four Iraq men tortured at Abu Graib bring federal lawsuit against CACI

Al Shi­mari v. CACI et al.

Four Iraq men who were tor­tured in Abu Graib, and later released with­out charges have filed a fed­eral law­suit against a U.S. based con­trac­tor for par­tic­i­pat­ing “directly and through a con­spir­acy in war crimes, includ­ing tor­ture, and other ille­gal con­duct while it was pro­vid­ing inter­ro­ga­tion services.”

The four Plain­tiffs had all been held at the “hard site” in Abu Ghraib prison. The suit, brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and fed­eral ques­tion juris­dic­tion, brings claims aris­ing from vio­la­tions of U.S. and inter­na­tional law includ­ing tor­ture; cruel, inhu­man, or degrad­ing treat­ment; war crimes; assault and bat­tery; sex­ual assault and bat­tery; inten­tional inflic­tion of emo­tional dis­tress; neg­li­gent hir­ing and super­vi­sion; and neg­li­gent inflic­tion of emo­tional dis­tress. There are also civil con­spir­acy and aid­ing and abet­ting counts attached to most of these charges. Through this action, Plain­tiffs seek com­pen­satory and puni­tive damages.

Among the heinous acts to which the four Plain­tiffs were sub­jected at the hands of the Defen­dant and cer­tain gov­ern­ment co-​conspirators were: elec­tric shocks; repeated bru­tal beat­ings; sleep depri­va­tion; sen­sory depri­va­tion; forced nudity; stress posi­tions; sex­ual assault; mock exe­cu­tions; humil­i­a­tion; hood­ing; iso­lated deten­tion; and pro­longed hang­ing from the limbs.

All of the Plain­tiffs are inno­cent Iraqis who were ulti­mately released with­out ever being charged with a crime. They all con­tinue to suf­fer from phys­i­cal and men­tal injuries caused by the tor­ture and other abuse. Suhail Najim Abdul­lah Al Shi­mari was detained from 2003 until 2008, dur­ing which he was held at Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about two months. While he was there, CACI and its co-​conspirators tor­tured him in var­i­ous ways. He was sub­jected to elec­tric shocks, deprived of food, threat­ened by dogs, and kept naked while forced to engage in phys­i­cal activ­i­ties to the point of exhaus­tion. Taha Yaseen Arraq Rashid was detained from 2003 until 2005, dur­ing which he was impris­oned at Abu Ghraib “hard site” for about three months. While detained there, CACI and its co-​conspirators tor­tured Mr. Rashid by plac­ing him in stress posi­tions for extended peri­ods of time, humil­i­at­ing him, depriv­ing him of oxy­gen, food, and water, shoot­ing him in the head with a taser gun, and by beat­ing him so severely that he suf­fered from bro­ken limbs and vision loss. Mr. Rashid was forcibly sub­jected to sex­ual acts by a female as he was cuffed and shack­led to cell bars. He was also forced to wit­ness the rape of a female pris­oner. Sa’ad Hamza Han­toosh Al-Zuba’e was impris­oned at Abu Ghraib from 2003 until 2004. CACI and its co-​conspirators tor­tured him while he was detained there by sub­ject­ing him to extremely hot and cold water, beat­ing his gen­i­tals with a stick, and detain­ing him in a soli­tary cell in con­di­tions of sen­sory depri­va­tion for almost a full year. Salah Hasan Nusaif Jasim Al-​Ejaili was impris­oned at the Abu Ghraib “hard site” for approx­i­mately four months. While he was there, CACI and its co-​conspirators stripped him and kept him naked, threat­ened him with dogs, deprived him of food, beat him, and kept him in a soli­tary cell in con­di­tions of sen­sory deprivation.

syria: catastrophic humanitarian crisis

I man­aged not to miss the live web­cast panel dis­cus­sion of the human­i­tar­ian cri­sis in Syria by Doc­tors With­out Borders/​Medecins Sans Fron­tieres (MSF).

