On January 25, 2008, the POWs along with Cong. Bruce Braley, Prof. Jeffrey Addicott, and counsel held a press conference at the National Press Club covered by CNN, Fox, and C-SPAN to update the status of the case and have Congressman Braley speak out on the continued unfairness of the Administration's position blocking justice for the POWs.
Click here to read the press release.
Click here to read about the President's Christmas 2007 veto of the Defense Authorization Bill specifically to block the provisions passed by Congress that would have helped the POWs' case against Iraq.
Click here to read a current overview of the case.
In addition, Congressman Joe Sestak, a retired 3-star Admiral in the United States Navy and the highest ranking military officer ever to serve in Congress, submitted a letter in support of the POWs which was presented at the press conference.
During his distinguished career in the Navy, Congressman Sestak led a series of operational commands, culminating in the command of the George Washington aircraft carrier battle group, which consisted of 30 U.S. and allied ships, 15,000 sailors, and close to 100 aircraft. He also served in President Clinton's White House as the Director for Defense Policy on the National Security Council. After 9/11, he was selected to serve as the first Director of "Deep Blue," the Navy's anti-terrorism unit where he worked to establish new strategies for the Navy to fight the Global War on Terror.
Also made available at the press conference is the attached compendium illustrating the support from members of Congress and including and the letters Members have sent to, for example, Attorney General Ashcroft and Attorney General Gonzalez. The letters and statements show the strong support for the POWs' cause and strong opposition to the Administration's continued efforts to block the POWs' from holding Iraq accountable and in the process raising the bar of protection for future American POWs.
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On April 25, 2005, the Supreme Court denied certiorari, thus declining to hear the POWs' case, and letting stand the decision taking away their judgment holding their torturers accountable.
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On April 18, 2005, the National Law Journal published an article by Marcie Coyle, "Iraq Reparations: GIs seek high court hearing on damages for torture by Iraq," and the Legal Times published an article by Marya Lucas, "Ex-Gulf War POWs Plead Their Case: Former hostages say they should have right to sue Iraq for torture sustained during Persian Gulf War." Both articles are well-written examinations of the issues the Supreme Court should decide in order to correct the errors and injustice wrought by the court of appeals' decision against the POWs.
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The April 7, 2005 Press Conference at the National Press Club in Washington featured commentary from Senator George Allen, and Col. (Ret.) Cliff Acree and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jeff Tice spoke, took questions, and were exceptional. Three television cameras were present and articles from Copley News Service, UPI, the Washington Times and the Washington Examiner followed. The post-press conference news release is here.
Also, photos from the event can be viewed in the image gallery.
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PRESS CONFERENCE: “TORTURED AMERICAN POWs: HOLDING IRAQ ACCOUNTABLE IN THE COURTS”
WHEN: APRIL 7, 2005, 12 PM (LIGHT LUNCH)
WHERE: NATIONAL PRESS CLUB, ZENGER ROOM
WHO: SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN; COL. (RET) CLIFF ACREE AND LT. COL. (RET.) JEFF TICE; COUNSEL AND EXPERTS FROM ACREE v. IRAQ
During the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi secret police subjected American POWs to savage beatings, starvation, electrocution, mock execution, threatened dismemberment, use as human shields against allied bombing, and confinement in freezing, disease-ridden filth.
Seventeen of these American POWs, and thirty-seven of their family members, won an historic judgment in federal district court against Iraq for their torture, only to have a court of appeals erase their judgment. The POWs, who endured the agonies of hell in support of their Nation’s fight for freedom, have now petitioned the Supreme Court to hear their case, the most important case to date in seeking to deter the torture of POWs.
On April 4, 2005, Charles Lane of the Washington Post detailed the significant issues at stake in the piece “POW Claims Bump Into Foreign Policy” on the Federal Page.
The story of the case was also recently chronicled on the front page of the LA Times on February 15, 2005 by David Savage in his piece “White House Turns Tables on Former American POWs.” Following this story, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR, all of which had previously covered the story, updated their audiences.
Remarks will be given by Senator George Allen, who will also introduce Col. (Ret.) Cliff Acree and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jeff Tice, representing the POW group. Co-counsel in the case, Ambassador John Norton Moore and the law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, will comment.
