Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saleh v. Titan: An Exception to the Law?

In a CNN interview with John King regarding a new CIA investigation, Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell stated, “No one is above the law.” With that quote in mind and after our viewing of The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, I was interested in seeing which court cases occurred in relation to the crimes that occurred at Abu Ghraib. It was terrifying to learn that the detainees were randomly taken from their homes on the basis of groundless suspicion and that the women and children were captured for emotional torture and tortured themselves without having committing any wrongdoings. While looking through the aftermath trials on Abu Ghraib, I came across the case of Saleh v Titan.

Saleh v Titan is fighting for 250 Iraqi plaintiffs against the dehumanizing actions of the CACI International Incorporated and Titan Corporation (now L-3 Services) at Abu Ghraib .This charge is composed of two separate suits against two corporations that are private military contractors who provided services to the U.S. government for operating the military prison camp of Abu Ghraib. In September 11th, 2009, the Supreme Court decided in favor of the defendant, Titan/L-3 and CACI. The case is still in progress because of Circuit Judge Garland’s dissent on the case who claimed that this case should be further pursued as he was in favor of the prosecutors.

If you want more details on the case Saleh V Titan, here are the links to the case details:

It is important to note that Titan/L-3 and CACI were private military contractors who were participating in furthering acts at Abu Ghraib. With that said, do the private contractors who are sanctioning and furthering the dehumanization of innocent people through acts such as forced nudity and violent abuse, not guilty of that charge? I just find it hard to believe that a plaintiff group of 250 detainees claiming the same charge against Titan/L-3 and CACI is not enough witness based evidence for Titan/L-3 and CACI to be found guilty of torture. The large number of plaintiffs cannot simply be ignored; the Supreme Court has to acknowledge the evidence that lays in that number, 250, itself as this case continues.

The decision on Saleh v. Titan was counterintuitive to me. Thus I wanted to ask, one, are there different laws specifically applicable to the rights of private military contractors? Two, do you agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of the defendants? Three, does such a court decision of not prosecuting the private military contractors,Titan/L-3 and CACI,place them, in a sense, “above the law”?


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  2. This is really interesting, Manali. As we consider the state of exception, this case seems to suggest that not only can the state be argued "above the law", but also other parties or entities that work alongside the state (or, as the case may be, who help the state accomplish their less-than-legal goals) can be treated as if norms and laws do not apply. As you mentioned, the Titan/L-3 and CACI are private contractors. They were not an officially integrated member of the US government, but nonetheless they essentially received protection. This case ruling proves that they too, are perceived to be above the law. As frightening as the notion of a state of exception may be, I find it all the more unnerving when we see an example like this where a state’s private ally is not held to normal legal and moral standards. Not to mention, this is a very, very slippery slope.


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