which ran the prison. The AP says that this will give "some measure of justice for the victims." However, individual contractors are not being held liable either civilly or -- especially -- criminally. (This is a pattern set from the very outset of the Obama administration -- allowing obvious, but well-connected, wrongdoers to skate, to walk, to escape accountability for thier misdeeds, while low-level clerks, secretaries, or enlisted types go to jail, taking the brunt of the government's faux "outrage").
Engility was formerly known as L-3 Services and Titan Corporation. As with most civil settlements, Engility has neither admitted nor denied its role in the torture regime at Abu Ghraib. Still, it is the first U.S. corporation forced to compensate victims of the well-documented abuses at Iraq's most hated prison.
"Private military contractors played a serious but often under-reported role in the worst abuses at Abu Ghraib," Baher Azmy, lawyer for the ex-detainees and legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights told AP.
However, RT reports that the settlement is "a meager amount" because it pales in comparison to other settlements in less intense abuse cases documented in prisons throughout the US itself:
“The average $74,000 compensation for each Abu Ghraib victim of rape, torture, death threats and physical harm seems almost inconsiderable in comparison, especially given the high levels of torture the Iraqi prisoners were subjected to. And many more Iraqi victims of abuses are unlikely to receive any sort of compensation at all,” RT reports.
Further, Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution told Wired that this paltry settlement merely papers over the true extent of, and provides cover for US military contractors and their actions overseas:
“Soldiers get court martialed, but for the very same incident, the contractors named in the same reports face no individual punishment and their firm just throws high power lawyers at the problem until it decides to make it go away with a token payment?”
As noted, Engility Holdings is actually a spin off of L-3 Communications. It is a long time, big time government contractor and Fortune 500 company. It has more than 50,000 employees and had net profits of more than $15 billion in 2011 alone, reports in the Independent.
The settlement would have remained unknown had not it been uncovered by the AP. It was consummated more than two months ago, but a document filed by Engility with the Securities and Exchange Commission was uncovered by the AP just yesterday (Wednesday).
Taken together with the president's recent signing of the 2013 version of the National Defense Authorization Act and the bringing to light via Amy Goodman and "Democracy Now!" of continued abuse and torture at Guantanamo Bay, a clear and disturbing picture of this administration's stance on “national security” issues is emerging.
The president signed the reauthorization of the NDAA, thus allowing for the secret surveillance and detention of American citizens without charge or trial, and the continued “detention” of Guantanamo prisoners. NDAA also specifically disallows the trial of Guantanamo inmates on American soil. Obama included a “signing statement” with his authorization, which questioned the constitutionality of the bill and his “intention” to refuse to enforce selected portions thereof. Yet he signed the thing anyway when he could have, should have vetoed the whole bill.
It has been almost exactly four years since Obama last promised to close Guantanamo. Yet, 166 souls remain detained there, 85 of whom have actually been cleared and exonerated of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Yet, neither Obama nor the military will release any of them, either to the US, their home countries or to any third country which might accept them. Many have been incarcerated there since that Caribbean gulag's opening 11 years ago.
These “situations” are yet another case of President Obama saying one thing and then doing another. Is there no one, other than the usual “academics” and article writers, who will call him out on his obvious hypocrisy?