In addition, Paul Kamenar of the Washington Legal Foundation will discuss the Foundation’s brief, submitted on behalf of Senators Allen, Harkin & Murray, and a bipartisan group of 17 Representatives, urging the Court to take the case.
In addition, Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a former Army JAG Officer, will discuss the Center for Terrorism Law’s brief he prepared urging the Court to take the case. That brief was on behalf of the National League of POW/MIA Families and numerous distinguished American military and national security experts, including Anthony Lake, the former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, John Lehman, the former Secretary of the Navy, Ambassador Max Kampelman, one of the deans of the United States Diplomatic Corp, and John Jay Douglas, a former Commandant of the Judge Advocate General’s School of the Army.
Also, the Center for Justice & Accountability which also filed a brief on behalf of their Center and twenty-one International Law scholars, has been invited to give remarks.
Whether the Supreme Court decides to take this case is of the utmost importance for the rule of law and the national security interests of the United States. At stake in this case is:
Deterrence against future torture and mistreatment of American servicemen and women who go in harms way on behalf of the
, particularly poignant in light of the United States scandal. Abu Ghraib
U.S.'commitment to the rule of law in wartime. Will the reconstruction of Iraq prevail over the laws written by Congress to give American victims of torture and murder the opportunity to hold the state sponsors of terrorism accountable?
The historic leadership of the
against torture, and its legal obligation under the Geneva POW Convention (adopted by 192 countries) never to absolve a state that tortures POWs. United States
The truth of the President’s post
statement that this Nation will adhere to the obligations of the Geneva Conventions. Abu Ghraib
The irony of Secretary Rumsfeld’s pledge to pay the Iraqi detainees abused at Abu Ghraib because “it is the right thing to do” while the American POWs, tortured in that same prison are cast aside.
What White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan really meant when he said about the POWs: “No amount of money can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of a very brutal regime, at the hands of Saddam Hussein.”
The national debt of honor owed to our service men and women who suffer for the Nation in the cause of freedom and the rule of law. Will we rebuild Iraq at the expense of principles and doing the right thing for these Americans?
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On December 17, 2004, the 17 American POWs and their families filed a Petition with the Supreme Court urging the Justices to hear the case and correct the errors made by the court of appeals in its June 2004 decision. The petition focuses on the rights granted by Congress to a
Despite Secretary Rumsfeld telling Congress last summer that the “the right thing to do” was to pay Iraqi detainees injured by U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib, the U.S. government continues to fight in court to deny compensation paid out of Iraqi assets to the American Desert Storm POWs.
The POWs will file their reply to the government’s brief in the coming week. The Supreme Court will likely decide whether or not to take the case in late April.
Three additional briefs were also filed on March 21 in support of the POW group, urging the Court to hear the case.
The Washington Legal Foundation, which regularly argues in court in support of a strong national security and defense, and which filed an amicus brief supporting the POWs at the court of appeals, filed a brief on behalf of a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, including Senators Allen,
The brief of the Center for Terrorism Law at
The Center for Justice & Accountability, based in
Also of note,
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June 4, 2004 - Today the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the judgment held by American POWs tortured by Iraqis during the 1991 Gulf War should be erased at the urging of the Bush Administration.
The POWs held a press teleconference shortly afterwards at which Colonel David Eberly and Steptoe & Johnson attorneys Tony Onorato and Molly Poag were available for questions.
For an audio replay of the call, please visit this web site.
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For Immediate Release
Date: Friday, June 4, 2004
United States Government Succeeds in Taking POWs’ Judgment and Blocking Justice
Sad Day for America
Washington, D.C. – In a sad day for justice in the United States and for the military family in particular, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled today that the judgment held by American POWs tortured by Iraqis during the 1991 Gulf War should be erased at the urging of the Bush Administration.
In finalizing this injustice, Attorney General Ashcroft and President Bush have succeeded in making certain that abused Iraqis are better treated than tortured Americans. The results-driven ruling means that the POWs, who followed every rule laid out by Congress in an effort to prevent the torture of American POWs, have been denied even the simple justice American courts are supposed to provide. Indeed, today’s action has the effect of shredding the public record of abuse that these brave Americans endured and undermining the effort to prevent the torture of POWs in the future.
“This is difficult to take. We served without question and withstood the worst the Iraqi torturers handed out. On behalf of all those who have suffered, I am disappointed in the legal system of this country. I am also concerned for those who serve our country in the future, as future torturers may now believe that the United States will not stand behind its servicemen and women. The President should seriously consider the impact of these developments. They could have supported us, but instead they chose to support the Iraqis,” said Col. (Ret.) David Eberly. Further, he stated, “I simply can’t believe what we are talking about -- providing compensation from our tax dollars to Iraqis, while the Justice Department uses tax dollars to fight us in court, to prevent us from accessing Iraqi assets, as compensation for being tortured by Iraqis.”
As part of the effort to hold Iraq accountable, the Gulf War POWs established the American POW/MIA Foundation in March 2003 to provide assistance to POWs, MIAs and their families, and to stand against the torture of American POWs. Eberly stated that it is still his hope that the Foundation can make a difference and that “we will just have to see what happens -- it is up to Congress to fix this now.”
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During his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that he would seek a way to compensate the Iraqi detainees who were declaring it, "the right thing to do." In reponse to this, the tortured Gulf War POWs released a letter to Secretary Rumsfeld expressing their frustration at the Administration's willingness to quickly compensate wronged Iraqi's with U.S. monies while continuing to try to quash the POWs judgment, which would be paid from Iraqi assets.
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For Immediate Release
Date: Monday, May 10, 2004
Rumsfeld Plan to Pay Injured Detainees Hard to Believe in Light of Government Fight Against Tortured American POWs
Washington, D.C. - American POWs tortured by the Hussein regime during the 1991 Gulf War find hard to believe Secretary Rumsfeld’s statement that “the right thing to do” is to pay injured Iraqi detainees, given that the U.S. government continues to fight in court to deny compensation to the Desert Storm POWs. Rumsfeld’s statement, made during his May 7th testimony, comes on the heels of the announcement by Paul Bremer of another plan, which would, in a truly ironic twist, look to pay Iraqis harmed by Hussein with American dollars, but makes no provision for compensating American POWs tortured by Hussein with Iraqi dollars, as U.S. law provides.
In July 2003, the POWs won a federal lawsuit against Iraq for the horrors they endured, and since that time have been repeatedly blocked in court by the U.S. government from accessing Iraqi dollars as a means of satisfying their judgment and holding their torturers accountable. The frustration and disbelief of the POW group stems from the Bush Administration’s decision to go to court, after the POWs won their judgment against Iraq, and, inexplicably, try to have that judgment erased.
The Administration has denied repeated requests to discuss the case with the POWs, including several requests made on behalf of the POWs by members of Congress. The POWs nonetheless remain dogged in their determination to meet with the Administration to reach an agreement that holds Iraq responsible for their treatment and furthers the goal of deterring torture of American citizens in the future.
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For Immediate Release
Date: Friday, April 9, 2004
President Bush Needs to Explain Why
Washington, D.C. – On National POW Recognition Day, American POWs who were tortured by Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War call upon President Bush to stand behind U.S. servicemen and servicewomen and to take steps to prevent the torture of American POWs, instead of using taxpayer funds in an effort to erase evidence of their ordeal. These Americans, who were brutally tortured during captivity, seek to have their court-ordered judgment paid from Iraqi assets in order to punish Iraq and thereby deter the torture of future American POWs. They ask the Bush administration to follow the guidance of the district court, which held that “deterring torture of POWs should be of the highest priority.”
“We believe that if the President just takes a personal look at our case, he will understand the importance of the effort to prevent the future torture of American servicemen and servicewomen, and we believe that he will agree that it is wrong for the Justice Department to seek to eliminate the only judgment that proves Saddam tortured American servicemen,” said Col. (Ret.) David Eberly, the senior-ranking POW tortured by Iraq during the first Gulf War. “The decision in our case is a crucial first step in holding rogue states accountable and deterring the torture of POWs in the future. For the federal government to be fighting such efforts with taxpayer money is wrong.”