Accord­ing to the panel, the sit­u­a­tion in Syria gets more con­fus­ing all the time. One mil­lion fam­ily dwellings have been destroyed, and the pre­vi­ously well-​functioning health care sys­tem is now in total dis­ar­ray. Most social ser­vices are bro­ken and are often targeted.

At least 3.5 mil­lion Syr­i­ans have been dis­placed— around 15% of the pop­u­la­tion. The UN says that there are 1.5 mil­lion Syr­ian refugees right now, but expects that num­ber to rise to 3 mil­lion by the end of the year.

Syr­ian refugees are in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jor­dan, and Libya. One of the mem­bers of the panel described a camp in Tripoli as being filthy and putrid. The refugees were required to pay rent, and there was very lit­tle work avail­able in the area. Mud seems to be a prob­lem in most of the refugee camps.

A camp in Iraq in the Kur­dish region was very well run. It served mostly Syr­ian Kurds. The gov­ern­ment of that region gives some refugees green cards so that they can work in the oil­fields, and other indus­tries. The Kur­dish gov­ern­ment also built a per­ma­nent struc­ture for MSF to use to set up a hospital.

In Lebanon, which has the high­est num­ber of Syr­ian refugees, most refugees are left to their own devices. Lebanon has a pay for ser­vice med­ical sys­tem, refugees who can­not pay must reg­is­ter as refugees before being allowed any ser­vices. Once they reg­is­ter, they are eli­gi­ble for food and fuel cards, and health care to be paid by UNICEF. It takes at least four months to be reg­is­tered, because there is only one small board to han­dle all the refugees. Because the Lebanese gov­ern­ment has not declared a state of emer­gency, inter­na­tional aid orga­ni­za­tions are find­ing it very dif­fi­cult, if not impos­si­ble to set up there in order to help the refugees. Also, only 30% of the aid promised by other nations has been delivered.

There are a lot of refugees, espe­cially women and chil­dren, being treated for seri­ous burns from burn­ing fuel in ram­shackle struc­tures, or wood fires in crowded plas­tic tents. It’s been a cold and windy win­ter, with very lit­tle elec­tric­ity avail­able to them.

MSF is doing what it can now to help stave off another impend­ing cri­sis by vac­ci­nat­ing— measles is a prob­lem right now— and work­ing to pro­vide clean water and san­i­ta­tion in the camps before sum­mer comes and cholera becomes a prob­lem. MSF would like to set up a model refugee camp to serve as an exam­ple for the UN to emulate.

It is typ­i­cally easy for MSF to pro­vide care to those wounded in bat­tle. The group has been pro­vid­ing Syr­ian med­ical per­son­nel train­ing to oper­ate on war injuries, to deal with mass casu­al­ties, and to admin­is­ter first aid to the war wounded to make them sta­ble enough to get to a hos­pi­tal. MSF has also been able to get drugs to these hos­pi­tals and clin­ics, and occa­sion­ally to get the wounded who need more spe­cial­ized care out of the coun­try and into a facil­ity where they can receive expert care in well equipped hospitals.

MSF has been work­ing in three main hos­pi­tals in Syria, has set up two birthing areas for women and is work­ing on an addi­tional one now. Pro­vid­ing pri­mary care and treat­ment for chronic ill­nesses like can­cer, renal dis­ease, dia­betes, etc. has been very dif­fi­cult. Doc­tors are hav­ing dif­fi­culty work­ing with the gov­ern­ment in Dam­as­cus, while the fight­ing is also get­ting closer to Dam­as­cus. It’s not too dif­fi­cult to get care for the war wounded, but many peo­ple with treat­able chronic ill­nesses are not con­sid­ered to be in need of “emer­gency” care, so die waiting.

There is also a need for men­tal health coun­sel­ing in Syria. One doc­tor described peo­ple com­ing out of anes­the­sia delu­sional, scream­ing, hav­ing flash­backs because they have been so deeply trau­ma­tized. Another speaker described a woman who had para­noid delu­sions— believ­ing every­one in the city she and her fam­ily lived in was a spy, she moved her fam­ily to a remote place, with almost noth­ing, because she needed, more than any­thing else, to feel secure. Her hus­band had sur­vived being kid­napped and tor­tured, and was com­pletely debilitated.

