A BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT
August 7, 2008
Randi Rhodes and her former employer, Air America, won an important court victory against one of the alleged "torture" contractors under the Bush Administration.
CACI International had sued Rhodes (now with NovaM radio) and Air America for remarks she made about the alleged involvement of CACI "interrogators" in abuses at Abu Ghraib.
CACI was seeking $11 million dollars for libel and defamation, focusing on 13 statements made by Rhodes when she was at Air America alleging that CACI employees participated in the torture, rape and killing that had occurred at the notorious U.S. "prison" in Iraq.
In what is considered a "conservative" federal appeals court, a three judge panel ruled that Rhodes was well within her First Amendment rights in making her comments about CACI:
"Rhodes's criticism of CACI's role and conduct was unbridled, caustic, and indignant," Judge M. Blane Michael wrote. But the right to speak freely is an "essential privilege" that "minimizes the danger of self-censorship on the part of those who would criticize, thus allowing robust debate about the actions of public officials and public figures (including military contractors such as CACI) who are conducting the country's business."
A district course judge had earlier dismissed CACI's lawsuit as groundless and without merit. CACI appealed and its claim resoundingly rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond (4th Circuit).
A key feature of libel is a finding that an individual or organization made statements out of malice or reckless disregard for the truth. Both the original district court judge and the court of appeals found that neither of these criteria applied to the comments about CACI made by Rhodes when she was still with Air America.
The ciruit court decision in favor of Rhodes and Air America was made on August 5 and was unanimous.
A BUZZFLASH NEWS