As war starts in Syria, the company that tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib may already be on the ground

Donald Trump, image of a tortured prisoner at Abu Ghraib

A newly released report [pdf] reveals that there are US military contractors in Syria. The report emerged only a week after Donald Trump said America would withdraw from Syria. On 14 April, he bombed Syria with support from the UK and France. But one of the military contractors which may now be in Syria is owned by the same company which was responsible for the abuse and torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib following the US-led invasion of Iraq.


The Young Turks network stated that the report [pdf], “which compiles data for U.S. contractors operating under authority of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM)”, listed Syria for the first time since Trump came to office, but:

It’s not clear whether the new data categories reflect Pentagon anticipation of long-term commitment of private U.S. personnel in Syria.

Although specific companies are not named, this information had been previously reported in 2016 by The Daily Beast:

The contract announcement said Six3 Intelligence Solutions—a private intelligence company recently acquired by CACI International—won a $10 million no-bid Army contract to provide “intelligence analysis services.” According to the Pentagon, the work will be completed over the next year in Germany, Italy and, most notably, Syria.

Six3 Intelligence Solutions was taken over by CACI International in 2013. Among other things, CACI provides “IT support and services, including information collection and data analysis, to the U.S. Intelligence Community and the military”. In 2003, CACI was in Iraq, because as its website states:

Interrogation services were an extension of that work, which CACI provided in response to a request by the U.S. Army, which did not have sufficient, available personnel for assignment to the Iraqi theater at the onset of the war. In August 2003 CACI responded to the Army’s request for these services by identifying and hiring qualified individuals with previous experience in information gathering and analysis.

Read on...

In 2004, 256 Iraqis sued CACI because it reportedly:

directed and participated in torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity, sexual assault, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment at Abu Ghraib prison.

Abu Ghraib and CACI

Abu Ghraib in Baghdad was a former torture prison of Saddam Hussein. In 2003, allegations emerged of “severe maltreatment and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US military and intelligence personnel and contractors” following the US-led invasion of Iraq.

This led to an internal US army investigation in January 2004, and to the Taguba report which concluded that “detainee abuse” had taken place. CACI employees, who undertook “linguistics and interrogation work” at Abu Ghraib, were also accused of:

having “instigated” and “encouraged” the abuse as well as participating in it, and in aiding to cover it up. This sparked international outrage and inflamed a brutal Iraqi insurgency.

But CACI pushed numerous legal challenges to deny these accusations. This was not resolved until 2017 [pdf]. Until this point, CACI “largely evaded accountability for their direct role in the torture of Abu Ghraib prisoners”. Lawyer Katherine Gallagher noted that:

military officers were court-martialed for their misconduct, but the private contractors [CACI] walked away with large payments, and they continue to be awarded millions of dollars in government contracts.

History repeating?

Despite accusations of abuse by CACI employees, the US government issued multi-million dollar contracts to the company. As Al Jazeera reported:

prior to concluding investigations on the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib, the US government offered CACI an extension of their contract in the amount of 23 million dollars – accountability for torture, after all, is limited, conditional, and sometimes rewarded for making bolder, the discourse and infrastructure that sustains abuse in the war on terror.

And now, fifteen years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, history seems to be repeating itself. Trump bombed Syria – despite lacking concrete evidence. Theresa May skipped into war much like Tony Blair trotted after George W Bush in 2003. But this time, we know CACI is already in Syria – despite its apparent involvement in torture and abuse.

This article was updated at 9am on 14 April, to reflect that US-led bombing has already started in Syria.

Get Involved!

– Demand we stop this war. Write to Theresa May and your MP.

– Support and follow Stop the War.

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured images via Gage Skidmore/Flickr and Peter K Levy/Flickr

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed