Abu Ghraib Inmates Lose U.S. High Court Bid to Sue Contractors

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a lawsuit that accused two military contractors of abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, turning away an appeal by 26 onetime prisoners.

The inmates sought to sue CACI International Inc. (CACI), which helped interrogate prisoners at the facility, and Titan Corp., which provided translation services. Titan has since been renamed and is now part of L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL)

The inmates, who were civilian detainees, said they were subjected to abuses by CACI and Titan employees including beatings, sexual humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures and rape. In court papers, the inmates said some prisoners were tortured into unconsciousness and several were murdered.

Abu Ghraib became an international embarrassment for the U.S. in 2004, when photographs surfaced showing guards mistreating inmates.

Two groups of inmates were seeking to sue under the 1789 U.S. Alien Tort Statute and District of Columbia law.

A federal appeals court in Washington rejected the suits on a 2-1 vote. The majority said that the Alien Tort Statute generally can’t be invoked against a private party and that contractors are shielded from suits under state law for wartime activities that are closely supervised by the military.

The Obama administration urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, saying the justices should wait until more lower courts have considered similar cases.

The case is Saleh v. CACI International, 09-1313.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.

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