SACRAMENTO (CN) -The families of three private security agency employees who were kidnapped, tortured and beheaded in Iraq sued Hillary Clinton in Federal Court, claiming the Secretary of State Department hindered their efforts to save their sons with an ill-defined policy against negotiating with terrorists.
The families also sued Jennifer Foo, who allegedly oversaw “many of the actions and policies”. They want a judge to clarify some vexing questions about the War on Terror, including the “parameters” of the war and the definition of a “terrorist.”
According to the complaint:
In 2006, while working for Crescent Security Group in southern Iraq, Joshua Munns, John Young, John Cote and two other workers hired to guard a convoy were kidnapped by a group of Iraqis led by one of Crescent’s own interpreters.
The families say that Crescent, which one reporter called the “K-Mart of private security” in Iraq, sent the men to war with little training, substandard firearms and surrounded by a “cowboy” culture.
After the kidnapping, the families hoped the FBI would get involved, but soon found that little could be done to get around the government’s policy against negotiating with terrorists.
“The FBI provided the plaintiffs with both an audio tape and video tape of their boys made by the kidnappers showing ‘proof of life,”‘ according to the complaint. “When the plaintiffs asked the FBI and the State Department if they planned to make contact with the kidnappers and find out what they were demanding in exchange for freeing the men, both organizations responded to the families with the following statement: ‘America does not negotiate with terrorists.'”
The families say the State Department was unable to define “terrorist”; and at the same time, President George W. Bush said publicly that similar kidnappers in southern Iraq were nothing more than “murderers, thieves, and hoodlums.”
“Later, in a complete contradiction of this policy, and after the young men had been tortured to death, the federal agencies negotiated with the so-called ‘terrorists’ for the return of their sons’ bodies,” according to the complaint.
The families say that they printed up 90,000 leaflets to distribute in Iraq, asking for information about their sons, but the State Department blocked distribution.
It wasn’t until 2008 that they learned their sons had been killed after being tortured, beaten and made to eat glass, the families say.
They also suggest that Crescent may have made money off the deaths. They say the company doled out life insurance payments to the families as an intermediary, and may not have given them all they deserved.
Crescent is not named as a defendant in the case.
Among the many prickly foreign policy questions the plaintiffs want clarified is the issue of Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17, which in 2004 granted broad immunity to private contractors working in Iraq.
“The families heard rumors that the kidnappings and executions may have been motivated by revenge for incidents that occurred as a result” of Order 17, according to the complaint.
The families want a judge to decide if the order created “free fire zone” in Iraq, and stimulated the proliferation of fly-by-night security firms that put U.S. workers in danger.
The plaintiffs are Mark and Christa Munns, of Redding, Calif., representing the Estate of Joshua Munns; Dennis and Sharon Debrabander, of Kansas City, Mo., representing the Estate of John Young; and Lori Silver, of Hollywood, Fla., representing the Estate of John Cote. In addition to seeking declaratory relief on numerous questions relating to the War on Terror, they accuse Clinton and Foo of violating the 14th and 5th Amendments.
They are represented by William Palmer of Sacramento.