A lot of patients wanted to take refuge in MSF hos­pi­tals. The doc­tors had to explain to them that they weren’t set up for that, and that all they could do was fix peo­ple up and then send them on their way.

The panel expressed con­cern that other nations help the gov­ern­ments of Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jor­dan so that they don’t get over­whelmed and close the bor­ders. And also expressed the impor­tance of not let­ting polit­i­cal ends get in the way of human­i­tar­ian assistance.

Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders is a won­der­ful and ded­i­cated relief group that works to relieve suf­fer­ing and heal injuries. You can donate here. It’s also easy to set up a sim­ple monthly pay­ment of an amount that is com­fort­able for you. If you doubt that the money is being well spent, just check out their web­site. They show you what they do, and intro­duce you to a lot of the peo­ple they’re helping.

This is the live broad­cast. Don’t know how long the Cri­sis in Syria video is going to be there, but it’s there now.

interview with Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda


Africa: Q&A — The Secu­rity of a Nation Is Its Women

The great­est secu­rity of any nation is when its moth­ers and chil­dren are secure, when there is food on the table and water nearby, when there is a func­tion­ing school and, ulti­mately, the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting a job. That is the most secure nation.

I would urge our gov­ern­ments to rethink the rela­tion­ship between mil­i­tary expen­di­ture and expen­di­ture on social and basic ser­vices. Just by buy­ing one mil­i­tary heli­copter less, gov­ern­ments can build 10 schools. That is the para­mount chal­lenge for gov­ern­ments all over the world.

applications of stoicism as therapy


Phi­los­o­phy for Life

The Sto­ics fol­lowed Her­a­cli­tus in believ­ing that the cos­mos is con­nected by an all-​pervasive intel­li­gence called the Logos, which you can trans­late as the Word or the Law. It’s a form of divine prov­i­dence that guides all things. It exists in all things, but it vibrates par­tic­u­larly strongly in human con­scious­ness. For the Sto­ics, the mean­ing of life, the goal of human exis­tence, is to develop our con­scious­ness and bring it into har­mony with the Logos.

A blue­print for ‘Philo­soph­i­cal CBT

Ancient phi­los­o­phy wasn’t merely a set of instru­men­tal tech­niques for the indi­vid­ual. Schools like Sto­icism, Epi­cure­anism and Scep­ti­cism also offered eth­i­cal the­o­ries about the good, which linked the per­sonal to the social, cul­tural, polit­i­cal and cos­mic. These schools didn’t agree on whether God existed or whether there was a higher mean­ing to human exis­tence, but at least they rec­og­nized that was a con­ver­sa­tion worth hav­ing. CBT nar­rowed the focus down to just the indi­vid­ual, and the result is a some­what atom­ized and amoral ver­sion of self-​help.

The Stoic Library

The Stoic Life

His­tory of Philosophy

the media and mass murder

A psy­chi­a­trists (and Char­lie Brooker’s) insight­ful per­spec­tive on news coverage’s per­pet­u­a­tion of mass shoot­ings in schools.

A Page One Selfie by Nathan Jur­gen­son at Cybor­gol­ogy

Grant­ing, of course, that Dzhokhar’s face work was cer­tainly of a rad­i­cally larger scale, selfie face work is a sort of fic­tion that is a com­mon fact. The fil­tered selfie isn’t the most objec­tively accu­rate photo, but it might have been the most hon­est. It’s how he pre­sented him­self, down to the name-​brand shirt, and it’s how many peo­ple his age under­stand and per­form for increas­ingly ubiq­ui­tous pho­to­graphic doc­u­men­ta­tion. It’s a sort-​of unre­al­ity that car­ries a sort-​of truth. The selfie isn’t just any photo of you, it is, of course, one taken of your­self, by your­self, and there is some­thing simul­ta­ne­ously fit­ting and upset­ting in the young bomber tak­ing his own mugshot.

