If you're not aware of the case, in August 2005 Air America on-air host Randi Rhodes verbally criticized miltary contractor CACI International Inc for their involvement in the Abu Grhaib abuse scandal.
"They raped and murdered children, misrepresented themselves as military officers, supplied interrogators to Gitmo, and fought on the side of the pro-Aparthied South African Government"
CACI sued for defamation, claiming none of their employees had not been charged with any crimes.
The core of Randi's "crime" according to CACI was essentially that she dared to quote comments made by the former Commander of Abu Ghraib at the time of the abuse, Gen Karpinski.
She said on August 10th ...
There are Rape Rooms. The people that are torturing and raping and using our soldiers to film it - the ones that are being paid to do this are not our troops, but it's CACI and Titan and the people who relieved General Karpinski of her command in Abu Ghraib. They were independant contractors.
On August 11th Randi asked...
Why are independent contractors, including CACI, allowed to torture and rape little children using low-level clerks [such as Lynndie England], who then go to jail for 10 or 15 years?
On August 15th.
There are hundreds of thousands of mercenaries there. And God only knows who is commanding them. Who's giving them marching orders. Who do they answer to? I don't know, they're mercenaries.
No one dares to talk about all these contractors, Blackwater, CACI, Titan and Three Canopies. There's no command and control. They don't report to anybody. They're not loyal to you. They're not loyal to me. They're not loyal to America. They're loyal to the corporation.
They have fought on the side of Aparthied. Just like Cheney used to vote against abolishing Aparthied. He loves these guys. These guys literally fought on the side of Motubo, who used to chop peopl--, little children's hands off.
On August 25th she stated (in reference to an inteview with Gen. Karpinski)
The President let those contractors [into Abu Ghraib], he let those contractors lie to our kids and those kids believed that they were military intelligence units, that they were CIA. But they weren't. They were employees of CACI and Titan.
This deteriorated into contractor heaven. Mercenaries all over the country, killing people. [General Karpinski] said they had no previous training. They were supposed to be interpretors, but that CACI and Titan had offered them a chance to upgrade their employement as interrogators.
So they kicked her out of the cell blocks at night, told her she couldn't travel at night to the cell blocks, couldn't come to Abu Ghraib at night, and at night the little mice would play, and they'd play rape the boys, and rape the girls, and pile them high, and they'd use low-level military people, and they wore military uniforms too - they'd literal impersonate officers.
The [Iraqis] say that the raping of their children, the raping of their children in front of them is no different than Saddam. It's incredible. So this was Donald Rumsfeld's wet dream...
The plan was almost perfect. The Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits the maltreatment of prisoners, so any mistreatment which was perpetrated by U.S. Soldiers is a Court Marshal offense - however what law prevents civilian employees or private citizens from abusing detainees while on foreign soil where U.S. law does not apply?
Well, almost nothing except for the 8th Amendment and the War Crimes Act, which prohibits all "Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions". But prior to Abu Ghraib President Bush had made a determination that "Enemy Combatants" were not covered under the Geneva Conventions, which - although completely incorrect and false - temporarily created legal cover for the criminal actions that were to be taken by civilian personel and contractors.
So at Abu Ghraib MP's such as Sgt. Graner took orders from unranked persons wearing military garb. Even those that were actually intelligence officers were often of less rank than Graner. I once saw one of these men interviewed by Paula Zhan (still looking for the transcript) where she pointed to him in the photographs and he claimed in his defense...
"How could I tell a Sargent what to do? I'm only a specialist.
Except that as was clearly visible in the picture - he wasn't wearing any insignia.
When the Fit finally hit the Shan Graner and England went to Prison after being Court Martialed, but not the Contractors who directed their actions, and have continued to employ these techniques at the Secret CIA prisons and elsewhere.
Problem solved - nothing to see here - move along now, move along.
The key to the plot, according to invetigative reporter Seymour Hersh who was among Randi's sources, was Blackmail. The U.S. was beginning to take casualties as a result of the growing insurgency, but had little or no intelligence sources on which to draw - meanwhile many innocent Iraqis had been caught up in the initial sweep through the country and were being housed at Abu Ghraib. According to Hersh, those who were abused at night were not selected because they were intelligence targets, but in order to induce them to become confidential informants on the insurgency once they were released. They were subject to physical degradation, and sexual, homoerotic humuliation - being shown as subordinate to a female such as Spc Lynndie England - and all this was documented and photographed to be used as materials to keep them in line and under the thumb of military intelligence - so that they would spy on the insurgency from the inside!
It wasn't a bunch of "frat-boy" hijinks, and it was not done to extract information, it was done to make them the snitches for the U.S.
For her commments CACI International came after Randi with both barrels - seeking $1 Million on Compensatory Damages and $10 in Punative Damages. And Randi isn't the only one - they've also gone after bloggers who've commented or reported on Gen Karpinski's statements.
Subsequently a counter suit has been filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights against Donald Rumsfeld in Germany, Gen Karpinski is the plaintiff's star witness.
Meanwhile on the CACI v Rhodes case, after being provided access to all of Randi's source material for her statements the court granted the Defense motion for summary judgement stating...
a reasonable jury could not conclude that: a) the alleged defamatory statements "could [not] be interpreted as stating actual facts." about CACI and/or b) the statements were made with actual malice -- i.e. a "reckless disregard for the truth"
The case then, is effectively over. The facts and the truth have won (so far), as has Randi.
Yay for our side.
Update from Comments Randi had the case dismissed last Sept, but CACI has since appealed the decision and on Jan 2nd, the court declared that the appeal could go forward despite Air America's Bankruptcy proceeding. So - it's not quite over yet folks.
Still any eppeals court would have to accept the facts as this court has established them and overturning this decision would be extremely difficult on that basis IMO.
Unfortunately a full accounting for the atrocities that occured Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, using our tax dollars, has yet to be made.