(Baghdad, Iraq) In the wake of the Iraq prisoner-abuse scandal, Iraqi television stations are now being overwhelmed with demands for advertising time by lawyers seeking to represent prisoners tortured and/or humiliated by their captors.
"These lawyers are clamoring to such an extent that we have been able to triple our rates, even for late night slots," said Ahmed al-Tikriti, advertising manager of the popular Iraqi television station WWMD. "Perhaps there are more capitalists in Iraq than people believe."
"We are skilled at the recoverance of many dinars, from infidels and others, and can boast of many satisfied clients, some of whom even survived Saddam Hussein's reign of terror," says the talking head on an advertisement for the Baghdad firm of
Daoud, al-Hassan & Natiyeh. "Our conversancy with the invader's Federal Tort Claims Act is unrivalled in the Fertile Crescent. Call 1-800- TORTURE for your, free, consultation."
The firm of Assad, Hussein & al-Mansur has been running hourly ads suggesting that potential clients or their relatives "call us collect at 1-888-USABUSE." Name partner Jafaar Hussein stresses his firm's "expertise in the recoverance of monetary damages," and points out that "the other side has Ashcroft and the Department of Justice to defend it. You need a top law firm to defend YOU."
The Assad firm ads stress that "phones will, inshallah, be answered 24 hours a day, and no recompense will be due us unless and until a specific sum of mega-dinars is recovered by verdict, settlement, sharia decree or fatwa."
The rush by local lawyers to represent victims of captor abuse has been such that some firms have hedged their ads a bit. "The victim abuse field is so saturated now," says prominent Halabja attorney Ahmet al-Nassan, "that we have had to tailor our ads to attract other sorts of cases as well... poison gas exposure, Ba'ath trauma, donkey and camel accidents, anti-Kurd discrimination, that sort of thing."
American firms have not yet jumped on the bandwagon en masse, though it was reported that one prominent American lawyer was walking the streets of Baghdad wearing a sandwich-sign bearing the legend "If the Americans inflicted pain, it's ME you should retain." Several Baghdadis thought the lawyer's face looked "vaguely familiar", and were under the impression that he had "won some prominent case in the US about nine or ten years ago", but they could not identify him definitively.