Jan. 10, 2013 - The defense contractor which reached a settlement with alleged victims of torture in the notorious prison Abu Ghraib is now again at the cutting edge of ‘war on terror' abuses, providing key components for weaponised drones.
It has recently come to light that a settlement of around $5m was paid to 71 people held at Abu Ghraib and other US prisons by Engility Corporation on behalf of L-3 Services, which until last year was a subsidiary of L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc.
L-3 Communications is one of the main subcontractors involved with production of the US' lethal Predator drone. Predators are used by the CIA in a secret bombing campaign which has killed hundreds of cilivians and terrorises entire populations in Pakistan and Yemen. Drone strikes have escalated under the Obama administration and 2013 has already seen six strikes in the two countries.
In September, Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's Director wrote to L-3, highlighting the illegality of the US's use of weaponised drones in non-war zones, L-3's complicity in this programme and its possible liability for the deaths and trauma caused. No acknowledgment or response has been received from the company, in spite of a commitment in its Code of Ethics to "respect human rights".
L-3 is headquartered in New York and has four associated UK divisions, including a London operations centre.
Catherine Gilfedder, Reprieve's CSR Advocate, said: "L-3 is clearly a go-to company for carrying out some of the US' most extreme tactics in the 'War on Terror.' Far from being disgraced by allegations of horrific torture and abuse, L-3 continues to provide support to the drone programme, which terrorises hundreds of thousands of civilians around the world. L-3 claims to have a commitment to human rights - it is hard to see how it can square this with its part in the CIA's illegal drone war."
* L-3 supplies Ku-band Satellite data links, enabling the Predator, which is produced by the privately-held General Atomics, to communicate with the ground station from where it is controlled. The ‘command' link provides real-time control and data to the Predator, while its ‘return link' transfers motion video to the pilots operating it. L-3 has also contracted directly with the US Air Force for support services and upgrades for the data links and satellite communication facilities in ground stations.
* L-3 describes itself as a "prime contractor prime contractor in Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance systems, aircraft modernization and maintenance, and national security solutions."
Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person's right to a fair trial and saving lives. Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.
Reprieve's current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners' in the so-called ‘war on terror.' www.reprieve.org.uk
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