WASHINGTON — Six years after the secretary of defense promised to compensate Iraqi detainees who were abused by US troops at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the Army is unable to document a single such payment.
Nor can the more than 250 Iraqis or their lawyers now seeking redress in US courts. Their hopes for compensation may rest on a Supreme Court decision this week.
The former detainees have asked the Supreme Court to step in to a case alleging that civilian interrogators and linguists conspired with soldiers to abuse them. The justices will consider the case in private today and could announce tomorrow whether they will take the case.
In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress that he had found a legal way to compensate Iraqi detainees who suffered “grievous and brutal abuse and cruelty’’ at the hands of US armed services members. “It’s the right thing to do,’’ Rumsfeld said. “And it is my intention to see that we do.’’
According to Army officials, about 30 former Abu Ghraib prisoners are seeking compensation from the US Army Claims Service, but those claims are still being investigated. Many do not involve inmate abuse.
The Army could not find a record of any payments to former detainees by the US military command in Iraq. It also cannot verify whether any such payments were made informally through Iraqi leaders.
From the budget years 2003 to 2006, the Defense Department paid $30.9 million to Iraqi and Afghan civilians who were killed, injured, or incurred property damage due to US or coalition forces’ actions during combat. The Army has found no evidence any of those payments were used to compensate victims of abuse at Abu Ghraib.
The detainees in the Supreme Court appeal allege they were held at Abu Ghraib or one of the other 16 detention centers in Iraq. They all say they were eventually released without any charges against them.
The ex-detainees are suing