Al Shimari, one of the few human rights/corporate accountability cases to have survived appellate review after the imposition of Kiobel‘s new extraterritoriality requirements, was recently dismissed, yet again, by Virginia federal judge Gerald Lee on June 18, this time on political question grounds. In short: “a decision as to the merits of the torture and conspiracy claims alleged in Plaintiffs’ Complaint would require the Court to question the sensitive judgments of the military.” So, out it goes.
Aggravatingly, the court gets to this conclusion by finding that “the U.S. military chain of command exercised total control over how military and civilian interrogators performed the interrogation mission at Abu Ghraib.” If this reasoning is upheld, we’ll have nice little circle, given that the government has (largely successfully) disclaimed responsibility because the atrocities were committed by contractors, not military personnel.
CCR and it co-counsel will appeal. But the Shimari case is now seven years old — part of litigation that has been going on for 11 years, seeking some measure of justice for the victims of the atrocities of Abu Ghraib. While the fight continues, the case in the meantime continues to stand next to the U.S. government’s refusal to accept responsibility or impose accountability on anyone other than a few rank-and-file so-called “bad apples.” U.S. “exceptionalsm” at its ugliest.
Why the U.S. even bothers going through the motions of, say, condemning brutalities by dictatorial regimes, or praising the advancement of human rights is beyond me. To rest of the world it will all be taken as rank hypocrisy, until we address Abu Ghraib and other issues with the seriousness they deserve.