The decision by the Bush administration to seek to erase the POWs’ judgment in Acree v. Republic of Iraq contradicts President Bush’s own assertions that Saddam Hussein is guilty of crimes against humanity and should be brought to justice. “The decision in our case holds Saddam accountable for the very crimes that President Bush said he was guilty of, and to erase this judgment from the records as if it did not happen is a disservice to all the POWs who had to endure torture at his hands,” said Col. Eberly.
Last summer, the POWs offered to reach a compromise to avoid interference with the rebuilding efforts in Iraq, and they have pledged a substantial amount from the recovery to fund the American POW/MIA Foundation established in March 2003. “The fact is that the outstanding debts of U.S. companies, French oil companies, and others are not being forgiven. It is a grave injustice to allow such claims to stand while seeking to extinguish the claims of tortured Americans and block the long overdue good we are fighting for,” said Stewart Baker of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, counsel for the POWs.
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For Immediate Release
Date: Monday, April 5, 2004
Bush Administration Drags Tortured American POWs to Court
April 7th Hearing Looms as Admin. Seeks to Strip POWs of Judgment Against Saddam
Washington, D.C. – Contradicting President Bush’s own assertions that Saddam Hussein is guilty of crimes against humanity, the Bush Administration this week will bring tortured POWs from the first Gulf War to court in an attempt to have thrown out the only judgment proving Hussein’s complicity in the torture of American citizens.
On the eve of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments on April 7 in an appeal launched by the Bush Administration that seeks to eradicate the important precedent set in Acree v. Republic of Iraq. At its heart, the judgment in this case is the only official record that holds Hussein accountable for the torture of American POWs and begins the process of deterring torture of American POWs in the future.
“I am saddened that the Administration has chosen to pursue this appeal. It is hard to comprehend how on one hand the Administration can say that Saddam Hussein has perpetrated some of the most heinous acts against humanity, and on the other seek to eliminate the only judgment proving he is guilty of these crimes,” said Col. (Ret.) David Eberly, the senior-ranking POW tortured by the Iraqi secret police.
During the first Gulf War, Iraq savagely tortured American POWs, inflicting beatings, starvation, electric shock, whippings, mock executions, broken bones, deprivation of medical care, and confinement in vile, disease-ridden filth. The torture was condemned by the U.S. Congress in three resolutions.
Using legislation passed by the Congress in 1996, the POWs filed suit against Saddam Hussein in April 2002 to hold his regime accountable, and to deter the torture of American servicemen and women in the future. On July 7, 2003, a federal judge ruled in favor of the POWs, citing Iraq’s “unrestrained savagery” against our “handcuffed and blindfolded POWs,” concluding, “POWs are uniquely disadvantaged and deterring torture of POWs should be of the highest priority.”
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Statement of the Cause
American prisoners of war have been tortured in war after war, including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and through the more recent Gulf Wars. During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq under Saddam Hussein brutally tortured American POWs with savage beatings, starvation, electric shocks, whippings, burnings, drug injection, mock executions, threatened dismemberments, broken bones, shattered eardrums, deprivation of medical care, and confinement in filthy solitary cells without facilities. Because no contact with families was permitted, many of their loved ones did not know whether the POWs were alive or dead.
Not enough has been done in the past by the civilized world to put an end to these monstrous practices. Finally, the Gulf War POWs are saying: “Enough is enough.” They believe that Americans must never again accept torture as part of warfare. They believe that America must act now to protect its sons and daughters who defend us today, and certainly will again in the future.
We must not give Saddam Hussein’s Iraq—or any other terrorist nation—a free pass on torture and terrorism. We must send a message to all terrorist states that torture will not be tolerated…and that it will come at a significant cost to them. We must never again ignore the horrors inflicted on American POWs and other captives of terrorist states.
The POWs prevailed in their lawsuit, but are now being blocked by their own government from satisfying the court’s judgment out of Iraqi assets, and the Justice Department is actually seeking to erase the judgment—the public record of the POWs’ torture—from the books.
United States Senator Harry Reid of Nevada said on November 17, 2003: “It is beyond my comprehension why these federal bureaucrats are now siding with Saddam Hussein and against these former prisoners of war who suffered at his hands. These brave heroes are merely seeking to hold Iraq accountable for its crimes, and deter the torture of any American citizen by a terrorist state in the future. A civilized world cannot let such crimes go unpunished. The perpetrators must be held to account.”