The Page One bomber selfie also chal­lenges what many of us thought the bomber would look like on the day the tragedy occurred. This image doesn’t con­form to what “we”, as a cul­ture, wanted, per­haps even needed, the bomber to look like. Instead of the stereo­typ­i­cal guy-​in-​a-​cave or guy-​in-​a-​shack, Dzhokhar here looks like some­one we might know. More than that, given that this is an Insta­grammed selfie, he even acts like some­one we know, some­one we rec­og­nize as “nor­mal”. It breaks from the script: The bomber was never sup­posed to be so familiar.

The Media Needs to Stop Inspir­ing Copy­cat Mur­ders. Here’s How. by Zeynep Tufekci at The Atlantic

We need to fig­ure out how to bal­ance the pub­lic inter­est in learn­ing about a mass shoot­ing with the pub­lic inter­est in reduc­ing copy­cat crime. The guide­lines on report­ing on teen sui­cides were estab­lished after a spate of teenage sui­cides in the United States, some through sui­cide pacts, in the 1980s. Those who cre­ated the guide­lines looked at exam­ples from other coun­tries — for exam­ple, the sub­way sui­cides in Vienna in the 1980s, which decreased after the media changed its cov­er­age — and pro­vided spe­cific rec­om­men­da­tions: Don’t refer to the word sui­cide in the head­line. Don’t report the method of the sui­cide. Don’t present it as an inex­plic­a­ble act of an oth­er­wise healthy person.

WTF is WRONG with these people?!

NRA Ven­dor Sells Ex-​Girlfriend Tar­get That Bleeds When You Shoot It by Eliz­a­beth Plank at policymic

The tar­get, which is delight­fully called “the ex,” is sold by a ven­dor who was present at the annual con­ven­tion. Although it’s unclear if they dis­played the man­nequin or not, it was included in the pam­phlet they dis­played at their booth. The com­pany goes by the name of Zom­bie Indus­tries and mar­kets itself as the maker of “life-​sized tac­ti­cal man­nequin tar­gets.” After you shoot directly at it, the tar­get will bleed and even­tu­ally look like this…

The com­pany has a line of 15 zom­bies (one of which resem­bled Pres­i­dent Obama so much that it was pulled from the con­fer­ence by the NRA) and only one is female. To dis­crim­i­nate against Women by not hav­ing them rep­re­sented in our prod­uct selec­tion would be just plain sex­ist,” the web­site says. YES, because hav­ing the only female char­ac­ter in your line of man­nequin tar­gets be “the ex-​girlfriend” doesn’t rein­force sex­ist and fatally dan­ger­ous stereotypes.

Maybe Shoot­ing A Bleed­ing Tar­get Of Your Ex-​Lover Will Help Clar­ify Your Thoughts On Gun Con­trol by Oliver Miller at Thought Cat­a­log ®

Here’s an impas­sioned quote from one of the impas­sioned fans of the “Bleed­ing ‘The Ex’ Zom­bie Life-​Sized Tac­ti­cal Man­nequin Target”:

The dark haired one looks like my bitch ex-​wife, who I HATE! I can’t wait to shoot her face off for tak­ing my shit.”

Ah, such healthy, robust, all-​American energy. Because ain’t that Amer­ica, lit­tle pink houses for you and me, etc. Clearly, we’re in good hands, based on that actual quote from an actual per­son who owns an actual assault weapon. Any­way, so, the bleed­ing gory tar­get of your ex-​lover retails for $99.95. Buy yours today.

the paroxysmal wonders of MS


Parox­ys­mal Symp­toms of Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis: They Come and They Go

Ah. Just learned some­thing new about MS which helps me have the dis­ease bet­ter, I sup­pose. The dif­fer­ence between relapse, exac­er­ba­tion, and pseu­doex­ac­er­ba­tion is a good thing to know. Relapse is caused by a new “lesion”— the demyeli­na­tion of a nerve— caused by inflam­ma­tion. Exac­er­ba­tion is caused by the tem­po­rary inflam­ma­tion of a lesion. Pseu­doex­ac­er­ba­tion is an exac­er­ba­tion of a symptom(s).

