On Friday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated our long-running Al Shimari v. CACI case seeking to hold the private military contractor accountable for its role in the torture of Iraqi civilians at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. CACI provided interrogation services at the prison.
The Court rebuffed CACI’s third attempt to have the case dismissed, firmly rejecting CACI’s argument that torture could lawfully be ordered by the military or was beyond the reach of the courts. As the concurring judge emphasized, “It is beyond the power of even the President to declare [torture] lawful…. The determination of specific violations of law is constitutionally committed to the courts, even if that law touches military affairs.” The court concluded, “the military cannot lawfully exercise its authority by directing a contractor to engage in unlawful activity.”
Salah Hassan, one of the plaintiffs in the case, reacted to the news: “Today, part of justice was achieved and this is something wonderful, not only for me and the other plaintiffs, but for all the just causes in the world.”
Hours after the Fourth Circuit ruling, the district judge who has overseen the case — who has twice ruled in favor of CACI’s efforts to dismiss the case, only to be overruled both times by the Fourth Circuit — recused himself.
Filed in 2008, Al Shimari sits at the intersection of two signature issues that CCR has championed for decades: the insistence that there must be accountability for torture and the pursuit of corporate human rights abusers.