Burn pit veterans are denied their day in court against the contractor responsible for the burn pits, but Islamic terrorists will get their day in court to sue the contractors who designed waterboarding.
So, veterans who fought in the war will not see their day in court but the Islamic terrorists they fought against will get their day in court when suing generally untouchable DOD government contractors.
How is that for irony? And why do you think the outcome is so different?
Stated another way, veterans of the Iraq War who were terminally injured or dead from exposure to burn pit gases will not be able to sue the former Halliburton company, called Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), responsible for operating the burn pits.
Meanwhile, the terrorists tortured by CIA operatives using waterboarding techniques designed by two psychologists will be able to bring their lawsuit to trail against those government contractors.
Sound fair? What is the general background?
Both government contractors were involved in harmful actions while fighting the War on Terror and contracted by arms of the DOD to further that mission. So what happened?
Burn Pit Decision
The burn pits created and operated by KBR were known to be harmful but the company operated them anyway at the direction of the federal government. Tens of thousands of soldiers were affected and unknown numbers of veterans were injured from the fumes. Many have since died from cancer or other conditions at abnormally young ages.
The judge in the KBR case refused to let it go to trial because he claims the decision to use the burn pits was solely a military decision that is beyond the jurisdiction of the court. US District Court Judge Roger W. Titus said KBR could not be held liable for what citing what he believed was essentially a military decision to use burn pits for waste disposal.
Judge Titus further elaborated, “The decision to use the burn pits was not made by the contractors” but the military. KBR merely implemented the plan as directed by the military.
Waterboarding designed by the CIA contractors, while working for the DOD, allegedly killed one person and injured maybe a few hundred alleged terrorists. The contractors who developed the techniques participated in at least one waterboarding session but their techniques were otherwise implemented by CIA outside their direction.
According to the Miami Herald:
The lawyers [for the CIA contractors] had argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed for a list of reasons.
During the hearing, lawyer Brian Paszamant told the judge that simply providing a memo to the CIA suggesting interrogation methods does not make them guilty of aiding and abetting torture. The CIA set up the prisons, chose the detainees, decided who conducted the interrogations and who was present, Paszamant said.
Lawyer Jim Smith said the program was directly controlled by the U.S. government, not the psychologists.
The judge rejected those arguments, saying the evidence supports the claims that the psychologists recommended “enhanced interrogation techniques” and “advocated for waterboarding as a convincing measure,” the judge said.
The evidence is undisputed that the psychologists administered those techniques on the CIA’s first detainee, Abu Zubaydah, including waterboarding, the judge said.
Jessen was physically involved in Rahman’s interrogation, the judge said.
“Defendants have not established they merely acted at the direction of the government, within the scope of their authority, and that such authority was legally and validly conferred,” the judge said.
ACLU lawyer Ladin said the psychologist were paid $81 million for their help to the government. “The defendants were the primary profiteers of this program from the beginning to the end,” he said.
So, KBR is off the hook because the DOD ultimately directed their overt actions. No trial for the veterans.
The terror suspects will go to trial because the CIA contractors allegedly participated in one waterboarding incident at the direction of CIA/DOD.
Alleged terrorists get their day in court. Veterans do not.
The greatest irony could occur if the tortured terrorists are successful in their lawsuit, which could open the door for Iraq War veterans in their lawsuit, at least in theory, since KBR overtly managed and implemented the majority of burn pits.
I am curious to hear what your thoughts are on this matter without sharing what I think.