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Bush administration fights to block American POWs from suing Iraq

[JURIST] The Department of Justice [official website] is expected to file a brief this week urging the Supreme Court not to hear the appeal of 17 American pilots who were captured and abused by Iraqis during the 1991 Persian Gulf conflict. The POWs filed suit in federal court in 2002 under the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act [text] that allowed citizens to sue foreign governments that supported terrorism. The Iraqi government ignored the suit, and there was no trial. In July 2003, however, a district judge awarded the POWs $959 million in compensatory and punitive damages, and lawyers sought to claim a portion of the $1.7 billion in Iraqi assets that were frozen by the US. Shortly afterwards, the Bush administration began to argue that the case should be vacated due to the then-current need to keep money in post-Saddam Iraq for rebuilding purposes. In June 2004, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the Bush administration, and vacated the earlier decision [opinion text, PDF]. The POWs have since appealed to the Supreme Court. The Court is expected to decide in the next two months whether to hear the case. The Los Angeles Times has more.

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