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5/6/2008
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'Terrorists' Legal Team' Sues Abu Ghraib Contractors

The Center for Constitutional Rights alleges tech outsourcers at the Iraqi prison committed torture and other war crimes during a civilian interrogation.

A controversial group with a history of defending individuals accused of plotting terror strikes against the United States has filed a war crimes lawsuit against a pair of tech outsourcers that were contracted to provide interrogation services at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

In papers filed Monday in federal court in Los Angeles, the Center for Constitutional Rights claims that employees of CACI International and L3 Communications repeatedly tortured Iraqi citizen Emad Al-Janabi during interrogation sessions at the prison, which was shuttered in 2006.

The suit names L3, CACI, and CACI interrogator Steven "Big Steve" Stefanowicz as defendants. "Mr. Al-Janabi was repeatedly and gravely tortured at Abu Ghraib prison," the suit charges.

Al-Janabi, who claims to be an innocent blacksmith, says his ordeal began when he was seized from his Baghdad home at 2 a.m. in September 2003 by "persons dressed in American military uniforms and civilian clothing."

With a helicopter hovering overhead, "His captors ... speaking through an L-3 translator, told him he was going to be executed along with his brother and nephew," the lawsuit contends. At Abu Ghraib, Al-Janabi says he was deprived of food, repeatedly tortured, and threatened with rape and execution, according to court papers.

In a statement, Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Katherine Gallagher said that the group took up Al-Janabi's case because, "Private military contractors can't act with impunity outside the law."

CACI and L3 largely provide technology services to the federal government, but in recent years have added physical security services -- including interrogation -- to their portfolios to provide a full range of offerings to government agencies operating in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other theatres in the war on terror.

CACI and L3 have not formally responded to Al-Janabi's claims.

The nonprofit Center for Constitutional Rights, founded by attorney William Kunstler, has filed numerous actions on behalf of detainees of Abu Ghraib and the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The Capital Research Center, which monitors nonprofits, in a recent publication referred to the Center for Constitutional Rights as "the terrorists' legal team" and said the group "is at the forefront of the legal left's push to give due process rights to America's terrorist enemies."

The Center for Constitutional Rights is seeking unspecified monetary damages for Al-Janabi.

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