20 Years Later, a Jury Weighs Claims of Abuse at Abu Ghraib

The journalist said he was left naked overnight in a cold prison cell with a bag over his head, chained by his wrists to a pipe.

The fruit vendor said he was forced to take off his clothes and masturbate, while his captors watched and took photos.

The middle-school principal said he was told he would be raped, and that his family would be brought to the prison and raped as well.

At a federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., a jury listened last week to the accounts of three Iraqis who were arrested by U.S. forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and then held at Abu Ghraib prison.

Abuses like those the men say they endured have already been documented in reports from three Army generals, the C.I.A. inspector general, two Senate committees, and the Red Cross. But last week marked the first time a civilian jury heard allegations of America’s post-9/11 torture program directly from detainees.

The three men — Salah Hasan Al-Ejaili, Suhail Al Shimari, and Asa’ad Al-Zuba’e — are suing CACI Premier Technology, which is a subsidiary of the Virginia-based defense contractor CACI, and was hired to supply the Army with intelligence and interrogation services after the Iraq invasion. The plaintiffs say that CACI interrogators told military police officers to “soften up” the plaintiffs for questioning, and that those directives made the company responsible for “torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” carried out on the detainees.

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