Saturday, May 01, 2004

Subcontracting Rape and Torture

It is difficult enough to bring US soldiers who commit war crimes and human rights violations to (always inadequate) military justice, but it is even more difficult to discipline shadowy private contractors hired by the US military. According to Julian Borger, a contractor who raped a teen-age Iraqi boy was allowed to walk scot-free:
Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, speaking for central command, told the Guardian: "One contractor was originally included with six soldiers, accused for his treatment of the prisoners, but we had no jurisdiction over him. It was left up to the contractor on how to deal with him."

She did not specify the accusation facing the contractor, but according to several sources with detailed knowledge of the case, he raped an Iraqi inmate in his mid-teens. ("US Military in Torture Scandal," April 30, 2004)
Will we ever know even who the rapist is?

The Sunday Herald reveals that two contractors hired to do "interrogations at Abu Ghraib" are financially "linked to the Bush administration":
Two “civilian contract” organisations taking part in interrogations at Abu Ghraib are linked to the Bush administration.

California-based Titan Corporation says it is “a leading provider of solutions and services for national security”. Between 2003-04, it gave nearly $40,000 to George W Bush’s Republican Party. Titan supplied translators to the military.

CACI International Inc. describes its aim as helping “America’s intelligence community in the war on terrorism”. Richard Armitage, the current deputy US secretary of state, sat on CACI’s board. (Neil Mackay, "The Pictures That Lost The War," May 2, 2004)
The problem of contractors committing crime without punishment is not a new one, though; nor did the problem originate during the Bush administration. To take just one example, one of the private contractors providing "security" in Iraq is DynCorp, a company whose employees were said to have purchased women -- some of whom were "as young as 12" -- from brothels and held them in sexual slavery in Bosnia:
In early 2000, the U.S. Army received information that private contractors working at a base near Tuzla, Bosnia, were purchasing women from local brothels. Some of the women may have been as young as 12, and some were being held as sex slaves, the sources alleged.

Investigations by the Bosnian police and the U.S. Army confirmed the gist of those reports, turning up significant evidence of wrongdoing by at least seven men -- including at least one supervisor -- employed by Reston, Va.-based DynCorp. Despite those findings, no one ever faced criminal charges or prosecution in either Bosnia or the United States. (Robert Capps, "Crime without Punishment," June 27, 2002)
By employing private contractors, Washington hopes to escape its moral, legal, and financial responsibility, much like corporations that subcontract work to sweatshops and governments that delegate their dirtiest work to paramilitary death squads. That's a bipartisan problem.

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