Pseudo” doesn’t mean it isn’t seri­ous or doesn’t hurt. Most pseu­doex­ac­er­ba­tions are caused by heat. Suf­fi­cient heat can make it hard or impos­si­ble for some­one with MS to move. Saunas are NOT EVEN. I once read a story about a man with MS who was mow­ing his yard with a rid­ing mower when it ran out of gas. His wife was at work, he didn’t have a cell phone on him; and so he died, sit­ting help­less on his lawn mower in his own yard. So, yeah— seri­ous. Why med­ical sci­en­tists name some things what they name them is beyond me.

And the dif­fer­ence between a parox­ys­mal symp­tom and a core symp­tom is instructive.

Now, let’s get to the topic of this arti­cle, the parox­ys­mal symp­toms of MS. Fur­ther dis­tinc­tion is nec­es­sary for these symp­toms, as com­pared to exac­er­ba­tions and pseu­doex­ac­er­ba­tions. Parox­ys­mal symp­toms are defined as tem­po­rary neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­tur­bances, such as mus­cle spasms (called tonic spasms), numb­ness and tin­gling sen­sa­tions (called pares­the­sias), slurred speech, imbal­ance (called ataxia), and so forth. They may mimic symp­toms of MS attacks, but the dif­fer­ence is that they are fleet­ing, from sev­eral sec­onds up to 2 min­utes, rather than per­sis­tent over sev­eral days to weeks as described in MS attacks. Parox­ysms, as these symp­toms are also referred to, are not the result of heat, as described in cases of pseudoexacerbation.

In addi­tion to their short­ness in length, parox­ys­mal symp­toms occur over and over again from a few times a day to a few times an hour. They can be trig­gered by exer­cise, hot baths, smok­ing, emo­tions, neck flex­ion, and eye move­ments, although they often appear out of nowhere. These symp­toms may last from a few days up to sev­eral months, but will even­tu­ally go away (Twomey and Espir, 1980). Like the MS attack, parox­ys­mal symp­toms vary greatly from per­son to person.

Among these are

numb­ness and tin­gling (pares­the­sias): Very com­mon in MS, this was one of my first symp­toms of MS, and has been con­stant in Con­tinue read­ing

the human microbiome: terms

biota: Sim­pli­fied, “biota” means life-​forms.

micro­biota: The microor­gan­isms that typ­i­cally inhabit a bod­ily organ or part; flora.

flora: The bac­te­ria and fungi, both nor­mally occur­ring and patho­log­i­cal, found in or on an organ.

intesti­nal flora: the bac­te­ria nor­mally within the lumen of the intestine.

biome: A major eco­log­i­cal com­mu­nity of organ­isms adapted to a par­tic­u­lar cli­matic or envi­ron­men­tal con­di­tion on a large geo­graphic area in which they occur.

the human biome: the eco­log­i­cal com­mu­nity of the human body and the micror­gan­isms with which we have co-​evolved in sym­bi­otic relationships

sym­bio­sis: The rela­tion­ship between two dif­fer­ent species of organ­isms that are inter­de­pen­dent; each gains ben­e­fits from the other. A rela­tion­ship between dif­fer­ent species where both of the organ­isms in ques­tion ben­e­fit from the pres­ence of the other. An exam­ple is the her­mit crab whose shell offers a niche for anemones to exist in which the anemone can defend the crab with its sting­ing capabilies.

two kinds of sym­bio­sis:

com­men­sal: A form of sym­bio­sis between two organ­isms of dif­fer­ent species in which one of them ben­e­fits from the asso­ci­a­tion whereas the other is largely unaf­fected or not sig­nif­i­cantly harmed or ben­e­fit­ing from the relationship.


mutu­al­is­tic: A sym­bi­otic rela­tion­ship between indi­vid­u­als of dif­fer­ent species in which both indi­vid­u­als ben­e­fit from the association.

micro­biome trans­plants: You may have seen this on an episode of Gray’s Anatomy— an exam­ple of a micro­biome trans­plant that is already being done is known as a “fecal transplant.”