Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Joshua Munn’s, Jon Cote’s, John Young’s families sue State Dept

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 24, 2010

Anderson man’s family sues over his torture death in Iraq

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’

but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . .

As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

The father and stepmother of an Anderson private security contractor who was abducted in Iraq, held for ransom and later tortured and beheaded have sued officials at the U.S. State Department alleging that the nation’s policy of not negotiating with terrorists hindered their efforts to save their son.

In a lawsuit filed this week in U.S. Eastern District Court in Sacramento, Mark and Christa Munns allege that State Department officials kept them in the dark about the months-long kidnapping investigation and then blocked the family’s efforts to negotiate with the kidnappers.

Joshua Munns, along with four other private security contractors, was taken hostage on Nov. 16, 2006 after the convoy they were guarding was ambushed by a group of masked and armed men at a fake checkpoint near the southern Iraqi city of Safwan.

Before becoming a contractor, Munns, 23, served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005 and served two tours in Iraq as a scout and sniper.

The lawsuit also questions United States government’s definition of the word “terrorist” and the “War on Terror,” and is scathingly critical of the nation’s reliance on private security contractors to fight America’s battles and then refusing to support them when they’re kidnapped, injured or killed.

“Basically, the mentality of the Secretary of State seems to be that if the United States loses a member of the United States military, then the loss becomes a relevant statistic on the ‘War on Terror,’ but when the United States loses a contractor . . . then there is no accounting for the loss of life. . . . As a result, the true cost in lives and money of the ‘War on Terror’ is understated.”

Mark and Christa Munns filed the suit with the family members of two of the other abducted contractors, John Cote and John Young.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Jennifer Foo, the families’ State Department liaison during the kidnapping investigation, were named in the suit as codefendants.

Clinton was appointed to Secretary of State after Barack Obama was elected president. During the Munns hostage situation, Condoleezza Rice was Secretary of State under President Bush.

The suit demands the government pay the families their children’s life insurance benefits, since the contractors were working for the government at the time.

Crescent Security, the firm for which Munns and the other contracters worked, hasn’t paid any death benefits to the families, the suit alleges.

The suit also seeks an injunction stopping the U.S. government from giving private military forces “complete impunity” to operate free from U.S. and Iraqi laws. The suit says that is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and led to “a free fire zone” in which contractors were free to open fire without repercussions.

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