The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that former detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison may continue their torture lawsuit against civilian military contractors. Four former prisoners allege [press release] that they were subjected to various forms of torture at the hands of CACI Premier Technology [corporate website] contractors. The case had previously been dismissed under the political question doctrine, but the court held the doctrine does not prevent the judiciary from deciding the case.
We recognize that the legal issues presented in this case are indisputably complex, but we nevertheless cannot abdicate our judicial role in such cases. Nor will we risk weakening prohibitions under United States and international law against torture and war crimes by questioning the justiciability of a case merely because the case involves the need to define such terms. The political question doctrine does not shield from judicial review intentional acts by a government contractor that were unlawful at the time they were committed.
CACI has continued to deny [CACI backgrounder] any wrongdoing at the prison.
The Fourth Circuit had previously reinstated [JURIST report] an Abu Ghraib torture lawsuit in 2014. Earlier that year CACI filed suit [JURIST report] against former detainees of Abu Ghraib, seeking legal expenses incurred from the lawsuit. In January 2013 a military contractor accused [JURIST report] by former Abu Ghraib detainees of conspiring to torture detainees paid $5.28 million to detainees held at the prison and other US detention centers in Iraq. In September 2011 the Fourth Circuit dismissed another case [JURIST report] filed by former Iraqi detainees who also claimed they had been tortured by civilian contractors at the prison.